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´╗┐Title: Bunyip Land - A Story of Adventure in New Guinea
Author: Fenn, George Manville, 1831-1909
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bunyip Land - A Story of Adventure in New Guinea" ***

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Bunyip Land; a Story of Adventure in New Guinea,
by George Manville Fenn.

_______________________________________________________________________

Joe Carstairs is a boy on a farm in Australia.  His father is a keen
naturalist who, some years before had set off for New Guinea in search
of specimens, and never been heard of again.  Joe is old enough to mount
a search expedition, and takes with him a local doctor and an
aboriginal worker on his farm.  They find themselves joined by a
stowaway, Jimmy, whose father is a squatter (farmer) nearby, together
with his dog, Gyp.

This team sets off, arrive in New Guinea, hire some more porters, and
travel guided by some sixth sense straight to where Mr Carstairs has
been kept a prisoner, along with another Englishman, whose mind has
gone, under the stress of his imprisonment.

There are the usual close shaves and tense moments, but finally they
achieve their end, and return home triumphantly.

_______________________________________________________________________

BUNYIP LAND; A STORY OF ADVENTURE IN NEW GUINEA,
BY GEORGE MANVILLE FENN.



CHAPTER ONE.

HOW I MADE MY PLANS AND THEY WERE ENDORSED.

"Now, Master Joseph, do adone now, do.  I'm sure your poor dear eyes'll
go afore you're forty, and think of that!"

"Bother!"

"What say, my dear?"

"Don't bother."

"You're always running your finger over that map thing, my dear.  I
can't abear to see it."

Nurse Brown looked over the top of her spectacles at me and shook her
head, while I bent lower over the map.

Then the old lady sighed, and went on making cottage windows all over my
worsted stockings, giving vent to comments all the time, for the old
lady had been servant to my grandmother, and had followed her young
mistress when she married, nursing me when I was born, and treating me
as a baby ever since.  In fact she had grown into an institution at
home, moving when we moved, and doing pretty well as she liked in what
she called "our house."

"Bang!"

"Bless the boy! don't bang the table like that," she cried.  "How you
made me jump!"

"It's of no use talking, nurse," I cried; "I mean to go."

"Go!" she said.  "Go where?"

"Go and find my poor dear father," I cried.  "Why, nurse, am I to sit
down quietly at home here, when perhaps my poor father is waiting for me
to come to his help?"

"Oh, hush! my dearie; don't talk like that I'm afraid he's dead and
gone."

"He isn't, nurse," I cried fiercely.  "He's a prisoner somewhere among
those New Guinea savages, and I mean to find him and bring him back."

Nurse Brown thrust her needle into the big round ball of worsted, and
held it up as if for me to see.  Then she took off her glasses with the
left hand in the stocking, and shaking her head she exclaimed:

"Oh, you bad boy; wasn't it enough for your father to go mad after his
botaniky, and want to go collecting furren buttercups and daisies, to
break your mother's heart, that you must ketch his complaint and want to
go too?"

"My father isn't mad," I said.

"Your father _was_ mad," retorted Nurse Brown, "and I was surprised at
him.  What did he ever get by going wandering about collecting his dry
orchardses and rubbish, and sending of 'em to England?"

"Fame," I cried, "and honour."

"Fame and honour never bought potatoes," said nurse.

"Why, four different plants were named after him."

"Oh, stuff and rubbish, boy!  What's the good of that when a man gets
lost and starves to death in the furren wilds!"

"My father was too clever a man to get lost or to starve in the wilds,"
I said proudly.  "The savages have made him a prisoner, and I'm going to
find him and bring him back."

"Ah! you've gone wandering about with that dirty black till you've quite
got into his ways."

"Jimmy isn't dirty," I said; "and he can't help being black any more
than you can being white."

"I wonder at a well-brought-up young gent like you bemeaning yourself to
associate with such a low creature, Master Joseph."

"Jimmy's a native gentleman, nurse," I said.

"Gentleman, indeed!" cried the old lady, "as goes about without a bit of
decent clothes to his back."

"So did Adam, nursey," I said laughing.

"Master Joseph, I won't sit here and listen to you if you talk like
that," cried the old lady; "a-comparing that black savage to Adam!  You
ought to be ashamed of yourself.  It all comes of living in this
horrible place.  I wish we were back at Putney."

"Hang Putney!"  I cried.  "Putney, indeed! where you couldn't go half a
yard off a road without trespassing.  Oh, nurse, you can't understand
it," I cried enthusiastically; "if you were to get up in the dark one
morning and go with Jimmy--"

"Me go with Jimmy!" cried the old lady with a snort.

"And get right out towards the mountain and see the sunrise, and the
parrots in flocks, and the fish glancing like arrows down the silver
river--"

"There's just how your poor dear pa used to talk, and nearly broke your
poor ma's heart."

"No, he didn't; he was too fond of her," I said; "only he felt it his
duty to continue his researches, the same that brought him out here,
and--oh, I shall find him and bring him back."

"Don't, don't, don't! there's a good boy; don't talk to me like that.
You're sixteen now, and you ought to know better."

"I don't want to know any better than that, nurse.  I know it's my duty
to go, and I shall go."

"You'll kill your poor ma, sir."

"No, I sha'n't," I said.  "She won't like my going at first, because it
will seem lonely for her out here; but she'll be as pleased as can be
afterwards.  Look here: my mother--"

"Say _ma_, Master Joe, dear.  Doey, please; it's so much more genteel."

"Stuff! it's Frenchy; mother's old English.  Mother don't believe
father's dead, does she?"

"Well, no, my dear; she's as obstinate as you are about that."

"And she's right.  Why, he's only been away four years, and that isn't
so very long in a country where you have to cut every step of the way."

"Cooey--cooey--woo--woo--woo--woo--why yup!"

"Cooey--cooey!"  I echoed back, and nurse held he hands to her ears.

"Now don't you go to him, Master Joseph; now please don't," said the old
lady.

"Mass Joe! hi Mass Joe!  Jimmy fine wallaby.  Tick fass in big hole big
tree."

Just then my first-lieutenant and Nurse Brown's great object of dislike,
Jimmy, thrust his shiny black face and curly head in at the door.

"Go away, sir," cried nurse.

"Heap fis--come kedge fis--million tousand all up a creek.  Jimmy go
way?"

He stood grinning and nodding, with his hands in the pocket holes of his
only garment, a pair of trousers with legs cut off to about mid-thigh.

"If you don't take that nasty black fellow away, Master Joseph, I shall
be obliged to complain to your poor ma," said nurse.

"Get out!"  I said; "Jimmy won't hurt you; and though it don't show,
he's as clean as a new pin."

"He isn't clean; he can't be, dear.  How can any one be clean who don't
wear clothes, Master Joseph? and look at his toes."

Nurse Brown always fell foul of Jimmy's toes.  They fidgeted her, for
they were never still.  In fact Jimmy's toes, which had never probed the
recesses of a pair of boots, were more like fingers and thumbs, and had
a way of twiddling about when he was supposed to be standing still--
stand perfectly still he never did--and these toes belonged to feet that
in climbing he could use like hands.  More than once I've seen him pick
stones off the ground--just like a monkey, nurse said--or stand talking
to any one and keep his attention while he helped himself to something
he wanted with his feet.

"There, be off Jimmy," I said, for I wanted to stop indoors.

"Come kedge fis."

"No, not to-day."

"Hi--wup--wup--wup!"

Jimmy threw himself into an attitude, snatching a small hatchet from the
waistband of his trousers, and made believe to climb a tree, chop a hole
larger, and draw out an animal, which he seemed to be swinging round by
its tail.

"No, not to-day, Jimmy," I cried.

"Sleep, sleep," said Jimmy, imitating a kangaroo by giving a couple of
hops into the verandah, where he chose a sunny place, well haunted by
flies, curled up, and went to sleep.

"Good morning!" cried a hearty voice, and I ran out to welcome our
neighbour the doctor, whose horse's hoofs had not been heard, and who
was now fastening the rein to the hook in one of the verandah posts.

"Well, Joe," he said as I shook hands and looked up admiringly in his
bold well-bearded face.

"Well, doctor, I'm so glad you've come; walk in."

"Ah! nurse," he cried; "how well you look!"

"Yes, yes; but I am glad you're come," she said.  "I want you to look at
Master Joseph."

"I did look at him."

"Isn't he feverish or something, sir?  He's that restless as never was."

"Sign he's growing," cried the doctor.  "How's mamma?"

"Oh, she's pretty well," I said.  "Gone to lie down."

"That's right," said the doctor.  "I had to come and look at Bowman's
broken arm, so I came on here to beg a bit of dinner."

"I'm so glad!"  I said: for Jimmy, the half-wild black, was my only
companion, there being no boys within miles of our run; "stop a week and
have some fishing."

"And what's to become of my patients?"

"You haven't got any," I said.  "You told me so last time."

"True, O King Joseph!  I've come to the wrong place; you don't want many
doctors in Australia.  Why, nurse, how this fellow grows!"

"I wish he'd grow good," cried the old lady.  "He's always doing
something to worry away his poor ma's and my life."

"Why, what's the matter now, nurse?"

"Matter, sir!  Why, he's took it into his head to go looking for his
poor dear dead-and-gone pa.  Do, do please tell him he mustn't think of
such things."

"Why, Joe!" cried the doctor, turning sharply round to me, and ceasing
to beat his high boots with his long-thonged whip.

"I don't care what anybody says," I cried, stamping my foot.  "I've made
up my mind, and mean to go to New Guinea to find my father."

"There, doctor, did you ever hear any one so wickedly obstinate before?"
cried nurse.  "Isn't it shocking? and his ma that delicate and worried
living all alone, like, here out in these strange parts, and him as
ought to be a comfort to her doing nothing but hanker after running away
to find him as is dead and gone."

"He's not dead, nurse; he's only gone," I cried; "and I mean to find
him, as sure as I live.  There, that I will."

"There, doctor, did you ever hear such a boy?" cried nurse.

"Never," said the doctor.  "Why, Joe, my boy," he cried as I stood
shrinking from him, ready to defend myself from his remonstrances, "your
ideas do you credit.  I didn't think you had it in you."

"Then you don't think it is wrong of me, doctor?"  I said, catching his
hand.

"No, my boy, I do not," he said gravely; "but it is a task for strong
and earnest men."

"But I am strong," I said; "and if I'm not a man I'm in real earnest."

"I can see that, my lad," said the doctor, with his brown forehead
filling with thoughtful wrinkles; "but have you counted the cost?"

"Cost!"  I said.  "No.  I should get a passage in a coaster and walk all
the rest of the way."

"I mean cost of energy: the risks, the arduous labours?"

"Oh, yes," I said; "and I sha'n't mind.  Father would have done the same
if I was lost."

"Of course he would, my lad; but would you go alone?"

"Oh, no," I replied, "I should take a guide."

"Ah, yes; a good guide and companion."

"There, Master Joseph, you hear," said nurse.  "Doctor Grant means that
sarcastical."

"No, I do not, nurse," said the doctor quietly; "for I think it a very
brave and noble resolve on the part of our young friend."

"Doctor!"

"It has troubled me this year past that no effort has been made to find
the professor, who, I have no doubt, is somewhere in the interior of the
island, and I have been for some time making plans to go after him
myself."

Nurse Brown's jaw dropped, and she stared in speechless amazement.

"Hurray, doctor!"  I cried.

"And I say hurray too, Joe," he cried.  "I'll go with you, my lad, and
we'll bring him back, with God's help, safe and sound."

The shout I gave woke Jimmy, who sprang to his feet, dragged a boomerang
from his waistband, and dashed to the door to throw it at somebody, and
then stopped.

"You'll break his mother's heart, doctor," sobbed nurse.  "Oh! if she
was to hear what you've said!"

"I did hear every word," said my mother, entering from the next room,
and looking very white.

"There, there," cried nurse, "you wicked boy, see what you've done."

"Mother!"  I cried, as I ran to her and caught her--poor, little, light,
delicate thing that she was--in my arms.

"My boy!" she whispered back, as she clung to me.

"I must go.  I will find him.  I'm sure he is not dead."

"And so am I," she cried, with her eyes lighting up and a couple of red
spots appearing in her cheeks.  "I could not feel as I do if he were
dead."

Here she broke down and began to sob, while I, with old nurse's eyes
glaring at me, began to feel as if I had done some horribly wicked act,
and that nothing was left for me to do but try to soothe her whose heart
I seemed to have broken.

"Oh, mother! dear mother," I whispered, with my lips close to her little
pink ear, "I don't want to give you pain, but I feel as if I must--I
must go."

To my utter astonishment she laid her hands upon my temples, thrust me
from her, and gazing passionately in my great sun-browned face she bent
forward, kissed me, and said:

"Yes, yes.  You've grown a great fellow now.  Go?  Yes, you must go.
God will help you, and bring you both safely back."

"Aw--ugh!  Aw--ugh!  Aw--ugh!" came from the verandah, three hideous
yells, indicative of the fact that Jimmy--the half-wild black who had
attached himself to me ever since the day I had met him spear-armed, and
bearing that as his only garment over the shoulder, and I shared with
him the bread and mutton I had taken for my expedition--was in a state
of the utmost grief.  In fact, he had thrown himself down on the sand,
and was wallowing and twisting himself about, beating up the dust with
his boomerang, and generally exciting poor old nurse's disgust.

"Mother!"  I cried; and making an effort she stood up erect and proud.

"Mr Grant," she exclaimed, "do you mean what you say?"

"Most decidedly, my dear madam," said the doctor.  "I should be unworthy
of the professor's friendship, and the charge he gave me to watch over
you in his absence, if I did not go."

"But your practice?"

"What is that, trifling as it is, to going to the help of him who gave
me his when I came out to the colony a poor and friendless man?"

"Thank you, doctor," she said, laying her hand in his.

"And I go the more willingly," he said smiling, "because I know it will
be the best prescription for your case.  It will bring you back your
health."

"But, doctor--"

"Don't say another word," he cried.  "Why, my dear Mrs Carstairs, it is
five years since I have had anything even approaching a holiday.  This
will be a splendid opportunity; and I can take care of Joe here, and he
can take care of me."

"That I will--if I can," I cried.

"I know you will, Joe," he said.  "And we'll bring back the professor
with all his collection of new plants for that London firm, on condition
that something fresh with a big red and yellow blossom is named after
me--lay the Scarlet Grantii, or the Yellow Unluckii in honour of my
non-success."

"You're never going to let him start, Miss Eleanor?" cried nurse.

"Would you have me stand between my son and his duty, nurse?" cried my
mother, flushing.

"Dearie me, no," sighed the old lady; "only it do seem such a wild-goose
chase.  There'll be no one to take care of us, and that dreadful black,
Jimmy"--nurse always said his name with a sort of disrelish--"will be
hanging about here all the time."

"Iss, dat's him, Jimmy, Jimmy, here Jimmy go.  Hi--wup--wup--wup, Jimmy
go too."

"Nonsense, Jimmy!"  I said; "I'm going to New Guinea to seek my father."

"Iss.  Hi--wup--wup--wup, Jimmy going to look for his fader."

"Why, you said he was dead," I cried.

"Iss, Jimmy fader dead, little pickaninny boy; Jimmy go look for him,
find him dere."

"Be quiet," I said, for the black was indulging in a kind of war-dance;
"you don't understand.  I'm going across the sea to find my father."

"Dat him.  Jimmy want go 'cross sea find him fader bad.  Hi! want go
there long time."

"Why, you never heard of the place before," I said.

"No, never heard him fore; want to go long time.  Jimmy go too."

"Why, what for?"  I said.

"Hunt wallaby--kedge fis--kill black fellow--take care Mass Joe--find um
fader.  Hi--wup--wup--wup!"

"He would be very useful to us, Joe," said the doctor.

"And I should like to take him," I said eagerly.

"Iss, Jimmy go," cried the black, who contrived, in spite of his bad
management of our language, to understand nearly everything that was
said, and who was keenly watching us all in turn.

"He would be just the fellow to take," said the doctor.

"Hi--wup--wup!  Jimmy juss a fellow to take."

"Then he shall go," I said; and the black bounded nearly to the ceiling,
making nurse utter a shriek, whereupon he thrust his boomerang into his
waistband, and dragged a waddy from the back, where it had hung down
like a stumpy tail, and showing his white teeth in a savage grin, he
began to caper about as if preparing to attack the old lady, till I
caught him by the arm, and he crouched at my feet like a dog.

"Come long," he said, pointing out at the sun, "walk five six hour--all
black dark; go sleep a morning."

"All in good time, Jimmy," I said.  "Go out and wait."  The black ran
out, and crouched down upon his heels in the verandah, evidently under
the impression that we were about to start at once; but Europeans bound
on an expedition want something besides a waddy, boomerang, and spear;
and with nurse shaking her head mournfully the while, my mother, the
doctor, and I held a council of war, which, after a time, was
interrupted by a curious noise between a grunt and a groan, which proved
to be from Jimmy's throat, for he was preparing himself for his journey
by having a nap.



CHAPTER TWO.

HOW WE PREPARED TO START, AND STARTED.

You will have gathered from all this that my father had been missing for
pretty well three years, and that he, a well-known botanist, had
accepted a commission from a well-known florist in the neighbourhood of
London to collect new plants for him, and in his quest he had made his
last unfortunate trip--which had followed one to Carpentaria--to New
Guinea.

We had heard from him twice, each time with a package of seeds and
plants, which we had forwarded to London.  Then there was an utter
cessation of news; one year had become two--then three--and it would
soon be four.

Quite a little fellow when he started, I had cried with disappointment
at being left behind.  Now I had grown into a big fellow for my age; I
had dreamed incessantly of making the attempt to find my father, and now
at last the time had come.

I believe I was quite as excited over the proposed journey as Jimmy, but
I did not go about throwing a spear at gum-trees, neither did I climb
the tallest eucalyptus to try if I could see New Guinea from the topmost
branches.  Moreover I did not show my delight on coming down, certain of
having seen this promised land, by picking out a low horizontal branch
and hanging from it by my toes.

All of these antics Jimmy did do, and many more, besides worrying me
every half-hour with--

"Come long--time a go find him fader."

Of course now I know that it would have been impossible for me to have
carried out my plans without the doctor, who was indefatigable, bringing
to bear as he did the ripe experience of a man who had been all over the
world pretty well before he came to Australia to make a practice; and
every day I had from him some useful hint.

He was quite as eager as I, but he met all my impatient words with--

"Let's do everything necessary first, Joe.  Recollect we are going to a
far more savage land than this, and where we can renew nothing but our
store of food.  Don't let's fail through being too hasty.  All in good
time."

But the time did seem so long, for there was a great deal to do.

Jimmy--who by the way really bore some peculiar native name that sounded
like Wulla Gurra--was fitted out with a serviceable sailor's suit, of
which he was very proud, and never prouder than when he could see it to
its best advantage.

This was in the wool barn, where, upon every opportunity, the black used
to retreat to relieve himself of the unwonted garb, and hang it up
against the shingle wall.  Then he would show his teeth to the gums and
squat down, embrace his knees, and gaze at the clothes.

When satisfied with the front he would rise deliberately, go to the
wall, turn every article, and have a good look at the other side.

We ran some risks at this time, for our henchman was given his first
lessons in the use of a rifle, and for a long time, no matter how the
doctor tried, it seemed as if it was impossible for the black to hold
the piece in any other direction than pointed straight at one of his
friends.  By slow degrees, though, he got over it, and wanted lessons in
loading and firing more often than his master was prepared to give them.

Jimmy had heard the report of a gun hundreds of times, but his
experience had never gone so far as holding the piece when it was fired;
and when, after being carefully shown how to take aim, he was treated to
a blank charge and pulled the trigger, the result was that I threw
myself on the ground and shrieked with laughter, while the doctor seated
himself upon a stump and held his sides, with the tears rolling down his
cheeks.

For at the flash and report Jimmy uttered a yell, dropped the rifle, and
turned and ran as hard as he could for the barn, never once looking
behind him.

A couple of minutes were, however, sufficient to let his fear evaporate,
and he came back waddy in fist, half shamefaced, half angry, and rubbing
his right shoulder the while.

"Don't do dat," he cried fiercely.  "Don't do dat.  Play trick, Mass
Joe.  Play trick, Jimmy."

"I didn't," I cried, laughing.  "Here; see me."

I took the rifle, put in a charge, and fired.

"There," I said, reloading.  "Now, try again."

Jimmy had on only his curtailed trousers, into whose waistband he
cautiously stuck the waddy, the knob at the end stopping it from falling
through, and gingerly taking the rifle once more to show that he was not
afraid, he held it loosely against his shoulder and fired again.

The gun kicked more than ever, for it was growing foul, and, uttering a
yell, Jimmy dashed it down, snatched the waddy from his waistband, and
began belabouring the butt of the piece before we could stop him, after
which he stood sulkily rubbing his right shoulder, and scowling at the
inanimate enemy that had given him a couple of blows.

One or two more experiments with the piece, however, taught the black
its merits and demerits to such an extent that he was never so happy as
when he was allowed to shoulder the formidable weapon, with which he
would have liked to go and fight some native tribe; and his constant
demand to me was for me to put in an extra charge so that he might have
what he called "big-bang."

The doctor took care that we should both be well furnished with every
necessary in arms, ammunition, and camp equipments, such as were light
and would go into a small space.  He got down from Sydney, too, a
quantity of showy electro-gilt jewellery and fancy beads, with common
knives, pistols, guns, and hatchets for presents, saying to me that a
showy present would work our way better with a savage chief than a great
deal of fighting, and he proved to be quite right in all he said.

Taken altogether we had an excellent outfit for the journey, my mother
eagerly placing funds at the doctor's disposal.  And then came the
question of how we were to get to the great northern island, for as a
rule facilities for touching there were not very great; but somehow this
proved to be no difficulty, all that we undertook being easily mastered,
every obstacle melting away at the first attack.  In fact the journey to
New Guinea was like a walk into a trap--wonderfully easy.  The
difficulty was how to get out again.

Perhaps had I known of the dangers we were to encounter I might have
shrunk from the task--I say might, but I hope I should not.  Still it
was better that I was in ignorance when, with the doctor, I set about
making inquiries at the harbour, and soon found a captain who was in the
habit of trading to the island for shells and trepang, which he
afterwards took on to Hongkong.

For a fairly liberal consideration he expressed himself willing to go
out of his way and land us where we liked, but he shook his head all the
same.

"You've cut out your work, youngster," he said; "and I doubt whether
you're going to sew it together so as to make a job."

"I'm going to try, captain," I said.

"That's your style," he said heartily, as he gave me a slap on the
shoulder.  "That's the word that moves everything, my boy--that word
`try.'  My brains and butter! what a lot `try' has done, and will always
keep doing.  Lor', it's enough to make a man wish he was lost, and his
son coming to look after him."

"Then you have a son, captain?"  I said, looking at him wistfully.

"Me?  Not a bit of it.  My wife never had no little 'uns, for we always
buys the boats, they arn't young ships.  I married my schooner, my lad;
she's my wife.  But there, I'm talking away with a tongue like an old
woman.  Send your traps aboard whenever you like, and--there, I like
you--you're a good lad, and I'll help you as much as ever I can.  Shake
hands."

It was like a fierce order, and he quite hurt me when we did shake
hands, even the doctor saying it was like putting your fist in a
screw-wrench.

Then we parted, the doctor and I to complete our preparations; the
various things we meant to take were placed on board, and now at last
the time had come when we must say _Good-bye_!

For the first time in my life I began to think very seriously of money
matters.  Up to this money had not been an object of much desire with
me.  A few shillings to send into Sydney for some special object now and
then was all I had required; but now I had to think about my mother
during my absence, and what she would do, and for the first time I
learned that there was no need for anxiety on that score; that my
father's private income was ample to place us beyond thought for the
future.  I found, too, that our nearest neighbour had undertaken to
watch over my mother's safety, not that there was much occasion for
watchfulness, the days gliding by at our place in the most perfect
peace, but it was satisfactory to feel that there were friends near at
hand.

I was for saying _good-bye_ at the little farm, but my mother insisted
upon accompanying us to Sydney, where I noticed that in spite of her
weakness and delicate looks, she was full of energy and excitement,
talking to me of my journey, begging me to be prudent and careful, and
on no account to expose myself to danger.

"And tell your father how anxiously I am looking forward to his return,"
she said to me on the last evening together; words that seemed to give
me confidence, for they showed me how thoroughly satisfied she was that
we would bring my father back.

We were too busy making preparations to the very last for there to be
much time for sadness, till the hour when the old skipper came, and was
shown up to our room.

He came stamping and blundering up in a pair of heavy sea-boots, and
began to salute me with a rough shout, when he caught sight of my pale
delicate-looking mother, and his whole manner changed.

"Lor', I didn't know as there were a lady here," he said in a husky
whisper, and snatching off his battered Panama hat, sticking out a leg
behind, and making a bow like a school-boy.  I beg your pardon for
intruding like, mum, but I only come to say that the schooner's warped
out, and that youngster here and Mr Grant must come aboard first thing
in the morning.

He sat down after a good deal of persuasion, and partook of
refreshment--liquid, and copiously.  But when, on leaving, my mother
followed him to the door, and I saw her try to make him a present, he
shook his head sturdily.

"No, no," he growled; "I asked my price for the trip, and the doctor
there paid me like a man.  Don't you be afeared for young chap there
while he's aboard my craft.  While he's with me I'll look after him as
if he was gold.  I don't like boys as a rule, for they're a worrit and
wants so much kicking before you can make 'em work, but I've kind of
took to youngster there, and I'll see him through.  Good night."

The captain went clumping down the stairs, and we could hear him
clearing his throat very loudly down the street.  Then the doctor, with
great delicacy, rose and left us alone, and I tried to look cheerful as
I sat for an hour with my mother before going to bed.

Did any of you who tried to look cheerful when you were going to leave
home for the first time ever succeed, especially with those wistful,
longing eyes watching you so earnestly all the time?  I'm not ashamed to
say that I did not, and that I almost repented of my decision, seeing as
I did what pain I was causing.

But I knew directly after that it was pain mingled with pleasure, and
that I was about to do my duty as a son.

Twice over, as I lay half sleeping, I fancied I saw, or really did see,
somebody gliding away from my bedside, and then all at once I found that
it was morning, and I got up, had a miserable breakfast, which seemed to
choke me, and soon after--how I don't know, for it all seemed very
dream-like--found myself on the wharf with my mother, waiting for the
boat that was to take us three travellers to the ship.

Jimmy was there, looking rather uncomfortable in his sailor's suit,
which was not constructed for the use of a man who always sat down upon
his heels.  The doctor was there, too, quiet and cheerful as could be,
and I made an effort to swallow something that troubled me, and which I
thought must be somehow connected with my breakfast.  But it would not
go down, and I could do nothing but gaze hard as through a mist at the
little delicate woman who was holding so tightly to my hands.  There was
a dimness and an unreality about everything.  Things seemed to be going
on in a way I did not understand, and I quite started at last as
somebody seemed to say, "Good-bye," and I found myself in the little
boat and on the way to the schooner.

Then all in the same dim, misty way I found myself aboard, watching the
wharf where my mother was standing with a lady friend, both waving their
handkerchiefs.  Then the wharf seemed to be slowly gliding away and
getting more and more distant, and then mixed up with it all came the
sound of the bluff captain's voice, shouting orders to the men, who were
hurrying about the deck.

Suddenly I started, for the doctor had laid his hand upon my shoulder.

"We're off, Joe," he said heartily; "the campaign has begun.  Now, then,
how do you feel for your work?"

His words electrified me, and I exclaimed excitedly:

"Ready, doctor, ready.  We'll find him and bring him back."



CHAPTER THREE.

HOW I MADE MY FIRST CHARGE WITH A LANCE.

We had not been a day at sea before our black follower was in trouble.
As a matter of course the men began joking and teasing him about the
awkward manner in which he wore his sailor's suit, asking him if it
wouldn't be better to have a coat of white paint over him instead, as
being cooler and less trouble, and the like.

All this Jimmy took with the greatest of equanimity, grasping the men's
meaning very well, and very often throwing himself flat on the deck and
squirming about, which was his way of showing his delight.  But it was
absolutely necessary that all this banter should come from the
Englishmen.  If one of the Malay sailors attempted such a familiarity,
Jimmy was furious.

"Hi--wup--wup!" he exclaimed to me after one of these bouts; "dirty
fellow, brown fellow no good.  Not white fellow, not black fellow.  Bad
for nothing."

One afternoon the doctor and I were sitting forward watching the
beautiful heaving waves, and talking over the plans we intended to
follow when we landed, and we had agreed that a small party was far more
likely to succeed than a large one, being more suitable for passing
unnoticed through the country.  We had just arrived at the point of
determining that we would engage six natives at a friendly shore village
to carry our baggage and act as guides, when the noise of some trouble
aft arose, and we turned to see a Malay sailor lying upon the deck, and
Jimmy showing his teeth fiercely, waddy in hand, after having given the
man what he afterwards called "a topper on de headums."

We ran up, fearing more mischief, for Jimmy could fight fiercely when
roused; and we were just in time, for as the doctor reached the Malay
the man had scrambled up, drawn his knife, and rushed at the black.  But
before he could strike, the doctor showed me what wonderful strength of
arm he possessed, by seizing the Malay by the waistband and arm and
literally swinging him over the low bulwark into the sea.

"That will cool his passion," said the doctor, smiling.  "I'm sorry I
did it though, captain," he said the next minute; "these men are very
revengeful."

"Too late to say that," cried the captain roughly.  "Here, hi! man
overboard!  Never mind the boat: he swims like a fish."

This was plain enough, for the Malay was making his way swiftly through
the water, and the captain ran aft with a coil of rope to throw to him
from the stern.

I ran too, and could see that as the man struck the water in a peculiar
fashion, he held his knife open in his hand, and was thinking whether he
would use it when the captain threw the rope, the light rings uncoiling
as they flew through the air and splashed the water.

"Here, look out!" cried the captain; but the man did not heed, but began
to beat the water furiously, uttering a strange gasping cry.

"Look, doctor!"  I cried, pointing, and leaning forward.

A low hiss escaped his lips as he, too, saw a dull, indistinct something
rising through the transparent sea.

"Yah, hi!  Bunyip debble fis!" shouted Jimmy excitedly.  "Bite sailor,
brown fellow.  Hoo.  Bite!"

The black gave a snap and a shake of the head, and then taking the long
sharp knife the doctor had given him from his belt, he tore off his
shirt and, it seemed to me, jumped out of his trousers.  Then the sun
seemed to flash from his shiny black skin for an instant, and he plunged
into the sea.

The exciting incidents of that scene are as plain before me now I write
as if they had taken place yesterday.  I saw the body of the black
strike up a foam of white water, and then glide down in a curve in the
sunlit sea, plainly crossing the course of the great fish, which had
altered its course on becoming aware of the second splash.

The Malay knew what he was doing, for ignoring the help of the rope he
allowed himself to drift astern, seeing as he did that the shark's
attention had been drawn to the black.

"He knows what he's about," said the captain.  "If he laid hold of that
there rope, and we tried to draw him aboard, that snipperjack would take
him like a perch does a worm in the old ponds at home.  Here, lower away
that boat, and I'll go and get the whale lance."

Away went the skipper, while the men lowered the boat; and I was so
intent upon the movements of the great fish that I started as the boat
kissed the water with a splash.

The shark was about ten feet long and unusually thick; and as it kept
just below the surface the doctor and I could watch its every movement,
guided by the strange but slow wave of the long, curiously-lobed tail.

"Now, you brown fellow, you come on.  Knife, knife!"

As Jimmy shouted out these words he raised himself in the water and
curved over like a porpoise, diving right down, and at the same moment
the shark gave a sweep with its tail, the combined disturbance making so
great an eddy that it was impossible to see what took place beneath the
surface.  Then all at once there was a horrible discoloration in the
sea, and I drew back, holding on by the bulwarks with both hands to keep
myself from falling.  For, as the water grew discoloured, so did the air
seem to glow before my eyes.  I was sick and dizzy; the deck seemed to
rise in waves, and a curious kind of singing noise in my ears made
everything sound distant and strange.  There was a strange despairing
feeling, too, in my heart, and my breath came thick and short, till I
was brought partly to myself by hearing a voice shouting for a rope, and
then the mist gradually cleared away, and I became aware of the fact
that the boat was moving before me, and that the round, shiny black face
of Jimmy was close at hand.

A few minutes later both Jimmy and the Malay were aboard, the former
throwing himself flat on his back to rest, for he was panting heavily
after his exertions.

"Big bunyip debble, Mass Joe," he sputtered; "swim more stronger Jimmy,
but no got knife.  Tick black fellow knife in um lot o' time.  Tick it
in him frontums, tick it in ums back ums tight, and make um dibe down
and take Jimmy much long ways."

"Why didn't you leave go of the knife, my man?" said the doctor.

"Leave go dat big noo knife?" cried Jimmy sharply.  "Let bunyip fis have
dat noo knife?"

Jimmy did not finish, but shook his head from side to side, so that
first one black ear went into the puddle of water on the deck, then the
other, while his lips parted in a tremendously long grin, which seemed
to say, "Black fellow knows better than to do such a stupid thing as
that."

Then, as if made of india-rubber, Jimmy drew his heels in, gave a
spring, and leaped to his feet, running to the side, and then throwing
up his arms with delight.

"Dere um is, Mass Joe; turn up him under frontums like fis on hook an'
line."

For there was the monster making an effort to keep in its normal
position, as it swam slowly round and round, but always rolling back,
and rising helplessly every time it tried to dive.

"Jimmy sorry for you," cried the black.  "Plenty good to eat like much
muttons.  Go down boat bring him board."

"Well, I don't know about good meat, blackee, but we may as well have
his head to boil out his jaws," said the captain, who was standing
looking on, whale lance in hand.

"Go down and put him out of his misery, captain," I said, "and take me
too."

"Oh! all right, my lad," he said, laughing.  "You may do the job if you
like."

"May I?"

"To be sure," he said; and I jumped down into the boat, after he had
lowered himself, bear fashion, on to one of the thwarts.

"Here, send out one of the sailors," said the doctor.  "I'll go too."

One of the men returned to the deck, looking rather glum, and the doctor
took his place, while I sympathised with that sailor and wished that the
doctor had not spoken, for I felt sure that he had come down into the
boat to take care of me, and it made me feel young and childish.

But I did not show my annoyance, I am glad to say; and a minute later
the men gave way, and the boat glided slowly towards where the shark had
drifted--I all the while standing up in the bows, lance in hand, full of
the desire to make use of it, and feeling a cruel, half savage sensation
that it would be exceedingly pleasant to drive that lance right home.

"Now my water Saint George the Second," cried the doctor banteringly;
"mind you slay the sea-dragon."

"Mind what you're after, youngster," said the captain.  "Give it him
close below the gills; a good dig and then draw back sharp."

"All right!"  I cried back to the captain, for I was offended by the
doctor's chaff; it made me feel small before the men.  Then, recalling
what I had read that a harpooner would do under such circumstances, I
shouted: "Give way, boys!"

I'd have given something to have been back on board the schooner just
then, for a roar of laughter greeted my command, and I felt that I was
very young, and had made myself rather ridiculous, while to add to my
discomfiture the men obeyed my order with such energy that the boat gave
a jerk, and I was nearly sent back in a sitting position on the foremost
man.

There was another laugh at this, and the doctor said drily:

"No, no, my lad; the lance is for the shark, not for us."

I recovered my balance without a word, and planting my feet firmly wide
apart, remained silent and looking very red, while I held my weapon
ready.

It was an old rusty affair, with a stiff pole about eight feet long, and
was used by the captain for killing those curious creatures which no
doubt gave rise to the idea of there being such things as tritons or
mermen--I mean the manatees or dugongs that in those days used to swarm
in the warmer waters of the Eastern Australian coast.

"Keep it up, my lads; pull!" said the captain, who had an oar over the
stern to steer.  "We must get back soon."

I thought this was because the shark, which had ceased to swim round and
round, was now laboriously making its way with the current at the rate
of pretty well two miles an hour; but as the captain spoke I could see
that he was scanning the horizon, and I heard the doctor ask if anything
was wrong.

"Looks dirty," he growled; and I remember wondering half-laughingly
whether a good shower would not wash it clean, when the skipper went on:
"Gets one o' them storms now and then 'bout here.  Now, my lads; with a
will!"

The water surged and rattled beneath my feet, and I was forgetting my
annoyance and beginning to enjoy the excitement of my ride; and all the
more that the shark had once more stopped in its steady flight, and was
showing its white under parts some fifty yards away.

"Ready, my lad!" cried the captain.  "I'll steer you close in.  Give it
him deep, and draw back sharp."

I nodded, and held the lance ready poised as we drew nearer and nearer,
and I was ready with set teeth and every nerve tingling to deliver the
thrust, when _whish_! _splash_! the brute gave its tail a tremendous
lash, and darted away, swimming along with its back fin ploughing the
water, and apparently as strong as ever.

"Only his flurry, my lad.  Pull away, boys; we'll soon have him now."

The men rowed hard, and the boat danced over the swell, rising up one
slope, gliding down another, or so it seemed to me.

"He'll turn up the white directly," cried the captain.  "Take it coolly
and you'll have him.  I'll put you close alongside, and don't you miss."

"Not I, sir," I shouted without turning my head, for it seemed such a
very easy task; and away we went once more, getting nearer and nearer,
till the back fin went out of sight, came up again, went out of sight
the other way, and then there was the shining white skin glistening in
the sun.

There was another swirl and the shark made a fresh effort, but this time
it was weaker and the boat gained upon it fast.

"Now, boys, pull hard, and when I say `In oars,' stop, and we'll run
close up without scaring the beggar.  Pull--pull--pull--pull!  Now!  In
oars!"

The men ceased rowing, the boat glided on from the impetus previously
given, and I was just about to deliver a thrust when the wounded
creature saw its enemy, and as if its strength had been renewed, went
off again with a dart.

"Look at that," cried the captain.  "Never mind, he's not going to get
away.  We'll have him yet."

"We seem to be getting a long way from the schooner," I heard the doctor
say, and I turned round upon him quite angrily.

"Oh!"  I cried, "don't stop.  We nearly had him that time."

"Well, you shall have another try, my boy," said the captain.  "Pull
away."

We were going pretty fast all the time, and again and again we drew
near, but always to be disappointed, and I stamped my foot with anger,
as, every time, the brute darted off, leaving us easily behind.

"Better let me have the lance, Joe," said the doctor smiling.

"No, no," I cried.  "I must have a try now."

"Let him be," growled the captain; "nobody couldn't have lanced him if
he'd tried.  Now look out, lad!  Steady, boys!  In oars!  Let's go up
more softly.  That's the style.  We shall have him this time.  Now you
have him, lad; give it him--deep."

All these words came in a low tone of voice as the boat glided nearer
and nearer to where the shark was swimming slowly and wavering to and
fro, and in my excitement I drew back, raising the lance high, and just
as the monster was about to dash off in a fresh direction I threw myself
forward, driving the point of the lance right into the soft flesh,
forgetful of my instructions about a sharp thrust and return, for the
keen lance point must have gone right through, and before I realised
what was the matter I was snatched out of the boat; there was a splash,
the noise of water thundering, a strangling sensation in my nostrils and
throat, and I was being carried down with a fierce rush into the depths
of the sea.



CHAPTER FOUR.

HOW I WAS NOT DROWNED, AND HOW WE CHASED THAT SCHOONER.

I don't remember much about that dive, except that the water made a
great deal of noise in my ears, for the next thing that occurred seemed
to be that I was lying on my back, with the back of my neck aching,
while the doctor was pumping my arms up and down in a remarkably curious
manner.

"What's the matter?"  I said quickly; and then again in a sharp angry
voice, "Be quiet, will you?  Don't!"

"Are you better, young 'un?" said the captain, who seemed to be swollen
and clumsy looking.

"Better?  Here!"  I cried as a flash of recollection came back, "where's
the shark?"

"Floating alongside," said the doctor, wiping the great drops of
perspiration from his forehead.

I pulled myself up and looked over the side, where the great fish was
floating quite dead, with one of the sailors making fast a line round
the thin part of the tail.

"Why, I know," I cried; "he dragged me down."

It was all plain enough now.  The captain had fitted a lanyard to the
shaft of the lance, so that it should not be lost, and I had got this
twisted round one of my wrists in such a way that I was literally
snatched out of the boat when it tightened; and I felt a strange kind of
shudder run through me as the doctor went on to say softly:

"I had begun to give you up, Joe, my boy."

"Only the shark give it up as a bad job, my lad.  That stroke of yours
finished him, and he come up just in time for us to get you into the
boat and pump the wind into you again--leastwise the doctor did."

"The best way to restore respiration, captain."

"When you've tried my plan first, my lad," replied the captain.  "What
is it drowns folks, eh?  Why, water.  Too much water, eh?  Well, my plan
is to hold up head down'ards and feet in the air till all the salt-water
has runned out."

"The surest way to kill a half-drowned person, captain," said the doctor
authoritatively.

"Mebbe it is, mebbe it isn't," said the captain surlily.  "All I know is
that I've brought lots back to life that way, and rolling 'em on
barrels."

I shuddered and shivered, and the men laughed at my drenched aspect, a
breach of good manners that the captain immediately resented.

"There, make fast that shark to the ring-bolt, and lay hold of your oars
again.  Pull away, there's a hurricane coming afore long."

As he spoke he looked long at a dull yellow haze that seemed to be
creeping towards the sun.

"Had we not better let the fish go?" said the doctor anxiously.

"No, I want the oil," said the captain.  "We've had trouble enough to
get him, and I don't mean to throw him away.  Now, my lads, pull."

The men tugged steadily at their oars, but the dead fish hung behind
like a log, and our progress was very slow.  Every now and then it gave
a slight quiver, but that soon ceased, and it hung quite passively from
the cord.

I was leaning over the stem, feeling rather dizzy and headachy when, all
at once, the captain shouted to me to "cut shark adrift; we're making
too little way.  That schooner's too far-off for my liking."  I drew my
knife, and after hauling the fish as closely as I could to the side I
divided the thin line, and as I did so the boat seemed to dart away from
its burden.

It was none too soon, for the yellow haze seemed to be increasing
rapidly, and the wind, which at one minute was oppressively calm, came
the next in ominous hot puffs.

"Why, the schooner's sailing away from us," cried the captain suddenly.
"Hang me if I don't believe that scoundrel of a Malay has got to the
helm, and is taking her right away out of spite."

"Don't begin prophesying evil like that, captain," cried the doctor
sharply.  "Here, man, I can pull; let's take an oar apiece and help."

"I wasn't croaking," growled the captain; "but whether or no, that's
good advice.  No, no, youngster, you're not strong enough to pull."

"I can row," I said quickly; and the captain making no farther
objection, we three pulled for the next half-hour, giving the men a good
rest, when they took their turn, and we could see that while the haze
seemed nearer the schooner was quite as far-off as ever.  There was a
curious coppery look, too, about the sun that made everything now look
weird and unnatural, even to the doctor's face, which in addition looked
serious to a degree I had never seen before.

"There'll be somebody pitched overboard--once I get back on deck, and no
boat ready to pick him up.  Here, what does he mean?"

He stood up in the boat waving his hat to those on board the little
vessel; but no heed was paid, and the captain ground his teeth with
rage.

"I'll let him have something for this," growled the captain.  "There,
pull away, men.  What are you stopping for?"

The men tugged at their oars once more, after glancing uneasily at each
other and then at the sky.

"If I don't give him--"

"Let's get on board first, captain," said the doctor, firmly.

"Ay, so we will," he growled.  "The brown-skinned scoundrel!"

"That's land, isn't it, captain?"  I said, pointing to a low line on our
left.

"Ay, worse luck," he said.

"Worse luck, captain?  Why, we could get ashore if we did not overtake
the schooner."

"Get ashore!  Who wants to get ashore, boy?  That's where my schooner
will be.  He'll run her on the reefs, as sure as I'm longing for
two-foot of rope's-end and a brown back afore me."

"A crown apiece for you, my lads, as soon as you get us aboard," cried
the doctor, who had been looking uneasily at the men.

His words acted like magic, and the oars bent, while the water rattled
and pattered under our bows.

"That's the sort o' fire to get up steam, doctor," said the captain;
"but we shall never overtake my vessel, unless something happens.  I'd
no business to leave her, and bring away my men."

"I'm sorry, captain," I said deprecatingly.  "It seems as if it were my
fault."

"Not it," he said kindly.  "It was my fault, lad--mine."

All this while the mist was steadily moving down upon us, and the
captain was watching it with gloomy looks when his eyes were not fixed
upon the schooner, which kept on gliding away.  The doctor's face, too,
wore a very serious look, which impressed me more perhaps than the
threatenings of the storm.  For, though I knew how terrible the
hurricanes were at times, my experience had always been of them ashore,
and I was profoundly ignorant of what a typhoon might be at sea.

"There," cried the captain at last, after a weary chase, "it's of no
use, my lads, easy it is.  I shall make for the land and try to get
inside one of the reefs, doctor, before the storm bursts."

"The schooner is not sailing away now," I said eagerly.

"Not sailing, boy?  Why she's slipping away from us like--No, no: you're
right, lad, she's--Pull, my lads, pull; let's get aboard.  That Malay
scoundrel has run her on the reef."



CHAPTER FIVE.

HOW WE FOUND JACK PENNY.

The captain's ideas were not quite correct.  Certainly the little
trading vessel had been run upon one of the many reefs that spread in
all directions along the dangerous coast; but it was not the Malay who
was the guilty party.

As far as I was concerned it seemed to me a good job, for it brought the
schooner to a stand-still, so that we could overtake it.  No thought
occurred to me that the rocks might have knocked a hole in her bottom,
and that if a storm came on she would most likely go to pieces.

Very little was said now, for every one's attention was taken up by the
threatened hurricane, and our efforts to reach the schooner before it
should come on.

It was a long severe race, in which we all took a turn at the oars,
literally rowing as it seemed to me for our lives.  At times it was as
if we must be overtaken by the fierce black clouds in the distance,
beneath which there was a long misty white line.  The sea-birds kept
dashing by us, uttering wild cries, and there was overhead an intense
silence, while in the distance we could hear a low dull murmuring roar,
that told of the coming mischief.

Every now and then it seemed to me that we must be overtaken by the long
surging line, that it was now plain to see was pursuing us, and I
wondered whether we should be able to swim and save our lives when it
came upon us with a hiss and a roar, such as I had often heard when on
the beach.

"We shall never do it," said one of the men, who half-jumped from his
seat the next moment as the captain leaned forward from where he was
rowing and gave him a sound box on the ears.

"Pull, you cowardly humbug!" he cried.  "Not do it?  A set of furriners
wouldn't do it; but we're Englishmen, and we're going to do it.  If we
don't, it won't be our fault.  Pull!"

This trifling incident had its effect, for the men pulled harder than
ever, exhausted though they were.  It was a struggle for life now, and I
knew it; but somehow I did not feel frightened in the least, but stunned
and confused, and at the same time interested, as I saw the great line
of haze and foam coming on.  Then I was listening to the dull roar,
which was rapidly increasing into what seemed a harsh yell louder than
thunder.

"Pull, my lads!" shouted the captain, with his voice sounding strange
and harsh in the awful silence around us, for, loud as was the roar of
the storm, it seemed still afar off.

The men pulled, and then we relieved them again, with the great drops
gathering on our faces in the intense heat; and my breath came thick and
short, till I felt as it were a sense of burning in my chest.  Then I
grew half-blind with my eyes staring back at the wall of haze; and then,
as I felt that I should die if I strained much longer at that oar, I
heard the captain shout:

"In oars!" and I found that we were alongside the schooner, and close
under her lee.

There was just time to get on board, and we were in the act of hauling
up the boat, when, with an awful whistle and shriek, the storm was upon
us, and we were all clinging for life to that which was nearest at hand.

Now, I daresay you would like me to give you a faithful account of my
impressions of that storm, and those of one who went through it from the
time that the hurricane struck us till it passed over, leaving the sky
clear, the sun shining, and the sea heaving slowly and without a single
crest.

I feel that I can do justice to the theme, so here is my faithful
description of that storm.

_A horrid wet, stifling, flogging row_.

That's all I can recollect.  That's all I'm sure that the doctor could
recollect, or the captain or anybody else.  We were just about drowned
and stunned, and when we came to ourselves it was because the storm had
passed over.

"What cheer, ho!" shouted the captain, and we poor flogged and drenched
objects sat up and looked about us, to find that the waves had lifted
the schooner off the rocks, and driven her a long way out of her course;
that the sails that had been set were blown to ribbons; and finally that
the schooner, with the last exception, was very little the worse for the
adventure.

"She ain't made no water much," said the captain, after going below;
"and--here, I say, where's that Malay scoundrel?"

"Down in the cabin--locked in," said an ill-used voice; and I rubbed the
salt-water out of my eyes, and stared at the tall thin figure before me,
leaning up against the bulwark as if his long thin legs were too weak to
support his long body, though his head was so small that it could not
have added very much weight.

"Why, hallo!  Who the blue jingo are you?" roared the skipper.

The tall thin boy wrinkled up his forehead, and did not answer.

"Here, I say, where did you spring from?" roared the captain.

The tall thin boy took one hand out of his trousers' pocket with some
difficulty, for it was so wet that it clung, and pointed down below.

The skipper scratched his head furiously, and stared again.

"Here, can't you speak, you long-legged thing?" he cried.  "Who are
you?"

"Why, it's Jack Penny!"  I exclaimed.

"Jack who?" cried the captain.

"Jack Penny, sir.  His father is a squatter about ten miles from our
place."

"Well, but how came _he_--I mean that tall thin chap, not his father--to
be squatting aboard my schooner?"

"Why, Jack," I said, "when did you come aboard?"

"Come aboard?" he said slowly, as if it took him some time to understand
what I said.  "Oh, the night before you did."

"But where have you been all the time?"

"Oh, down below there," said Jack slowly.

"But what did you come for?"

"Wanted to," he said coolly.  "If I had said so, they wouldn't--you
wouldn't have let me come."

"But why did you come, Jack?"  I said.

"'Cause I wanted," he replied surlily.  "Who are you that you're to have
all the fun and me get none!"

"Fun!"  I said.

"Yes, fun.  Ain't you goin' to find your father?"

"Of course I am; but what's that got to do with fun?"

"Never you mind; I've come, and that's all about it," he said slowly;
and thrusting his hands back into his trousers' pockets as fast as the
wet clinging stuff would let him, he began to whistle.

"But it arn't all about it," cried the captain; "and so you'll find.
You arn't paid no passage, and I arn't going to have no liberties took
with my ship.  Here, where's that Malay chap?"

"I told you where he was, didn't I?" snarled Jack Penny.  "Are you deaf?
In the cabin, locked in."

"What's he doing locked in my cabin?" roared the captain.  "I say, are
you skipper here, or am I?  What's he doing in my cabin locked in?"

"Rubbing his sore head, I s'pose," drawled Jack Penny.  "I hit him as
hard as I could with one o' them fence rails."

"Fence rails!" cried the captain, who looked astounded at the big thin
boy's coolness, and then glanced in the direction he pointed beneath the
bulwarks.  "Fence rails!  What do you mean--one of them capstan bars?"

"I don't know what you call 'em," said Jack.  "I give him a regular
wunner on the head."

"What for, you dog?"

"Here, don't you call me a dog or there'll be a row," cried Jack, rising
erect and standing rather shakily about five feet eleven, looking like a
big boy stretched to the bursting point and then made fast.  "He was
going to kill the black fellow with his knife after knocking him down.
I wasn't going to stand by and see him do that, was I?"

"Well, I s'pose not," said the captain, who looked puzzled.  "Where is
the black fellow?  Here, where's Jimmy?"

"Down that square hole there, that wooden well-place," said Jack,
pointing to the forecastle hatch.  "He slipped down there when the
yaller chap hit him."

"Look here--" said the captain as I made for the hatch to look after
Jimmy.  "But stop a minute, let's have the black up."

Two of the men went below and dragged up poor Jimmy, who was quite
stunned, and bleeding freely from a wound on the head.

"Well, that's some proof of what you say, my fine fellow," continued the
captain, as the doctor knelt down to examine poor Jimmy's head and I
fetched some water to bathe his face.  "What did you do next?"

"Next?  Let me see," drawled Jack Penny; "what did I do next?  Oh!  I
know.  That chap was running away with the ship, and I took hold of that
wheel thing and turned her round, so as to come back to you when you
kept waving your cap."

"Hah! yes.  Well, what then?"

"Oh, the thing wanted oiling or greasing; it wouldn't go properly.  It
got stuck fast, and the ship wouldn't move; and then the storm came.  I
wish you wouldn't bother so."

"Well, I _am_ blessed," cried the captain staring.  "I should have been
proud to have been your father, my young hopeful.  'Pon my soul I
should.  You are a cool one, you are.  You go and run the prettiest
little schooner there is along the coast upon the rocks, and then you
have the confounded impudence to look me in the face and tell me the
rudder wants greasing and it stuck."

"So it did!" cried Jack Penny indignantly.  "Think I don't know?  I
heard it squeak.  You weren't on board.  The ship wouldn't move
afterwards."

"Here, I say; which are you?" cried the captain; "a rogue or a fool?"

"I d'know," said Jack coolly.  "Father used to say I was a fool
sometimes.  P'r'aps I am.  I say, though, if I were you I'd go and tie
down that yaller Malay chap in the cabin.  He's as vicious as an old man
kangaroo in a water-hole."

"Your father's wrong, my fine fellow," said the captain with a grim
smile; "you ar'n't a fool, for a fool couldn't give such good advice as
that.  Here, doctor, p'r'aps you'll lend me one of your shooting things.
You can get into your cabin; I can't get into mine."

The doctor nodded, and in the excitement of the time we forgot all about
our drenched clothes as he went down and returned directly with his
revolver, and another for the captain's use.

"Thank'ye, doctor," said the captain grimly, cocking the piece.  "I
don't want to use it, and I daresay the sight of it will cool our yaller
friend; but it's just as well to be prepared.  What! are you coming too?
Thought your trade was to mend holes and not make 'em."

"My trade is to save life, captain," said the doctor quietly.  "Perhaps
I shall be helping to save life by coming down with you."

"P'r'aps you will, doctor.  Here, we don't want you two boys."

"We only want to come and see," I said in an ill-used tone; and before
the doctor could speak the captain laughingly said, "Come on," and we
followed them down below, the men bringing up the rear, armed with bars
and hatchets.

The captain did not hesitate for a moment, but went straight down to the
cabin door, turned the key, and threw it open, though all the while he
knew that there was a man inside fiercer than some savage beast.  But
had he been a little more cautious it would have saved trouble, for the
Malay had evidently been waiting as he heard steps, and as the door was
opened he made a spring, dashed the doctor and captain aside, overset
me, and, as the men gave way, reached the deck, where he ran right
forward and then close up to the foremast, stood with his long knife or
kris in his hand, rolling his opal eyeballs, and evidently prepared to
strike at the first who approached.

"The dog! he has been at the spirits," growled the captain fiercely.
"Confound him!  I could shoot him where he stands as easy as could be;
but I arn't like you, doctor, I don't like killing a man.  Never did
yet, and don't want to try."

"Don't fire at him," said the doctor excitedly; "a bullet might be
fatal.  Let us all rush at him and beat him down."

"That's all very fine, doctor," said the captain; "but if we do some
one's sure to get an ugly dig or two from that skewer.  Two or three of
us p'r'aps.  You want to get a few surgery jobs, but I'd rather you
didn't."

All this while the Malay stood brandishing his kris and showing his
teeth at us in a mocking smile, as if we were a set of the greatest
cowards under the sun.

"Look here, Harriet," cried the captain; "you'd better give in; we're
six to one, and must win.  Give in, and you shall have fair play."

"Cowards! come on, cowards!" shouted the Malay fiercely, and he made a
short rush from the mast, and two of the hatchet men retreated; but the
Malay only laughed fiercely, and shrank back to get in shelter by the
mast.

"We shall have to rush him or shoot him," said the captain, rubbing his
nose with pistol barrel.  "Now then, you dog; surrender!" he roared; and
lowering the pistol he fired at the Malay's feet, the bullet splintering
up the deck; but the fellow only laughed mockingly.

"We shall have to rush him," growled the captain; "unless you can give
him a dose of stuff, doctor, to keep him quiet."

"Oh, yes; I can give him a dose that will quiet him for a couple of
hours or so, but who's to make him take it?"

"When we treed the big old man kangaroo who ripped up Pompey, Caesar,
and Crassus," drawled Jack Penny, who was looking on with his hands in
his pockets, "I got up the tree and dropped a rope with a noose in it
over his head.  Seems to me that's what you ought to do now."

"Look'ye here," cried the captain, "don't you let your father call you
fool again, youngster, because it's letting perhaps a respectable old
man tell lies.  Tell you what, if you'll shin up the shrouds, and drop a
bit of a noose over his head while we keep him in play, I won't say
another word about your coming on board without leave."

"Oh, all right!  I don't mind trying to oblige you, but you must mind he
don't cut it if I do."

"You leave that to me," cried the captain.  "I'll see to that.  There,
take that thin coil there, hanging on a belaying-pin."

The tall thin fellow walked straight to the coil of thin rope, shook it
out, and made a running noose at the end, and then, with an activity
that surprised me, who began to feel jealous that this thin weak-looking
fellow should have proved himself more clever and thoughtful than I was,
he sprang into the shrouds, the Malay hardly noticing, evidently
believing that the boy was going aloft to be safe.  He looked up at him
once, as Jack Penny settled himself at the masthead, but turned his
attention fiercely towards us as the captain arranged his men as if for
a rush, forming them into a semicircle.

"When I say ready," cried the captain, "all at him together."

The Malay heard all this, and his eyes flashed and his teeth glistened
as he threw himself into an attitude ready to receive his foes, his body
bent forward, his right and left arms close to his sides, and his whole
frame well balanced on his legs.

"Ready?" cried the captain.

"All ready!" was the reply; and I was so intent upon the fierce lithe
savage that I forgot all about Jack Penny till I heard the men answer.

There was the whizzing noise of a rope thrown swiftly, and in an instant
a ring had passed over the Malay's body, which was snatched tight,
pinioning his arms to his side, and Jack Penny came down with a rush on
the other side of the fore-yard, drawing the savage a few feet from the
deck, where he swung helplessly, and before he could recover himself he
had been seized, disarmed, and was lying bound upon the deck.

"I didn't mean to come down so fast as that," drawled Jack, rubbing his
back.  "I've hurt myself a bit."

"Then we'll rub you," cried the captain joyously.  "By George, my boy,
you're a regular two yards of trump."

The excitement of the encounter with the Malay being over, there was
time to see to poor Jimmy, who was found to be suffering from a very
severe cut on the head, one of so serious a nature that for some time
the poor fellow lay insensible; but the effect of bathing and bandaging
his wound was to make him open his eyes at last, and stare round for
some moments before he seemed to understand where he was.  Then
recollection came back, and he grinned at me and the doctor.

The next moment a grim look of rage came over his countenance, and
springing up he rushed to where the Malay was lying upon the deck under
the bulwarks, and gave him a furious kick.

