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´╗┐Title: King o' the Beach - A Tropic Tale
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 "King o' the Beach - A Tropic Tale" ***

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King o' the Beach, a Tropic Tale, by George Manville Fenn.

________________________________________________________________________

This book was written just before the end of the century, when it would
have been expected that travel by steamer was pretty safe. Carey, a
teenage boy making his way by steamer "Chusan" to meet his parents in
Australia, becomes very friendly with the ship's doctor, and also with
one of the seamen, Bob Bostock. But somewhere out in the Indian Ocean he
has an accident, falling from the ship's rigging, and is unconscious and
possibly may not live.  His telescope took the brunt of the fall.  But
while he is lying unconscious, a great gale springs up, the vessel loses
power, and is driven onto a coral-girt volcanic island.

Some of the passengers and crew get away on the ship's boats, but Carey
is not fit for the journey. The ship lies on the reef, but mostly
undamaged.  The Doctor and Bostock remain with him.  After they are
settling in, and Carey is recovering well, a "beachcomber", who reckons
he is king of these islands, makes his appearance with a retinue of
aborigines.  He is quite a nasty piece of work.  However one of the
aborigines becomes friendly with Carey and the others.  The beachcomber
shoots the doctor, but then fall down a stairway, breaking both legs.
Since he can't get the doctor, he dies.  At this moment Carey's father
appears, as the other passengers had reached Australia, and contact had
been made.

There are the usual tense moments with various saurians, and other
nasties, but perhaps not such a high level of tension as is usual with
this author.  A good easy read, nevertheless.  NH

________________________________________________________________________

KING O' THE BEACH, A TROPIC TALE, BY GEORGE MANVILE FENN.



CHAPTER ONE.

"Mind what you're doing!  Come down directly, you young dog!  Ah, I
thought as much.  There, doctor: a job for you."

It was on board the great steamer _Chusan_, outward bound from the port
of London for Rockhampton, Moreton Bay, and Sydney, by the north route,
with a heavy cargo of assorted goods such as are wanted in the far south
Colonies, and some fifty passengers, for the most part returning from a
visit to the Old Country.

"Visit" is a very elastic word--it may mean long or short.  In Carey
Cranford's case it was expressed by the former, for it had lasted ten
years, during which he had been left by his father with one of his
uncles in London, so that he might have the full advantage of an English
education before joining his parents in their adopted land.

It had been a delightful voyage, with pleasant fellow-passengers and
everything new and exciting, to the strong, well-grown, healthy lad, who
had enjoyed the Mediterranean; revelled in the glowing heat of the Red
Sea, where he had begun to be the regular companion of the young doctor
who had charge of the passengers and crew; stared at that great
cinder-heap Aden, and later on sniffed at the sweet breezes from
Ceylon's Isle.

Here the captain good-humouredly repeated what he had said more than
once during the voyage: "Now look out, young fellow; if you're not back
in time I shall sail without you:" for wherever the great steamer put in
the boy hurried ashore with the doctor to see all he could of the
country, and came back at the last minute growling at the stay being so
short.

It was horrible, he said, when they touched at Colombo not to be able to
go and see what the country was like.

He repeated his words at Singapore; so did the captain, but with this
addition:

"Only one more port to stop at, and then I shall have you off my hands."

"But shan't we stop at Java or any of the beautiful islands?"

"Not if I can help it, my lad," said the captain.  "Beautiful islands
indeed!  Only wish I could clear some of 'em off the map."

So Carey Cranford, eager to see everything that was to be seen, had to
content himself with telescopic views of the glorious isles scattered
along the vessel's course, closing the glass again and again with an
ejaculation signifying his disgust.

"Islands!" he said.  "I believe, doctor, half of them are only clouds.
I say, I wish the captain wouldn't go so fast."

"Why?" said his companion, an eager-looking manly fellow of about twice
the speaker's age.

"I should like to fish, and stop and explore some of the islands, and
shoot, and collect curiosities."

"And drive all the passengers mad with vexation because of the delay."

"Oh! old people are so selfish," said the lad, pettishly.

"And the young ones are not," said the young doctor, drily.

The boy looked up sharply, coloured a little through the brown painted
by the sun on his skin, and then he laughed.

"Well, it's all so new and fresh," he said.  "I should like to see a
storm, though.  One of those what do you call 'ems--tycoons--no,
typhoons."

"You're getting deeper into the mire," said the doctor, smiling.
"Carey--why, we ought to nickname you Don't-Care-y, to have such a wish
as that."

"Why?  It would be a change."

"A storm!  Here, in this rock and shoal-dotted sea, with its dangerous
currents and terrible reefs, where captains need all their skill to
pilot their vessels safe to port!"

"Never thought of that," said the lad.  "Let's see, what does the chart
say?  New Guinea to the north, and home to the south."

"Home if you like to call it so," said the doctor; "but you've a long,
long journey before you yet."

"Yes, I know, through Torres Straits and Coral Sea and by the Great
Barrier Reef.  I say, doctor, wouldn't it be jolly to be landed
somewhere to the south here and then walk across the country to
Brisbane?"

"Very," said the doctor, drily.  "Suppose you'd take a few sandwiches to
eat on the way?"

"There, you're joking me again," said the boy.  "I suppose it would be
many days' march."

"Say months, then think a little and make it years."

"Oh! nonsense, doctor!"

"Or more likely you'd never reach it.  It would be next to impossible."

"Why?" said Carey.

"Want of supplies.  The traveller would break down for want of food and
water."

"Oh! very well," cried the boy, merrily; "then we'll go by sea."

It was the day following this conversation that Carey Cranford's energy
found vent, despite the heat, in a fresh way.

The _Chusan_ was tearing along through the dazzlingly bright sea,
churning up the water into foam with her propeller and leaving a cloud
of smoke behind.  The heat was tremendous, for there was a perfect calm,
and the air raised by the passage of the steamer was as hot as if it had
come from the mouth of a furnace.  The passengers looked languid and
sleepy as they lolled about finder the great awning, and the sailors
congratulated themselves that they were not Lascars stoking in the
engine-room, Robert Bostock, generally known on board as Old Bob, having
given it as his opinion that it was "a stinger."  Then he chuckled, and
said to the man nearest:

"Look at that there boy!  He's a rum un, and no mistake.  That's being
British, that is.  You'd never see a Frenchy or a Jarman or a 'Talian up
to games like that in the sun."

"That there boy" was Carey Cranford, and he had taken the attention of
the captain as well, who was standing under the awning in company with
the doctor, and the two chuckled.

"There, doctor," he said; "did you ever see so much of the monkey in a
boy before?  Wouldn't you think a chap might be content in the shade on
a day like this?  What's he doing--training for a sweep?"

A modern steamer does not offer the facilities for going aloft furnished
by a sailing ship, and her masts and yards are pretty well coated with
soot; but Carey Cranford, in his investigating spirit, had not paused to
consider that, for he had caught sight of what looked like a blue cloud
low down on the southern horizon.

"One of the islands," he said to himself.  "Wonder what's its name."

He did not stop to enquire, but went below, threw the strap of his large
binocular glass over his head, ascended to the deck again, and then,
selecting the highest mast, well forward of the funnel, he made his way
as far aloft as he could, and stood in a very precarious position
scanning the distant cloud-like spot.

The place he had selected to take his observation was on one of the
yards, just where it crossed the mast, and if he had contented himself
with a sitting position the accident would not have happened; but he had
mentally argued that the higher a person was the wider his optical
range, so he must needs add the two feet or so extra gained by standing
instead of sitting.  His left arm was round the mast, and both hands
were steadying the glass as, intent upon the island, he carefully turned
the focussing screw, when the steamer, rising to the long smooth swell,
careened over slightly, and one of the boy's feet, consequent upon the
smoothness of his deck shoes, glided from beneath him, bringing forth
the captain's warning cry and following words.

For the next moment, in spite of a frantic clutch at the mast, the boy
was falling headlong down, as if racing his glass, but vainly, for this
reached the deck first, the unfortunate lad's progress being checked
twice by his coming in contact with wire stays, before head and shoulder
struck the deck with a sickening thud.



CHAPTER TWO.

The doctor was first by the injured lad's side, quickly followed by the
captain and a score of passengers who had been roused to action by the
accident.

"Keep everyone back," cried the doctor, "and let's have air."

The doctor was for the moment in command of the vessel, and the captain
obeyed without a word, forming all who came up into a wide circle, and
then impatiently returning to the injured lad's side.

"Well?" he panted, as he took off his gold-banded cap to wipe his
streaming forehead.  "Tell me what to do."

"Nothing yet," replied the doctor, who was breathing hard, but striving
to keep himself professionally cool.

"Not dangerously hurt?" whispered the captain; but in the terrible
silence which had fallen his words were distinctly heard above the
throbbing of the vibrating engines, which seemed to make the great
vessel shudder at what had occurred.

"I am not sure yet," said the doctor gravely.

"But the blood--the blood!" cried one of the lady passengers.

"As far as I can make out at present the leather case of his glass has
saved his skull from fracture.  He fell right upon it, but I fear that
the collar-bone is broken, and I cannot say yet whether there is
anything wrong with the spine.

"No!" he said the next minute, for the sufferer stretched out his hands
as if to clutch and save himself, and he moved his legs.

There were plenty of willing hands ready to help, and a canvas stretcher
was drawn beneath the sufferer so that he could be carried carefully
down to one of the state cabins, which was immediately vacated for his
use; and there for hours Doctor Kingsmead was calling into his service
everything that a long training could suggest; but apparently in vain,
for his patient lay quite insensible in the sultry cabin, apparently
sinking slowly into the great ocean of eternity.

And all the time the huge steamer tore on over the oily sea through a
great heat which rivalled that of the engine-room, and the captain and
first and second mates held consultations twice over in connection with
barometer and chart, by the light of the swinging lamp below.

The passengers supposed that those meetings concerned the injured boy,
but the sailors, who had had experience, knew that there was something
more behind, and that evening after the sun had gone downs looking
coppery and orange where a peculiar haze dimmed the west, one of the
sailors who had gathered round where old Bostock was seated hazarded a
few words to his senior.

"Looks a strange deal like a storm," he said.

"Ay, it does," said the old sailor; "and as I was saying," he continued,
passing his hand across his eyes, "it do seem strange how these things
come about.  Here's me more'n fifty, and about half wore out, and
there's this here young gent just beginning, as you may say, and cut
down like that.  You lads mayn't believe it, but he kinder made me take
to him from the first, and I'd a deal rayther it was me cut down than
him."

"Ah, poor lad!" said one of the men, and there was a low murmur.

"Look at that now," continued the old sailor, passing his hand across
his eyes again, and then holding it out and looking at it curiously;
"wet as wet!  He aren't nothing to me, so I suppose I must be growing
older and softer than I thought I was.  Nothing to me at all but a
passenger, and here am I, mates, crying like a great gal."

"There aren't naught to be 'shamed on, Bob Bostock," said another
middle-aged man.  "I know what you feels, mate, for I've got boys o' my
own, and he's somebody's bairn.  Got a father and mother waiting for him
out in Brisbun.  Ah! there'll be some wet eyes yonder when they come to
know."

"Ay, there will," came in chorus.

"'Taren't that he's such a good-looking lad, nor so big nor strong.  I
dunno what it was, but everyone took to him from the first day he come
aboard.  Never made himself too common nor free, but there he was, allus
the gen'leman with you--what you may call nice."

"Reg'lar true-born Englishman, I say," said another.

"Nay, just aye like a young Scot," said another.

"Hark at that!" said another, looking round defiantly; "it's of Oirish
descent he is.  Isn't his name Carey?"

"What!" cried another, angrily.  "Carey--Carew.  It's a Welsh name
inteet, and as old as the hills."

"Never mind what he is--English or Scotch or Welsh."

"Or Irish," put in one of those who had spoken.

"Or Irish," said old Bostock; "he's as fine a lad as ever stepped, I
say, and I'd take it kindly if one of you would take my watch to-night,
for I want to hang about ready to do anything the doctor may want in the
way o' lifting or fetching water.  It don't seem nat'ral to stand by and
see the stooard's mate doing things for the lad as he'd, ask me to do if
he could speak."

"Ah! he mostly come to you, Bob Bostock, when he wanted a bit o'
fishing-line or anything o' that kind."

"He did," said the old sailor, "and glad I allus was to help him.  Maybe
we are going to have a blow to-night, and if it comes so much the
better.  It'll make it cooler for the poor lad, for it's hot enough now.
Yes, we're in for a hurricane, my lads, as sure as we're at sea."

He had hardly spoken the words when the first mate gave an order, the
boatswain's whistle piped, and the men knew that their officers were of
the same opinion as the old stagers among them.  A storm was expected,
and a bad one, in as bad a part of the world as could have been selected
for the encounter.

But no uneasiness was felt, for the _Chusan_ was a magnificent boat,
with tackle of the finest description: all it would mean in such a boat
so well commanded would be a tossing, with the decks drenched by the
tumbling waves, for she was well commanded, the crew were in a capital
state of discipline, as shown at once by the steady way in which they
went to work fulfilling the orders received, battening down hatches,
extra lashing loose spare spars, seeing to the fastenings of the boats,
and taking precautions against the water getting down into engine-room
or cabin, so that in a very short time everything was, as a sailor would
say, made snug, and there was nothing more that the most cautious
captain could have wished to see done to ensure the safety of the
magnificent vessel in his charge.

The passengers, who were still discussing the accident which had
befallen the boy, and who had paid no heed to the peculiar look of the
sky, the sea still heaving and sinking gently in an oily calm, now began
to notice the work going on, and the rumour soon spread among them that
there was the possibility of a storm coming on.

The result was that first one and then another began to hunt the captain
to question him, but only to obtain short polite answers, that officer
being too busy to gossip after the fashion wished.  They fared worse
with the chief and second officers, who were quite short; and then one
of the most enterprising news-seekers on board captured old Bostock,
literally button-holing him with the question:

"Do you think we are going to have a storm?"

"Don't think about it, sir.  We shall have a buster before we're half an
hour older.  Going to blow great guns, so hold your hair on, sir.  Can't
stop; going to hear how young Master Cranford's going on, sir."

"Only a moment, my good friend," said the gossip.  "Do you think there
will be any danger?"

"Well, yes, sir," said the old sailor, with his eyes twinkling, but his
face as hard as if it had been cut out of wood; "this here is rather a
bad place to be caught in a storm.  You see, sir, the water's rather
deep."

The captain had not been one-half so busy before during the voyage, and
his eyes were everywhere, seeing that there was nothing left loose; but
he found time twice over to go below to where Doctor Kingsmead was
seated by his patient's cot watching anxiously for every change, the
poor lad evidently suffering keenly from the furnace-like heat.

"How is he, Kingsmead?" asked the captain, anxiously.

"Bad as he can be," was the stern reply.

"But can't you--Bah! absurd! you know your business better than I can
tell you.  Poor lad!  How can I face his father when we get into port?
It will be heart-breaking work.  It is heart-breaking work, doctor, for
the young dog seemed to have a way of getting round your heart, and I
couldn't feel this accident more keenly if he were my own son."

"Nor I," said the doctor, "if he were my own brother."

"God bless him, and bring him safely through it!" said the captain,
softly, as he laid his hand gently on the boy's brow.  "I'm glad his
face is not disfigured."

"Yes, so am I," said the doctor; "it does not tell tales of the terrible
mischief that has been done."

"What do you call it--concussion of the brain?"

"Yes, there is no fracture of the skull; only of his collar-bone, and
that is a trifle compared to the other."

"You must bring him round, doctor.  Troubles never come singly."

"What, have you some other trouble on hand?" said the doctor, rather
impatiently, for he wanted the captain to go and leave him alone with
his patient.

"Yes, don't you know?"

"I know nothing but that I have that poor boy lying there to be saved
from death if it be possible.  Can't you have a wind-sail lowered down
here?  The heat is intolerable."

"Wind-sail?  You'll have wind enough directly.  We're going straight
into a typhoon, and no other course is open to me in this reef-strewn
sea."

"A storm?"

"Yes, and a bad one, I expect.  It will be pitch-dark directly."

"The fresh air will be welcome," said the doctor, calmly.

"Is the captain here?" said a voice at the state-room door--a voice
speaking in anxious tones.

"Yes; what is it?" said the captain, quickly.  "Come on deck, sir.  It's
rushing upon us like a great wall.  Hear it?"

Doctor Kingsmead turned his face for a moment towards the door, to hear
a peculiar dull distant roar, different from any sound with which he was
familiar.  Then the door swung to, and he was bending over his young
patient again, thinking of nothing else, hearing no more for a few
moments, till the door was pushed open again, and the rough, ruddy
bronze face of Bostock appeared in the full light of the swinging lamp.

"Beg pardon, sir," said the man, hoarsely.  "Just going on dooty, and
mayn't have another chance, as things looks bad."

"What do you mean?" said the doctor, starting.

"Just wanted to have one more look at the dear lad, sir."

"But what do you mean by things looking bad?"

"Haven't you seen, sir?  Well, you can hear."

The doctor could hear, for at that moment something struck the vessel a
tremendous blow, which made her shiver, and then all was turmoil and
confusion as rain, wind, and spray swept the decks, and the steamer
careened over and lay for a time upon her beam-ends.

"Come down and tell me if the storm gets worse," said the doctor, with
his lips to the man's ear.

"Right, sir; but it can't be much worse till the sea gets up.  It's
blown flat just now."

The man gave a lingering look at the insensible boy, and then crept
through the door, passing out quickly as if to keep some of the din from
entering the cabin.

The doctor bent over his patient again, and then leaned forward to
unscrew the fastening of the circular pane of glass which formed the
port-hole.

But he opened it only a few inches and then clapped it to and fastened
it again to keep out the rush of wind and spray which entered with a
wild shriek and rocked the lamp to and fro, threatening to put it out.

He returned to his seat and watched, paying no heed whatever to the
terrific roar of the storm nor the quivering of the great vessel, which
was evidently being driven at great speed dead in the teeth of the
storm, though really making very little progress.

And then hours went by, with the doctor as insensible to the progress of
the terrific hurricane as the boy he watched.  There were plenty of
passengers below, but no one came near, and the two within that
dimly-lit cabin seemed to be the only living beings on board, so
perfectly uninterrupted did they remain.

This did not trouble the doctor in the least, for all he required was to
be left undisturbed with Nature, that she might have time to work her
cure, for as far as he was concerned nothing could be done.

He knew that a tremendous storm was raging, though there was so little
sea on that the motion of the vessel was not violent, for the simple
reason that the tops of the waves were cut off by the terrific wind,
which literally levelled the white waste of waters through which they
tore.

It must have been about midnight when the cabin door was opened again,
and the old sailor crept in and close up to the doctor's side.

"How is he, sir?" said the man, with his lips close to the doctor's ear.

"Very, very bad, my man," was the reply.

"Poor dear lad!" growled the old sailor.  "So we are up yonder, sir."

"Oh!" said the doctor, quietly, but without taking his eyes from the
patient.

"Engine's running at full speed to keep us head to wind."

"Oh!" said the doctor, in the same low, uninterested tone.

"Wust storm I was ever in, sir, and if it don't soon lull goodness knows
what will happen next."

"Indeed?" said the doctor.  "But go now.  Quietness is everything for my
patient now."

"Well, I'm blest," said the man to himself; "it's like talking to anyone
in his sleep.  Quietness, eh?  Hang it!  I didn't make half so much
noise as the wind.  He's thinking of that poor lad and of nothing else."

It was so all through the night, the doctor hardly noticing the
refreshments brought in by the white-faced steward, who tried to get up
a conversation, but with very little success.  "Terrible storm, sir."

"Yes," said the doctor.

"Bad for poor young Mr Cranford, aren't it, sir?"

"Very bad."

"Lot of the passengers ill, sir, and asking for you, sir."

"Sea-sick?" said, the doctor, with a momentary display of interest.
"Awful, sir."

"I could do nothing for them, and I cannot leave my patient," said the
doctor, slowly.

The steward ventured upon another remark, but it was not heard.

During the next few hours the captain sent down twice for news, but did
not once leave the deck, the storm raging with, if possible, greater
violence; but the vessel fought bravely, backed as she was by the
guidance of skilful hands, and evening was approaching, with everybody
on board growing worn out with anxiety or exertion.

The night came on weird and strange, the white spray and the peculiar
milky phosphorescent surface of the sea relieving the darkness, but
giving in its place a terribly ghastly glare.

It was about seven, for the doctor had just glanced at his watch to see
if it was time to repeat the medicine under whose influence he was
keeping his patient, when all at once there was a tremendous shock as if
there had been an explosion, a crashing sound heard for the moment above
the tempest's din, and then the doctor was conscious of a change, and he
knew what it meant.  The thrill and vibration of the screw had ceased,
and that could only mean one thing, the falling off of the propeller or
the breaking of the shaft on which it turned.

He had proof of this a few minutes later in the movement of the great
vessel, which no longer rode steadily over the swell, head to wind, but
gradually fell off till she lay rolling in the hollows, careened over by
the pressure of the storm, and utterly unmanageable.

There was a mingling of strange sounds now, as, following the motion of
the vessel as she rolled heavily, everything below that was loose dashed
from side to side of the cabins; but still the doctor paid no more heed.
He retrimmed the lamp from time to time, and tried to retrim the lamp
of Carey Cranford's young life; but it seemed to be all in vain.

Suddenly the door opened again, and this time it was not the steward's
face which appeared, but the old sailor's.

"Any better, sir?" he said, hoarsely.

"No; worse," replied the doctor.

"So it is on deck, sir," whispered the man.  "Main shaft broke short
off, and propeller gone.  They've been trying to hyste a bit o' sail so
as to get steering way on, but everything's blew to rags."

The doctor nodded shortly, and after a longing look at the young patient
the man went out on tiptoe.

A couple of hours went by, with the vessel rocking horribly, and then
all at once there came a heavy grinding crash, and the rolling motion
ceased, the vessel for a few brief moments seemed at peace on an even
keel, and the doctor uttered a sigh of relief, which had hardly passed
his lips before there was a noise like thunder, the side of the steamer
had received a heavy blow, and hundreds of tons of water poured down
over her, sweeping the deck, and then retiring with a wild hissing
noise.

Doctor Kingsmead was experienced sailor enough to know that the steamer
had been carried by the hurricane upon one of the terrible coral reefs
of that dangerous sea, and he could foresee, as he believed, the
result--the billows would go on raising the vessel and letting her fall
upon the sharp rocks till she broke up, unless the storm subsided and
the breakers abated in violence so that the passengers and crew might
take to the boats.

He knit his brow and sat thinking for a few minutes of the chances of
life and death at such a time, but became absorbed in the condition of
his patient again, for there was his duty.  There were the officers to
see to the preservation of life from the wreck.

Once more he had warning of the state of affairs on deck, old Bostock
hurrying down.

"Got anything you want to save, sir?" he said, excitedly; "if so shove
it in your pocket.  They're getting the boats out.  I'll come and give
you word, and help you with young squire here."

"What!" said the doctor, excitedly now.  "Impossible; it would mean
death for the boy to be moved."

"It'll mean death, sir, if he aren't moved," said the old sailor,
sternly.  "You button him up in a coat, and be ready against I come."

The door banged to, and the doctor hurriedly caught up some of his
patient's garments and stood frowning, as he leaned over him, felt his
pulse, and then laid his hand upon the poor lad's head.

"Impossible," he said; "it would crush out the flickering flame of life.
He cannot be moved."

As he spoke he threw the clothes aside and went sharply towards the door
and looked out, to see that the passengers were crowding up the cabin
stairs in an awful silence, the horror of their position having brought
them to a state of despairing calm.

The doctor stood looking at them for a few moments, and then turned to
cross to his patient's side, bending over him for a few moments, and
then sinking into the seat by his side.



CHAPTER THREE.

Meanwhile, after he had ineffectually tried everything possible to bring
the steamer's head to wind by means of the sails, the captain had to
give up and let her drift, rolling heavily in the trough of the sea.

The storm still raged with terrific fury, and it was evident that the
unmanageable vessel was being borne rapidly along.

But by slow degrees the violence of the wind began to abate, and fresh
efforts were made in the semi-darkness, and with the waves thundering
over the deck from time to time, to hoist something in the way of sail.

The men raised a cheer as this was at last successfully accomplished,
and once more obeying her helm the great vessel ceased rolling, and
rushed on for a few hundred yards at headlong speed.

But it was only to her fate, for rising high upon a huge billow she was
borne on for a short distance, and then there was the sudden check.  She
had struck on another of the terrible coral reefs, and was fast,
offering an obstacle to the seething billows, at which they rushed,
broke, and then fell over, deluging the deck, and tearing at everything
in their way.

There seemed nothing more to be done but strive in the darkness to save
life, and captain and officers clung together and worked manfully.

The minute after the vessel had struck on the reef there was a rush for
the boats, but the officers were prepared.  Revolvers leaped out, and
three or four men were struck down, the captain setting the example.

Then the fit of insubordination died out on the spot, and in perfect
order one of the boats was filled with women passengers and a crew, the
moment was watched, and it was cast off and floated away on a huge wave,
to be seen for a few moments, before it disappeared in the darkness.

Boat after boat was successfully despatched in this way without a single
hitch, each receiving its crew commanded by one of the officers; and at
last the barge only was left for the remainder and the captain, the last
passenger having gone in the boat despatched before--the last so far as
could be remembered in the hurry and confusion of the weird scene.

There was ample room for all as the captain stood holding on while men
hurriedly brought up and threw in bags of biscuit and such necessaries
as could be obtained in the hurry, the barge lying in its chocks,
lifting with every wave and ready to float out at the open side at any
time.

"Now then," cried the captain, in a voice hoarse from continuous
shouting, "you, Bostock, down below with you and help the doctor bring
up the young passenger."

"Ay, ay, sir," cried the old sailor, and he waited a moment to avoid the
water and then made a rush for the saloon cabin.

The next minute he was down below.

"Now, sir, quick," he said; "boat's just off.  What! not ready?"

"It is impossible to move him, my man," said the doctor in sombre tones.

"It's murder to keep him here, sir," cried the old sailor.  "Come on--
for your life!"

As he spoke he caught Carey in his arms before the doctor could
interfere, dashed open the door, and quickly carried the insensible lad
up to the sea-washed deck, to stand aghast and then hold on for his
life.

For something white and ghastly, fringed with phosphorescent light,
seemed to rise over the ship's side, curve down over, glide under the
barge lying in its chocks, and then lift the laden boat away over the
open side.

It was seen for a few moments and then disappeared, going in one swift
glide away into the darkness, leaving the doctor, his patient, and the
old sailor amidst the hissing waters alone upon the deck.



CHAPTER FOUR.

"Here's another coming," roared Bostock, hoarsely.  "Back into shelter,
or we shall be swept away."

He set the example, still bearing the insensible boy, and the next
minute they had reached the comparative security of the saloon, where
the water was now washing to and fro, coming in with a rush and pouring
out again.

The first efforts of the two men were now directed towards carefully
placing Carey high and dry in an upper berth of one of the state-room
cabins, where a lamp was still burning steadily as it swung to and fro.

"Hasn't killed him, has it, sir?" growled Bostock, excitedly, as the
doctor examined his patient.

"No; he is breathing easily, and the bandages have not shifted," replied
the doctor, who then turned upon his companion in misfortune and said in
a hard, defiant way: "Well, my man, this seems hard luck; we're left in
the lurch.  I suppose the captain will not come back to take us off."

"Come back and take us off, sir?" said the old sailor, with a bitter
laugh.  "Not him.  He's got his work cut out to keep that barge afloat.
Lord help 'em all, I say, all on 'em in those open boats.  There they
are afloat among reefs and breakers in a storm like this.  For aught we
know, sir, they're all capsized and washing about like so much chaff by
now."

"Then you think we're better off than they are?"

"No, I don't," growled the old man, sourly, as a wave came thundering
over the vessel, shaking it from bow to stern.  "It won't be long before
one of them breakers'll make a way in and bust up part of the deck; and
after that it won't be long before she's ripped in pieces.  Lor' a
mussy! the power of a thousand tons o' water going miles an hour's
awful.  Shreds beams into matches, and twists ironwork like wire.  It
only means a few minutes more to live, doctor; and, as you say, it do
seem hard.  Poor boy!" he continued, laying his great rough hand
tenderly on Carey's breast.  "All his young life before him, and nipped
off sudden like this."

"Poor boy, yes," said the doctor, gently.  "But I'm thankful that he is
quite insensible, and will not know the agony we have to face."

The old sailor looked curiously in his companion's face.

"Agony!" he said, slowly; "agony!  Well, I suppose it is, but I've been
face to face with the end so many times that I suppose I've got a bit
blunt.  Do you know, sir, it seems to nip me more about that poor young
chap than it does about myself."

The doctor looked at the speaker searchingly for a few moments, and then
said, quietly:

"Can we do anything to try and save his life, my man?  Life-preservers,
raft, or anything of that sort?"

The old sailor laughed softly.

"Life-preserver in a sea like this means being smothered in a few
minutes, and such a raft as we could make would be knocked to pieces and
us washed off.  No, sir; we're in shelter where we can die peaceably,
and all we can do is to meet it like men."

The doctor's brow knit, and he looked as if in horrible pain for a few
moments.  Then a calm, peaceful look came over his countenance, and he
smiled and held out his hand.

"Yes," he said, quietly; "meet it like men."

The old sailor stared at him for a moment, and then snatched and gripped
the extended hand in perfect silence.

"Ha!" he ejaculated at last.  "I feel better, sir, after that.  Now
let's talk about the youngster there."

The huge breakers had kept on steadily thundering at the side of the
steamer, rising over her and crashing down on her decks with the
greatest regularity; but now, as the old sailor spoke and turned towards
the insensible boy, it seemed as if a billow greater than any which had
come before rolled up and broke short on the reef, with the result that
the immense bank of water seemed to plunge under the broad side of the
steamer, lifting her, and once more they were borne on the summit of the
wave with a rush onward.  There was a fierce, wild, hissing roar, and
the great vessel seemed to creak and groan as if it were a living
creature in its final agony, and old Bostock gripped the doctor's hand
again.

"It's come, my lad," he shouted, "and we'll meet it like men.  We shall
strike again directly, and she'll go to pieces like a bundle of wood."

The two men had risen to their feet, and to steady themselves they each
laid the hand at liberty upon the berth which held their young
companion.

How long they stood like this neither of them could afterwards have
said, but it seemed an hour, during which the steamer was borne
broadside on by the huge roller, each listener in the deafening turmoil
and confusion bracing himself for the shock when she struck, till the
rate at which she progressed began to slacken into a steady glide, the
deafening roar of breakers grew less, and at last she rode on and on,
rising and falling gently, and with a slow rolling motion each minute
growing steadier.

But she did not strike.

The doctor was the first to speak.

"What does this mean?" he said, loudly, for the hissing and shrieking of
the wind kept on.

"The rollers have carried her right over the reef into one of they broad
lagoons, or else into the quieter water on the lee of the rocks, sir.
She mayn't strike now, only settle down, and sink in deep water."

As he spoke there was a grinding sound, a sudden stoppage, the vessel
having lifted a little and been set down with a great shock which threw
the two men heavily against the bulkhead of the cabin in which they
stood, and extinguished the lamp.

"We aren't in deep water, sir," roared Bostock, scrambling to his feet.
"Hold on; here we go again."

For the great steamer was lifted and glided steadily on for a while, to
ground once more with a crashing sound.

"That's scraping holes in her, sir," cried Bostock.

Then again she lifted and was borne on, apparently hundreds of yards, to
go crashing over the rough rocks again with a strange, deep, grinding
sound which lasted for some moments, before they were at rest on nearly
an even keel.

"Fast!" cried Bostock.  "She'll never stir again, sir.  Ground her way
all among the jagged coral rock, and she's held as fast now as a ship's
boat pitched in a sea o' spikes."

Doctor Kingsmead made no reply for some little time, while the old
sailor waited in vain for him to speak.

"Hurt, sir?" he cried at last.

"No," was the reply, followed by a deep sigh but faintly heard in the
roar of the wind.

"Then I'll try if I can't get a light, sir, afore one of us is.  Seems
nice to be still once more.  Do you know, sir, as we may reckon as we're
saved?"

"Yes," said the doctor, almost inaudibly; "but I can hardly believe it
true."

There was a clicking noise, and spark after spark of faint
phosphorescent light across the black darkness.

This was repeated again and again, but without further effect.

"No go, sir," cried Bostock then.  "Got my matches wet, sir.  If I lives
to get through this I'll allus keep 'em corked up in a bottle."

There was another streak of light directly after, followed by a flash
and a wax match burned brightly in the doctor's fingers, for those he
carried in a little silver box proved to be dry.

"Ha!" ejaculated Bostock, reaching up to the lamp, which was slowly
subsiding from its pendulum-like motion.  "I hate being in the dark,
even if it's only a fog.  You never know which way to steer."

"Can you light the lamp?"

"Yes, sir, all right, in a minute.  Wick's got shook down.  That's
better; give me hold, or you'll burn your fingers; mine's as hard as
horn.  Well done; first go."

For the wick caught and burned brightly, the glass was replaced, and the
doctor was able to examine his patient once more.

"How is he, sir?"

"Just the same," replied the doctor.

"Well done; that's better than being worse, sir.  And I say, it's
blowing great guns still, but nothing like what it was an hour ago.
Dessay it'll pass over before long.  Come and let's see what it's like
on deck."

They went up together into a storm of blinding spray, which swept by
them with a hissing rush; but there were no raging billows striking the
steamer's sides and curling over in turns to sweep the deck, and,
getting into shelter, they tried vainly to make out their position.

They had no difficulty in stepping to the side of the saloon deck, for
there was no water to wade through, and the great vessel was as steady
now as if built upon a foundation of rock, and as soon as they had wiped
the spray from their eyes they tried hard to pierce the gloom.

But in vain.  It was not very dark, but there was a thick mist which
seemed to glow faintly with a peculiar phosphorescent light that was
horribly weird and strange, and after a few minutes' effort they turned
to descend to the cabin again.

"This won't last long, sir," shouted the old sailor in the doctor's ear;
"these sort o' storms seldom do.  Dessay it'll be all bright sunshine in
the mornin'.  We're safe as safe, with the reef and the breakers far
enough away, but the old _Chusan_ will never breast the waves again."

"And all our friends?"

"Don't talk about it, sir.  They were in sound boats, well manned, and
with good officers to each, but--oh dear! oh dear!--the sea's hard to
deal with in a storm like this."

"Do you think, then, that there is no hope?"

"Oh no, sir, I don't say that, for, you see, the waves didn't run high.
They may weather it all, but where they're carried to by the wind and
the awful currents there are about here no one knows."

"But are they likely to get back to us?"

"Not a bit, sir.  They don't know where we are, and they'll have their
work cut out to find where they are themselves."

"Have you any idea where we are--what shore this is?"

"Hardly, sir.  All I do know is that from the time the typhoon struck us
we must have been carried by wind and the fierce currents right away to
the west and south."

"And that means where?"

"Most like off the nor'-west coast o' 'Stralia, among the reefs and
islands there.  It's like it is on the nor'-east coast, a reg'lar coral
sea.

"Ha!" continued Bostock, when they were once more in shelter.  "S'pose
we take turn and turn now to watch young Master Carey.  We're both worn
out, sir.  You take fust rest; you're worst."

"No; lie down till I call you, my man."

"Do you order me to, sir?"

"Yes, certainly."

"Well, sir, I can't help it; I'm dead-beat."

The next minute the old sailor was down on the floor in his drenched
clothes, sleeping heavily, while, in thankfulness for the life which
seemed to have been given back when they were prepared to die, Doctor
Kingsmead watched by his patient's side, waiting for the cessation of
the storm and the light of day, which seemed as if it would never come.



CHAPTER FIVE.

"I'm so thirsty!  Please, I'm so thirsty; and it is so hot!"

Twice over Doctor Kingsmead heard that appeal, but he could not move to
respond to it, for Nature would have her way.  He had sat watching his
patient's berth till he could watch no longer, since there are limits to
everyone's endurance, and that morning he had suddenly become insensible
to everything, dropping into a deep sleep that there was no fighting
against.

He had slept all that day solidly, if the term may be used, quite
unconscious of everything; but towards evening he began either to hear
things or to dream and hear external sounds.

Feeling too reasserted itself.  He was scorched by the heat, and there
was a pleasant lapping, washing sound of water making its way into his
ears for some time before someone said the above words.

He smiled at last in an amused way as he lay in a half-conscious state,
for it seemed to him that it was he that declared how thirsty he was and
how hot, and he felt how breathless it was.

So calm and still too, and so pleasant to lie back there in spite of
heat and thirst, listening to that lapping, washing sound softened by
distance into a whisper.

Then the words were repeated, and he lay perfectly still with his eyes
close shut, thinking in a dreamy way that it would be wise to drink a
glass of water and open a window to let in the air, for it must be a hot
morning down in his old Devonshire home with the sun shining through
upon his bed.

Then all at once he opened his eyes and lay looking down at something
upon the floor--something lying in the full glow of the ruddy sunshine
which came through the round plate glass of the port-hole, and he was
still so much asleep that he was puzzled to make out what it meant.