"Bad brown fellow!" he shouted.  "Good for nothing!  Hi--wup--wup--wup!"

Every utterance of the word _wup_ was accompanied by a kick, and the
result was that the Malay sprang up, snatched his kris from where it had
been thrown on the head of a cask, and striking right and left made his
way aft, master of the deck once more.

"Well, that's nice," growled the captain.

"I thought them knots wouldn't hold," drawled Jack Penny.  "He's been
wriggling and twisting his arms and legs about ever since he lay there.
I thought he'd get away."

"Then why didn't you say so, you great, long-jointed two-foot rule?"
roared the captain.  "Here, now then, all together.  I'm skipper here.
Rush him, my lads; never mind his skewer."

The captain's words seemed to electrify his little crew, and, I venture
to say, his passengers as well.  Every one seized some weapon, and,
headed by the skipper, we charged down upon the savage as he stood
brandishing his weapon.

He stood fast, watchful as a tiger, for some moments, and then made a
dash at our extreme left, where Jack Penny and I were standing; and I
have no doubt that he would have cut his way through to our cost, but
for a quick motion of the captain, who struck out with his left hand,
hitting the Malay full in the cheek.

The man made a convulsive spring, and fell back on the edge of the
bulwarks, where he seemed to give a writhe, and then, before a hand
could reach him, there was a loud splash, and he had disappeared in the
sea.

We all rushed to the side, but the water was thick from the effects of
the storm, and we could not for a few moments make out anything.  Then
all at once the swarthy, convulsed face of the man appeared above the
wave, and he began to swim towards the side, yelling for help.

"Ah!" said the skipper, smiling, "that's about put him out.  Nothing
like cold water for squenching fire."

"Hi--wup! hi--wup!" shouted Jimmy, who forgot his wound, and danced up
and down, holding on by the bulwarks, his shining black face looking
exceedingly comic with a broad bandage of white linen across his brow.
"Hi--wup! hi--wup!" he shouted; "bunyip debble shark coming--bite um
legs."

"Help!" shrieked the Malay in piteous tones, as he swam on, clutching at
the slippery sides of the schooner.

"Help!" growled the captain; "what for?  Here, you, let me have that
there kris.  Hitch it on that cord."

As he spoke the captain threw down the thin line with which the Malay
had been bound, the poor wretch snatching at it frantically; but as he
did so it was pulled away from his despairing clutch.

"I could noose him," drawled Jack Penny coolly.  "I've often caught
father's rams like that."

"Yes, but your father's rams hadn't got knives," said the captain
grimly.

"No, but they'd got horns," said Jack quietly.  "Ain't going to drown
him, are you?"

"Not I, boy; he'll drown himself if we leave him alone."

"I don't like to see fellows drown," said Jack; and he left the bulwarks
and sat down on the hatchway edge.  "Tell a fellow when it's all over,
Joe Carstairs."

"Help, help!" came hoarsely from the poor wretch; and my hands grew wet
inside, and a horrible sensation seemed to be attacking my chest, as I
watched the struggles of the drowning man with starting eyes.  For
though he swam like a fish, the horror of his situation seemed to have
unnerved him, and while he kept on swimming, it was with quick wearying
effort, and he was sinking minute by minute lower in the water.

"For Heaven's sake, throw the poor wretch a rope, captain," said the
doctor.

"What! to come aboard and knife some of us?" growled the captain.
"Better let him drown.  Plenty of better ones than him to be had for a
pound a month."

"Oh, captain!"  I cried indignantly, for my feelings were too much for
me; and I seized a rope just as the Malay went down, after uttering a
despairing shriek.

"Let that rope alone, boy," said the skipper with a grim smile.  "There,
he's come up again.  Ketch hold!" he cried, and he threw his line so
that the Malay could seize it, which he did, winding it round and round
one arm, while the slowly-sailing schooner dragged him along through the
sea.  "I'm only giving him a reg'lar good squencher, doctor.  I don't
want him aboard with a spark left in him to break out again: we've had
enough of that.  Haul him aboard, lads, and shove him in the chain
locker to get dry.  We'll set him ashore first chance."

The Malay was hauled aboard with no very gentle hands by the white
sailors, and as soon as he reached the deck he began crawling to the
captain's feet, to which he clung, with gesture after gesture full of
humility, as ha talked excitedly in a jargon of broken English and
Malay.

"That's what I don't like in these fellows," said Jack Penny quietly;
"they're either all bubble or else all squeak."

"Yes; he's about squenched now, squire," said the captain.  "Here, shove
him under hatches, and it's lucky for you I'm not in a hanging humour
to-day.  You'd better behave yourself, or you may be brought up again
some day when I am."

As the captain spoke to the streaming, shivering wretch he made a noose
in the rope he held, manipulating it as if he were really going to hang
the abject creature, in whom the fire of rage had quite become extinct.
Then the sailors took hold of him, and he uttered a despairing shriek;
but he cooled down as he found that he was only to be made a prisoner,
and was thrust below, with Jimmy dancing a war-dance round him as he
went, the said dance consisting of bounds from the deck and wavings of
his waddy about his head.

As the Malay was secured, Jack Penny rose from his seat and walked to
the side of the vessel, to spit into the water with every sign of
disgust upon his face.

"Yah!" he said; "I wouldn't squeak like that, not if they hung me."

"Well, let's see," cried the captain, catching him by the collar;
"hanging is the punishment for stowaways, my fine fellow."

"Get out!" said Jack, giving himself a sort of squirm and shaking
himself free.  "You ain't going to scare me; and, besides, you know what
you said.  I say, though, when are we going to have something to eat?"

The captain stared at Jack's serious face for a few moments, and then he
joined with the doctor and me in a hearty laugh.

"I don't well understand you yet, my fine fellow," he said; "perhaps I
shall, though, afore I've done.  Here, come down; you do look as if a
little wholesome vittles would do you good.  Are you hungry then?"

"Hungry!" said Jack, without a drawl, and he gave his teeth a gnash;
"why, I ain't had nothing but some damper and a bottle o' water since I
came on board."



CHAPTER SIX.

HOW JIMMY WAS FRIGHTENED BY THE BUNYIP.

"Oh, I don't know that I've got any more to say about it," said Jack
Penny to me as we sat next day in the bows of the schooner, with our
legs dangling over the side.  "I heard all about your going, and there
was nothing to do at home now, so I said to myself that I'd go, and here
I am."

"Yes, here you are," I said; "but you don't mean to tell me that you
intended to go up the country with us?"

"Yes, I do," he said.

"Nonsense, Jack! it is impossible!"  I said warmly.

"I say!"

"Well?"

"New Guinea don't belong to you, does it?"

"Why, of course not."

"Oh, I thought p'r'aps you'd bought it."

"Don't talk nonsense, Jack."

"Don't you talk nonsense then, and don't you be so crusty.  If I like to
land in New Guinea, and take a walk through the country, it's as free
for me as it is for you, isn't it?"

"Of course it is."

"Then just you hold your tongue, Mister Joe Carstairs; and if you don't
like to walk along with me, why you can walk by yourself."

"And what provisions have you made for the journey?"  I said.

"Oh, I'm all right, my lad!" he drawled.  "Father lent me his revolver,
and I've got my double gun, and two pound o' powder and a lot o' shot."

"Anything else?"

"Oh, I've got my knife, and a bit o' string, and two fishing-lines and a
lot of hooks, and I brought my pipe and my Jew's-harp, and I think
that's all."

"I'm glad you brought your Jew's-harp," I said ironically.

"So am I," he said drily.  "Yah!  I know: you're grinning at me, but a
Jew's-harp ain't a bad thing when you're lonely like, all by yourself,
keeping sheep and nobody to speak to for a week together but Gyp.  I
say, Joe, I brought Gyp," he added with a smile that made his face look
quite pleasant.

"What! your dog?"  I cried.

"Yes; he's all snug down below, and he hasn't made a sound.  He don't
like it, but if I tell him to do a thing he knows he's obliged to do
it."

"I say, I wonder what the captain will say if he knows you've got a dog
on board?"

"I sha'n't tell him, and if he don't find it out I shall pay him for
Gyp's passage just the same as I shall pay him for mine.  I've got lots
of money, and I hid on board to save trouble.  I ain't a cheat."

"No, I never thought you were, Jack," I said, for I had known him for
some years, and once or twice I had been fishing with him, though we
were never companions.  "But it's all nonsense about your going with us.
The doctor said this morning that the notion was absurd."

"Let him mind his salts-and-senna and jollop," said Jack sharply.
"Who's he, I should like to know?  I knowed your father as much as he
did.  He's given me many a sixpence for birds' eggs and beetles and
snakes I've got for him.  Soon as I heard you were going to find him, I
says to father, `I'm going too.'"

"And what did your father say?"

"Said I was a fool."

"Ah! of course," I exclaimed.

"No, it ain't `ah, of course,' Mr Clever," he cried.  "Father always
says that to me whatever I do, but he's very fond of me all the same."

Just then the captain came forward with his glass under his arm, and his
hands deep down in his pockets.  He walked with his legs very wide
apart, and stopped short before us, his straw hat tilted right over his
nose, and see-sawing himself backwards and forwards on his toes and
heels.

"You're a nice young man, arn't you now?" he said to Jack.

"No, I'm only a boy yet," said Jack quietly.

"Well, you're tall enough to be a man, anyhow.  What's your height?"

"Five foot 'leven," said Jack.

"And how old are you?"

"Seventeen next 'vember," said Jack.

"Humph!" said the captain.

"Here, how much is it?" said Jack, thrusting his hand in his pocket.
"I'll pay now and ha' done with it."

"Pay what?"

"My passage-money."

"Oh!" said the captain quietly, "I see.  Well, I think we'd better
settle that by-and-by when you bring in claim for salvage."

The captain pronounced it "sarvidge," and Jack stared.

"What savage?" he said.  "Do you mean Joe Carstairs' black fellow?"

"Do I mean Joe Carstairs' grandmother, boy?  I didn't say savage; I said
salvage--saving of the ship from pirates."

"Oh, I see what you mean," replied Jack.  "I sha'n't bring in any claim.
I knew that Malay chap wasn't doing right, and stopped him, that's
all."

"Well, we won't say any more about stowing away, then," said the
captain.  "Had plenty to eat this morning?"

"Oh yes, I'm better now," drawled Jack.  "I was real bad yesterday, and
never felt so hollow before."

The captain nodded and went back, while Jack turned to me, and nodding
his head said slowly:

"I like the captain.  Now let's go and see how your black fellow's head
is."

Jimmy was lying under a bit of awning rigged up with a scrap of the
storm-torn sail; and as soon as he saw us his white teeth flashed out in
the light.

"Well, Jimmy, how are you?"  I said, as Jack Penny stood bending down
over him, and swaying gently to and fro as if he had hinges in his back.

"Jimmy better--much better.  Got big fly in um head--big bunyip fly.
All buzz--buzz--round and round--buzz in um head.  Fedge doctor take um
out."

"Here, doctor," I shouted; and he came up.  "Jimmy has got a fly in his
head."

"A bee in his bonnet, you mean," he said, bending down and laying his
hand on the black's temples.

"Take um out," said Jimmy excitedly.  "Buzz--buzz--bunyip fly."

"Yes, I'll take it out, Jimmy," said the doctor quietly; "but not
to-day."

"When take um out?" cried the black eagerly; "buzz--buzz.  Keep buzz."

"To-morrow or next day.  Here, lie still, and I'll get your head ready
for the operation."

The preparation consisted in applying a thick cloth soaked in spirits
and water to the feverish head, the evaporation in the hot climate
producing a delicious sense of coolness, which made Jimmy say softly:

"Fly gone--sleep now," and he closed his eyes, seeming to be asleep till
the doctor had gone back to his seat on the deck, where he was studying
a chart of the great island we were running for.  But as soon as he was
out of hearing Jimmy opened first one eye and then another.  Then in a
whisper, as he gently took up his waddy:

"No tell doctor; no tell captain fellow.  Jimmy go knock brown fellow
head flap to-night."

"What?"  I cried.

"He no good brown fellow.  Knock head off.  Overboard: fis eat up."

"What does he say; he's going to knock that Malay chap's head off?"
drawled Jack.

"Yes, Jimmy knock um head flap."

"You dare to touch him, Jimmy," I said, "and I'll send you back home."

"Jimmy not knock um head flap?" he said staring.

"No.  You're not to touch him."

"Mass Joe gone mad.  Brown fellow kill all a man.  Jimmy kill um."

"You are not to touch him," I said.  "And now go to sleep or I shall go
and tell the captain."

Jimmy lifted up his head and looked at me.  Then he banged it down upon
his pillow, which was one of those gooseberry-shaped rope nets, stuffed
full of oakum, and called a fender, while we went forward once more to
talk to the doctor about his chart, for Jack Penny was comporting
himself exactly as if he had become one of the party, though I had made
up my mind that he was to go back with the captain when we were set
ashore.

All the same, at Jack Penny's urgent request I joined him in the act of
keeping the presence of the other passenger a secret--I mean Gyp the
dog, to whom I was stealthily introduced by Jack, down in a very
evil-smelling part of the hold, and for whom I saved scraps of meat and
bits of fish from my dinner every day.

The introduction was as follows on the part of Jack:

"Gyp, old man, this is Joe Carstairs.  Give him your paw."

It was very dark, but I was just able to make out a pair of fiery eyes,
and an exceedingly shaggy curly head--I found afterwards that Gyp's papa
had been an Irish water spaniel, and his mamma some large kind of hound;
and Jack informed me that Gyp was a much bigger dog than his mamma--then
a rough scratchy paw was dabbed on my hand, and directly after my
fingers were wiped by a hot moist tongue.  At the same time there was a
whimpering noise, and though I did not know it then, I had made one of
the ugliest but most faithful friends I ever had.

The days glided by, and we progressed very slowly, for the weather fell
calm after the typhoon, and often for twenty-four hours together we did
nothing but drift about with the current, the weather being so hot that
we were glad to sit under the shade of a sail.

The doctor quite took to Jack Penny, saying that he was an oddity, but
not a bad fellow.  I began to like him better myself, though he did
nothing to try and win my liking, being very quiet and distant with us
both, and watching us suspiciously, as if he thought we were always
making plots to get rid of him, and thwart his plans.

Gyp had remained undiscovered, the poor brute lying as quiet as a mouse,
except when Jack Penny and I went down to feed him, when he expressed
his emotion by rapping the planks hard with his tail.

At last the captain, who had been taking observations, tapped me on the
shoulder one hot mid-day, and said:

"There, squire, we shall see the coast to-morrow before this time, and I
hope the first thing you set eyes on will be your father, waving his old
hat to us to take him off."

Just then Jimmy, whose wound had healed rapidly, and who had forgotten
all about the big bunyip fly buzzing in his head, suddenly popped his
face above the hatchway with his eyes starting, his hair looking more
shaggy than usual, and his teeth chattering with horror.

He leaped up on the deck, and began striking it with the great knob at
the end of his waddy, shouting out after every blow.

"Debble, debble--big bunyip debble.  Jimmy, Jimmy see big bunyip down
slow!"

"Here, youngster, fetch my revolver," shouted the captain to me.  "Here,
doctor, get out your gun, that Malay chap's loose again."

"A no--a no--a no," yelled Jimmy, banging at the deck.  "Big bunyip--no
brown fellow--big black bunyip debble, debble!"

"Get out, you black idiot; it's the Malay."

"A no--a no--a no; big black bunyip.  'Gin eat black fellow down slow."

To my astonishment, long quiet Jack Penny went up to Jimmy and gave him
a tremendous kick, to which the black would have responded by a blow
with his war-club had I not interposed.

"What did you kick him for, Jack?"  I cried.

"A great scuffle-headed black fool! he'll let it out now about Gyp.
Make him be quiet."

It was too late, for the captain and the doctor were at the hatchway,
descending in spite of Jimmy's shouts and cries that the big bunyip--the
great typical demon of the Australian aborigine--would eat them.

"Shoot um--shoot um--bing, bang!" _whop_ went Jimmy's waddy on the deck;
and in dread lest they should fire at the unfortunate dog in the dark, I
went up and told the captain, the result being that Gyp was called up on
deck, and the great beast nearly went mad with delight, racing about,
fawning on his master and on me, and ending by crouching down at my feet
with his tongue lolling out, panting and blinking his eyes, unaccustomed
to the glare of daylight.

"You're in this game, then, eh, Master Carstairs?" said the captain.

"Well, yes, sir; Penny here took me into his confidence about having
brought the dog, and of course I could not say a word."

"Humph!  Nice game to have with me, 'pon my word.  You're a pretty
penny, you are, young man," he added, turning to Jack.  "I ought to toss
you--overboard."

"I'll pay for Gyp's passage," said Jack coolly.  "I wish you wouldn't
make such a fuss."

The captain muttered something about double-jointed yard measures, and
went forward without another word, while Gyp selected a nice warm place
on the deck, and lay down to bask on his side, but not until he had
followed Jimmy up the port-side and back along the starboard, sniffing
his black legs, while that worthy backed from him, holding his waddy
ready to strike, coming to me afterwards with a look of contempt upon
his noble savage brow, and with an extra twist to his broad nose, to
say:

"Jimmy know all a time only big ugly dog.  Not bunyip 'tall."



CHAPTER SEVEN.

HOW WE STOPPED THE BLACKBIRD CATCHERS.

The captain was right, for we made the south coast of New Guinea the
_very_ next morning, and as I caught sight of the land that I believed
to be holding my father as in a prison, a strange mingling of pain and
pleasure filled my breast I looked excitedly and long through the
doctor's double glass, and he shook hands with me afterwards, as if he
thoroughly appreciated my feelings in the matter.

It was a lovely morning, with a pleasant breeze blowing, and as we drew
nearer we made out a vessel very similar in build to our own going in
the same direction.

"Why, they are for the same port, I should think!"

"I don't know," said the skipper rather oddly.  "We're for a little
place I know, where the savages are pretty friendly, and I've been
talking it over with the doctor as to its being a good starting-place
for you, and he thinks it will be.  There it lies," he said, pointing
north-east.  "We can soon make it now."

"Looks a nicer place than our land," said Jack Penny, as I stood with
him gazing wonderingly at the forest and mountain scenery that hour by
hour grew more clear.  "I think I shall like Noo Guinea."

The day glided on with the look-out growing more and more interesting;
and at last, when we were pretty near, we could see the other schooner
had outsailed us, and was within a short distance of a scattered
collection of huts; while a little crowd of the natives was on the sandy
beach busily launching their canoes, in which they paddled out towards
the other vessel.

"I don't like that," said the skipper suddenly, as he was using his
glass.  "That's bad for us."

"What is?"  I said eagerly.

"That there schooner going before us.  They're blackbird catchers, or
I'm a Dutchman."

"Blackbird catchers?"  I said.  "Why, I thought there were no blackbirds
out of Europe."

"Just hark at him," said the captain, turning to the doctor.
"Blackbirds, boy, why, there's thousands; and it's them varmint who go
in for the trade of catching 'em as makes the coast unsafe for honest
men."

"What do you mean?"  I cried, and I became aware of the fact that Jack
Penny was bending over me like a bamboo.

"Mean, boy? just you take the doctor's little double-barrelled telescope
and watch and see."

I took the glass and looked intently, watching through it the scene of
the blacks paddling up to the schooner, and holding up what seemed to be
fruit and birds for sale.

All at once I saw something fall into one of the canoes, which
immediately sank, and eight of its occupants were left struggling in the
water.

To my great relief I saw a small boat rowed round from the other side of
the little vessel, evidently, as I thought, to go to the help of the
poor creatures; but, to my horror, I saw that two men stood up in the
boat, and, as it was rowed, they struck at the swimming men with heavy
bars, and dragged them one by one into the boat.

I saw four saved like this, and then the boat was rowed rapidly in
pursuit of the other four, who were swimming as hard as they could, as
they tried to overtake the canoes, whose occupants were making for the
shore.

The noise of the shouts reached our ears faintly, and I saw one of the
men picked up by the last canoe, and the other three were literally
hunted by the schooner's boat, diving like ducks and trying every feat
they could think of to avoid capture; but oars beat hands in the water,
and I saw two of the fugitives struck on the head by a fellow in the
bows of the boat, and then they were dragged over the side.

There was one more savage in the water, and he swam rapidly and well,
besides which, he had gained some distance during the time taken up in
capturing his fellows.  As he had changed his direction somewhat I had a
better view of the chase, and I felt horrified to see how rapidly the
boat gained upon him till it was so near that it could be only a matter
of minutes before he would be worn out and treated in the same way as
his unfortunate fellows.

At last the boat overtook the poor wretch, but he dived down and it
passed over him, the blow struck at his head merely making a splash in
the water, when up he came, his black head just showing above the
surface, and he struggled in another direction for his liberty.

To add to the excitement of the scene the sandy shore about the huts was
lined with savages, who were rushing about in a tremendous state of
excitement, shaking their spears and yelling, but showing plainly that
they were a very cowardly race, for not one of them made an effort to
launch a canoe and try to save his brother in distress.

There could be but one end to this cruel tragedy, so I thought; but I
was wrong.  Again and again the boat overtook the poor fellow, but he
dived and escaped even though blows were struck at him with a boat-hook;
but it was evident that he was growing weaker, and that he stayed below
a shorter time.

All at once, as if the men had become furious at the length of the
chase, I saw the boat rowed rapidly down upon him; but the savage dived
once more, evidently went right under the boat, and came up full thirty
yards astern, swimming now straight for the shore.

Then all at once I saw him throw up his arms and disappear, as if he had
been snatched under.

"Out of his misery," said a deep voice beside me; and turning I found
that the captain had been watching the scene through his long glass.

"What do you mean?"  I said.

"Sharks took him down, poor chap," said the captain.  "Sharks is
ignorant, or they would have grabbed the white fellows instead."

As I still watched the scene, with my brow wet with perspiration, I saw
the boat make now for the schooner, and quite a dozen canoes put off
from the shore.

"Lor', what a thing ignorance is, and how far niggers are behind white
men in pluck!  Why, if these fellows knew what they were about, they
might easily overhaul that little schooner, take their brothers out of
her, and give the blackbird catchers such a lesson as they'd never
remember and never forget, for they'd kill the lot.  There ain't a
breath o' wind."

"But they will take them, won't they, captain?"  I cried.

"No, my lad, not they.  They'll go and shout and throw a few spears, and
then go back again; but they'll bear malice, my lad.  All white folks
who come in ships will be the same to them, and most likely some poor
innocent boat's crew will be speared, and all on account of the doings
of these blackbird catchers."

"But what do they do with the poor fellows?"  I cried.

"Reg'larly sell 'em for slaves, though slavery's done away with, my
boy."

"But will not the blacks rescue their friends?"  I said.

"No, my lad."

"Then we must," I cried excitedly; and Jack Penny threw up his cap and
cried "Hooray!"  Gyp started to his feet and barked furiously, and Jimmy
leaped in the air, came down in a squatting position, striking the deck
a tremendous blow with his waddy, and shouting "Hi--wup, wup--wup," in
an increasing yell.

The captain, hardened by familiarity with such scenes, laid his hand
upon my shoulder, and smiled at me kindly as he shook his head.

"No, no, my lad, that would not do."

"Not do!"  I cried, burning with indignation.  "Are we to stand by and
see such cruelties practised?"

"Yes, my lad; law says we musn't interfere.  It's the law's job to put
it down; but it's very slow sometimes."

"But very sure, captain," said the doctor quietly.  "And when it does
move it is crushing to evil-doers.  The captain is quite right, Joe, my
boy," he continued, turning to me.  "We must not stir in this case.
I've heard of such atrocities before, but did not know that they were so
common."

"Common as blackguards," said the captain, "It's regular slavery.
There, what did I tell you, my lad?" he continued, as he pointed to the
canoes, which were returning after making a demonstration.  "These poor
blacks are afraid of the guns.  It's all over--unless--"

He stopped short, scratching his head, and staring first at the schooner
and then at us in turn.

"Unless what, captain?"  I said excitedly.

"Here, let's do a bit o' bounce for once in our lives," said the bluff
old fellow.  "Get out your revolvers and shooting-tackle, and let's see
if we can't frighten the beggars.  Only mind, doctor, and you too, my
young bantam, our weapons is only for show.  No firing, mind; but if we
can bully those chaps into giving up their blackbirds, why we will."

The boat was lowered, and with a goodly display of what Jack Penny
called dangerous ironmongery, we started with three men, but not until
the captain had seen that the Malay was safely secured.  Then we
started, and the people aboard the other schooner were so busy with
their captives that we got alongside, and the captain, Doctor Grant, and
I had climbed on deck before a red-faced fellow with a violently
inflamed nose came up to us, and, with an oath, asked what we wanted
there.

"Here, you speak," whispered the captain to Doctor Grant.  "I'm riled,
and I shall be only using more bad language than is good for these
youngsters to hear.  Give it to him pretty warm, though, all the same,
doctor."

"D'yer hear?" said the red-faced fellow again.  "What do you want here?"

"Those poor wretches, you slave-dealing ruffian," cried the doctor, who
looked quite white as he drew himself up and seemed to tower over the
captain of the other schooner, who took a step back in astonishment, but
recovered himself directly and advanced menacingly.

"Come for them, have you, eh?" he roared; "then you'll go without 'em.
Here, over you go; off my ship, you--"

The scoundrel did not finish his speech, for as he spoke he clapped a
great rough hairy paw on the doctor's shoulder, and then our friend
seemed to shrink back at the contact; but it was only to gather force,
like a wave, for, somehow, just then his fist seemed to dart out, and
the ruffianly captain staggered back and then fell heavily on the deck.

Half a dozen men sprang forward at this, but Doctor Grant did not
flinch, he merely took out his revolver and examined its lock, saying:

"Will you have these poor fellows got into our boat, captain?"

"Ay, ay, doctor," cried our skipper; and the slave-dealing crew shrank
back and stared as we busily handed down the blackbirds, as the captain
kept on calling them.

Poor creatures, they were still half-stunned and two of them were
bleeding, and it must have seemed to then? that they were being tossed
out of the frying-pan into the fire, and that we were going to carry on
the villainy that our ruffianly countrymen had commenced.  In fact had
we not taken care, and even used force, they would have jumped overboard
when we had them packed closely in.

"Here, shove off!" the captain said, as we were once more in our boat;
and just then the leader of the ruffians staggered to his feet and
leaned over the side.

"I'll have the law of you for this," he yelled.  "This is piracy."

"To be sure it is," said our captain; "we're going to hyste the black
flag as soon as we get back, and run out our guns.  Come on, my
red-nosed old cocky-wax, and we'll have a naval engagement, and sink
you."

He nudged me horribly hard with his elbow at this point, and turning his
back on the schooner winked at me, and chuckled and rumbled as if he
were laughing heartily to himself in secret; but he spoke again directly
quite seriously.

"I haven't got no boys of my own," he said, "but if I had, I should say
this was a sort o' lesson to you to always have right on your side.
It's again' the law, but it's right all the same.  See how we carried
all before us, eh, my lads!  The doctor's fist was as good as half a
dozen guns, and regularly settled the matter at once."

"Then we may set these poor fellows free now?"  I said.

"Well, I shouldn't like to be one of them as did it," said the captain
drily.  "Look at the shore."

I glanced in that direction and saw that it was crowded with blacks, all
armed with spears and war-clubs, which they were brandishing excitedly.

"They wouldn't know friends from foes," said the doctor quietly.  "No;
we must wait."

I saw the reason for these remarks; and as soon as we had reached the
side of the schooner and got our captives on board I attended the doctor
while he busied himself bandaging and strapping cuts, the blacks staring
at him wondering, and then at Jimmy, who looked the reverse of friendly,
gazing down at the prisoners scornfully, and telling Jack Penny in
confidence that he did not think much of common sort black fellow.

"Jimmy xiv all o' men waddy spear if try to kedge Jimmy," he said,
drawing himself up and showing his teeth.  "No kedge Jimmy.  Killer um
all."

It was hard work to get the poor prisoners to understand that we meant
well by them.

"You see they think you're having 'em patched up," said Jack Penny, "so
as they'll sell better.  I say, Joe Carstairs, give your black fellow a
topper with his waddy; he's making faces at that chap, and pretending to
cut off his legs."

"Here, you be quiet, Jimmy, or I'll send you below," I said sharply; and
as I went to the breaker to get a pannikin of water for one of the men,
Jimmy stuck his hands behind him, pointed his nose in the air, and
walked forward with such a display of offended dignity that Jack Penny
doubled up, putting his head between his knees and pinning it firm,
while he laughed in throes, each of which sent a spasm through his
loose-jointed body.

The black to whom I took the water looked at me in a frightened way, and
shook his head.

"He thinks it is poisoned, Joe," said the doctor quietly; and I
immediately drank some, when the prisoner took the pannikin and drank
with avidity, his companions then turning their eager eyes on me.

"It is the feverish thirst produced by injuries," said the doctor; and
as I filled the pannikin again and again, the poor wretches uttered a
low sigh of satisfaction.

The schooner lay where we had left it, and all seemed to be very quiet
on board, but no movement was made of an offensive nature; and the day
glided by till towards sundown, when there was less excitement visible
on the shore.  Then the captain ordered the boat to be lowered on the
side away from the land, while he proceeded to sweep the shore with his
glass.

"I think we might land 'em now, doctor," he said, "and get back without
any jobs for you."

"Yes, they seem pretty quiet now," said the doctor, who had also been
scanning the shore; "but there are a great many people about."

"They won't see us," said the captain.  "Now, my blackbirds, I'm not
going to clip your wings or pull out your tails.  Into the boat with
you.  I'll set you ashore."

For the first time the poor fellows seemed to comprehend that they were
to be set at liberty, and for a few minutes their joy knew no bounds;
and it was only by running off that I was able to escape from some of
their demonstrations of gratitude.

"No, my lad," said the captain in response to my demand to go with him.
"I'll set the poor chaps ashore, and we shall be quite heavy enough
going through the surf.  You can take command while I'm gone," he added,
laughing; "and mind no one steals the anchor."

I felt annoyed at the captain's bantering tone, but I said nothing; and
just at sunset the boat pushed off quietly with its black freight, the
poor fellows looking beside themselves with joy.

"I say, skipper," said the captain laughingly to me, "mind that Malay
chap don't get out; and look here, it will be dark directly, hyste a
light for me to find my way back."

I nodded shortly, and stood with Jack Penny and the doctor watching the
boat till it seemed to be swallowed up in the thick darkness that was
gathering round, and the doctor left Jack Penny and me alone.

"I say," said Jack, who was leaning on the bulwarks, with his body at
right angles; "I say, Joe Carstairs, I've been thinking what a game it
would be if the captain never came back."

"What!"  I cried.

"You and I could take the ship and go where we like."

"And how about the doctor?"  I said scornfully.

"Ah!" he drawled, "I forgot about the doctor.  That's a pity.  I wish
he'd gone ashore too."

I did not answer, for it did not suit my ideas at all.  The adventure I
had on hand filled my mind, and I felt annoyed by my companion's foolish
remark.

We had tea, and were sitting with the doctor chatting on deck, after
vainly trying to pierce the darkness with our eyes or to hear some
sound, when all at once the doctor spoke:

"Time they were back," he said.  "I say, Skipper Carstairs, have you
hoisted your light?"

"Light!"  I said excitedly.  "What's that?" for just then a bright red
glow arose to our right in the direction of the shore.

"They're a making a bonfire," said Jack Penny slowly.

"Or burning a village," said the doctor.

"No, no," I cried; "it's that schooner on fire!"

"You're right, Joe," said the doctor excitedly.  "Why, the savages must
have gone off and done this, and--yes, look, you can see the canoes."

"Here, I say, don't!" cried Jack Penny then, his voice sounding curious
from out of the darkness; and the same moment there was a rush, a
tremendous scuffle, Jimmy yelled out something in his own tongue, and
then lastly there were two or three heavy falls; and in a misty,
stupefied way I knew that we had been boarded by the savages and made
prisoners, on account of the outrage committed by the other captain.

What followed seems quite dream-like; but I have some recollection of
being bundled down into a boat, and then afterwards dragged out over the
sand and hurried somewhere, with savages yelling and shouting about me,
after which I was thrown down, and lay on the ground in great pain, half
sleeping, half waking, and in a confused muddle of thought in which I
seemed to see my father looking at me reproachfully for not coming to
his help, while all the time I was so bound that I could not move a
step.

At last I must have dropped into a heavy sleep, for the next thing I saw
was the bright sunshine streaming into the hut where I lay, and a crowd
of blacks with large frizzed heads of hair chattering about me, every
man being armed with spear and club, while the buzz of voices plainly
told that there was a throng waiting outside.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

HOW I RAN FROM THE WHITEBIRD CATCHERS.

Yes, I may as well own to it: I was terribly frightened, but my first
thoughts were as to what had become of my companions.  Jack Penny and
the doctor must have been seized at the same time as I.  Jimmy might
have managed to escape.  Perhaps his black skin would make him be looked
upon as a friend.  But the old captain, what about him?  He would return
to the schooner with his men and be seized, and knocked on the head for
certain.  The fierce resistance he would make certainly would cause his
death, and I shuddered at the thought.

Then I began to think of my mother and father, how I should have failed
in helping them; and I remember thinking what a good job it was that my
mother would never know exactly what had happened to me.  Better the
long anxiety, I thought, of watching and waiting for my return than to
know I had been killed like this.

"But I'm not killed yet," I thought, as the blood flushed to my face.
"I'll have a run for it, if I can."

I had not much time given me to think, for I was dragged to my feet, and
out into a large open place where there were huts and trees, and there
before me lay the sea with our schooner, but the other was gone; and as
I recalled the fire of the previous night I knew that she must have been
burned to the water's edge and then sunk.

I began wondering about what must have been the fate of the other
schooner's crew, and somehow it seemed that they deserved it.  Then I
began thinking of my own friends, and then, very selfishly no doubt,
about myself.

But I had little time for thought, being hurried along and placed in the
middle of a crowd of the savages, all of whom seemed to be rolling their
eyes and looking at me as if enjoying my position.

"Well," I thought to myself, "it is enough to scare anybody; but I'll
try and let them see that I belong to a superior race, and will not show
what I feel."

My eyes kept wandering about eagerly, first to look where my companions
were placed, but as I saw no sign of them I began to hope that they
might have escaped; secondly, to see which would be the best course to
take if I ran for my life.  For I could run, and pretty swiftly, then.
The hardy life I had led out in the bush, with Jimmy for my companion,
had made me light of foot and tolerably enduring.

But for some little time I saw not the slightest chance of escape.
There were too many savages close about me, and they must have divined
my ideas, for they kept a watchful eye upon every act.

At first I had felt numbed and cold.  My legs and arms ached, and when
the blacks took off the rope that they had bound about my limbs every
nerve seemed to throb and burn; but by degrees this passed off, and to
my great joy I felt more myself.

At last, after a great deal of incomprehensible chatter, it seemed that
a decision had been come to about me, and a tall black armed with a
war-club came dancing up to me, swinging his weapon about, chattering
wildly, and after a few feints he made a blow at my head.

If that blow had taken effect I should not have been able to tell this
story.  But I had been too much with my friend Jimmy not to be well upon
the alert.  We had often played together--he like a big boy--in mimic
fight, when he had pretended to spear me, and taught me how to catch the
spear on a shield, and to avoid blows made with waddies.  Jimmy's
lessons were not thrown away.  I could avoid a thrown spear, though
helpless, like the black, against bullets, which he said came "too much
faster faster to top."  And as the savage made the blow at me I followed
out Jimmy's tactics, threw myself forward, striking the wretch right in
the chest with my head, driving him backward, and leaping over him I ran
for my life, making straight for the forest.

"It's all because of those wretches in the other schooner yesterday," I
thought, as I ran swiftly on with a pack of the enemy shouting in my
rear; and though I could run very fast, I found, to my horror, that my
pursuers were as swift of foot, and that though I was close upon the
forest it was all so open that they would be able to see me easily, and
once caught I knew now what was to be my fate.

I began thinking of the hunted hare, as I ran on, casting glances behind
me from time to time, and seeing that though some of my pursuers lagged,
there were four who were pretty close upon my heels, one of whom hurled
his spear at me, which came whizzing past my ear so closely that it
lightly touched my shoulder, making me leap forward as if struck by the
weapon.

I was panting heavily, and a choking sensation came upon me, but I raced
on, since it was for life.

How long the pursuit lasted I cannot tell.  Perhaps a minute.  It seemed
half an hour.  Twice I leaped aside to avoid blows aimed at me, and each
time ran blindly in a fresh direction; but all at once the idea occurred
to me in a flash that in my unnerved stupefied position I must have been
going backward and struck my head violently against a tree, for it
seemed as if there was a violent shock like thunder with a flash of
lightning to dazzle my eyes, and then there was nothing at all.



CHAPTER NINE.

HOW I WAS NOT MADE INTO PIE.

When I came to, it was as if all the past was a dream, for I heard
voices I knew, and lay listening to them talking in a low tone, till,
opening my eyes, I found I was close to the doctor, the captain, Jimmy,
and the sailors, while Jack Penny was sitting holding my hand.

"What cheer, my hearty?" said the captain, making an effort to come to
me; but I then became aware of the fact that we were surrounded by
savages, for one great fellow struck the captain on the arm with his
club, and in retort the skipper gave him a kick which sent him on his
back.

There was a loud yell at this, and what seemed to threaten to be a
general onslaught.  My friends all prepared for their defence, and Jimmy
took the initiative by striking out wildly, when half a dozen blacks
dashed at him, got him down, and one was foolish enough to sit upon his
head, but only to bound up directly with a shriek, for poor Jimmy, being
held down as to arms and legs, made use of the very sharp teeth with
which nature had endowed him.

We should have been killed at once, no doubt, had not one tall black
shouted out something, and then begun talking loudly to the excited mob,
who listened to him angrily, it seemed to me; but I was so dull and
confused from the blow I had received upon my head that all seemed misty
and strange, and once I found myself thinking, as my head ached
frightfully, that they might just as well kill us at once, and not
torture us by keeping us in suspense.

The talking went on, and whenever the tall chief stopped for a moment
the blacks all set up a yell, and danced about brandishing their spears
and clubs, showing their teeth, rolling their eyes, and behaving--just
like savages.  But still we were not harmed, only watched carefully,
Jimmy alone being held, though I could see that at a movement on our
part we should have been beaten to death or thrust through.

At last, after an interminable speech, the big chief seemed to grow
hoarse, and the blacks' yells were quicker and louder.

Then there was a terrible pause, and a dozen sturdy blacks sprang
towards us as regularly as if they had been drilled, each man holding a
spear, and I felt that the end had come.

I was too stupid with my hurt to do more than stare helplessly round,
seeing the bright sunshine, the glittering sea, and the beautiful waving
trees.  Then my head began to throb, and felt as if hot irons were being
thrust through it.

I closed my eyes, the agony was so great; and then I opened them again,
for all the savages were yelling and clapping their hands.  Two men had
seized me, and one of them had his head bandaged, and in a misty way I
recognised him as one of the poor wretches to whom I had given water.
He and the others, who were easily known by the doctor's patches of
sticking-plaster, were talking with all their might; and then all the
blacks began yelling and dancing about, brandishing their spears and
clubs, frantic apparently with the effect of the injured men's words.

"They ar'n't going to kill us, my lad," said the captain then; "and look
ye there, they are going to feast the doctor."

For the latter was regularly hustled off from among us by a party of
blacks, led by two of the sticking-plastered fellows, while two others
squatted down smiling at us and rubbing their chests.

"Are we to be spared, then?"  I said.

"Spared?  Well, I don't know, my lad," said the captain.  "They won't be
so ungrateful as to kill us, now these blacks set ashore have turned up
and told 'em what sort of chaps we are; but I don't think they'll free
us.  They'll keep us here and make the doctor a physic chief.  Eh! go
there?  All right; I can understand your fingers better than your
tongue, my lad.  Come on, all of you."

This last was in response to the gesticulations of the injured men who
were with us, and soon after, we were all settled down in a very large
open hut, eating fruit and drinking water, every drop of which seemed to
me more delicious than anything I had ever tasted before.

A curious kind of drink was also given to us, but I did not care for it,
and turned to the water again; while the doctor set to work to dress and
strap up my injury as well as he could for the pressure of the people,
who were wonderfully interested in it all, and then gathered round the
doctor's other patients, examining their injuries, and listening to the
account of the surgical treatment, which was evidently related to them
again and again.

"Well, this is different to what you expected; isn't it, squire?" said
the captain to me the first time he could find an opportunity to speak.
"I was beginning to feel precious glad that I shouldn't have a chance to
get back and meet your mother after what she said to me."

"Then you think we are safe now?" said the doctor.

"Safe!" said the captain; "more than safe, unless some of 'em, being a
bit cannibal like, should be tempted by the pleasant plumpness of Mr
Jack Penny here, and want to cook and eat him."

"Get out!" drawled Jack.  "I know what you mean.  I can't help being
tall and thin."

"Not you, my lad," said the captain good-humouredly.  "Never mind your
looks so long as your 'art's in the right place.  We're safe enough,
doctor, and I should say that nothing better could have happened.
Niggers is only niggers; but treat 'em well and they ain't so very bad.
You let young Squire Carstairs here ask the chief, and he'll go with
you, and take half his people, to try and find the professor; ah, and
fight for you too, like trumps."

"Do you think so?"  I said.

"Think!  I'm sure of it; and I'm all right now.  They'll be glad to see
me and trade with me.  I'm glad you made me set those chaps free."

"And what has become of the crew of the other schooner?"  I said
anxiously.

"Nobbled," said the captain; "and sarve 'em right.  Tit for tat; that's
all.  Men who plays at those games must expect to lose sometimes.
They've lost--heavy.  Change the subject; it's making young Six-foot
Rule stare, and you look as white as if you were going to be served the
same.  Where's the doctor?"

"He said he was going to see to the injured men," I replied.

"Come and let's look how he's getting on," said the captain.  "It's all
right now; no one will interfere with us more than mobbing a bit,
because we're curiosities.  Come on."

I followed the captain, the blacks giving way, but following us closely,
and then crowding close up to the door of the great tent where the
doctor was very busy repairing damages, as he called it, clipping away
woolly locks, strapping up again and finishing off dressings that he had
roughly commenced on board.

During the next few days we were the honoured guests of the savages,
going where we pleased, and having everything that the place produced.
The captain moored his vessel in a snug anchorage, and drove a roaring
trade bartering the stores he had brought for shells, feathers,
bird-skins, and other productions of the island.

Gyp was brought on shore, and went suspiciously about the place with his
head close up to his master's long thin legs, for though he had
tolerated and was very good friends with Jimmy, he would not have any
dealings with the New Guinea folk.  It did not seem to be the black
skins or their general habits; but Jack Penny declared that it was their
gummed-out moppy heads, these seeming to irritate the dog, so that,
being a particularly well-taught animal, he seemed to find it necessary
to control his feelings and keep away from the savages, lest he should
find himself constrained to bite.  The consequence was that, as I have
said, he used to go about with his head close to his master's legs,
often turning his back on the people about him; while I have known him
sometimes take refuge with me, and thrust his nose right into my hand,
as if he wished to make it a muzzle to keep him from dashing at some
chief.

"I hope he won't grab hold of any of 'em," Jack Penny said to me one day
in his deliberate fashion; "because if he does take hold it's such a
hard job to make him let go again.  And I say, Joe Carstairs, if ever
he's by you and these niggers begin to jump about, you lay hold of him
and get him away."

"Why?"  I said.

"Well, you see," drawled Jack, "Gyp ain't a human being."

"I know that," I replied.

"Yes, I s'pose so," said Jack.  "Gyp's wonderfully clever, and he thinks
a deal; but just now, I know as well as can be, he's in a sort of doubt.
He thinks these blacks are a kind of kangaroos, but he isn't sure.  If
they begin to jump about, that will settle it, and he'll go at 'em and
get speared; and if any one sticks a spear into Gyp, there's going to be
about the biggest row there ever was.  That one the other day won't be
anything to it."

"Then I shall do all I can to keep Gyp quiet," I said, smiling at Jack's
serious way of speaking what he must have known was nonsense.  After
that I went out of the hut, where Jack Penny was doing what the captain
called straightening his back--that is to say, lying down gazing up at
the palm-thatched rafters, a very favourite position of his--and joined
some of the blacks, employing my time in trying to pick up bits and
scraps of their language, so as to be able to make my way about among
the people when we were left alone.

I found the doctor was also trying hard to master the tongue; and at the
same time we attempted to make the chiefs understand the object of our
visit, but it was labour in vain.  The blacks were thoroughly puzzled,
and I think our way of pointing at ourselves and then away into the bush
only made them think that we wanted fruit or birds.

The time sped on, while the captain was carrying on his trade, the
blacks daily returning from the ship with common knives, and hatchets,
and brass wire, the latter being a favourite thing for which they
eagerly gave valuable skins.  My wound rapidly healed, and I was eager
to proceed up the country, our intention being to go from village to
village searching until we discovered the lost man.

"And I don't know what to say to it," said the captain just before
parting.  "I'm afraid you'll get to some village and then stop, for the
blacks won't let you go on; but I tell you what: I shall be always
trading backwards and forwards for the next two years, and I shall coast
about looking up fresh places so as to be handy if you want a bit of
help; and I can't say fairer than that, can I, doctor?"

"If you will keep about the coast all you can," said the doctor, "and be
ready, should we want them, to supply us with powder and odds and ends
to replenish our stores, you will be doing us inestimable service.
Whenever we go to a coast village we shall leave some sign of our having
been there--a few words chalked on a tree, or a hut, something to tell
you that English people have passed that way."

"All right, and I shall do something of the kind," said the captain.
"And, look here, I should make this village a sort of randy-voo if I was
you, for you'll always be safe with these people."

"Yes; this shall be headquarters," said the doctor.  "Eh, Joe?"

I nodded.

"And now there's one more thing," said the captain.  "Six-foot Rule; I
suppose I'm to take him back?"

"If you mean me," drawled Jack Penny, entering the hut with Gyp, "no,
you mustn't take him back, for I ain't going.  If Joe Carstairs don't
want me, I don't want him.  The country's as free for one as t'other,
and I'm going to have a look round along with Gyp."

"But really, my dear fellow," said the doctor, "I think you had better
give up this idea."

"Didn't know you could tell what's best here," said Jack stoutly.
"'Tain't a physicky thing."

"But it will be dangerous, Jack.  You see we have run great risks
already," I said, for now the time for the captain's departure had
arrived, and it seemed a suitable occasion for bringing Jack to his
senses.

"Well, who said it wouldn't be dangerous?" he said sulkily.  "Gyp and me
ain't no more afraid than you are."

"Of course not," I said.

"'Tain't no more dangerous for me and a big dog than it is for you and
your black fellow.  I don't want to come along with you, I tell you, if
you don't want me."

"My dear Jack," I said, "I should be glad of your company, only I'm
horrified at the idea of your running risks for your own sake.  Suppose
anything should happen to you, what then?"

Jack straightened up his long loppetty body, and looked himself all over
in a curious depreciatory fashion, and then said in a half melancholy,
half laughing manner:

"Well, if something did happen, it wouldn't spoil me; and if I was
killed nobody wouldn't care.  Anyhow I sha'n't go back with the
captain."

"Nonsense, my lad!" said the latter kindly.  "I was a bit rough when I
found you'd stowed yourself on board, but that was only my way.  You
come back along with me: you're welcome as welcome, and we sha'n't never
be bad friends again."

"Would you take Gyp too?" said Jack.

"What! the dog?  Ay, that I would; wouldn't I, old fellow?" said the
captain; and Gyp got up slowly, gave his tail a couple of wags slowly
and deliberately, as his master might have moved, and ended by laying
his head upon the captain's knee.

"Thank'ye, captain," said Jack, nodding in a satisfied way, "and some
day I'll ask you to take me back, but I'm going to find Joe Carstairs'
father first; and if they won't have me along with them, I dessay I
shall go without 'em, and do it myself."

The end of it all was that we shook hands most heartily with the captain
next day; and that evening as the doctor, Jack Penny, Jimmy, Gyp, and I
stood on the beach, we could see the schooner rounding a point of the
great island, with the great red ball of fire--the sun--turning her
sails into gold, till the darkness came down suddenly, as it does in
these parts; and then, though there was the loud buzzing of hundreds of
voices about the huts, we English folk seemed to feel that we were alone
as it were, and cut off from all the world, while for the first time, as
I lay down to sleep that night listening to the low boom of the water,
the immensity, so to speak, of my venture seemed to strike me, giving me
a chill of dread.  This had not passed off when I woke up at daybreak
next morning, to find it raining heavily, and everything looking as
doleful and depressing as a strange place will look at such a time as
this.



CHAPTER TEN.

HOW WE SAW STRANGE THINGS.

"You rascal!"  I exclaimed; "how dare you!  Here, doctor, what is to be
done?  How am I to punish him?"

"Send him back," said the doctor; "or, no: we'll leave him here at the
village."

Jimmy leaped up from where he had been squirming, as Jack Penny called
it, on the ground, and began to bound about, brandishing his waddy, and
killing nothing with blows on the head.

"No, no," he shouted, "no send Jimmy back.  Mass Joe leave Jimmy--Jimmy
kill all a black fellow dead."

"Now look here, sir," I said, seizing him by the ear and bringing him to
his knees, proceedings which, big strong fellow as he was, he submitted
to with the greatest of humility, "I'm not going to have you spoil our
journey by any of your wild pranks; if ever you touch one of the people
again, back you go to the station to eat damper and mutton and mind
sheep."

"Jimmy no go back mind sheep; set gin mind sheep.  Jimmy go long Mass
Joe."

"Then behave yourself," I cried, letting him rise; and he jumped to his
feet with the satisfaction of a forgiven child.  In fact it always
seemed to me that the black fellows of Australia, when they had grown
up, were about as old in brains as an English boy of nine or ten.

That morning we had made our start after days of preparation, and the
chiefs of the village with a party of warriors came to see us part of
the way, those who stayed behind with the women and children joining in
a kind of yell to show their sorrow at our departure.  The chief had
offered half-a-dozen of his people for guides, and we might have had
fifty; but six seemed plenty for our purpose, since, as the doctor said,
we must work by diplomacy and not by force.

So this bright morning we had started in high spirits and full of
excitement, the great band of glistening-skinned blacks had parted from
us, and our journey seemed now to have fairly begun, as we plunged
directly into the forest, the six men with us acting as bearers.

We had not gone far before our difficulties began, through the behaviour
of Jimmy, who, on the strength of his knowledge of English, his
connection with the white men, and above all the possession of clothes,
which, for comfort's sake, he had once more confined to a pair of old
trousers whose legs were cut off at mid-thigh, had begun to display his
conceit and superiority, in his own estimation, over the black bearers
by strutting along beside them, frowning and poking at them with his
spear.  At last he went so far as to strike one fine tall fellow over
the shoulders, with the result that the New Guinea man threw down his
load, the others followed suit, and all made rapid preparations for a
fight.

Humble as he was with me, I must do Jimmy the credit of saying that he
did not turn tail, but threw himself into an attitude as if about to
hurl his spear; and blood would undoubtedly have been shed had I not
taken it upon myself to interfere, to the great satisfaction of our
bearers.

Order then was restored, the loads were resumed, and Jimmy, who did not
seem in the slightest degree abashed by being degraded before the men he
had ill-treated, strutted on, and the journey was continued, everyone on
the look-out for dangerous beast or savage man.

The doctor and I carried revolvers and double-barrelled guns, one barrel
being charged with ball.  Jack Penny was delighted by being similarly
furnished; and in addition he asked for an axe, which he carried stuck
in his belt.

We were each provided with a similar weapon, ready to hand at times to
the blacks, who were always ready to set down their burdens and make
short work of the wild vines and growth that often impeded our path.

We had determined--I say we, for from the moment of starting the doctor
had begun to treat me as his equal in every sense, and consulted me on
every step we took; all of which was very pleasant and flattering to me;
but I often felt as if I would rather be dependent upon him--we had then
determined to strike into the country until we reached the banks of a
great river, whose course we meant to follow right up to the sources in
the mountains.

There were good reasons for this, as a moment's thought will show.

To begin with, we were in a land of no roads, and most of our journey
would be through dense forest, whereas there was likely to be a certain
amount of open country about the river banks.

Then we were always sure of a supply of water; game is always most
abundant, both birds and beasts, near a river, and, of course, there is
always a chance of getting fish; fruit might also be found, and what was
more, the villages of the natives not upon the coast are nearly always
upon the rivers.

Of course, on the other hand, there were plenty of dangers to be risked
by following a river's course: fever, noxious beast and insect, inimical
natives, and the like; but if we had paused to think of the dangers, we
might very well have shrunk from our task, so we put thoughts of that
kind behind us and journeyed on.

At first, after getting through a dense patch of forest, we came upon
open plains, and a part of the country that looked like a park; and as I
trudged on with fresh objects of interest springing up at every turn, I
found myself wondering whether my poor father had passed this way, and
as I grew weary I began to take the most desponding views of the
venture, and to think that, after all, perhaps he was dead.

That we were in a part not much troubled by human beings we soon found
by the tameness of the birds and the number of deer that dashed
frightened away from time to time, hardly giving us a glimpse of their
dappled skins before they were lost in the jungly growth.

The walking had grown more difficult as the day wore on, and at last the
great trees began to give place to vegetation of a different kind.
Instead of timber we were walking amongst palm-like growth and plants
with enormous succulent leaves.  Great climbers twined and twisted one
with another, unless they found some tree up which they seemed to force
their way to reach the open sunshine, forming a splendid shelter from
the ardent rays when we wished to rest.

There was no attempt during the morning to make use of our guns, for at
first we moved watchfully, always on the look-out for enemies, seeing
danger in every moving leaf, and starting at every rustling dash made by
some frightened animal that crossed our path.

By degrees, though, we grew more confident, but still kept up our
watchfulness, halting at mid-day beside a little clear stream in a spot
so lovely that it struck me as being a shame that no one had a home
there to revel in its beauties.

The water ran bubbling along amongst mossy rocks, and overhung by
gigantic ferns.  There were patches of the greenest grass, and close by,
offering us shade, was a clump of large trees whose branches strewed
brightly coloured flowers to the earth.  A flock of gorgeously plumaged
birds were noisily chattering and shrieking in the branches, and though
they fled on our first coming, they came back directly and began
climbing and swinging about so near that I could see that they were a
small kind of parrot, full of strange antics, and apparently playing at
searching for their food.

"We'll have two hours' rest here," said the doctor, "a good meal, and
perhaps a nap, and our feet bathed in the cool water, and the rest of
the day's journey will come easier."

"But hadn't we better get on?"  I said anxiously.

"`Slow and sure' must be our motto, Joe," said the doctor.  "We have
hundreds of miles to tramp, so we must not begin by knocking ourselves
up.  Patience, my boy, patience and we shall win."

As soon as he saw that we were going to stop for rest and refreshment,
Jimmy began to rub the centre of his person and make a rush for the
native basket that contained our food, from which he had to be driven;
for though generally, quite unlike many of his fellow-countrymen, Jimmy
was scrupulously honest, he could not be trusted near food.

There was no stopping to lay the cloth and arrange knives and forks.  We
each drew our heavy knife, and filled the cup of our little canteen from
the stream before setting to at a large cold bird that we had brought
with us, one shot by the doctor the day before, and cooked ready for the
expedition.  I cannot give you its name, only tell you that it was as
big as a turkey, and had a beautiful crest of purple and green.

We had brought plenty of damper too, a preparation of flour that, I dare
say, I need not stop to describe, as every one now must know that in
Australia it takes the place of ordinary bread.

The native carriers were well provided for, and my depression passed off
as the restful contented feeling induced by a good meal came over me.
As for Jack Penny, he spread himself out along the ground, resting his
thin body, and went on eating with his eyes half shut; while Gyp, his
dog, came close alongside him, and sat respectfully waiting till his
master balanced a bone across his nose, which Gyp tossed in the air,
caught between his jaws, and then there was a loud crunching noise for a
few minutes, and the dog was waiting again.

Jimmy was eating away steadily and well, as if he felt it to be his
bounden duty to carry as much of the store of food neatly packed away
inside him as it was possible to stow, when he suddenly caught sight of
Gyp, and stopped short with his mouth open and a serious investigating
look in his eyes.

He saw the dog supplied twice with what he evidently looked upon as
dainty bits, and a broad smile came over his countenance.  Then he
looked annoyed and disappointed, and as if jealous of the favour shown
to the beast.

The result was that he left the spot where he had been lying half-way
between us and the carriers, went to the stream, where he lay flat down
with his lips in the water, and drank, and then came quietly up to my
side, where he squatted down in as near an imitation of Gyp as he could
assume, pouting out his lips and nose and waiting for a bone.

The doctor burst out laughing, while I could not tell whether to set it
down to artfulness or to simple animal nature on the poor fellow's part.

However, I was too English at heart to lower my follower, so I did not
treat him like a dog, but hacked off a good bone and sent him to his
place.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and, as the doctor said, somewhat
lightened our loads, when all at once it seemed to me that a spasm ran
through Jack Penny where he lay.  Then, as I watched him, I saw his hand
stealing towards his gun, and he looked at me and pointed towards where
a dense patch of big trees formed a sort of buttress to the great green
wall of the forest.

For a few moments I could see nothing; then I started, and my hand also
went towards my piece, for peering round the trunk of one of the trees,
and evidently watching us, was one of the most hideous-looking faces I
had ever seen.  The eyes were bright and overhung by dark wrinkled
brows, and, seen in the half light, the head seemed as large as that of
a man.  In fact I was convinced that it was some fierce savage playing
the spy upon our actions.

I felt better when I had fast hold of my gun--not that I meant to fire,
only to protect myself--and I was reaching out a foot to awaken the
doctor, who had thrown himself back with his hat over his face, when I
found that Gyp had caught sight of the hideous countenance, and, with a
fierce bay, he dashed at the creature.

Jack Penny and I started to our feet, Jimmy went after the dog, waddy in
hand, and his yell awakened the doctor, who also sprang to his feet just
in time to see the creature leap up at a pendent branch, swing itself up
in the tree, and disappear amongst the thick leafage, while Gyp barked
furiously below.

"Big monkey that, my lads," said the doctor.  "I did not know we should
see anything so large."

Jack Penny was all eagerness to follow and get a shot at the animal; but
though he looked in all directions, and Gyp kept baying first at the
foot of one tree then at the foot of another, he did not see it again.
Where it went it was impossible to say; perhaps it travelled along the
upper branches, swinging itself from bough to bough by its long arms;
but if it did, it was all so silently that not so much as a leaf
rustled, and we were all at fault.

I was not sorry, for the idea of shooting anything so like a human
being, and for no reason whatever, was rather repugnant to my feelings,
so that I did not share in my companion's disappointment.

"Depend upon it, he has not gone far," said the doctor, when Jack Penny
stood staring at the tree where we saw the ape first.  "There, lie down,
my lad, and rest, and--hallo! what's the matter with Jimmy?"

I turned to see the black standing close by, his waddy in one hand, his
boomerang in the other, head bent, knees relaxed, an expression of the
greatest horror in his face, as he shivered from head to foot, and shook
his head.

"Why, what's the matter, Jimmy?"  I cried.

"Bunyip," he whispered, "big bunyip debble--debble--eat all a man up.
Bunyip up a tree."

"Get out!"  I said; "it was a big monkey."

"Yes: big bunyip monkey.  Come 'way."

For the sudden disappearance of the ape had impressed Jimmy with the
idea that it was what the Scottish peasants call "no canny," and as it
was his first interview with one of these curious creatures, there was
some excuse for his apparent fear, though I am not certain that it was
not assumed.

For Jimmy was no coward so long as he was not called upon to encounter
the familiar demons of his people, the word bunyip being perhaps too
often in his mouth.

The black's dread went off as quickly as it came, when he found that he
was not noticed, and for the next two hours we lay resting, Jack Penny
and I seeing too many objects of interest to care for sleep.  Now it
would be a great beetle glistening in green and gold, giving vent to a
deep-toned buzzing hum as it swept by; then a great butterfly, eight or
nine inches across, would come flitting through the trees, to be
succeeded by something so swift of flight and so rapid in the flutter of
its wings that we were in doubt whether it was a butterfly or one of the
beautiful sunbirds that we saw flashing in the sunshine from time to
time.

It proved afterwards to be a butterfly or day-moth, for we saw several
of them afterwards in the course of our journey.

Over the birds Jack Penny and I had several disputes, for once he took
anything into his head, even if he was wrong, he would not give way.

"These are humming-birds," he said, as we lay watching some of the
lovely little creatures that were hovering before the flowers of a great
creeper, and seemed to be thrusting in their long beaks.

"No," I said, "they are not humming-birds;" and I spoke upon my mother's
authority, she in turn resting on my father's teaching.  "There are no
humming-birds here: they are found in America and the islands."

"And out here," said Jack, dictatorially.  "There they are; can't you
see 'em?"

"No," I said, "those are sunbirds; and they take the place of the
humming-birds out here in the East."

"Nonsense!  Think I don't know a humming-bird when I see one.  Why, I
saw one at Sydney, stuffed."

"When you two have done disputing," said the doctor, "we'll start."

"Look here, doctor; ain't those humming-birds?" said Jack.

"No, no, doctor," I cried; "they are sunbirds, are they not?"

"I don't know," said the doctor; "let's make haste on and ask the
professor."

I sprang to my feet as if stung by a reproach, for it seemed to me as if
I had been thinking of trifles instead of the great object of my
mission.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

HOW JACK PENNY WAS NOT SATISFIED WITH HIMSELF.

It was intensely hot when we started again, the heat seeming to be
steamy, and not a breath of air to fan our cheeks; but we trudged on for
a time without adventure, till all at once a butterfly of such lovely
colours flashed across our path, that it proved too much for Jack Penny,
who laid down his gun, snatched off his hat, and went in pursuit.

We could not go on and leave him; so we stopped to rest, and watch him
as he was hopping and bounding along through a tolerably open sunlit
part, full of growth of the most dazzling green.  Now he neared the
insect; now it dashed off again, and led him a tremendous chase, till,
just as the doctor shouted to him to return, we saw him make a dab down
with his hat and then disappear.

"He has got it," I said; for I could not help feeling interested in the
chase; but I felt annoyed again directly, as the doctor said coldly:

"Yes: he seems to have caught his prize, Joe; but we must defer these
sports till our work is done."

Just then we saw Jack Penny rise up and turn towards us.  To hide my
vexation I shouted to him to make haste, and he began to trot towards
us, his long body bending and swaying about as he ran.

Then he jumped and jumped again, and the doctor shaded his eyes with his
hands.

"He has got into a swampy patch," he said.  "Of course.  There's a bit
of a stream runs along there, and--"

"Ow!" came in a dismal yell, followed by a furious barking, as we saw
Jack make a tremendous jump, and then disappear.

"Help, help!" came from among some dense green growth, and hurrying
forward we at last came in sight of our companion, at least in sight of
his head and shoulders, and we could not approach him, for the ground
gave way beneath our feet, the bright green moss almost floating upon a
treacherous bog.

"Hold on!" shouted the doctor; "we'll help you directly;" and taking out
his big knife he began to hack at some small bamboos which grew in thick
clumps about us.

"Make haste," moaned Jack, "I'm sinking;" and we could see Gyp, who was
howling furiously, tearing at the soft moss as if to dig his master out.

"Give Jimmy knife," said the black, who was grinning and enjoying Jack
Penny's predicament.

I handed him mine, and he too cut down armfuls of the young green
bamboo, the carriers coming up now and helping, when, taking a bundle at
a time, Jimmy laid them down, dancing lightly over them with his bare
feet, and troubling himself very little about danger, as he made a sort
of green path right up to Jack.

"His black fellow pull up," shouted Jimmy; but I ran up to where he was,
and each taking one of Jack's hands he gave a wriggle, floundered a bit,
and then we had him out covered with black mud; and though we were
standing up, he would not trust himself just then erect, but crept after
us on hands and knees, the soft bog beneath us going up and down like a
wave.

As soon as he was quite safe there was a hearty laugh at Jack Penny's
expense; and the doctor drily asked for the butterfly.

"Oh, I caught him," said Jack; "but I lost him when I trod on that great
beast."

"What great beast?"  I said.

"Crocodile fifty foot long," drawled Jack.

"Say sixty," said the doctor.

"Well, I hadn't time to measure him," drawled Jack.  "I trod upon one,
and he heaved up, and that made me jump into a soft place, and--ugh!
what's that?"

I was very doubtful about Jack's crocodile, but there was no mistake
about the object that had made him utter this last cry of disgust.

"They're pricking me horrid," he shouted; and we found that he had at
least twenty large leeches busily at work banquetting upon his blood.

The blacks set to work picking them off, and scraping him clear of the
thick vegetable mud that adhered to him; and with the promise that he
was to have a good bathe in the first clear water we encountered, we
once more started, Jack looking anything but cheerful, but stubbornly
protesting that it was wonderful how comfortable his wet clothes made
him feel.

Master Jack had to listen to a lecture from the doctor, in which the
latter pointed out that if success was to attend our expedition, it
would not do for the various members to be darting off at their good
pleasure in search of butterflies, and at first Jack looked very grim,
and frowned as if about to resent it all.  To my surprise, however, he
replied:

"I see, doctor; we must be like soldiers and mind the captain.  Well,
all right.  I won't do so any more."

"I'm sure you will not," said the doctor, holding out his hand.  "You
see we must have discipline in our little corps, so as to be able fully
to confide in each other in cases of emergency.  We must be men."

Jack scratched his head and looked ruefully from one to the other.

"That's just what I want to be, doctor," he drawled; "but I'm always
doing something that makes me seem like a small boy.  I'm grown up a
deal, but somehow I don't feel a bit older than I used to be years ago."

"Ah, well, wait a bit, Penny," replied the doctor; "and we will not say
any more about the butterfly hunt."

Jack's brow seemed to grow as wrinkled as that of an old man, and he was
very solemn for the rest of the day, during which we tramped on through
the forest, its beauties seeming less attractive than in the freshness
of the early morning, and the only striking thing we saw was a pack of
small monkeys, which seemed to have taken a special dislike to Jimmy,
following him from tree to tree, chattering and shrieking the while, and
at last putting the black in a passion, and making him throw his
boomerang savagely up in return for the nuts that were showered down.

"Bad black fellow," he said to me indignantly.  "Come down, Jimmy fight
twenty forty all a once."

He flourished his club and showed me how he would clear the ground, but
the monkeys did not accept the challenge, and that night we halted under
a great tree covered with a scarlet plum-like fruit, and proceeded to
set up our tent as a shelter to keep off the heavy dew.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

HOW WATCH WAS KEPT BY NIGHT.

The sheet which I have called our tent was stretched over a low bough,
and secured to pegs at the four corners, being all open at the sides, so
that as I lay I could gaze right away in any direction.

On one side there was gloom, with the tall pillar-like tree trunks
standing up grey and indistinct; on the other side there was the bright
fire, which was as dangerous, I thought, as it was useful, for though it
served to keep off wild beasts it was likely to attract savage men, just
as moths fly to a flame.

As I lay there I could see the doctor keeping watch, and beside him one
of the natives, whose black face looked curious and ghastly with the
bandage he wore round his head, for this was one of the men who had been
seized by the captain of the other schooner, and who had eagerly
volunteered to be of our party.

This man was gazing intently at the doctor, as if eager to catch the
slightest indication of a wish, and so still and misty did he look in
the weird light that but for the flaming of the fire from his eyes it
would have been hard to tell that he was a living being.

Though it was not cold our black followers all slept close about the
fire, Jimmy the nearest--so close, in fact, that he seemed as if he were
being prepared for a feast on the morrow; and this idea of roasting came
the more strongly from the fact that we were in a land whose inhabitants
were said to have certain weaknesses towards a taste for human joints.

Jack Penny was sleeping heavily close to me, and at regular intervals
seeming to announce that he was dreaming of eating, for his lips gave
vent over and over again to the word _pork_!

Sometimes this regular snoring sound annoyed me, but I forgot it again
directly as I lay sleepless there, now watching the gloom of the forest,
now the flickering and dancing light of the fire as the wood crackled
and burned and the sparks and smoke went straight up, till they were
lost on high amid the densely thick branches overhead.

It was a curious sensation to be there in that awful solitude, thinking
of my past adventures, and wondering what the next day might bring
forth.  I wanted to sleep and rest, so as to rise refreshed when the
doctor called me two hours after midnight, when I was to relieve guard;
but sleep would not come, and I lay fidgeting about, wondering how it
was possible that such a small twig could set up so much irritation
beneath my back.

Then, just as I thought I was going off there would be the sensation as
of some creeping insect crawling about over my face and in amongst the
roots of my hair.  Then after impatiently knocking it away, something
seemed to be making its way up my sleeve, to be succeeded by something
else in the leg of my trousers, while I had hardly got rid of this
sensation when a peculiarly clammy cold touch taught me that either a
lizard or a snake was crawling over my feet.

This last I felt constrained to bear, for a movement might result in the
bite of some poisonous creature, while by lying still I might escape.

At last I really was dropping off into a sound sleep, when all at once I
started into wakefulness, fascinated as it were by the sight of
something shining in the black darkness to the left of our fire.

With a shudder running through me I rose to my elbow, at the same moment
seizing my gun, when a single intent glance convinced me that I was
right, for certainly some creature was watching the doctor, and probably
crouching before making a deadly bound.

I cocked the piece softly, holding the trigger the while, so that there
should be no sharp click, and in another moment I should have fired,
after careful aim, between the two bright glaring eyes, when the doctor
made a movement, and the animal darted aside and went bounding off, just
giving me a glimpse of its form, which was that of a small deer.

I saw the doctor shade his eyes and stand watching the flying creature.
Then stooping down he picked up a few branches that had been gathered
ready, and made the fire blaze more brightly.

As the glow increased I saw something which there was no mistaking for a
harmless deer, for not ten yards away there was a large cat-like
creature crouching close to the ground, while, to make assurance doubly
sure, there came from between its bared and glistening white teeth a low
angry snarl.

I took aim, and tried to get a good sight at its head, but hesitated to
draw trigger, for the glow from the fire made appearances deceptive, the
body of the cat-like beast seeming to waver up and down; and directly
after the creature moved, and its head was covered by a low bush.

But the doctor and his companion had both seen the animal, which uttered
a menacing roar as the former stepped forward, snatched a piece of
burning wood from the fire, and hurled it towards the beast, his example
being followed by the New Guinea man.

The result was a furious roar, and the great cat bounded away towards
the forest.

This brought Gyp to his feet with a fierce volley of barking, and he
would have been off in pursuit but for his master, who woke up and ran
out exclaiming:

"Dingoes after the sheep! dingoes after the sheep!  Here, Gyp, boy!
here, Gyp--here--eh!  I say, is anything the matter?"

"No, no; all right!" cried the doctor.

"I--I thought I was at home," said Jack, rubbing his eyes; "and--oh! how
sleepy I am."

"Lie down again, then," said the doctor; and Jack obeyed, Gyp following
and curling up close by his master, who very soon resumed his heavy
breathing, in so objectionable a manner that I felt over and over again
as if I should like to kick him and wake him up.

For there is nothing on earth so annoying as to be unable to sleep when
some one close by is snoring away in happy oblivion.

As I lay there with my face turned from the fire, so that it should not
keep me awake, I felt more and more the sensation of awe produced by
being there in the midst of that wild place.  While I was perfectly
still my eyes were directed upwards in amongst the branches of the great
tree, now illumined by the bright flame of our fire, and by degrees I
made out that these boughs were peopled by birds and what seemed to be
squirrels, and all more or less excited by the unaccustomed light.

I lay gazing up at them, seeing the different objects very indistinctly
in the dancing light, and then all at once it seemed to me that one
particular branch was rising and falling slowly with a peculiar
movement.  It was a strange wavy motion, which was the more remarkable
from the fact that there was no wind; but after a moment or two's
thought I fancied I had found the cause in the heated air produced by
the fire.

But that did not explain what next took place in the smoky obscurity
above the fire, for the branch seemed to wave about more and more, and
to lengthen; and then I made sure that it was the shadow I saw; but
directly after, a thrill ran through me as I recalled that these
creatures were fond of nestling high up in branches, where they captured
birds and monkeys, and I said in a low hoarse whisper:

"Why, it's a snake!"

There was no doubt about the matter, for as it swung lower, holding on
by its tail, I could see that it was indeed a snake, evidently of
considerable length, and about as thick as my arm.  It had been aroused
from probably a torpid state by the fumes of the fire, and was now
descending from bough to bough to reach the earth, and I paused for a
time, asking myself what I had better do.

The result was that I overcame the unwillingness I felt to move, and
crept so softly towards the doctor that I was able to lay my hand upon
his shoulder before he heard me approach.

"Why, Joe!" he exclaimed, starting, "I thought it was an enemy."

"Yes; there he is!"  I said with a shudder, and I pointed up among the
branches.

The black who was the doctor's fellow-watcher had seen me approach, and
following with his eyes the direction pointed to by my hand, he too
looked up into the tree, where, glistening in the fire-light, there was
the reptile swinging slowly to and fro with a pendulum-like motion.

In spite of the horror inspired by such a creature, free and within a
few yards of where I was standing, I could not help noticing the beauty
of the scales, which shone in the fire-light as if of burnished bronze.
But I had little time for examination; one moment I was noting the head
and curved neck of the reptile, the next there was a sharp twanging
noise, and I saw the serpent's head jerk upwards, and then what seemed
to be a mass of thick rope fell near the fire; there was a tremendous
lashing and tossing about, and when the doctor and I approached the spot
cautiously with our guns, it was to find that the reptile had glided off
into the forest depths.

"A good shot for a bow and arrow," said the doctor, turning to our black
companion, who smiled complacently, our manner plainly showing him that
we were admiring his skill.

"You are getting a poor night's rest, Joe," said the doctor smiling.
"Now go and lie down again."

"It is of no use," I said fretfully.  "I can't sleep, and I only lie
thinking about home and him.  I shall stay and watch."

The doctor protested, but finding at last that I was unwilling to lie
down again, he said:

"Well, I am quite different, for I am so tired that I cannot keep awake.
I will go and lie down then, if you promise to come and wake me as soon
as you are drowsy.  Mind and keep up a good blaze."

I replied that he might be sure of that.

"Don't fire unnecessarily," he continued.  "If any wild animal comes
near, a piece of burning wood will scare it away at once."

"As it did that great cat!"  I said.

"Did you see, then?" he said.

"I have not been asleep for a single minute," I replied.  "What was it--
a tiger?"

"Tiger!  No, my lad," he said, laughing; "I don't think we shall see any
tigers here.  There, I shall yawn my head off if I stop here talking.
Good night!"

He walked to the shelter, and I went and sat down next our black
companion, who smiled a welcome; and thinking this a favourable
opportunity, I set to work to try and increase my knowledge of the
language, by lifting up different objects and making the black give them
their native name, which I tried to imitate as well as I could.

He was very intelligent, grasping my meaning at once, and repeating the
words again and again, till I was nearly perfect, when he laughed with
childlike pleasure.

The time passed so quickly in this occupation that I was quite startled
by hearing a wild resonant cry that seemed to echo through the forest
arcades.  Then there was a succession of piercing screams, followed by
loud whistling and muttering.  A monkey started a chattering noise,
which was answered from a distance with a hundredfold power; and looking
about me I found that the day was breaking and the night-watch at an
end.

The change from night to morning is very rapid near the equator, and
soon the sun was making bright and attractive places that had looked
awful and full of hidden dangers in the night; while, in place of the
depression produced by the darkness, I felt eager sensations and desires
springing up within my heart, and a strong inclination to get forward
once more upon our journey.

We made a very hearty meal before the sun was much above the horizon;
our simple packing was soon done, and we were not long before we were
well on the road of discovery.

I expected to be very tired and sleepy, but to my surprise I did not
feel in the least the worse for my restless night, and we trudged along
pretty swiftly when the land was open, slowly and toilsomely when
tangled growth obstructed our way.

I was too much occupied with thoughts of my father to pay much heed to
the fruits and flowers that we came upon in many spots; besides, I was
on before with Jack Penny, and Gyp in front of us very intelligently
leading the way.  There was, I knew, always the chance of meeting some
danger, and on this account we kept a very sharp look-out ahead, till
suddenly we were stopped by a strange noise as of water being struck a
succession of heavy blows; and as Gyp set up his ears, threw up his
nose, and uttered a low whimper, there was the click, click of
gun-locks, and every one prepared for some coming danger, the blacks
remaining quiet, and looking wonderingly at our strange proceedings.

The sound ceased as suddenly as it had begun, and though we listened
intently we heard it no more for that time, so we continued our journey
with every one thoroughly on the alert.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

HOW JACK PENNY PUT HIS FOOT IN A TRAP.

We had made our plans, but they were very elastic, for it was impossible
for us to keep to any hard-and-fast line.

"No, Joe," the doctor said, "we cannot say that we will do this or that;
we must be governed by circumstances.  We have one object in view--to
find your father, and so far we have determined to follow the course of
the first big river; when we shall be diverted from it time must prove."

We slept that night under the shade of another tree, and as the mist
rolled off the next morning we started once again.

It was so glorious a morning that, in spite of the serious nature of our
position, it was impossible not to feel in the highest of spirits.  The
way lay through dense forest, but we had fallen into a track which I at
first thought was a regular pathway, and so it proved to be, but not of
the kind I imagined as I eagerly called the doctor's attention to it,
and the ease with which we were now getting along.

"No, Joe," he said; "this is not a path used by human beings.  Look down
at the footprints."

I looked down to see the hoof-marks of innumerable wild creatures, and
said so.

"Yes," replied the doctor, "it is a track down to the river, followed by
the animals that go to drink, and we shall not be long before we get to
the water side."

Our way did not seem wearisome, for there was so much to see, the birds
in particular taking my attention greatly.  One moment a flock of black
cockatoos would fly screaming by, then a cloud of brilliantly-coloured
parroquets, and in one opening we came upon what looked at first like a
gigantic beech-tree completely alive with tiny blue-and-green parrots
about the size of sparrows, climbing, fluttering, chattering, and
chirping, now with their heads up, now heads down, and forming one of
the prettiest sights I had ever seen.

I could have shot twenty or thirty together as they sat in rows upon the
bare branches, so little did they heed our presence; but it was
unnecessary to destroy their little lives, and we passed on.

I was less merciful an hour later, for food was a necessity, and I was
fortunate enough to bring down at the first shot a beautiful little deer
that started up in our very path.

My shot seemed to alarm the whole forest and set it in an uproar: birds
shrieked, monkeys chattered, and to right and left there was a rushing
crackling noise, as of big creatures seeking flight.  There was a
deep-mouthed howl, too, away on our right that made me look anxiously at
the doctor.

"I don't know, Joe," he replied, as if in answer to a spoken question.
"There may be tigers here, and leopards, and old men of the woods, big
as ourselves.  It is new land, my lad, so don't look to me for
information."

"Dat big bunyip," said Jimmy in a scared whisper.  "Take black fellow--
kill um, eatum."

Just then we heard the same beating noise that had fallen upon our ears
the previous day.

"Dat big bunyip beat um gin," whispered Jimmy, with a curious
awe-stricken look in his countenance.

"'Taint," said Jack Penny slowly.  "I don't believe in bunyips.  If it
was a bunyip beating his gin, she'd holloa out like hooray, and squeak
the leaves off the trees."

"'Fraid squeak," said Jimmy eagerly, as he caught Jack's meaning.

"Well, perhaps Jimmy's right," said the doctor slowly; "and as I've
never seen a bunyip the present is a favourable opportunity, and we can
interfere to stop him from too severely castigating his wife.  Come,
Jimmy, lead on."

Jimmy's jaw dropped, but his hand stole to his waistband, from which he
drew his waddy, talking slowly the while, till, seeing the doctor make a
movement towards him, he turned round and darted into the bush.

"He won't stop till he gets back to the village," drawled Jack.

"He won't go farther than the first big tree," I said, laughing.  "He's
watching us now, I'll be bound."

"Then you and I will have to meet the bunyip, Joe," said the doctor.
"Are you coming, Penny?"

"Yes, I'll come," said Jack quietly.  "I should like to see a bunyip.
Come along."

Jack went on--not first, for Gyp started before him and, guided by the
noise, we pushed on amongst the dense growth, finding the earth grow
moister beneath our feet; and then all at once it seemed as if the big
trees had come to an end and we were in a lighter place.

"There's the water," I cried, as I caught sight of a flash.

"You'll be in it here directly, same as I was," drawled Jack.  "I say,
doctor, ain't this the sort of place big snakes like?"

"Hush!" whispered the doctor; and pressing back the thick growth we
advanced cautiously, and following his example I, too, stepped from tuft
to tuft, listening to the beating noise and to the other sounds that
arose.

First there was the loud rustle of wings as some water birds flew up,
long-legged creatures with far-stretching necks.  Then on my left there
was an ominous noise, as of something crawling amongst the reeds, and I
shuddered as I saw that Jack Penny was holding his gun ready, and that
Gyp's hair was bristling all about his neck, while his teeth were bared.

The doctor was some distance before us now, and I could see him peering
between some bushes and waving his hand to me to come forward; so,
forgetting the danger, if danger there was, I went cautiously to my
companion's side, to gaze with astonishment at the scene before me.

There was no bunyip or native Australian demon there, but a great
shallow, muddy pond or lake, which seemed as if it must be swarming with
fish and crocodiles, for every here and there, as the great rugged backs
of the horrible lizards were seen pushing towards the shore, shoals of
silvery fish leaped out, flashing in the sunshine before they splashed
back into the water.

Here, then, was the secret of the mysterious noise which was being
produced before my eyes.  For the crocodiles were driving the shoals of
fish into the little bays and creeks, and then stunning them by beating
the water heavily with their tails, the result being that the paralysed
fish were easily devoured.

I felt as if I could never tire of gazing at the monsters so busy before
us.  There must have been at least five-and-twenty, and all of large
size; and it was not a pleasant thought to consider what would have been
the consequences if we had attempted to wade across the lagoon.

Before leaving, however, the doctor took out his glass and swept the
shore of the great pond, to nod with satisfaction.

"This is only a sort of bay belonging to the river we are seeking, Joe,"
he said.  "Look there to the left, and you can see the entrance choked
up with reeds."

We crept back cautiously, to find Jimmy awaiting our return; and then
making a detour towards the lake, we soon reached the river, along whose
bank was a well-trodden path, in whose softer parts, besides those of
deer, it was plain to see the ugly toes of crocodiles, and the long
trail they made as they dragged themselves along.

We did not halt until we had left the crocodile pond a long way behind;
but a fine dry, open spot, close to the flashing water of the swift
river, was so tempting that we did not go so far as we had intended.

Here a fire was soon lit, and Jimmy sat watching the roasting of the
buck with an indescribable look of satisfaction in his countenance;
while, eager to try whether it would be possible to add to our provision
store at any time from the river, I went on down to the water's edge.
For if there were fish in such abundance in the lagoon, I felt sure that
if they would bite there must be plenty in the stream.

My first idea had been to have a bathe in the cool-looking water, but,
seeing my intention, the black who had been my companion in the watch,
took my hand, led me cautiously along for a short distance, and then
pointed to where there was lying, dimly outlined in the thickened water,
one of the hideous creatures such as I had seen in the lagoon.

The black then put his wrists together, spread wide his hands, and
closed them sharply upon my arm like a pair of jaws, and snatched me
sidewise with a good tug.

I was quite satisfied, and nodding and shuddering I joined the doctor,
who was ready enough to help me fish.

We soon had our lines ready, and baiting the hooks with pieces of raw
meat, we threw out and waited, after the manner of fishermen at home,
for a bite.

After a time I examined my bait and threw in again.  Then the doctor
examined his and threw in again, but neither of us had the slightest
touch, and growing weary we went back to the fire to find the buck
sufficiently roasted and Jimmy's eyes standing out of his head with
hunger; so we made a hasty meal, left the blacks to finish it, and Jack
Penny to rest his long body, while we had another try at the fishing.

But Jack Penny did not care to rest when anything was going on, and
after we had been fishing without result for about half an hour he
joined us.

"Caught anything?" he said; and on our replying in the negative, "Here,
let me try," he said.

I handed him my line, and he twisted it well round his hand.

"Fish run big, sometimes," he said, nodding his head sagaciously.
"Don't leave your line like that, doctor," he added; "make it fast to
that bough."

The doctor obeyed, and leaving Jack looking very drowsy and dreamy we
two took our guns and started along the river bank, thinking that
perhaps we might find something useful for the larder, the heat of the
climate rendering it necessary for a supply to be obtained from day to
day.

It was a glorious walk past quiet bends of the river that were as still
as ponds, and full of red and white lotus plants which shot up their
lovely blossoms from amidst their floating liliaceous leaves.  Trees in
places overhung the water, and great wreaths of blossom or leaves of
dazzling green were reflected on the surface.  Insect life was abundant:
burnished beetles and lovely coloured butterflies flitting from flower
to flower.  Birds, too, especially waders and great creatures that I
took to be pelicans, were busy in the shallows, where now and then a
great crocodile wallowed through the mud, evidently roused by our
approach, for though we saw several of these creatures, not one gave the
slightest sign of a disposition to attack.

"There, we are not likely to see deer before evening when they come down
to drink," said the doctor.  "Let's get back, Joe, my lad, the sun is
not so powerful as it was, and we may as well make a fresh start."

We were about three parts of the way back, finding some fresh object of
interest at every turn, when I suddenly caught hold of my companion's
arm, for a peculiar cry fell upon my ear.

"Something wrong!" exclaimed the doctor, and we set off at a sharp run
where the undergrowth would allow.

A curious sensation of dread came over me, and a cold damp feeling was
on my brow and in the palms of my hands as the cry rose once more--a
singularly doleful cry, as of some one in great peril.

"Are you loaded?" said the doctor, as we ran on, and his voice sounded
hoarse with emotion.

I nodded, for I could not speak, and, full of the idea that our little
camp had been attacked by savages and that some of our followers were
being killed, I ran on.

It was hard work and like running in a nightmare to get back to our
starting-place, for there was always some thorn or tangle that we had
not noticed in our careful advance seeming to stop us on our way; but at
last we came within sight of the spot where we had left Jack Penny, but
he was not there.

"There's something wrong at the camp," I panted.

"Be cool," replied the doctor, "we may have to fire.  Try and keep your
nerve.  Ah!"

This ejaculation was consequent upon our simultaneously catching sight
of Jack Penny, up to the armpits in the river, holding on by the branch
of a tree.

As he saw us he shouted lustily for help.  It was no drawl now, but a
sharp quick shout.

I ran down the bank and the doctor following, we joined hands, when,
catching at Jack's wrist, I held on tightly.

"Now, then," I said, as I gazed wonderingly in his ghastly face and
staring eyes, "let go, and we'll draw you ashore."

"No, no," he cried hoarsely.  "Got hold of me--drag me in."

"Got hold?  Of course," I said, "we'll drag you in."

"One of those brutes has got him, Joe," cried the doctor excitedly, and
his words sent such a thrill through me that I nearly loosed my hold.
"Here, pull both together," he said, as he got down by my side and
seized Jack Penny by the other arm.

We gave a fierce drag, to find that it was answered from below, Jack
being nearly drawn out of our hands, his head going down nearly to the
eyes, and for the moment it seemed as if we were to be drawn in as well.

But fortunately Jack still had tight hold of the branch, to which he
clung in the agony of desperation, and he uttered such a piercing cry
that it served to arouse the sleeping blacks, the result being that, as
we were holding on, and just maintaining our ground, Jimmy and Ti-hi,
the black who had attached himself to me, came running down.

They saw what was wrong, and Jimmy seized me, the black doing the same
by Jimmy, with the effect of dragging poor Jack Penny farther and
farther from the water in spite of the struggles of the reptile that was
trying to haul him back.  First we had him out to the chest, then to the
hips, then nearly to the knees, and I never till then thoroughly
realised what a lot there was of him, for it seemed as if he would never
end.

"Hold on!" cried the doctor suddenly.  "I'm going to loose him."

"No, no!" panted Jack, with a horrified look; but the doctor did loose
his hold and caught up his gun.

"Now, then," he cried.  "All together.  Haul with all your might."

We obeyed, and though we were for the moment mastered we gave a good
swing again, and it seemed as if Jack Penny must be dragged in two.

It was like playing a game of French and English, and we were in danger
of getting the worst of it.  We saw what the doctor wanted, and that was
to get the reptile so near the surface that he could fire; but as soon
as we got poor Jack nearly ashore the creature gave a tremendous tug,
making the water swirl and the mud and sand from the bottom rise in
clouds.

This went on for five minutes, during which we were striving with all
our might, when I nearly loosed my hold, for Jack said in a low
despairing tone of voice:

"Joe Carstairs, don't let him have me till you've shot me first."

I held fast though, and the fight went on, till, just as we were
beginning to despair, the reptile came nearer to the surface, the ugly
protuberances over its eyes were level with the water, and, bending
down, the doctor reached out with his gun in one hand, held the muzzle
close to the creature's eye, and fired.

There was a tremendous sputter and we were nearly forced to leave go,
but the next moment there was no resistance but weight, and we drew Jack
and his aggressor, a crocodile about ten feet long, right up to the
bank, the monster's jaws, which had closed over one of Jack's stoutly
booted feet, remaining fast, though the upper part of its head was all
blown away.

"Dat a big bunyip," cried Jimmy, forcing the end of his spear through
the reptile's jaws and trying to push them open, which he did with his
companion's help, and Jack Penny was free to limp feebly for a few
yards, and sink down amongst the reeds.

Jimmy did not seem in the least afraid of the bunyip now, for hacking
off a long lithe cane he put it over the reptile's jaw, and, twisting it
tightly rope-fashion, he and Ti-hi dragged it right away from the water,
and, avoiding the frantic lashings of its tail, they turned it over with
their spears, used like levers, and kept on stabbing it in its tender
underparts until it ceased to struggle, when Jimmy turned it over again
and began to perform a triumphant war-dance on its back.

Meanwhile poor Jack Penny, who had been nearly speechless, began to
revive.

"That's better," said the doctor.  "Now let me look at your foot."

"Has he bit it right off?" said Jack faintly.  "I can't feel it.  Just
when I needed it so badly, too!"

"Bit it off!  No!"  I cried.  "Is it much hurt, doctor?"

"I can't tell till I have unlaced his boot," he replied.  "Tell me if I
hurt you much, my lad."

"It don't hurt," said Jack faintly.  "I can't feel at all."

It was rather hard work to get the boot off; but at last it was free,
and the doctor inspected a double row of red spots, two of which bled a
little, but not much.

"I'm beginning to feel now," said Jack dolefully.  "Why, he ain't bit it
off!" he said, raising himself so that he could look down at the injured
member.  "I thought it was gone."

"No; your foot has only had an ugly pinch; the stout boot saved it.  Let
it bleed a little, my lad; it will save you pain."

"What! had he only got hold of my boot?" said Jack excitedly.

"And the foot in it," said the doctor.  "See, here are the marks of the
teeth."

"I thought he'd bit it right off, Joe Carstairs," said Jack dolefully.
"An' I say, what a coward I am!"

"Coward!"  I exclaimed.  "Why?"

"To be so frightened as I was," replied Jack, with a dismal sigh.

"Well, I don't know about being a coward, Master Jack Penny," said the
doctor quietly; "but I do know that if I had had my foot in that
reptile's mouth I should have been in a most horrible state of fear.
There, my lad," he continued kindly, "don't think any more about it,
only to be thankful for your escape."

"But he ought to tell us first how he was caught like that," I said.

"Oh, there ain't much to tell," said Jack, sitting up and raising his
leg, and softly rubbing his injured foot.  "I was fishing, and the fish
wouldn't bite, and I got a little nearer to the river side and threw in
again and fished; and the sun seemed to get hotter, and I suppose I fell
asleep, for I remember dreaming that the dingoes had got among father's
sheep again, and that he flicked his whip-lash round my wrist.  Then I
tried to start up, but a big fish had hold of the line, and it tugged
away so hard that I was overbalanced, and took a header off the bank
right into the river; and when I came up, pretty tidy astonished like,
and began to swim for the bank, the fish on the line, which I had
twisted round my wrist, began tugging me out into the stream.  It took
me out ever so far before I could get the line off my wrist; and then I
swam easily back, feeling awful popped like at having lost the fish and
the line; and I was just wondering what you would say, when all at once
there was a regular rush in the water, and something shut on my foot,
giving me such an awful nip that I yelled out as I caught hold of that
branch, and held on, shivering all the while with fear, for I forgot
about the crocodiles, and thought it must be a shark."

"Well!"  I said, excitedly; for he stopped.

"Well, what?" said Jack.

"What next?  What did you do?"  I said.

"Hollered!" replied Jack laconically.  "So would you if you had been
me."

"Yes," I said, "of course; but what took place next?"

"Oh, nothing; only that I held tight and he held tight, and as often as
he tugged at me it jumped the bough up and down like a see-saw, and it
was very horrid."

"Most horrible!" said the doctor.

"Then I hollered again," said Jack.

"Yes; go on!"  I cried impatiently.

"I did go on," he replied.  "I went on hollering, but them chaps at the
camp were asleep, and I began to feel that I should have to let go soon;
only I wouldn't, because I wanted to find out first what had become of
the professor.  Then at last you came, and that's all; only I don't feel
much like walking very far to-day, so I shall sit still and fish."

"Fish! what, with things like that in the water?"  I exclaimed.

"Oh! they won't hurt me," said Jack; "because I shall be on the look-out
now, and won't go in after the next fish that takes my line.  I say,
where's Gyp?"

"I don't know," I said.  "I have not seen him."

"Crocodiles are very fond of dogs," said Jack quietly.  "I hope one of
'em hasn't got Gyp."

"Oh, no! he'd be too sharp for one of the reptiles," said the doctor
reassuringly.

"I don't know," said Jack in his quiet drawl.  "I thought I was much too
clever for crocodiles; but they're sharp--precious sharp about the
teeth.  Perhaps he's gone hunting something.  He often used at home."

"Oh, yes; he'll come back," I said.

"Well, we shall see," said Jack.  "I'm better now.  Lend me another
line, Joe Carstairs.  I want to see if I can't catch a fish."

I looked about first to see if I could trace my line, but it was
hopelessly gone.  To my surprise and pleasure, though, I found the
doctor's where he had left it, tied to a root and drawn out tight,
evidently with a fish at the end.

I imagined that I could easily draw this out, and I did get it close up
to the bank, but as soon as it was in the shallow water it sprang right
out and darted away again, making the line rush through my hands so
rapidly that it burned my skin.

As it leaped out I had a good opportunity of seeing that a great silvery
fellow, fully a yard long, had hooked itself, and meant to have some
playing before it turned over upon its side in token of submission.

I kept on playing the fish, which seemed to grow stronger instead of
weaker as I went on at give and take with it, till I was almost tired.
At least six times did I draw it in and try to bring it within reach of
Ti-hi's fingers, but in vain, for it always darted off as if refreshed.

At last, though, I drew it well in, and once more it was about to repeat
its tactics; but this time it was too late, for the black pounced down
upon it, thrust his hooked finger into its gills, and pulled it up on to
the bank.

Just then Jimmy came trotting up, hauling away at a line, and to my
great delight I found that he had hunted out the one we had left with
Jack Penny.

"Fastum round big wood!" he cried; and then he tried to explain how the
fish had entangled the line round what an American would call a snag;
and the result was that we had two fine fish to carry back to the camp,
Jimmy's being tired out and readily yielding as he hauled on the line.

"I don't think I'll fish to-day," said Jack Penny then.  "I say, I feel
as if that buck warn't good enough to eat."

Hardly had he spoken before he softly sank down sidewise, and lay
looking very white, and with his eyes shut.

"Is it the venison?"  I said in a whisper to the doctor.

"No.  He is a little faint, now the reaction has set in," replied the
doctor; and we had to carry poor wet Jack Penny as well as the fish into
camp, and of course we got no farther on our journey that day.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

HOW A STRANGE VISITOR CAME TO CAMP.

Jack seemed very little the worse after a good night's rest, that is to
say bodily.  He was a little white, and his breakfast did not disappear
so rapidly as usual, for, probably on account of his great length, and
the enormous amount of circulation and support to keep up, Jack Penny
used to eat about as much as two ordinary boys.  He was, however
evidently a little bit upset in his mind, and he laid this open to me
just before starting once more.

"I say," he said in a low tone, "did I seem such a very great coward
yes'day, Joe Carstairs?"

"Coward!  No," I said; "not you.  Any one would have been frightened."

"But I hollered so," whispered Jack.  "I don't think a young fellow
ought to holler like a great girl."

"I know I should," I replied.  "There, never mind now.  They're all
ready to start.  Come on!"

Jack Penny shook his head rather thoughtfully, and then, in a
dissatisfied dreamy way, he walked on with me, shouldering his gun, and
stooping more than ever, so that it seemed as if he were looking for
something which he could not find.

We had to pass pretty close to the crocodile, so close that Jack nearly
stumbled over it, and a cry of horror involuntarily escaped him as he
jumped aside.

Then, turning scarlet with annoyance, he gave the monster a kick, and
darted back holding his nose, for it was exhaling a most offensive musky
odour.

I looked at the creature closely and with some curiosity, thinking the
while how much smaller it was than those we had seen in the lagoon.  All
the same, though, it was fully as big in body as a man, though double
the length.

It was not going to poison the air long, for already it was covered with
something red, and a long red line extended from it right away into the
jungle.  Each tiny red object was an ant, and from experience I knew
that very soon every particle of flesh would be devoured.

Keeping within easy reach of the river we journeyed steadily on, finding
the country grow more beautiful at every step.  The trees were bigger,
the bamboos taller and more feathery.  In the sunny patches flowers were
in abundance, and we had no want of opportunities for supplying our
larder, large pheasant-like birds, with long tails and crests, and
plumage of the most beautiful tints, being plentiful.

It seemed a pity to shoot them, but it was a necessity, for our supply
of powder, shot, and ball was looked upon by us as so much condensed
meat, ready to be expanded when opportunity served.

We encountered nothing particular that day except Gyp, who turned up all
at once with a piece of furry skin in his mouth, all he had been able to
carry of some deer that he had run down; and at the sight of his friend
Jack Penny became more himself, throwing off a good deal of his gloom.
In fact I saw the tears stand in his eyes as he saw him once more; but
catching sight of me looking at him he scowled, and, running to the dog,
kicked him over and over again quite savagely.

"Just you run away again," he drawled angrily, "and I'll 'bout kill yer.
That's what I'll do with you."

Gyp closed his eyes and winced and crouched down close to the ground
till his master had ceased punishing him, and then he rose dejectedly,
and followed quite in the rear of our party with drooping head and tail.

I noticed at the time that Jimmy had watched all this with sparkling
eyes, wonderfully intent, but I thought no more of it till I saw the
black glance at us all in turn, and then begin to slink back.

"What is he after now?"  I said to myself; and stepping aside among the
thick leafage, I let our party go by and stopped to see what Jimmy was
about to do.

I had not long to wait, for the fact was that the black had snatched at
the opportunity to tyrannise over something.  He had been summarily
checked when amusing himself by sticking his spear into the New Guinea
men, and, as we have seen, one of them resented it; but here was a
chance.  Gyp had been beaten, and had cowered down under his master's
blows, so Jimmy took out his waddy, and after glancing forward to see
that he was not observed, he waited until Gyp came up slowly, and
casting sidelong looks at the Australian, who gave him a heavy thump on
the ribs with the war-club.

"Bad bunyip dog.  Good for nothing, dirty dingo dog," cried Jimmy.  "Go
long, bad for good dog.  Get--yah!"

This last was a terrific yell of fear and pain, for instead of cowering
down and suffering himself to be beaten and kicked, Gyp knew that this
was not his master.  For one moment he had stood astonished at the blow,
and then seemed puzzled by the strange broken English objurgations; then
with a fierce snarl he darted at the black and tried to seize him by the
legs, an attack which Jimmy avoided by making a tremendous spring,
catching at a horizontal branch above him, and swinging himself up into
a tree, where he crouched like a monkey, showering down angry epithets
upon the dog as it yelped and barked at him furiously.

I came out of my hiding-place laughing till the tears ran down my
cheeks; and the noise made by Gyp brought back the doctor and Jack
Penny, the latter taking in the situation at a glance and indulging in a
broad grin.

"Take away bunyip dog; take um way or Jimmy killum," cried the black.

"All right!" said Jack Penny; "come down and kill him then."

But Jimmy showed no disposition to move, and it was not until Jack had
ordered the dog away that the black dropped down, looking at me very
sheepishly and acting like a shamefaced child.

As we proceeded farther into the interior, wild creatures grew more
abundant, and we saw fewer traces of man having traversed these regions.
As I noted the various objects I could not help feeling how my father
must have revelled in exploring such a naturalist's paradise as this,
and I grew more hopeful as the idea gained ground in my mind that very
likely he was busy in the interior still pursuing his researches.

We travelled very little way now without catching glimpses of some of
the occupants of these wilds.  Perhaps it was but a glimpse, but
generally we were able to distinguish what it was that darted through
bush, tree, or shadowy glade.  Once or twice we caught sight of the
spots of leopards; then a graceful deer would stand at gaze for a moment
before going off like the wind.  Once a herd of heavy buffaloes started
up before us and crashed through the undergrowth; and at last, as we
drew near a great tree, the doctor said, pointing upward:

"No fear of our wanting food, Joe, while there are such birds as these."

As he spoke, with a noise like a whirlwind a flock of great pigeons took
flight--great fellows, three times as big as ordinary pigeons, and, as
we knew from those shot in Australia, splendid eating.

The great tree offered so pleasant a camping place that we decided to
pass the night there, and after a look round to see if there was likely
to be danger lurking near, the fire was lit, the blacks setting to work
at once to collect wood when they had put down their burdens.  Then food
was prepared and a hearty meal enjoyed, the restful sensation that came
over us after the day's exertion being most delicious.  Then one by one
our followers dropped asleep, Jack Penny, who was still rather grumpy,
last.

The doctor and I were sitting together by the fire that night, talking
in a low voice about our plans, and agreeing that we could not do better
than wander on and on through the wilds until we learned some tidings of
the lost man, when suddenly my companion laid his finger on his lips and
bent forward as if listening.

I listened too, thinking the while how strange it all looked about us,
with the fire casting weird shadows all around, while the silence now
was almost appalling.

"Nothing, Joe," said the doctor, dropping his hand.  "I thought I heard
something."

"I'm sure I did," I whispered, with a strange feeling upon me that it
would be dangerous to speak aloud.

"There are curious sounds heard sometimes in forests," he said
thoughtfully.  "There, go on--what were we talking about?"

As he spoke there was a strange rushing noise, then a peculiar whining
sound not far distant among the trees.

"What can that be, doctor?"  I whispered.

"Can't say, Joe.  Sounds as if some animal had been climbing along a
branch, or had bent down a sapling and then let it fly up again with a
loud whish among the trees."

"That is just how it sounded to me," I said, gazing full in his eyes.

He remained silent for a few moments, not listening but thinking.

"We must take a lesson from our friend Jack Penny, there," he said,
smiling in my face as he stroked his broad beard.  "I must confess, Joe,
to feeling a curious sensation of awe as we sit out here in this
primeval forest, surrounded by teeming savage life; but Jack Penny
coolly sleeps through it all, and, as I say, we must take a lesson from
him, and get used to these strange sounds."

"There it is again!"  I said, catching his arm, and unable to control
the feeling that at any moment something might spring out of the
darkness upon my back.

For the same curious rustling of leaves came whispering from among the
trees, and then there was a low expiration of breath, as if some great
beast had yawned.

Click-click, click-click sounded loudly on the night air, and I followed
the doctor's example, cocking both barrels of my piece.

"It's coming nearer, whatever it is," said the doctor in a low tone,
"and that strange noise means, I think, that it is some great serpent."

"But would serpents be out at night?"  I said.

"That one was the other night, Joe, and we must not reckon upon the
regular habits of animals if we light great fires in their lairs."

We sat listening again, and the rustling sound began once more.

"It's just as if the thing were climbing along trees that are not strong
enough to bear it," I said in an excited whisper, "and they keep flying
up after it passes."

"Hush!" said the doctor.

We listened, and from out of the darkest part before us there arose a
loud tearing noise as if bark was being scratched from a tree trunk.

"Some kind of beast of the cat family, I should say," whispered the
doctor.  "Pst! be ready; but don't fire unless we are attacked."

Just then there was a rush, a scramble, a dull thud, and some creature
uttered a sound that seemed like the word _Howl_ in a hollow echoing
tone.

Again and again there was the low rustling, and then that word _Howl_
that seemed to come from some great throat; and in imagination I saw in
the darkness a pair of fiery eyes and a set of great sharp teeth.

"Yes; some kind of cat, leopard, or panther," said the doctor; but, low
as his utterance was, it seemed to irritate the creature in our
neighbourhood, as it kept on the rustling, for there was a harsh
exclamation and the earth seemed to be torn up.

Then all at once the sound ceased, and it was perfectly still for quite
a quarter of an hour, which seemed an endless time; and then, tired of
staring intently into the darkness, and too much excited to be silent, I
whispered:

"This night-watching is the hardest part of our work, doctor."

"Oh! no, my boy.  It makes you a little creepy at first, but as soon as
you feel your own power and how you must alarm these creatures, you will
get used to it."

"But the fire makes them see us, and we can't see them," I said, in an
ill-used tone.

Just then there arose from what seemed to be just the other side of the
fire one of the most awful cries I ever heard, and my hair felt as if a
tiny cold hand were stirring it about the roots, while a curious
sensation ran down my back.

As the fearsome howl rang out the doctor levelled his piece, ready to
fire, and as the fire shone full upon him in his half-kneeling position
there was something terribly earnest in his face, and he looked so brave
that it seemed to give me a little courage just when I seemed to have
none.

"Pick up some of those thin branches and throw them on the fire," said
the doctor; and I hurried to obey his command, when there was another
awful howling roar, and the creature, whatever it was, charged at me;
but I threw on the branches all the same, when the fire leaped up with a
tremendous blaze, lighting the forest all round.

"See it, doctor?"  I whispered.

"No," he answered; "it keeps in amongst the trees."

The doctor's voice sounded so hoarse and strange that it added to my
trepidation.  He stopped, and I wanted him to go on talking, but he
remained silent, while once more the forest resounded with the hideous
cry of the beast.

The wood blazed well, so that I could see, as it were, a circle of
light, and behind us our black shadows were thrown upon the trees, quite
startling me as I looked round.

"Keep up the fire," whispered the doctor; "whatever it is it will not
attack while there is this blaze."

I obeyed him and kept on throwing twigs and boughs that had been laid in
a heap ready, but with a curious sensation of dread the while, for it
seemed to me that if the fire consumed all our wood we should be left at
the creature's mercy.

All at once it seemed to me that the rustling and snuffling noise was
coming round to our left, and as if I had drawn his attention to the
fact, the doctor exclaimed:

"Yes, it is coming on here; keep round this way."

We edged round the fire so as to keep it between us and the animal that
seemed to be watching us, when all at once the sound came from close
behind us, and, as if moved by one impulse, we bounded past the fire,
the pieces I had held in my hand making a crackling blaze and shower of
sparks.

This seemed to excite our assailant, which uttered three hideous roars
at intervals, and each seemed nearer than the last, so that we were
driven to keep on edging round the fire so as to keep it as our shield.

We walked slowly round the fire three times, fully aware of the fact
that the creature was regularly stalking us, for it kept up the
scratching rustling noise, and howled at intervals.

This was trying enough to our nerves; but when, all at once, every sound
ceased, and we stood there by the ruddy blaze, it seemed terrible to
know that our enemy was close at hand, but not to know exactly where.
At any moment we felt that it might spring upon us, and I turned a
wistful look upon the doctor, which he responded to by saying:

"Throw on more wood."

I obeyed him, and the blaze flashed up higher once again, spreading a
cloud of sparks on high to rise among the leaves and tinge the broad
branches with a ruddy golden glow.

I gazed in all directions for the danger, and started with nervous
trepidation every time the doctor spoke, his words being
generally--"Throw on more wood."  But at last, after a terrible period
of anxious silence, he whispered my name.

"Yes," I said.

"This can't go on much longer.  I'm afraid the beast is coming nearer.
Can you see anything your side?"

"Yes--no--yes, I think so," I whispered back.  "There's a shadowy
something just at the edge of the light.  I think it is some kind of
wild beast."

"Is it the dog?" he whispered back.

"No," I said.  "Gyp always sleeps close to his master."

"Do you think you could take steady aim at it, my lad?" he said.

"I don't know," I replied, "but I will try.  Shall I fire at it?"

"Let me think," he answered.  "I don't know whether it would be wise to
fire, and perhaps only wound the creature."

"But perhaps I shall kill it," I said.

"It is doubtful, Joe," he replied, "and the noise of your piece would
bring out our people, perhaps into danger.  Let us wait.  Here," he
said, "I have it!  This beast has been cautiously following us round,
always keeping out of our sight.  I think now that the best way will be
for you to continue the retreat round the fire while I stop here on one
knee.  The beast will then follow you, and I shall get a good certain
shot at him."

I did not like the idea at all, for it seemed like setting a trap and
making me the bait; but I said nothing beyond intimating that I would do
as he wished, and he went on:

"I shall be certain to hit the brute, but I may not kill, so be ready to
fire in turn; you will get a good chance for a sure hit, the animal will
be less cautious."

"Stop a moment," I said.  "I thought at first that it would be very
dangerous for me; now I see that it will be more dangerous for you.
Let's keep together."

"Do as I bid you," he replied sternly.  "Now go on round, as if trying
to keep the fire between you and danger.  Fire quickly if you have a
good chance, and don't miss.  But first of all let's try the effect of a
firebrand or two in the direction you think you saw the brute."

He picked up a piece of blazing wood and gave it a whirl round his head.

The result was to bring a fierce roar from the wood close behind us, and
we involuntarily sprang to the other side of our fire.

"There's no knowing where to have the beast," muttered the doctor, as he
realised the cunning sneaking habits of our enemy.

As he spoke he stooped and picked up another blazing piece of wood, for
he had dropped the first to bring his gun to bear.  Now, holding the gun
in his left hand, he gave the blazing wood a whirl round his head and
threw it in the direction from which the fierce roar had come.

To my horror and consternation it was answered by a savage yell, and
something charged out nearly to the fire but dashed back directly, so
quickly, indeed, that we had no time to get more than a sharp shot
apiece at the fierce creature.

"Load again quickly," whispered the doctor; and I obeyed him, listening
the while to the rustling crackling noise at a little distance.

"Do you think we hit it?"  I said softly.  I was afraid to speak aloud
lest it should bring down a charge upon us.

"I'm afraid not," he replied, as he reloaded and then stood scanning the
edge of the circle of light formed by the fire's glow.

There was nothing visible but what seemed to be a dark opening amongst
the trees, through which it appeared to me that our enemy must have
passed.

Then we waited, watching so excitedly for the next attack that the fire
was for the moment forgotten.  Then, seeing the glow it cast become
less, we both seized upon armfuls of wood and threw them on, deadening
the flame so that the space around was comparatively dark.

That was the most anxious time of all, for, do what we would, the fire
sent forth huge volumes of smoke, but would not blaze.  At any moment it
seemed that the great beast might take advantage of the gloom and spring
upon us, and we shook the ends of the burning branches and half-consumed
pieces of wood, but in vain.  Instead of the light glow there was
comparative darkness, and in despair, as if again moved by the same
impulse, we ceased troubling about the fire, and stood with hand on
trigger, ready to pull at the first chance.

Then all at once there was a vivid tongue of flame cutting right through
the thick smoke, another and another, and I uttered a sigh of relief as
the heap of smouldering boughs and leaves burst once more into a blaze.

"Now while the light lasts let's have a good shot at the brute," said
the doctor, speaking as if nerved to desperation by the torture under
which we both writhed.  "I'm going to kneel here, Joe; you walk on, and
that will make the tiger, or whatever it is, show itself in watching
you."

"It isn't a tiger," I whispered.  "I caught sight of it, and it looked
more like a man."

The doctor gave me a quick look, and then said sharply, "Go on!"

I obeyed him, walking backwards round the fire, my piece ready, so as to
get a shot if I saw the creature again; but this time all remained
perfectly still, and though I went right round the fire, no sound came
from among the trees.

"Take a piece of burning wood and throw it opposite to where you stand,
Joe."

I did so, and the blazing wood described an arc, fell in a tuft of dry
undergrowth which burst out into a vivid column of light for a few
minutes and died out, but there was no charge, no roar from our enemy,
not even the rustling of the bushes as it passed through.

"It's very strange, Joe," whispered the doctor.  "Pile on more wood."

I obeyed him, and this time it caught directly and there was a
tremendous blaze, but no attack followed; and we stood listening for
some sound of the enemy in vain.

"You must have shot it," I said, speaking with some confidence.

"Or else you did, Joe," said the doctor.

I shook my head, and we remained listening for quite a quarter of an
hour, but still in vain.  The silence in the forest was now awful, and
though we strained our eyes till the fire across which we looked dazzled
them, we could see nothing to cause alarm.

"Either it's dead or it has gone off, scared by our fire," said the
doctor at last.  And now that we found time to think, he continued, with
a smile, "I hope we are not going to have many such night-watches as
this on our expedition.  I say though, my lad, how some people can
sleep!  I should have thought that those howls would have wakened
anything.  Why, hallo!  Gyp, didn't you hear anything?  Where's your
master?"

He stooped and patted the dog, which came trotting up to us, and then
yawned and stretched himself out.

"Here I am," said Jack Penny, involuntarily imitating his dog.  "Here,
where's that chap Jimmy?  He was to watch with me, wasn't he?  Is it
time?"

"Time!  Yes," I said impatiently.  "You ought to have been here two
hours ago.  He'll have to look out, won't he, doctor, for that tiger or
wild man."

"Yah! stuff!" said Jack with a sneer.  "I sha'n't see no--hullo! what
has Gyp found?  Look, there's something there."

We all turned to see the dog, which had picked up some scent about
half-way between the fire and the edge of the circle of light.  He ran
at once to the thick bushes, barked angrily, and then followed the scent
round and round the fire at the distance of about twenty yards, ending
by dashing right off into the forest depths, his bark growing fainter as
we listened.

"I say, ought we to follow Gyp?" said Jack Penny.

"If we wish to lose our lives," replied the doctor.  "You see, Joe, it
has gone right off."

"But I don't like Gyp to go off after anything and not follow him,"
cried Jack Penny.  "He's a good dog, you know.  What is it he's after?"

"Some savage beast that has been haunting us all night," cried the
doctor.  "I should like to follow Gyp, but it would be madness, my lads,
and--hark, what's that?"

I felt cold as a most unearthly howl came from a long distance away.

"Is--is that him?" said Jack, whose eyes looked round and large.

"Dat big bunyip," said a voice that made us start, for Jimmy had come up
from the dark camp unperceived.  "Eat black fellow, white man, anyfing."

No one replied to Jimmy's piece of information, and we listened for some
minutes till a faint rustling, heard first by the black, who stood ready
to hurl his spear, made us all place a finger on the trigger.

But it was only caused by the dog, who soon after came into sight, with
his tail between his legs, and his hair bristling with terror.

He ran right to his master and stood behind him, shivering and whining,
as he stared in the direction from which he had come.

"Gyp see big bunyip!" cried Jimmy.  "Gyp find a bunyip!"

"I say," said Jack; "it's my watch now.  I s'pose you two are going to
lie down."

"Frightened, Jack?"  I said maliciously.

"P'r'aps I am, and p'r'aps I ain't," said Jack stoutly.  "I should say I
felt frightened if I was; but if you two were going to watch I wouldn't
go away and leave you with a big beast like that about.  He must be a
big one or he wouldn't have frightened Gyp, who'll tackle old man
kangaroos six-foot high.  You can go if you like, though."

This was a long speech for Jack Penny, who rubbed one of his ears in an
ill-used way.

"Jimmy, black fellow 'fraid um bunyip; oh, yes!" said my follower; "but
Jimmy no run away."

"We shall not leave you alone, Penny," said the doctor, smiling.  "It
would not be fair."

So we stayed with him till day broke, and not having heard the slightest
sound to intimate the neighbourhood of danger, and the dog lying quite
still and content by his master, the doctor and I went to get a couple
of hours' rest, just as the forest glades were beginning to echo with
the screaming of birds of the parrot family, Jimmy bending over me and
poking me with the butt end of his spear, almost directly, so it seemed
to me, that I had lain down.

"Jimmy hungry," he said; "gimmy damper--brackfass.  Come long."

"Did you hear the bunyip any more, Jimmy?"  I said, yawning.

"No.  Bunyip go sleep all a morning--all a day!  Come a night.
How-wow!"

He put his head on one side and gave so marvellous an imitation of the
terrible cries I had heard during the night that I felt sure he must
know the creature.

"What is it makes that noise, Jimmy?"  I said eagerly.

"Bunyip--big ugly fellow bunyip!" he exclaimed; and I felt so cross and
annoyed with his eternal bunyip that I was ready to kick him; but I
refrained, and went instead to the fire, where the doctor was waiting
breakfast, after sending Jimmy to wake me up.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

HOW JACK PENNY WAS PERSECUTED BY PIGS.

I have often thought since what a wild journey ours was, and how
ignorant we must have been to plunge recklessly and in such a haphazard
way into a country that, though an island, is a long way on towards
being large enough to be called a continent.

Still we made the venture, and somehow as soon as a peril was passed we
all looked upon it as belonging to yesterday, and troubled ourselves
about it no more.

I had risen on the morning after our nocturnal adventure feeling
despondent and sleepy; but the bright sunshine and the tempting odour of
roasting bird stuck on a stick close to the flame, soon made me forget
the troubles of the night, and an hour later, with every one in the best
of spirits, we made a fresh start, keeping near the river, but beneath
the shade of the trees, for the sun seemed to be showering down burning
arrows, and wherever we had to journey across the open the heat was
intense.