By degrees he grasped faintly that it was a man fast asleep, and making
a gurgling noise as he breathed, but he could not make out why that man
should be asleep on the floor of his bed-room in Devonshire, down there
at Dawlish where the blue sea washed against the red rocks.

It was very puzzling and confusing, and when for the third time he felt
that he was saying that he was so hot and so thirsty he uttered a sigh
and said to himself that he must get up and drink a glass of water and
open his bed-room window, before lying down again.

This thought roused him a little from his deep, heavy, stupefied state,
and he had a surprise.  For he made an effort to get up, and then felt
startled on realising the fact that he was not lying down, but sitting
in an awkward position, his head hanging back over the side of a chair,
and his neck stiffened and aching.

Then he knew that he was not at home in Devonshire, but in the
state-room of a ship, and that the heat was stifling.

This was enough to rouse him from his state of stupefaction a little
more, and then as he straightened his neck and looked about he fully
awoke with one mental leap.

His first glance was at Carey, who had moved and lay in a different
position, but was quite motionless now.

His next was at the little port-hole window, which he unfastened and
threw open, to feel a puff of soft air and hear the gentle washing of
the ocean, which spread out calm and still like a sea of gold beneath an
orange sky.

It was very calm, just heaving softly, and from a distance came at
intervals the deep booming roar of the breakers on a reef; but there was
hardly a breath of air, for the terrible hurricane had passed.

Stiff and aching from the awkward position in which he had slept, the
doctor crossed to the door and pushed it open wide, with the result that
the suffocating atmosphere of the cabin began rapidly to give place to
the soft, warm, pure air, every breath of which cleared the late
sleeper's brain and gave him strength.

"Bostock--Bostock," he said, softly; but there was no answer, and he
bent down and touched the sleeper on the shoulder.

"Where away then?" grumbled the man.

"Bostock, wake up."

"Heave to!  D'yer hear? heave to!" came in low, muttered tones.

"Bostock, man, wake up.  You've been asleep these ten or twelve hours."

Still no sensible reply, and the doctor gave the man a rough shake.

"Ay, ay, sir," he shouted.  "All hands on deck!  Tumble up, you lubbers;
tumble up."

"Hush!"

"Eh?  The doctor!  All right, sir.  Why, I've been asleep!"

"Yes, yes, but be quiet," whispered his companion.  "I was overcome and
have slept too."

"But the youngster, sir?" whispered the old sailor, hoarsely, as he rose
to his feet.  "How is he, sir?"

"He has slept heavily.  He does not seem any worse."

"I'm so thirsty!" came feebly from the boy's berth.

"Dear lad!" said Bostock, quickly.  "I'll get some water for him to
drink."

"Yes, quickly," cried the doctor, as he recalled his dream-like ideas
and grasped the truth.

The old sailor hurried out, and the doctor laid his hand gently on his
patient's head, to find it moist with perspiration.  As he did so the
boy's eyes opened and he stared at the doctor wonderingly for a few
moments before the light of recognition came into them, and he smiled.

"Doctor!" he said.  "You here?"

"Yes, my dear boy," said the doctor, gently.  "How do you feel?"

"Been dreaming horribly, and got such a bad headache.  But--but--"

He stared about him, then back at the doctor, and an anxious look came
into his eyes.

"Have--have I been ill?" he said, in a husky voice, and he raised one
hand to catch at the doctor's, but let it fall with a faint cry of pain.

"Yes, a little; but you are getting better, my dear boy," said the
doctor, soothingly.  "Don't be alarmed; only lie still."

"My shoulder throbs and burns, and my head is all queer.  Ah, I remember
now," he cried, excitedly; "I fell."

"Yes, yes, but--"

"Oh, doctor," cried the boy, in a voice full of excitement, "don't say I
broke my new double glass!"

"My dear lad," cried the doctor, smiling; "I don't know."

"Doctor!"

"But if you have I'll buy you another."

"So I fell from up aloft?"

"Here you are, sir," came in a hoarse voice; "got at the tank quite
easy, and I found a sound glass."

Then the sturdy fellow gave a frisk after the fashion of an ancient
goat.

"Hooroar!" he cried; "Jack's alive O!  I knew he wouldn't die a bit!"

"Hush!  Silence, man!" cried the doctor.  "Mind! you're spilling the
water."

"So I am," said the old sailor, gruffly, and he began to pour out a
glassful from the tin he held in one hand, raising the other so as to
make the clear, cool liquid sparkle in bubbles as if he meant to give it
a head.

"Ha!" sighed Carey, smiling.  "Quick!  I am so thirsty."

He was about to try and rise, but the doctor checked him.

"Don't do that," he said.  "I'll raise you up, pillow and all, and
Bostock shall hold it to your lips.  No, stop.--Is the vessel much
broken up, my man?"

"Not a bit, sir, but I expect she's got holes in her bottom."

"I won't be a minute, Carey, lad.  I'm going to my surgery.  Don't
move."

He hurried out, leaving Bostock standing with the glass and tin of
water, breathing hard and staring down at the injured boy.

"Here, Bob," said Carey, faintly.  "What's the matter?"

"You lie still and wait till the doctor comes back, my lad," said the
old fellow, gruffly.

"I am lying still," said Carey, peevishly.  "Tell me directly; what's
the matter?"

"Why, you said you knowed.  I heard yer.  You said you fell from up
aloft."

"Yes, yes," cried Carey; "but the doctor asked you if the ship was much
broken up."

"Did he, sir?"

"You know he did, and you said she had got some holes in her bottom."

"Did I, sir?"

"Yes, yes, of course you did," cried Carey, impatiently.

"Well, it's a rum un, then, sir."

"Now, no nonsense; tell me, surely.  Oh, I don't understand!" sighed the
boy, wearily.

"Here we are, my boy," said the doctor, entering with a piece of glass
tube bent at right angles.  "Give me the glass, Bostock."

"Glass it is, sir," growled the man, and the doctor inserted one end of
the glass syphon in the water and the other between his patient's lips,
so that he could drink without being raised.

Carey half, closed his eyes, and his countenance bespoke his intense
enjoyment, as the cool, pleasant water trickled slowly down his dry
throat till the glass was emptied, and the old sailor raised the tin he
held.

"'Nother go, sir?" he asked.

"Yes," said Carey.

"No," said the doctor; "not yet."

"Ha!" sighed Carey; "but that was good.  I say, doctor, I am broken
somewhere, am I not?"

"Yes."

"'Tisn't my neck, is it?"

"Hor! hor! hor!" chuckled the old sailor.

"Well, it feels like it," said Carey, pettishly.

"Perhaps I hardly ought to tell you now," said the doctor, gravely.

"Then it is," cried Carey, excitedly.

"No, no, no.  Nonsense.  You have fractured a bone, but it is not a
serious matter, my dear fellow.  It is the collar-bone, but if you are
quiet it will soon knit together again."

"How queer.  But I've hurt my head too."

"Yes, a good deal; but that will soon come right."

"Not cracked it, have I, doctor?"

"Decidedly not."

"Ha!" sighed the boy.  "That's a good job.  That comes of having a good
thick head, Bob.  I remember slipping, but no more.  I say, didn't I
come down an awful whop?"

"You lie still and don't talk, my boy," said the doctor, quietly.

"Yes, directly; but tell me about the ship.  Why aren't we going on?  I
can't hear the throbbing of the engine."

"Nay, my lad," said the old sailor, shaking his head; "never no more."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you must know, Carey, my lad," said the doctor; "but I don't want
you to become excited about it.  If I tell you, will you lie still then
and be patient?"

"Of course I will, doctor, if I must."

"The fact is, then, since your fall we have been in a terrible
hurricane."

"A hurricane?  Why, it was only this morning I tumbled."

The doctor shook his head.

"Never mind when it was," he said.  "You have been lying here some time,
and I grieve to tell you that while you were insensible we had a great
mishap.  The main shaft broke, and we have been driven on a reef."

"Wrecked?"

"Yes."

"But we're all saved?"

"I hope so," said the doctor.  "Now I shall tell you no more to-day.
Will you have a little more water?"

"Yes, please," said the boy, eagerly, and he drank the half-glassful
more given to him with the greatest of avidity, closed his eyes directly
after, and dropped off into a calm sleep.

"That's bad, aren't it, sir?" whispered the old sailor, as the doctor
bent over his patient.

"Bad?  No.  Look at the soft dewy perspiration on his temples."

"I see, sir.  Oughtn't it to be wiped dry?"

"No, no; let him sleep.  It is a sign that he will not be troubled with
fever, and its following weakness."

"But he aren't had no brackfuss, sir."

"He has had all that he requires, and he will sleep for hours now."

"Bless the lad!  That's good news, sir.  It's a fine thing to be a
doctor, and know all these things.  Can he be left, sir?"

"Yes; he will be better undisturbed."

"Then don't you think, sir, as you and me'd better go on deck and
overhaul things a bit; see how things are and look round?"

"Yes, certainly."

"Then you lead on, sir, for there's a deal I'm wanting to see."

The door was softly closed upon the sleeping lad, and doctor and able
seaman stepped into the saloon to try and make out how they stood.



CHAPTER SIX.

The sun was sinking low as the doctor and his companion reached the deck
and then ascended to the bridge to have a hasty glance round before the
brief tropical evening should give place to darkness, and in that
rapidly made observation they grasped that the great steamer,
wonderfully uninjured, lay aground in comparatively shallow water,
doubtless upon the coral rocks which formed the bottom of a broad
lagoon.

Everything loose had been carried away by the waves which had swept the
decks, but the masts and funnel were standing comparatively uninjured,
and as far as they could make out, scarcely any injury had been done to
the structure of the ship.

"The mischief's all below, sir, I expect," said the old sailor.  "We
shall find she's got a lot of water in her hold."

"But she lies immovable, I suppose," said the doctor.

"Quite, sir; she's fast as fast can be, and'll lie till she rusts away,
which won't be this side o' fifty year."

"Then there is no immediate danger?"

"Not a bit, sir, and it's a bad job as those boats was launched; they'd
all have been better here if the skipper could have known."

"Yes; waited till the storm had passed," assented the doctor.

"Ay, sir, but who could tell that we were going to be floated over the
reef and set down, as you may say, in dock?  Besides, if the skipper
hadn't ordered the boats out when he did there'd ha' been a mutiny."

"I suppose so; the crew would have risen against their officers."

"The crew, sir?  Yes, and the passengers too.  There'd ha' been a panic
and a rush."

The doctor sighed, shaded his eyes, and looked out from the side where
they stood at the golden lagoon.

In the distance he could see the huge rollers breaking regularly on the
coral reef--a wonderful sight in the setting sun, the water glowing
orange and blood-red, while the spray which rose was a fiery gold.

"Magnificent," said the doctor, softly, and he turned to cross to the
other side of the deck to look out westward over a couple of hundred
yards of smooth water to a grove of cocoanut-trees, beyond which was
dense forest, and above that, hill and ravine running up glorious in the
golden sunset for hundreds of feet.

"An island--a coral island, I suppose," said the doctor.

"Nay, sir; there's coral all about here, but that's not a coral island;
it runs up too big.  I daresay that's been an old volcano some time, and
when we land we shall most likely find a bit of a lake of good water up
yonder among the hills.  Yes, that we shall, for look there among the
trees, flashing like in the sunshine; that's a bit of a waterfall.  It's
a little river, you see, where the lake empties out."

The doctor nodded.  "I think we have seen enough for this evening,
Bostock," he said, with a sigh; "everything would look so beautiful if
one did not feel so sad."

"Sad, sir?" cried the old sailor, wonderingly.  "What, with young Master
Carey coming round instead o' lying dead and cold; and us safe and sound
with a well-stored ship anchored under our feet?"

"Yes, that is all good and comforting, Bostock," said the doctor; "but
what about all our companions and friends?"

"Ay, and mates too," said the old sailor.  "Yes, that's bad, but there's
always a bit o' blue sky behind the clouds.  Who knows, sir, but what
they may all be making for port over this smooth red sea after riding
out the storm?"

"I hope they are," said the doctor, fervently.

"Same here, sir," said the old sailor.  "Perhaps they are, and mebbe
just at this here very blessed moment there's some on 'em feeling as
sorry as we are 'cause they think as the _Susan's_ gone down in the deep
sea and taken with her that there dear boy, the doctor, and poor old Bob
Bostock.  Ay, sir, some of our chaps didn't much like me, because I was
hard on some o' the young ones over making 'em tackle to.  But I'll be
bound to say, sir," cried the old man, chuckling till the tears stood in
his eyes, "some on 'em'll be saying among theirselves that old Bob
Bostock was as good a mate as ever stepped the deck."

"I hope so too," said the doctor, smiling; "people are very fond of
finding out a man's good qualities when he's dead."

"But I aren't dead, sir, and I don't mean to be dead as long as I can
help it.  But don't you feel awful sick and faint, sir?"

"Faint?"

"Yes, sir.  Human nature's human nature, you know, sir, and if you stop
its victuals it gets ravenish.  I aren't had a mouthful of anything but
salt water for quite thirty hours, and I don't believe you have
neither."

"I don't believe I have, Bostock," said the doctor, smiling.

"Thought not, sir.  So what do you say to going and looking up the
stooard's and the cook's quarters and seeing what we can find?"

"Yes, Bostock, the wisest thing we can do, and I must be thinking about
my patient too.  I must not let him starve."



CHAPTER SEVEN.

There was not much time for examination before darkness set in, but
enough to prove to the two seekers that there was not the slightest
cause for anxiety respecting provisions; for, without taking into
consideration what the sea and shore might afford them upon being tried,
there was the full run of the ample stores provided for about a hundred
people, and the great tanks of fresh water.  In short, as Bostock put
it:

"Why, there's enough for us three to live like fighting cocks for a
whole year, sir, and to have company too.  Then there's water ashore, as
we saw plainly enough, and there's sure to be something or another to
eat there, besides cocoanuts, which aren't bad if you drink 'em.  Bound
to say there's hysters too, while, as for fish, I know what these waters
are.  You've only got to put a bit o' bait on a hook and hold it out,
and the fish are so hungry for it that they'll jump out o' water or rush
ashore to catch it.  Why, we're in luck, sir."

"Luck, Bostock?" said the doctor, sadly.

"Yes, sir, luck.  It's an awful bad job for the old _Susan_ to be
wrecked; but she's well insured, I've no doubt, and there must be
disasters at sea sometimes."

"And the passengers and crew, my man?" said the doctor, bitterly.

"Saved, every one of 'em, we hope and pray, sir, and as I said afore,
pitying us poor chaps as they think warn't.  Beg pardon, sir, you're a
gentleman and a scholar, while I'm only a poor uneddicated sort of a
fellow as never had any time for schooling but I've larnt a deal in my
time, not book larning, but useful stuff."

"Well," said the doctor, smiling, for the old sailor had stopped short;
"why don't you go on, Bostock?"

"Thought I was getting too forrard, sir."

"No, no, go on; what were you about to say just now?"

"Well, sir, only this, that it's best to take things as they come and
not grumble.  Here we are, unfortunate, as you may say, but what a lot
worse off we might be.  Little while ago, as we thought, there was young
Master Carey dying as fast as he could, and us just waiting to go to the
bottom.  Now here's that there dear lad asleep comf'table and getting
better, and you and me with the pick o' the berths and the saloon all to
ourselves, getting ready to have a reg'lar good, square meal.  Aren't
got so werry much to grumble at, have we?"

Doctor Kingsmead gave the speaker a hearty slap on the shoulder.

"Bostock," he said, "you're a philosopher.  There, we'll make the best
of things, and, in the hope that our poor friends are all saved, I will
not murmur against our fate."

"That's right, sir, and now if you don't mind my being a bit rough I'll
be cook and stooard, and you'll soon have your bit to eat, and when
you've done--"

"You will have done too," said the doctor, "and we must drop
distinctions now.  So help me make the coffee, and then we'll have our
meal, and afterwards we must make our plans."

They made very few plans that night, for in spite of their long sleep
that day the exhaustion they had gone through during the typhoon still
told upon them so that, after seeing to Carey, who was sleeping
peacefully enough, they took it in turns to keep watches of three hours'
length, and passed the night sleeping or listening to the soft, low boom
of the breakers on the reef.

The morning broke gloriously, and the sunshine and soft air seemed to
send a thrill of elasticity through the doctor, which grew into a
feeling of joy as he examined his patient, who slept still as if he had
not moved during the night.

He stepped out of the cabin to hear Bostock whistling away cheerily in
the steward's department: but the whistling ceased as soon as the doctor
appeared.

"Morning, sir.  What do you make o' the young skipper?"

"Sleeping still," said the doctor; "a beautiful, restful sleep, without
a trace of fever."

"Hooroar for that, sir.  Best thing for him, aren't it?"

"Yes, so long as we keep up his strength."

"We, sir?  You mean you."

"I mean we, Bostock, for you will help."

"All right, sir, ready _and_ willin'."

"The sleep will be the best thing for him, and when we can move him
we'll have him up on deck, and contrive a shade."

"Oh, I can soon do that, sir.  We couldn't rig up the old awning again,
but there's plenty of canvas to set up a little un.  Is he ready for
some breakfast, do you think?"

"I would not wake him on any consideration.  Let him sleep."

"Good, sir.  There's a bit ready as soon as you like, and after that we
can get to work."

Carey still slept on whilst the doctor and old Bob made a hearty meal,
and, taking advantage of the freedom thus afforded them, they examined
their position in relation to the shore by naked eye and with one of the
glasses from the captain's cabin.

There it all was as they had partly seen overnight: the vessel firmly
fixed in the rocky shallows of a great lagoon, whose waters were fast
becoming of crystal-clearness and as smooth as a pond, while sea-ward
there was the great sheltering reef with everlasting breakers thundering
and fretting and throwing up a cloud of surf.

On the other side, comparatively close at hand, was, as far as they
could make out, the lovely shore of a beautiful island, bathed in
sunshine and glorious in rich verdure and purple shade, while they could
now clearly see the sparkling surface of the stream, which tumbled in
rapids and falls down to the vivid blue waters of the lagoon.

"Looks good enough for anything, sir, don't it?"

"A perfect paradise, Bostock," said the doctor, who could hardly tear
his eyes from the glorious scene.

"It just is, sir," said the old sailor; "makes a man feel quite young
again to see it.  My word! won't that dear lad enjy hisself as soon as
he's well enough to go ashore?  I'm reckoning ongoing with him, sir.
Won't be to-day, I suppose?"

"No," said the doctor, smiling, as he closed the glass in its case; "nor
yet this month, Bostock."

"That's a long time, sir.  I might pig-aback him if we got him ashore."

"Let's get him well first."