In the shady parts the green of the undergrowth looked delicate and
pale, but in the sunshine it was of the most vivid green; and bathing in
it, as it were, flies and beetles hummed and buzzed, and beat their
gauzy wings, so that they seemed invisible, while wherever there was a
bare patch of stony or rocky earth lizards were hurrying in and out, and
now and then a drab-looking little serpent lay twisted up into a knot.

The bearers stepped along lightly enough beneath their loads, and I
observed that they never looked to right or left, or seemed to admire
anything before them, their eyes being always fixed upon the earth where
they were about to plant their feet.

Ti-hi in particular tried to warn me to be on the look-out, pointing
over and over again to the spade-headed little serpents we saw now and
then gliding in amongst the grass.

"Killum," said Jimmy upon one of these occasions, and he suited the word
to the action by striking one of these little reptiles with his spear
and breaking its back.  After this he spat viciously at the little
creature, picking it up by its tail and jerking it right away amongst
the trees.

"No killum kill all a body," said Jimmy nodding; and he went through a
sort of pantomime, showing the consequences of being bitten by a viper,
beginning with drowsiness, continuing through violent sickness, which it
seemed was followed by a fall upon the earth, a few kicks and struggles,
and lastly by death, for the black ended his performance by stretching
himself out stiffly and closing his eyes, saying:

"Jimmy dead; black fellow dig big hole and put um in de ground.  Poor
old Jimmy!"

Then he jumped up and laughed, saying: "Killum all um snake!  No good!
No!"

"I say, Joe Carstairs," said Jack Penny, who had watched the performance
with a good deal of interest; "don't that chap ever get tired?"

"Oh yes; and goes to sleep every time he gets a chance," I said.

"Yes! but don't his back ache?  Mine does, horrid, every day, without
banging about like that;" and as if he felt his trouble then Jack Penny
turned his rueful-looking boy's face to me and began softly rubbing his
long man's back just across the loins.

It was very funny, too, when Jack was speaking earnestly.  In an
ordinary conversation he would go on drawl, drawl, drawl in a bass
voice; but whenever he grew excited he began to squeak and talk in a
high-pitched treble like a boy, till he noticed it himself, and then he
would begin to growl again in almost an angry tone; and this was the
case now.

"Here, you're laughing!" he said savagely.  "I can't help being tall and
thin, and having a gruff voice like a man, when I'm only a boy.  I don't
try to be big and tall!  I grew so.  And I don't try to talk gruff."

"Oh yes! you do, Jack," I said.

"Well, p'r'aps I do; but I don't try to talk thin, like I do sometimes."

"I couldn't help laughing, Jack," I said, holding out my hand.  "I did
not mean to ridicule you."

He gave my hand quite an angry slap and turned away, but only to come
back directly.

"Here, I say; I beg your pardon, Joe Carstairs," he said, holding out
his hand, which I shook heartily.  "I wish I hadn't got such a beastly
bad temper.  I do try not to show it, but it makes me wild when people
laugh at me."

"Well, I won't laugh at you any more, Jack," I said earnestly.

"No, don't; there's a good chap," he said, with the tears in his eyes.
"It's partly why I came away from home, you know.  I wanted to come and
find the professor, of course, and I like coming for the change; but
it's principally that."

"Principally _that_!"  I said.  "I don't understand you, Jack."

"Why, I mean about being laughed at!  Everybody has always been laughing
at me, because I grew so thin and long and weak-looking, and I got tired
of it at last, and was precious glad to come out to New Guinea to stop
till I had grown thicker.  For I said to myself, I don't s'pose the
savage chaps will laugh at me, and if they do I can drop on 'em and they
won't do it again."

"It must have been unpleasant, Jack," I said.

"It's horrid, old fellow," he said confidentially; "and all the more
because you are obliged to laugh at it all when you feel as if you'd
like to double 'em up and jump on 'em."

"Well, there, Jack; I give you my word I won't laugh at you again."

"Will you?" cried Jack, with his face beaming, and looking quite
pleasant.  "Well, that is kind of you.  If the doctor wouldn't laugh
either I should be as happy as the day's long."

"I'll ask him not to," I said.

"Oh, no; don't do that!" he cried quickly then; "he'd leave off laughing
at me just out of pity, and I'd rather he laughed at me than pitied me,
you know.  Don't ask him not."

"All right!"  I said.  "I will not."

"I'd rather he laughed at me," said Jack again thoughtfully; "for I like
the doctor; he's such a brave chap.  I say, Joe Carstairs, I wish I
could grow into a big broad-chested brave chap with a great beard, like
the doctor."

"So you will some day."

"Tchah!" he cried impatiently.  "Look there--there's long thin arms!
There's a pair of legs!  And see what a body I've got.  I ain't got no
looking-glass here, but last time I looked at myself my head and face
looked like a small knob on the top of a thin pump."

"You let yourself alone, and don't grumble at your shape," I said
sturdily, and to tell the truth rather surprising myself, for I had no
idea that I was such a philosopher.  "Your legs are right enough.  They
only want flesh and muscle, and it's the same with your arms.  Wait a
bit and it will all come, just as beards do when people grow to be men."

"I sha'n't never have any beard," said Jack, dolefully; "my face is as
smooth as a girl's!"

"I daresay the doctor was only a little smooth soft baby once," I said;
"and now see what he is."

"Ah! ain't he a fine fellow?" said Jack.  "I'm going to try and do as he
does, and I want to have plenty of pluck; but no sooner do I get into a
scrape than I turn cowardly, same as I did over that little humbug of a
crocodile."

"Don't talk nonsense, Jack!"  I said.

"'Tisn't nonsense!  Why, if I'd had as much courage as a wallaby I
should have kicked that thing out of the water; and all I did was to lay
hold of a bough and holler murder!"

"I didn't hear you," I said.

"Well, _help_! then.  I know I hollered something."

"And enough to make you.  The doctor said he is sure he should not have
borne it so bravely as you."

"No: did he?  When?"

"To be sure he did, when we were sitting watching last night."

"Bah! it was only his fun.  He was laughing at me again."

"He was not," I said decidedly.  "He was in real earnest."

"Oh!" said Jack softly; and there was once more the pleasant light in
his countenance that quite brightened it up.

I was going to say something else, but he made a motion with his hand as
if asking me to be silent; and he walked on to the front to go behind
Ti-hi, who was first man, while I went and marched beside the doctor,
and chatted with him about the country and our future prospects.

"It seems, almost too lovely," I said; "and it worries me because I feel
as if I ought to be sad and unhappy, while all the time everything seems
so beautiful that I can't help enjoying it."

"In spite of perils and dangers, Joe, eh?" he said smiling; and then we
went on threading our way amongst the magnificent trees, and every now
and then coming upon one standing all alone, its position having allowed
of its growing into a perfect state.

Again we came upon one of these, literally alive with parrots; and, as I
stopped to admire them, I could see that when they opened their vivid
green wings the inner parts were of a brilliant flame colour, and there
was a ruddy orange patch upon the little feathers at the inset of their
tails.

Then we came upon monkeys again, quite a family of them, and instead of
running away and leaping from branch to branch they began to chatter and
shriek and dash about in the greatest excitement, just as if they were
scolding us for coming among them, chattering among themselves directly
after as if meditating an attack.

Before another hour had passed, after noting the beauty of the
butterflies, which seemed to increase in number as we penetrated farther
into the interior, we came next upon an enormous tree full of
gaudily-tinted parroquets, which were nearly as numerous as the parrots
of an hour before.

"We sha'n't want for food, Joe," the doctor said, "so long as we have
plenty of powder; parroquets and parrots are fruit birds, and splendid
eating.  Look there."

As he spoke he raised his gun, fired, and directly the report had struck
my ears I saw Jimmy and Gyp set off at full speed.

They returned both at odds, the one growling, the other calling his
rival a bad bunyip dog, but both holding tightly by a large bird, Gyp
having its head, Jimmy the legs.

It proved to be something between a turkey and a pheasant, and from its
look it promised to be good eating, for which purpose it was handed over
to Ti-hi's care.

The leader now bore off a little to our left, the result being that we
once more struck the river, to find it a large swift stream, but not an
attractive place for travellers, since from that one spot where we stood
beneath the shelter of some trees I counted at least twenty crocodiles
floating slowly down, with the protuberances above their eyes just
visible, and here and there at least thirty more lying about on the
muddy banks.

Towards evening, as we were journeying slowly on, Jimmy came running
back to fetch me, and catching me by the hand he led me through some
bushes to where a thickly wooded park-like stretch of land began, and
motioning me to be silent and follow him he crept from tree to tree,
till, having reached what he considered to be a satisfactory position,
he pointed upward, and from behind the tree where we were ensconced I
looked among the branches far overhead, and for the first time saw one
of those wonderfully plumaged creatures--the birds of paradise.

I could have stopped there for long, gazing at the beautiful creatures
with their fountain-like plumage of pale gold, but time would not permit
of my lagging behind, and to Jimmy's great disgust I hurried back, and
determined that no object should lead me away from the great aim of our
journey.

The turkey was ample as a meal for us, but we wanted food for our
followers, so as to husband our flour and biscuits.  Birds were all very
well, but we wanted to kill something more substantial, and for a long
time past we had seen no sign of deer, though traces of buffalo were
pretty frequent in spots where they had made a peculiar track down to
the river, evidently going regularly to quench their thirst.

The sight of the buffalo tracks formed the subject of a discussion.
Fresh meat was wanted for our followers, who made very light of birds,
and one of these animals would have been invaluable to us just then; but
the doctor decided that it would not be prudent to follow them, they
being rather dangerous beasts, and therefore, though the meat would have
been so useful both for present use and to dry in the sun, we gave up
the idea of trying to obtain any, preferring to trust to finding deer,
and continued our journey.

We had gone very little farther, and I was just about to propose to the
doctor that we should venture as far as the river and try for some fish,
when there was an alarm given by the native who was leading, and in an
instant loads were thrown down and every man sought refuge in a tree.

We did not understand the natives' words, but their actions were easy
enough to read, and all followed their example, the doctor and I getting
up into the same tree, one which forked very low down, and we were just
in safety when we heard a cry, and saw that Jack Penny was in
difficulties.  He too had climbed part of the way into a tree, when he
had slipped, and in spite of all his efforts he could not at first
contrive to get back; and this was just as a rushing noise was heard,
that I thought must be a herd of buffalo, but, directly after, a drove
of small wild pig came furiously charging down.

My attention was divided between the sight of the pigs and Jack Penny,
whose long legs kept dropping down, and then being spasmodically
snatched up.

I burst into a roar of laughter, and Jimmy, who was standing, spear in
hand, upon a branch, holding on by another, danced with excitement and
delight.

"Pull yourself right up, Jack," I shouted, and I had hard work to make
my voice heard above the grunting and squealing.

"I can't," he yelled back.

"Then kick out at the little brutes," I shouted; and just then he
lowered himself to the full length of his arms, swung to and fro, and
half-a-dozen pigs rushed at him, but he had gained impetus, and just as
they made a dash at him he swung his legs up, and clung with them to a
branch.

"Hurrah!"  I shouted; and then a sharp squeal uttered by one unfortunate
pig as Jimmy drove his spear through it as it passed beneath his feet,
and the sharp report of the doctor's piece, brought me to my senses.

The scene had been so comical, especially as regarded Jack Penny, that I
had forgotten that I was letting several good dinners slip away, and I
had just time to get a quick shot at one of the pigs which was stamping
his hoof and grunting defiantly at Jack Penny, before the whole drove,
including one that had received an arrow from Ti-hi's bow, swept by us
as hurriedly as they came, and were gone.

"Not hurt, are you, Jack?"  I said, preparing to jump.

"Keep your place," cried the doctor; "they may come back."

"Well, I shall have a better shot at them," I said.

"You foolish boy!" cried the doctor.  "Why, the boars would rip you to
pieces."

I returned to my place at this, and it was fortunate that I did so, for
directly after, as if in the wildest of haste, the pig drove came
dashing back, to stop as hastily as they came up, and stand snapping,
tossing their heads, grunting, squealing, and at times literally barking
at us.

A couple of shots which laid low one of their party seemed, however, to
scare them, and they dashed on once more, and hardly had they gone
twenty yards before there was a loud thud and Jack Penny fell from the
branch, where he had been clinging, flat upon his back.

"Oh my!" he cried, as he sat up and looked about.  "I couldn't hold on
any longer.  It's lucky they are gone."

"Look out!"  I cried, swinging myself down, dropping my gun, and pulling
my hatchet from my belt; but Jack would have fared badly if he had
depended on me.

For the little boar that had been wounded by an arrow, had dropped,
apparently dying, when its companions swept by the second time, but it
had fierce life enough left in it to take advantage of Jack Penny's
helpless condition, and leaping up it charged at him, its tusks
glistening, and the foam tossed from its snapping jaws falling upon its
sides.

A bullet would have given the fierce beast its quietus, but the doctor
would not fire for fear of hitting Jack, and he sat with his gun raised
waiting for an opportunity.

Jack saw his danger and rolled himself over, trying vainly the while to
drag his axe from his belt.  Then just as the furious little boar was
dashing at him, I saw something black dart down from above; there was a
rush, a squeal, and the boar was literally pinned to the earth, while
Jimmy stood grinning and staring from the doctor to me and back, as if
asking to be complimented upon his feat.  For it really was a feat.  He
had jumped fully ten feet to the ground spear in hand, and literally
thrown himself upon the little boar.

"A magnificent jump, Jimmy," I cried.

"Jimmy de boy to jump," he said, complacently.  "Pig, pig kill Mass Jack
Penny, Jimmy no spear um."

"Yes, I 'spect I should have ketched it pretty warmly," said Jack,
gathering himself up.  "Oh, I say, I did come down such a bump, Joe
Carstairs.  It seemed to shake my back joints all to pieces."

"Jimmy spear um lil pig, pig," said the black.

"Yes, and I'll give you my knife for it," said Jack, taking out his
great clasp-knife.  "It's a real good one, Jimmy, and I wouldn't have
parted with it for a deal."

"Jimmy got knife," said the black, with a contemptuous look.  "Jimmy
don't want knife."

"Well, then, what shall I give you?" said Jack.

"Tickpence," said he, grinning; "give Jimmy tickpence."

"Why, what for?"  I cried.  "What are you going to do with _tick_
pence?"

"Spend um," said Jimmy; "black fellow spend money, money.  Give Jimmy
all a tickpence."

"But there's nowhere to spend it," I said.

"Nev mind, Jimmy spend tickpence all a same.  Give Jimmy tickpence."

Jack had not a single coin about him, neither had I, but fortunately the
doctor had one, which he handed to Jack, who gave it to the delighted
black, and it was forthwith thrust into the pocket of the curtailed
trousers, after which he strutted about, leaving the other blacks to
perform the duty of dressing the pigs.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

HOW JIMMY WAS TAKEN VERY BAD INDEED.

This sudden supply of food necessitated our making camp where we were,
and cutting the meat up into strips to dry, while, apparently on the
principle of making their hay while the sun shone, the blacks lit a fire
and had a tremendous feast, both Jack Penny and I laughing heartily to
see the solemn face of Jimmy as he devoted himself to the task of
storing up an abundance of food, ready for emergencies.

At our table, as the doctor called it, we contented ourselves with the
turkey-like bird, which was delicious, but we tasted the wild pig, a
piece of which, fairly well roasted, was brought to us in the most
solicitous manner by Ti-hi, who smiled contentedly as he saw us begin to
partake thereof.

We set it aside, though, as soon as the black had gone, for the doctor
pronounced it strong and musky, and Jack Penny behaved very rudely,
according to the ordinary etiquette of the dinner table, and exclaimed:

"Oh, law!"

It was a glorious sunset, and the place where we were encamped, as we
styled it, was once more beneath a huge tree.  For a time I was
listening to the birds' screams and cries from the forest, and then all
at once they ceased, and a long-drawn howl, which recalled the horrors
of our night-watch, arose from a distance.  Then the sun sank, and
darkness began to come on very quickly.  First the sky paled and a star
or two began to twinkle, then all above us was of a deep intense purple,
studded and encrusted with points of dazzling light, and, like the
doctor, tired out with loss of rest, I began to yawn.

For our evenings were not devoted to amusements.  Our day only had two
divisions, that for work and that for rest.  As soon as the arduous toil
of the day was over, and we had partaken of food, we were ready for
sleep; so this time Jack Penny was set to watch with Ti-hi and Gyp, and
we lay down on a bough-made bed.

One moment I was lying on my back gazing up at the stars, and first
thinking of my mother and how anxious she must be as to how I was
getting on; then wondering where my father was likely to be, and whether
we were going to work in the best way to find him; the next moment I was
dreaming that Gyp had run after and caught a wild man of the woods by
the tail, and had dragged him into camp, howling dismally.

It did not fit into my dream that wild men of the woods were not likely
to be possessed of tails for Gyp to tug, and if they were, that they
would have striven to crush the dog by one blow of the hand; my dream
arranged itself, and the howling was continued as I started up, all
wakefulness, and saw a dark figure bending over me and looking colossal
as seen against the ruddy light of the fire.

"Is that you, doctor?"  I said.

"Yes, Joe; wake up.  I want you."

"What's the matter--has that horrible thing come again?"

"No," he said; "the black is very bad."

"What! old Jimmy?"  I cried.

"Yes.  That is he howling."

I jumped up with a curious sensation of suffocation at my chest, for,
startled from a deep sleep into wakefulness, it occurred to me that
something dreadful was going to happen, and that we were to lose the
true-hearted, merry, boyish companion of so many years.  Like a flash
there seemed to come back to me the memory of dozens of expeditions in
which he had been my faithful comrade, and this was like a death-blow to
our hopes, for, in spite of his obstinacy and arrogance, Jimmy would
have laid down his life to serve me.

"Let us go to him, doctor," I said.  "Make haste!"

Our way to the black lay past the camp fire, where Jack Penny was
sitting with Ti-hi, and the former spoke excitedly as we drew near:

"I say, doctor, do make haste and give him a dose of something to do him
good, or else put him out of his misery."

"Jack!"  I said in disgust.

"Well, he's awful bad, you know, and he ought to have something.  Mind
how you go to him.  I went just now and he began hitting at my legs with
his waddy, and then he poked at Gyp with his spear for going up to smell
him."

"He won't hurt me," I said sadly; and as another doleful cry came from
among the bushes, I led the way to where the poor fellow lay, horribly
swollen and writhing in agony.

Two of the blacks were watching him, and from what we could make out it
seemed that Jimmy had alarmed them by his restlessness, and that they
had fetched him back when he ran some distance and fell, and laid him
where he now was, in too much agony to stir.

"What is the matter with him, doctor?"  I said excitedly, as I went down
on one knee and took the poor fellow's hand, which he grasped
convulsively, and laid flat directly upon his chest--at least that is to
say, nearly.

"I hardly know yet, my lad," said the doctor.  "Perhaps he has eaten
some poisonous berry.  You know how he tastes every wild fruit we pass."

"And will it--will it--"

I could say no more, for something seemed to choke my voice, and I
looked up imploringly in the doctor's eyes.

"Oh! no, Joe, my lad," he said kindly, "not so bad as that."

"Jimmy bad as that--Jimmy bad as that," moaned the poor fellow; and as
just then Jack Penny threw some light twigs upon the fire, the blaze
showed me the swollen and distorted countenance of my poor companion,
and a strange chill of apprehension came over me.

We watched by him all night, but he grew worse towards morning, and at
last he lay apparently stupefied, free from pain, but as if the berry,
or whatever it was that he had swallowed, had rendered him insensible.

Of course, continuing our journey was out of the question, so all we
could do was to make the rough brushwood pallet of the sufferer more
comfortable by spreading over it a blanket, and I did little else but
watch by it all the day.

I felt hurt two or three times by the rough, unfeeling manner in which
the doctor behaved towards the black, and I could not help thinking that
if Jimmy had been a white man the treatment would have been different.

This worried me a good deal, for it seemed so different to the doctor's
customary way; but I took comfort from the fact that poor Jimmy was as
insensible to pain as he was to kindness, and in this state of misery I
hardly left him all day.

Towards evening the doctor, who had spent the time overhauling and
cleaning our guns and pistols, came to me and insisted upon my going to
Jack Penny, who had just got a good meal ready.

"But I am not a bit hungry, doctor," I cried.

"Then go and eat against you are," he said.  "Lay in a moderate store,
and don't," he added meaningly, "don't eat more than is good for you."

I looked at him wonderingly, and got up without a word, feeling more
hurt and annoyed with him than ever, and the more so as he looked at me
with a peculiar smile as he twisted a stout cane about in his hands.

"How's Jimmy?" said Jack Penny.

"Dying," I said sadly, as I took my seat before him.

"Oh!  I say, not so bad as that, Joe Carstairs!  It takes a lot to kill
a fellow like Jimmy.  He'll come all right again.  Here, set to and have
a good feed.  You must want it awfully."

"I can't eat," I said bitterly.  "I liked poor old Jimmy.  A better
fellow never breathed.  He saved your life yesterday."

"Ah! that he did," said Jack; "and it's all right.  The doctor says--
Hullo! what's that?"

I started to my feet, for a horrible scream rang through the woods from
the direction where poor Jimmy lay; and a pang shot through me as I felt
that it was a new throe being suffered by my poor black comrade--comrade
soon to be no more.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

HOW THE DOCTOR GAVE JIMMY HIS PHYSICS.

I could not move for a few moments, the terrible cry and the shrieks
that followed seemed to rob me of all power; but overcoming this
paralysing feeling at last, I ran towards where poor Jimmy lay, the
thought flashing upon my mind that the doctor must be performing some
operation to try and save the poor fellow's life.

I was quite right, as I found when I reached the spot, followed by all
the little camp: the doctor was performing an operation, and the
Australian was upon his knees now, his feet then, capering about, and
appealing for mercy.

For the instrument with which the doctor was performing his operation
was the stout cane I had previously seen in his hand, one that he had
cut in the jungle, and then sent me away so as to spare my feelings and
keep me from witnessing the painful sight.

To my utter astonishment Jimmy was apparently free from all traces of
his late ailment, and catching sight of me he bounded to me, getting
behind me to avoid the hail of blows that the doctor was showering upon
his unprotected person.

"Doctor!"  I shouted.

"The dose to be repeated," he said, "when necessary," and he reached
round me with the cane, giving Jimmy two or three very sharp cuts.  "See
how this takes down the swelling.  For outward application only.  One
dose nearly certain to cure."

"What are you doing?"  I cried.

"Doing?  Performing a wonderful cure.  Hasn't Jimmy here been horribly
ill, and alarmed the whole camp?"

Every time he could he gave Jimmy a smart cut, and the black shrieked
with pain.

"How are you now, my man?" he said mockingly.

"Jimmy quite as well.  Ever so better.  All rightums.  Tank you better,"
yelled the black, and he sheltered himself again behind my back.

"Doctor," I said, surprised and angry at what seemed horrible cruelty.

"Give him some more?" he said laughing.  "Of course I will," and he
tried to reach round me, but I caught hold of the cane, and Jimmy took
advantage of the cessation of hostilities for a moment to run for some
distance and then climb up a tree, in one of the higher branches of
which he settled himself like a monkey, and sat rubbing himself and
looking down at the danger from which he had escaped.

"There, Joe," said the doctor, laughing; "it has made me hot.  That's as
good a cure as the Queen's physician could have made."

"How could you be so brutal to the poor wretch?"  I said indignantly.

"Brutal!  Ha! ha! ha!  My indignant young hero!" he cried.  "Here are
you going to take up the cudgels in the rascal's behalf.  Don't you see
there was nothing the matter with the artful black ruffian."

"Nothing the matter!"  I said.  "Why, wasn't he dangerously ill?"

"Dangerously full," said the doctor, clapping me on the shoulder.  "I
was obliged to give him a lesson, Joe, and it will do him good for all
our trip.  I suspected the rascal from the very first, but I have
studied medicine long enough to know how easy it is to be deceived by
appearances; so I gave Master Jimmy the benefit of the doubt, and
treated him as if he was really very ill, till I had made assurance
doubly sure, and then I thrashed him."

"What! do you really mean, doctor--" I began.

"It could not very well have happened with an Englishman, Joe.  With
Master Jimmy there, it was different."

"But was he not very ill?"

"You saw him run and climb that tree; you heard how he yelled.  Now what
do you think?  Could a dying man do that?"

"N-no," I faltered.  "What does it all mean, then?"

"Pig!" said the doctor, smiling; "the gluttonous dog ate till he could
not stir.  He had as much as anybody else, and then waited his chance,
and when every one was lying down he began upon the store of dried
strips."

"Jimmy terribull sorry, Mass Joe," came from up the tree.

"He behaved like a boa constrictor, and then alarmed us all horribly
instead of confessing the truth.  Why, my dear boy, do you suppose I
should have been so cruel to a sick man?"

"You black rascal!"  I cried, looking up at Jimmy, who howled like a
dog.

"Jimmy come down now!  Never do so no more."

"Only let me have a turn at you," I said, and he immediately began to
climb higher.

"Here, you come down, sir," I shouted.

For answer he climbed higher and higher till he was pretty well out of
sight among the small branches in the top of the tree.

"All right!"  I said, "I can wait;" and I walked away with the doctor,
horribly annoyed at the waste of time, but wonderfully relieved at
matters being no worse.

I never knew, but I suspect that Jimmy stopped in the top of the tree
till it was dark and then slunk down and hid himself amongst the bushes
close up to the watch-fire.

At all events he was busy the next morning working away as if nothing
had been wrong overnight.  He showed himself to be most active in
putting things straight, making up the loads, and every now and then
glancing furtively first at one of us and then at the other.

"Oh, I do like Jimmy, that I do," said Jack Penny to me, and then he
threw himself down and began to laugh heartily, shutting his eyes and
rolling himself gently to and fro till he declared that he felt better,
and got up.

"I don't care about laughing when I'm standing up," he said seriously,
"it waggles my back so."

When breakfast time came, for we had a seven or eight mile walk first in
the cool of the early morning, we made a halt and the rations were
served out by the doctor, who gave me a look and handed each black his
portion in turn, but omitted Jimmy.

The latter stood disconsolately looking on for some minutes in the hope
that he was to be remembered after all; but when he saw everybody busy
at work eating and himself utterly neglected, he walked slowly away some
distance from where we were seated and, laying his head against the
trunk of a tree, let out a series of the most unearthly howls.

"Oh, I say!" exclaimed Jack Penny.

"Pleasant," said the doctor, going on with his breakfast; and seeing
that he was observed, and that his howls were having some effect, Jimmy
displayed the utter childlike disposition of a savage by redoubling his
cries.

"If he don't stop directly I shall go and talk to him with this," I
said, snatching up a stick.

"How--aw--ooo!" cried Jimmy, and I jumped to my feet, when he became
silent, and I resumed my place.

Jimmy watched us eagerly for a few minutes, when, left half starved
himself, and unable to bear the neglect when others were
enjoying themselves, the howls burst out again followed by a
self-commiserating--"Poor Jimmy, Mass Joe not care poor Jimmy never
now."

No one took any notice, and we went on eating grilled turkey and damper
and drinking coffee, and all the time I was rather enjoying my
importance and the fact of being able to control, boy as I was, a stout
powerful fellow like Jimmy and make him as obedient as a dog.

"Poor old Jimmy cut handums.  Ebber so sorry, poor Jimmy.  Go and die
himself.  Haw--ow!"

"I say," said Jack Penny, "he couldn't dye himself any blacker, could
he, Joe Carstairs?"

"Have some more coffee, Joe?" said the doctor aloud.  "Here, give me a
piece more turkey."

"Poor Jimmy go starve a deff," was the next that met our ears, and it
had such an effect upon Jack Penny that some of his coffee got into his
windpipe and he choked and coughed and laughed till he was obliged to
lie down.

"If I was to cough much like that I should break my back," he said,
sitting up and wiping his eyes.  "Poor old Jimmy?  I do like him.  He
_is_ a one."

Jimmy stood watching the disappearing food, then he sat down.  Then he
lay at full length; but no one took the slightest notice, for the blacks
were selfishly busy, and we were keeping up the punishment for the false
alarm to which our follower had subjected us.

At last this attack upon Jimmy's tenderest part--his appetite--grew to
be more than he could bear, and he sat up in the squatting attitude so
much affected by savages.

"Ah!" he exclaimed dolefully, "poor black fellow--poor Jimmy!" and this
started Jack Penny off laughing once more, which so exasperated Jimmy
that he sprang up as sharply as if stung, and ran in a rage to where his
black companions were eating their food.

"Here, hi! you black fellow, Jimmy done wid him.  Jimmy gib boomerang.
You no fro down wallaby."

He held out his curious hard-wood weapon to Ti-hi, who took it, gazing
at him wonderingly, while Jimmy glanced at us to see if we were about to
relent and give him some breakfast.

"Jimmy going," he said at last, loud enough for us to hear; but we paid
no heed.

"Jimmy going; nebber come back no more," he said in a louder voice; but
no one turned a head.

"Jimmy go jump river.  Big bunyip crocodile come eat poor Jimmy.  All um
very sorry.  No see poor Jimmy not nev more."

He glanced at us again, but we were laughing over our breakfast, though
not so busy but that we were able to see the black fold his arms and
stalk away, evidently under the impression that we should start up and
arrest him; but no one moved.

"Big water bunyip glad get black fellow," he said, as loudly as he
could, and with a scornful look at us.

"Here, suppose we go," said the doctor, rising.

"Go?" said Jack, getting up slowly, "where to?"

"To see Jimmy feed the crocodiles.  Come along, lads."

Jimmy stopped short with his jaw dropped, and nearly beside himself with
rage.  He seemed to be completely staggered at our cool way of taking
things, and at last he ran off like the wind, rushed back again with his
eyes flashing, and slapping his legs as he darted upon Ti-hi, waddy in
hand.

"Gib boomerang Jimmy, black tief fellow," he roared.  "Take a boomerang.
Jimmy boomerang.  Tief fellow tole a boomerang."

Snatching it from Ti-hi's hand he made believe to strike him with the
curious weapon and then rushed off with it into the bush.

"Well, Joe," said the doctor, "do you think the crocodiles will dine on
blackbird?"

I shook my head.

"What do you say, Jack Penny, eh?"

"Jimmy won't jump in, I know," drawled Jack.

"You're right," said the doctor; "he'll come back before long hungry as
a hunter, and regularly tamed down or I'm no judge of character."

"Yes," I said, "and he'll bring back something he has killed so as to
try and make friends.  That's how he always did at home."

"Well," said Jack Penny solemnly, "I hope he will.  I like Jimmy, he
makes me laugh, and though it hurts my back I like laughing.  It does me
good.  I never used to have anything to laugh at at home.  Father used
to laugh when he kicked me, but it never seemed funny to me, and I never
used to laugh at that."

"Well, Jack Penny, I dare say the black will give you something to laugh
at before long, for I don't suppose it will be long before he is back."



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

HOW I NEARLY HAD AN ARROW TO DRINK.

We were soon on the way towards the interior again, and the doctor and I
had set to work trying to obtain some information from Ti-hi, and also
from Aroo, another intelligent looking follower who had been one of the
prisoners made by the captain of the burnt schooner.

It was hard work, but we were daily getting to understand more and more
of the commoner words of conversation, and by degrees we managed to make
out that the reason why we had not come upon any native village was that
the nearest was still many days' journey distant, but that if we changed
our course and went down to the sea-shore we should soon find signs of
occupation.

But I felt that this would be of no use, for if my father had been
anywhere on the coast he must have come in contact sooner or later with
one or other of the trading vessels, whose captains, even if they could
not bring him away on account of his being a prisoner, would certainly
have reported somewhere that they had seen a white captive, and the news
must have spread.

"He must be right in the interior somewhere," I said; "and I'm sure we
can't do better than keep on."

"I think you are right, Joe," said the doctor thoughtfully.

"I feel sure I am," I said.  "I don't expect to find him directly; but I
mean to go on trying till I do."

"That's the way to find anybody," said Jack Penny.  "You're sure to find
'em if you keep on like that.  Come along."

Jack went off; taking great strides as if he expected to be successful
at once; but he did not keep up the pace long, but hung back for me to
overtake him, saying:

"I say, Joe Carstairs; does your back ever ache much?"

"No," I said; "very little.  Only when I'm very tired."

"Ah! you ain't got so much back as I have," he said, shaking his head.
"When you've got as much as I have you'll have the back-ache awfully,
like I do.  I say, I wonder where old Jimmy has got to."

"He's close at hand somewhere," I said.  "Depend upon it he has not gone
far.  If the truth were known," I continued, "he's walking along abreast
of us, just hidden in the bushes."

"Think so?" said Jack dubiously.

"I'm about sure of it," I replied.

"I ain't," said Jack.  "I'm afraid he's gone right away back; and we've
offended him so that we sha'n't see him any more."

"You keep your opinion, Jack, and I'll keep to mine.  I say, I wonder
what that noise is!"

"Noise!  Birds," said Jack.

"No, no!  That dull murmur.  There, listen!"

"Wind in the trees."

"No, I'm sure it is not!"  I exclaimed.  "There! it is gone now.  It is
like far-off thunder."

"Water," said the doctor, who had closed up with us unperceived.  "I've
been listening to it, and it sounds to me like a waterfall.  Depend upon
it we shall find that the river comes down over some pile of rocks, and
if we were clear of the forest and could take a good look round we
should find that the country is growing mountainous on ahead."

It seemed during the next day's journey that the doctor was right, for
we were certainly ascending, the land growing more rugged and toilsome,
but at the same time far more beautiful and full of variety.  In place
of always journeying on through thick forest or park-like stretches, we
now found our way was among stony ridges and long heavy slopes, with
here and there a lovely valley, so full of beauty that I used to think
to myself that perhaps we should find my father had built himself a hut
in some such place as this, and was patiently going on with his
collecting.

We had seen nothing of Jimmy for three days, and though I suspected him
of being close at hand, and coming to our camp at night stealthily in
search of food, it really began to appear as if he had left us for good,
when an adventure towards evening showed us who was correct in his
surmise.

"I don't think much of the doctor's waterfall," Jack said to me, in his
dry drawling way.

"Why, we haven't seen it!"  I replied.

"No, nor we ain't going to, seemingly.  It's wind amongst the trees."

"Don't be so obstinate," I said, listening intently to hear the heavy
thunderous murmur still, now I listened for it, though I had not seemed
to notice it before.

"There ain't no waterfall," he replied, "or we should have seen it
before now."

"Perhaps the shape of the land keeps us from getting near it, or perhaps
the wind drives the sound away."

"Or perhaps the sound drives the wind away, or perhaps the--Look out,
Joe, look out!"

Jack Penny leaped aside nimbly, and I followed his example, hardly
escaping, while the man in front of me, less quick in his motion
consequent upon his having a load upon his head, was sent flying by a
great slate-coloured buffalo which had suddenly charged us from behind a
clump of trees where it had been lying.

It all happened so quickly that I had not time to think of my gun, while
the doctor was fifty yards behind, and could not have fired had he been
able to see, for fear of hurting us.

The great beast had stopped for a moment after sending our bearer
flying, and then, seeing him down, snorted a little, lowered his head,
and would doubtless have tossed and trampled him to death had there not
suddenly come a whirring whizzing noise from some bushes in a hollow on
our right, when something struck the buffalo a heavy blow upon the
muzzle, making it turn up its head, utter a furious roar, and charge at
the bushes.

This was my opportunity, and taking a quick aim I fired, and heard the
bullet strike with a heavy thud, when the buffalo seemed to drop upon
its knees on the steep slope, and literally turned a somersault,
crashing with a tremendous noise into some trees; and then, to my
astonishment, rising again and going off at a lumbering gallop.

It did not go far, for just then there was the sharp crack of the
doctor's piece, and once more the buffalo fell heavily, to lie
struggling, while, to my astonishment I saw a familiar black figure
bound out of the bushes, catch up the boomerang he had thrown, and then
race after the buffalo, which he reached just as the doctor also came up
and put it out of its misery by a merciful shot in the head.

"Jimmy killum!  Jimmy boomerang killum!" shouted the black, dancing on
the prostrate beast, while Jack and I were busy helping the poor bearer
to his feet, and making sure that though stunned he was not seriously
hurt.

"No," said the doctor.  "No bones broken.  It's wonderful what some of
these savage races will bear."

He ceased his examination and gave the poor fellow a friendly clap on
the shoulder, while, after lying down for a time in the new
camping-ground, close up to the welcome supply of meat, the injured man
was sufficiently recovered to sit up, and eat his share of roast buffalo
flesh.

Some delicious steaks which we cooked proved very welcome to us by way
of a change, but we did not commence without a few words with Master
Jimmy, who was all smiles and friendliness now with everybody, till the
doctor said, pointing to the abundant supply of meat:

"No more bad illness, Jimmy.  You are not to eat much."

"Jimmy won't eat not bit!" he cried viciously.  "Go in a bush and starve
a deff."

"There, sit down and eat your supper!" said the doctor sternly; "and no
more nonsense, please."

The black looked at him in a sidelong fashion, and his fingers played
with the handle of his waddy, which was behind him in his waistband, and
then he quailed beneath the doctor's steady gaze, and sat down humbly by
the camp fire to cook and eat what was really a moderate quantity for an
Australian black.

Next morning we were off at daybreak, our way lying up a narrow ravine
for a short distance, and then between a couple of masses of rock, which
seemed to have been split apart by some earthquake; and directly we were
through here the dull humming buzz that we had heard more or less for
days suddenly fell upon our ears with a deep majestic boom that rose at
times, as the wind set our way, into a deafening roar.

I looked triumphantly at Jack Penny, but he only held his head higher in
the air and gave a sniff, lowering his crest directly after to attend to
his feet, for we were now in a complete wilderness of rocks and stones,
thrown in all directions, and at times we had regularly to climb.

"It is useless to bring the men this way," the doctor said, after a
couple of hours' labour; but as he spoke Ti-hi called a halt and pointed
in a different direction, at right angles to that which we had so far
followed, as being the one we should now take.

The sun had suddenly become unbearable, for we were hemmed in by
piled-up stones, and its heat was reflected from the brightly glistening
masses, some of which were too hot even to be touched without pain,
while the glare was almost blinding wherever the rocks were crystalline
and white.

"I say, is that a cloud?" said Jack Penny, drawing our attention to a
fleecy mass that could be seen rising between a couple of masses of
rock.

"Yes!" cried the doctor eagerly, as he shaded his eyes from the sun's
glare; "a cloud of spray.  The falls are there!"

"Or is it the wind you can see in the trees?"  I said, with a look at
Jack Penny.

"Get out!" retorted that gentleman.  "I didn't say I was sure, and
doctor isn't sure now."

"No, not sure, Penny," he said; "but I think I can take you to where
water is coming down."

We felt no temptation to go on then, and willingly followed our guides,
who pointed out a huge mass of overhanging rock right in the side of the
ravine, and here we gladly halted, in the comparatively cool shade, to
sit and partake of some of the buffalo strips, my eyes wandering
dreamily to right and left along the narrow valley so filled with
stones.

I was roused from my thoughts about the strangeness of the place we were
in and the absence of trees and thick bush by the doctor proposing a bit
of a look round.

"We are getting up among the mountains, Joe," he said; "and this means
more difficult travelling, but at the same time a healthier region and
less heat."

"Oh, doctor!"  I said, wiping my forehead.

"Why, it couldn't be any hotter than it is out there!" said Jack.

"Come with us, then, and let's see if we can find a fresh way out.
Perhaps we may hit upon a pass to the open country beyond.  At all
events let's go and see the falls."

We took our guns, leaving all heavy things with the blacks, who were
settling themselves for a sleep.

The sun's heat almost made me giddy for the first hundred yards, and
either my eyes deceived me or Jack Penny's long body wavered and shook.

But we trudged laboriously on over and among masses of rock, that seemed
to be nearly alive with lizards basking in the sun, their curious coats
of green and grey and umber-brown glistening in the bright sunshine, and
looking in some cases as if they were covered with frosted metal as they
lay motionless upon the pieces of weatherworn stone.

Some raised their heads to look at us, and remained motionless if we
stopped to watch them, others scuffled rapidly away at the faintest
sound, giving us just a glimpse of a quivering tail as its owner
disappeared down a crevice almost by magic.

"Don't! don't fire!" cried the doctor, as Jack suddenly levelled his
piece.

"Why not?" he said in an ill-used tone.  "I daresay they're poison and
they ain't no good."

The object that had been his aim was an ash-grey snake, rather short and
thick of form, which lay coiled into the figure of a letter S, and held
its head a few inches from the rock on which it lay.

"If you wish to kill the little vipers do it with a stick, my lad.
Every charge of powder may prove very valuable, and be wanted in an
emergency."

"I say," said Jack Penny, dropping the butt of his piece on the rock,
leaning his arms upon it, and staring at the speaker.  "You don't think
we are likely to have a fight soon, do you?"

"I hope not," said the doctor; "but we shall have to be always on the
alert, for in a land like this we never know how soon danger may come."

"I say, Jack," I whispered, "do you want to go back?"

"No: I don't want to go back," he said with a snort.  "I don't say I
ain't afraid.  P'r'aps I am.  I always thought our place lonely, but it
was nothing to these parts, where there don't seem to be no living
people at all."

"Well, let's get on," said the doctor, smiling; and we threaded our way
as well as we could amongst the chaotic masses of stones till we were
stopped short by a complete crack in the stony earth, just as if the
land had been dragged asunder.

As we stood on the brink of the chasm, and gazed down at the bottom some
hundred feet below, we could see that it was a wild stony place, more
sterile than that we had traversed.  In places there were traces of
moisture, as if water sometimes trickled down, and where this was the
case I could see that ferns were growing pretty freely, but on the whole
the place was barrennesss itself.

It seemed to have a fascination though for Jack Penny, who sat down on
the edge and dangled his long legs over the rock, amusing himself by
throwing down pieces of stone on to larger pieces below, so as to see
them shatter and fall in fragments.

"Snakes!" he said suddenly.  "Look at 'em.  See me hit that one."  He
pitched down a large piece of stone as he spoke, and I saw something
glide into a crevice, while another reptile raised itself up against a
piece of rock and fell back hissing angrily.

We were so high up that I could not tell how big these creatures were,
but several that we noticed must have been six or seven feet long, and
like many vipers of the poisonous kinds, very thick in proportion.

I daresay we should have stopped there amusing ourselves for the next
hour, pitching down stones and making the vipers vicious; but our
childish pursuit was ended by the doctor, who clapped Jack on the
shoulder.

"Come, Jack," he said, "if we leave you there you'll fall asleep and
topple to the bottom."

Jack drew up his legs and climbed once more to his feet, looking very
hot and languid, but he shouldered his piece and stepped out as we
slowly climbed along the edge of the chasm for about a quarter of a
mile, when it seemed to close up after getting narrower and narrower, so
that we continued our journey on what would have been its farther side
had it not closed.

Higher and higher we seemed to climb, with the path getting more
difficult, save when here and there we came upon a nice bare spot free
from stones, and covered with a short kind of herb that had the
appearance of thyme.

But now the heat grew less intense.  Then it was comparatively cool, and
a soft moist air fanned our heated cheeks.  The roar of the falls grew
louder, and at any moment we felt that we might come upon the sight, but
we had to travel on nearly half a mile along what seemed to be a steep
slope.  It was no longer arid and barren here, for every shelf and
crevice was full of growth of the most vivid green.  For a long time we
had not seen a tree, but here tall forest trees had wedged their roots
in the cracks and crevices, curved out, and then shot straight up into
the air.

The scene around was beautiful, and birds were once more plentiful,
dashing from fruit to flower, and no doubt screaming and piping
according to their wont, but all seemed to be strangely silent, even our
own voices sounded smothered, everything being overcome by the awful
deep loud roar that came from beyond a dense clump of trees.

We eagerly pressed forward now, ready, however, to find that we had a
long distance to go, and the doctor leading we wound our way in and out,
with the delicious shade overhead, and the refreshing moist air seeming
to cool our fevered faces and dry lips.

"Why, we're walking along by the very edge," said Jack Penny suddenly.
"This is the way;" and stepping aside he took about a dozen steps and
then the undergrowth closed behind him for the moment, but as we parted
it to follow him we caught sight of his tall form again and then lost
it, for he uttered a shrill "Oh!" and disappeared.

"Doctor! quick!"  I cried, for I was next, and I sprang forward, to stop
appalled, for Jack was before me clinging to a thin sapling which he had
caught as he fell, and this had bent like a fishing-rod, letting him
down some ten feet below the edge of an awful precipice, the more
terrible from the fact that the river seemed to be rushing straight out
into the air from a narrow ravine high upon our right, and to plunge
down into a vast rocky basin quite a couple of hundred feet below.

As I caught sight of Jack Penny's face with its imploring eyes I was for
the moment paralysed.  He had tight hold of the tree, which was only
about half the thickness of his own thin wrists, and he was swaying up
and down, the weight of his body still playing upon the elastic sapling.

"I can't hold on long, Joe Carstairs," he said hoarsely.  "I'm such a
weight; but I say I ain't a bit afraid, only do be quick."

The doctor had crept to my side now, and he reached out his hand to
grasp Jack, but could not get hold of him by a couple of feet.

"Can't you reach?" the poor fellow gasped.

"No, not yet," the doctor said sharply; and his voice seemed quite
changed as he took in the position; and I saw him shudder as he noted,
as I had done, that if Jack fell it would be into the foaming basin
where the water thundered down.

"Be quick, please," panted Jack.  "I can't do nothing at all; and I
don't--think--I could swim--down there."

"Don't look down," roared the doctor, though even then his voice sounded
smothered and low.

Jack raised his eyes to ours directly, and I seemed to feel that but for
this he would have been so unnerved that he would have loosed his hold.

"Now," cried the doctor, "the tree's too weak for you to cling to it
with your legs.  Swing them to and fro till we catch hold of you."

Jack looked at me with a face like ashes; but he obeyed, and it was
horrible to see the sapling bend and play like a cart-whip with the
weight upon it.  Each moment I expected it to snap in two or give way at
the roots; but no: it held fast, and Jack swung to and fro, and danced
up and down over the awful gulf till he was within our reach.

"Now!" shouted the doctor to me.  "Both together."

I did as he did, clutched at Jack's legs as they swung up to us; held
on; and then we threw ourselves back, dragging with all our might.

"Let go! let go!" roared the doctor to Jack.

"I daren't, not yet," he cried, with his head hidden from us, that and
his body being over the gulf, while we had his legs over the edge of the
rock.

"But the tree is drawing you away from us," shouted the doctor.  "Let
go, I say."

All this time it was as though Jack Penny were made of india-rubber, for
as we pulled his legs it was against something elastic, which kept
giving and drawing us back.

For a few moments it seemed doubtful whether we should save him, for our
hold was hastily taken and none of the best, and I felt the cold
perspiration gathering in my hands and on my brow.  Then just as I felt
that I must give way, and the doctor's hard panting breathing sounded
distant and strange through the singing in my ears, our desperate
tugging prevailed over even the wild clutch of one who believed himself
in deadly peril.  Jack's hands relaxed, and we all fell together amongst
the bushes, but safe.

No one spoke, and the dull sound of panting was heard even amidst the
roar of the falling waters.  Then the doctor got up, looking fierce and
angry, and seizing Jack by the collar he gave him a shake.

"Look here," he said.  "I'll have no more of it.  Next time you get into
danger, you may save yourself."

"Thank ye, doctor," said Jack, sitting up and rocking himself softly.
"I might just as well have gone as be treated like this.  You might have
taken hold of a fellow's clothes, both of you.  You've about tore the
flesh off my bones."

The doctor turned away to look at the great waterfall, evidently amused
by Jack's dry drawling speech; and I sat and looked at my companion,
while he looked at me, and spoke out so as to make me hear above the
roar of the torrent.

"I say, Joe Carstairs, I didn't seem to be very much frightened, did I?"

"No," I said.  "You bore it very bravely."

"Mean it?"

"Of course," I said.

"That's right; because I did feel awfully queer, you know.  I don't mind
that though so long as I didn't show it."

"How did you manage to get into such a pickle?"  I said.

"Oh, I don't know," he drawled, still rubbing himself gently.  "I was
wandering forward to get a good look at the waterfall, and then my legs
seemed to go down.  I only had time to grip hold of that tree, and then
I was swinging about.  That's all.  Let's have a look at the water,
though, all the same."

We followed the doctor, going cautiously along till we found him
standing gun in hand gazing from a bare spot right out at the huge
tumbling body of water, which made the very rocks on which we stood
tremble and vibrate as it thundered down.

In one spot, half-way down what looked to be a terribly gloomy chasm, a
broad beam of sunlight shone right across the foam and fine spray that
rose in a cloud, and from time to time this was spanned by a lovely
iris, whose colours looked more beautiful than anything of the kind that
I had before seen.

I could have stood for hours gazing at the soft oily looking water as it
glided over the piled-up rocks, and watched it breaking up into spray
and then plunge headlong into the chaos of water below; but the doctor
laid his hand upon my shoulder and pointed upwards, when, leading the
way, he climbed on and on till we were beyond the rocks which formed the
shelf over which the water glided, and here we found ourselves at the
edge of a narrow ravine, along which the stream flowed swiftly from far
beyond our sight to the spot where it made its plunge.

We were in comparative quiet up here, the noise of the fall being cut
off by the rocks, which seemed to hush it as soon as we had passed.

"Let us get back, my lads," the doctor said then; "I don't think we
shall advance our business by inspecting this grand river;" and so
leaving the water-worn smooth rock of the ravine, we retraced our steps,
and at last, hot and fainting almost with the heat, reached the little
camp, where our black followers were eagerly looking out for our return.

"Where's Jimmy?"  I said as I glanced round; but no one knew, and
supposing that he had gone to hunt something that he considered good to
eat I took no further notice then, though the doctor frowned, evidently
considering that he ought to have been in camp.  Gyp was there though,
ready to salute his master, who lay down at once, as he informed me in
confidence, to rest his back.

We were only too glad to get under the shelter of the great overhanging
rock, which gave us comparative coolness, situated as it was beneath a
hill that was almost a mountain, towering up in successive ledges to the
summit.

The walk, in spite of the excitement of the adventure, had given us an
excellent appetite, and even Jack Penny ate away heartily, looking
self-satisfied and as complacent as could be.

"Why, what are you laughing at, Jack?"  I said, as I happened to look
up.

"I was only smiling," he whispered, "about my accident."

"Smiling--at that!"  I exclaimed.  "Why, I should have thought you would
have been horrified at the very thought of it."

"So I should if I had been a coward over it, Joe Carstairs; but I
wasn't--now was I?"

"Coward!  No," I said, "of course not.  Here, fill my cup with water."

We were sitting pretty close to the edge of our shelter, which really
might have been termed a very shallow cave, some twenty feet above the
level; and as I spoke I held out the tin pannikin towards Jack, for the
heat had made me terribly thirsty.  The next moment, though, something
struck the tin mug and dashed it noisily out of my hand, while before I
could recover from my astonishment, the doctor had dragged me backwards
with one hand, giving Jack Penny a backhander on the chest with the
other.

"Arrows!" he whispered.  "Danger!  There are savages there below."



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

HOW WE WERE BESIEGED, AND I THOUGHT OF BIRNAM WOOD.

I believe the doctor saved us from dangerous wounds, if not from death,
for, as he threw himself flat, half a dozen arrows struck the roof of
our shelter, and fell pattering down amongst us as we lay.

"Here, quick! pass these packages forward," the doctor whispered; and we
managed to get the blacks' loads between us and the enemy, making of the
packages a sort of breastwork, which sheltered us while we hauled
forward some pieces of stone, arrow after arrow reaching this extempore
parapet, or coming over it to strike the roof and fall back.

The natives with us understood our plans at once, and eagerly helped,
pushing great pieces of stone up to us, so that in about a quarter of an
hour we were well protected, and the question came uppermost in my mind
whether it was not time to retaliate with a charge of shot upon the
cowardly assailants, who had attacked us when we were so peacefully
engaged.

We had time, too, now to look round us and lament that our force was so
much weakened by the absence of Jimmy and Aroo, who had gone to fetch
more water.

"They will be killed," I said, and I saw Ti-hi smile, for he had
evidently understood my meaning.  He shook his head too, and tried to
make me understand, as I found afterwards, that Aroo would take care of
himself; but we left off in a state of the greatest confusion.

Being then well sheltered we contrived loopholes to watch for our
enemies, and Ti-hi pointed out to me the place from whence the arrows
were shot every time the enemy could see a hand.

The spot he pointed to as that in which our assailants lay was where a
patch of thick growth flourished among some stones, about fifty yards
along the rocky pass in the direction in which we had come, and as I was
intently watching the place to make out some sign of the enemy, and
feeling doubtful whether the black was right, I saw a slight movement
and the glint of a flying arrow, which struck the face of the rock a few
feet above my head, and then fell by Jack Penny's hand.

"Mind," I said, as he picked it up; "perhaps it is poisoned."

Ti-hi was eagerly watching my face, and as I spoke he caught the arrow
from Jack's hand, placed it against his arm, and then closed his eyes
and pretended to be dead; but as quickly came to life again, as several
more arrows struck the rock and fell harmlessly among us.  These he
gathered together all but one, whose point was broken by coming in
contact with the rock, and that he threw away.

After this he carefully strung the bow that he always, like his fellows,
carried, and looked eagerly at the doctor, who was scanning the ground
in front of us with his little double glass.

"I don't like the look of things, my lads," he said in a low voice, and
his countenance was very serious as he spoke.  "I intended for ours to
be a peaceable mission, but it seems as if we are to be forced into war
with two men absent."

"Shall we have to shoot 'em?" said Jack Penny excitedly.

"I hope not," said the doctor, "for I should be sorry to shed the blood
of the lowest savage; but we must fight in defence of our lives.  We
cannot afford to give those up, come what may."

Ti-hi fitted an arrow to the string of his short, strong bow, and was
about to draw it, but the doctor laid his hand upon him and checked him,
to the savage warrior's great disgust.

"No," said the doctor, "not until we are obliged; and then I shall try
what a charge of small shot will do."

We were not long in finding out that it was absolutely necessary to
defend ourselves with vigour, for the arrows began to fall thickly--
thickly enough, indeed, to show us that there were more marksmen hidden
among the trees than the size of the clump seemed to indicate from where
we crouched.

I was watching the patch of trees very intently when I heard a sharply
drawn inspiration of breath, and turning I saw the doctor pulling an
arrow from the flannel tunic he wore.

"As doctors say, Joe," he whispered with a smile, "three inches more to
the right and that would have been fatal."

I don't know how I looked, but I felt pale, and winced a little, while
the doctor took my hand.

The force of habit made me snatch it away, for I thought he was going to
feel my pulse.  I fancied for the moment that it must be to see whether
I was nervous, and the blood flushed to my cheeks now, and made me look
defiant.

"Why, Joe, my lad, what is it?" he said quietly.  "Won't you shake
hands?"

"Oh! yes," I cried, placing mine in his, and he gave it a long, firm
grip.

"I ought," he said, after a pause, "to have said more about the
troubles, like this one, which I might have known would arise, when we
arranged to start; but somehow I had a sort of hope that we might make a
peaceful journey, and not be called upon to shed blood.  Joe, my lad, we
shall have to fight for our lives."

"And shoot down these people?"  I said huskily.

"If we do not, they will shoot us.  Poor wretches, they probably do not
know the power of our guns.  We must give them the small shot first, and
we may scare them off.  Don't you fire, my lad; leave it to me."

I nodded my head, and then our attention was taken up by the arrows that
kept flying in, with such good aim that if we had exposed ourselves in
the least the chances are that we should have been hit.

The doctor was on one side of me, Jack Penny on the other, and my tall
young friend I noticed had been laying some cartridges very methodically
close to his hand, ready for action it seemed to me; but he had not
spoken much, only looked very solemn as he lay upon his chest, kicking
his legs up and sawing them slowly to and fro.

"Are we going to have to fight, Joe Carstairs?" he whispered.

"I'm afraid so," I replied.

"Oh!"

That was all for a few minutes, during which time the arrows kept coming
in and striking the roof as before, to fall there with a tinkling sound,
and be collected carefully by Ti-hi and his companions, all of whom
watched us with glowing eyes, waiting apparently for the order to be
given when they might reply to the shots of the enemy.

"I say, Joe Carstairs," said Jack, giving me a touch with his long arm.

"Yes; what is it?"  I said peevishly, for his questions seemed to be a
nuisance.

"I don't look horribly frightened, do I?"

"No," I said; "you look cool enough.  Why?"

"Because I feel in a horrid stew, just as I did when a lot of the black
fellows carried me off.  I was a little one then."

"Were you ever a little one, Jack!"  I said wonderingly.

"Why, of course I was--a very little one.  You don't suppose I was born
with long legs like a colt, do you?  The blacks came one day when father
was away, and mother had gone to see after the cow, and after taking all
the meal and bacon they went off, one of them tucking me under his arm,
and I never made a sound, I was so frightened, for I was sure they were
going to eat me.  I feel something like I did then; but I say, Joe
Carstairs, you're sure I don't show it?"

"Sure!  Yes," I said quickly.  "If we have to shoot at these savages
shall you take aim at them?"

"All depends," said Jack coolly.  "First of all, I shall fire in front
of their bows like the man-o'-war's men do.  If that don't stop 'em I
shall fire at their legs, and if that don't do any good then I shall let
'em have it right full, for it'll be their own fault.  That's my
principle, Joe Carstairs; if a fellow lets me alone I never interfere
with him, but if he begins at me I'm nasty.  Here, you leave those
arrows alone, and--well, what's the matter with you?"

This was to Gyp, who was whining uneasily as if he scented danger, and
wanted to run out.

"Down, Gyp, down!" said his master; and the dog crouched lower,
growling, though, now as a fresh arrow flashed in from another part.

The doctor started and raised his gun to take aim at the spot from
whence this shot had come, for one of the savages had climbed up and
reached a ledge above where we were.  In fact this man's attack made our
position ten times more perilous than it was before.

But the doctor did not fire, for Ti-hi, without waiting for orders, drew
an arrow to its head, the bow-string gave a loud twang, and the next
instant we saw a savage bound from the ledge where he had hidden and run
across the intervening space, club in one hand, bow in the other,
yelling furiously the while.

The doctor was about to fire, and in the excitement of the moment I had
my piece to my shoulder, but before he had come half-way the savage
turned and staggered back, Ti-hi pointing triumphantly to an arrow
sticking deep in the muscles of the man's shoulder.

There was a loud yelling as the wounded savage rejoined his companions,
and our own men set up a triumphant shout.

"That's one to us," said Jack Penny drily.  "I think I shall keep the
score."

The doctor looked at me just at this time and I looked back at him; and
somehow I seemed to read in his eyes that he thought it would be the
best plan to let the blacks fight out the battle with their bows and
arrows, and I felt quite happy in my mind for the moment, since it
seemed to me that we should get out of the difficulty of having to shed
blood.

But directly after I coloured with shame, for it seemed cowardly to want
to do such work by deputy and to make these ignorant people fight our
battle; while after all I was wrong, for the doctor was not thinking
anything of the kind.  In fact he knew that we would all have to fight
in defence of our lives, and when a flight of about twenty arrows came
whizzing and pattering over our heads and hurtled down upon the stony
floor, I knew it too, and began to grow cool with the courage of
desperation and prepared for the worst.

"Here, Jack Penny," I whispered, "you'll have to fight; the savages mean
mischief."

"All right!" he replied in a slow cool drawling way, "I'm ready for
them; but I don't know whether I can hit a man as he runs, unless I try
to make myself believe he's a kangaroo."

The yelling was continued by our enemies, and as far as I could tell it
seemed to me that there must be at least thirty savages hiding amongst
the rocks and trees, and all apparently thirsting for our blood.

"It seems hard, doctor," I said bitterly.  "They might leave us alone."

"I'm afraid they will think that they would have done better in leaving
us," said the doctor gloomily, "for I don't mean them to win the day if
I can help it."

I could not help staring at the doctor: his face looked so stern and
strange till, catching my eye, he smiled in his old way, and held out
his hand.

"We shall beat them off, Joe," he said gently.  "I would have avoided it
if I could, but it has become a work of necessity, and we must fight for
our lives.  Be careful," he added sternly.  "It is no time for trifling.
Remember your father, and the mother who is waiting for you at home.
Joe, my boy, it is a fight for life, and you must make every shot tell."

For the moment I felt chilled with horror; and a sensation of dread
seemed to paralyse me.  Then came the reaction, with the thought that if
I did not act like a man I should never see those I loved again.  This,
too, was supplemented, as it were, by that spirit of what the French
call _camaraderie_, that spirit which makes one forget self; and
thinking that I had to defend my two companions from the enemy I raised
the barrel of my piece upon the low breastwork, ready to fire on the
first enemy who should approach.

"Look," said Ti-hi just then, for he was picking up scraps of our
tongue; and following his pointing finger I made out the black bodies of
several savages creeping to posts of vantage from whence they would be
able to shoot.

"Take care," said the doctor sternly, as an arrow nearly grazed my ear.
"If one of those arrows gives ever so slight a wound it may prove fatal,
my lad; don't expose yourself in the least.  Ah! the game must begin in
earnest," he said partly under his breath.

As he spoke he took aim at a man who was climbing from rock to rock to
gain the spot from which the other had been dislodged.  Then there was a
puff of white smoke, a roar that reverberated amongst the rocks, and the
poor wretch seemed to drop out of sight.

The doctor's face looked tight and drawn as he reloaded, and for a
moment I felt horrified; but then, seeing a great brawny black fellow
raise himself up to draw his bow and shoot at the part where Jack Penny
was crouching, and each time seem to send his arrow more close to my
companion, I felt suddenly as if an angry wave were sweeping over my
spirit, and lay there scowling at the man.

He rose up again, and there was a whizz and a crack that startled me.

"I say," drawled Jack Penny, "mind what you're after.  You'll hit some
one directly."

He said this with a strange solemnity of voice, and picking up the arrow
he handed it to one of the blacks.

"That thing went right through my hair, Joe Carstairs," he continued.
"It's making me wild."

I hesitated no longer, but as the great savage rose up once more I took
a quick aim and fired just as he was drawing his bow.

The smoke obscured my sight for a few moments, during which there was a
furious yelling, and then, just as the thin bluish vapour was clearing
off, there was another puff, and an echoing volley dying off in the
distance, for Jack Penny had also fired.

"I don't know whether I hit him," he answered; "but he was climbing up
there like t'other chap was, and I can't see him now."

In the excitement of the fight the terrible dread of injuring a fellow
creature now seemed to have entirely passed away, and I watched one
savage stealing from bush to bush, and from great stone to stone with an
eagerness I could not have believed in till I found an opportunity of
firing at him, just as he too had reached a dangerous place and had sent
his first arrow close to my side.

I fired and missed him, and the savage shouted defiance as my bullet
struck the stones and raised a puff of dust.  The next moment he had
replied with a well-directed arrow that made me wince, it was so near my
head.

By this time I had reloaded and was taking aim again with feverish
eagerness, when all at once a great stone crashed down from above and
swept the savage from the ledge where he knelt.

I looked on appalled as the man rolled headlong down in company with the
mass of stone, and then lay motionless in the bottom of the little
valley.

"Who is it throwing stones?" drawled Jack slowly.  "That was a big one,
and it hit."

"That could not have been an accident," said the doctor; "perhaps Aroo
is up there."

"I only hope he is," I cried; "but look, look! what's that?"

I caught at the doctor's arm to draw his attention to what seemed to be
a great thickly tufted bush which was coming up the little valley
towards us.

"Birnam wood is coming to Dunsinane," said the doctor loudly.

"Is it?" said Jack Penny excitedly.  "What for?  Where?  What do you
mean?"

"Look, look!"  I cried, and I pointed to the moving bush.

"Well, that's rum," said Jack, rubbing his nose with his finger.  "Trees
are alive, of course, but they can't walk, can they?  I think there's
some one shoving that along."

"Why, of course there is," I said.

"Don't fire unless you are obliged," exclaimed the doctor; "and whatever
you do, take care.  See how the arrows are coming."

For they were pattering about us thickly, and the blacks on our side
kept sending them back, but with what result we could not tell, for the
savages kept closely within the cover.

It was now drawing towards evening, and the sun seemed hotter than ever;
the whole of the sultry ravine seemed to have become an oven, of which
our cavern shelter was the furnace.  In fact the heat was momentarily,
from the sun's position, and in spite of its being so long past the
meridian, growing more and more intense.

Jack Penny had of late grown very silent, but now and then he turned his
face towards me with his mouth open, panting with heat and thirst, as
uneasily as his dog, whose tongue was hanging out looking white and dry.

"Is there any water there?" said the doctor suddenly, as he paused in
the act of reloading.

"Not a drop," I said, dismally.

"Oh! don't say that," groaned Jack Penny.  "If I don't have some I shall
die."

"It will be evening soon," said the doctor in a husky voice, "and this
terrible heat will be over.  Keep on firing when you have a chance, my
lads, but don't waste a shot.  We must read them such a lesson that they
will draw off and leave us alone."

But as he spoke, so far from the loss they had sustained having damped
the ardour of the enemy, they kept on sending in the arrows more
thickly, but without doing us--thanks to our position and the
breastwork--the slightest harm.

The sun sank lower, but the rock where we were seemed to grow hotter,
the air to be quivering all along the little valley, and as the terrible
thirst increased so did our tortures seem to multiply from the fact that
we could hear the heavy dull thunderous murmur away to our right, and we
knew that it was cool, clear, delicious water, every drop of which would
have given our dried-up mouths and parched throats relief.

At one time I turned giddy and the whole scene before me seemed to be
spinning round, while my head throbbed with the pain I suffered, my
tongue all the time feeling like a piece of dry leather which clung to
the roof of my mouth.

And still the firing was going steadily on, each sending a bullet
straight to its mark whenever opportunity occurred; but apparently
without effect, for in the midst of all this firing and confusion of
shouts from the enemy and defiant replies from our people, the arrows
went to and fro as rapidly as ever.

If it had not been for the sound of the falling water I believe I could
have borne the thirst far better; but no matter how the fighting went,
there was always the soft deep roar of the plashing water tantalising us
with thoughts of its refreshing draughts and delicious coolness when
laving our fevered heads.

I grew so giddy at times that I felt that I should only waste my shot if
I fired, and refrained, while, gaining experience and growing bolder by
degrees, the savages aimed so that every shot became dangerous, for they
sent them straight at a mass of rock before us some ten or a dozen
yards, and this they struck and then glanced off, so that we were nearly
hit three times running.

Stones were set up at once upon our right as a protection, but this only
saved us for a time.  The savages had found out the way to touch us, and
before many minutes had elapsed _ricochet_ shots were coming amongst as
again.

"I can hardly see them, Joe," whispered the doctor suddenly; "my eyes
are dizzy with this awful thirst.  We must have water if we are to
live."

He ceased speaking to catch me by the arm, and point to the bush that
had been so long stationary in one place that I had forgotten it.

"What's that, my lad?" he whispered; "is that bush moving, or are my
eyes playing me false.  It must be on the move.  It is some trick.  Fire
at once and stop it, or we shall be taken in the flank."

I raised my gun as I saw the bush moving slowly on towards us, now
coming a yard or two and then stopping; but I was so giddy and confused
that I lowered it again, unable to take aim.  This took place again and
again, and at last I lay there scanning as in a nightmare the coming of
that great green bush.

The doctor was watching with bloodshot eyes the enemy on his own side,
Jack Penny was busy on the other, and the command of this treacherous
advancing enemy was left to my gun, which seemed now to have become of
enormous weight when I tried to raise it and take aim.

"It's all a dream--it is fancy," I said to myself, as I tried to shade
my eyes and steady my gaze; but as I said this the bush once more began
to glide on, and the black patch I saw beneath it must, I felt, be the
leg of the savage concealed behind.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

HOW JIMMY TURNED UP A TRUMP.

Even then I could not shoot, but remained staring, helplessly fascinated
for a few minutes by the coming danger.  At last, though, I turned to
Ti-hi, leaning back and touching him where he crouched, busily seizing
upon the arrows that came in his way and sending them back.

He crept up to me directly and I pointed to the bush.

His eyes glistened, and bending forward he drew an arrow to the head,
and was about to send it winging into the very centre of the bush when
we suddenly became aware of some strange excitement amongst the savages,
who undoubtedly now caught sight of the bush for the first time and sent
a flight of arrows at it.

The effect of this was that he who had been making use of it for a
shield suddenly darted from behind it and made for our shelter.

"Aroo, Aroo!" exclaimed the men with us, yelling with delight, while to
cover his escape we all fired at the savages, who had come out of their
concealment, but only to dart back again, for one after the other three
large stones came bounding down the mountain side, scattering the enemy
to cover, and the duel once more began, with our side strengthened by
the presence of a brave fighting man, and refreshed, for Aroo had his
water calabash slung from his shoulders, containing quite a couple of
quarts, which were like nectar to us, parched and half-dying with
thirst.

Its effects were wonderful.  The heat was still intense; but after the
refreshing draught, small as it was, that we had imbibed, I seemed to
see clearly, the giddy sensation passed off, and we were ready to meet
the attack with something like fortitude.

We could think now, too, of some plans for the future, whereas a quarter
of an hour before there had seemed to be no future for us, nothing but a
horrible death at our enemies' hands.

Ti-hi contrived to make us understand now that as soon as the sun had
gone down, and it was dark, he would lead us away to the river side and
then along the gorge, so that by the next morning we could be far out of
our enemies' reach, when they came expecting to find us in the cave.

His communication was not easy to comprehend, but that this was what he
meant there could be no doubt, for we all three read it in the same way.

Encouraged then by this hope we waited impatiently for the going down of
the sun, which was now slowly nearing the broad shoulder of a great
hill.  Another half-hour and it would have disappeared, when the valley
would begin to fill with shadows, darkness--the tropic darkness--would
set in at once, and then I knew we should have to lose no time in trying
to escape.

But we were not to get away without an attack from the enemy of a bolder
nature than any they had yet ventured upon.

For some little time the arrow shooting had slackened and we watched
anxiously to see what it meant, for there was evidently a good deal of
excitement amongst the enemy, who were running from bush to stone, and
had we been so disposed we could easily have brought three or four down.

But of course all we wished for was freedom from attack, and in the hope
that they were somewhat disheartened, and were perhaps meditating
retreat, we waited and withheld our fire.

Our hopes were short-lived though, for it proved that they were only
preparing for a more fierce onslaught, which was delivered at the end of
a few minutes, some twenty savages bounding along the slope war-club in
hand, two to fall disabled by a mass of stone that thundered down from
above.

We fired at the same moment and the advance was checked, the savages
gathering together in a hesitating fashion, when _crash_, _crash_,
another mass of rock which had been set at liberty far up the hillside
came bounding down, gathering impetus and setting at liberty an
avalanche of great stones, from which the savages now turned and fled
for their lives, leaving the valley free to a single black figure, which
came climbing down from far up the steep slope, waddy in hand; and on
reaching the level advanced towards us in the fast darkening eve,
looking coolly to right and left to see if any enemy was left, but
without a single arrow being discharged.

A minute later he was looking over our breastwork into the shallow cave,
showing his teeth, which shone in the gloom as he exclaimed:

"Black fellow dreffle hungry.  Give Jimmy somefin eat.  All gone now."



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

HOW WE RETREATED AND WERE CAUGHT IN A TROPIC STORM.

Our black companion was quite right.  The enemy had indeed gone, and the
time had come for us to get beyond their reach, for all at once it
seemed to grow dark, and we stood farther out of our shelter, glad to
free our limbs from the cramping positions in which they had been for so
long.

The doctor handed to each of us some chips of dried meat, bidding us eat
as we walked.  The bearers were well provided, and starting at once,
with Ti-hi to lead and Aroo to cover our retreat, we stepped lightly
off.

Our blacks knew well enough what was required of them now as to our
baggage, and every package was taken from the breastwork, shouldered or
placed upon the head, and, watchful and ready to use our arms, we soon
left the scene of the fight behind.

The New Guinea savage Ti-hi as we called him, that being the nearest
approach I can get to his name, followed very much the course we had
taken early in the day when we sought the waterfall, but left it a
little to our left and struck the river some few hundred yards above,
pausing for a few minutes for his men to take breath, and then pointing
out the course he meant to take.

It was a perilous-looking place, enough to make anyone shiver, and there
was a murmur amongst the blacks as they looked down at what seemed to be
a mere shelf or ledge of rock low down near the black hurrying water of
the river, which seemed to be covered with flowing specks of gold as the
brilliant stars were reflected from the smooth rushing stream.

Where we were to descend the water seemed to be about thirty feet below,
but the rocky side of the river bed ran sheer up quite fifty feet as far
as we could make out in the darkness, and I did not wonder at the murmur
we heard.

But Ti-hi's voice rose directly, now pleading softly in his own tongue,
now in tones of command, and the murmur trailed off into a few
mutterings which resulted in the men beginning to descend.

"They were grumbling about having to go down there, weren't they, Joe
Carstairs," said Jack Penny in a whisper.

"Yes," I said.

"And 'nough to make 'em," he said.  "I don't like it; even Gyp don't
like it.  Look at him, how he's got his tail between his legs.  I say,
can't we wait till daylight?"

"And be shot by poisoned arrows, Penny?" said the doctor quietly.
"Come: on with you!  I'm sure you're not afraid?"

"Afraid!  What! of walking along there?" said Jack, contemptuously.
"Not likely.  Was I afraid when I hung over the waterfall?"

"Not a bit, my lad; nor yet when you so bravely helped us to defend
ourselves against the savages," said the doctor quietly.  "Come along.
I'll go first."

The blacks were all on ahead save Aroo and Jimmy, who followed last, I
being next to the doctor, and Jack Penny and his dog close behind me.
We had to go in single file, for the ledge was not above a yard wide in
places, and it was impossible to avoid a shiver of dread as we walked
slowly along, assuming a confidence that we did not feel.

The path rose and fell--rose and fell slightly in an undulating fashion,
but it did not alter much in its width as we journeyed on for what must
have been quite a mile, when we had to halt for a few minutes while the
bearers readjusted their loads.  And a weird party we looked as we stood
upon that shelf of rock, with the perpendicular side of the gorge
towering straight up black towards the sky, the summit showing plainly
against the starry arch that spanned the river, and seemed to rest upon
the other side of the rocky gorge fifty yards away.  And there now,
close to our feet, so close that we could have lain down and drunk had
we been so disposed, rushed on towards the great fall the glassy
gold-speckled water.

I was thinking what an awful looking place it was, and wondering whether
my father had ever passed this way, when Jack Penny made me jump by
giving me a poke with the barrel of his gun.

"Don't do that," I said angrily, for I felt that I might have slipped,
and to have fallen into that swiftly gliding water meant being borne at
headlong speed to the awful plunge down into the basin of foam into
which I had looked that day.

"Oh, all right!" whispered Jack.  "I only wanted to tell you that it
must be cramp."

"What must be cramp?"  I replied.

"Don't speak so loud, and don't let the doctor hear you," whispered
Jack.  "I mean in one of my legs: it will keep waggling so and giving
way at the knee."

"Why, Jack!"  I said.

"No, no," he whispered hastily, "it ain't that.  I ain't a bit afraid.
It's cramp."

"Well, if you are not afraid," I whispered back, "I am.  I hope, Jack, I
may never live to be in such an awful place again."

"I say, Joe Carstairs, say that once more," whispered Jack excitedly.

"I hope I may never be--"

"No, no, I don't mean that.  I mean the other," whispered Jack.

"What, about being afraid?"  I said.  "Well, I'm not ashamed to own it.
It may be cramp, Jack Penny, but I feel as if it is sheer fright."

"Then that's what must be the matter with my leg," said Jack eagerly,
"only don't let's tell the doctor."

"Ready behind there?" said the latter just then.

"Yes," I said, "quite ready;" and I passed the word to Jimmy and Aroo,
who were close to me.

"Let's get on then," said the doctor in a low voice.  "I want to get out
of this awful gorge."

"Hooray!" whispered Jack Penny, giving me such a dig with his elbow that
for the second time he nearly sent me off the rocky shelf.  "Hooray! the
doctor's frightened too, Joe Carstairs.  I ain't ashamed to own it now."

"Hist!" whispered the doctor then, and slightly raised as was his voice
it seemed strangely loud, and went echoing along the side of the chasm.

Going steadily on at once we found the shelf kept wonderfully the same
in width, the only variation being that it dipped down close to the
rushing water at times, and then curved up till we were fifteen or
twenty feet above the stream.  With the walls on either side of the
river, though, it was different, for they gradually rose higher and
higher till there was but a strip of starry sky above our heads, and our
path then became so dark that but for the leading of the sure-footed
blacks we could not have progressed, but must have come to a halt.

I was wondering whether this gorge would end by opening out upon some
plain, through its being but a gap or pass through a range of hills, but
concluded that it would grow deeper and darker, and bring us face to
face with a second waterfall, and I whispered to the doctor my opinion;
but he did not agree with me.

"No," he said, "the gorge is rising, of course, from the way in which
the river rushes on, but there can be no waterfall this way or we should
hear it.  The noise of the one behind us comes humming along this rocky
passage so plainly that we should hear another in the same way.  But
don't talk, my lad.  Look to your footsteps and mind that we have no
accident.  Stop!" he exclaimed, then, "Halt!"

I did not know why he called a halt just then in that narrow dangerous
place, but it seemed that he heard a peculiar sound from behind, and
directly after Aroo closed up, to say that the enemy were following us,
for he had heard them talking as they came, the smooth walls of the
rocks acting as a great speaking-tube and bearing the sounds along.

"That's bad news, my lad," said the doctor, "but matters might be worse.
This is a dangerous place, but it is likely to be far more dangerous
for an attacking party than for the defenders.  Our guns could keep any
number of enemies at a distance, I should say.  Better that they should
attack us here than out in the open, where we should be easy marks for
their arrows."

"I do wish they'd leave us alone," said Jack Penny in an ill-used tone.
"Nobody said anything to them; why can't they leave off?"

"We'll argue out that point another time, Jack Penny," said the doctor.
"Only let's get on now."

"Oh, all right!  I'm ready," he said, and once more our little party set
forward, the doctor and I now taking the extreme rear, with the
exception that we let Aroo act as a scout behind, to give warning of the
enemy's near approach.

And so we went on in the comparative darkness, the only sounds heard
being the hissing of the swiftly rushing water as it swept on towards
the fall, and the dull deep roar that came booming now loudly, now
faintly, from where the river made its plunge.

Twice over we made a halt and stood with levelled pieces ready to meet
an attack, but they only proved to be false alarms, caused by our
friends dislodging stones in the path, which fell with a hollow sullen
plunge into the rushing water, producing a strange succession of sounds,
as of footsteps beating the path behind us, so curiously were these
repeated from the smooth face of the rock.

_Hiss-hiss_, _rush-rush_ went the water, and when we paused again and
again, so utterly solemn and distinct were the sounds made by the
waterfall and the river that I fancied that our friend Aroo must have
been deceived.

"If the savages were pursuing us," I said, "we should have heard them by
now."

"Don't be too satisfied, my dear boy," said the doctor.  "These people
have a great deal of the animal in them, and when they have marked down
their prey they are not likely to leave the track till the end."

I did not like the sound of that word, "end."  It was ominous, but I
held my tongue.

"As likely as not," continued the doctor, "the enemy are creeping
cautiously along within a couple of hundred yards of where we stand,
and--"

"I say," cried Jack Penny eagerly, "it's rather cold standing about
here; hadn't we better make haste on?"

"Decidedly, Penny," said the doctor.  "Forward!"

"Yes, let's get forward," I said, and the doctor suddenly clapped his
hand over my mouth and whispered:

"Hush!  Look there!"

"I can't see anything," I said, after a long gaze in the direction by
which we had come.

"Can you see just dimly, close to where that big star makes the blur in
the water, a light-coloured stone?"

"Yes."

"Watch it for a minute."

I fixed my eyes upon the dimly-seen rock, just where quite a blaze of
stars flecked the black water with their reflections, but for a time I
saw nothing.  I only made my eyes ache, and a strong desire came upon me
to blink them very rapidly.  Then all at once the stone seemed darker
for a moment, and then darker again, as if a cloud had come between the
glinting stars and the earth.

It was so plain that a couple of the savages had glided by that stone
that we felt it would be best to remain where we were for the present,
awaiting the attack that we knew must follow.

"We are prepared now," whispered the doctor, "and if we must fight it
would be better to fight now than have to turn suddenly and meet an
attack on our rear."

The result was that we remained watching through the next painful hour,
guns and bows ready for the first oncoming of the savages; but with
terrible distinctness there was the washing sound of the river hissing
past the rocks, and the rising and falling musical roar of the distant
cascade--nothing more!

Then another hour of silence in that awful chasm passed away, with the
expectation of being attacked every moment keeping our nerves upon the
stretch.

How different it all seemed, what a change from the peaceful life at
home!  There I had led a happy boyish life, with the black for my
companion; sometimes he would disappear to live amongst his tribe for a
few weeks, but he always returned, and just after breakfast there would
be his merry black face eagerly watching for my coming to go with him to
"kedge fis" in some fresh creek or water-hole that he had discovered; to
hunt out wallabies or some other of the hopping kangaroo family peculiar
to the land.  Jimmy had always some fresh expedition on the way, upon
which we started with boy-like eagerness.  But now all at once,
consequent upon my determination, my course of life had been changed,
and it seemed that, young as I was, all the work that fell to my hand
was man's work.  Yesterday I was a boy, now I was a man.

That was my rather conceited way of looking upon matters then, and there
was some ground for my assumption of manliness; but if excuse be needed
let me say in my defence that I was suddenly cast into this career of
dangerous adventure, and I was very young.

Some such musings as the above, mixed up with recollections of my
peaceful bed-room at home, and the gentle face that bent over me to kiss
me when I was half asleep, were busy in my brain, when the doctor said
softly:

"This seems to be such a strong place, Joe, my lad, that I hardly like
leaving it; but we must get on.  Go forward and start them.  Tell them
to be as quiet as possible."

His words seemed full of relief, and I started round to obey him, glad
to have an end to the terrible inaction, when, to my utter astonishment,
I found Jack Penny, who was behind me, sitting with his legs dangling
over the edge of the rocky shelf, and apparently within an inch or two
of the water, while his shoulders were propped against the side of the
chasm; his rifle was in his lap and his chin buried in his breast--fast
asleep!

"Jack!"  I whispered softly, utterly astounded that any one could sleep
at a time like that; but he did not hear me.

"Jack!"  I said again, and laid my hand upon his shoulder, but without
result.

"Jack!"  I said, giving him an impatient shove.

"Get out!" he mumbled softly; and Gyp, whom I had not seen before,
resented this interference with his master by uttering a low growl.

"Down, Gyp!"  I said.  "Here, Jack; wake up!"  I whispered, and this
time I gave him a kick in the leg.

"I'll give you such a wunner, if you don't be quiet!" he growled.  "Let
me alone, will yer!"

"Jack! be quiet!"  I whispered, with my lips to his ear.  "The savages
are close at hand!"

"Who cares for the savages?" he grumbled, yawning fearfully.  "Oh!  I am
so sleepy.  I say, I wish you'd be quiet!"

"Wake up!"  I said, shaking him; and Gyp growled again.

"Shan't!" very decidedly.

"Wake up directly, Jack!  Jack Penny, wake up!"

"Shan't!  Get out!"

"Hist!" whispered the doctor from behind me.

"Wake up!"  I said again, going down on one knee so that I could whisper
to him.

_Snore_!

It was a very decided one, and when I laid my gun down and gave a tug at
him, it was like pulling at something long and limp, say a big bolster,
that gave way everywhere, till in my impatience I doubled my fist and,
quite in a rage, gave him, as his head fell back, a smart rap on the
nose.

I had previously held him by the ears and tapped the back of his head
against the rock without the slightest effect; but this tap on the nose
was electric in its way, for Jack sprang up, letting his gun fall, threw
himself into a fighting attitude, and struck out at me.

But he missed me, for when his gun fell it would have glided over the
edge of the rocky shelf into the stream if I had not suddenly stooped
down and caught it, the result being that Jack's fierce blow went right
over my head, while when I rose upright he was wide awake.

"I say," he said coolly, "have I been asleep?"

"Asleep! yes," I whispered hastily.  "Here, come along; we are to get
forward.  How could you sleep?"

"Oh, I don't know!" he said.  "I only just closed my eyes.  Why, here's
somebody else asleep!"

Sure enough Jimmy was curled up close to the rock, with his hands tucked
under his arms, his waddy in one fist, a hatchet in the other.

Jack Penny was in so sour a temper at having been awakened from sleep,
and in so rude a way, that he swung one of his long legs back, and then
sent it forward.

"Don't kick him!"  I said hastily; but I was too late, for the black
received the blow from Jack's foot right in the ribs, and starting up
with his teeth grinding together, he struck a tremendous blow with his
waddy, fortunately at the rock, which sent forth such an echoing report
through the gully that the doctor came hurriedly to our side.

"What is it?" he said in an anxious whisper.

"Big bunyip hit Jimmy rib; kick, bangum, bangum!" cried the black
furiously.  "Who kick black fellow?  Bash um head um!  Yah!"

He finished his rapidly uttered address by striking a warlike attitude.

"It's all right now," I whispered to the doctor.  "Come along, Jimmy;"
and taking the black's arm I pushed him on before me, growling like an
angry dog.

"All right!" the doctor said.  "Yes, for our pursuers!  Get on as
quickly as you can."

I hurried on now to the front, giving Ti-hi his order to proceed, and
then signing to the bearers to go on, I was getting back past them along
the narrow path, and had just got by Jimmy and reached Jack Penny, when
there was a flash, and a rattling echoing report as of twenty rifles
from where the doctor was keeping guard.

I knew that the danger must be imminent or he would not have fired, and
passing Jack Penny, who was standing ready, rifle in hand, I reached the
doctor just as there was another flash and roar echoing along the gully.

"That's right, my lad!" he whispered; "be ready to fire if you see them
coming while I reload."

I knelt down, resting my elbow on my knee, and found it hard work to
keep the piece steady as I waited to see if the savages were coming on.

I had not long to wait before I distinctly saw a couple of dimly-seen
figures against the surface of the starlit water.  I fired directly, and
then again, rising afterwards to my feet to reload.

"Now, back as you load, quickly!" whispered the doctor, and he caught
Aroo by the shoulder and drew him back as half a dozen arrows came
pattering against the rock over our head and fell at our feet.

"Back!" whispered the doctor quietly; "we must keep up a running fight."

"Here, hold hard a minute!" said Jack Penny aloud; "I must have a shot
at 'em first."

"No: wait!" cried the doctor.  "Your turn will come."

Jack Penny uttered a low growl in his deep bass voice, which was
answered by Gyp, who was getting much excited, and had to be patted and
restrained by angry orders to lie down before he would consent to follow
his master in the hurried retreat we made to where Ti-hi and his men
were waiting for us.  Here we found the shelf had widened somewhat, and
some pieces of rock that had fallen offered shelter from an attack.

As we joined them the men, who had laid down their loads, prepared to
discharge a volley of arrows, but they were stopped, as it would have
been so much waste.

For the next six hours, till the stars began to pale, ours was one
continuous retreat before the enemy, who seemed to grow bolder each time
we gave way and hurried along the edge of the river to a fresh
halting-place.

We fired very seldom, for it was only waste of ammunition, and the
darkness was so great that though they often sent a volley of arrows
amongst us, not one of our party was hurt.

It was a fevered and exciting time, but fortunately we were not called
upon to suffer as we had during the attack upon the cave.  Then we were
maddened almost by the heat and thirst.  Now we had ample draughts of
cool refreshing water to fly to from time to time, or to bathe our
temples where the shelf was low.

The savages made no attempts at concealing their presence now, and we
could hear a loud buzz of excited voices constantly in our rear, but
still they did not pursue us right home, but made rushes that kept us in
a constant state of excitement and, I may say, dread.

"Do you think they will get tired of this soon, doctor?"

I said, just at daybreak, when I found the doctor looking at me in a
strange and haggard way.

"I can't say, my lad," he whispered back.  "We must hope for the best."

Just then Ti-hi came from the front to sign to us to hurry on, and
following him we found that he had hit upon a place where there was some
hope of our being able to hold our own for a time.

It was extremely fortunate, for the coming day would make us an easy
mark, the pale-grey light that was stealing down having resulted in
several arrows coming dangerously near; and though there were equal
advantages for us in the bodies of our enemies becoming easier to see,
we were not eager to destroy life, our object, as I have before said,
being to escape.

We followed Ti-hi, to find that the narrow shelf slowly rose now higher
and higher, till at the end of a couple of hundred yards it gained its
highest point of some five-and-twenty feet above the river; while to add
to the advantage of our position, the rock above the path stretched over
it like the commencement of some Titan's arch, that had been intended to
bridge the stream, one that had either never been finished, or had
crumbled and fallen away.

In support of this last fanciful idea there were plenty of loose rocks
and splinters of stones that had fallen from above, mingled with others
whose rounded shapes showed that they must have been ground together by
the action of water.

I did not think of that at the time, though I had good reason to
understand it later on.

The position was admirable, the ledge widening out considerably; we were
safe from dropping arrows, and we had only to construct a strong
breastwork, some five feet long, to protect us from attack by the enemy.
In fact in five minutes or so we were comparatively safe; in ten
minutes or a quarter of an hour our breastwork was so strengthened that
we began to breathe freely.

By this time it was morning, but instead of its continuing to grow light
down in the ravine, whose walls towered up on either side, the gathering
light seemed suddenly to begin to fade away.  It grew more obscure.  The
soft cool refreshing morning breeze died away, to give place to a
curious sultry heat.  The silence, save the rushing of the river, was
profound, and it seemed at last as if it was to be totally dark.

"What does this mean, doctor?"  I said, as I glanced round and noted
that the sombre reflection from the walls of the chasm gave the faces of
my companions a ghastly and peculiar look.

"A storm, my lad," he said quietly.  "Look how discoloured the water
seems.  There has been a storm somewhere up in the mountains, I suppose,
and now it is coming here."

"Well, we are in shelter," I said, "and better off than our enemies."

"What difference does that make?" grumbled Jack Penny in ill-used tones.
"They can't get wet through, for they don't wear hardly any clothes.
But, I say, ain't it time we had our breakfast?  I've given up my
night's rest, but I must have something to eat."

"Quick! look out, my lads! look out!" cried the doctor, as there was a
loud yelling noise from the savages, whom we could plainly see now
coming along the narrow path, while almost simultaneously there was a
vivid flash of lightning that seemed to blind us for the time, and then
a deafening roar of thunder, followed so closely by others that it was
like one rolling, incessant peal.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

HOW HIGH THE WATER CAME.

The coming of the storm checked the furious onslaught of our black
enemies, but it was only for the moment.  Setting thunder, lightning,
and the deluging rain at defiance, they came rushing on, shouting and
yelling furiously, and we were about to draw trigger, reluctantly
enough, but in sheer desperation, when a volley of arrows checked them
for a time, while, resuming what seemed to be a favourite means of
warring upon his enemies, Jimmy commenced hurling masses of stone at the
coming foes.

Checked as they were, though, it was only for a while; and we were
compelled to fire again and again, with fresh assailants taking the
places of those who fell.  The thunder pealed so that the reports of our
pieces seemed feeble, more like the crack of a cart-whip, and their
flashes were as sparks compared with the blinding lightning, which
darted and quivered in the gorge, at times seeming to lick the walls, at
others plunging into the rushing, seething stream, into which the rain
poured in very cataracts down the rocky sides.

We should have ceased in very awe of the terrible battle of the
elements, but in self-defence we were driven to fight hard and repel the
continued attacks of the enemy, who, growing more enraged at our
resistance, came on once more in a determined fashion, as if meaning
this time to sweep us before them into the rushing stream.

But for the bravery of our black companions our efforts would have been
useless, and we should certainly have been driven back by the fierce
savages, who advanced up the path, sprang upon the stone breastwork, and
would have dashed down upon us regardless of our firearms, but Ti-hi and
Aroo cast aside their bows at this final onslaught, and used their
war-clubs in the most gallant manner.  Jimmy, too, seemed to be
transformed into as brave a black warrior as ever fought; and it was the
gallant resistance offered that checked the enemy and made them recoil.

The falling back of the foremost men, who were beaten and stunned by the
blows they had received, drove their companions to make a temporary
retreat, and enabled us to reload; but ere we could seem to get breath,
one who appeared to be a chief rallied them, and two abreast, all that
the path would allow, they came charging up towards us once again.

Then there was a dead pause as the thunder crashed overhead once more,
and then seemed to be continued in a strange rushing sound, which
apparently paralysed the attacking party, who hesitated, stopped short
about a third of the way up the narrow slope that led to our little
fort, and then with a shriek of dismay turned and began to retreat.

I stared after them, wondering that they should give way just at a time
when a bold attack would probably have ended in our destruction; but I
could make out nothing, only that the noise of the thunder still seemed
to continue and grow into a sound like a fierce rush.  But this was
nothing new: the thunder had been going on before, and that and the
blinding lightning the enemy had braved.  Our defence had had no effect
upon them, save to make them attack more fiercely.  And yet they were
now in full retreat, falling over each other in their haste, and we saw
two thrust into the swift river.

"Yah, ah!--big bunyip water, water!" roared Jimmy just then, clapping me
on the shoulder; and, turning sharply, I saw the meaning of the
prolongation of the thunder, for a great wave, at least ten feet high,
ruddy, foaming, and full of tossing branches, came rushing down the
gorge, as if in chase of our enemies, and before I had more than time to
realise the danger, the water had leaped by us, swelling almost to our
place of refuge, and where, a minute before, there had been a rocky
shelf--the path along which we had come--there was now the furious
torrent tearing along at racing speed.

I turned aghast to the doctor, and then made as if to run, expecting
that the next moment we should be swept away; but he caught me by the
arm with a grip like iron.

"Stand still," he roared, with his lips to my ear.  "The storm--high up
the mountains--flood--the gorge."

Just then there was another crashing peal of thunder, close upon a flash
of lightning, and the hissing rain ceased as if by magic, while the sky
began to grow lighter.  The dull boom of the tremendous wave had passed
too, but the river hissed and roared as it tore along beneath our feet,
and it was plain to see that it was rising higher still.

The noise was not so great though, now, that we could not talk, and
after recovering from the appalling shock of the new danger we had time
to look around.

Our first thought was of our enemies, and we gazed excitedly down the
gorge and then at each other, Jack Penny shuddering and turning away his
head, while I felt a cold chill of horror as I fully realised the fact
that they had been completely swept away.

There could not be a moment's doubt of that, for the ware spread from
rocky wall to rocky wall, and dashed along at frightful speed.

We had only escaped a similar fate through being on the summit, so to
speak, of the rocky path; but though for the moment safe, we could not
tell for how long; while on taking a hasty glance at our position it was
this: overhead the shelving rock quite impassable; to left, to right,
and in front, the swollen, rushing torrent.

The doctor stood looking down at the water for a few moments, and then
turned to me.

"How high above the surface of the water were we, do you think, when we
came here?"

"I should say about twenty-five feet?"

"Why, we ain't four foot above it now; and--look there! it's a rising
fast.  I say, Joe Carstairs, if I'd known we were going to be drowned I
wouldn't have come."

"Are you sure it is rising?" said the doctor, bending down to examine
the level--an example I followed--to see crack and crevice gradually
fill and point after point covered by the seething water, which crept up
slowly and insidiously higher and higher even as we watched.

"Yes," said the doctor, rising to his feet and gazing calmly round, as
if to see whether there was any loophole left for escape; "yes, the
water is rising fast; there can be no doubt of that."

Just then Gyp, who had been fierce and angry, snapping and barking
furiously at the savages each time they charged, suddenly threw up his
head and uttered a dismal howl.

"Here, you hold your noise," cried Jack Penny.  "You don't hear us
holler, do you?  Lie down!"

The dog howled softly and crouched at his master's feet, while Jack
began to take off his clothes in a very slow and leisurely way.  First
he pulled off his boots, then his stockings, which he tucked
methodically, along with his garters, inside his boots.  This done he
took off his jacket, folded it carefully, and his shirt followed, to be
smoothed and folded and laid upon the jacket.

And now, for the first time I thoroughly realised how excessively thin
poor Jack Penny was, and the reason why he so often had a pain in his
back.

It seemed a strange time: after passing through such a series of
dangers, after escaping by so little from being swept away, and while in
terrible danger from the swiftly-rising waters, but I could not help
it--Jack's aspect as he sat there coolly, very coolly, clothed in his
trousers alone, was so ludicrous that I burst out laughing, when Jimmy
joined in, and began to dance with delight.

"What are you larfin at?" said Jack, half vexed at my mirth.

"At you," I said.  "Why, what are you going to do?"

"Do!" he said.  "Why, swim for it.  You don't suppose I'm going to try
in my clothes?"

My mirth died out as swiftly as it came, for the doctor laid his hand
upon my arm and pressed it silently, to call my attention to our black
followers, who were laying their bows and arrows regularly in company
with their waddies, each man looking very stern and grave.

They showed no fear, they raised no wild cry; they only seemed to be
preparing for what was inevitable; and as I saw Ti-hi bend over and
touch the water easily with his hand, and then rise up and look round at
his companions, saying a few words in their tongue, the chill of horror
came back once more, for I knew that the group of savages felt that
their time had come, and that they were sitting there patiently waiting
for the end.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

WE AWAIT OUR FATE.

I glanced from the blacks to the doctor, to see that he was intently
gazing up the gorge where the rushing water came seething down, and I
read in his face that he could not see the slightest hope.

I looked at Jack Penny, who was deeply intent upon a little blue anchor
that some bush shepherd had tattooed upon his thin white arm.

Then I turned to Jimmy, whose quick dark eyes were busy inspecting his
toes, those on the right foot having hold of his war-club, which he was
holding out for Gyp to smell.

He alone of the party did not seem to realise the fact that the end was
so near.

"Can we do anything, doctor?"  I said at last in a low awe-stricken
voice.

He gazed at me tenderly and held out his hand to press mine, when I laid
it in his grasp.

"No, my lad," he said, "nothing.  I have tried mentally to see a way out
of our peril, but I can see none.  Unless the water sinks we are lost!
Joe, my lad, you must act like a man!"

"I'll try, doctor," I said in a choking voice; and as I spoke, once more
there seemed to rise up before me our quiet peaceful home near Sydney,
with its verandah and flowers and the simply furnished pretty rooms, in
one of which sat my mother, waiting for tidings of her husband and son.

I could not help it, but clasped my hands together uttering a despairing
cry.  For it seemed so hard to give up hope when so young and full of
health and strength.  Even if it had been amidst the roar and turmoil of
the storm it would not have seemed so bad, or when the great flood wave
came down; but now, in these calm cool moments, when there was nothing
to excite, nothing to stir the blood, and, above all, just when the sky
was of a dazzling blue, with a few silvery clouds floating away in the
rear of the storm, while the sun shone down gloriously, it seemed too
hard to bear.

I gazed eagerly at the water, to see that it was nearly a foot higher,
and then I joined the doctor in searching the rock with my eyes for a
place where we might find foothold and clamber beyond the reach of the
rushing torrent; but no, there seemed no spot where even a bird could
climb, and in despair I too began to strip off some of my clothes.

"Are you going to try to swim?" said the doctor gravely.

I nodded.

"That's right," he said.  "I shall do the same.  We might reach some
ledge lower down."

He said that word _might_ with a slow solemn emphasis that made me
shudder, for I knew he felt that it was hopeless; but all the same he
granted that it was our duty to try.

The doctor now bent down over the water, and I could see that it was
rising faster than ever.

All at once Jimmy seemed to rouse himself, throwing up his waddy with
his foot and catching it in his hand.

"No water go down," he said.  "Mass Joe, Mass Jack, doctor, an all a let
get up higher; no get wet.  Top along get drown, die, and bunyip pull um
down an eat um!"

"I'm afraid escape is impossible, Jimmy," I said sadly.

"No know what um say!" cried the black impatiently.

"Can't get away," I said.

"No get way!  Waitum, waitum!  Jimmy--Jimmy see!"

He went to the edge of the shelf and dipped one foot in the water, then
the other, worked his toes about, and then, after a contemptuous look at
the blacks, who were calmly awaiting their fate, he looked up at the
face of the rock beyond the curving over abutment, and, reaching up as
high as he could, began to climb.

It did not seem to occur to him at first that if he were able to escape
no one else would be, and he tried twice with a wonderful display of
activity, which resulted merely in his slipping back.

Then he tried elsewhere in two places, but with the same result, and
after a few more trials he came to me and stood rubbing the back of his
head, as if puzzled at his being so helpless and beaten at every turn.

"Get much, too much water, Mass Joe!" he said.  "What um going to do?"

I shook my head sadly, and went to where the doctor was watching the
progress of the rushing river as it rose inch by inch--cracks and points
of rock that we had before noticed disappearing entirely, till the
flowing earth-stained surface was but a few inches below the ledge where
we were grouped, waiting for the time when we should be swept away.

In spite of the knowledge that at most in an hour the ledge would be
covered I could not help watching the rushing stream as it dashed along.
It was plain enough to me now why the sides of the gorge were so smooth
and regular, for the action of the water must have been going on like
this for many ages after every storm, and, laden as the waters were with
masses of wood and stone, with pebbles and sand, the scouring of the
rocks must have been incessant.

Then my thoughts came back to our horrible position, and I looked round
in despair, but only to be shamed out of any frantic display of grief by
the stoical calmness with which all seemed to be preparing to meet their
fate.

Still the water rose steadily higher and higher inch by inch, and I
could see that in a very few minutes it would be over the ledge.

I was noting, too, that now it was so near the end, my companions seemed
averse to speaking to me or each other, but were evidently moody and
thoughtful; all but Jimmy, who seemed to be getting excited, and yet not
much alarmed.

I had gone to the extreme edge of the ledge, where the water nearly
lapped my feet, and gazing straight up the gorge at the sunlit waters,
kept backing slowly up the slope, driven away as the river rose, when
the black came to me and touched my shoulder.

"Poor black fellow there going die, Mass Joe.  Not die yet while: Jimmy
not go die till fin' um fader.  Lot o' time; Jimmy not ready die--lot o'
time!"

"But how are we to get away, Jimmy?  How are we to escape?"

"Black fellow hab big tink," he replied.  "Much big tink and find um
way.  Great tupid go die when quite well, tank you, Mass Joe.  Jimmy
black fellow won't die yet?  Mass Joe hab big swim 'long o' Jimmy.  Swim
much fass all down a water.  Won't die, oh no!  Oh no!"

There was so much hope and confidence in the black's manner and his
broken English that I felt my heart give a great throb; but a sight of
the calm resignation of my companions damped me again, till Jimmy once
more spoke:

"Mass Joe take off closums.  Put long gun up in corner; come and fetch
um when no water.  Big swim!"

Many had been the times when Jimmy and I had dashed into the river and
swum about by the hour together; why not then now try to save our lives
in spite of the roughness of the torrent and the horrors of the great
fall I knew, too, that the fall must be at least two or three miles
away, and there was always the possibility of our getting into some eddy
and struggling out.

My spirits rose then at these thoughts, and I rapidly threw off part of
my clothes, placing my gun and hatchet with the big knife, all tied
together, in a niche of the rock, where their weight and the shelter
might save them from being washed away.

As I did all this I saw the doctor look up sadly, but only to lower his
head again till his chin rested upon his breast; while Jack Penny
stared, and drew his knees up to his chin, embracing his legs and
nodding his head sagely, as if he quite approved of what I was doing.

The only individual who made any active demonstration was Gyp, who
jumped up and came to me wagging his tail and uttering a sharp bark or
two.  Then he ran to the water, snuffed at it, lapped a little, and
threw up his head again, barking and splashing in it a little as he ran
in breast-high and came back, as if intimating that he was ready at any
moment for a swim.

The doctor looked up now, and a change seemed to have come over him, for
he rose from where he had been seated and took my hand.

"Quite right, my lad," he said; "one must never say despair.  There's a
ledge there higher up where we will place the ammunition.  Let's keep
that dry if we can.  It may not be touched by the water; even if we have
to swim for our lives the guns won't hurt--that is, if they are not
washed away."

It was as if he had prepared himself for the worst, and was now going to
make strenuous efforts to save himself and his friends, after we had
taken such precautions as we could about our stores.

Jimmy grinned and helped readily to place the various articles likely to
be damaged by water as high as we could on ledges and blocks of stone,
though as I did all this it was with the feeling that we were never
likely to see the things again.

Still it was like doing one's duty, and I felt that then, of all times,
was the hour for that.

So we worked on, with many a furtive glance at the water, which kept on
encroaching till it began to lap the feet of our black companions.

But they did not stir; they remained with their positions unaltered, and
still the water advanced, till the highest point of the ledge was
covered, and Gyp began whining and paddling about, asking us, as it
were, with his intelligent eyes, whether we did not mean to start.

"Hi!  Gyp, Gyp!" shouted Jimmy just then; "up along, boy; up along!" and
he patted the top of one of the stones that we had used for a
breastwork.

The dog leaped up directly, placing himself three feet above the flood,
and stood barking loudly.

"Yes, we can stand up there for a while," said the doctor, "and that
will prolong the struggle a bit.  Here, come up higher!" he cried,
making signs to our black companions, who after a time came unwillingly
from their lower position, splashing mournfully through the water, but
evidently unwilling even then to disobey their white leader.

They grouped themselves with us close up to the breastwork, where we
stood with the water rising still higher, and then all at once I felt
that we must swim, for a fresh wave, the result probably of some portion
of the flood that had been dammed up higher on the river course, swept
upon us right to our lips, and but for the strength of our stone
breastwork we must have been borne away.

As it was, we were standing by it, some on either side, and all clinging
together.  We withstood the heavy wrench that the water seemed to give,
and held on, the only one who lost his footing being Jack Penny, who was
dragged back by the doctor as the wave passed on.

"Enough to pull your arms out of the socket," whined Jack dolefully.  "I
say, please don't do it again.  I'd rather have to swim."

Higher and higher came the water, icily cold and numbing.  The wave that
passed was succeeded by another, but that only reached to our waists,
and when this had gone by there was the old slow rising of the flood as
before till it was as high as our knees.  Then by degrees it crept on
and on till I was standing with it reaching my hips.

A fearful silence now ensued, and the thought came upon me that when the
final struggle was at hand we should be so clasped together that
swimming would be impossible and we must all be drowned.

And now, once more, with the water rising steadily, the old stunned
helpless feeling began to creep over me, and I began to think of home in
a dull heavy manner, of the happy days when I had hardly a care, and
perhaps a few regrets were mixed with it all; but somehow I did not feel
as if I repented of coming, save when I thought that my mother would
have two sorrows now when she came to know of her loss.

Then everything seemed to be numbed; my limbs began to feel helpless,
and my thoughts moved sluggishly, and in a half dreamy fashion I stood
there pressed against, the rock holding tightly by the doctor on one
side, by Jimmy on the other, and in another minute I knew that the
rising water would be at my lips.

I remember giving a curious gasp as if my breath was going, and in
imagination I recalled my sensations when, during a bathing expedition,
I went down twice before Jimmy swam to my help and held me up.  The
water had not touched my lips--it was only at my chest, but I fancied I
felt it bubbling in my nostrils and strangling me; I seemed to hear it
thundering in my ears; there was the old pain at the back of my neck,
and I struggled to get my hands free to beat the water like a drowning
dog, but they were tightly held by my companions, how tightly probably
they never knew.  Then I remember that my head suddenly seemed to grow
clear, and I was repeating to myself the words of a familiar old prayer
when my eyes fell upon the surface of the water, and I felt as if I
could not breathe.

The next minute Gyp was barking furiously, as he stood upon his hind
legs resting his paws upon his master's shoulders, and Jimmy gave a loud
shout.

"All a water run away, juss fass now," and as he spoke it fell a couple
of inches, then a couple more, so swiftly, indeed, that the terrible
pressure that held us tightly against the stones was taken off pound by
pound, and before we could realise the truth the water was at my knees.

Ten minutes later it was at my feet, and before half an hour had passed
we were standing in the glorious sunshine with the rocky ledge drying
fast, while the river, minute by minute, was going down, so that we felt
sure if no storm came to renew the flood it would be at its old level in
a couple of hours' time.

We were dripping and numbed by the icy water; but in that fierce
sunshine it was wonderful how soon our wrung-out garments dried; and
warmth was rapidly restored to our limbs by rocks that soon grew heated
in the torrid rays.

"Big bunyip got no more water.  All gone dis time," said Jimmy calmly.
"Poor black fellows tink go die.  No die Jimmy.  Lots a do find um fader
all over big country.  Water all gone, Jimmy cunning--artful, not mean
die dis time.  Bunyip not got 'nuff water.  Give Jimmy something eat.
Ready eat half sheep and damper.  Give Jimmy some eat."

We all wanted something to eat, and eagerly set to work, but soaking
damper was not a very sumptuous repast; still we feasted as eagerly as
if it had been the most delicious food, and all the time the water kept
going down.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

HOW THE DOCTOR TOOK ME IN HAND.

It is surprising how elastic the mind is in young people, and my
experience has shown me that there is a great deal of resemblance
between the minds of savages and those of the young.

In this case we had all been, I may say, in a state of the most terrible
despair one hour.  The next, our black companions were laughing and
chattering over their wet damper, and Jimmy was hopping about in the
highest of glee, while I must confess to a singular feeling of
exhilaration which I showed in company with Jack Penny, who, after
resuming his garments, seemed to have been seized with the idea that the
proper thing to do was to go round from one to another administering
friendly slaps on the shoulder accompanied by nods and smiles.

I used to wish that Jack Penny would not smile, for the effect upon his
smooth boyish countenance was to make him look idiotic.  When the doctor
smiled there was a grave kindly benevolent look in his fine
heavily-bearded massive face.  When Jimmy smiled it was in a wholesale
fashion, which gave you an opportunity of counting his teeth from the
incisors right back to those known as wisdom-teeth at the angles of his
jaws.  He always smiled with all his might and made me think of the man
who said he admired a crocodile because it had such a nice open
countenance.

Jimmy had a nice open countenance and a large mouth; but it in no
respect resembled a crocodile's.  His regular teeth were white with a
china whiteness, more than that of ivory, and there was a genuine
good-tempered look about his features which even the distortion produced
by anger did not take away.  It was only the rather comic grotesqueness
seen sometimes in the face of a little child when he is what his mother
calls a naughty boy, and distends his mouth and closes his eyes for a
genuine howl.

But Jack Penny had a smile of his own, a weak inane sickly smile that
irritated instead of pleasing you, and made you always feel as if you
would like to punch his head for being such a fool, when all the time he
was not a fool at all, but a thoroughly good-hearted, brave, and clever
fellow--true as steel--steel of the very elastic watch-spring kind, for
the way in which he bent was terrible to see.

So Jack Penny went about smiling and slapping people's backs till it was
time to go, and we all watched the cessation of the flood with
eagerness.

The doctor, in talking, said that it was evident that this gorge ran
right up into quite a mountainous region acting as a drain to perhaps a
score of valleys which had been flooded by the sudden storm, and that
this adventure had given us as true an idea of the nature of the
interior we were about to visit as if we had studied a map.

Down went the water more and more swiftly till, as I was saying to the
doctor how grand it must have been to see the flood rolling over the
great fall, we saw that the rocky ledge along which we had come and that
on the other side of our little haven of safety were bare and drying up,
being washed perfectly clean and not showing so much as a trace of mud.

"Let us get on at once," the doctor said; "this is no road for a
traveller to choose, for the first storm will again make it a
death-trap."

So here we were rescued, and we started at once, every one carefully
avoiding the slightest reference to the fate of our pursuers, while in
the broad light of day, in place of looking terrible, the chasm was
simply grand.  The cool rolling water seemed to bring with it a soft
sweet breeze that made us feel elastic, and refreshed us as we trudged
along at an ordinary rate, for there was no fear now of pursuit.

So with one or two halts we walked on all day till I felt eager to get
out from between the prison-like walls to where the trees were waving,
and we could hear the voices of the birds.  Here there was nothing but
stone, stone as high as we could see.

It was a great drawback our not being able to converse with the bearers,
but we amended this a little every hour, for Ti-hi struggled hard to
make us understand how much he knew about the place and how he knew that
there were such floods as this from time to time.

We managed to learn from him, too, that we should not escape from the
gorge that night, and to our dismay we had to encamp on a broad shelf
when the sun went down; but the night proved to be clear and calm, and
morning broke without any adventure to disturb our much-needed rest.

The gorge had been widening out, though, a great deal on the previous
evening, and by noon next day, when we paused for a rest after a long
tramp over constantly-rising ground, we were beyond risk from any such
storm as that which had nearly been our destruction, but as we rested
amid some bushes beside what was a mere gurgling stream, one of several
into which the river had branched, Ti-hi contrived to make us understand
that we were not in safety, for there were people here who were ready to
fight and kill, according to his words and pantomimic action, which
Jimmy took upon himself to explain.

For days and days we journeyed on finding abundance of food in the river
and on its banks by means of gun and hook and line.  The blacks were
clever, too, at finding for us roots and fruit, with tender shoots of
some kind of grassy plant that had a sweet taste, pleasantly acid as
well, bunches of which Jimmy loved to stick behind him in his waistband
so that it hung down like a bushy green tail that diminished as he
walked, for he kept drawing upon it till it all was gone.

Now and then, too, we came upon the great pale-green broad leaves of a
banana or plantain, which was a perfect treasure.

Jimmy was generally the first to find these, for he was possessed of a
fine insight into what was good for food.

"Regular fellow for the pot," Jack Penny said one day as Jimmy set up
one of his loud whoops and started off at a run.

This was the first time we found a plantain, and in answer to Jimmy's
_cooey_ we followed and found him hauling himself up by the large
leaf-stalks, to where, thirty feet above the bottom, hung, like a
brobdignagian bunch of elongated grapes, a monstrous cluster of yellow
plantains.

"I say, they ain't good to eat, are they?" said Jack, as Jimmy began
hacking through the curved stalk.

"Yup, yup! hyi, hyi!" shouted Jimmy, tearing away so vigorously at the
great bunch that it did not occur to him that he was proceeding in a
manner generally accredited to the Irishman who sawed off a branch,
cutting between himself and the tree.

The first knowledge he, and for the matter of fact we, had of his
mistake, was seeing him and the bunch of bananas, weighing about a
hundredweight, come crashing down amongst the undergrowth, out of a
tangle of which, and the huge leaves of the plantain tree, we had to
help our black companion, whose first motion was to save the fruit.

This done he began to examine himself to see how much he was hurt, and
ended by seizing my axe and bounding back into the jungle, to hew and
hack at the tree till we called him back.

"Big bunyip tree!  Fro black fellow down," he cried furiously.  "Got um
bana, though!" he exclaimed triumphantly, and turning to the big bunch
he began to separate it into small ones, giving us each a portion to
carry.

"I say, what's these?" said Jack Penny, handling his bunch with a look
of disgust.

"Bananas," I said.  "Splendid fruit food."

"How do you know?" said Jack sourly.  "There's none in your garden at
home."

"My father has often told me about them," I replied.  "They are rich and
nutritious, and--let's try."

I ended my description rather abruptly, for I was thirsty and hungry as
well, and the presence of a highly flavoured fruit was not to be treated
with contempt.

I cut off one then, and looking at Jack nodded, proceeded to peel it,
and enjoyed the new sweet vegetable butter, flavoured with pear and
honey, for the first time in my life.

"Is it good?" said Jack, dubiously.

"Splendid," I said.

"Why, they look like sore fingers done up in stalls," he said.  "I say,
I don't like the look of them."

"Don't have any, then," I said, commencing another; while every one
present, the doctor included, followed my example with so much vigour
that Jack began in a slow solemn way, peeling and tasting, and making a
strange grimace, and ending by eating so rapidly that the doctor advised
a halt.

"Oh, all right!" said Jack.  "I won't eat any more, then.  But, I say,
they are good!"

There was no likelihood of our starving, for water was abundant, and
fruit to be found by those who had such energetic hunters as the blacks.
So we proceeded steadily on, hoping day by day either to encounter some
friendly tribe, or else to make some discovery that might be of value to
us in our search.

And so for days we journeyed on, hopeful in the morning, dispirited in
the heat of the day when weary.  Objects such as would have made glad
the heart of any naturalist were there in plenty, but nothing in the
shape of sign that would make our adventure bear the fruit we wished.
If our object had been hunting and shooting, wild pig, deer, and birds
innumerable were on every hand.  Had we been seeking wonderful orchids
and strangely shaped flowers and fruits there was reward incessant for
us, but it seemed as if the whole of the interior was given up to wild
nature, and that the natives almost exclusively kept to the land near
the sea-shore.

The doctor and I sat one night by our watch-fire talking the matter
over, and I said that I began to be doubtful of success.

"Because we have been all over the country?" he replied, smiling.

"Well, we have travelled a great way," I said.

"Why, my dear boy, what we have done is a mere nothing.  This island is
next in size to Australia.  It is almost a continent, and we have just
penetrated a little way."

"But I can't help seeing," I said, "that the people seem to be all
dwellers near the sea-coast."

"Exactly.  What of that?" he replied.

"Then if my poor father were anywhere a prisoner, he would have been
sure to have found some means of communicating with the traders if he
had not escaped."

"Your old argument, Joe," he said.  "Are you tired of the quest?"

"Tired?  No!"  I cried excitedly.

"Then recollect the spirit in which we set about this search.  We said
we would find him."

"And so we will: my mind is made up to find him--if he be living," I
added mournfully.

"Aha!" said the doctor, bending forward and looking at me by the light
of the burning wood, "I see, my fine fellow, I see.  We are a bit upset
with thinking and worry.  Nerves want a little tone, eh? as we doctors
say.  My dear boy, I shall have to feel your pulse and put you to bed
for a day or two.  This is a nice high and dry place: suppose we camp
here for a little, and--"

"Oh no, no, doctor," I cried.