"Right, sir, you know best; but I don't want the poor young chap to be
dull and moping.  I might rig up some fishing-tackle for him, though,
so's he could sit on deck here and fish."

"Yes, by-and-by; but he will not be dull.  We'll amuse him somehow."

"That we will, sir; and now you must be skipper and take the lead, for I
s'pose we shall have to live here a bit."

"Is that likely to be the mainland?" said the doctor, by way of answer.

"Not it, sir.  One of the hundreds of islands out in these parts."

"I see no sign of inhabitants."

"That's right, sir.  Men's scarce about here.  We shan't see none, and I
don't expect we shall see any ships go by.  Skippers give these waters a
wide berth on account of the coral reefs.  Strikes me that we shall have
to make ourselves comf'table and wait till something turns up.  The
_Susan's_ as safe as a house.  Even if another storm comes, as there
will some day, she can't move.  She'll get to be more of a fixter as the
years go by, with the coral growing up all round her."

"Do you think it will?"

"Think, sir?  Why, it grows up just like as if it was so much moss in a
wood."

"Then you are ready to make up your mind to be here for years to come?"

"Yes, sir; aren't you?"

The doctor shrugged his shoulders.

"We couldn't be better off, sir.  Now, just you wait a bit, sir, and
you'll see something.  Directly that young chap's well enough, we shan't
be able to hold him.  He'll be 'bout half mad with delight.  He won't
want to go away--not for a long time, at all events."

"Well, we shall see," said the doctor.  "Now let's go below."

"Right, sir.  I wouldn't do anything till you come."

They began a tour of inspection at once, making their way as far down as
they could, to find that the lower hold was eight or ten feet deep in
water, which covered the heavy cargo of railway iron, machinery, casks,
and miscellaneous goods.

"'Bout high water now, sir," said the old sailor.  "It'll sink a good
deal when the tide's out.  We seem to have come on at high water."

"Would it be possible to stop it out, and in the course of time pump the
vessel clear?"

"Not if we'd got fifty steam pumps, sir: that water'll flow in and out
and be always sweet--I mean salt--for she's got plates below there
ripped off like sheets of writing paper.  But the water won't hurt us,
and the stores such as we want are all above it.  There's nothing to
mind there."

The doctor nodded in acquiescence, and they went on with their search,
to find more and more how well they were provided for, old Bostock
chuckling again and again as each advantage came home to him.

"I don't believe no shipwrecked chaps was ever so well off before.  Why,
it's wonderful how little the _Susan's_ hurt.  Look at the store of
coals we've got, and at the cook's galley all ready for cooking a
chicken--if we had one--or a mutton chop, if the last two sheep hadn't
been drowned and washed away along with the cow.  Now, that was bad
luck, sir.  Drop o' milk'd been a fine thing for that there boy if I
could ha' squeezed it out.  I never did try to milk, sir, but I'd ha'
tried.  Don't suppose it would ha' been so very hard, if the old cow
would ha' stood still.  Milk would be a fine thing for him, wouldn't
it?"

"Yes, excellent," said the doctor, with a peculiar smile; "but we have
no cow, Bostock."

"Tchah!  Of course not, sir," said the old sailor, giving himself a slap
on the mouth, "and me talking like that.  But hi!  Look here, sir," he
continued, pointing shoreward.

"What at?" said the doctor, who was startled by the man's energy.  "What
do you see--natives?"

"No, no, sir; there, sir, in a row along beyond the sands.  Noo milk for
that there lad, sir.  Vegetable cows--cocoanuts.  Plenty for years to
come."

"Yes, we shall be in the midst of plenty," said the doctor, looking
wistfully round.  "Prisoners, perhaps, but happily provided for.  Look
yonder, Bostock."

"What at, the birds, sir?  I've seen 'em all the morning.  Ducks and
terns as well as gull things.  They seem to be nesting about those rocks
yonder.  And of coarse that means noo-laid eggs for that there boy; yes,
and roast duck.  There's shooting tackle down below, isn't there, sir?"

"Yes, the captain has arms, and I have a double gun in my cabin."

"There, hark at that, sir," cried the old sailor.  "Now what could one
wish for more?"

"What indeed?" said the doctor, smiling at his companion's enthusiasm.

"Nothing, sir," cried Bostock.  "Yes, there's something, sir, as we
haven't got and we must have."

"What's that?"

"A boat, sir, to get ashore with.  Now, that is a bit o' bad luck."

"Ah, yes, we must have a boat to go ashore, and every one has gone."

"Yes, sir, even the little dinghy.  That must ha' been washed away, same
as the gig, for that warn't launched.  But all right, sir; there's other
ways o' killing a cat besides hanging.  We must make one."

"Or a raft," said the doctor.

"Raft'll do to begin with.  Four bunged-up casks and some boards'll do
first.  That's easy to make on deck, for there's the carpenter's tools,
and we can easily rig up tackle to hyste it over the side.  It's the
boat as'll bother us, but you never know what you can do till you try."

"No, Bostock, you never do."

"That's so, sir.  A boat we want, and a boat we'll have.  I say, sir,
just think of it; won't that there dear lad just enjy having a boat to
sail and fish about here in the lagoon, or out yonder across the reef on
a calm day?"

"Yes, we must get him well, Bostock," said the doctor, smiling.  "Come
along: we need not examine our position any more; let's see if he is
awake."

"And ready for a drop o' soup, sir.  There's rows of them tins o'
portable, as they call it, sir, in the store-room.  Drop warmed up ought
to be just the thing now, poor lad; he can't work his teeth as he
should."

"We'll see," said the doctor, and they made their way towards the
saloon, but only to stop short and listen to the sounds which came
softly through the cabin bulkheads--sounds which made the old sailor
drop into the attitude of one with folded arms about to perform a
hornpipe, and executing three or four steps, to end suddenly with a slap
on the leg.

"Hear that, sir?" he whispered, softly.  "That's what I call real pluck
in a lad with his upper works broke clean in half.  Just think o' that!"



CHAPTER EIGHT.

It was a pleasant sound: sometimes a mere humming, sometimes the melody
sung to a few of the words.

For Carey was lying in his berth with his head turned so that he could
gaze through the open port-hole at the glorious, glistening sea, and as
the doctor very softly pushed the door a little open there came clearly
to the listeners' ears a scrap of the old sea song, "The Mermaid":--

  "And we jolly sailor boys were sitting up aloft,
  And the land-lubbers lying down below, below, below,
  And the land-lubbers lying down below.

"Hullo!  Who's that?  Oh, you, doctor!  I say, what a time you've been!
I'm so hungry.  Mayn't I get up?"

"Good signs those, my lad," said the doctor, cheerily; "but not yet,"
and he sat down, after easing the poor boy's bandages, to chat to him
about the state of affairs, every word of which was eagerly drunk in,
while Bostock played the part of cook and warmed up some gravy soup.

It soon became evident that Carey was going to develop no bad symptoms
from the injury to his head, and that his sufferings were to be confined
to the broken collar-bone, which, under Doctor Kingsmead's care, gave
promise of a rapid knitting together.  There was pain enough to bear,
but the boy's bright elastic temperament was in his favour.  He was what
the doctor called a good patient, and health and youth joined to help
him on.

As soon as possible he was allowed on deck to watch the making of a raft
and use his uninjured glass in studying the shore of the island, with
its constant change of hue.  Then, too, there was the reef with the
clouds of spray, and the beautiful lagoon, alive at times with the fish
which came in with the tide through an opening in the reef, beyond which
there was the heaving, open sea.

"It doesn't seem a bit like being shipwrecked," said Carey one day, as
he lay back in a cane chair.  "One has so many things about one.
Shipwrecked folk don't generally have plenty of tools and things.  I
say, doctor, shall I be fit to go with you the first time you go
ashore?"

"Would you like to?"

"Like to!  Oh, I say," cried the boy; "fancy being left here alone in
the ship when you two go.  I say, don't leave me; it would make me
worse."

"Wait a bit, and we'll see.  The raft is not ready yet.  Bostock has not
fitted the mast and sail."

"No," said Carey, thoughtfully.  "I say, isn't he dreadfully slow?"

The doctor laughed.

"Well, I was thinking something of the kind, certainly, my boy."

Carey was silent and thoughtful for a few minutes, and then he began
again.

"It's very beautiful lying back here," he said at last, "and sometimes I
feel as if I should like to do nothing else for a month to come.  Then I
get hot and fidgety and tired of it all.  Yes, he is horribly slow.
I've watched him, and instead of knocking a nail right in at once he
gets boring holes and measuring and trying first one and then another
till he gets one to suit him.  It makes me feel sometimes as if I should
like to throw books at him.  I'll tell him to make haste and finish."

"Better not, perhaps," said the doctor, quietly, as he busied himself
trying to catch some of the floating jelly-fish over the side with a
rope and bucket.  "You may hurt his feelings."

No more was said on the subject then, for there was enough to interest
the patient in examining with a magnifying glass the curious creatures
captured; but Carey had not forgotten, and that evening when the doctor
was below and Bostock had brought up the bag of tools he used to work
upon the clumsy-looking raft he was building, the boy lay back watching
him chewing away at a piece of tobacco, and bending thoughtfully over
the structure.

"I say," cried Carey at last in a peevish tone, "when are you going to
finish that raft?"

"Finish it, my lad?"

"Yes, finish it.  How many more days are you going to be?"

Bostock screwed up his face, rose erect in a very slow and deliberate
way, laid down the auger he held, and took off his cap to scratch his
head.

"Finish it?" he said, thoughtfully.  "Well, I don't quite know; you see,
I must make it reg'lar strong."

"Of course," cried Carey, "but you spend so much time thinking about
it."

"Well, yes, my lad, I do, certainly; but then, you see, I have to do the
thinking and making too.  There's on'y me, you see."

"Why didn't you let the doctor help you?  He did want to."

"Ye-es, he did want to, my lad," said the old sailor, in the slowest and
most provoking way.  "He's a wonderful clever man too, is the doctor.
See what a beautiful job he's making of your broken timbers; but what
does he know about making a raft?  This is my job, and bime-by it'll be
my job to make a boat, which'll want more thinking about than even
this."

"Pooh!  I could have made it in half the time."

"Ah, you think so, my lad, just the same as I might think I could ha'
mended your broken colly bone.  But I couldn't, and I wouldn't offer to,
and of course I don't want the doctor to meddle with my work."

"It's horrible to watch you," said Carey, pettishly.  "I get sick of
seeing you."

"Do you, now?" said Bostock, smiling; but he shook his head.  "Not you,
my lad; you only say so.  You're getting better; that's what's the
matter with you."

"Pish!" ejaculated the boy, contemptuously.  "There, drive in a few more
nails to make all fast, and then it'll be done."

"Done, sir?  Not it," said the old man, walking slowly round the
cumbrous construction.  "I've been thinking that I shall put in two more
casks, one on each side."

"What!" cried Carey, angrily.  "Why, that'll take you another
fortnight."

"Nay, nay," said the old sailor, coolly; "not a fortnight; say a week or
ten days."

"And it will make it heavier too.  I don't believe you can launch it as
it is."

"Not launch it?" said Bostock, tapping the casks at the four angles, one
after another, with the handle of the auger, and being apparently so
well satisfied with the drum-like tones that he worked round once more.
"Oh, yes, I can get her launched easy enough with a rope through a block
and the stern capstan.  There won't be no trouble about that."

"Finish it off then, and never mind putting two more casks in."

"Look ye here, my lad," said the old fellow, solemnly, "do you suppose I
want that there raft to capsize and shoot us off among the sharkses?"

"Of course not.  Seen any of them, Bob?"

"Lots, my lad.  They come swimming round this morning as if looking out
for bits for breakfast.  Why, if that raft capsized they'd chew us up
like reddishes.  I'm not going to risk that, my lad.  I've got a
character to lose, you see.  I'm making this raft, and I want it to be a
raft as you and the doctor'll be proud on--a raft as we can row or sail
or go fishing with."

"Yes, fishing," said Carey, eagerly.  "When am I to have that line and
try for something?"

"Oh, we'll see about that," said the old sailor, coolly.  "Let's get the
raft done first."

"Get the raft done first!" cried Carey, angrily.  "You'll never get it
done."

"Oh, yes, I will, my lad; and it'll be one you could dance on if you
liked.  Don't you be in such a precious hurry."

"Precious hurry, indeed.  Do you know what it means to be sitting here
and hardly allowed to move day after day?"

"Course I do, my lad.  I see you."

"But you don't know how horribly tiresome it is," cried Carey, who was
growing more and more exasperated.  "Look here, haven't you promised me
time after time that you'd have a fishing-line ready for me so that I
could hold it when the tide came in and get a few fish?"

"To be sure I did," said Bostock, coolly.

"Then why don't you do it?"

"Look ye here, my lad, you are getting better, you know, and that's what
makes you so rusty."

"Anyone would get rusty, doing nothing day after day.  Now then, Bob,
I'll stand no more nonsense.  You get the fishing-line directly.  Do you
hear?"

"Oh, yes, my lad, I hear.  You spoke loud enough."

"Then why don't you go and get one?"

"'Cause I'm busy making a raft."

"That you're not.  You're only fiddling about it like an old woman."

"Hor, hor!" laughed the man.  "Like an old woman!"

"Will you fetch me a long fishing-line?"

"No good now, sir; tide's going out."

"Never you mind about that.  I want a line."

Bostock carefully placed the auger against one end of a plank, grunted
twice over, and then began to turn the handle.

"Precious hard bit o' wood, sir."

"Are you going to fetch me that line, sir?" cried Carey.

"Bime-by, my lad."

"No, I want it now," cried Carey.

Bostock took the auger from the hole he had begun to make, and held it
as if it was a hammer with which he was going to threaten the boy.

"Look ye here, my lad," he said, "do you know what the fish is like as
comes into this lagoon?"

"Yes, of course I do; like fish," said Carey, angrily.

"Fish they is; but do you know how big some of 'em are?"

"No."

"Well, I do.  There's some of 'em big enough to pull like donkeys.  Now,
jest s'pose as you hooks one."

"Well, suppose I do?  We'll have it out, and you shall cook it.  Doctor
Kingsmead said it would be nice to have a bit of fresh fish."

"That's right enough, my lad; but let's go back to what I said.  Suppose
you hook one, what then?"

"Why, I should catch it."

"Not you, sir.  You'd be a bit excited, and you'd pull, and the fish'd
pull, and in about a brace o' shakes we should have your upper timbers,
as the doctor's been taking so much trouble to mend, all knocked to
pieces again.  Now then, my lad, what have you got to say to that?"

Carey had nothing to say to it, so he lay back with his face puckered
up, staring straight before him.

The old sailor used the auger as a hammer and tapped the end of one of
the casks so that it sounded loudly.

"Now then, my lad," he cried, sharply, "aren't that true?"

"I suppose it is, Bob," said Carey, rather dolefully.

"That's right, my lad.  You're getting right, and I want to see you
quite right, and then you shall have a line half a mile long, if you
like."

Carey was silent, and after giving him a nod the old sailor turned
deliberately to his work, grunting slowly and laboriously over boring at
the hole, and resting from time to time, while as the boy watched him a
thought flashed into his head and gradually grew brighter and brighter
till he could contain himself no longer, for the old sailor's actions
seemed to be so contrary to all that the boy knew, and he felt that he
had got hold of a clue.

"Look here, Bob," he said, "suppose--"

"Yes, sir," said the old sailor, for the boy stopped, and he was glad of
the opportunity for resting.  "I am supposing, sir; go on."

"I was going to say, suppose we knew that the _Chusan_ was breaking up
under our feet; how long would it take you to finish that raft?"

"But she aren't a-breaking up under our feet, sir.  You might take the
old _Susan_ on lease for one-and-twenty year, and she'd be all solid at
the end."

"But suppose she was going down, Bob."

"But she couldn't be going down, my lad," argued the old sailor; "she's
got miles o' solid coral rock underneath her."

"Never mind what she has underneath her.  I say, suppose she was sinking
under our feet; how long would it take you to finish the raft so that we
could get ashore?"

"Well, 'bout five minutes," said the old fellow, with a grim smile.

"There, I knew it!" cried Carey, excitedly.  "I knew it; and you're
going on day after day regularly playing with the job for some reason of
your own."

"Nay, nay, nay," cried the old fellow, picking up a nail, seizing a
hammer, and driving away loudly.

"It isn't because you're lazy."

"Oh, I dunno, sir; there's no skipper now, and everything's to one's
hand.  I don't see why one should work too hard."

"That's all gammon, Bob," said Carey, sternly.

"Hark at him!  Why, I never heard you talk that how afore, sir."

"You're dawdling on for some reason, Bob.  You see, you owned that you
could make the raft seaworthy in five minutes."

"Ay, ay, my lad, but then she'd only be rough.  I'm going on polishing
like, and making her a raft to be proud on.  I said so afore."

"That's all stuff and nonsense, Bob," cried Carey.  "I know.  Now tell
the truth; you've some reason for being so long."

Bostock was silent, and he screwed up his mahogany-tinted face till he
looked ten years older.

"Come, sir, speak the truth."

"Allus does," said the old fellow, gruffly.

"Let's have it then.  Why are you spinning out this job so long and
won't get it done?"

"Am I, sir--spinning it out like?"

"Yes, you know you are.  Now, are you going to tell me why?"

"No, I aren't," growled the old fellow.

"Very well, but I believe I know."

"Not you, my lad.  I tell you I'm going to make an out-and-out good job
of it."

"Keeping it back so as not to go till I'm well enough to go too.  That's
why," said Carey, and he looked at the old sailor searchingly, and tried
to catch his eye, the one that was open, the other being close shut.
But it was impossible, for Bostock made believe to have great difficulty
in hitting that nail exactly on the head, and hammered away with all his
might.

"Now then, are you going to own it, sir?" cried Carey.

Bostock gave seven or eight final blows with the hammer as if he were
performing on an old-fashioned knocker, and finished off with a final
bang, before turning round, and with both eyes open now he said
defiantly:

"Own up, sir?  No, I aren't, but there, she's finished now."

"Quite ready to go into the water?" said Carey.

"Yes," said the old fellow, bluntly; "she'd bear us and a load o' bricks
if we had 'em."

"And that's why you've kept her back," said Carey, half-mockingly, but
with a choking sensation in his throat--due to weakness perhaps.

"I aren't going to say naught," said the old fellow, gruffly.

"But you haven't polished her."

"No; I aren't," said Bostock, and he began to gather up his tools.

"But you can't be proud of such a rough thing as that."

Carey laughed at the queer look the old fellow gave.

"There," he cried, "didn't I say you were making believe?"

"Nay, that you didn't, sir.  I never heard you."

"Here's Doctor Kingsmead coming up."