"But I say, Oh yes, yes.  Why, Joe, you're not afraid of a dose of
physic, are you?  You want something, that's evident.  Boys of your age
don't have despondent fits without a cause."

"I have only been thinking a little more about home, and--my poor
father," I said with a sigh.

"My dear Joe," said the doctor, "once for all I protest against that
despondent manner of speaking.  `My poor father!'  How do you know he is
poor?  Bah! lad: you're a bit down, and I shall give you a little
quinine.  To-morrow you will rest all day."

"And then?"  I said excitedly.

"Then," he said thoughtfully--"then?  Why, then we'll have a fishing or
a shooting trip for a change, to do us both good, and we'll take Jack
Penny and Jimmy with us."

"Let's do that to-morrow, doctor," I said, "instead of my lying here in
camp."

"Will you take your quinine, then, like a good boy?" he said laughingly.

"That I will, doctor--a double dose," I exclaimed.  "A double dose you
shall take, Joe, my lad," he said; and to my horror he drew a little
flat silver case out of his pocket, measured out a little light white
powder on the blade of a knife into our pannikin, squeezed into it a few
drops of the juice of a lemon-like fruit of which we had a pretty good
number every day, filled up with water, and held it for me to drink.

"Oh, I say, doctor!"  I exclaimed, "I did not think I should be brought
out here in the wilderness to be physicked."

"Lucky fellow to have a medical man always at your side," he replied.
"There, sip it up.  No faces.  Pish! it wasn't nasty, was it?"

"Ugh! how bitter!"  I cried with a shudder.

"Bitter?  Well, yes; but how sweet to know that you have had a dose of
the greatest medicine ever discovered.  There, now, lie down on the
blanket near the fire here, never mind being a little warm, and go to
sleep."

I obeyed him unwillingly, and lay attentively watching the doctor's
thoughtful face and the fire.  Then I wondered whether we should have
that savage beast again which had haunted our camp at our first
starting, and then I began to dose off, and was soon dreaming of having
found my father, and taken him in triumph back to where my mother was
waiting to receive us with open arms.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

HOW I WAS DISPOSED TO FIND FAULT WITH MY BEST FRIEND.

When I unclosed my eyes it was bright morning and through an opening in
the trees opposite to where I lay I gazed upon the dazzling summit of a
mountain of wonderfully regular shape.  As I lay there it put me in mind
of a bell, so evenly rounded were the shoulders, and I was thinking
whether it would be possible to clamber up it and inspect the country
from its summit, when the doctor came up.

"Ah!  Joe," he said; "and how are the spirits this morning?"

"Spirits?"  I said wonderingly, for my sleep had been so deep that I had
forgotten all about the previous evening.  "Oh, I'm quite well;" and
springing up I went to the stream by which we were encamped to bathe my
face and hands, coming back refreshed, and quite ready for the breakfast
that was waiting.

"Let's see," said the doctor.  "I promised an expedition did I not?"

"Yes: hunting or fishing," I said eagerly, though I half repented my
eagerness directly after, for it seemed as if I did not think enough
about the object of our journey.

"I've altered my mind," said the doctor.  "We've been travelling for
days in low damp levels; now for a change what do you say to trying high
ground and seeing if we can climb that mountain?  What do you say,
Penny?"

"Won't it make our backs ache a deal?" he said, gazing rather wistfully
up at the glittering mountain.

"No doubt, and our legs too," the doctor replied.  "Of course we shall
not try to ascend the snowy parts, but to get as far as the shoulder;
that will give us a good view of the lay of the country, and it will be
something to climb where perhaps human foot has never trod before."

There was something fascinating enough in this to move Jack Penny into
forgetfulness of the possibility of an aching back; and after getting in
motion once more, we followed our black bearers for a few miles, and
then giving them instructions where to halt--upon a low hill just in
front--we struck off to the left, the doctor, Jack Penny, Jimmy, and the
dog, and at the end of half an hour began the ascent.

So slight was the slope that we climbed I could hardly believe it
possible how fast we had ascended, when at the end of a couple of hours
we sat down to rest by a rill of clear intensely cold water that was
bubbling amongst the stones.  For on peering through a clump of trees I
gazed at the most lovely landscape I had seen since I commenced my
journey.  Far as eye could reach it was one undulating forest of endless
shades of green, amidst which, like verdant islands, rose hill and
lesser mountain.

I could have stopped and gazed at the scene for hours had not the doctor
taken me by the arm.

"Rest and food, my lad," he said; "and then higher up yet before we
settle to our map making and mark out our future course."

Jimmy was already fast asleep beneath a rock, curled up in imitation of
Gyp, while Jack Penny was sitting with his back against a tree,
apparently studying his legs as he rubbed his hands up and down them
gently, to soften and make more pliable the muscles.

"Tain't time to go on yet, is it?" he said with a dismal glance up at
us.

"No, no, Penny; we'll have a good rest first," said the doctor; and Jack
uttered a profound sigh of relief.

"I am glad," he said, "for I was resting my back.  I get up against a
small tree like this and keep my back straight, and that seems to make
it stronger and stiffer for ever so long."

"Then take my advice, Penny; try another plan, my lad.  You have grown
too fast."

"Yes, that's what father always said," replied Jack, beginning with a
high squeak and rumbling off into a low bass.

"You are then naturally weak, and if I were you I should lie flat down
upon my back every time we stopped.  You will then get up refreshed more
than you think for."

"But you wouldn't lie flat like that when you were eating your victuals,
would you?  I ain't Jimmy."

"No, but you could manage that," I said; and Jack Penny nodded and lay
down very leisurely, but only to spring up again most energetically and
uttering a frightened yell.

Gyp and Jimmy uncoiled like a couple of loosened springs, the former to
utter a series of angry barks, and the latter to spring up into the air
suddenly.

"Where de bunyip--where de big bunyip?  Jimmy kill um all along."

He flourished his waddy wildly, and then followed Gyp, who charged into
the wood as the doctor and I seized our guns, ready for action.

Then a fierce worrying noise took place for a few moments in amongst the
bushes, and then Jimmy came bounding out, dragging a small snake by the
tail, to throw it down and then proceed to batter its head once again
with his waddy, driving it into the earth, though the reptile must
already have ceased to exist.

"Killum dead um!" cried Jimmy, grinning with triumph.  "Jimmy killum
headums; Gyp killums tail."

"I wish you'd look, doctor, and see if he bit me," said Jack, speaking
disconsolately.  "I lay down as you told me, and put my head right on
that snake."

"Don't you know whether it bit you?" said the doctor anxiously.

"No, not the least idea," said Jack, shaking his head.  "I think it must
have bit me, I was so close."

"I don't believe it did," I said.  "Why, you must have known."

"Think so?" said Jack dismally.  "I say, doctor, is it best, do you
think, to lie right down?"

"Yes, if you look first to see whether there is danger from snakes.
There, lie down, my lad, and rest."

Jack obeyed him very reluctantly, and after Gyp and Jimmy had both
re-curled themselves, the doctor and I lay down to talk in a low voice
about our prospects, and then as I lay listening to his words, and
wondering whether I should ever succeed in tracing out my father, all
seemed to become blank, till I started up on being touched.

"Had a good nap?" said the doctor.  "Then let's get on again."

We started once more, with the ground now becoming more difficult.
Trees were fewer, but rocks and rugged patches of stony soil grew
frequent, while a pleasant breeze now played about our faces and seemed
to send vigour into our frames.

Gyp and the black were wonderfully excited, bounding about in front of
us, and even Jack Penny stepped out with a less uncertain stride.

Higher we climbed and higher, and at every pause that we made for breath
the beauty of the great country was more impressed upon me.

"What a pity!" exclaimed the doctor, as we halted at last upon a rugged
corner of the way we were clambering, with the glistening summit far
above our heads, while at our feet the wild country looked like some
lovely green garden.

"What is a pity?"  I said wonderingly, for the scene, tired and hot as I
was, seemed lovely.

"That such a glorious country should be almost without inhabitant, when
thousands of our good true Englishmen are without a scrap of land to
call their own."

"Hey, hi!" cried Jack Penny excitedly.  "Look out!  There's something
wrong."

Jimmy and the dog had, as usual, been on ahead; but only to come racing
back, the former's face full of excitement, while the dog seemed almost
as eager as the black.

"Jimmy find um mans, find.  Quiet, Gyp; no make noise."

"Find?  My father?"  I cried, with a curious choking sensation in my
throat.

"No; no findum fader," whispered Jimmy.  "Get um gun.  Findum black
fellow round a corner."

"He has come upon the natives at last, doctor," I said softly.  "What
shall we do?"

"Retreat if they are enemies; go up to them if they are friendly," said
the doctor; "only we can't tell which, my lad.  Ours is a plunge in the
dark, and we must risk it, or I do not see how we are to get on with our
quest."

"Shall we put on a brave face and seem as if we trusted them then?"  I
said.

"But suppose they're fierce cannibals," whispered Jack Penny, "or as
savage as those fellows down by the river?  Ain't it rather risky?"

"No more risky than the whole of our trip, Penny," said the doctor
gravely.  "Are you afraid?"

"Well, I don't know," drawled Jack softly.  "I don't think I am, but I
ain't sure.  But I sha'n't run away.  Oh, no, I sha'n't run away."

"Come along then," said the doctor.  "Shoulder your rifle carelessly,
and let's put a bold front upon our advance.  They may be friendly.
Now, Jimmy, lead the way."

The black's eyes glittered as he ran to the front, stooping down almost
as low as if he were some animal creeping through the bush, and taking
advantage of every shrub and rock for concealment.

He went on, with Gyp close at his heels, evidently as much interested as
his leader, while we followed, walking erect and making no effort to
conceal our movements.

We went on like this for quite a quarter of a mile, and the doctor had
twice whispered to me that he believed it was a false alarm, in spite of
Jimmy's cautionary movements, and we were about to shout to him to come
back, when all at once he stopped short behind a rugged place that stood
out of the mountain slope, and waved his waddy to us to come on.

"He has come upon them," I said, with my heart beating faster and a
curious sensation of sluggishness attacking my legs.

"Yes, he has found something," said the doctor; and as I glanced round I
could see that Jack Penny had my complaint in his legs a little worse
than I.  But no sooner did he see that I was looking at him than he
snatched himself together, and we went on boldly, feeling a good deal
encouraged from the simple fact that Gyp came back to meet us wagging
his tail.

As we reached the spot where Jimmy was watching, he drew back to allow
us to peer round the block of stone, saying softly:

"Dat's um.  Black fellow just gone long."

To our surprise there were no natives in the hollow into which we
peered, but just beyond a few stunted bushes I could see smoke arising,
so it seemed, and the black whispered:

"Black fellow fire.  Cookum damper.  Roastum sheep's muttons."

"But there is no one, Jimmy," I said.

"Jus' gone long.  Hear Jimmy come long.  Run away," he whispered.

"That is no fire," said the doctor, stepping forward.  "It is a hot
spring."

"Yes, yes, much big fire; go much out now.  Mind black fellow; mind
spear killum, killum."

"Yes, a hot spring, and this is steam," said the doctor, as we went on
to where a little basin of water bubbled gently, and sent forth quite a
little pillar of vapour into the air; so white was it that the black
might well have been excused for making his mistake.

"Jimmy run long see where black fellow gone.  Cookum dinner here.  Eh!
whar a fire?" he cried, bending down and poking at the little basin with
the butt of his spear before looking wonderingly at us.

"Far down in the earth, Jimmy," said the doctor.

"Eh?  Far down?  Whar a fire makum water boils?" cried the black
excitedly; and bending down he peered in all directions, ending by
thrusting one hand in the spring and snatching it out again with a yell
of pain.

"Is it so hot as that, Jimmy?"  I said.

"Ah, roastum hot, O!" cried Jimmy, holding his hand to his mouth.  "Oh!
Mass Joe, doctor, stop.  Jimmy go and find black fellow."

We tried very hard to make the black understand that this was one of
Nature's wonders, but it was of no avail.  He only shook his head and
winked at us, grinning the while.

"No, no; Jimmy too cunning-artful.  Play trickums.  Make fool o' Jimmy.
Oh, no!  Ha! ha!  Jimmy cunning-artful; black fellow see froo
everybody."

He stood shaking his head at us in such an aggravating way, after all
the trouble I had been at to show him that this was a hot spring and
volcanic, that I felt ready to kick, and I daresay I should have kicked
him if he had not been aware of me, reading my countenance easily
enough, and backing away laughing, and getting within reach of a great
piece of rock, behind which he could dodge if I grew too aggressive.

I left Jimmy to himself, and stood with the doctor examining the curious
steaming little fount, which came bubbling out of some chinks in the
solid rock and formed a basin for itself of milky white stone, some of
which was rippled where the water ran over, and trickled musically along
a jagged crevice in the rocky soil, sending up a faint steam which faded
away directly in the glowing sunshine.

"I say," said Jack Penny, who had crouched down beside the basin, "why,
you might cook eggs in this."

"That you might, Penny," said the doctor.

"But we ain't got any eggs to cook," said Jack dolefully.  "I wish we'd
got some of our fowls' eggs--the new-laid ones, you know.  I don't mean
them you find in the nests.  I say, it is hot," he continued.  "You
might boil mutton."

"Eh! whar a mutton?  Boil mutton?" cried Jimmy, running up, for he had
caught the words.

"At home, Jimmy," I said, laughing.  The black's disgust was comical to
witness as he tucked his waddy under one arm, turned his nose in the
air, and stalked off amongst the rocks, in the full belief that we had
been playing tricks with him.

He startled us the next moment by shouting:

"Here um come!  Gun, gun, gun!"

He came rushing back to us, and, moved by his evidently real excitement,
we took refuge behind a barrier of rock and waited the coming onslaught,
for surely enough there below us were dark bodies moving amongst the low
growth, and it was evident that whatever it was, human being or lower
animals, they were coming in our direction fast.

We waited anxiously for a few minutes, during the whole of which time
Jimmy was busily peering to right and left, now creeping forward for a
few yards, sheltered by stones or bush, now slowly raising his head to
get a glimpse of the coming danger; and so careful was he that his black
rough head should not be seen, that he turned over upon his back, pushed
himself along in that position, and then lay peering through the bushes
over his forehead.

The moving objects were still fifty yards away, where the bush was very
thick and low.  Admirable cover for an advancing enemy.  Their actions
seemed so cautious, too, that we felt sure that we must be seen, and I
was beginning to wonder whether it would not be wise to fire amongst the
low scrub and scare our enemies, when Jimmy suddenly changed his
tactics, making a sign to us to be still, as he crawled backwards right
past us and disappeared, waddy in hand.

We could do nothing but watch, expecting the black every moment to
return and report.

But five minutes', ten minutes' anxiety ensued before we heard a shout
right before us, followed by a rush, and as we realised that the black
had come back past us so that he might make a circuit and get round the
enemy, there was a rush, and away bounding lightly over the tops of the
bushes went a little pack of a small kind of kangaroo.

It was a matter of moments; the frightened animals, taking flying leaps
till out of sight, and Jimmy appeared, running up panting, to look
eagerly round.

"Whar a big wallaby?" he cried.  "No shoot?  No killum?  Eh?  Jimmy
killum one big small ole man!"

He trotted back as he spoke, and returned in triumph bearing one of the
creatures, about equal in size to a small lamb.

This was quickly dressed by the black, and secured hanging in a tree,
for the doctor would not listen to Jimmy's suggestion that we should
stop and "boil um in black fellow's pot all like muttons;" and then we
continued our climb till we had won to a magnificent position on the
shoulder of the mountain for making a careful inspection of the country
now seeming to lie stretched out at our feet.

A more glorious sight I never saw.  Green everywhere, wave upon wave of
verdure lit up by the sunshine and darkening in shadow.  Mountains were
in the distance, and sometimes we caught the glint of water; but sweep
the prospect as we would in every direction with the glass it was always
the same, and the doctor looked at me at last and shook his head.

"Joe," he said at last, "our plan appeared to be very good when we
proposed it, but it seems to me that we are going wrong.  If we are to
find your father, whom we believe to be a prisoner--"

"Who is a prisoner!"  I said emphatically.

"Why do you say that?" he cried sharply, searching me with his eyes.

"I don't know," I replied dreamily.  "He's a prisoner somewhere."

"Then we must seek him among the villages of the blacks near the
sea-shore.  The farther we go the more we seem to be making our way into
the desert.  Look there!" he cried, pointing in different directions;
"the foot of man never treads there.  These forests are impassable."

"Are you getting weary of our search, doctor?"  I said bitterly.

He turned upon me an angry look, which changed to one of reproach.

"You should not have asked me that, my lad," he said softly.  "You are
tired or you would not have spoken so bitterly.  Wait and see.  I only
want to direct our energies in the right way.  The blacks could go on
tramping through the country; we whites must use our brains as well as
our legs."

"I--I beg your pardon, doctor!"  I cried earnestly.

"All right, my lad," he said quietly.  "Now for getting back to camp.
Where must our bearers be?"

He adjusted the glass and stood carefully examining the broad landscape
before us, till all at once he uttered an exclamation, and handed the
glass to me.

"See what you make of that spot where there seems to be a mass of rock
rising out of the plain, and a thin thread of flashing water running by
its side.  Yonder!" he continued, pointing.  "About ten miles away, I
should say."

I took the glass, and after a good deal of difficulty managed to catch
sight of the lump of rock he had pointed out.  There was the gleaming
thread of silver, too, with, plainly seen through the clear atmosphere
and gilded by the sun, quite a tiny cloud of vapour slowly rising in the
air.

"Is that another hot spring, doctor?"  I said, as I kept my glass fixed
upon the spot; "or--"

"Our blacks' fire," said the doctor.  "It might be either; or in
addition it might be a fire lit by enemies, or at all events savages;
but as it is in the direction in which we are expecting to find our
camp, and there seem to be no enemies near, I am in favour of that being
camp.  Come: time is slipping by.  Let's start downward now."

I nodded and turned to Jack Penny, who all this while had been resting
his back by lying flat upon the ground, and that he was asleep was
proved by the number of ants and other investigating insects which were
making a tour all over his long body; Gyp meanwhile looking on, and
sniffing at anything large, such as a beetle, with the result of chasing
the visitor away.

We roused Jack and started, having to make a detour so as to secure
Jimmy's kangaroo, which he shouldered manfully, for though it offered us
no temptation we knew that it would delight the men in camp.

The descent was much less laborious than the ascent, but it took a long
time, and the sun was fast sinking lower, while as we approached the
plains every few hundred yards seemed to bring us into a warmer stratum
of air, while we kept missing the pleasant breeze of the higher ground.

If we could have made a bee-line right to where the smoke rose the task
would have been comparatively easy, but we had to avoid this chasm, that
piled-up mass of rocks, and, as we went lower, first thorny patches of
scrub impeded our passage, and lower still there was the impenetrable
forest.

I was getting fearfully tired and Jack Penny had for a long time been
perfectly silent, while Jimmy, who was last, took to uttering a low
groan every now and then, at times making it a sigh as he looked
imploringly at me, evidently expecting me to share his heavy load.

I was too tired and selfish, I'm afraid, and I trudged on till close
upon sundown, when it occurred to me that I had not heard Jimmy groan or
sigh for some time, and turning to speak to him I waited till he came
up, walking easily and lightly, with his spear acting as a staff.

"Why, Jimmy; where's the kangaroo?"  I said.

"Wallaby ole man, Mass Joe?" he said, nodding his head on one side like
a sparrow.

"Yes; where is it?"

"Bad un!" he said sharply.  "Jimmy smell up poo boo!  Bad; not good a
eat.  No get camp a night.  Jimmy fro um all away!"

"Thrown it away!"  I cried.

"Yes; bad ums.  Jimmy fro um all away!"

"You lazy humbug!"  I said with a laugh, in which he good-humouredly
joined.

"Yess--ess--Jimmy laze humbug!  Fro um all away."

"But I say, look here, Jimmy!"  I said anxiously, "what do you mean?"

"Light fire here; go asleep!  Findum camp a morning.  All away, right
away.  Not here; no!"

He ended by shaking his head, and I called to the doctor:

"Jimmy says we shall not find the camp!"  I said hastily; "and that we
are going wrong."

"I know it," he said quietly; "but we cannot get through this forest
patch, so we must go wrong for a time, and then strike off to the
right."

But we found no opportunity of striking off to the right.  Everywhere it
was impenetrable forest, and at last we had to come to a halt on the
edge, for the darkness was black, and to have gone on meant feeling our
way step by step.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

HOW I GOT INTO SERIOUS DIFFICULTIES.

It is not a pleasant place to pass a night, on the ground at the edge of
a vast forest, inhabited by you know not what noxious beasts, while if
you light a fire to scare them off you always do so with the idea that
in scaring one enemy you may be giving notice to a worse where he may
find you to make a prisoner or put you to death.

However we determined to risk being seen by savages, the more readily
that we had gone so far now without seeing one, and in a short time a
ruddy blaze was gilding the forest edge and the great sparks were
cracking around the trees.

We had calculated upon being back at camp that night, so we had eaten
all our food, and now, as we sat there by the fire hungry and tired, I
began to think that we might have done worse than cut off the kangaroo's
tail before Jimmy had thrown it away.

Poor Jimmy!  He too seemed to be bitterly regretting the idleness that
had made him give up his self-imposed task, and the dismal hungry looks
he kept giving me from time to time were ludicrous in the extreme.

"Never mind, Joe," said the doctor smiling; "tighten your belt, my lad,
and get to sleep.  That's the best way to forget your hunger.  You'll be
sure to begin dreaming about feasts."

The doctor was right; I lay hungrily awake for a short time, and then
dropped off to sleep, to dream of delicious fruits, and cooking, and the
smell of meat burning, and I awoke with a start to find that there was a
very peculiar odour close to my nose, for a piece of wood must have shot
a spark of its burning body into the shaggy head of poor Jimmy, who was
sleeping happily unconscious, while a tiny scrap of wood was glowing and
the hair sending forth curls of smoke.

I jumped up, seized Jimmy by the hair, and crushed out the spark,
awaking that worthy so sharply that he sprang up waddy in hand, caught
me by the throat, and threw me back, swinging his war-club over his head
to strike a tremendous blow.

He saw who it was in time and dropped his weapon.

"What a fool, Jimmy, yes!  What a fool Jimmy sleep.  Pull Jimmy hair,
jig jag.  Hallo!  What a want?"

It took some time to make him understand what had been wrong, but even
when he did comprehend he seemed to be annoyed with me for waking him
out of a pleasant dream, probably about damper and mutton, for the
saving of so insignificant a thing as his hair, which would have soon
grown again.

Jimmy lay down again grumbling, but was soon asleep, and on comparing
notes with the doctor I found I was so near my time for taking my turn
at watching and keeping up the fire that I exchanged places with him.

As is often the case, the troubles and depressing influences of the
night departed with the day, and setting out very hungry, but by no
means in bad spirits, we soon found a more open part, where the forest
was beginning to end, and after about three hours' walking we reached
our little camp, where we had no difficulty in satisfying our cravings,
our ordinary food being supplemented by a great bunch of plantains which
one of the blacks had found and saved for us.

After a good rest, during which the doctor and I had talked well over
our future course, we determined to go right on as we had come for
another four days and then to strike due south to hit the shore, always
supposing that we encountered nothing fresh to alter our plans.

"And I'm sure we shall," I said to myself, for somehow, I cannot tell
you why--and perhaps after all it was fancy--I felt sure that we should
not be long now before we met with some adventure.

I did not like to say anything of this kind to the doctor, for I felt
that if I did he would laugh at me; but I took the first opportunity I
could find of confiding in Jack Penny.

He looked down at me and then seemed to wave himself to and fro, looking
at me in a curious dreamy fashion.

"Do you think that? do you feel like as if something is going to
happen?"

"Yes," I said hastily.  "I don't ask you to believe it but I cannot help
thinking something about my curious feelings."

"Oh!  I believe you," he said eagerly.  "Oh!  I quite believe you, Joe
Carstairs.  I used to feel like that always on mornings when I woke up
first, and so sure as I felt that way father used to be going to lick
me, and he did.  I should put fresh cartridges in my gun if I was you.
I'll keep pretty close to you all day and see you through with it
anyhow."

But Jack Penny did not keep his word, for somehow as we were journeying
on in the heat of the day looking eagerly for a spring or river to make
our next halting-place we were separated.  I think it was Jack's back
wanted a rest.  Anyhow I was steadily pushing on within shouting
distance of my companions, all of whom had spread out so as to be more
likely to hit upon water.

It was very hot, and I was plodding drowsily along through a beautiful
open part dotted with large bushes growing in great clumps, many of
which were covered with sweet smelling blossoms, when just as I was
passing between a couple of the great clumps which were large enough to
hide from me what lay beyond, I stopped utterly paralysed by the scene
some fifty yards in front.

For there in the bright sunshine stood a boy who might have been about
my own age intently watching something just beyond some bushes in his
front, and the moment after a small deer stepped lightly out full in my
view, gazed round, and then stooped its graceful head to begin browsing.

The boy, who was as black as ebony and whose skin shone in the sun,
seemed to have caught sight of the deer at the same moment as I, for he
threw himself into position, poising the long spear he carried, resting
the shaft upon one hand and bending himself back so that he might get
the greatest power into his throw.

I had seen Jimmy plant himself in the same position hundreds of times,
and, surprised as I was at coming upon this stranger, whose people were
probably near at hand, I could not help admiring him as he stood there a
thorough child of nature, his body seeming to quiver with excitement for
the moment and then becoming perfectly rigid.

My eye glanced from the boy to the deer and back again, when a slight
movement to my right caught my attention and I stood paralysed, for in a
crouching attitude I could see a second black figure coming up, war-club
in hand, evidently inimically disposed towards the young hunter.

"And he may belong to a friendly set of people," I thought.  "It is
Jimmy!"

"No: it was not Jimmy, but one of the bearers--Ti-hi," I thought.

"No: it was a stranger!"

Just then the boy drew himself back a little more, and as I saw the
stooping figure, that of a big burly savage, stealthily creeping on, I
realised his intention, which was to wait till the boy had hurled his
spear and then leap upon him and beat him to the ground.

I made no plans, for all was the work of moments.  I saw the spear leave
the boy's hand like a line of light in the sunshine; then he turned,
alarmed by some sound behind him, saw the savage in the act of leaping
upon him, uttered a shrill cry of fear, and ran somewhat in my
direction, and at the same moment my gun made a jump up at my shoulder
and went off.

As the smoke rose I stood aghast, seeing the boy on my left crouching
down with a small waddy in his hand and the great black savage prone on
his face just to my right.

"I've killed him!"  I exclaimed, a chill of horror running through me;
but as I thought this I brought my piece to the ready again, for the
savage leaped to his feet and turned and ran into the bush at a
tremendous pace.

From habit I threw open the breech of my gun without taking my eyes from
the boy, and, thrusting my hand into my pouch, I was about to place a
fresh ball cartridge in its place when I found that I had drawn the
right trigger and discharged the barrel loaded with small shot, a
sufficient explanation of the man being able to get up and run away.

I remained standing motionless as soon as I had reloaded, the boy
watching me intently the while and looking as if he was either ready to
attack or flee according to circumstances.  Friendly advance there was
none, for he showed his white teeth slightly and his eyes glittered as
they were fixed upon mine.

Suddenly I caught sight of the deer lying transfixed by the boy's spear,
and without a word I walked quietly to where the little animal lay, the
boy backing slowly and watchfully from me, but holding his waddy ready
for a blow or to hurl at me, it seemed, if I ventured to attack.

I wanted to make friends, and as soon as I reached the dead deer I
stooped down, holding my gun ready though, and taking hold of the spear,
drew it out and offered it to the young hunter.

He understood my motion, for he made a couple of steps forward quickly,
but only to draw back uttering an angry ejaculation, and raise his waddy
in a threatening way.

"He thinks I want to trap him," I said to myself; and taking the spear
in regular native style, as Jimmy had taught me, I smiled and nodded,
tossed it in the air, and let it drop a few yards away with the shaft
upright and towards his hands.

I pointed to it and drew back a few yards, when, quick as some wild
animal, he made two or three bounds, caught up the spear, poised it, and
stood as if about to hurl it at me.

It was not a pleasant position, and my first impulse was to raise my gun
to my shoulder; but my second was to stand firm, resting on my piece,
and I waved my hand to him to lower the spear.

The boy hesitated, uttered a fierce cry, and stamped one foot angrily;
but I waved my hand again, and, thrusting my hand into my pocket, pulled
out a ring of brass wire, such as we carried many of for presents to the
savages, and I tossed it to him.

I saw the boy's eyes glitter with eagerness, but he was too suspicious
to move, and so we stood for some minutes, during which I wondered
whether my companions had heard the report of my gun, and if so whether
they would come up soon.  If they did I was sure they would alarm the
boy, who seemed as suspicious as some wild creature and shook his spear
menacingly as soon as I took a step forward.

A thought struck me just then as I saw a red spot glisten on a leaf, and
stepping forward I saw another and another, which I pointed to, and then
again at a continuous series of them leading towards the dense bush.

I took a few more steps forward when the boy suddenly bounded to my side
as if he realised that I had saved his life and that he was bound to try
and save me in turn.

He uttered some words fiercely, and, catching my arm, drew me back,
pointing his spear menacingly in the direction taken by the great
savage, and in response to his excited words I nodded and smiled and
yielded to his touch.

We had not taken many steps before he stopped short to stand and stare
at me wonderingly, saying something the while.

Then he touched me, and as I raised my hand to grasp his he uttered a
fierce cry and pointed his spear at me once more, but I only laughed--
very uncomfortably I own--and he lowered it slowly and doubtfully once
again, peering into my eyes the while, his whole aspect seeming to say,
"Are you to be trusted or no?"

I smiled as the best way of giving him confidence, though I did not feel
much confidence in him--he seemed too handy with his spear.  He,
however, lowered this and looked searchingly at me, while I wondered
what I had better do next.  For this was an opportunity--here was a lad
of my own age who might be ready to become friends and be of great
service to us; but he was as suspicious and excitable as a wild
creature, and ready to dash away or turn his weapons against me at the
slightest alarm.

It was very hard work to have to display all the confidence, but I told
myself that it was incumbent upon me as a civilised being to show this
savage a good example, and generally I'm afraid that I was disposed to
be pretty conceited, as, recalling the native words I had picked up from
our followers, I tried all that were available, pointing the while to
the deer and asking him by signs as well if he would sell or barter it
away to me for food.

My new acquaintance stared at me, and I'm afraid I did not make myself
very comprehensible.  One moment he would seem to grasp my meaning, the
next it appeared to strike him that I must be a cannibal and want to eat
him when I made signs by pointing to my mouth.  At last, though, the
offer of a couple of brass rings seemed to convince him of my
friendliness, and he dragged the little deer to me and laid it at my
feet.

After this we sat down together, and he began chattering at a tremendous
rate, watching my gun, pointing at the spots upon the leaves, and then
touching himself, falling down, and going through a pantomime as if
dying, ending by lying quite stiff with his eyes closed, all of which
either meant that if I had not fired at the big black my companion would
have been killed, or else that I was not on any consideration to use my
thunder-and-lightning weapon against him.

I did not understand what he meant, and he had doubtless very little
comprehension of what I tried to convey; but by degrees we became very
good friends, and he took the greatest of interest in my dress,
especially in my stout boots and cartridge-belt.  Then, too, he touched
my gun, frowning fiercely the while.  My big case-knife also took up a
good deal of his attention and had to be pulled out several times and
its qualities as a cutter of tough wood shown.

After this he drew my attention to his slight spear, which, though of
wood, was very heavy, and its point remarkably sharp and hard.  In spite
of its wanting a steel point I felt no doubt of its going through
anything against which it was directed with force.

He next held out his waddy to me to examine.  This was a weapon of
black-looking wood, with a knob at the end about the shape of a
good-sized tomato.

I took hold of the waddy rather quickly, when it must have struck the
boy that I had some hostile intention, for he snatched at it, and for
the moment it seemed as if there was a struggle going on; then I felt a
violent blow from behind, as if a large stone had fallen upon my head,
and that was all.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

HOW I FOUND THAT I HAD A FELLOW-PRISONER.

I have had a good many headaches in my time, but nothing to compare with
the fearful throbbing, that seemed as if I were receiving blow after
blow upon my temples, when I began to come to myself.

I was stupefied and confused, and it took a long time before I recovered
sufficiently to comprehend my position.  By degrees, though, I was able
to bear my eyes unclosed for sufficiently long at a time to see that I
was in some kind of hut, and as I realised all this it seemed that I
must be still a prisoner, and that all my long journeying since was only
a dream.

I began wondering where Jimmy could be, and the doctor, and Jack Penny,
and then my head throbbed so violently that I closed my eyes, feeling at
the same time that I had no arms, no legs, nothing but an inanimate
body, and a head that ached with terrible violence as I lay there
half-stunned.

After a time I must have grown a little more collected, for I awoke to
the fact that I was tightly bound with twisted grass, hand and foot;
that I was certainly in a hut, quite a large hut, built of bamboo and
mats; and that behind me the light shone in, and somewhere close by the
sound arose as of a person sleeping heavily.

I tried to turn round, but the movement caused such intense pain that I
desisted for a time, till my anxiety to know more about my position
forced me to make a fresh effort, and I swung myself over, making my
head throb so that I gladly closed my eyes, while I wrenched my arms and
wrists, that were tied behind my back so harshly that I became quite
aware of the fact that I had limbs, as well as an inert body and a
throbbing head.

When I could unclose my eyes again I saw that it was getting near
sundown, and that the sunshine was lighting up the limbs of the great
trees beneath which the native village to which I had been brought was
built.  From where I lay I looked across a broad opening, around which
was hut after hut, with its open door facing towards the centre.

There was very little sign of life around, but twice in the distance I
saw a black figure come out of the doorway of a hut and disappear
amongst the trees, but it was some time before I could make out from
whence the heavy breathing came that I had heard.

As far as I could judge it was from some one just outside the entrance
to the hut where I lay, but no one was visible, and it seemed to me that
if I could untie the rope that held my wrists and legs there was nothing
to prevent my walking out and making my escape.

I had just come to this conclusion when there was a rustling noise as of
a stick passing over twigs and leaves, and a spear fell down across the
doorway.

The next instant I saw a black arm and shoulder come forward, the spear
was picked up, and the black arm disappeared.  Then there was a
shuffling sound, as of some one settling down in a fresh position, and
all was silent, for the heavy breathing had ceased.

"That's my guard," I said to myself, "and he has been, asleep!"

Simple words, but they sent a throb of joy through me, and I began to
wonder where the doctor was, and what Jack Penny was doing.

Then I thought about Jimmy, and that as soon as I was missed he would be
sure to hunt me out.

My head began to throb once more horribly, but by degrees the fit died
off, and I found myself thinking again of escape.

"How foolish of me not to have had a dog!"  I thought.  "Why, if I had
had one like Gyp he would have tracked me out by this time."

"They'll find me out sooner or later," I said to myself; "so I need not
regret being without a dog.  But suppose the savages should attack our
little party and make them prisoners too."

This was quite a new idea to me.  The doctor and I had thought out a
good many possibilities; but that we, who had come in search of one who
was a prisoner, should be ourselves made captives, hardly ever occurred
to me.

"That would be a sorry end to our voyage," I thought, and I lay gazing
out across the open space, wondering in a dreamy misty way whether my
poor father had been attacked and captured as I had been, and whether I
should be kept a prisoner, and have to live for the rest of my life
among savages.

My head was not so painful then, and I began to feel that if it would
only leave off aching and my poor mother would not be so troubled at
this second loss, such a life would be better than being killed,
especially as there would always be the chance of escape.

I think I must have sunk into a sort of doze or half stupor just then,
for the scene at which I lay gazing grew dim, and it seemed to me that
it must all have been a dream about my meeting with that black boy; and
once more I suppose I slept.

How long I slept I cannot tell, but I can recall being in a confused
dream about home, and going with Jimmy to a neighbour's sheep-run, where
there was a dog, and Jimmy coaxed him away with a big piece of meat,
which he did not give to the dog, but stuck on the end of his spear and
carried it over his shoulder, with the animal whining and snuffling
about, but which was to be reserved until several wallabies had been
hunted out, for that was the aim of the afternoon.

It seemed very tiresome that that dog should be snuffling about me, and
scratching and pawing at me, and I was about to tell Jimmy to give the
poor brute the meat and let him go, when his cold nose touched my face,
and I started awake, trembling in every limb.

The darkness was intense, and for some minutes, try how I would, I could
not think.

All sorts of wild fancies rushed through my brain, and I grew more and
more confused; but I could not think--think reasonably, and make out
where I was and what it all meant.

The past seemed to be gone, and I only knew that I was there, lying with
my arms and legs dead and my head throbbing.  There seemed to be nothing
else.

Yes there was--my dream.

It all came with a flash just where it left off, and Jimmy had coaxed
the dog away, and it was here annoying me.  But why was it dark?

There was dead silence then, following upon the light pattering sound of
some animal's feet, and with my brain rapidly growing clearer I began to
arrange my thoughts I had even got so far as to recollect dropping off
asleep, and I was concluding that I had slept right on into the darkness
of night, when there was the pattering of feet again, and I knew now
that it was no fancy, for some animal had touched me, though it was not
likely to be the dog that Jimmy had coaxed away to go wallaby hunting.

There was a curious snuffling noise now, first in one part of the hut,
then in another.

Some animal, then, must have come into the hut, and this, whatever it
was, had been touching and had awakened me.  What could it be?  I
wondered, as I tried to think what creature was likely to be prowling
about in the darkness.

It could not be a wild pig, and my knowledge of animal life taught me
that it was not likely to be any one of the cat family, for they went so
silently about, while the pattering steps of this creature could be
plainly heard.

We had encountered nothing in our journey that suggested itself as being
likely, and I was beginning to perspire rather profusely with something
very much like utter fright, when I heard the creature, whatever it was,
come close up and begin snuffling about my legs.

"It's coming up to my face," I thought with a chill of horror seeming to
paralyse me, or I am certain that I should have called for help.

So there I lay numbed and helpless, not knowing what to expect, unless
it was to be seized by the throat by some fierce beast of prey, and
perhaps partly devoured before I was dead.

I tried to shriek out, but not a sound came.  I tried to move my arms;
to kick out at the creature; but arms and legs had been bound so long
that the circulation as well as sensation had ceased, and I lay like a
mass of lead, able to think acutely, but powerless to stir a limb.

The snuffling noise went on; came to my chest, to my throat, to my face;
and I could feel the hot panting breath of the creature, smell the
animal odour of its skin; and then, when the dread seemed greater than I
could bear, I felt a moist nose touch my face.

Another moment and I felt that the intruder would be burying its fangs
in my throat, and still I could not stir--could not utter sound, but lay
like one in a trance.

Suddenly the animal began to tear at my chest with its claws, giving
three or four sharp impatient scratchings alternately with its feet, and
though I could not see, I could realise that the creature was standing
with its forepaws on my chest.

Then it was right upon me, with its muzzle at my throat, snuffing still,
and then it touched my face with its nose again and uttered a low whine.

That sound broke the spell, for I can call it nothing else, and I
uttered the one word:

"Gyp!"

It was magical in its effects, for the faithful beast it was, and
uttering a low cry of delight he began nuzzling about my face, licking
me, pawing me, and crouching closer to me, as all the while he kept up a
regular patting noise with his tail.

My speech had returned now, and with it a feeling of shame for my
cowardice, as I thought it then, though I do not think so hardly about
it now.

"Gyp, you good old dog!"  I whispered.  "And so you've found me out!"

I suppose he did not understand my words, but he liked the sound of my
voice, for he continued his eager demonstrations of delight, many of
which were exceedingly unwelcome.  But unwelcome or no I could not help
myself, and had to lie there passive till, apparently satisfied that
enough had been done, Gyp crouched close to me with his head upon my
breast.

For a time I thought he was asleep, and thoroughly enjoying the
consolation of his company in my wretched position, I lay thinking of
the wonderful instinct of the animal, and of his training to be silent,
for in spite of the excitement of our meeting he had not barked once.

But Gyp was not asleep, for at the slightest sound outside he raised his
head quickly, and in the deep silence I could hear the great hairy ears
give quite a flap as he cocked them up.

As the noise died away or failed to be repeated, he settled down again
with his head upon my breast till some fresh sound arose--a distant cry
in the forest, or a voice talking in some neighbouring hut, when he
would start up again, and once uttered a low menacing growl, which made
me think what an unpleasant enemy he would be to a bare-legged savage.

Once more Gyp uttered a low growl; but after that he lay with his head
upon my breast, and I could feel his regular breathing.  Then he lifted
a paw and laid it by his nose, but evidently it was not a comfortable
position, and he took it down.  And there we lay in that black silence,
while I wished that dog could speak and tell me where my friends where;
whether they had sent him, or whether his own instinct had led him to
hunt me out.  Whichever way it was, I felt a curious kind of admiration
for an animal that I had before looked upon as a kind of slave, devoted
to his master, and of no interest whatever to anyone else.

"Poor old Gyp!"  I thought to myself, and I wished I could pat his head.

I kept on wishing that I could pay him that little bit of kindness; and
then at last I seemed to be stroking his shaggy head, and then it seemed
that I was not free to do it, and then all at once it seemed to be
morning, with the sun shining, and plenty of black fellows passing and
repassing to the huts of what was evidently a populous village.

It all looked very bright and beautiful, I thought, seen through the
open door, but I was in great pain.  My head had pretty well ceased to
throb, but there was a dull strange aching in my arms and legs.  My
shoulders, too, seemed as if they had been twisted violently, and I was
giddy and weak for want of food.

"Prisoner or no prisoner they sha'n't starve me," I said half aloud; and
I was about to shout to a tall savage who was going by spear on
shoulder, when I suddenly recollected Gyp and looked sharply round for
the dog, but he was not to be seen.

For the moment I wondered whether I had not made a mistake and dreamed
all about the dog; but no, it was impossible, everything was too vivid,
and after lying thinking for a few minutes I called to the first black
who came near.

He stopped short, came to the door, thrust in his head and stared at me,
while, for want of a better means of expressing myself, I opened my
mouth and shut it as if eating.

He went away directly, and I was about to shout to another when the
first one came back with a couple more, all talking excitedly, and
evidently holding some discussion about me.

This ended by two of them going away, leaving the other to stand
watching.

He was a fine stalwart looking fellow, black as Jimmy, but of a
different type of countenance, and his hair was frizzed and stuck out
all round, giving his head the aspect of being twice the size of nature.

As soon as the others had gone he stooped down over me, turning me
roughly on my face so as to examine my bound hands.

He wrenched my shoulders horribly in doing this, but it did not seem to
hurt my hands in the least, and he finished by unfastening the cords of
twisted grass and making me sit up.

This I did, but with great pain, my arms hanging helplessly down by my
sides.

The men soon returned, and to my great delight one had a gourd and the
other some plantains, which they put down before me in a morose,
scowling way.

I bent towards the gourd, which I believed to contain water; but though
I tried to take it with my hands I could not move either, and I turned
my eyes up pitifully to my captors.

The man who had unloosed me said something to his companions, one of
whom bent down, lifted my right hand, and let it fall again.  The second
man followed suit with my left, and I saw before they dropped them again
that they were dark and swollen, while as to use, that seemed to be
totally gone.

The man who had remained with me took hold of the gourd and held it to
my lips in a quick angry fashion, holding it while I drank with avidity
every drop, the draught seeming to be more delicious than anything I had
ever before tasted.

Setting it aside he looked down at me grimly, and then in a laughing
contemptuous way one of the others picked up and roughly peeled a
plantain, holding it out to me to eat.

It was not sumptuous fare, cold water and bananas, but it was a most
delicious and refreshing repast; while to make my position a little more
bearable one of the men now undid the grass cord that was about my
ankles, setting them free.

The act probably was meant kindly, but when, soon after, they left the
cabin, after setting me up and letting me fall again, my wrists and
ankles began to throb and ache in the most unbearable way, somewhat
after the fashion of one's fingers when chilled by the cold and the
circulation is coming back.

As I sat making feeble efforts to chafe the swollen flesh I became aware
that though unbound I was not to be trusted, for fear of escape, and
that to prevent this a broad-shouldered black with his hair frizzed into
two great globes, one on either side of his head, had been stationed at
the hut door.

When he came up, spear in hand, I saw that he was tattooed with curious
lines across his chest and back, similar lines marking his arms and
wrists, something after the fashion of bracelets.

He looked in at me attentively twice, and then seated himself just
outside the entrance, where he took his waddy from where it was stuck
through his lingouti or waistband, drew a sharp piece of flint from a
pouch, and began to cut lines upon his waddy handle in the most patient
manner.

He had been busily at work for some time, when there was a great sound
of shouting and yelling, which seemed greatly to excite the people of
the village, for dozens came running out armed with clubs and spears, to
meet a batch of about a dozen others, who came into the opening fronting
my prison, driving before them another black, who was struggling with
them fiercely, but compelled by blows and pricks of spears to keep going
forward.

Then three men ran at him with grass cords and seized him, but he drove
his head fiercely into one and sent him flying, kicked the second, and
then attacked the other with his fists, regular English fashion, and I
knew now who it was, without hearing the shout the new prisoner uttered
and the language he applied to his captors.

Another pair approached, but he drove them back at once, and probably
feeling' pretty well satisfied that his enemies did not want to spear
him, he stuck his doubled fists in his sides and went slowly round the
great circle that had collected, strutting insultingly, as if daring
them to come on, and ending by striding into the middle of the circle
and squatting down, as if treating his foes with the most profound
contempt.

"Poor old Jimmy!"  I exclaimed, proud even to admiration of the black's
gallant bearing.  "Who would call him a coward now!"

For a time Jimmy was untouched, and sat upon his heels with his wrists
upon his knees and his hands dangling down, but evidently watchfully on
the look-out for an attack.  I felt so excited as I sat there that I
forgot my own pain, and had I been able to move I should have made a
dash and run to my old companion's side; but I was perfectly helpless,
and could only look on, feeling sure that sooner or later the blacks
would attack Jimmy, and if he resisted I shuddered for his fate.

Sure enough, at the end of a consultation I saw a rush made at the
waiting prisoner, who started up and fought bravely; but he seemed to
disappear at once, the little crowd heaving and swaying here and there,
and ending by seeming to group itself under a tall tree, from which they
at last fell away, and then it was that my heart began to beat less
painfully and I breathed more freely, for there was Jimmy bound to the
tree trunk, grinning and chattering at his captors, and evidently as
full of fight as ever.

I sank down upon my elbow with a sigh of relief, for I felt that had
they meant to kill my black companion they would have done it at once
instead of taking the trouble to bind him to the tree.

And now, oddly enough, while I could hear Jimmy calling his captors by
all the absurd and ugly names he could invent, the pain and aching
seemed to come back into my wrists and ankles, making me groan as I sat
and clasped them, a little use having begun to creep back into my arms.

As I rubbed my aching limbs I still had an eye on Jimmy, interest in his
fate making me think little about my own; and as I watched now the
black, now the savages grouped about armed with spear and club, I saw
that his dangerous position had so excited Jimmy that he was quite
reckless.  He had no means of attack or defence left save his tongue,
and this he began to use in another way.

He had abused his captors till he had exhausted his list of available
words, and now in token of derision he gave me another instance to study
of the childish nature of even a grown-up savage.  For, tied up
helplessly there, he put out his tongue at his enemies, thrust it into
his cheeks, and displayed it in a variety of ways.

Jimmy was possessed of a very long tongue, unusually large for a human
being, and this he shot out, turned down, curled up at the end, and
wagged from side to side as a dog would his tail.  At the same time he
contorted and screwed his face up into the most hideous grimaces,
elongating, flattening, and working his countenance as easily as if it
had been composed of soft wax, till at times his aspect was perfectly
hideous.

Every moment I expected to see a spear thrown or the savages rush at
Jimmy with their clubs; but they retained their composure, simply gazing
at him, till Jimmy grew weary, and, full of contempt, shouting out
something about poor black fellow dingoes, and then shutting his eyes
and pretending to go to sleep.

My guard was, like me, so intent upon the scene that he did not hear a
slight rustling noise in the darker corner of the hut.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

HOW I HAD A VISITOR IN THE NIGHT.

The sufferings I had gone through and the excitement must have made me
in a feverish state, so that, though I heard the faint noise again and
again, I began to look upon it as dreaming, and nothing which need
trouble me.  Even the sight of Jimmy bound to the tree, and now hanging
forward with his head sidewise, did not seem to disturb me.  It, too,
appeared part of a dream, and my eyes kept closing, and a peculiar hot
sensation running over my face.

Then this passed off and my brain grew clear, and it was not a dream,
but real, while the thought now began to torment me, that as the savages
were conferring together it must be about how they should put poor Jimmy
to death.

There was the faint noise again, and I glanced at the savage who was my
guard, but he had not heard it apparently, for he was chipping and
carving away at the handle of his waddy, only looking up from time to
time at his fellows with their prisoner.

I wanted to turn myself round and look in the direction whence the sound
came, for I felt now that it was no fancy, but that Gyp had been really
with me, and that this was he forcing his way to my side again.

I could not turn, though, without giving myself great pain, for now my
wrists and ankles were fearfully swollen and tender, so I lay still,
waiting and wondering why the dog was so long.

Then the rustling ceased altogether, and I was beginning to think that
the dog had failed to get through and would come round to the front,
when there was a faint rustle once more, and I was touched on the
shoulder.

But it was not by Gyp's paw; it was a small black hand laid upon me;
while, on looking up, there in the dim light was the face of the boy I
had encountered on the previous day, or whenever it was that I was
struck down.

He showed his teeth and pointed to the savage on guard, laying his hand
upon my lips as if to stay me from making any sound.  Then he looked at
my wrists and ankles, touching them gently, after which he laid his hand
very gently on the back of my head, and I knew now why it was that I was
suffering such pain.

For, lightly as he touched me, it was sufficient to send a keen agony
through me, and it was all I could do to keep from crying out.

The boy saw my pain, and looked at me half wonderingly for a few moments
before stooping low and whispering in my ear.

I felt so sick from the pain that I paid little heed to his words; but
whisper or shout it would have been all the same, I could not have
understood a word.

So faint and strange a sensation came over me that all seemed dim, and
when I once more saw clearly I was alone and the crowd of blacks had
disappeared, taking with them Jimmy--if it had not all been a dream due
to my feverish state.

Just then, however, a couple of blacks came up with the boy straight to
the door of the hut, and while the latter stood looking on, the men
applied a roughly made plaster of what seemed to be crushed leaves to my
head, and then examined my wrists and feet, rubbing them a little and
giving me intense pain, which was succeeded by a peculiar, dull warm
sensation as they pressed and kneaded the joints.

While they were busy the boy went off quickly, and returned with a
handful of plum-like fruit, one of which he placed to my dry lips, and I
found its acid juice wonderfully refreshing.

They all left me soon after, and I saw the boy go and join a tall,
peculiar-looking savage, who was marked with tattoo lines or paint in a
way different to the rest, and these two talked together for a long
while, gesticulating and nodding again and again in my direction, as if
I was the subject of their discourse.

The effect of the attention to my injuries was to produce a sensation of
drowsiness, resulting in a deep sleep, which must have lasted a very
long time, for when I awoke it was in the dark, and I was not startled
now on hearing the snuffling noise and feeling myself touched by Gyp,
who, after silently showing his pleasure, lay down with his head upon my
chest once more, and seemed to go to sleep.

I made an effort to raise my hand to stroke him, but the pain was too
great, and soon after it was I who went to sleep, not Gyp, and when I
awoke it was daybreak and the dog was gone.

I was better that morning, and could take more interest in all that went
on.  I saw the tall, peculiar-looking savage go by the hut door at a
distance, and I saw the boy go up to him and pass out of sight.

Soon after a couple of blacks brought me some food and water, of which I
partook eagerly.

Later on the boy came with the same two men as on the previous day, and
my head was once more dressed and my limbs chafed.

Then I was left alone, and I lay watching once more the savages coming
and going in a slow deliberate way.  I noticed that there were a good
many women and children, but if ever they attempted to come in the
direction of the hut where I lay they were angrily driven back.

Some of the women appeared to be occupied in domestic work, preparing
some kind of bread, others busily stripped the feathers from some large
birds brought in by men who seemed to have been hunting.

I noticed all this feeling calm and restful now, and I was lying
wondering whether Jack Penny and the doctor would find out where I was,
when I heard a scuffling noise, which seemed to come from a hut where
there was a crowd of the people standing.

Then there was a repetition of the scene I had previously witnessed,
Jimmy being brought out, kicking, struggling, and full of fight.

The blacks seemed to want to drag him to the tree where I had seen him
tied, but to this Jimmy objected strongly.  The way in which he butted
at his captors, and kicked out like a grasshopper, would have been most
laughable had I not been anxious, for I felt sure that it would result
in his hurting some one, and being rewarded with a blow on the head or a
spear thrust.

I grew so excited at last as the struggle went on that I waited till
there was a moment's pause when Jimmy and his captors were drawing
breath for a fresh attack, and shouted with all my might--

"Jimmy! be quiet!"

My guard, for there was still one at the door, jumped up and stared in,
while Jimmy and his captors looked in my direction.

Jimmy was the first to break silence by shouting loudly: "Mass Joe!
Mass Joe!"

"Here!"  I shouted back; but I repented the next moment, for Jimmy
uttered a yell and made a bound to run towards where he had heard the
sound.

The result was that one savage threw himself down before the prisoner,
who fell headlong, and before he could recover, half a dozen of the
blacks were sitting upon him.

My heart seemed to stand still, and I felt that poor Jimmy's end had
come, but to my delight I could see that our captors were laughing at
the poor fellow's mad efforts to escape, and I shouted to him once
again:

"Be quiet!  Lie still!"

There was no answer, for one of the men was sitting on Jimmy's head; but
he ceased struggling, and after a while the blacks rose, circled about
him with their spears, and a couple of them began to push my companion
towards the tree to which he had before been bound.

"Jimmy no fight?" he shouted to me.

"Not now," I shouted back.  "Wait."

"All rightums," cried Jimmy: "but gettum waddy back, gibs um bang,
bang--knockum downum--whack, whack--bangum, bangum!"

This was all in a voice loud enough for me to hear, as the poor fellow
allowed his captors to bind him to the tree, after which he hung his
head and pretended or really did go to sleep.

Towards evening I saw the blacks take Jimmy some food, and some was
brought to me; and as I sat up and ate and drank I saw the
strangely-marked savage and the boy come into the centre of the space by
the huts, and lie down near Jimmy, who behaved a good deal after the
fashion of some captured beast, for he raised his head now and then,
utterly ignoring those who were around, and staring straight before him.
But in his case it was not right away toward the forest, but in the
direction of the hut where I was confined, and even at the distance
where I lay I could read the eagerness in the black's countenance as he
waited to hear me speak.

It was getting fast towards sundown, and I was wondering how long they
would leave Jimmy tied up to the tree, and fighting hard to get rid of
an idea that kept coming to me, namely, that the savages were feeding us
and keeping us for an object that it made me shudder to think about,
when I noted a little excitement among the people.  There was some loud
talking, and directly after about a dozen came to my prison and signed
to me to get up.

I rose to my knees and then tried to stand, but my ankles were still so
painful that I winced.  By a stern effort, though, I stood up, and a
sturdy black on either side took my arms and hurried me to a tree close
by the one where Jimmy was tied.

As we crossed the opening I saw the boy and the tall painted savage
standing by the door of a hut on one side, the latter holding a long
spear tasselled with feathers, and I supposed him to be the chief, or
perhaps only the doctor or conjuror of the village.

Jimmy's delight knew no bounds.  He shouted and sang and laughed, and
then howled, with the tears running down his cheeks.

"Hi, yup!  Jimmy glad as big dingo dog for mutton bones!" he cried.
"How quite well, Mass Joe?  Jimmy so glad be with you.  Seems all over
again, Mass Joe, and Jimmy knock all black fellow up and down--make um
run, run.  Whatum, Mass Joe--legs?"

"Only with being tied up so tightly, Jimmy.  They're getting better.  My
head is the worst."

"Head um worse, Mass Joe!  Show Jimmy black debble hurt um head.  Jimmy
whack um, whack um too much can't say kangaroo."

"No, no! wait a bit, Jimmy," I said, as the blacks bound me to the tree.
"We must watch for our time."

"Watch?" said Jimmy; "watch?  Doctor got um watch clock.  Tick, tick,
tick!"

"Where is the doctor?"  I said.

"Jimmy don't know little bitums.  Doctor go one way.  Mass Jack-Jack
Penny-Penny, one way find Mass Joe.  Jimmy-Jimmy, go one way find Mass
Joe.  Jimmy-Jimmy find um.  Hooray!  Nebber shall be slabe!"

"I hope not, Jimmy," I said, smiling.  "So the doctor and Jack Penny and
you all went to find me, and you were seized by the blacks?"

"Dats um--all lot take um way," cried Jimmy.  "Only Jimmy find Mass Joe.
Come along a black fellow.  All jump atop Jimmy.  Jimmy fight um, kick
um--play big goose berry strong black fellow.  Too much big coward big.
Topper, topper, Jimmy head um.  Go sleep um.  Bring um here."

"Too many of them, and they hit you on the head and stunned you?"

"Hiss! 'tunned Jimmy.  Hiss! 'tunned Jimmy.  Send um all asleep.  Topper
head."

"Never mind the topper they gave you, Jimmy.  We'll escape and find our
friends."

"Don't know um," said Jimmy dolefully.  "Bad good black fellow got no
muttons--no grub--no wallaby.  Eat Mass Joe--eat Jimmy."

"Do you think they are cannibals, Jimmy?"  I said excitedly.

Jimmy opened his mouth and his eyes very wide and stared at me.

"I say, do you think they are cannibals?  How stupid!  Do you think they
eat man?"

"Yes; 'tupid, 'tupid.  Eat man, lot o' man.  Bad, bad.  Make um sick,
sick."

I turned cold, for here was corroboration of my fear.  This was why they
were treating us well instead of killing us at once; and I was turning a
shuddering look at the circle of black faces around me when Jimmy
exclaimed:

"Sha'n't ums eat Jimmy.  No, no.  Jimmy eat a whole lot fust.  No eat
Mass Joe.  Jimmy killum killum all lot."

I stood there tightly bound, talking from time to time to the black,
happier in mind at having a companion in my imprisonment, and trying to
make him understand that our best policy was to wait our time; and then
when our captors were more off their guard we could perhaps escape.

"No good 't all," said Jimmy, shaking his head.  "Go eat um, Mass Joe,
poor Jimmy.  Make up fat um--fat um like big sheep.  No run at all,
catch fas'."

"Not so bad as that, Jimmy," I said, laughing in spite of my position at
the idea of being made so fat that we could neither of us run.

Just then there was a movement among our captors, and having apparently
satisfied themselves with a long inspection of their prisoners they were
evidently about to take us back to our prisons.

"Jimmy gib all big kick?" said the black.

"No, no," I cried, "go quietly."

"Jimmy come 'long Mass Joe?" he said next.

"If they will let you," I replied; "but if they will not, go back to
your own place quietly."

"Mass Joe no kind poor Jimmy," he whimpered.  "Want kick um.  Mass Joe
say no."

"Wait till I tell you, Jimmy," I replied.  "Now go quietly."

He made an attempt to accompany me, but the blacks seized him sharply
and led him one way, me the other; and as the sun set and the darkness
began to come on, I lay in my hut watching the boy and the tall painted
chief talking earnestly together, for I could not see Jimmy's prison
from inside my own.

I felt lighter of heart and more ready to take a hopeful view of my
position now that my sufferings from my injuries were less, and that I
had a companion upon whom I could depend.  But all the same I could not
help feeling that my position was a very precarious one.  But when I was
cool and calm I was ready to laugh at the idea about cannibalism, and to
think it was the result of imagination.

"No," I said to myself as I lay there, "I don't think they will kill us,
and I am certain they will not eat us.  We shall be made slaves and kept
to work for them--if they can keep us!"

As I lay there listening to the different sounds made in the village
dropping off one by one in the darkness, I grew more elate.  I was in
less pain, and I kept recalling the many instances Jimmy had shown me of
his power to be what he called "cunning-artful."  With his help I felt
sure that sooner or later we should be able to escape.

Drowsiness began to creep over me now, and at last, after listening to
the hard breathing of the spear-armed savage whose duty it was to watch
me, I began to wonder whether Gyp would come that night.

"I hope he will," I said to myself.  "I'll keep awake till he does."

The consequence of making this determination was that in a very few
minutes after I was fast asleep.

Just as before I was wakened some time in the night by feeling something
touch me, and raising my arm for the first time made the faithful beast
utter low whines of joy as I softly patted his head and pulled his ears,
letting my hand slip lower to stroke his neck, when my fingers came in
contact with the dog's collar, and almost at the same moment with a
stiff scrap of paper.

For a moment my heart stood still.  Then, sitting up, I caught the dog
to me, holding his collar with both hands, touching the paper all the
while, but afraid to do more lest the act should result in
disappointment.

At last I moved one hand cautiously and felt the paper, trembling the
while, till a joyous throb rose to my lips, and I rapidly untied a piece
of string which tightly bound what was evidently a note to the dog's
collar.

Gyp whined in a low tone, and as I loosened him, grasping the note in my
hand, I knew that he gave a bit of a skip, but he came back and nestled
close to me directly.

I needed no thought to know that the note was from the doctor, who must
be near.  Perhaps, too, Gyp had been night after night with that same
note, and I had been too helpless to raise a hand and touch his neck
where it had been tied.

The doctor was close by, then.  There was help, and I would once more be
free to get back safe to my dear mother.

I stopped there and said half aloud:

"Not yet--safe to try once more to find him."

What was I to do?

I could not read the note.  I opened it and moved my fingers over it as
a blind person would, but could not feel a letter, as I might have
known.

What was I to do?

Gyp would be going back.  The letter would be gone, while the doctor
might not know but what it had been lost.

What should I do?

There was only one thing, and that was to tie my handkerchief, my torn
and frayed silk handkerchief, tightly to the dog's collar.

"He will know that I am here, and alive," I said to myself.  "I wish I
could send him word that Jimmy is here as well."

I tried hard to think of some plan, but for a long time not one would
come.

"I have it!"  I said at last; and rapidly taking off the handkerchief I
tied two knots fast in one corner.

"Perhaps he will understand that means two of us," I said; and I was
about to fasten it to the dog's collar, when there was a noise outside
as of some one moving, and Gyp dashed away from me and was gone.

"Without my message," I said to myself in tones of bitter
disappointment, as all became silent again.

To my great joy, though, I heard a faint panting once more, and Gyp
touched my hand with his wet nose.

"I'll be safe this time," I remarked, as I rapidly secured and tied the
knotted handkerchief, ending by fondling and caressing the dog, I was so
overjoyed.

"Go on, dear old Gyp," I cried softly; "and come back to-morrow night
for an answer.  There, good-bye.  Hush! don't bark.  Good-bye!"

I patted him, and he ran his nose into my breast, whining softly.  Then
after feeling the handkerchief once more, to be sure it was safe, I
loosened the dog and he bounded from me.  I heard a rustling in the
corner, and all was silent, while I lay there holding the note tightly
in my pocket and longing for the day to come that I might read all that
my friends had to say.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

HOW I HEARD ENGLISH SPOKEN HERE.

I suppose I must have dropped asleep some time, but it seemed to me that
I was lying awake watching for the daylight, which seemed as if it would
never come.  Then I dropped soundly asleep and slept some hours, for
when I opened my eyes with a start there was one of the blacks leaning
over me with some cords in his hands, with which he seemed to be about
to bind me; but a shout outside took his attention, and he went out,
leaving me trembling with anxiety and crushing the note in my hand.

It was broad daylight with brilliant sunshine without, but my prison was
windowless, and where I lay was in the shadow, save where here and there
a pencil of light shone through the palm-leaf thatch and made a glowing
spot upon the floor.

Every moment I expected to see my guard back again, or I might be
interrupted, I knew, by the coming of some one with food.  I dared not
then attempt to read for some time, since it seemed like too great a
risk of losing words that were inexpressibly precious.

At last all seemed so still but the buzz and hum of distant voices that
I determined to venture, and undoing my hot hand I unfolded the little
scrap of paper, upon which, written closely but clearly, were the
following words--

"_As we are so near a village of the blacks, and you have not returned,
I have concluded that you have been made a prisoner.  Gyp found your
scent and went off, returning after many hours' absence; so I write
these lines to bid you be of good heart, for we shall try by stratagem
to get you away_."

Then there was this, evidently written the next day:

"_Gyp has been again and brought back the above lines which I tied to
his collar.  If you get them tie something to the dog's collar to show
you are alive and well.  Poor Jimmy went in search of you, but has not
returned_."

"Tie something to the dog's collar to show you are alive and well!"  I
said to myself over and over again, as I carefully secreted the scrap of
paper--a needless task, as, if it had been seen, no one would have paid
any heed to it.  "And I have tied something to the dog's collar and they
will come, the doctor and Jack Penny, with the blacks, to-night to try
and save me, and I shall escape."

I stopped here, for the words seemed to be wild and foolish.  How could
they rescue me, and, besides, ought I not to feel glad that I was here
among the natives of the island?  What better position could I be in for
gaining information about my father?

I lay thinking like this for long, and every hour it seemed that my
injured head and my cut wrists and ankles were healing.  The confused
feeling had passed away, leaving nothing but stiffness and soreness,
while the message I had received gave me what I wanted worst--hope.

I did not see Jimmy that day, for he was not brought out, neither was I
taken to the tree, but I saw that the savage who brought me food had a
double quantity, and to prove that some of it was meant for my
fellow-prisoner I soon afterwards heard him shout:

"Mass Joe come have 'nana--come have plantain 'nana."

This he repeated till I uttered a low long whistle, one which he had
heard me use scores of times, and to which he replied.

An hour after he whistled again, but I could not reply, for three or
four of the blacks were in the hut with me, evidently for no other
purpose than to watch.

That night I lay awake trembling and anxious.  I wanted to have
something ready to send back by the dog when it came at night, but try
how I would I could contrive nothing.  I had no paper or pencil; no
point of any kind to scratch a few words on a piece of bark--no piece of
bark if I had had a point.

As it happened, though I lay awake the dog did not come, and when the
morning came, although I was restless and feverish I was more at rest in
my mind, for I thought I saw my way to communicate a word or two with
the doctor.

I was unbound now, and therefore had no difficulty in moving about the
hut, from whose low roof, after a good deal of trying, I at last
obtained a piece of palm-leaf that seemed likely to suit my purpose.
This done, my need was a point of some kind--a pin, a nail, the tongue
of a buckle, a hard sharp piece of wood, and I had neither.

But I had hope.

Several different blacks had taken their places at the door of my hut,
and I was waiting patiently for the one to return who sat there carving
his waddy handle.  When he came I hoped by some stratagem to get hold of
the sharp bit of flint to scratch my palm-leaf.

Fortunately towards mid-day this man came, and after a good look at me
where I lay he stuck his spear in the earth, squatted down, took out his
flint and waddy, and began once more to laboriously cut the zigzag lines
that formed the ornamentation.

I lay there hungrily watching him hour after hour, vainly trying to
think out some plan, and when I was quite in despair the black boy, whom
I had not seen for many hours, came sauntering up in an indifferent way
to stand talking to my guard for some minutes, and then entered the hut
to stand looking down at me.

I was puzzled about that boy, for at times I thought him friendly, at
others disposed to treat me as an enemy; but my puzzled state was at an
end, for as soon as I began to make signs he watched me eagerly and
tried to comprehend.

I had hard work to make him understand by pointing to the savage
outside, and then pretending to hack at my finger as if carving it.
Jimmy would have understood in a moment, but it was some time before the
boy saw what I meant.  Then his face lit up, and he slowly sauntered
away, as if in the most careless of moods, poising his spear and
throwing it at trees, stooping, leaping, and playing at being a warrior
of his tribe, so it seemed to me, till he disappeared among the trees.

The sun was sinking low, but he did not return.  I saw him pass by with
the tall painted warrior, and then go out of sight.  My food had been
given me, but I had not seen Jimmy, though we had corresponded together
by making a few shrill parrot-like whistles.  Night would soon be upon
me once again, and when Gyp came, if he did come, I should not be ready.

I was just thinking like this when there was a slight tap close by me,
and turning quickly I saw a sharp-pointed piece of stone upon the beaten
earth floor, and as I reached out my hand to pick it up a piece of white
wood struck me on the hand, making a sharp metallic sound.

I felt that there was danger, and half threw myself over my treasures,
looking dreamily out at the entrance and remaining motionless, as my
guard entered to stare round suspiciously, eyeing me all over, and then
going slowly back.

I breathed more freely, and was thinking as I saw him settle down that I
might at any time begin to try and carve a word or two, and in this mind
I was about to take the piece of wood from beneath me when the savage
swung himself round and sprang into the hut in a couple of bounds.

He had meant to surprise me if I had been engaged upon any plan of
escape, but finding me perfectly motionless he merely laughed and went
back.

Directly after, another savage came up and took his place, and I eagerly
began my task.

Very easy it sounds to carve a few letters on a piece of wood, but how
hard I found it before I managed to roughly cut the words "All Well,"
having selected these because they were composed of straight lines,
which mine were not.  Still I hoped that the doctor would make them out,
and I hid my piece of flint and my wooden note and waited, meaning to
keep awake till the dog came.

But I had been awake all the previous night, and I fell fast asleep,
till Gyp came and roused me by scratching at my chest, when in a dreamy
confused way I found and took something from the dog's collar and tied
my note in its place, falling asleep directly after from sheer
exhaustion.

It was broad daylight when I awoke, and my first thought was of my
message, when, thrusting my hand into my breast, a curious sensation of
misery came over me as my hand came in contact with a piece of wood, and
it seemed that I had been dreaming and the dog had not come.

I drew out the flat piece of white wood, but it was not mine.  The
doctor, probably having no paper, had hit upon the same plan as I.

His words were few.

"Be on the alert.  We shall come some night."

I thrust the wooden label beneath the dust of the floor, scraped some
more earth over it, and already saw myself at liberty, and in the joy of
my heart I uttered a long parrot-like whistle, but it was not answered.

I whistled again, but there was no reply; and though I kept on making
signals for quite an hour no response came, and the joyousness began to
fade out of my breast.

Twice over that morning I saw the tall savage who was so diabolically
painted and tattooed go by, and once I thought he looked very hard at my
hut; but he soon passed out of my sight, leaving me wondering whether he
was the chief, from his being so much alone, and the curious way in
which all the people seemed to get out of his path.

Once or twice he came near enough for me to see him better, and I
noticed that he walked with his eyes fixed upon the ground in a dreamy
way, full of dignity, and I felt certain now that he must be the king of
these people.

The next day came and I saw him again in the midst of quite a crowd, who
had borne one of their number into the middle of the inclosure of huts,
and this time I saw the tall strange-looking savage go slowly down upon
his knees, and soon after rise and motion with his hands, when everyone
but the boy fell back.  He alone knelt down on one side of what was
evidently an injured man.

The blacks kept their distance religiously till the painted savage
signed to them once more, when they ran forward and four of their number
lifted the prostrate figure carefully and carried it into a hut.

"I was right," I said to myself with a feeling of satisfaction.  "I was
right the first time.  It is the doctor, and he ought to have come to my
help when I was so bad."

Two days, three days passed, during which I lay and watched the birds
that flitted by, saw the people as they came and went, and from time to
time uttered a signal whistle; but this had to be stopped, for on the
afternoon of the third day a very tall savage entered hurriedly in
company with my guard and half a dozen more, and by signs informed me
that if I made signals again my life would be taken.

It was very easy to understand, for spears were pointed at me and
war-clubs tapped me not very lightly upon the head.

As soon as I was left alone I sat thinking, and before long came to the
conclusion that this was probably the reason why I had not heard any
signal from Jimmy, who had perhaps been obstinate, and consequently had
been treated with greater severity.

I longed for the night to come that I might have some fresh message from
the doctor, but somehow I could not keep awake, anxious as I was, and I
was sleeping soundly when a touch awoke me with a start.

I threw up my hands to catch Gyp by the collar, but to my consternation
I touched a hand and arm in the darkness, and there was something so
peculiar in the touch, my hand seeming to rest on raised lines of paint,
that I turned cold, for I knew that one of the savages was bending over
me, and I felt that it must mean that my time had come.

I should have called out, but a hand was laid over my lips and an arm
pressed my chest, as a voice whispered in good English:

"Run, escape!  You can't stay here!"

"Who is it?"  I whispered back, trembling with excitement.  "I know!"  I
added quickly; "you are the tall savage--the doctor!"

"Yes--yes!" he said in a low dreamy tone.  "The tall savage!  Yes--tall
savage!"

"But you are an Englishman!"  I panted, as a terrible thought, half
painful, half filled with hope, flashed through my brain.

"Englishman! yes--Englishman!  Before I was here--before I was ill!
Come, quick! escape for your life!  Go!"

"And you?"

He was silent--so silent that I put out my hands and touched him, to
make sure that he had not gone, and I found that he was resting his head
upon his hands.

"Will you go with me to my friends?"  I said, trembling still, for the
thought that had come to me was gaining strength.

"Friends!" he said softly; "friends!  Yes, I had friends before I came--
before I came!"

He said this in a curious dreamy tone, and I forced the idea back.  It
was impossible, but at the same time my heart leaped for joy.  Here was
an Englishman dwelling among the savages--a prisoner, or one who had
taken up this life willingly, and if he could dwell among them so could
my father, who must be somewhere here.

"Tell me," I began; but he laid his hand upon my lips.

"Hist! not a sound," he said.  "The people sleep lightly; come with me."

He took my hand in his and led me out boldly past a black who was lying
a short distance from my hut, and then right across the broad opening
surrounded by the natives' dwellings, and then through a grove of trees
to a large hut standing by itself.

He pressed my hand hard and led me through the wide opening into what
seemed to be a blacker darkness, which did not, however, trouble him,
for he stepped out boldly, and then I heard a muttering growl which I
recognised directly.

"Hush, Jimmy!"  I whispered, throwing myself upon my knees.  "Don't
speak."

"Jimmy not a go to speak um," he said softly.  "Mass Joe come a top."

"Go," said my companion.  "Go quick.  I want to help--I--the fever--my
head--help."

There was another pause, and on stretching out my hand I found that my
guide was pressing his to his forehead once again.

"He has lived this savage life so long that he cannot think," I felt as,
taking his hand, I led him to the opening, through which he passed in
silence, and with Jimmy walking close behind he led us between a couple
more huts, and then for a good hour between tall trees so close together
that we threaded our way with difficulty.

My companion did not speak, and at last the silence grew so painful that
I asked him how long it would be before daybreak.

"Hush!" he said.  "Listen!  They have found out."

He finished in an excited way, repeating hastily some native words
before stooping to listen, when, to my dismay, plainly enough in the
silence of the night came the angry murmur of voices, and this probably
meant pursuit--perhaps capture, and then death.



CHAPTER THIRTY.

HOW I TALKED WITH MY NEW FRIEND.

As I heard the sound of the pursuit a horrible sensation of dread came
over me.  I felt that we must be taken, and, in addition, vague ideas of
trouble and bloodshed floated through my brain, with memories of the
fight in the gorge, and I shuddered at the idea of there being more
people slain.

The effect was different upon Jimmy, the distant cries seeming to excite
him.  He stopped every now and then to jump from the ground and strike
the nearest tree a tremendous blow with a waddy he had obtained from our
guide.

The latter checked him, though, laying a hand upon his arm as he said to
me, after listening intently:

"You don't want to fight.  These people are too strong.  You must
escape."

"But you will come with us?"  I said once more, with the vague fancy
coming back that this was he whom I sought, but terribly changed.

He said something in reply in the savage tongue, stopped, and then went
on.

"I forget--I don't know.  I am the doctor--a savage--what did you say?"

"Come with us," I whispered, and he bent his head in the dark; but my
words seemed to have no effect upon him, one idea seeming to be all that
he could retain, for he hurried me on, grasping my arm tightly, and then
loosed it and went on in front.

Jimmy took his place, gripping my arm in turn, and, whispering, showed
his power of observation by saying:

"Much good him.  No black fellow.  Talk like Mass Joe some time.  Jimmy
tink um Mass Joe fader got dust in head.  Don't know know."

"Oh no! impossible, Jimmy," I whispered back with emotion.  "It cannot
be my father."

"No fader?  All um white fellow got mud mud in head.  Can't see, can't
know know.  No Mass Joe fader?"

"No, I am sure it is not."

"Then um white fellow.  No black fellow.  Tupid tupid.  Don't know at
all.  No find wallaby in hole.  No find honey.  No kedge fis.  Tupid
white fellow all a same, mud in um head."

"He seems strange in his head," I said.

"Yes.  Iss mad mad.  No wash um head clean.  Can't tink straight up an
down ums like Jimmy."

"But he is saving us," I said.  "Taking us to our friends."

"Jimmy no know.  Jimmy tink doctor somewhere right long--big hill.  Gib
black white fellow topper topper make um tink more."

"No, no," I whispered, for he had grasped his waddy and was about to
clear our guide's misty brain in this rough-and-ready way.  "Be quiet
and follow him."

Just then our guide stopped and let me go to his side.

"Fever--my head," he said softly, and as if apologising.  "Can't think."

"But you will come with us?"  I said.  "My friend the doctor will help
you.  You shall help us.  You must not go back to that degraded life."

"Doctor!" he said, as if he had only caught that word.  "Yes, the
doctor.  Can't leave the people--can't leave him."

"Him!"  I said; "that boy?"

"Hush! come faster."  For there were shouts and cries behind, and he
hurried us along for some distance, talking rapidly to me all the while
in the savages' tongue, and apparently under the impression that I
understood every word, though it was only now and then that I caught his
meaning, and then it was because they were English words.

After catching a few of these I became aware, or rather guessed, that he
was telling me the story of his captivity among these people, and I
tried eagerly to get him to speak English; but he did not seem to heed
me, going on rapidly, and apparently bent on getting us away.

I caught such words as "fever--prisoner--my head--years--misery--
despair--always--savage--doctor"--but only in the midst of a long
excited account which he said more to himself.  I was at last paying
little heed to him when two words stood out clear and distinctly from
the darkness of his savage speech, words that sent a spasm through me
and made me catch at his arm and try to speak, but only to emit a few
gasping utterances as he bent down to me staring as if in wonder.

The words were "fellow-prisoner;" and they made me stop short, for I
felt that I had really and providentially hit upon the right place after
all, and that there could be only one man likely to be a
fellow-prisoner, and that--my poor father.

It was impossible to flee farther, I felt, and leave him whom I had come
to seek behind.

Then common sense stepped in and made me know that it was folly to stay,
while Jimmy supplemented these thoughts by saying:

"Black fellow come along fas.  Mass Joe no gun, no powder pop, no
chopper, no knife, no fight works 'tall."

"Where is he?"  I said excitedly, as I held the arm of our guide.

"Blacks--coming after us."

He talked on rapidly in the savage tongue and I uttered a groan of
despair.

"What um say, Mass Joe?" whispered Jimmy excitedly.  "Talk, talk, poll
parrot can't say know what um say.  Come along run way fas.  Fight
nunner time o," he added.  "Black fellow come along."

He caught my arm, and, following our guide, we hurried on through the
darkness, which was so dense that if it had not been for the wonderful
eyesight of my black companion--a faculty which seemed to have been
acquired or shared by our guide--I should have struck full against the
trunk of some tree.  As it was, I met with a few unpleasant blows on arm
or shoulder, though the excitement of our flight was too great for me to
heed them then.

I was in despair, and torn by conflicting emotions: joy at escaping and
at having reached the goal I had set up, misery at having to leave it
behind just when I had found the light.  It might have been foolish,
seeing how much better I could serve him by being free, but I felt ready
to hurry back and share my father's captivity, for I felt assured that
it must be he of whom our guide spoke.

We were hurrying on all this time entirely under the guidance of the
strange being who had set us free, but not without protests from the
black, who was growing jealous of our guide and who kept on whispering:

"No go no farrer, Mass Joe, Jimmy fine a doctor an Mass Jack Penny.  Hi
come along Jimmy now."

He was just repeating this in my ear when we were hurrying on faster,
for the sounds of our pursuers came clear upon the wind, when our guide
stopped short and fell back a few paces as a low angry growl saluted him
from the darkness in front and he said something sharply to us in the
native tongue.

His words evidently meant "Fall back!" but I had recognised that growl.

"Gyp!"  I cried; and the growling changed to a whining cry of joy, and
in an instant the dog was leaping up at my face, playfully biting at my
hands, and then darting at Jimmy he began the same welcoming
demonstrations upon the black.

"Mass Joe, Mass Joe, he go eat up black fellow.  Top um away, top um
away."

"It's only his play, Jimmy," I said.

"Him eat piece Jimmy, all up leggum," cried the black.

"Here, Gyp!"  I cried, as the dog stopped his whining cry of pleasure,
but growled once more.  "Here," I said, "this is a friend.  Pat his
head, sir, and--, where is he, Jimmy?"

"Black white fellow, Mass Joe?"

"Yes, yes, where is he?"

"Gone 'long uder way.  Run back fas fas.  Fraid o Gyp, Gyp send um way."

"Stop him!  Run after him!  He must not go," I cried.

I stopped, for there was a low piping whistle like the cry of a Blue
Mountain parrot back at home.

"Jack Penny!"  I gasped, and I answered the call.

"Iss, yes, Mass Jack Penny," cried Jimmy, and Gyp made a bound from my
side into the darkness, leaving us alone.

We heard the crash and rustle of the underwood as the dog tore off, and
I was about to follow, but I could not stir, feeling that if I waited
our guide might return, when, in the midst of my indecision, the whistle
was repeated, and this time Jimmy answered.

Then there was more rustling, the dog came panting back; and as the
rustling continued there came out of the darkness a sound that made my
heart leap.

It was only my name softly uttered, apparently close at hand, and I made
a bound in the direction, but only to fall back half-stunned, for I had
struck myself full against a tree.

I just remember falling and being caught by some one, and then I felt
sick, and the darkness seemed filled with lights.

But these soon died out, and I was listening to a familiar voice that
came, it appeared, from a long way off; then it came nearer and nearer,
and the words seemed to be breathed upon my face.

"Only a bit stunned," it said; and then I gasped out the one word:

"Doctor!"

"My dear Joe!" came back, and--well, it was in the dark, and we were not
ashamed: the doctor hugged me to his heart, as if I had been his brother
whom he had found.



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

HOW WE MADE FURTHER PLANS.

"Why, Joe, my lad," he said at last, in a voice I did not recognise, it
was so full of emotion, "you've driven me half-wild.  How could you get
in such a fix?"

"Jimmy get in big fix," said an ill-used voice.  "Nobody glad to see
Jimmy."

"I'm glad to feel you," drawled a well-known voice.  "I can't see you.
How are you, Joe Carstairs?  Where have you been?"

"Jack, old fellow, I'm glad!"  I cried, and I grasped his hands.

"That will do," said the doctor sternly.  "Are the savages after you,
Joe?"

"Yes, in full pursuit, I think," I said.  "But my guide.  I can't leave
him."

"Your guide?  Where is he?"

"I don't know.  He was here just now.  He brought us here."

"Jimmy-Jimmy say um goes back along," said the black.  "He no top, big
fright.  Gyp bite um."

"One of the blacks, Joe?" said the doctor.

"No, no!"  I said, so excited that I could hardly speak coherently.  "A
white man--a prisoner among the blacks--like a savage, but--"

"No, no," said Jimmy in a disgusted tone; "no like savage black
fellow-fellow.  Got a dust in head.  No tink a bit; all agone."

"His mind wanders, being a prisoner," I stammered.  "He is with the
blacks--a prisoner--with my father."

"What?" cried the doctor.

"He has a fellow-prisoner," I faltered.  "I am not sure--it must be--my
father!"

"Mass Joe find um fader all along," said the black.  "Jimmy find um
too."

"Be silent!" cried the doctor.  "Do I understand aright, Joe, that your
father is a prisoner with the people from whom you have escaped?"

"Yes--I think so--I am not sure--I feel it is so," I faltered.

"Humph!"

"Have you seen him?"

"No," I said.  "I did not know he was there till I was escaping."

"Jimmy see um.  All rightums.  Find Mass Joe fader."

"You saw him, Jimmy?"  I panted.

"Iss.  Yes, Jimmy see him.  Big long hair beard down um tummuck."

"You have seen him--the prisoner?" said the doctor.

"Yes; iss Jimmy see um.  Shut up all along.  Sittum down, um look at
ground all sleep, sleep like wallaby, wallaby."

"He means the poor fellow who helped us to escape," I said sadly.

"Jimmy see Mass Joe fader," cried the black indignantly.  "Jimmy take um
right long show um."

"The man who brought us here?"

"No, no, no, no!" cried Jimmy, dancing with vexation.  "Not, not.  Jimmy
see um Mass Joe fader sit all along.  See froo hole.  Big long beard
down um tummuck--long hair down um back.  Um shake um head so, so.  Say
`hi--hi--ho--hum.  Nev see home again.  Ah, my wife!  Ah, my boy!'"

"You heard him say that, Jimmy?"  I cried, catching him by the arm.

"Jimmy sure, sure.  Jimmy look froo hole.  Den fro little tone an hit
um, and den black fellow come along, and Jimmy lay fas' sleep, eye shut,
no move bit."

"He has seen him, Joe," cried the doctor.  "He could not have invented
that."

There was a low whining growl here again from Gyp, and Jack Penny
drawled:

"I say, sha'n't we all be made prisoners if we stop here?"

"Quick!" said the doctor; "follow me."

"And our guide?"  I cried.

"We must come in search of him another time.  If he has been with the
blacks for long he will know how to protect himself."

I was unwilling to leave one who had helped us in such a time of need;
but to stay meant putting ourselves beyond being able to rescue my
father, if it were really he who was our guide's fellow-prisoner.  The
result, of course, was that I followed the doctor, while a snuffling
whine now and then told us that Gyp was on in front, and, in spite of
the darkness, leading the way so well that there seemed to be no
difficulty.

"Where are we going?"  I said, after a pause, during which we had been
listening to the cries of the savages, which appeared to come from
several directions.

"To our hiding-place," said the doctor.  "Jimmy found it before we lost
him, and we have kept to it since, so as to be near you."

"But how did you know you were near me?"  I said.

"Through Gyp first.  He went away time after time, and I suspected that
he had found you, so one day we followed him and he led us to the
village."

"Yes?"  I said.

"Then we had to wait.  I sent messages to you by him; and at last I got
your answer.  To-night we were coming again to try and reach you,
perhaps get you away.  We meant to try.  I should not have gone back
without you, my lad," he said quietly.

The cries now seemed distant, and we went slowly on through the
darkness--slowly, for the trees were very close and it required great
care to avoid rushing against them; but the doctor seemed to have made
himself acquainted with the forest, and he did not hesitate till all at
once the shouts of the blacks seemed to come from close by upon our
right, and were answered directly from behind us.

"A party of them have worked round," whispered the doctor.  "Keep cool.
They cannot know we are so near.  Hist! crouch down."

We were only just in time, for hardly had we crouched down close to the
ground than the sound of the savages pushing forward from tree to tree
was heard.

I could not understand it at first, that curious tapping noise; but as
they came nearer I found that each man lightly tapped every tree he
reached, partly to avoid it, by the swinging of his waddy, partly as a
guide to companions of his position.

They came closer and closer, till it seemed that they must either see or
touch us, and I felt my heart beat in heavy dull throbs as I longed for
the rifle that these people had taken from me when they made me
prisoner.

I heard a faint rustle to my right, and I knew it was Jimmy preparing
for a spring.  I heard a slight sound on my left just as the nearest
savage uttered a wild cry, and I knew that this was the lock of a gun
being cocked.  Then all was silent once more.

Perhaps the savages heard the faint click, and uttered a warning, for
the tapping of the trees suddenly ceased, and not the faintest sound
could be heard.

This terrible silence lasted quite five minutes.  It seemed to me like
an hour, and all the while we knew that at least a dozen armed savage
warriors were within charging distance, and that discovery meant certain
captivity, if not death.

I held my breath till I felt that when I breathed again I should utter a
loud gasp and be discovered.  I dared not move to bury my face in my
hands or in the soft earth, and my sensations were becoming agonising,
when there was a sharp tap on a tree, so near that I felt the ground
quiver.  The tap was repeated to right and left, accompanied by a
curious cry that sounded like "Whai--why!" and the party swept on.

"A narrow escape!" said the doctor, as we breathed freely once more.
"Go on, Gyp.  Let's get to earth; we shall be safer there."

I did not understand the doctor's words then, but followed in silence,
with Jack Penny coming close up to me whenever he found the way open, to
tell me of his own affairs.

"My back's a deal better," he whispered.  "I've been able to rest it
lately--waiting for you, and it makes it stronger, you know, and--"

"Silence, Penny!" said the doctor reprovingly, and Jack fell back a few
feet; and we travelled on, till suddenly, instead of treading upon the
soft decayed-leaf soil of the forest, I found that we were rustling
among bushes down a steep slope.  Then we were amongst loose stones, and
as the darkness was not quite so dense I made out by sight as well as by
the soft trickling sound, that a little rivulet was close to our feet.

This we soon afterwards crossed, and bidding me stoop the doctor led the
way beneath the dense bushes for some little distance before we seemed
to climb a stony bank, and then in the intense darkness he took me by
the shoulders and backed me a few steps.

"There's quite a bed of branches there," he said aloud.  "You can speak
out, we are safe here;" and pressing me down I sat upon the soft twigs
that had been gathered together, and Jack Penny came and lay down beside
me, to talk for a time and then drop off to sleep, an example I must
have followed.  For all at once I started and found that it was broad
daylight, with the loud twittering song of birds coming from the bushes
at the entrance of what seemed to be a low-roofed extensive cave, whose
mouth was in the shelving bank of a great bluff which overhung a
silvery-sounding musical stream.

Some light came in from the opening; but the place was made bright by
the warm glow that came from a kind of rift right at the far end of the
cave, and through this was also wafted down the sweet forest scents.

"Jimmy's was a lucky find for us," said the doctor, when I had partaken
of the food I found they had stored there, and we had talked over our
position and the probability of my belief being correct.  "It is shelter
as well as a stronghold;" and he pointed to the means he had taken to
strengthen the entrance, by making our black followers bind together the
branches of the tangled shrubs that grew about the mouth.

In the talk that ensued it was decided that we would wait a couple of
days, and then go by night and thoroughly examine the village.  Jimmy
would be able to point out the hut where my father was confined, and
then if opportunity served we would bring him away, lie hidden here for
a few days till the heat of the pursuit was over, and then escape back
to the coast.

I would not own to the doctor that I had my doubts, and he owned
afterwards to me that his feeling was the same.  So we both acted as if
we had for certain discovered him of whom we came in search, and waited
our time for the first venture.

It was dangerous work hunting for food at so short a distance from the
village, but our black followers, aided by Jimmy, were very successful,
their black skins protecting them from exciting surprise if they were
seen from a distance, and they brought in a good supply of fish every
day simply by damming up some suitable pool in the little stream in
whose bank our refuge was situated.  This stream swarmed with fish, and
it was deep down in a gully between and arched over by trees.  The bows
and arrows and Jimmy's spear obtained for us a few birds, and in
addition they could always get for us a fair supply of fruit, though not
quite such as we should have chosen had it been left to us.  Roots, too,
they brought, so that with the stores we had there was not much prospect
of our starving.

In fact so satisfactory was our position in the pleasant temperate cave
that Jack Penny was in no hurry to move.

"We're just as well here as anywhere else," he said; "that is, if we had
found your father."

"And got him safe here," he added after a pause.

"And the black chaps didn't come after us," he said after a little more
thought.

"And your mother wasn't anxious about you," he said, after a little more
consideration.

"You'll find such a lot more reasons for not stopping, Jack Penny," I
said, after hearing him out, "that you'll finish by saying we had better
get our work done and return to a civilised country as soon as we can."

"Oh, I don't know!" said Jack slowly.  "I don't care about civilised
countries: they don't suit me.  Everybody laughs at me because I'm a bit
different, and father gives it to me precious hard sometimes.  Give me
Gyp and my gun, and I should be happy enough here."

"Don't talk like that, Jack," I said in agony, as I thought of him who
had helped me to escape, and of the prisoner he had mentioned, and whom
the black professed to have seen.  "Let's get our task done and escape
as soon as we can.  A savage life is not for such as we."

That day we had an alarm.

Our men had been out and returned soon after sunrise, that being our
custom for safety's sake.  Then, too, we were very careful about having
a fire, though we had no difficulty with it, for it burned freely, and
the smoke rose up through the great crack in the rock above our heads,
and disappeared quietly amongst the trees.  But we had one or two
scares: hearing voices of the blacks calling to each other, but they
were slight compared to the alarm to which I alluded above.

The men, I say, were back, having been more successful than usual--
bringing us both fish and a small wild pig.  We had made a good meal,
and the doctor and I were lying on the armfuls of leafy boughs that
formed our couch, talking for the twentieth time about our plans for the
night, when all at once, just as I was saying that with a little brave
effort we could pass right through the sleepy village and bring away the
prisoner, I laid my hand sharply on the doctor's arm.

He raised his head at the same moment, for we had both heard the
unmistakable noise given by a piece of dead twig when pressed upon by a
heavy foot.

We listened with beating hearts, trying to localise the very spot whence
the sound came; and when we were beginning to breathe more freely it
came again, but faint and distant.

"Whoever it was has not found out that we are here," I whispered.

The doctor nodded; and just then Jack Penny, who had been resting his
back, sat up and yawned loudly, ending by giving Jimmy, who was fast
asleep, a sounding slap on the back.

I felt the cold perspiration ooze out of me as I glanced at the doctor.
Then turning over on to my hands and knees I crept to where Jimmy was
threatening Jack with his waddy in much anger, and held up my hand.

The effect was magical.  They were silent on the instant, but we passed
the rest of that day in agony.

"I'm glad that we decided to go to-night," the doctor said.  "Whoever it
was that passed must have heard us, and we shall have the savages here
to-morrow to see what it meant."

The night seemed as if it would never come, but at last the sun went
down, and in a very short time it was dark.

Our plans were to go as near as we dared to the village as soon as
darkness set in, place our men, and then watch till the savages seemed
to be asleep, and then, by Jimmy's help, seek out my father's prison,
bring him away to the cave, and there rest for a day or two, perhaps for
several, as I have said.  But the events of the day had made us doubtful
of the safety of our refuge; and, after talking the matter over with the
doctor, we both came to the conclusion that we would leave the latter
part of our plan to take care of itself.

"First catch your hare, Joe!" said the doctor finally.  "And look here,
my lad; I begin to feel confident now that this prisoner is your father.
We must get him away.  It is not a case of _try_!  We _must_, I say;
and if anything happens to me--"

"Happens to you!"  I said aghast.

"Well; I may be captured in his place!" he said smiling.  "If I am,
don't wait, don't spare a moment, but get off with your prize.  I don't
suppose they will do more than imprison me.  I am a doctor, and perhaps
I can find some favour with them."

"Don't talk like that, doctor!"  I said, grasping his hand.  "We must
hold together."

"We must release your father!" he said sternly.  "There, that will do."



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

HOW WE HEARD A BLACK DISCUSSION AND DID NOT UNDERSTAND.

The rescue party consisted of the doctor, Ti-hi, and myself, with Jimmy
for guide.  Jack Penny was to take command of the cave, and be ready to
defend it and help us if attacked or we were pursued.  At the same time
he was to have the bearers and everything in readiness for an immediate
start, in case we decided to continue our flight.

"I think that's all we can say, Penny," said the doctor in a low grave
voice, as we stood ready to start.  "Everything must depend on the
prisoners.  Now be firm and watchful.  Good-bye."

"I sha'n't go to sleep," said Jack Penny.  "I say, though, hadn't you
better take Gyp?"

"Yes, yes; take Gyp!"  I said; "he knows the way so well."

"Jimmy know a way so well, too!" said the black.  "No take a dog--Gyp!"

But we decided to take the dog, and creeping down into the bed of the
rivulet we stood in the darkness listening, shut-in, as it were, by the
deep silence.

"Forward, Jimmy!" said the doctor, and his voice sounded hollow and
strange.

Gyp uttered a whine--that dog had been so well trained that he rarely
barked--ran quickly up the further bank of the rivulet; Jimmy trotted
after him, waddy in hand; the doctor went next, I followed, and Ti-hi
brought up the rear.

One minute the stars were shining brightly over us, the next we were
under the great forest trees, and the darkness was intense.

"Keep close to me, my lad," the doctor whispered; and I followed him by
the ear more than by the eye; but somehow the task grew easier as we
went on, and I did not once come in contact with a tree.

By the way Gyp took us I don't suppose it was more than six miles to the
savages' village; and though we naturally went rather slowly, the
excitement I felt was so great that it seemed a very little while before
Jimmy stopped short to listen.

"Hear um talkum talkum," he whispered.

We could neither of us hear a sound, but I had great faith in Jimmy's
hearing, for in old times he had given me some remarkable instances of
the acuteness of this sense.

"Jimmy go first see!" he whispered; and the next minute we knew that we
were alone with Ti-hi, Jimmy and the dog having gone on to scout.

"I detest having to depend upon a savage!" muttered the doctor; "it
seems so degrading to a civilised man."

"But they hear and see better than we do."

"Yes," he said; "it is so."

There we waited in that dense blackness beneath the trees, listening to
the faintest sound, till quite an hour had elapsed, and we were burning
to go on, when all at once Ti-hi, who was behind us, uttered a faint
hiss, and as we turned sharply a familiar voice said:

"All rightums!  Jimmy been round round, find um Mass Joe fader!"

"You have found him?"  I cried.

"Not talk shouto so!" whispered Jimmy.  "Black fellow come."

"But have you found him?"  I whispered.

"Going a find um; all soon nuff!" he replied coolly.  "Come long now."

He struck off to the right and we followed, going each minute more
cautiously, for we soon heard the busy hum of many voices--a hum which
soon after developed into a loud chatter, with occasional angry
outbursts, as if something were being discussed.

Jimmy went on, Gyp keeping close to his heels now, as if he quite
understood the importance of not being seen.  We had left the dense
forest, and were walking in a more open part among tall trees, beneath
which it was black as ever, but outside the stars shone brilliantly, and
it was comparatively light.

The voices seemed so near now that I thought we were going too far, and
just then Jimmy raised his hand and stopped us, before what seemed to be
a patch of black darkness, and I found that we were in the shadow cast
by a long hut, whose back was within a yard or so of our feet.

Jimmy placed his lips close to my ear, then to the doctor's, and to each
of us he whispered:

"Soon go sleep--sleep.  Find Mass Joe fader, and go away fast.  All top
here Jimmy go see."

I quite shared with the doctor the feeling of helpless annoyance at
having to depend so much on the black; but I felt that he was far better
able to carry out this task than we were, so stood listening to the buzz
of voices, that seemed now to arise on every hand.

From where we stood we could see a group of the savages standing not
thirty yards from us, their presence being first made plain by their
eager talking, and I pressed the doctor's arm and pointed.

"Yes," he whispered; "but we are in the shadow."

From huts to right and left we could hear talking, but that in front of
us was silent, and I began wondering whether it was the one that had
been my prison.  But it was impossible to tell, everything seemed so
different in the faint light cast by the stars.  I could not even make
out the tree where Jimmy had been tied.

All at once a sensation as of panic seized me, for the group of blacks
set up a loud shout, and came running towards where we were.

I was sure they saw us, and with a word of warning to the doctor I
turned and should have fled but for two hands that were laid upon my
shoulders, pressing me down, the doctor crouching likewise.

At first I thought it was Jimmy, but turning my head I found that it was
Ti-hi, whose hand now moved from my shoulder to my lips.

I drew a breath full of relief the next moment, for in place of dashing
down upon us the blacks rushed into the hut behind which we were
standing, crowding it; and there was nothing now but a wall of dried and
interwoven palm leaves between us and our fierce enemies.

Here a loud altercation seemed to ensue, angry voices being heard; and
several times over I thought there was going to be a fight.  I could not
comprehend a word, but the tones of voice were unmistakably those of
angry men, and it was easy to tell when one left off and another began.

We dared not stir, for now it seemed to be so light that if we moved
from the shadow of the hut we should be seen, while the fact of one of
us stepping upon a dead twig and making it snap would be enough to bring
half the village upon us, at a time when we wanted to employ strategy
and not force.

The burst of talking in the hut ended all at once, and there was a dead
silence, as if those within were listening intently.

We held our breath and listened too, trembling with excitement, for all
at once we heard a voice utter a few words, and then there was a faint
sound of rustling, with the cracking noise made by a joint, as if some
one had risen to a standing position.

Were the savages coming round to our side and about to leap upon us?
Perhaps they were even then stealing from both ends; and my heart in the
terrible excitement kept on a heavy dull throb, which seemed to beat
right up into my throat.

The moments passed away, though, and at last I began to breathe more
freely.  It was evident that the savages had quitted the hut.

In this belief I laid my hand upon the doctor's arm, and was about to
speak, when close by us, as it seemed, but really from within the wall
of the hut, there came the low muttering of a voice, and I knew that
some one had been left behind.

The doctor pressed my hand, and I shivered as I felt how narrow an
escape we had had.

We wanted, of course, to move, but it seemed impossible, and so we
stayed, waiting to see if the black had made any discovery.

After what seemed to me an interminable time I heard a slight rustling
sound, and almost at the same moment there was a hand upon my arm, and
directly after a warm pair of lips upon my ear:

"Jimmy no find um fader yet!  Take um out o' place place!  Put um
somewhere; no know tell!"

I placed my lips to his ear in turn and whispered that there was some
one left in the hut.

"Jimmy go see," he said softly; and before I could stay him he was gone.

"What is it?" whispered the doctor; and I told him.

The doctor drew his pistol--I heard him in the darkness--and grasped my
arm, as if to be ready for flight; but just then I heard a voice in the
hut which made me start with joy.  Then there was a rustling sound, and
Jimmy came round the corner of the hut.

"All rightums!" he whispered.  "Find somebody's fader!"

"You here again, my boy!" whispered a familiar voice.

"Yes!"  I said, catching the speaker's arm; and then, "Doctor," I said,
"this is the prisoner who saved me--and set Jimmy free!"

"Doctor!" said the poor fellow in a low puzzled voice, as if his mind
were wandering.  "Yes, I am the doctor!  They made me their doctor
when--the fever--when--oh! my boy, my boy! why did you come back?" he
cried excitedly, as if his brain were once more clear.

"To fetch you and--the other prisoner!"  I said.

"Mr Carstairs?" he said earnestly.  "Hush, hush!  They are coming
back--to kill me, perhaps!  I must go."

He slipped away from us before we could stop him, and while we were
debating as to whether we had not better rush in and fight in his
defence, the savages crowded into the hut, and once more there was a
loud buzz of voices.

These were checked by one deeper, slower, and more stern than the
others, which were silenced; and after a minute or two, we heard our
friend the Englishman respond in a deprecating voice, and apparently
plead for mercy.

Then the chief savage spoke again in stern tones, there was a buzz of
voices once more, and the savages seemed to file out and cross the
opening towards the other side of the village.

We dared not move, but remained there listening, not knowing but that a
guard might have been left; but at the end of a minute or two our friend
was back at our side, to say excitedly:

"I want to help you, but my head--I forget--I cannot speak sometimes--I
cannot think.  It is all dark here--here--in my mind.  Why have you
come?"

"We are friends," said the doctor.  "Where is Mr Carstairs?"

"Carstairs?--Mr Carstairs?" he said.  "Ah--"

He began to speak volubly in the savage tongue now, tantalising me so
that I grasped his arm, exclaiming fiercely:

"Speak English.  Where is my father?"

I could hardly see his face, but there was light enough to tell that he
turned towards me, and he stopped speaking, and seemed to be
endeavouring to comprehend what I said.

"My father--the prisoner," I said again, with my lips now to his ear.

"Prisoner?  Yes.  At the great hut--the chief's hut--"

He began speaking again volubly, and then stopped and bent his head.

"At the chief's hut?" said the doctor excitedly.  "Wait a moment or two
to give him time to collect himself, then ask him again."

The poor dazed creature turned to the doctor now, and bent towards him,
holding him by the arm this time.

"Chief's hut?  Yes: right across.  There."

He pointed in the direction the savages seemed to have taken, and from
whence we could hear the voices rising and falling in busy speech.

My heart leaped, for we knew now definitely where he whom we sought was
kept, and the longing, impatient sensation there came upon me to be face
to face with him was so strong that I could hardly contain myself.

"Let us get round there at once," I whispered, "Here, Jimmy."

There was no answer: Jimmy had crept away.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

HOW I NEARLY MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE.

We tried several times over to get our friend to speak, but the result
was only a voluble burst of words in a tongue we could not comprehend,
while all the time he seemed to be aware of his failing, and waved his
hands and stretched them out to us as if begging us to forgive him for
his weakness.

"Let him be, Joe," whispered the doctor at last; "we may excite him by
pressing him.  Let him calm himself, and then perhaps he can speak."

I felt as if it was resigning myself to utter despair, and it seemed
that our attempt that night was to be in vain, when Jimmy suddenly
popped up among us once more.

"'Long here," he whispered, and we were about to follow him when our
friend stopped us.

"No; this way," he said, and he pointed in the opposite direction.

"No, no! 'long here way," said Jimmy excitedly.  "Much lot black fellow
that way."

"Never mind," I whispered; "let's follow him."

"Jimmy find Mass Joe fader right 'long this way," cried the black.  "Not
go 'long other way."

"Where is my father?"

"Big hut over 'cross," said Jimmy.

"Let's get round this way to it then," I whispered.  "Come along."

The doctor was already in advance, following our guide, and after
striking the earth a heavy blow with his waddy to get rid of his anger,
Jimmy followed me, not able to understand that we could get to the
opposite point by going round one way as readily as by the other.

It was very slow work and we had to labour hard, holding the bushes and
trees so that they should not fly back upon those who followed us; but
by dint of great care we got round at last to what, as far as I could
judge, was the far side of the village, our principal guide being the
sound of voices which came to us in a dull murmur that increased as we
drew nearer, and at last we found ourselves similarly situated as to
position, being at the back of another large hut.

Here we waited, listening to the buzz of voices, till I wondered in my
impatience what they could be discussing, and longed to ask our guide,
but feared lest I should confuse him, now that perhaps he was about to
do us good service if left alone.

I was glad that I had kept quiet the next minute, for the doctor laid
his hand upon my shoulder and whispered in my ear:

"There is no doubt about it, my lad.  We have reached the right spot.
Your father is a prisoner in this very hut, and the savages are
discussing whether they will keep him here or take him away."

"What shall we do?"  I whispered back in agony, for it seemed so
terrible to have come all these hundreds of miles to find him, and then
to sit down, as it were, quite helpless, without taking a step to set
him free.

"We can do nothing yet," he replied, "but wait for an opportunity to get
him away."

"Can you not make some plan?"  I whispered back.

"Hist!"

He pressed my hand, for I had been growing louder of speech in my
excitement, and just then there was a fresh outburst of voices from
within the hut, followed by the trampling of feet and loud shouting,
which seemed to be crossing the village and going farther away.

"They have taken the prisoner to--"

Our companion said the first words excitedly, and then stopped short.

"Where?"  I exclaimed aloud, as I caught at his arm.

He answered me in the savage tongue, and with an impatient stamp of the
foot I turned to the doctor.

"What can we do?"  I said.  "It makes me wish to be a prisoner too.  I
should see him, perhaps, and I could talk to him and tell him that help
was near."

"While you shut up part of the help, and raised expectations in his
breast, that would perhaps result in disappointment," replied the
doctor.  "We must wait, my lad, wait.  The savages are excited and
alarmed, and we must come when their suspicions are at rest."

"What do you mean?"  I said.  "Do you mean to go back to-night without
him?"

"Not if we can get him away," he said; "but we must not do anything mad
or rash."

"No, no, of course not," I said despairingly; "but this is horrible: to
be so close to him and yet able to do nothing!"

"Be patient, my lad," he whispered, "and speak lower.  We have done
wonders.  We have come into this unknown wild, and actually have found
that the lost man is alive.  What is more, we have come, as if led by
blind instinct, to the very place where he is a prisoner, and we almost
know the hut in which he is confined."

"Yes, yes.  I know all that," I said; "but it is so hard not to be able
to help him now."

"We are helping him," said the doctor.  "Just think: we have this poor
half-dazed fellow to glean some information, and we have a hiding-place
near, and--Look out!"

I turned my piece in the direction of the danger, for just then a member
of our little expedition, who had been perfectly silent so far, uttered
a savage growl and a fierce worrying noise.

Simultaneously there was a burst of shouts and cries, with the sound of
blows and the rush of feet through the bush.

For the next few minutes there was so much excitement and confusion that
I could hardly tell what happened in the darkness.  All I knew was that
a strong clutch was laid upon my shoulders, and that I was being dragged
backwards, when I heard the dull thud of a blow and I was driven to the
ground, with a heavy body lying across me.

I partly struggled out of this position, partly found myself dragged
out, and then, in a half-stunned, confused fashion, I yielded, as I was
dragged through the dark forest, the twigs and boughs lashing my face
horribly.

I had kept tight hold of my gun, and with the feeling strong upon me
that if I wished to avoid a second captivity I must free myself, I
waited for an opportunity to turn upon the strong savage who held me so
tightly in his grasp and dragged me through the bush in so pitiless a
manner.

He had me with his left hand riveted in my clothes while with his right
hand, I presumed with a war-club, he dashed the bushes aside when the
obstacles were very great.

My heart beat fast as I felt that if I were to escape I must fire at
this fierce enemy, and so horrible did the act seem that twice over,
after laying my hand upon my pistol, I withdrew it, telling myself that
I had better wait for a few minutes longer.

And so I waited, feeling that, after all, my captivity would not be so
bad as it was before, seeing that now I should know my father was near
at hand.

"I can't shoot now," I said to myself passionately; "I don't think I'm a
coward, but I cannot fire at the poor wretch, and I must accept my
fate."

My arm dropped to my side, and at that moment my captor stopped short.

"No hear um come 'long now," he said.

"Jimmy!"  I cried; and for a moment the air seemed full of humming,
singing noises, and if I had not clung to my companion I should have
fallen.



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

HOW JIMMY AND I WERE HUNTED LIKE BEASTS.

"Jimmy!"  I panted, as soon as I had recovered myself to find that the
black was feeling me all over in the darkness.

"Not got no knock um chops, no waddy bang, no popgun ball in um
nowhere," he whispered.

"No Jimmy, I'm not wounded," I said.  "I thought you were one of the
black fellows."

"No, no black fellow--no common black fellow sabbage," he said
importantly.  "Come long fas, fas."

"But the doctor and the prisoner and Ti-hi?"  I said.

"All run way much fas," said Jimmy.  "Gyp, Gyp, see black fellow come
long much, for Jimmy do and nibblum legs make um hard hard.  Gib one two
topper topper, den Jimmy say time um way, take Mass Joe.  Come long."

"But we must go and help the doctor," I said.

"Can't find um.  All go long back to big hole.  Hidum.  Say Mass Joe
come back long o' Jimmy-Jimmy."

It seemed probable that they would make for our hiding-place, but I was
very reluctant to go and leave my friends in the lurch, so I detained
Jimmy and we sat listening, the black making me sit down.

"Rest um leggums," he said.  "Run much fas den."

We stayed there listening for what must have been the space of half an
hour, and during that time we could hear the shouting and rapping of
trees of the blacks as they were evidently searching the bush, but there
was no sound of excitement or fighting, neither did it seem to me that
there were any exulting shouts such as might arise over the capture of
prisoners.

This gave me hope, and in the belief that I might find my companions at
the hiding-place I was about to propose to Jimmy that we would go on,
when he jumped up.

"No stop no longer.  Black fellow come along fas.  Get away."

The noises made by the blacks were plainly coming nearer, and I sprang
to my feet, trying to pierce the darkness, but everywhere there were the
dimly-seen shapes of trees so close that they almost seemed to lower and
their branches to bear down upon our heads; there was the fresh moist
scent of the dewy earth and leaves, and now and then a faint cry of some
bird, but nothing to indicate the way we ought to go.

I turned to Jimmy.

"Can you tell where the cave is?"  I said.

"No: Jimmy all dark," he answered.

"Can't you tell which way to go?"

"Oh yes um," he whispered.  "Jimmy know which way go."

"Well, which?"  I said, as the shouts came nearer.

"Dat away where no black fellow."

"But it may be away from the cave," I said.

"Jimmy don't know, can't help along.  Find cave morrow nex day."

There was wisdom in his proposal, which, awkwardly as it was shaped,
meant that we were to avoid the danger now and find our friends another
time.

"Mass Joe keep long close," he whispered.  "Soon come near time see
along way Mass doctor and Mass Jack Penny-Penny."

We paused for a moment, the black going down on his knees to lay his
head close to the ground so as to make sure of the direction where the
savages were, and he rose up with anything but comfortable news.

"All round bout nearer, come 'long other way."

Just then I gave a jump, for something touched my leg through a great
rent in my trousers.  It felt cold, and for the moment I thought it must
be the head of a serpent; but a low familiar whine undeceived me, and I
stooped down to pat the neck of Jack Penny's shaggy friend.

"Home, Gyp!"  I said.  "Home!"

He understood me and started off at once, fortunately in the direction
taken by Jimmy, and after a long toilsome struggle through the bush, the
more arduous from the difficulty we experienced in keeping up with the
dog, we at last reached a gully at the bottom of which we could hear the
trickling of water.

"All right ums," said Jimmy quickly, and plunging down through the
bushes he was soon at the bottom, and went upon his knees to find out
which way the stream ran.

He jumped up directly, having found that by the direction the water ran
we must be below the cave, always supposing that this was the right
stream.

Down in the gully the sounds of pursuit grew very faint, and at last
died out, while we waded at times, and at others found room upon the
shelving bank to get along, perhaps for a hundred yards unchecked; then
would come a long stretch where the gully was full of thick bushes, and
here our only chance was to creep under them, wading the while in the
little stream, often with our bodies bent so that our faces were close
to the water.

Gyp trotted cheerfully on as I plashed through the water, stopping from
time to time to utter a low whine to guide us when he got some distance
ahead, and I often envied the sagacious animal his strength and
activity, for beside him at a time like this I seemed to be a _very_
helpless creature indeed.

Two or three times over I grasped the black's arm and we stopped to
listen, for it seemed to me that I could hear footsteps and the rustling
of the bushes at the top of the gully far above our heads; but whenever
we stopped the noise ceased, and feeling at last that it was fancy I
plodded on, till, half dead with fatigue, I sank down on my knees and
drank eagerly of the cool fresh water, both Jimmy and the dog following
my example.

At last, though I should not have recognised the place in the gloom,
Jimmy stopped short, and from the darkness above my head, as I stood
with the stream bubbling past my legs, I heard the unmistakable click of
a gun cock.

"Jack!"  I whispered.  "Jack Penny!"

"That'll do," he whispered back.  "Come along.  All right!  Have you got
him?"

"Whom?"  I said, stumbling painfully up into the cave, where I threw
myself down.

"Your father."

"No," I said dismally, "and we've lost the doctor and Ti-hi.  Poor
fellows, I'm afraid they are taken.  But, Jack Penny, we are right.  My
father is a prisoner in the village."

"Then we'll go and fetch him out, and the doctor too.  Ti-hi can take
care of himself.  I'd as soon expect to keep a snake in a wicker cage as
that fellow in these woods; but come, tell us all about it."

I partook, with a sensation as if choking all the while, of the food he
had waiting, and then, as we sat there waiting for the day in the hope
that the doctor might come, I told Jack Penny the adventures of the
night, Jimmy playing an accompaniment the while upon his nose.



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

HOW JACK PENNY FIRED A STRAIGHT SHOT.

There was no stopping Jimmy's snoring.  Pokes and kicks only intensified
the noise, so at last we let him lie and I went on in a doleful key to
the end.

"Oh, it ain't so very bad after all!" said Jack Penny, in his slow
drawl.  "I call it a good night's work."

"Good, Jack?"

"Yes.  Well, ain't it?" he drawled.  "Why, you've got back safe, and you
don't know that the doctor won't get back, and you've done what you came
to do--you've found your father."

"But--but suppose, Jack Penny," I said, "they--they do him some injury
for what has passed."

"'Tain't likely," drawled Jack.  "They've kept him all this time, why
should they want to--well, kill him--that's what you're afraid of now?"

"Yes," I said sadly.

"Gammon! 'tain't likely.  If you'd got an old kangaroo in a big cage,
and the young kangaroo came and tried to get him away you wouldn't go
and kill the old kangaroo for it?"

"No, no," I said.

"Of course not.  I didn't mean to call your father an old kangaroo, Joe
Carstairs.  I only meant it to be an instance like.  I say, do kick that
fellow for snoring so."

"It is of no use to kick him, poor fellow, and, besides, he's tired.
He's a good fellow, Jack."

"Yes, I suppose he is," said Jack Penny; "but he's awfully black."

"Well, he can't help that."

"And he shines so!" continued Jack in tones of disgust.  "I never saw a
black fellow with such a shiny skin.  I say, though, didn't you feel in
a stew, Joe Carstairs, when you thought it was a black fellow lugging
you off?"

"I did," I said; "and when afterwards--hist! is that anything?"

We gazed through the bushes at the darkness outside, and listened
intently, but there was no sound save Jimmy's heavy breathing, and I
went on:

"When afterwards I found it was the black I turned queer and giddy.
Perhaps it was the effect of the blow I got, but I certainly felt as if
I should faint.  I didn't know I was so girlish."

Jack Penny did not speak for a few minutes, and I sat thinking bitterly
of my weakness as I stroked Gyp's head, the faithful beast having curled
up between us and laid his head upon my lap.  I seemed to have been so
cowardly, and, weary and dejected as I was, I wished that I had grown to
be a man, with a man's strength and indifference to danger.