"Here, I say, don't you say a word to him, my lad," cried the old sailor
in an anxious whisper.

"Will you own to it then?"

"Nay, that I won't," came in a growl.

"Here, doctor," cried Carey, loudly.

"Yes, what is it?"

"Oh, Master Carey, don't tell on a fellow," whispered Bostock.

"You're just in time.  The raft's done.  Bostock has just driven in the
last nail."

"Glad to hear it," said the doctor.  "Then I suppose we may get her into
the water to-morrow."

"Yes, sir, she'll do now," growled the old sailor.

"That's right," said the doctor.  "Look here, Carey, my lad, we'll try
how she rides in the water to-morrow, and if she's all right, I think we
might swing you down in a chair from a block, and you might go with us,
for you need not exert yourself in the least.  You would sit in the
chair."

"Yes," cried the boy, eagerly.  "I feel sure it wouldn't hurt me a bit."

"What do you say, Bostock?  Could we manage?"

"That we could, sir; wrap him up and drop him down so as we shouldn't
disturb a fly on him."

"Then we'll try," said the doctor, to the boy's great delight.

A few minutes later Bostock watched for his chance when the doctor had
gone below, and went up to Carey's chair.

"Thought you was going to split on me, sir," he whispered.

"Then I was right?" said Carey.

"Well, what was the good o' us going and leaving you behind, my lad?
You wouldn't ha' liked that?"

"No," said the boy, drawing a deep breath, as he looked half-wonderingly
at the rough old sailor, and thought something about good-heartedness
and kindly thought, as he said aloud:

"No, Bob, I don't think I should have liked that."



CHAPTER NINE.

The raft was not launched the next morning, and Bostock did not even
begin to make preparations with the blocks and pulleys for getting it
over the side.

Carey was rather restless when he went to bed, the thought of the coming
change and the idea of gliding over the smooth waters of the lagoon
producing in his still weak state enough excitement to keep him awake
for hours, so that it was well on towards morning before he went off
soundly to sleep; but when he was once off he slept as if he meant to
indulge himself for eight-and-forty hours.

"Hullo!" he cried when he awoke, "anything the matter?"

For he found the doctor sitting reading close to his berth.

"Matter?  No, I hope not," replied the doctor, closing his book.  "Had a
good rest?"

"Yes, I have been sound asleep.  What made you call me so early?"

"Early, eh?  What time do you suppose it is?"

Carey glanced towards the round window, which looked dim and grey, and
the cabin quite gloomy.

"I don't know," he said.  "Close upon sunrise, I suppose."

"Close upon mid-day.  Don't you hear the rain?"

"Rain?  Yes, I was wondering what it was."

"A regular tropical downpour.  No going ashore to-day."

"Oh, how tiresome!  I say, though, why did you let me sleep so long?"

"Because Nature said you wanted rest.  It was better to let you have
your sleep out."

"But it will soon clear up, will it not?"

"I'm thinking it will not," said the doctor.

He thought right, for on and off the downpour lasted a fortnight, with
storm after storm of thunder and lightning, and the occupants of the
stranded vessel were kept close prisoners, only getting a short visit
occasionally to the drenched deck, where Carey used his glass to watch
the torrent ashore, which had grown into a tremendous fall, whose roar
came like muffled thunder to his ears.

"It's horribly disappointing," he said, gloomily, on the fourteenth day.
"I did so want to go ashore."

"Out of evil comes good," said the doctor, cheerily.  "You have had
another fortnight's enforced rest, and it has done wonders towards the
knitting up of the bone."

"No," said the boy, quickly, "it's not so well.  It aches more than ever
to-day."

"That's only from the weather," said the doctor, laughing.  "I daresay
you will feel aching sensations like that for months to come, whenever
there's a change in the weather."

Carey looked at him with so pitiful a countenance that the doctor
laughed now heartily.

"I don't see anything to laugh at," said the boy.

"Bah! you don't mind a little pain.  Come, cheer up; this long wait has
been all for the best.  You are a wonderful deal stronger now."

"But look here, Doctor Kingsmead," said the boy, earnestly; "am I really
better and stronger, or are you saying that to comfort me?"

"I am saying it because it is the simple truth."

"Ha!" ejaculated Carey, and his face lit up, and then grew brighter
still, for the sun came out, glorifying everything, the clouds were
floating off the hills so that they could once more be seen, looking
dazzlingly green, and the island, as far as they could see, appeared ten
times more beautiful than ever.

"You'll have the raft lowered at once now?" cried Carey, eagerly.

"What, while everything is still drenched with rain?  No, let's wait
till to-morrow."

"And then it may be raining again."

"I think not," said the doctor.  "Use your glass a little, and you'll
see that everything ashore is so saturated that we could not go a dozen
yards without being drenched."

"It does look rather wet," said Carey, grudgingly; but he soon
brightened up, and looked on while the doctor got out his gun and
cleaned a few specks of rust from the barrel, while that afternoon
Bostock prepared everything for the launching, getting done in such good
time that, as there were a couple of hours' more daylight, it was
decided to try and get the raft over the side.

It looked cumbersome enough, but there was no difficulty in levering it
along the deck by means of capstan bars, after which the rope running
through the block high up was made fast to one side, and the doctor and
Bostock began to haul: but the effect was not satisfactory, and Bostock
stopped and scratched his head.

"Here, let me help," cried Carey; but the doctor roared at him, and the
boy wrinkled up his brow.

"Well," said the doctor, when, after hauling one side up a little, they
had lowered it again.

"Seems to me, sir," said the old sailor, "that we've got our work cut
out to haul her up and lower her down."

"Yes, we want a couple of men to help," said the doctor.

"And we aren't got 'em," growled Bostock.

"Why don't you haul one side up till the raft's edgewise, and then work
it out through the gangway with the levers till it overbalances and
tumbles in?" said Carey.

"Ah, to be sure, sir," said Bostock, mopping his dripping face; "why
don't we?"

"What, and shake the thing all to pieces with the fall?" said the
doctor.

"Nay, nay, nay, sir; don't you say such a word as that," grumbled
Bostock.  "I don't do my work like that.  I took lots o' time over her,
didn't I, Master Carey?"

"You did, Bob," said the boy, with a queer cock of one eye.

"Consekens is, she's as strong as can be."

"You think it would hold together then?" said the doctor.

"Sure on it, sir."

"Let's try, then."

The rope was fastened, the capstan bars were seized, and in a few
minutes, as the two men turned, the rope tightened, the raft gradually
rose, and soon after stood up edgewise, resting on two of the corner
tubs, and without the slightest disposition to topple over.  Then the
rope was slackened so as to allow enough to act as a painter to moor the
unwieldy framework to the side, levers were seized, and inch by inch it
was hitched along the deck to the gangway, and then on and on till a
quarter of it was outside, when there was a halt for inspection to see
if all was right for it to fall clear.

Bostock declared that it was, but the doctor shook his head.

"It is my belief," he said, "that it will turn wrong side up when it
falls."

"I believe it will tumble all to pieces," cried Carey, mischievously.

"If she do I'll eat my hat," growled Bostock.  "Let's have her in and
chance it, sir.  Mebbe if she falls topsy-wopsy we can get the capstan
to work and turn her back again."

"Well, we'll try," replied the doctor.

"Come on then, sir," said the old sailor, picking up the capstan bar
again; "and you stand well back, Master Carey.  We don't want to break
you again if she topples over."

The boy drew back and the levers were thrust in beneath, and once more
the raft began to move inch by inch outside the gangway.

"Both together, sir," cried the old sailor; "easy it is--heave ho--heavy
ho--steady--ay, oh!  One, two, three, and a cheerily ho!  One more, sir.
Two more, sir.  Yo, ho, ho, and lock out; over she goes!"

For the clumsy structure was hitched on and on till it was pretty well
on the balance.  Then a couple more touches did the business, for the
half projecting through the gangway began to sink, overbalancing more
and more till all at once, after hanging for a moment as if suspended in
the air, it plunged outward, falling with a tremendous splash, sending
the spray flying in all directions; and then, to the delight of all,
after seeming to hesitate as it rose, turning over and floating high out
of the water and right way up.

Carey gave a hearty cheer, while Bostock threw down his capstan bar with
a rattle on the deck.

"Play up, you lubber!" he shouted to an imaginary fiddler, as he folded
his arms and then dashed off in the sailor's hornpipe, dancing
frantically for a couple of minutes, and ending with three stamps and a
bow and scrape.

"Now then," he cried, panting hard with his exertions, "did she tumble
all to pieces, sir?  I knowed better than that."

"Capital, Bostock," said the doctor.  "It floats splendidly, but will it
bear all three?"

"Will it bear all three, sir?  Yes, and a ton o' stuff as well.  Here,
just you wait a minute."

He ran and got hold of the rope, hauled the raft alongside, and made it
fast, before sliding down on to the raft, where he repeated his hornpipe
performance, the buoyant framework rising and falling a little, but
seeming as safe as could be.

"There," he cried, shouting up breathlessly to those looking out from
the gangway; "it seems to me that she's far safer than any boat I could
make, and you can pole her, or row her, or put up a sail, and go
anywhere on her; but, you know, I don't say as she'll be fast.  No; I
don't say that."

"You ought to be proud of your work, Bob," cried Carey, laughing.

"Proud on her, sir?  I just am.  Them tubs are good uns; no fear o' them
leaking for years."

"Leaking for years, Carey," said the doctor, in a low tone of voice; "he
speaks as if he were quite settled down to staying here."

"Well, it will be nice," said the boy.  "I mean," he added, hastily,
"for a month or two, for, of course, we expect to be fetched away soon."

"Yes," said the doctor; "of course we expect to be fetched away soon."

The doctor turned away and went down into the cabin, leaving the boy
looking after him.

"How strangely he spoke," thought Carey; "just as if he didn't like what
I said.  Of course, I don't want to stay here, but to go on to Brisbane
to see _them_.  Only, after being shut up like a cripple so long, it's
natural to want to go ashore on this island and see what the place is
like.  I say, Bob," he cried, going to the side, "do you think there's a
volcano--a burning mountain, up yonder where the clouds hang so low?"

"Might be anything, sir.  I shouldn't be a bit surprised.  You never
know what you're going to find in an island where nobody's been before."

"Want a hand up?"

"Nay, sir; I can swarm up the rope.  We must lower down some steps,
though, so as we can haul 'em up again of a night and keep out the
savages as might come in their canoes."

"Savages?  Canoes?  Do you think there are any, Bob?"

"One never knows, sir.  I don't think there's any here now, or we should
have seen some of 'em; but they goes wandering about far enough, and
they might turn up any time.  Rather nasty ones they are, too, off the
west coast and to norrard there, Noo Guinea.  There we are," he
continued, climbing on deck.  "Won't take me long to-morrow morning
putting on the oars, poles, and mast, and the bit o' sail we have made."

"Then we shall go to-morrow morning?"

"If it keeps fine," said the old sailor, shading his eyes and looking
round.  "And fine weather it is, my lad, as far as I can see."



CHAPTER TEN.

The old sailor was right--fine weather it was: and after a heavy meal
and providing themselves with another in a basket, they stepped down on
to the raft, where Bostock had rigged up a mast, and pushed off from
their home, which lay looking enormous from where they stood.

The doctor had passed judgment that if Carey did not exert himself he
might do a little in the way of going about.  He was bandaged still and
debarred from using one arm at all; but as he half-lay on the raft
looking round he was ready to declare that he would have liked to come
even with both arms bandaged to his sides, for it was glorious on that
sunny morning, with the air clear and soft, the sky of an intense blue,
and the water, over which they glided very slowly, looking like crystal.

The square sail had been hoisted; it filled out slowly and, obeying the
long rough oar which Bostock used as a scull, the raft behaved
splendidly, leaving the long dark hull of the steamer behind, and
steadily nearing the yellow stretch of sand backed by an enormous
cocoanut grove.

There were birds circling overhead and flock after flock flying about
the shore, which grew more beautiful each minute; but before they had
glided far over the lagoon, Carey's attention was taken up by the
shallowness of the water, and he reached out over the side to gaze in
wonder through the perfectly limpid medium at what seemed to be a garden
of flowers of the most beautiful and varied tints.  There were groves,
too, of shrubs, whose branches were of delicate shades of lavender,
yellow, orange, and purple, and through the waving sea growths fishes,
gorgeous in gold, orange, scarlet, and blue, flashed in the softened
sunshine, as they were startled by the coming of the raft.

Bostock was very busy piloting their craft, but he was referred to from
time to time as a mine of knowledge to be worked, for the old sailor had
long been acquainted with the Eastern Seas, and had been fairly
observant for an uneducated man.

Hence he was able to point out the fact that there were thousands of the
great pearl-oysters clustering about the coral reefs which looked so
shrub-like below.

"Look here, doctor," cried the boy, excitedly; "it's just like a lovely
garden."

"Exactly," said the doctor; "a garden that lives and grows without a
soul to admire its beauties."

"No, we're admiring them, sir," said Carey, promptly.

"But most likely we are the first white people who ever saw them."

"Don't let the raft go so quickly, Bob," cried Carey; "we want to have a
long, long look at the things now we have found them.  Look, doctor; oh,
do look! there was a fish glided by all of a watch-spring blue, with a
great bar across it like a gold-fish's."

"You are missing those flowers," said the doctor.

"No, I see them," cried the boy, with his face close to the water.  "Sea
anemones; clusters of them like those I've seen in Cornwall, only ten
times as handsome.  Look there, too, lying on the patch of sand there,
seven or eight, oh! and there's one--a five-pointed one, scarlet,
crimson, and orange-brown; but they don't seem to have any feelers."

"No; those must be star-fish--sea stars."

"Beautiful," cried the boy, who was half-wild with excitement.  "Oh,
what a pity we are going so fast!  Look at all this lilac coral; why,
there must be miles of it."

"Hunderds o' miles, sir," growled Bostock.

"Yes, it's very pretty to look at, and if you touch it, it feels soft as
jelly outside; but it has a bad way o' ripping holes in the bottoms of
ships.  Copper and iron's nothing to it.  Goes right through 'em.  Ah!
that coral's sent hunderds o' fine vessels to the bottom o' the sea, the
sea.  `And she sank to the bottom o' the sea.'"

The old sailor broke into song at the end of his remarks, with a portion
of a stave of "The Mermaid"; but singing was not his strong point, and
he made a noise partaking a good deal of a melodious croak.

"This is a famous region for coral reefs, I suppose, Bostock," said the
doctor.

"Orfle, sir.  Why, as soon as you gets round the corner yonder, going to
Brisbane, they call it the Coral Sea, and there you get the Great
Barrier Reef, all made of this here stuff."

"More of those great oysters," said Carey.  "I say, Bob, are they good
to eat?"

"Not half bad, sir, as you shall say.  They make first-rate soup, and
that aren't a thing to be sneezed at."

"Then we shan't starve," said Carey, laughing.

"Starve, sir?  No.  I can see plenty of good fish to be had out o' this
lagoon."

"But are these the oysters they gather for the mother-o'-pearl?" asked
the doctor.

"Them's those, sir, and it seems to me here's a fortune to be made
gathering of 'em.  Why, they fetches sixty and seventy pound a ton, and
the big uns'll weigh perhaps ten or twelve pound a pair."

"Then we must collect some, Carey, ready to take away with us when we
go."

"And that aren't all, sir," continued the old sailor; "when you come to
open 'em you finds pearls inside 'em, some of 'em worth ever so much."

"Oh, doctor, what a place we've come to," said Carey, excitedly.  "Isn't
it lucky we were wrecked?"

"That's a matter of opinion, my boy," said the doctor, drily.

"'Scuse me, Master Carey, sir," said the old sailor, with a peculiar
smile.

"Excuse you--what for?"

"What I'm going to say, sir," said the old fellow, as he leaned against
the handle of the big oar as he steered.  "You've got a very
nice-looking nose, sir.  It's a bit big for your size, but it's a nice
tempting-looking nose all the same."

"Is it?" said Carey, shortly, and his disengaged hand went up to the
organ in question.  "I daresay it is.  I don't know; but why do you want
to meddle with it?"

"I don't, sir; I only want to keep anything else from having a go at
it."

"What is likely to have a `go' at it, as you say?"

"Young shark might be tempted, sir."

"Pooh!  Nonsense!  But are there sharks in this lagoon?"

"Thousands, I'll be bound, sir.  So don't you never try to bathe.  What
do you say to running up between those two bits of bare reef, sir--sort
o' canal-like place?  We could run right up to the sand there."

"Try it," said the doctor, and the raft was steered between the long
ridges of coral, whose points stood just out of the water.  Carey had
the satisfaction of seeing that there was a shoal of fish being driven
along the watery passage to the shallow at the end, over which they
splashed and floundered till they reached deep water again and swam
away.

"Some o' they would have done for the frying-pan, sir, if we'd had a net
handy," said Bostock.  "We must come prepared another time."

The raft grounded the next minute in what seemed to be a magnificent
marine aquarium, into the midst of whose wonders the old sailor stepped
to mid-thigh, crunching shells and beautiful pieces of coral in a way
which made Carey shiver.

"All right, sir, there's millions more," he said, coolly.  "Now, doctor,
there's no need for you to step down," he continued; "it's wonderful
slimy, and there's shells and things sharp enough to cut through your
boots.  You give me the guns and basket, and I'll take 'em up on the
sands and come back for you.  I'm more used to the water than you are."

The doctor nodded and handed the two double guns they had brought, along
with the basket of provisions, with which Bostock waded ashore,
returning directly to take the doctor on his back, after which he came
again for Carey.

"Hadn't I better wade ashore?" said the boy; "one ought to get used to
this sort of thing."

"After a bit, my lad," said Bostock, shaking his head.  "You get used to
growing quite well first.  Now then, you stand up close here, and I'll
nip you ashore in no time."

"Well, turn round then; I can't get on your back like that."

"You're not going to get on my back, my lad.  I'm going to take you in
my arms and carry you."

"Like a little child," cried Carey, pettishly.

"No, like a hinwalid who won't take a bit of care of his tender bones.
Lor'-a-mussy, how orbsnit youngsters can be!  Don't yer want to get
well?"

"All right," said Carey, gruffly.  "Don't drop me in the water: I'm
precious heavy."

"Now, is it likely, my lad?" growled the old fellow, taking the lad up
gently and starting for the shore.  "I'm not going to let you down, so
don't you--here, steady there--steady!"

Carey burst out into an uncontrollable roar of merriment, for Bostock's
right foot suddenly slipped on the slimy shell of one of the great
pearl-oysters, and he was as near going headlong as possible; but by
making a tremendous effort he saved himself and his burden and hurried
panting to the shore.

"Have I hurt you, my lad?" he cried, excitedly, perspiration starting
out in great drops on his face.  "No, not a bit," said Carey, merrily.
"Phew!  I thought I'd done it, sir.  Now, you see, that comes of being
too cocksure.  Thought I knowed better, but I didn't.  Now, are you sure
you aren't hurt?"

"Quite, Bob," said Carey, wiping his eyes.  "Well, you needn't laugh so
much, sir."

"I can't help it," cried Carey, indulging in another hearty burst.
"There, I'm better now."

The doctor, who had at once walked off towards the great grove of
cocoanuts with a gun on his shoulder, now returned.

"Plenty of birds, Carey, my lad," he said; "cocoanuts by the thousand,
and through yonder, where you can hear it roaring, there is an ample
supply of fresh water.  You can see from here where it runs through the
sand.  Now, the first thing I want to know is whether we are on an
island, and the second, have we any savage neighbours."

"Let's go up the hills and take a good look round then," suggested
Carey.

"That is the way to find out, of course; but it would be like so much
madness for you to attempt such a climb."

"Would it, sir?"

"Yes, for some time to come.  You are getting on so well that I don't
want you to be driven back by over-exertion."

"But I could try and give up if I got tired."

"Yes, but I don't want you to grow tired, so you must content yourself
here.  There is plenty to see along the shore here."

"And suppose a lot of blacks come while you are away."

"Pick up the gun I shall leave with you; they will not face that.  But I
have no fear of that happening.  I feel sure that there are no
inhabitants.  Still, I only feel so, and I want to be perfectly
certain."

"You'll be ever so long," said Carey, gloomily, "and it will not be very
pleasant to be quite alone.  All right, though, sir, I don't mind."

"You are not going to be alone," said the doctor, quietly.  "Bostock
will stay with you."

"Oh, but that will not be right," cried the boy, eagerly.  "Who knows
what dangers you may run into?"

"I have my gun, and I daresay I can take care of myself."

"But you ought to take Bostock with you, doctor."

"I think not: and besides, as we have to divide our force it ought to be
done as equally as possible.  There, I shall take six hours for my
expedition--that is to say, if it is necessary--and I shall go straight
away for three hours, and then turn back."

"And suppose you lose yourself?"

"I have no fear of that," said the doctor.  "But don't you go far in
either direction.  Consider that you have to guard the raft till I come
back."

Carey felt ready to make fresh objections, but the doctor gave him no
time.  He stepped to the provision basket, took out one of the bread
cakes that Bostock made every other morning, thrust it into his pocket,
and gave his patient a final word or two of advice.

"Don't be tempted to over-heat yourself in the sun," he said.  "Get into
the shade of the grove here if you begin to grow tired," and,
shouldering his gun, he stepped off through the sand, disappearing
directly after among the trees, but only to step back and shout:

"I shall try and follow the stream as near as I can to its source in the
lake that must be up yonder.  _Au revoir_."

He disappeared once more, and Carey and Bostock stood looking at one
another on the sandy shore.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

"What's that here mean as the doctor said, sir?" growled Bostock, when
the last rustle of the growth made by their companion died out.

"Till you see me again," said Carey.

"Why couldn't he say it in plain English so as a man could understand
him?"

"Don't know," said Carey, shortly.  "Ask him when he comes back."

Bostock chuckled and shook his head.

"I'd a deal rather we'd kep' together, sir," he said; "but I dessay he
knows best.  So we've got to wait six hours--six hours' watch, and we
mustn't go very far away.  Well, it's a very pretty place, and the
sand's soft, and I mean to have some of them cocoanuts by-and-by."

"How are you going to get at them?" said Carey, looking up at the trees.
"I suppose I mustn't try to climb one."

"Not likely."

"Well, I don't believe you could."

"Dunno," said the old fellow.  "I'm thinking I can if I uses a sort o'
stirrup."

"What's that?"

"I'll show you bime-by.  Well, what shall we do?"

"I'm going to get out on one of those coral rocks and have a good look
at the pools of water and the things in them.  Perhaps collect some
shells."

"Why not?" said Bostock.  "I've got the bucket yonder, and one of the
axes.  We might collect a lot to take on board, and the oysters'll do
for soup."

"Oh, you mean the pearl shells."

"Yes; didn't you, sir?"

"No, I meant any kind: but let's try for some of those big shells and
open them.  We may find some pearls."

"That's right, Master Carey, and when you're tired o' that look here."

He gave the boy a knowing look, and took a roll of long stout line out
of one pocket, a leaden weight and a cork stuck full of fish-hooks out
of the other.

"Fishing-tackle," cried Carey, eagerly.

"That's right.  When we've got some oysters for bait we'll get out on
the raft again, shove her off to the end of that bit of a canal, and try
after a fish."

"Oh, we're not going to be dull," cried Carey, eagerly.

"Dull, not us; why, it'll be six hours before we know where we are.
Come on."

The old sailor went back to the nearest spot to the raft, carefully
examined the rope, which was fastened round a block of coral, and then
waded out to the rough construction and returned with the bucket and a
small axe.

"Now then," he said; "you keep here where it's dry, and I'll go and see
what I can find."

He had little seeking to do, merely to wade amongst the fragments of
coral and pick up pair after pair of the great molluscs, which he had no
difficulty in detaching; and before long he had a score, which he
carried to a spot on the rock which seemed suitable.

"You feel what a weight they are," he said, and Carey took up a couple
which were about the size of pudding plates.

"They are heavy," cried Carey.  "Why, you could soon collect a ton."

"Dessay I could, sir; but do you know the best way to open 'em?"

"Force a knife in between the shells."

"And break the knife," said the old sailor, chuckling.  "No, there's a
better way than that.  Lay 'em out in the sun away from the water, and
they soon open their mouths and gape."

"But then they die and go bad."

"That's right, sir; they do, and smell lovely.  That's the way to do it
best."

"But you can't eat bad oysters."

"Not likely, sir.  I'm going to open these with the axe, and after we've
felt whether they've got any pearls in 'em we shall put the soft fish in
the bucket of clean water and take 'em back for cooking.  Here goes.
I've seen how it's done before now."

He took one of the oysters, laid it in a particular way upon the rock,
gave it a smart blow over the muscular hinge, and then, taking advantage
of the half-paralysed mollusc, he managed to get the edge of the axe
between the shells, wriggled it about a little, and then, mastering the
opposition offered by the singular creature within, he wrenched the two
shells apart and used his knife to scrape out the flesh of the oyster,
felt it well over and then thrust it into the bucket, which he half
filled with the clear water.

"How many pearls?" said Carey.

"Not one, sir."

"I thought not.  But I say, Bob, that's a precious nasty job."

"Not it, sir.  I don't mind.  Done worse than this."

"And the oyster looks horribly messy."

"It won't when it's made into soup.  But I say, nice shells, aren't
they?"

"Beautiful," said Carey, who was examining them.  "So these are to cut
up for mother-o'-pearl?"

"Yes, sir, and to make shirt buttons."

Bang! a wrench with the axe, and another fat oyster was cut out and the
shells cast aside, before a fresh search was made for pearls, but
without result.

"Not much luck, Bob," said Carey.

"What!  Look at these two shells; and there goes another oyster for the
pot.  Reg'lar fat one.  I do call it luck.  Bet a penny we do better
with the oysters and the tackle for the soup than the doctor does.
Besides, we're going to ketch some fish."

It was very pleasant sitting there in the sunshine, with the
cocoanut-trees waving and bending in the soft breeze to his right, the
calm lagoon, dazzling in its brightness, to his left, and away beyond it
the silver spray of the breakers thundering softly upon the coral reef.
Then, too, there was a submarine garden in every pool, and a luxury of
beauty on all sides, even to his very feet.  The only thing which seemed
repellent to Carey was the growing heap of pearl shells, and the work
upon which Bostock was engaged, which the boy looked upon with disgust.

"Bah!" he exclaimed at last; "you're a regular oyster butcher, Bob.
It's horribly messy."

"Don't you call things by ugly names, Master Carey," said the old man,
stolidly.  "Butchers aren't a nice trade sartinly, but think of the
consekenses.  Think on it, my lad.  Who's got a word to say agin the
butcher when there's a prime joint o' juicy roast beef on the table,
with the brown fat and rich gravy.  Ah! it seems sad, it do."

"What, to kill the oxen?"

"Nay, not it.  They was made to be killed.  I meant having all that
beautiful stock o' coal on board, and the cook's stove ready, and no
beef to roast.  There, you needn't look at my messy hands; I shall wash
'em when I've done.  You look at the insides of them big shells; they're
just like to-morrow morning when you've got the watch on deck and the
sun's just going to rise.  I've seen the sky like that lots o' times,
all silver and gold, and pale blue and grey.  I say, seems a pity; we've
got lots o' crockery ware in the stooard's place.  Them shells would
make lovely plates, painted ten hunderd times better than those we've
got aboard.  It's just as if natur had made 'em o' purpose.  Just think
of it eating--or drinking: which do you call it?--soup, oyster soup, out
of an oyster shell, enjoying the look o' the shell with your eyes.
There, that's the last of 'em," he continued, as he wrenched open the
last pair of shells.

"But I expected we were going to get some pearls as well, and out of
these twenty great oysters you haven't got one."

"Haven't I?" cried the old sailor, with a hearty chuckle.  "Just you
feel here."

"I'm not going to mess my hand with the nasty thing," said Carey, with a
look of disgust.

"Who wants you to, sir?  Only wants the tip o' one finger.  Here you
are.  Yes, and here, and here.  I say, what do you think of that?" cried
the old fellow, reaching out the shell he held.  "Just one finger and
you'll feel 'em, nubbly like."

"Pearls!" cried Carey, excitedly, and, forgetting all about the
messiness of the great wet shapeless-looking mollusc, he used both
finger and thumb.  "Here, cut them out."

This was soon done, and the boy sat with his face flushed, gazing with
delight at three beautifully lustrous pearls lying in the palm of his
hand glistening in the bright sunshine, one being of the size of a large
pea, and the others of good-sized shot.

"Beauties, aren't they, sir?"

"Lovely," cried Carey, who, recovering as he was from a painful illness,
was full of appreciation of everything he saw.  "Yes, they are lovely;
and only to think of it, if we had not found them they would have lain
there and perhaps never have been seen."

"Like enough, my lad.  There must be millions and millions about here."

"Yes," said the boy, with a sigh.  "Here, put them in your pocket, Bob,"
and he held them to his companion as if wanting to get them out of
sight.

"What for?  Aren't you got one?"

"Yes, but you found them; they're yours."

"Nay, we found 'em; and besides, I'm only a common sailor, and like your
servant.  You keep 'em."

"It wouldn't be fair, Bob," said Carey.  "You have the best right to
them."

"Tchah!  They're no good to me.  I should on'y sell 'em to somebody if
ever we got away, for the price of a pound o' 'bacco as would go away
all in smoke.  Once upon a time I should ha' took 'em home to my old
mother.  Now I aren't got one, and you have.  So you have 'em made into
a ring some day, with the big un in the middle and the little uns one on
each side."

"Shall I, Bob?"

"O' course.  There.  Now I shall just sink that bucket in the clear,
cool water so as the soup stuff keeps good.  There we are, and those
bits o' clean coral to keep 'em down.  Now I washes my hands in that
little bit of a rock basin and they aren't a bit messy; dries 'em in the
hot sand, and now what do you say to trying for a bit o' fish?"

"Capital," cried Carey, excitedly.

"On'y I tell you what; we'll tie one end of the line to the raft, so
that you can let go if we get hold of a big un.  I'm not going to have
you hauling and hurting your sore place."

"That will be all right."

"No, it won't, unless you promise you'll let go if it's a big un."

"I promise," said Carey, "for I don't believe we shall catch any."

"Well, there's something in that," said the old sailor, "for the number
o' times a man goes fishing and don't ketch nothing's a thing to think
on."

Bostock talked a great deal, but he was not like a gardener, who somehow
can never answer a question without stopping short; say, if he is
digging, driving the spade into the ground, resting one foot upon it,
and resting his fist upon the handle.  Bob Bostock's hands were always
busy, and while he was chatting about the fish he was picking up a few
damaged scraps of shelly oyster, laying them in a shell for bait, and
then preparing the line by tying on the lead and a good-sized hook.

"Now then, my lad; ready?" he cried.

"Oh, yes, I'm ready and waiting," replied the boy.  "I say, doesn't it
make you feel in good spirits to be out here?  I should like to run and
shout."

"Then you just won't, my lad.  But it do seem jolly and comf'table like.
I feel as if I could sit down and whistle for hours.  Now then, don't
you get that line tangled.  I've laid it all in a hank ready to run out;
and don't ram them hooks in your fingers, because they're hard to cut
out.  Now, you carry them and the shell o' bait and I'll carry you."

"No, no; I'll take off my shoes and socks, and tuck up my trousers."

"Tucking up wouldn't do.  You'd have to take 'em off, and then you'd cut
your feet on the sharp coral.  You're going to do what I sez."

"I say, Bob, what an old tyrant you are!  Just you wait till I get well
and can do as I like."

"All right, my lad; I'm waiting.  Then you can do as you like, but you
can't yet.  Here, you be off.  None o' them games, or I shall have to
shoot you."

"No, I shall," said Carey.

"Nay, that you won't," growled the old sailor.  "I'm not going to stand
by while you fires that gun as'll kick and upset your shoulder again."

"Bother my shoulder!" cried Carey, impatiently, and he leaned back to
gaze up at two beautiful grey and white gulls which for the last few
minutes had been sailing gracefully round them and coming nearer and
nearer, watching the two strangers curiously the while.

"They're after the oysters, Bob," said Carey.

"Yes, smells 'em, or sees 'em.  Birds have got wonderful eyes and
noses."

"Beaks, Bob," said Carey, laughing.

"Smellers, then, my lad.  Well, they can't get at the soup meat in the
bucket, and they only clean the shells, so we'll let 'em alone.  Now
then, up you come."

The next minute Bostock was wading out to the raft with Carey in his
arms, after which he poled their clumsy craft out to the end of the two
coral ridges which formed the little canal.

As soon as he had made fast, the hook was carefully baited, the line
laid in rings with one end fastened to a plank, and with a gentle swing
the lead thrown out into a clear spot, to fall with a splash in the
smooth water, forming rings which ever widened as they glided away.

"I wonder whether there are any fish there," said Carey, and then he
started in astonishment, for there was quite a little wave raised as,
with a rush, a shoal of fish made for the bait.

"Got him?" cried Bostock, as there was a tug at the line.

"Yes--no--no--yes," panted Carey, and there was a heavy pull as a fish
made for the open water, its actions sending its companions flying out
of the water, some even leaping out and falling back with a splash.

Carey held on, but with a sudden quick action Bostock caught hold of the
line behind the boy's hand.

"Oh, Bob!" cried the lad, appealingly.

"Too heavy for you alone, sir.  'Sides, you've only got one hand to work
with.  You go on, sir; I'm on'y easing it for you, and you know you
couldn't haul him in yourself.  That's the way; don't let him run.  Now
then, in with him, and think you're a three-handed man."

The captive made some bold dashes for liberty, but in vain, and a minute
had not elapsed before it was lifted on to the raft, proving to be a
fish of four or five pounds' weight, in dazzlingly beautiful armour of
silver and steel-like blue, one which needed handling carefully on
account of an exceedingly sharp saw-like back fin, which was stroked
carefully down before Bostock extracted the hook.

"Looks as if he ought to be good to eat, sir."

"It's a beauty," cried Carey, excitedly.

"I dunno," said Bostock, stolidly, as he rebaited the hook.

"Nonsense; look at the silver and pearl and steel-blue on its sides."

"Ah, but some of these furren fish are poisonous, sir."

"I was thinking about its beauty," said Carey, impatiently.

"Was you, sir?  I was thinking about the frying-pan.  He'd be all we
should want, but we'd better try for another in case the doctor thinks
this one not good to eat."

"Oh, yes, try for some more.  I wish Doctor Kingsmead were here, though,
to help.  I wonder where he is now."

"Ay.  Wonder how he's getting on, and what he has found.  There, if that
isn't a tempting bait, don't know what is.  Line all free?"

"Yes."

"Then off we go again," said Bostock, and once more the lead went flying
in a low curve over the glistening water, to fall with a gentle splash.

There was a wave raised in the shallow directly, and in less time than
before, and ere the bait could have reached the bottom, it was seized
and the line ran out, to give Carey's arm a heavy jerk and elicit a cry
of pain.

"Hurt you much, my lad?" cried Bostock, as he made a snatch and caught
the line.

"Yes, rather," said the lad.  "You're right, Bob; I'm not quite strong
there yet."

"No wonder it gave you a nip, sir," cried the man, excitedly.  "This is
a regular ram_pay_ger.  My word! look at him; he's going all over the
place."

"Let the line run," cried Carey, excitedly, and quite forgetting the
pain.

"Nay, he aren't a whale, sir; but from the games he's playing he might
be a shark four or five foot long.  I'll tire him out though.  I say,
sir, you ought to be glad you aren't got hold; line reg'larly cuts into
my hand.  Look at that now.  I say, sir, we shan't want for something on
the table.  Strikes me there hasn't been anyone fishing here lately."

There was a grim smile on the old sailor's face, as he stood there
easing the line a little, as the fish darted here and there in the most
vigorous way, and would have broken free had not the sailor's arms acted
like yielding springs.

The playing of that fish lasted what seemed to be five minutes, and its
darts and rushes were as vigorous as ever when all of a sudden it
gathered up its forces and made a rush into shallow water amongst the
coral, some of which bristled above the surface.  Then they had a good
sight of its size and gleaming golden scales, for it leaped a good two
feet out of the water, came down with a heavy splash and jerk, and the
next minute Bostock was hauling in what was left of the line, fully
half, with lead and hook, having been borne away.

"Oh--oh!" groaned Carey, giving utterance to that sound so full of
disappointment peculiar to fishermen.

"Ay, 'tis a pity, sir," said Bostock, "such a fine fish too.  Reg'lar
golden-red."

"Yes; what was it?"

"Can't say, sir.  I don't think," he added, with a grim smile, "that it
was a red herring."

"But you should have let it run."

"Didn't want it, sir; he took the bit in his teeth, and he has run."

"I mean eased it and wearied it out."

"Yes, sir, I s'pose so; but I aren't big at fishing.  Wait a bit, and
you'll have your turn.  How's your shoulder?"

"Oh, that does not hurt now, but I do feel rather queer."

"No wonder," said the old sailor, looking at the boy searchingly as he
ringed up the remainder of the fishing-line.  "Let's get ashore."

"Oh no.  Try for another fish."

"Can't, sir; he's taken away my lead sinker, and I don't think we could
ketch one on the surface; besides, my line's too short."