"Oh, I don't know," said Jack Penny suddenly.

"Don't know what?"  I said sharply, as he startled me out of my thinking
fit.

"Oh! about being girlish and--and--and, well, cowardly, I suppose you
mean."

"Yes, cowardly," I said bitterly.  "I thought I should be so brave, and
that when I had found where my father was I should fight and bring him
away from among the savages."

"Ah! yes," said Jack Penny dryly, "that's your sort!  That's like what
you read in books and papers about boys of fifteen, and sixteen, and
seventeen.  They're wonderful chaps, who take young women in their arms
and then jump on horseback with 'em and gallop off at full speed.  Some
of 'em have steel coats like lobsters on, and heavy helmets, and that
makes it all the easier.  I've read about some of them chaps who wielded
their swords--they never swing 'em about and chop and stab with 'em, but
wield 'em, and they kill three or four men every day and think nothing
of it.  I used to swallow all that stuff, but I'm not such a guffin
now."

There was a pause here, while Jack Penny seemed to be thinking.

"Why, some of these chaps swim across rivers with a man under their arm,
and if they're on horseback they sing out a battle-cry and charge into a
whole army, and everybody's afraid of 'em.  I say, ain't it jolly
nonsense Joe Carstairs?"

"I suppose it is," I said sadly, for I had believed in some of these
heroes too.

"I don't believe the boy ever lived who didn't feel in an awful stew
when he was in danger.  Why, men do at first before they get used to it.
There was a chap came to our place last year and did some shepherding
for father for about six months.  He'd been a soldier out in the Crimean
war and got wounded twice in the arm and in the leg, big wounds too.  He
told me that when they got the order to advance, him and his mates, they
were all of a tremble, and the officers looked as pale as could be, some
of 'em; but every man tramped forward steady enough, and it wasn't till
they began to see their mates drop that the want to fight began to come.
They felt savage, he says, then, and as soon as they were in the thick
of it, there wasn't a single man felt afraid."

We sat in silence for a few minutes, and then he went on again:

"If men feel afraid sometimes I don't see why boys shouldn't; and as to
those chaps who go about in books killing men by the dozen, and never
feeling to mind it a bit, I think it's all gammon."

"Hist!  Jack Penny, what's that?"  I whispered.

There was a faint crashing noise out in the forest just then, and I knew
from the sound close by me that the black who was sharing our watch must
have been lifting his spear.

I picked up my gun, and I knew that Jack had taken up his and thrown
himself softly into a kneeling position, as we both strove to pierce the
darkness and catch sight of what was perhaps a coming enemy.

As we watched, it seemed as if the foliage of the trees high up had
suddenly come into view.  There was a grey look in the sky, and for the
moment I thought I could plainly make out the outline of the bushes on
the opposite side of the gully.

Then I thought I was mistaken, and then again it seemed as if I could
distinctly see the outline of a bush.

A minute later, and with our hearts beating loudly, we heard the
rustling go on, and soon after we could see that the bushes were being
moved.

"It is the doctor," I thought; but the idea was false, I knew, for if it
had been he his way would have been down into the stream, which he would
have crossed, while, whoever this was seemed to be undecided and to be
gazing about intently as if in search of something.

When we first caught a glimpse of the moving figure it was fifty yards
away.  Then it came to within forty, went off again, and all the time
the day was rapidly breaking.  The tree tops were plainly to be seen,
and here and there one of the great masses of foliage stood out quite
clearly.

Just then the black, who had crept close to my side, pointed out the
figure on the opposite bank, now dimly-seen in the transparent dawn.

It was that of an Indian who had stopped exactly opposite the clump of
bushes which acted as a screen to our place of refuge, and stooping down
he was evidently trying to make out the mouth of the cave.

He saw it apparently, for he uttered a cry of satisfaction, and leaping
from the place of observation he stepped rapidly down the slope.

"He has found us out," I whispered.

"But he mustn't come all the same," said Jack Penny, and as he spoke I
saw that he was taking aim.

"Don't shoot," I cried, striking at his gun; but I was too late, for as
I bent towards him he drew the trigger, there was a flash, a puff of
smoke, a sharp report that echoed from the mouth of the cave, and then
with a horrible dread upon me I sprang up and made for the entrance,
followed by Jack and the blacks.

It took us but a minute to get down into the stream bed and then to
climb up amongst the bushes to where we had seen the savage, and neither
of us now gave a thought of there being danger from his companions.
What spirit moved Jack Penny I cannot tell.  That which moved me was an
eager desire to know whether a horrible suspicion was likely to be true,
and to gain the knowledge I proceeded on first till I reached the spot
where the man had fallen.

It was a desperate venture, for he might have struck at me, wounded
merely, with war-club or spear; but I did not think of that: I wanted to
solve the horrible doubt, and I had just caught sight of the fallen
figure lying prone upon its face when Jimmy uttered a warning cry, and
we all had to stoop down amongst the bushes, for it seemed as if the
savage's companions were coming to his help.



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

HOW THE DOCTOR FOUND A PATIENT READY TO HIS HAND.

We waited for some minutes crouched there among the bushes listening to
the coming of those who forced their way through the trees, while moment
by moment the morning light grew clearer, the small birds twittered, and
the parrots screamed.  We could see nothing, but it was evident that two
if not three savages were slowly descending the slope of the ravine
towards where we were hidden.  The wounded man uttered a low groan that
thrilled me and then sent a cold shudder through my veins, for I was
almost touching him; and set aside the feeling of horror at having been,
as it were, partner in inflicting his injury, there was the sensation
that he might recover sufficiently to revenge himself upon us by a blow
with his spear.

The sounds came nearer, and it was now so light that as we watched we
could see the bushes moving, and it seemed to me that more of this
horrible bloodshed must ensue.  We were crouching close, but the wounded
man was moaning, and his companions might at any moment hear him and
then discovery must follow; while if, on the other hand, we did not
resist, all hope of rescuing my poor father would be gone.

"We must fight," I said to myself, setting my teeth hard and bringing my
gun to bear on the spot where I could see something moving.  At the same
time I tried to find where Jack Penny was hiding, but he was out of
sight.

At the risk of being seen I rose up a little so as to try and get a
glimpse of the coming enemy; but though the movement among the bushes
was plain enough I only caught one glimpse of a black body, and had I
been disposed to shoot it was too quick for me and was gone in an
instant.

They were coming nearer, and in an agony of excitement I was thinking of
attempting to back away and try to reach the cave, when I felt that I
could not get Jack Penny and the black to act with me unless I showed
myself, and this meant revealing our position, and there all the time
were the enemy steadily making their way right towards us.

"What shall I do?"  I said to myself as I realised in a small way what
must be the feelings of a general who finds that the battle is going
against him.  "I must call to Jack Penny."

"_Cooey_!" rang out just then from a little way to my right, and Jimmy
looked up from his hiding-place.

"Is Carstairs there?" cried the familiar voice of the doctor, and as
with beating heart I sprang up, he came staggering wearily towards me
through the clinging bushes.

"My dear boy," he cried, with his voice trembling, "what I have suffered
on your account!  I thought you were a prisoner."

"No!"  I exclaimed, delighted at this turn in our affairs.  "Jimmy
helped me to escape.  I say, you don't think I ran away and deserted
you?"

"My dear boy," he cried, "I was afraid that you would think this of me.
But there, thank Heaven you are safe! and though we have not rescued
your father we know enough to make success certain."

"I'm afraid not," I said hastily.  "The savages have discovered our
hiding-place."

"No!"

"Yes; and one of them was approaching it just now when Jack Penny shot
him down."

"This is very unfortunate!  Where?  What! close here?"

I had taken his hand to lead him to the clump of bushes where the poor
wretch lay, and on parting the boughs and twigs we both started back in
horror.

"My boy, what have you done?" cried the doctor, as I stood speechless
there by his side.  "We have not so many friends that we could afford to
kill them."

But already he was busy, feeling the folly of wasting words, and down
upon his knees, to place the head of our friend, the prisoner of the
savages, in a more comfortable position before beginning to examine him
for his wound.

"Bullet--right through the shoulder!" said the doctor in a short abrupt
manner; and as he spoke he rapidly tore up his handkerchief, and plugged
and bound the wound, supplementing the handkerchief with a long scarf
which he wore round the waist.

"Now, Ti-hi!  Jimmy! help me carry him to the cave."

"Jimmy carry um all 'long right way; put um on Jimmy's back!" cried my
black companion; and this seeming to be no bad way of carrying the
wounded man in such a time of emergency, Jimmy stooped down,
exasperating me the while by grinning, as if it was good fun, till the
sufferer from our mistake was placed upon his back, when he exclaimed:

"Lot much heavy-heavy!  Twice two sheep heavy.  Clear de bush!"

We hastily drew the boughs aside, and Jimmy steadily descended the steep
slope, entered the rivulet, crossed, and then stopped for a moment
beneath the overhanging boughs before climbing to the cabin.

"Here, let me help you!" said the doctor, holding out his hand.

"Yes," said Jimmy, drawing his waddy and boomerang from his belt; "hold
um tight, um all in black fellow way."

Then, seizing the boughs, he balanced the wounded man carefully, and
drew himself steadily up step by step, exhibiting wonderful strength of
muscle, till he had climbed to the entrance of the cave, where he bent
down and crawled in on hands and knees, waiting till his burden was
removed from his back, and then getting up once more to look round
smiling.

"Jimmy carry lot o' men like that way!"

We laid the sufferer on one of the beds of twigs that the savages had
made for us, and here the doctor set himself to work to more securely
bandage his patient's shoulder; Jack Penny looking on, resting upon his
gun, and wearing a countenance full of misery.

"There!" said the doctor when he had finished.  "I think he will do now.
Two inches lower, Master Penny, and he would have been a dead man."

"I couldn't help it!" drawled Jack Penny.  "I thought he was a savage
coming to kill us.  I'm always doing something.  There never was such an
unlucky chap as I am!"

"Oh, you meant what you did for the best!" said the doctor, laying his
hand on Jack Penny's shoulder.

"What did he want to look like a savage for?" grumbled Jack.  "Who was
going to know that any one dressed up--no, I mean dressed down--like
that was an Englishman?"

"It was an unfortunate mistake, Penny; you must be more careful if you
mean to handle a gun."

"Here, take it away!" said Jack Penny bitterly.  "I won't fire it off
again."

"I was very nearly making the same mistake," I said, out of compassion
for Jack Penny--he seemed so much distressed.  "I had you and Ti-hi
covered in turn as you came up, doctor."

"Then I'm glad you did not fire!" he said.  "There, keep your piece,
Penny; we may want its help.  As for our friend here, he has a painful
wound, but I don't think any evil will result from it.  Hist, he is
coming to!"

Our conversation had been carried on in a whisper, and we now stopped
short and watched the doctor's patient in the dim twilight of the
cavern, as he unclosed his eyes and stared first up at the ceiling and
then about him, till his eyes rested upon us, when he smiled.

"Am I much hurt?" he said, in a low calm voice.

"Oh, no!" said the doctor.  "A bullet wound--not a dangerous one at
all."

To my astonishment he went on talking quite calmly, and without any of
the dazed look and the strange habit of forgetting his own tongue to
continue in that of the people among whom he had been a prisoner for so
long.

"I thought I should find you here," he said; "and I came on, thinking
that perhaps I could help you."

"Help us! yes, of course you can!  You shall help us to get Mr
Carstairs away!"

"Poor fellow; yes!" he said softly, and in so kindly a way that I crept
closer and took his hand.  "We tried several times to escape, but they
overtook us, and treated us so hard that of late we had grown resigned
to our fate."

I exchanged glances with the doctor, who signed to me to be silent.

"It was a very hard one--very hard!" the wounded man continued, and then
he stopped short, looking straight before him at the forest, seen
through the opening of the cave.

By degrees his eyelids dropped, were raised again, and then fell, and he
seemed to glide into a heavy sleep.

The doctor motioned us to keep away, and we all went to the mouth of the
cave, to sit down and talk over the night's adventure, the conversation
changing at times to a discussion of our friend's mental affection.

"The shock of the wound has affected his head beneficially, it seems,"
the doctor said at last.  "Whether it will last I cannot say."

At least it seemed to me that the doctor was saying those or similar
words from out of a mist, and then all was silent.

The fact was that I had been out all night, exerting myself
tremendously, and I had now fallen heavily asleep.



CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN.

HOW WE PASSED THROUGH A GREAT PERIL.

It was quite evening when I woke, as I could see by the red glow amongst
the trees.  I was rested but confused, and lay for some minutes
thinking, and wondering what had taken place on the previous day.

It all came back at once, and I was just in the act of rising and going
to see how our poor friend was, when I felt a hand press me back, and
turning I saw it was Jack Penny, who was pointing with the other towards
the entrance of the cave.

"What is it?"  I whispered; but I needed no telling, for I could see
that a group of the blacks were on the other side of the ravine,
pointing in the direction of the bushes that overhung our refuge, and
gesticulating and talking together loudly.

They know where we are then, I thought; and glancing from one to the
other in the dim light I saw that my opinion was shared by the doctor
and our black followers, who all seemed to be preparing for an
encounter, taking up various places of vantage behind blocks of stone,
where they could ply their bows and arrows and make good use of their
spears.

Just then the doctor crept towards me and placed his lips to my ear:

"They have evidently tracked us, my lad," he said; "and we must fight
for it.  There is no chance beside without we escape by the back here,
and give up the object of our search."

"We must fight, doctor!"  I said, though I trembled as I spoke, and
involuntarily glanced at Jack Penny, wondering even in those critical
moments whether he too felt alarmed.

I think now it was very natural: I felt horribly ashamed of it then.

Whether it was the case, or that Jack Penny was only taking his tint
from the greeny reflected light in the cavern, certainly he looked very
cadaverous and strange.

He caught my eye and blew out his cheeks, and began to whistle softly as
he rubbed the barrel of his gun with his sleeve.

Turning rather jauntily towards the doctor he said softly:

"Suppose I am to shoot now, doctor?"

"When I give the order," said the latter coldly.

"There won't be any mistake this time?"

"No," said the doctor, quietly; "there will not be any mistake this
time!"

He stopped and gazed intently at the savages, who were cautiously
descending towards the stream, not in a body but spread out in a line.

"Fire first with large shot," he said softly.  "If we can frighten them
without destroying life we will.  Now creep each of you behind that
clump of stones and be firm.  Mind it is by steadily helping one another
in our trouble that we are strong."

I gave him a quick nod--it was no time for speaking--and crept softly to
my place, passing pretty close to where our friend lay wounded and
quietly asleep.

The next minute both Jack Penny and I were crouched behind what served
as a breastwork, with our pieces ready, the doctor being on our left,
and the blacks, including Jimmy, right in front, close to the mouth of
the cave.

"We must mind and not hit the blacks!" whispered Jack.  "I mean our
chaps.  Lie down, Gyp!"

The dog was walking about in an impatient angry manner, uttering a low
snarl now and then, and setting up the hair all about his neck till in
the dim light he looked like a hyena.

Gyp turned to his master almost a reproachful look, and then looked up
at me, as if saying, "Am I to be quiet at a time like this?"

Directly after, though, he crouched down with his paws straight out
before him and his muzzle directed towards the enemy, ready when the
struggle began to make his teeth meet in some one.

The savages were all the time coming steadily on lower and lower down
the bank, till suddenly one of them stopped short and uttered a low cry.

Several ran to his side at once, and we could see them stoop down and
examine something among the bushes, talking fiercely the while.

"They've found out where our friend was wounded, Jack Penny," I said.

"Think so?" he said slowly.  "Well, I couldn't help it.  I didn't mean
to do it, I declare."

"Hist!"  I whispered; and now my heart began to beat furiously, for the
blacks, apparently satisfied, began to spread out again, descended to
the edge of the little stream, and then stopped short.

If I had not been so excited by the coming danger I should have enjoyed
the scene of this group of strongly-built naked savages, their jetty
black, shining skins bronzed by the reflections of orange and golden
green as the sun flooded the gorge with warm light, making every action
of our enemies plain to see, while by contrast it threw us more and more
into the shade.

They paused for a few moments at the edge of the stream, so close now
that they could touch each other by simply stretching out a hand; and it
was evident by the way all watched a tall black in the centre of the
line that they were waiting his orders to make a dash up into the cave.

Those were terrible minutes: we could see the opal of our enemies' eyes
and the white line of their teeth as they slightly drew their lips apart
in the excitement of waiting the order to advance.  Every man was armed
with bow and arrows, and from their wrists hung by a thong a heavy
waddy, a blow from which was sufficient to crush in any man's skull.

"They're coming now," I said in a low voice, the words escaping me
involuntarily.  And then I breathed again, for the tall savage,
evidently the leader, said something to his men, who stood fast, while
he walked boldly across the stream beneath the overhanging bushes, and
one of these began to sway as the chief tried to draw himself up.

I glanced at the doctor, being sure that he would fire, when, just as
the chief was almost on a level with the floor of the cave, there was a
rushing, scratching noise, and the most hideous howling rose from just
in front of where I crouched, while Gyp leaped up, with hair bristling,
and answered it with a furious howl.

The savage dropped back into the water with a tremendous splash, and
rushed up the slope after his people, not one of them stopping till they
were close to the top, when Jimmy raised his grinning face and looked
round at us.

"Um tink big bunyip in um hole, make um all run jus fas' away, away."

He had unmistakably scared the enemy, for they collected together in
consultation, but our hope that they might now go fell flat, for they
once more began to descend, each one tearing off a dead branch or
gathering a bunch of dry ferns as he came; and at the same moment the
idea struck Jack Penny and me that they believed some fierce beast was
in the hole, and that they were coming to smoke it out.

The blacks came right down into the rivulet, and though the first
armfuls of dry wood and growth they threw beneath the cave mouth went
into the water, they served as a base for the rest, and in a very short
time a great pile rose up, and this they fired.

For a few moments there was a great fume, which floated slowly up among
the bushes, but very soon the form of the cavern caused it to draw right
in, the opening at the back acting as a chimney.  First it burned
briskly, then it began to roar, and then to our horror we found that the
place was beginning to fill with suffocating smoke and hot vapour,
growing more dangerous moment by moment.

Fortunately the smoke and noise of the burning made our actions safe
from observation, and we were thus able to carry our wounded right to
the back, where the air was purer and it was easier to breathe.

It was a terrible position, for the blacks, encouraged by their success,
piled on more and more brushwood and the great fronds of fern, which
grew in abundance on the sides of the little ravine, and as the green
boughs and leaves were thrown on they hissed and spluttered and sent
forth volumes of smoke, which choked and blinded us till the fuel began
to blaze, when it roared into the cave and brought with it a quantity of
hot but still breathable air.

"Keep a good heart, my lads," said the doctor.  "No, no, Penny!  Are you
mad?  Lie down! lie down!  Don't you know that while the air high up is
suffocating, that low down can be breathed?"

"No, I couldn't tell," said Jack Penny dolefully, as he first knelt down
and then laid his head close to the ground.  "I didn't know things were
going to be so bad as this or I shouldn't have come.  I don't want to
have my dog burned to death."

Gyp seemed to understand him, for he uttered a low whine and laid his
nose in his master's hand.

"Burned to death!" said the doctor in a tone full of angry excitement.
"Of course not.  Nobody is going to be burned to death."

Through the dim choking mist I could see that there was a wild and
anxious look in the doctor's countenance as he kept going near the mouth
of the cave, and then hurrying back blinded and in agony.

We had all been in turn to the narrow rift at the end through which we
had been able to see the sky and the waving leaves of the trees, but now
all was dark with the smoke that rolled out.  This had seemed to be a
means of escape, but the difficulty was to ascend the flat chimney-like
place, and when the top was reached we feared that it would only be for
each one who climbed out to make himself a mark for the savages' arrows.

Hence, then, we had not made the slightest attempt to climb it.  Now,
however, our position was so desperate that Jimmy's proposal was
listened to with eagerness.

"Place too much big hot," he said.  "Chokum-chokum like um wallaby.  Go
up."

He caught hold of the doctor's scarf of light network, a contrivance
which did duty for bag, hammock, or rope in turn, and the wearer rapidly
twisted it from about his waist.

"Now, Mas' Jack Penny, tan' here," he cried; and Jack was placed just
beneath the hole.

Jack Penny understood what was required of him, and placing his hands
against the edge of the rift he stood firm, while Jimmy took the end of
the doctor's scarf in his teeth and proceeded to turn him into a ladder,
by whose means he might get well into the chimney-like rift, climb up,
and then lower down the scarf-rope to help the rest.

As I expected, the moment Jimmy caught Jack Penny's shoulders and placed
one foot upon him my companion doubled up like a jointed rule, and Jimmy
and he rolled upon the floor of the cave.

At any other time we should have roared with laughter at Jimmy's disgust
and angry torrent of words, but it was no time for mirth, and the doctor
took Jack Penny's place as the latter drawled out:

"I couldn't help it; my back's so weak.  I begin to wish I hadn't come."

"Dat's fine," grunted Jimmy, who climbed rapidly up, standing on the
doctor's shoulders, making no scruple about planting a foot upon his
head, and then we knew by his grunting and choking sounds that he was
forcing his way up.

The moment he had ceased to be of use the doctor stood aside, and it was
as well, for first a few small stones fell, then there was a crash, and
I felt that Jimmy had come down, but it only proved to be a mass of
loose stone, which was followed by two or three more pieces of earth and
rock.

Next came a tearing sound as of bushes being broken and dragged away,
and to our delight the smoke seemed to rush up the rift with so great a
current of air that fresh breath of life came to us from the mouth of
the cave, and with it hope.

In those critical moments everything seemed dream-like and strange.  I
could hardly see what took place for the smoke, my companions looking
dim and indistinct, and somehow the smoke seemed to be despair, and the
fresh hot wind borne with the crackling flames that darted through the
dense vapour so much hope.

"Ti-hi come 'long nextums," whispered Jimmy; and the black ran to the
opening eagerly, but hesitated and paused, ending by seizing me and
pushing me before him to go first.

"No, no," I said; "let's help the wounded man first."

"Don't waste time," said the doctor angrily.  "Up, Joe, and you can help
haul."

I obeyed willingly and unwillingly, but I wasted no time.  With the help
of the doctor and the scarf I had no difficulty in climbing up the rift,
which afforded good foothold at the side, and in less than a minute I
was beside Jimmy, breathing the fresh air and seeing the smoke rise up
in a cloud from our feet.

"Pull!" said the doctor in a hoarse whisper that seemed to come out of
the middle of the smoke.

Jimmy and I hauled, and somehow or another we got Jack Penny up, choking
and sneezing, so that he was obliged to lie down amongst the bushes, and
I was afraid he would be heard, till I saw that we were separated from
the savages by a huge mass of stony slope.

Two of the black bearers came next easily enough, and then the scarf had
to be lowered down to its utmost limits.

I knew why, and watched the proceedings with the greatest concern as
Jimmy and one of the blacks reached down into the smoky rift and held
the rope at the full extent of their arms.

"Now!" said the doctor's voice, and the two hardy fellows began to draw
the scarf, with its weight coming so easily that I knew the doctor and
one of the blacks must be lifting the wounded man below.

Poor fellow, he must have suffered the most intense agony, but he did
not utter a sigh.  Weak as he was he was quite conscious of his
position, and helped us by planting his feet wherever there was a
projection in the rift, and so we hauled him up and laid him on the sand
among the bushes, where he could breathe, but where he fainted away.

The rest easily followed, but not until the doctor had sent up every
weapon and package through the smoke.  Then came his turn, but he made
no sign, and in an agony of horror I mastered my dread, and, seizing the
scarf, lowered myself down into the heat and smoke.

It was as I feared; he had fainted, and was lying beneath the opening.

My hands trembled so that I could hardly tie a knot, but knowing, as I
did, how short the scarf was, I secured it tightly round one of his
wrists and called to them to haul just as Jimmy was coming down to my
help.

He did not stop, but dropped down beside me, and together we lifted the
fainting man, called to them to drag, and he was pulled up.

"Here, ketch hold," came from above the next moment in Jack Penny's
voice, and to my utter astonishment down came the end of the scarf at
once, long before they could have had time to untie it from the doctor's
wrist.

"Up, Jimmy!"  I cried, as I realised that it was the other end Jack
Penny had had the _nous_ to lower at once.

"No: sha'n't go, Mass Joe Carstairs."

"Go on, sir," I cried.

"No sha'n't!  Debble--debble--debble!" he cried, pushing me to the hole.

To have gone on fighting would have meant death to both, for the savages
were yelling outside and piling on the bushes and fern fronds till they
roared.

I caught the scarf then, and was half-hauled half-scrambled up, to fall
down blinded and suffocated almost, only able to point below.

I saw them lower the scarf again, and after what seemed a tremendous
time Jimmy's black figure appeared.

Almost at the same moment there were tongues of flame mingled with the
smoke, and Jimmy threw himself down and rolled over and over, sobbing
and crying.

"Burn um hot um.  Oh, burn um--burn um--burn um!"

There was a loud roar and a rush of flame and smoke out of the rift,
followed by what seemed to be a downpour of the smoke that hung over us
like a canopy, just as if it was all being sucked back, and then the
fire appeared to be smouldering, and up through the smoke that now rose
slowly came the dank strange smell of exploded powder and the sounds of
voices talking eagerly, but coming like a whisper to where we lay.



CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT.

HOW THE DOCTOR SAID "THANK YOU" IN A VERY QUIET WAY.

For some little time we did nothing but lie there blackened and half
choked, blinded almost, listening to the sound that came up that rift,
for the question now was whether the savages would know that we were
there, or would attribute the roar to that of some fierce beast that
their fire and smoke had destroyed.

The voices came up in a confused gabble, and we felt that if the blacks
came up the rift we could easily beat them back; but if they came round
by some other way to the rocky patch of forest where we were, our state
was so pitiable that we could offer no defence.

Jimmy had been applying cool leaves to his legs for some minutes as we
lay almost where we had thrown ourselves, seeming to want to do nothing
but breathe the fresh air, when all at once he came to where the doctor
and I now rested ourselves upon our elbows and were watching the smoke
that came up gently now and rose right above the trees.

"Jimmy no hurt now.  Roast black fellow," he said grinning.  "Jimmy know
powder go bang pop! down slow."

"Yes," said the doctor.  "I was trying to get that last canister when I
was overcome by the smoke, and just managed to reach the bottom of the
rift.  Who was it saved me?"

"Jimmy-Jimmy!" said the black proudly.

"My brave fellow!" cried the doctor, catching the black's hand.

"Jimmy come 'long Mass Joe.  Haul Mass doctor up.  Mass doctor no wiggle
Jimmy 'gain, eat much pig."

The doctor did not answer, for he had turned to me and taken my hand.

"Did you come down, Joe?" he said softly.

"Of course I did," I replied quietly, though I felt very uncomfortable.

"Thank you!" he said quietly, and then he turned away.

"Black fellow hear powder bang," said Jimmy, grinning.  "Tink um big
bunyip.  All go way now."

I turned to him sharply, listening the while.

"Yes: all go 'long.  Tink bunyip.  Kill um dead.  No kill bunyip.  Oh
no!"

There was the sound of voices, but they were more distant, and then they
seemed to come up the rift in quite a broken whisper, and the next
moment they had died away.

"Safe, doctor!"  I said, and we all breathed more freely than before.

The blacks had gone.  Evidently they believed that the occupant of the
cave had expired in that final roar, and when we afterwards crept
cautiously round after a detour the next morning, it was to find that
the place was all open, and for fifty yards round the bushes and
tree-ferns torn down and burned.

The night of our escape we hardly turned from our positions, utterly
exhausted as we were, and one by one we dropped asleep.

When I woke first it was sometime in the night, and through the trees
the great stars were glinting down, and as I lay piecing together the
adventures of the past day I once more fell fast asleep to be awakened
by Jimmy in the warm sunlight of a glorious morning.

"All black fellow gone long way.  Come kedge fis an fine 'nana."

I rose to my feet to see that the doctor was busy with his patient, who
was none the worse for the troubles of the past day, and what was of
more consequence, he was able to speak slowly and without running off
into the native tongue.

We went down to the stream, Jack Penny bearing us company, and were
pretty fortunate in cutting off some good-sized fish which were sunning
themselves in a shallow, and Ti-hi and his companions were no less
successful in getting fruit, so that when we returned we were able to
light a fire and enjoy a hearty meal.

What I enjoyed the most, though, was a good lave in the clear cold water
when we had a look at the mouth of the cave.

The doctor came to the conclusion that where we were, shut-in by high
shelving sand rocks, was as safe a spot as we could expect, the more so
that the blacks were not likely to come again, so we made this our camp,
waiting to recruit a little and to let the black village settle down
before making any farther attempt.  Beside this there was our new
companion--William Francis he told us his name was, and that he had been
ten years a prisoner among the blacks.  Until he had recovered from the
effect of his unlucky wound we could not travel far, and our flight when
we rescued my father must necessarily be swift.

It was terribly anxious work waiting day after day, but the doctor's
advice was good--that we must be content to exist without news for fear,
in sending scouts about the village at night, we should alarm the enemy.

"Better let them think there is no one at hand," said the doctor, "and
our task will be the easier."

So for a whole fortnight we waited, passing our time watching the bright
scaled fish glance down the clear stream, or come up it in shoals; lying
gazing at the brightly plumed birds that came and shrieked and climbed
about the trees above our heads; while now and then we made cautious
excursions into the open country in the direction opposite to the
village, and fortunately without once encountering an enemy, but adding
largely to our store of food, thanks to the bows and arrows of our
friends.

At last, one evening, after quietly talking to us sometime about the
sufferings of himself and my father, Mr Francis declared himself strong
enough to accompany our retreat.

"The interest and excitement will keep me up," he said; "and you must
not wait longer for me.  Besides, I shall get stronger every day, and--"

He looked from me to the doctor and then back, and passed his hand
across his forehead as if to clear away a mist, while, when he began to
speak again, it was not in English, and he burst into tears.

"Lie down and sleep," the doctor said firmly; and, obedient as a child,
the patient let his head sink upon the rough couch he occupied and
closed his eyes.

"It is as if as his body grew strong his mental powers weakened," said
the doctor to me as soon as we were out of hearing; "but we must wait
and see."

Then we set to and once more talked over our plans, arranging that we
would make our attempt next night, and after studying the compass and
the position we occupied we came to the decision that we had better work
round to the far side of the village, post Mr Francis and two of the
blacks there, with our baggage, which was principally food; then make
our venture, join them if successful, and go on in retreat at once.



CHAPTER THIRTY NINE.

HOW WE TOOK A LAST LOOK ROUND, AND FOUND IT WAS TIME TO GO.

That next evening seemed as it would never come, and I lay tossing
feverishly from side to side vainly trying to obtain the rest my friend
recommended.

At last, though, the time came, and we were making our final
preparations, when the doctor decided that we would just take a look
round first by way of a scout.

It was fortunate that we did, for just as it was growing dusk, after a
good look round we were about to cross the rivulet, and go through the
cavern and up the rift back into camp, when I caught the doctor's arm
without a word.

He started and looked in the same direction as I did which was right
down the gully, and saw what had taken my attention, namely, the
stooping bodies of a couple of blacks hurrying away through the bushes
at a pretty good rate.

The doctor clapped his piece to his shoulder, and then dropped it once
more.

"No!" he said.  "I might kill one, but the other would bear the news.
Fortunately they are going the other way and not ours.  Quick, my lad!
let's get back to camp and start."

"And they'll come back with a lot of their warriors to attack us
to-night and find us gone!"

"And while they are gone, Joe, we will attack their place and carry off
our prize!"

"If we only could!"  I cried fervently.

"No _ifs_, Joe," he said smiling; "we _will_!"

It did not take us many minutes to reach the mouth of the cave, and as
we entered I looked round again, to catch sight of another black figure
crouching far up the opposite bank, at the foot of a great tree.

I did not speak, for it was better that the black should not think he
had been seen, so followed the doctor into the cave, climbed the rift
with him, and found all ready for the start.

"Black fellow all 'bout over there way!" said Jimmy to me in a whisper.

"How do you know?"  I said quickly.

"Jimmy smell am!" he replied seriously.  "Jimmy go look 'bout.  Smell um
black fellow, one eye peeping round um trees."

"Yes, we have seen them too," I said; and signing to him to follow, I
found the doctor.

"The sooner we are off the better!" he said.  "Now, Mr Francis, do you
think you can lead us to the other side of the village, round by the
north? the enemy are on the watch."

Mr Francis turned his head without a word, and, leaning upon a stout
stick, started at once; and we followed in silence, just as the stars
were coming out.

It seemed very strange calling this savage-looking being Mr Francis,
but when talking with him during his recovery from his wound one only
needed to turn one's head to seem to be in conversation with a man who
had never been from his civilised fellows.

He went steadily on, the doctor next, and I followed the doctor; the
rest of our little party gliding silently through the forest for quite
three hours, when Mr Francis stopped, and it was decided to rest and
refresh ourselves a little before proceeding farther.

The doctor had settled to leave Mr Francis here, but he quietly
objected to this.

"No!" he said; "you want my help more now than ever.  I am weak, but I
can take you right to the hut where Carstairs is kept a prisoner.  If
you go alone you will lose time, and your expedition may--"

He stopped short and lay down upon the earth for a few minutes, during
which the doctor remained undecided.  At last he bent down and whispered
a few words to his patient, who immediately rose.

Orders were then given to the blacks, who were to stay under the command
of Jack Penny, and, followed by Jimmy, and leaving the rest of our party
in the shade of an enormous tree, we set off once more.

The excitement made the distance seem so short that I was astounded when
a low murmur told us that we were close to the village, and, stepping
more cautiously, we were soon close up behind a great hut.

"This is the place," whispered Mr Francis.  "He is kept prisoner here,
or else at the great hut on the other side.  Hist!  I'll creep forward
and listen."

He went down in a stooping position and disappeared, leaving us
listening to the continuous talk of evidently a numerous party of the
savages; and so like did it all seem to the last time, that no time
might have elapsed since we crouched there, breathing heavily with
excitement in the shade of the great trees that came close up to the
huts.

It was a painful time, for it seemed that all our schemes had been in
vain, and that we might as well give up our task, unless we could come
with so strong a body of followers that we could make a bold attack.

I whispered once or twice to the doctor, but he laid his hand upon my
lips.  I turned to Jimmy, but he had crouched down, and was resting
himself according to his habit.

And so quite an hour passed away before we were aware by a slight rustle
that Mr Francis was back, looming up out of the darkness like some
giant, so strangely did the obscurity distort everything near at hand.

"Here!" he said in a low voice; and bending down we all listened to his
words, which came feebly, consequent upon his exertions.

"I have been to the far hut and he is not there!" he whispered.  "I came
back to this and crept in unobserved.  They are all talking about an
expedition that has gone off to the back of the cave--to destroy us.
Carstairs is in there, bound hand and foot."

"My poor father!"  I moaned.

"I spoke to him and told him help was near," continued Mr Francis; "and
then--"

He muttered something in the savages' tongue, and then broke down and
began to sob.

"Take no notice," the doctor whispered to me, as I stood trembling
there, feeling as I did that I was only a few yards from him we had come
to save, and who was lying bound there waiting for the help that seemed
as if it would never come.

The doctor realised my feelings, for he came a little closer and pressed
my hand.

"Don't be downhearted, my lad," he whispered; "we are a long way nearer
to our journey's end than when we started."

"Yes!"  I said; "but--"

"But!  Nonsense, boy!  Why, we've found your father.  We know where he
is; and if we can't get him away by stratagem, we'll go to another tribe
of the blacks, make friends with them, and get them to fight on our
side."

"Nonsense, doctor!"  I said bitterly.  "You are only saying this to
comfort me."

"To get you to act like a man," he said sharply.  "Shame upon you for
being so ready to give up in face of a few obstacles!"

I felt that the rebuke was deserved, and drew in my breath, trying to
nerve myself to bear this new disappointment, and to set my brain at
work scheming.

It seemed to grow darker just then, the stars fading out behind a thick
veil of clouds; and creeping nearer to the doctor I sat down beside
where he knelt, listening to the incessant talking of the savages.

We were not above half-a-dozen yards from the back of the great hut;
and, now rising into quite an angry shout, now descending into a low
buzz, the talk, talk, talk went on, as if they were saying the same
things over and over again.

I thought of my own captivity--of the way in which Gyp had come to me in
the night, and wondered whether it would be possible to cut away a
portion of the palm-leaf wall of the hut, and so get to the prisoner.

And all this while the talking went on, rising and falling till it
seemed almost maddening to hear.

We must have waited there quite a couple of hours, and still there was
no change.  Though we could not see anything for the hut in front of us
we could tell that there was a good deal of excitement in the village,
consequent, the doctor whispered, upon the absence of a number of the
blacks on the expedition against us.

At last he crept from me to speak to Mr Francis.

"It is of no use to stay longer, I'm afraid, my lad," he whispered;
"unless we wait and see whether the hut is left empty when the
expedition party comes back, though I fear they will not come back till
morning."

"What are you going to do, then?"  I said.

"Ask Francis to suggest a better hiding-place for us, where we can go
to-night and wait for another opportunity."

I sighed, for I was weary of waiting for opportunities.

"Fast asleep, poor fellow!" he whispered, coming back so silently that
he startled me.  "Where's the black?"

I turned sharply to where Jimmy had been curled up, but he was gone.

I crept a little way in two or three directions, but he was not with us,
and I said so.

"How dare he go!" the doctor said angrily.  "He will ruin our plans!
What's that?"

"Gyp!"  I said, as the dog crept up to us and thrust his head against my
hand.  "Jack Penny is getting anxious.  It is a signal for us to come
back."

"How do you know?"

"We agreed upon it," I said.  "He was to send the dog in search of us if
we did not join him in two hours; and if we were in trouble I was either
to tie something to his collar or take it off."

"Do neither!" said the doctor quietly.  "Look! they are lighting a fire.
The others must have come back."

I turned and saw a faint glow away over the right corner of the hut; and
then there was a shout, and the shrill cries of some women and children.

In a moment there was a tremendous excitement in the hut before us, the
savages swarming out like angry bees, and almost at the same moment the
whole shape of the great long hut stood out against the sky.

"The village is on fire!" whispered the doctor.  "Back, my boy!
Francis, quick!"

He shook the sleeping man, whom all at once I could see, and he rose
rather feebly.  Then we backed slowly more and more in amongst the
trees, seeing now that one of the light palm-leaf and bamboo huts was
blazing furiously, and that another had caught fire, throwing up the
cluster of slight buildings into clear relief, while as we backed
farther and farther in amongst the trees we could see the blacks--men,
women, and children--running to and fro as if wild.

"Now would be the time," said the doctor.  "We might take advantage of
the confusion and get your father away."

"Yes!"  I cried excitedly.  "I'm ready!"

"Stop for your lives!" said a voice at our elbow, and turning I saw Mr
Francis, with his swarthy face lit up by the fire.  "You could not get
near the hut now without being seen.  If you had acted at the moment the
alarm began you might have succeeded.  It is now too late."

"No, no!"  I cried.  "Let us try."

"It is too late, I say," cried Mr Francis firmly.  "The village is on
fire, and the blacks must see you.  If you are taken now you will be
killed without mercy."

"We must risk it," I said excitedly, stepping forward.

"And your father too."

I recoiled shuddering.

"We must get away to a place of safety, hide for a few days, and then
try again.  I shall be stronger perhaps then, and can help."

"It is right," said the doctor calmly.  "Come, Joe.  Patience!"

I saw that he was right, for the fire was leaping from hut to hut, and
there was a glow that lit up the forest far and wide.  Had anyone come
near we must have been seen, but the savages were all apparently
congregated near the burning huts, while the great sparks and flakes of
fire rose up and floated far away above the trees, glittering like stars
in the ruddy glow.

"Go on then," I said, with a groan of disappointment, and Mr Francis
took the lead once more, and, the doctor following, I was last.

"But Jimmy!"  I said.  "We must not leave him behind."

"He will find us," said the doctor.  "Come along."

There was nothing for me to do but obey, so I followed reluctantly, the
glow from the burning village being so great that the branches of the
trees stood up clearly before us, and we had no difficulty in going on.

I followed more reluctantly when I remembered Gyp, and chirruped to him,
expecting to find him at my heels, but he was not there.

"He has gone on in front," I thought, and once more I tramped wearily
on, when there was a rush and a bound and Gyp leaped up at me, catching
my jacket in his teeth and shaking it hard.



CHAPTER FORTY.

HOW JIMMY CRIED "COOEE!"  AND WHY HE CALLED.

"Why, Gyp," I said in a low voice, "what is it, old fellow?"

He whined and growled and turned back, trotting towards the burning
village.

"Yes, I know it's on fire," I said.  "Come along."

But the dog would not follow.  He whined and snuffled and ran back a
little farther, when from some distance behind I heard a rustling and a
panting noise, which made me spring round and cock my gun.

"Followed!"  I said to myself, as I continued my retreat, but only to
stop short, for from the direction in which we had come I heard
whispered, more than called, the familiar cry of the Australian savage,
a cry that must, I knew, come from Jimmy, and this explained Gyp's
appearance.

"_Cooey_!"

There it was again, and without hesitation I walked sharply back, Gyp
running before me as he would not have done had there been an enemy
near.

There was the panting and rustling again as I retraced my steps, with
the light growing plainer, and in less than a minute I came upon Jimmy
trudging slowly along with a heavy burden on his back, a second glance
at which made me stop speechless in my tracks.

"Mass Joe!  Jimmy got um fader.  Much big heavy.  Jimmy got um right
fas'."

He panted with the exertion, for he tried to break into a trot.

I could do no more than go to his side and lay my trembling hands upon
the shoulder of his burden--a man whom he was carrying upon his back.

"Go on!"  I said hoarsely.  "Forward, Gyp, and stop them!"

The dog understood the word "Forward," and went on with a rush, while I
let Jimmy pass me, feeling that if he really had him we sought he was
performing my duty, while all I could do was to form the rear-guard and
protect them even with my life if we were pursued.

Either the dog was leading close in front or the black went on by a kind
of instinct in the way taken by our companions.  At any rate he went
steadily on, and I followed, trembling with excitement, ten or a dozen
yards behind, in dread lest it should not be true that we had succeeded
after all.

The light behind us increased so that I could plainly see the bent
helpless load upon our follower's back; but the black trudged steadily
on and I followed, panting with eagerness and ready the moment Jimmy
paused to leap forward and try to take his place.

The fire must have been increasing fast, and the idea was dawning upon
me that perhaps this was a plan of the black's, who had set fire to one
of the huts and then seized the opportunity to get the prisoner away.
It was like the Australian to do such a thing as this, for he was
cunning and full of stratagem, and though it was improbable the idea was
growing upon me, when all at once a tremendous weight seemed to fall
upon my head and I was dashed to the earth, with a sturdy savage
pressing me down, dragging my hands behind me, and beginning to fasten
them with some kind of thong.

For the moment I was half-stunned.  Then the idea came to me of help
being at hand, and I was about to _cooey_ and bring Jimmy to my side,
but my lips closed and I set my teeth.

"No," I thought, "he may escape.  If any one is to be taken let it be
me; my turn will come later on."

My captor had evidently been exerting himself a great deal to overtake
me, and after binding me he contented himself by sitting upon my back,
panting heavily, to rest himself, while, knowing that struggling would
be in vain, I remained motionless, satisfied that every minute was of
inestimable value, and that once the doctor knew of the black's success
he would use every exertion to get the captive in safety, and then he
would be sure to come in search of me.

Then I shuddered, for I remembered what Mr Francis had said about the
people being infuriated at such a time, and as I did so I felt that I
was a long way yet from being a man.

All at once my captor leaped up, and seizing me by the arm he gave me a
fearful wrench to make me rise to my feet.

For some minutes past I had been expecting to see others of his party
come up, or to hear him shout to them, but he remained silent, and stood
at last hesitating or listening to the faint shouts that came from the
glow beyond the trees.

Suddenly he thrust me before him, shaking his waddy menacingly.  The
next moment he uttered a cry.  There was a sharp crack as of one
war-club striking another, and then I was struck down by two men
struggling fiercely.  There were some inarticulate words, and a snarling
and panting like two wild beasts engaged in a hard fight, and then a
heavy fall, a dull thud, and the sound of a blow, as if some one had
struck a tree branch with a club.

I could see nothing from where I lay, but as soon as I could recover
myself I was struggling to my feet, when a black figure loomed over me,
and a familiar voice said hoarsely:

"Where Mass Joe knife, cut um 'tring?"

"Jimmy!"  I said.  "My father?"

"Set um down come look Mass Joe.  Come 'long fas.  Gyp take care Jimmy
fader till um come back again again."

As Jimmy spoke he thrust his hand into my pocket for my knife, while I
was too much interested in his words to remind him that there was my
large sheath-knife in my belt.

"Come 'long," he said as he set me free, and we were starting when he
stopped short: "No; tie black fellow up firs'.  No, can't 'top."

Before I knew what he meant to do he had given the prostrate black a
sharp rap on the head with his waddy.

"Jimmy!"  I said; "you'll kill him!"

"Kill him!  No, makum sleep, sleep.  Come 'long."

He went off at a sharp walk and I followed, glancing back anxiously from
time to time and listening, till we reached the spot where he had set
down his burden, just as the doctor came back, having missed me, and
being in dread lest I had lost my way.

I did not speak--I could not, but threw myself on my knees beside the
strange, long-haired, thickly-bearded figure seated with its back
against a tree, while the doctor drew back as soon as he realised that
it was my father the black had saved.



CHAPTER FORTY ONE.

HOW JIMMY HEARD THE BUNYIP SPEAK, AND IT ALL PROVED TO BE "BIG 'TUFF."

I Need not recount what passed just then.  But few words were spoken,
and there was no time for displays of affection.  One black had seen and
pursued Jimmy, and others might be on our track, so that our work was
far from being half done even now.

"Can you walk, sir?" said the doctor sharply.

My poor father raised his face toward the speaker and uttered some
incoherent words.

"No, no; he has been kept bound by the ankles till the use of his feet
has gone," said Mr Francis, who had remained silent up to now.

"Can't walk--Jimmy carry um," said the black in a whisper.  "Don't make
noise--hear um black fellow."

"You are tired," said the doctor; "let me take a turn."

Jimmy made no objection, but bore the gun, while the doctor carried my
father slowly and steadily on for some distance; then the black took a
turn and bore him right to the place where our black followers were
waiting, and where Jack Penny was anxiously expecting our return.

"I thought you wasn't coming back," he said as Jimmy set down the
burden; and then in a doleful voice he continued, "I couldn't do that,
my back's so weak."

But Ti-hi and his friends saw our difficulty, and cut down a couple of
long stout bamboos whose tops were soon cleared of leaves and shoots.
Two holes were made in the bottom of a light sack whose contents were
otherwise distributed, the poles thrust through, and my poor father
gently laid upon the sack.  Four of us then went to the ends of the
poles, which were placed upon our shoulders, and keeping step as well as
we could, we went slowly and steadily on, Mr Francis taking the lead
and acting as guide.

Our progress was very slow, but we journeyed steadily on hour after
hour, taking advantage of every open part of the forest that was not
likely to show traces of our passage, and obliged blindly to trust to
Mr Francis as to the way.

It was weary work, but no one seemed to mind, each, even Jack Penny,
taking his turn at the end of one of the bamboos; and when at last the
morning broke, and the bright sunshine showed us our haggard faces, we
still kept on, the daylight helping us to make better way till the sun
came down so fiercely that we were obliged to halt in a dense part of
the forest where some huge trees gave us shade.

Mr Francis looked uneasily about, and I caught his anxious gaze
directed so often in different directions that I whispered to the doctor
my fears that he had lost his way.

"Never mind, lad," replied the doctor; "we have the compass.  Our way is
south towards the coast--anywhere as long as we get beyond reach of the
blacks.  No, don't disturb him, let him sleep."

I was about to draw near and speak to my father, in whose careworn
hollow face I gazed with something approaching fear.  His eyes were
closed, and now, for the first time, I could see the ravages that the
long captivity had made in his features; but, mingled with these, there
was a quiet restful look that made me draw back in silence from where
the litter had been laid and join my companions in partaking of such
food as we had.

Watch was set, the doctor choosing the post of guard, and then, lying
anywhere, we all sought for relief from our weariness in sleep.

As for me, one moment I was lying gazing at the long unkempt hair and
head of him I had come to seek, and thinking that I would rest like
that, rising now and then to see and watch with the doctor; the next I
was wandering away in dreams through the forest in search of my father;
and then all was blank till I started up to catch at my gun, for some
one had touched me on the shoulder.

"There is nothing wrong, my lad," said the doctor--"fortunately--for I
have been a bad sentry, and have just awoke to find that I have been
sleeping at my post."

"Sleeping!"  I said, still confused from my own deep slumbers.

"Yes," he said; "every one has been asleep from utter exhaustion."

I looked round, and there were our companions sleeping heavily.

"I've been thinking that we may be as safe here as farther away,"
continued the doctor; "so let them rest still, for we have a tremendous
task before us to get down to the coast."

Just then Jimmy leaped up staring, his hand on his waddy and his eyes
wandering in search of danger.

This being absent, his next idea was regarding food.

"Much hungry," he said, "want mutton, want damper, want eatums."

The rest were aroused, and, water being close at hand in a little
stream, we soon had our simple store of food brought out and made a
refreshing meal, of which my father, as he lay, partook mechanically,
but without a word.

The doctor then bathed and dressed his ankles, which were in a fearfully
swollen and injured state.  Like Mr Francis, he seemed as if his long
captivity had made him think like the savages among whom he had been;
while the terrible mental anxiety he had suffered along with his bodily
anguish had resulted in complete prostration.  He ate what was given to
him or drank with his eyes closed, and when he opened them once or twice
it was not to let them wander round upon us who attended to him, but to
gaze straight up in a vague manner and mutter a few of the native words
before sinking back into a stupor-like sleep.

I gazed at the doctor with my misery speaking in my eyes, for it was so
different a meeting from that which I had imagined.  There was no
delight, no anguished tears, no pressing to a loving father's heart.  We
had found him a mere hopeless wreck, apparently, like Mr Francis, and
the pain I suffered seemed more than I could bear.

"Patience!" the doctor said to me, with a smile.  "Yes, I know what you
want to ask me.  Let's wait and see.  He was dying slowly, Joe, and we
have come in time to save his life."

"You are sure?"  I said.

"No," he answered, "not sure, but I shall hope.  Now let's get on again
till dark, and then we'll have a good rest in the safest place we can
find."

In the exertion and toil that followed I found some relief.  My
interest, too, was excited by seeing how much Mr Francis seemed to
change hour by hour, and how well he knew the country which he led us
through.

He found for us a capital resting-place in a rocky gorge, where, unless
tracked step by step, there was no fear of our being surprised.  Here
there was water and fruit, and, short a distance as we had come, the
darkness made it necessary that we should wait for day.

Then followed days and weeks of slow travel through a beautiful country,
always south and west.  We did not go many miles some days, for the
burden we carried made our passage very slow.  Sometimes, too, our black
scouts came back to announce that we were travelling towards some black
village, or that a hunting party was in our neighbourhood, and though
these people might have been friendly, we took the advice of our black
companions and avoided them, either by making a detour or by waiting in
hiding till they had passed.

Water was plentiful, and Jimmy and Ti-hi never let us want for fruit,
fish, or some animal for food.  Now it would be a wild pig or a small
deer, more often birds, for these literally swarmed in some of the lakes
and marshes round which we made our way.

The country was so thinly inhabited that we could always light a fire in
some shut-in part of the forest without fear, and so we got on, running
risks at times, but on the whole meeting with but few adventures.

After getting over the exertion and a little return of fever from too
early leaving his sick-bed of boughs, Mr Francis mended rapidly, his
wound healing well and his mind daily growing clearer.  Every now and
then, when excited, he had relapses, and looked at us hopelessly,
talking quickly in the savages' tongue; but these grew less frequent,
and there would be days during which he would be quite free.  He grew so
much better that at the end of a month he insisted upon taking his place
at one of the bamboos, proving himself to be a tender nurse to our
invalid in his turn.

And all this time my father seemed to alter but little.  The doctor was
indefatigable in his endeavours; but though he soon wrought a change in
his patient's bodily infirmities to such an extent, that at last my
father could walk first a mile, then a couple, and then ease the bearers
of half their toil, his mind seemed gone, and he went on in a strangely
vacant way.

As time went on and our long journey continued he would walk slowly by
my side, resting on my shoulder, and with his eyes always fixed upon the
earth.  If he was spoken to he did not seem to hear, and he never opened
his lips save to utter a few words in the savage tongue.

I was in despair, but the doctor still bade me hope.

"Time works wonders, Joe," he said.  "His bodily health is improving
wonderfully, and at last that must act upon his mind."

"But it does not," I said.  "He has walked at least six miles to-day as
if in a dream.  Oh, doctor!"  I exclaimed, "we cannot take him back like
this.  You keep bidding me hope, and it seems no use."

He smiled at me in his calm satisfied way.

"And yet I've done something, Joe," he said.  "We found him--we got him
away--we had him first a hopeless invalid--he is now rapidly becoming a
strong healthy man."

"Healthy!"

"In body, boy.  Recollect that for years he seems to have been kept
chained up by the savages like some wild beast, perhaps through some
religious scruples against destroying the life of a white man who was
wise in trees and plants.  Likely enough they feared that if they killed
such a medicine-man it might result in a plague or curse."

"That is why they spared us both," said Mr Francis, who had heard the
latter part of our conversation; "and the long course of being kept
imprisoned there seemed to completely freeze up his brain as it did
mine.  That and the fever and blows I received," he said excitedly.
"There were times when--"

He clapped his hands to his head as if he dared not trust himself to
speak, and turned away.

"Yes, that is it, my lad," said the doctor quietly; "his brain has
become paralysed as it were.  A change may come at any time.  Under the
circumstances, in spite of your mother's anxiety, we'll wait and go
slowly homeward.  Let me see," he continued, turning to a little
calendar he kept, "to-morrow begins the tenth month of our journey.
Come, be of good heart.  We've done wonders; nature will do the rest."

Two days later we had come to a halt in a lovely little glen through
which trickled a clear spring whose banks were brilliant with flowers.
We were all busy cooking and preparing to halt there for the night.  My
father had walked the whole of the morning, and now had wandered slowly
away along the banks of the stream, Mr Francis being a little further
on, while Jimmy was busy standing beside a pool spearing fish.

I glanced up once or twice to see that my father was standing motionless
on the bank, and then I was busying myself once more cutting soft boughs
to make a bed when Jimmy came bounding up to me with his eyes starting
and mouth open.

"Where a gun, where a gun?" he cried.  "Big bunyip down 'mong a trees,
try to eat Jimmy.  Ask for um dinner, all aloud, oh."

"Hush! be quiet!"  I cried, catching his arm; "what do you mean?"

"Big bunyip down 'mong stones say, `Hoo! much hungry; where my boy?'"

"Some one said that?"  I cried.

"Yes, `much hungry, where my boy?'  Want eat black boy; eat Jimmy!"

"What nonsense, Jimmy!"  I said.  "Don't be such a donkey.  There are no
bunyips."

"Jimmy heard um say um!" he cried, stamping his spear on the ground.

Just then I involuntarily glanced in the direction where my father
stood, and saw him stoop and pick up a flower or two.

My heart gave a bound.

The next minute he was walking slowly towards Mr Francis, to whom he
held out the flowers; and then I felt giddy, for I saw them coming
slowly towards our camp, both talking earnestly, my father seeming to be
explaining something about the flowers he had picked.

The doctor had seen it too, and he drew me away, after cautioning Jimmy
to be silent.

And there we stood while those two rescued prisoners talked quietly and
earnestly together, but it was in the savage tongue.

I need not tell you of my joy, or the doctor's triumphant looks.

"It is the beginning, Joe," he said; and hardly had he spoken when Jimmy
came up.

"Not bunyip 'tall!" he said scornfully.  "Not no bunyip; all big 'tuff!
Jimmy, Mass Joe fader talk away, say, `where my boy?'"



CHAPTER FORTY TWO.

HOW I MUST WIND UP THE STORY.

It was the beginning of a better time, for from that day what was like
the dawn of a return of his mental powers brightened and strengthened
into the full sunshine of reason, and by the time we had been waiting at
Ti-hi's village for the coming of the captain with his schooner we had
heard the whole of my father's adventures from his own lips, and how he
had been struck down from behind by one of the blacks while collecting,
and kept a prisoner ever since.

I need not tell you of his words to me, his thanks to the doctor, and
his intense longing for the coming of the schooner, which seemed to be
an age before it came in sight.

We made Ti-hi and his companions happy by our supply of presents, for we
wanted to take nothing back, and at last one bright morning we sailed
from the glorious continent-like island, with two strong middle-aged men
on board, both of whom were returning to a civilised land with the
traces of their captivity in their hair and beards, which were as white
as snow.

Neither shall I tell you of the safe voyage home, and of the meeting
there.  Joy had come at last where sorrow had sojourned so long, and I
was happy in my task that I had fulfilled.

I will tell you, though, what the captain said in his hearty way over
and over again.

To me it used to be:

"Well, you have growed!  Why, if you'd stopped another year you'd have
been quite a man.  I say, though I never thought you'd ha' done it; 'pon
my word!"

Similar words these to those often uttered by poor, prejudiced,
obstinate old nurse.

To Jack Penny the captain was always saying:

"I say, young 'un, how you've growed too; not uppards but beam ways.
Why, hang me if I don't think you'll make a fine man yet!"

And so he did; a great strong six-foot fellow, with a voice like a
trombone.  Jack Penny is a sheep-farmer on his own account now, and
after a visit to England with my staunch friend the doctor, where I
gained some education, and used to do a good deal of business for my
father, who is one of the greatest collectors in the south, I returned
home, and went to stay a week with Jack Penny.

"I say," he said laughing, "my back's as strong as a lion's now.  How it
used to ache!"

We were standing at the door of his house, looking north, for we had
been talking of our travels, when all at once I caught sight of what
looked like a little white tombstone under a eucalyptus tree.

"Why, what's that?"  I said.

Jack Penny's countenance changed, and there were a couple of tears in
the eyes of the great strong fellow as he said slowly:

"That's to the memory of Gyp, the best dog as ever lived!"

I must not end without a word about Jimmy, my father's faithful
companion in his botanical trips.

Jimmy nearly went mad for joy when I got back from England, dancing
about like a child.  He was always at the door, black and shining as
ever, and there was constantly something to be done.  One day he had
seen the biggest ole man kangaroo as ever was; and this time there was a
wallaby to be found; another the announcement that the black cockatoos
were in the woods; or else it would be:

"Mass Joe, Mass Joe!  Jimmy want go kedge fis very bad; do come a day."

And I?  Well, I used to go, and it seemed like being a boy again to go
on some expedition with my true old companion and friend.

Yes, friend; Jimmy was always looked upon as a friend; and long before
then my mother would have fed and clothed him, given him anything he
asked.  But Jimmy was wild and happiest so, and I found him just as he
was when I left home, faithful and boyish and winning, and often ready
to say:

"When Mass Joe ready, go and find um fader all over again!"

THE END.





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this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
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