There was nothing to say to this, so the raft was unmoored again and
poled back to its old place with alacrity, made fast, the fish rolled up
in some wet seaweed, and then Bostock turned with a grim smile to his
young companion.

"Feel no better, sir," he said.

"No, Bob; if anything, worse."

"And it aren't your shoulder?"

"No," sighed Carey; "I feel faint and sinking.  I suppose it was from
the shock of the pain."

"I don't, sir," said the old fellow, gruffly.  "I know what's the matter
with you."

"What is it, then?" said Carey, rather anxiously.

"You've got the eight bells complaint, sir."

"What do you mean?" said Carey, suspiciously.

"Dinner-time, sir; that's what's the matter with you."

"Absurd.  It can't be dinner-time yet."

"Can't it, sir?  Doctor's been gone hours.  Just you look up at the
sun."

It was undoubtedly beyond its highest point, and as he gradually grasped
the truth of his companion's words, though feeling no better, Carey's
despondency passed away, and he became cheerful.

Soon after, as the pair sat together in the shade of the cocoanut grove,
eating the lunch they had brought with the greatest of enjoyment, the
weary symptoms passed rapidly away, and the boy was himself again.

"I say, Bob," he said, "we must have one of those cocoanuts.  Couldn't
you knock one down by throwing the hatchet?"

"P'raps it would be throwing the hatchet, sir, if I said I could," said
the old fellow, with a grim smile.  "But I'll try soon.  I say, I wonder
how the doctor's getting on."

"So do I.  I wish he were here to have some lunch."

Carey had his wish a few minutes later, for there was a loud hail from
the open, and Carey replied to it and hurried out from the shade where
they were hidden, to find the doctor half-way down to the raft with his
gun over his shoulder and a brace of huge crowned pigeons hanging from
the barrel by their tied-together legs.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

Doctor Kingsmead said nothing about his adventures until he had made a
hearty meal and grown cooler.  Then he began to talk cheerily.

"Something for you to cook, Bostock," he said; "they'll make a pleasant
change after so much tinned and salt meat."

"Where did you shoot those?" asked Carey.

"Up yonder in the open forest under one of the trees, not far from the
river.  There are plenty of them about, and so tame that I felt
satisfied that there were no blacks near."

"Then you've seen no signs of any, sir?" asked Bostock.

"Not a sign."

"That's good, sir, but it don't mean much, for we might have a visit
from a big canoe-full at any time."

"How far did you go?" asked Carey.

"To where the little river glides out of a lake up yonder in the hills.
I fancy it must have been the crater of a volcano, for I kicked against
pieces of obsidian and slag.  The volcanic glass broke up with edges as
sharp as a razor."

"But how far was it to the lake?" asked Carey.

"Ah, that I can't tell you in miles.  In time it was two hours and a
half hard walking.  Coming back, one hour and a half.  I was away just
about four hours."

"Did you get a good view from the lake, sir?"

"No, but I climbed a peak close by it, and from there I could see all
round the island."

"Round the island!" grunted Bostock, nodding.

"Yes, round the island; and nearly all round it at a distance are reefs
of coral, with the rollers breaking upon them in white foam."

"Then it's only a little place," said Carey.

"Yes, only a few miles across."

"And all ours.  Doctor Kingsmead, we ought to take possession of this
place for our own.  But I say, did you see anything wonderful?"

"N-no.  Plenty of beautifully coloured birds; lovely flowers in
abundance.  Beetles and butterflies as beautiful as I ever saw."

"Any snakes?"

"I saw none, and I should hardly think there would be any; but I saw two
crocodiles."

"Did you?" cried Carey.  "Where--up in the lake?"

"No, directly after I started, in the little river.  Monsters."

"Any fish in the lake?"

"I could not tell.  Most likely there would be.  But I'm tired with my
walk.  I'll tell you more as I think of what I saw."

"Just one thing, sir," said Bostock, apologetically.  "When you was up
atop of the peak, could you see land anywheres?"

"I could not be quite sure, but I think so, in three different
directions.  I certainly saw reefs with the breaking water in several
places as far as I could see.  I ought to have taken a glass with me.
Next time I go up I will.  Well, what have you been about?"

Carey eagerly related how they had passed the morning, not forgetting
the fishing and the pearls.

"Well," said the doctor, "we shall not starve.  Pearl shell and pearls,
eh?  We must collect and save all we can, and I should think that we
could collect enough cocoanuts to be very valuable, so that when the
time comes for us to leave this place we shall not go empty away."

The rest of the afternoon was spent leisurely strolling about the shore,
for the most part in the shade of the cocoanut grove, a couple of the
nuts being cleverly knocked down by throws with the hatchet, used
boomerang fashion, fortunately for the throwers without its displaying
any of that weapon's returning qualities.

They strolled on as far as the mouth of the river, where it glided as a
shallow stream into the sea, not without result--a satisfactory one to
Carey, who was well in advance, threading his way amongst the masses of
bleached coral which here encumbered the shore.

Bostock was about to close up with the lad, but the doctor checked him.

"Let him have the satisfaction of saying that he was the first to
discover the mouth of the river," he said; but the words were hardly out
of his lips when they saw the boy begin to stalk something, for he
stopped and crept behind a mass of rock, and then after peering
cautiously round it he crept to another and another till he was hidden
from the lookers-on.

But directly after he re-appeared about a couple of hundred yards away,
and signed to them to approach cautiously.

"Look to your gun, sir," whispered Bostock, cocking the one he carried.
"He's seen a canoe."

"Think so?" said the doctor, rather excitedly, following the old
sailor's example.

"I just do, sir, for there's nothing else he's likely to see.  There
aren't no wild beasts and things in an island like this.  Better look
out."

Following out Carey's tactics, they crept from rock to rock till they
reached the mass which sheltered Carey, who waited till they were close
up, and then whispered, "Quick! look round that side drawn out on the
sands by the water."

"Then it is," said the doctor to himself, and troubles with a canoe-load
of blacks rose before his eyes as he advanced to the rock, peered round
one side, while Bostock as cautiously peered round the other, each
occupying some time, Carey anxiously eager to follow their example, but
unable to do so without being seen.

Quite a couple of minutes had elapsed before the pair drew back, looked
at each other, and then turned to Carey.

"Well," he whispered, impatiently, "can't you see it?"

"See what?" whispered back the doctor.  "Is that a canoe full of
blacks?"

"No!" cried Carey, in a voice full of disgust; "an enormous crocodile,
sleeping in the sun."

Both looked round the side of the sheltering rock again, and Bostock's
head popped back.

"There!" said Carey, eagerly.

"Where?" said Bostock.  "There aren't nothing but some bits o' stone and
seaweed."

"Nonsense!" cried Carey, impatiently.  "You can see it, can't you,
doctor?"

"No, I see nothing," was the reply.

"Here, let me look again," cried Carey, and the doctor made way.

"Oh!" ejaculated the boy, in a disappointed tone; "it's gone!"

Bostock shook his head solemnly.

"You're a-getting better, young gen'leman," he said.

"Of course I am," said Carey; "but what do you mean?"

"You shouldn't, sir.  There was a young chap once as kep' sheep, and
he'd got a larky sort o' sperrit, and every now and then he used to
begin running, and--"

"Yes, yes, I know," cried Carey, indignantly; "and cry `wolf! wolf!'
But do you think--"

"He's been gammoning on us, sir," said Bostock to the doctor.

"I haven't!  I wouldn't play such a trick," cried Carey, indignantly.
"There was a great crocodile that looked five-and-twenty or thirty feet
long lying close to the water when I signed to you both to come.  It
wasn't twenty feet away."

"Where 'bouts were it, then, sir?" growled the old fellow, only
half-convinced.

"Come and see," cried Carey, and he hurried round the rock, followed by
his companions; but there was apparently no sign of any reptile, till
the doctor pointed to a great groove in the soft dry sand.

"Yes, that's where he was," cried Carey.  "Ah! and look here.  You can
see the marks of his paws."

"I see," cried the doctor.  "Yes, Carey, it must have been a monster."

"Pst! pst!" whispered Bostock, raising his gun, and pointing away to
their right.

"Don't fire," said the doctor, hurriedly; "those small shot cartridges
are of no use.  See it, Carey?"

"No!  Where?"

"Yonder, floating and looking this way.  You can only see the monster's
eyes."

"Where--where?  Ah, I see; those two knobs close together?"

"Yes; the brute must have taken alarm, and glided back into the river.
It is evidently watching us."

"Beg your pardon, Master Carey.  I thought it was games.  Well, sir,
it's a good job you see that chap.  We know he harnts the place.  Who
knows but what you might ha' took a fancy to bathe there some day?"

"I was thinking what a beautiful place it would be, because there'd be
no fear of sharks in such a shallow place."

"No sharks perhaps, sir, but they're innocent babies to a thing like
that.  Why, he might have swept you in with his tail before you'd
undressed yourself.  You and clothes and all."

"What are you going to do?" said the doctor, as the old sailor handed
Carey the gun and stooped to pick up a piece of coral as big as a
child's head.

"On'y going to show him, cunning as he is, thinking that he's snugly hid
under water, that we can see him, and that we know what's the meaning of
two knobs on the water."

The doctor nodded and looked on, Carey feeling an intense longing to
follow the old sailor's example, but feeling that it would be some time
before he could throw a heavy stone.

Meanwhile Bostock walked slowly to the edge of the water, and then along
towards the sea, reducing the distance till he was not above
five-and-twenty yards from the floating reptile, when he stopped short
and pitched the lump of coral with pretty good aim; but as it described
an arc and was still in the air, there was a tremendous wallow, a wave
rose on the surface, and they could trace the course taken by the
monster, which, with one tremendous stroke of its powerful tail, glided
right away towards the sea.

"Wish it had made a dint in his skull," said Bostock.  "Beasts! how I do
hate 'em!  Dessay there's lots more, so we shall have to take care."

"How big was it, Bob?" said Carey, triumphantly.

"Oh, I wouldn't like to say, sir.  I've seen a lot of 'em in my time--
Africa, Indy, and in Chinee waters, as well as off the east coast
yonder; but I should think this must be all you said.  P'raps more."

Satisfied with the day's adventures, they now made for the raft, and
were soon after sailing slowly across to the stranded vessel, where that
evening Bostock was in his glory with the cook's stove sending up a
cloud of black smoke, and saucepan and frying-pan were well occupied in
the preparation of soup and fish.

"The pigeons'll have to stay till to-morrow, Master Carey," he said,
confidentially.  "But I say, sir, don't say as that hyster soup aren't
good."

The lad did not.  In fact he was helped twice, while the doctor sent a
thrill of pride through the old sailor as he made comparisons between it
and turtle.

"Well, no, sir," said the old fellow, modestly, "not so good as that.  I
dessay, though, we shall find some turtle floating in this lagoon.  If
we do we must get one, and then you shall see the difference."

"Do you think they are likely to be about these shores?"

"Sure to be, sir.  We shall see one, I dessay, floating on the water,
fast asleep; and I dessay we shall find something else, Master Carey,
and if we do, look out."

"What for?"

"Sea-serpents, sir.  I've seen 'em."

"What! have you seen the sea-serpent?" said Carey, laughing.

"Ah, I mean the black and yaller ones as basks in the calm sea 'bout
these parts, six, eight, and ten foot long, and as poisonous as any o'
them on land; so be on the look-out, sir; I knowed one man as died from
a bite."



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

"Oh, do make haste and get me quite well, doctor," cried Carey.

"What a fellow you are!" said the doctor, laughing.  "I can do no more."

"Can't you?" said the boy, plaintively.  "Oh, do try.  I heard the
captain say one day to one of the passengers that you were one of the
cleverest surgeons he ever knew."

"That was very complimentary of the captain, I'm sure."

"Then if you are, can't you get my bone mended more quickly?  It's so
miserable to be like this."

"Why, you told me last night after our supper that you never enjoyed a
day more in your life.  Surely you had adventures enough, finding
pearl-oysters and pearls, eating green cocoanuts off the trees, fishing,
and finishing off with an interview with a gigantic saurian and a sail
back here."

"Yes, yes, yes, it was all glorious, but every minute I was being
checked either by you or old Bob, or by a sharp pain.  Can't you put
some ointment or sticking plaster over the broken place and make it heal
or mend up more quickly?"

"No, sir, I cannot," said the doctor, smiling.  "That's Dame Nature's
work, and she does her part in a slow and sure way.  She is forming new
bone material to fill up the cracks in your breakage, and if you keep
the place free from fretting it will grow stronger than ever; but you
must have patience.  The bark does not grow over the broken limb of a
tree in a week or two; but it covers the place at last.  Patience,
patience, patience.  Just think, my boy, isn't it wonderful that the
mending should go on as it does?  Waking or sleeping, the bony matter is
forming."

"Oh, yes, I suppose it's all very wonderful, but--"

"But you want me to perform a miracle, my dear boy, and you know as well
as I do that I can't."

Carey sighed.

"I know it is very irksome," continued the doctor; "but just think of
your position.  Only the other day I was afraid you were going to die.
Now here you are, hale and hearty, with nothing the matter with you but
that tender place where the bone is knitting together.  Don't you think
you ought to be very thankful?"

"Of course I do!" cried Carey.  "That was only a morning growl.  But
tell me this: will my shoulders and neck be all right again some day?"

"I tell you yes, and the more patient you are, and the more careful not
to jar the mending bone, the sooner it will be."

"There, then, I'll never grumble again."

"Till next time," said the doctor, smiling.

"I won't have any next time," cried Carey, eagerly.  "Now then, what are
we going to do to-day?"

"You must be tired with your exertions yesterday."

"No; not a bit," cried Carey, "and going out seemed to do me so much
good."

"Very well, then, we'll sail to the island again, and fish and collect."

"And get some more cocoanuts.  I say, I could climb one of the trees,
couldn't I?  That wouldn't hurt my shoulder."

The doctor gave the boy a droll look.

"There, how stupid I am!" cried the boy, flushing.  "I want to do things
like I used to, and I keep forgetting."

"Try not to, then, my boy.  Surely your own common-sense tells you that
nothing could be more injurious than the exertion of dragging yourself
up a tree by your arms."

"Of course, doctor," said the boy, grinning.  "It's my common-sense has
a bad habit of going to sleep."

"Keep it awake, then, not only now, but always."

"All right, sir.  What are we going to collect, then?"

"Well, it is tempting to try and find some more pearls."

"Yes, very; but I say, doctor, oughtn't we to--I don't want to go yet,
for there's so much to see here--but oughtn't we to try and do something
about going on to Moreton Bay?"

"Ha!" ejaculated the doctor.  "I've lain awake night after night
thinking about that, my lad, but I always came to one conclusion."

"What's that?" asked the boy, eagerly.

"That we are perfectly helpless.  I don't think we could construct a
boat sufficiently seaworthy to warrant our attempting a voyage in her.
There is plenty of material if we tore up the deck or the boards from
below, and of course Bostock is very handy; but I am wanting in faith as
to his making us a large enough boat."

"Why not a bigger raft?"

"My dear boy, we should be washed off in the first rough sea.  Besides,
a raft would be perfectly unmanageable in the fierce currents.  We might
be stranded on the mainland, but more probably we should be drifted out
to sea.  Either there or ashore we should perish from want of food.  I
am not wanting in enterprise, Carey, my lad, and it is terrible in spite
of the beauty of the place to be stranded here; but I think our course,
surrounded as we are with every necessary of life, is to wait patiently
and see what may turn up.  There is the possibility that some of the
_Chusan's_ boats may get to one of the western ports or be picked up by
a vessel, and in time, no doubt, the agents of the company will send a
steamer round the coast to see if there are any traces of their great
vessel.  I believe we have a large sum in gold stowed somewhere below."

"No fear of our taking any of it to spend," said Carey, laughing.  "I
say, then, you think we ought to settle down quietly, not bother about
building a boat, and make the best of it."

"Certainly, for the present.  Let's get you sound to begin with, and let
the matter rest till you can swing by your arms and climb cocoanut-trees
without a twinge."

"All right!  I want to see my father and mother again, and I'd give
anything to be able to send them word that we're safe; and every night
when I've lain down in my berth it's just as if my conscience was
finding fault with me for not doing something about getting away, for
all day long I seem to have been enjoying myself just as if this was a
jolly holiday; and you know, doctor, I can't help feeling that I should
like to stay here for ever so long."

"You can be quite at rest, Carey, my lad," said the doctor.  "Certainly
for the present."

"Then hurrah for a day ashore and some more fishing!  How soon shall we
start?"

"As soon as Bostock is ready.  He's cooking now."

"Yes, those two big pigeons.  I'll go and tell him."

"And I'll load a dozen cartridges with ball ready for the crocodiles."

"Are they crocodiles or alligators?"

"Crocodiles, my lad.  You may take it for granted that alligators belong
exclusively to America."

Carey hurried forward, led by his nose partly, for there was a pleasant
smell of roasting, and he reached the cook's place--a neatly fitted-up
kitchen more than a galley--to find Bostock looking very hot, and in the
act of taking the pigeons, brown and sizzling, from the oven.

"Not quite done, sir," he said.  "I shall put 'em in the oven again for
half an hour just before you want 'em.  It wouldn't have done to leave
'em waiting.  Things soon turn in this hot country."

"We're going ashore again as soon as you're ready."

"That'll be in ten minutes, then, my lad."

"You'll take a stronger fishing-line this time?"

"Don't you be feared about that," said the old fellow, nodding his head
sideways; "but come along o' me on deck.  I've saved this here on
purpose for you to see."

"Pah!  How nasty!" cried the boy, as Bostock brought forward an iron
bucket containing the internal parts of the pigeons.

"Don't look very nice, but I thought I'd save it till you come."

"What for?"

"Come and see.  I'm just going to chuck it overboard and wash out the
bucket."

Carey grasped the man's reason directly, and they went on deck to the
side where the water was deepest.

As they looked over the side they could gaze down through the
crystal-clear water into the groves of seaweed and shrubberies of coral,
where the anemones and star-fish were dotting every clear spot with what
looked like floral beauties.

"Seems a shame to throw all that filth overboard, and spoil all that
lovely clearness," said Carey.

"Do it, sir?  Ah, it won't spoil it long.  There's them there as'll
think it good enough, and in five minutes the water'll be as clear as
ever."

"But I don't see a single fish."

"More do I, sir, but they're all about somewhere.  Ah, look yonder;
there's one of them black and yaller snakes.  He's a big thick one too.
See him?" said the man, pointing.

"No--yes, I do," cried the boy eagerly, and he shaded his eyes to watch
the strikingly coloured reptile lying apparently asleep on the surface,
twined up in graceful curves, some thirty yards away.

"You see if he don't go like a shot as soon as I make a splash."

A line was attached to the handle of the bucket, which was then raised
from the deck.

"Stand clear," cried Bostock, and with a dexterous heave he spread its
contents far and wide, dropping the bucket directly after to fill itself
and be washed clean.

"Where's the snake?" he said.

"It went down like a flash, Bob; but what a horrid mess, and there are
no fish."

"Aren't there?" said the old fellow, coolly.

"Yes! hundreds; where did they all come from?"

"Oh, from below, I suppose," and after giving the bucket three or four
rinses the old sailor stood watching the water, now alive with
good-sized fish, darting about and bearing off every scrap of the
refuse, not even a floating feather being left, so that in five minutes
the water was as crystal-clear as ever.

"What do you think of that, sir?" said Bostock, smiling.  "Fish are
pretty hungry about here.  Be 'most ready to eat a chap who was having a
swim."

"It's plain enough that we could catch plenty from the deck here."

"Yes, sir, if you didn't get your lines tangled in the coral.  I'd
rather moor the raft out in deeper water yonder off the shore.  Couldn't
have a better place than we had yesterday."

Half an hour later they were being gently wafted towards their previous
day's landing place, where cocoanuts were obtained, fish caught, and a
large addition made to the number of pearl shells, which were laid on
the sand in the bright sunshine, it being decided that on a large scale
the task would be too laborious to open the great molluscs one by one.

"I'll show you how it's done, gen'lemen," said Bostock.  "I've seen it.
Before long those shells 'll be gaping, and the oysters dead.  Then
we'll haul one of the biggest casks we can get ashore and scrape out the
oysters and drop 'em in along with some water."

"To decay?" said the doctor.

"That's it, sir.  Give 'em time and a stir-up every now and then, and
they go all into a nasty thin watery stuff which you can pour away, wash
what's left with clean water, and there at last are all the pearls at
the bottom without losing one, while the shells have lain in the sun and
grown sweet."

Enough pearling being done for the day, Bostock attacked one of the
heaviest laden cocoanut-trees, making a "sterrup," as he called it, by
passing a short piece of rope round himself and the tree, tying it fast,
and then half-sitting in it and pressing against the trunk with his
legs, hitching the rope up foot by foot till he reached the leafy crown,
where he screwed off a dozen fine nuts and threw them down upon the sand
before descending.

"Why, Bob," cried Carey, "I didn't think you were so clever as that."

"More did I, sir."

"But you must have had lots of practice."

"Nay, sir, I never did it afore; but I've seen the blacks do it often,
and it seemed so easy I thought I'd try."

Later on, when well refreshed, they went cautiously to the mouth of the
little river, stalking the crocodiles by gliding from rock to rock, but
without result; not a single pair of watchful eyes was to be seen on the
surface.  There were, however, plenty of a mullet-like fish.

But the party preferred to make use of their lines from the raft moored
at the edge of the deep water, where they were not long in securing
half-a-dozen fine fish partaking of the appearance of the John Dory as
far as the great heads were concerned, but in bodily shape plumper and
thicker of build.

Then the raft was unmoored and the sail hoisted, to fill out in the soft
land breeze, which wafted them back to their stranded home.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

The weather was glorious, and the days glided by in what would have been
a luxurious life had it not been for the busy, investigating spirit
which kept them active.

For they were in the midst of abundance.  The well-stored ship,
victualled for a couple of hundred people, offered plenty for three,
while from sea and land there was an ample supply in the form of fish,
fowl, and eggs, both birds' and turtles', places being discovered which
were affected by these peculiar reptiles, and where they crawled out to
deposit their round ova in the sand, while a fine specimen could be
obtained by careful watching.

Then, too, there was an abundant supply of fresh water easily to be
obtained by taking a water cask up the river on the raft.

As Carey's injury mended he was restlessly busy either superintending
the pearl fishing, whose results were visible in half-a-dozen casks sunk
in the sands and an ever-increasing stack of the great shells carefully
ranged in solid layers by Bostock, to whom fell the lot of pouring water
in the casks and giving their contents a stir-up from time to time.

"Smell, sir?" he said, in answer to a remark from Carey, who always went
carefully to windward.  "Oh, I s'pose they do; so does fish if you keep
it too long, but I don't mind."

"But it's horrid sometimes," said Carey; "and if it wasn't for the
pearls I wouldn't have anything to do with the mess."

"Dirty work brings clean money, my lad; and if you come to that, the
fresh lots of shells I piles up don't smell like pots of musk.  But it's
all a matter o' taste.  Some likes one smell, and some likes another,
and then they calls it scent.  Why, I remember once as people used to
put drops on their hankychies as they called--now, what did they call
that there scent, my lad?"

"Eau de Cologne."

"No, nothing like that."

"Lavender water?"

"Nay, nay."

"Millefleurs?"

"Nay, nothing like it.  Here, I've got it; something like Paddy Chooly."

"Patchouli?"

"That's it.  I knew it was something about Paddy.  Well, sir, if you'll
believe me, that stuff smelt just like black beetles in a kitchen
cupboard near the fire.  I don't mind the smell o' pearl soup."

"But I want to see number one emptied.  When is it to be?"

"When it's quite ripe, and it aren't ripe yet."

"Takes a long time, doesn't it?" said Carey.

"And no mistake.  So much the better.  You've been expecting and
expecting, and thinking about emptying that tub, and getting shovels
full o' pearls out o' the bottom, and it's made you forget all about
your sore chesty and give it time to get well.  'Tis quite well now,
aren't it?"

"I think so, Bob; only the doctor says I'm to be very careful."

"Of course you have to be, my lad.  But don't you fidget; I'll tell you
when number one cask's ripe, and then don't you expect too much, for
it's like lots o' things in this here world; it may turn out werry
disappointing.  You puts in pounds o' trouble, and don't get out an
ounce o' good.  P'raps there won't be a teaspoonful o' pearls, and them
only as small as dust."

"Oh!" ejaculated Carey.

"No use to reckon on them, sir, but all the same, sometimes when a tub's
emptied it turns out wonderful."

But the time wore on; tub after tub was filled, and the contents grew
more and more liquid, and the testing was still kept in abeyance.

"Never mind," said the doctor, laughing, when Carey protested; "there is
no harm in waiting."

And day by day Carey grew stronger, gradually taking his part in the
daily avocations, fishing and shooting; and it was a grand day for him
when one day the doctor thought that he might join him on an expedition
to the lake.

"I'm all right now, Bob," he said, hurrying to the old sailor after
this.

"Well, yes, you seem to be, sir," said Bostock; "what with the doctor's
looking you up and down and me feeding you, we've pretty well made a man
of you, and you're nearly all right; but I don't quite take what you
mean."

"I've passed my last examination now, and Doctor Kingsmead seems to
think he can give me up."

"I'm glad of it, my lad.  Hearty, my lad."

"And we're going to explore a bit, going right up to the lake."

"Am I coming too?"

"Of course.  You'd like to, wouldn't you?"

"Course I should, sir.  Going to take the guns?"

"Oh, yes, and I mean to shoot.  I want to see that lake too.  It has
been so tiresome only keeping along the shore and about the sands."

"You've had some tidy sails about the lagoon, and some good fishing, my
lad."

"Of course I have, but I want to shoot."

"Well, I s'pose it's natural, sir," said Bostock.  "I know when I was a
boy I always wanted to do something else.  If I was in a garden it allus
seemed as if the next garden must be better, and I wanted to look over
the wall.  One allus wants to be doing something fresh.  It's Natur, I
s'pose.  Do we start soon?"

"Oh, yes, as soon as we can get off."

The early breakfast was over, and the satchel of provisions being
prepared they were soon over the side, each bearing a double gun and a
fair supply of ammunition, Bostock carrying, in addition, a small axe
ready for use, and Carey hanging a billhook to his belt--a handy
implement for getting through cane or tangled thorn.

It was another lovely morning, with the submarine gardens more beautiful
than ever; but there was very little wind, and their progress across to
their regular landing place was very slow, but not wearisome, for there
was always something fresh to see in the sunlit waters.  On this
particular morning they sailed over sandy openings among the rocks,
where Bostock drew attention to the abundance of those peculiar
sea-slugs known in commerce as sea-cucumbers.

"Why not try some o' them cooked one of these days, Master Carey?" said
the old sailor.

"Pah!  Horrid!  You never ate one, did you?"

"No, sir, but the Chinese think a deal of 'em, and give no end of money
for a hundredweight salted and dried.  We shall have to take to
collecting them when we've got all the pearl hysters."

"Why, that will never be, Bob.  There's all round the island to go, and
even if we finished them we could sail to first one and then another
reef."

"Yes, that's so, sir.  Strikes me that when we do go away from here,
what with pearl shells, pearls, and dried cocoanuts, we ought to be able
to lade a ship with a valuable cargo."

"Look at the fish," said Carey.

"Yes, sir, there's plenty; but we're not going to fish to-day, of
course?"

"Oh, no.  Get ashore as soon as we can, and follow the stream right up
to the lake."

"It's going to be a hot walk, my lad, and--"

"Hist!  Look, Bob.  Here, doctor, look! look!"

Both looked in the indicated direction, to see that the raft was on its
way to glide by a turtle basking in the hot sunshine and apparently fast
asleep.

"We're not going to fish," whispered Carey, "but we ought to have that."

"Yes," said the doctor, and Bostock was evidently of the same opinion,
for he bent down softly to pick up a little coil of fine rope to make a
noose at one end.

"You just make the other end fast to one of the planks, sir," he
whispered.  "He'll make a big rush as soon as he feels the rope."

Bostock crept forward softly and knelt down ready, with the raft gliding
right for the sleeping reptile.

Then both the doctor and Carey held their breath with excitement, as the
old sailor reached out, slipped the noose over one of the fins, and then
started back deluged with water dashed up by the startled creature,
which rushed off with all its might till it was brought up short by the
line coming to an end.

At this there was a violent jerk, the raft was drawn out of its course
and began to move at increased speed in the direction of the opening in
the great reef, the prisoner making for the open sea.

"Better come and give a hand here, Mr Carey, sir," cried Bostock.  "I
ought to guide him a bit and make, him tow us our way so as to get him
ashore.  What do you say to the mouth of the river?  If we could get him
to run up there it would be splendid."

"And what about the crocodiles, Bob?"

"Eh?  Ah!  I forgot all about them, sir.  Never mind; anywhere 'll do.
That's right, sir; lay hold.  Strong a'most as a helephant, aren't he?
Wo ho! my lad.  Don't be in a flurry.  Well, I _am_ blest!"

One minute they were gliding steadily over the lagoon; the next the rope
hung loosely in their hands.

"Lost him?" said the doctor.

"Yes, sir.  We must have pulled one of his fins out.  Dessay we've got
it here."

"The rope slipped over it, Bob," said Carey, in disappointed tones, as
the noose was hauled aboard.  "Oh, we ought to have had that.  It was a
beauty."

"Never mind," said the doctor.  "Steer for the shore, and let's get off
on our trip."

Bostock turned to his steering oar and shook his head in a very
discontented way.

"It's just as I said about the pearls, Master Carey; it don't do to
reckon on anything till you get it.  But I ought to have had that chap."

They made fast the raft and landed soon after, a little chipping with a
crowbar having turned a rough mass into a pier which ran right up to the
sand and sort of put an end to the necessity for wading.

Then kits and guns were shouldered, and, light-hearted and eager, Carey
followed the doctor, who struck in at once through the great belt of
cocoanut palms, and, pushing upwards through beautifully wooded ground,
soon took them beyond the parts heretofore traversed by Carey, who now
began to long to stop at every hundred yards to investigate a flowering
tree where insects swarmed, or some clump of bushes noisy with cockatoos
or screaming parrots.  But the doctor kept steadily on till a dull
humming roar away to the right began to grow louder, and at the end of
about a mile of climbing there was a soft moist feeling in the air,
which increased till all at once their guide halted upon the brink of a
precipice.

"Now then," he said, speaking loudly, for the roar of the hidden falls
nearly drowned his voice; "come forward cautiously and look down."

Carey and the old sailor approached, parting the mass of ferns and
creepers, which flourished wonderfully in the soft moist air; and then
they found themselves on a level with the top of the hills which they
had seen from the lagoon, where the little river suddenly plunged down
into a deep hollow a couple of hundred feet below, and from which a
faint cloud of mist floated, now arched by an iridescent bow.  It was a
beautiful sight, but the doctor gave them little time to admire it.

"You can come up here any time now," he said.  "Let's push forward and
get to the lake and the peak which we have to climb, so that you can
have the view."

"But where was it you saw the crocodiles?" asked Carey.

"Oh, half a mile lower down, nearer the sea.  I came straight across
to-day, so as to take the nearest cut.  The little river runs up through
a winding valley right away from here."

"But we shall be missing all the beauties," said Carey.

The doctor laughed.

"There'll be more beauties and wonders than you can grasp in one
excursion," he said.  "I suppose you mean to come again, and to use your
gun."

The boy was silenced, and followed the doctor as he pressed on for some
distance farther, till the valley opened out a little and there was
ample room to walk on the same level as the river, here gliding gently
in the full sunshine, with its banks beautiful with flower, insect, and
bird.

Every here and there, though, there were hot sandy patches dotted with
peculiar-looking black stone lying in masses, cracked and riven as if by
fire, while parts were cindery and vesicular, others glistening in the
sunshine like black glass.

"You take the lead now, Carey," said the doctor.  "You can't go wrong;
only follow the river; it will lead you right up to the lake."

"Wouldn't you rather lead, sir?"

"No, my lad; I want you to have the first chance at anything worth
shooting.  Keep your eyes well open, and you may catch sight of the
great crowned pigeons.  There, forward."

Carey needed no further orders, and full of excitement he stepped on in
front, looking keenly to right and left, and scanning every bush and
tree.  For the first mile he saw nothing larger than parrots, but
turning into a stony part where the sand and pebbles reflected the sun
with a glowing heat, something suddenly darted up from before him and
ran rapidly in amongst a rugged pile of scattered stones.

"Here! a young crocodile," he cried.

"Nonsense, boy.  There are no crocodiles here," cried the doctor.  "One
of the great mountain lizards."

"Too big!  Six feet long," said Carey, excitedly.

"Well, they grow seven or eight.  Go on."

Carey went on, but so as to follow the glistening creature he had seen
disappear, cocking his gun for a shot if he had a chance.

The chance came the next minute, but he was not able to take advantage
of it, for on turning one of the black masses of slag which looked as if
it had lately come from a furnace, the great lizard was started again,
and what followed was over in a few seconds, for the lithe, active
creature turned threateningly upon its pursuer with jaws thrown open,
and it looked startling enough in its grey, glistening armour as it
menaced the lad, who stood aghast--but only to be brought to a knowledge
of his position by the attack which followed.

It was no snapping or seizing, but there was a sharp whistling sound
and, quick as lightning, the long, tapering thin tail crooked twice
round Carey's legs, making him utter a cry of pain, for it was as if he
had been flogged sharply with a whip of wire.

The next minute the great lizard had disappeared.

"Why didn't you shoot?" said the doctor.

"Hadn't time.  Oh, how it did hurt!  Why, it was like steel."

"Never mind; you must be quicker next time, but I daresay there will be
marks left."

"And Bob's laughing at it," said the boy, in an ill-used tone.  "Here,
you had better lead."

"Never mind, lead on," said the doctor; "the smarting will soon pass
off.  It is not like a poisonous bite."

All the same the whip-like strokes stung and smarted terribly, as the
boy went on again, vowing vengeance mentally against the very next
lizard he saw.

But he did not take his revenge, though he started two more at different
times from among the sun-baked stones, and Bostock bantered him about
it.

"Why don't you shoot, sir?" he said, in a low voice so that the doctor,
who was a little behind, examining plants, did not hear.

"Who's to shoot at a thin whip-lash of a tail?" said Carey, angrily.
"They're here one moment and gone the next.  They dart out of sight like
a flash."

As they went higher the doctor pointed out various tokens of some
ancient eruption, it being plain that there must have been a time when
the bed of the river formed that of a flow of volcanic mud, mingled with
blocks of lava and scoria.  Then the lake must in the course of ages
have formed, and its overflowings have swept away all soft and loose
debris.

"Yes, it's all very interesting," said Carey, "but it's precious hot,"
and he gave himself a sort of writhe to make his clothes rub over his
skin.  But the attempt was in vain, for his shirt stuck, and a
peculiarly irritable look came over his countenance.

"Do the weals sting?" asked the doctor.

"Horribly.  That lizard's tail must be all bone.  Oh, it does hurt
still."

"It will soon go off.  Think of it from a natural history point of view,
my boy, and how singular it is that the creature should be endowed with
such a wonderful power of defence.  It regularly flogged and lashed at
you."

"Yes; cracked its tail like a whip."

"No, no; the sound you heard was caused by the blows.  It seems as if
the saurian tribe make special use of their tails for offence and
defence."

"Why, what else does?" said Carey, rubbing himself softly.

"Crocodiles and alligators strike with tremendous force; the former will
sweep cattle or human beings off a river bank into the water; and I
daresay those monster lizards attack small animals in the same way."

"But I'm not a small animal, sir," said the boy, shortly.  "Yes, it's
all very well to laugh, Doctor Kingsmead, and talk about studying a
whopping from a natural history point of view, but one couldn't study
wasps comfortably sitting on their nest."

"No, and I daresay the cuts were very painful, but the sting will soon
pass off."

"Yes, it's getting better now," said Carey, looking a little more
cheerful; "but old Bob keeps on grinning about it.  He doesn't look at
me, but he keeps on chuckling to himself every minute, and that's what
it means.  I wish he'd get stung, or something.  Hi! look out.  Snake!"

His shout aroused a sleeping boa--not one of the giants of its kind, but
a good-sized serpent of the sort known among Australian settlers as the
carpet snake.

The reptile had been sleeping in the sunshine and, startled into
activity, made for its lair, a dense patch of woodland, escaping before
anyone could get a shot.

"That's a pretty good proof that this isle was at one time joined to the
mainland, Carey," said the doctor, "and this would account for the
volcano we are ascending being so dwarfed.  There must have been a
gradual sinking, and so it is that we find creatures that would not
inhabit an ordinary island.  For instance, we should not find monitors
and carpet snakes in a coral island.  Look at the birds too; those
kingfishers.  Do you see, Bostock, there's an old friend of ours, the
great laughing jackass?"

"Nay," said the old sailor, shading his eyes; "that's not the same.
He's a deal like him, but our old laughing jackasses down south haven't
got all that bright blue in their jackets.  Going to shoot him, Master
Carey?"

"No," said the boy; "I don't want it.  'Tisn't good to eat."

"There's a lovely bird there," said the doctor, pointing to where there
was a flash of dark purply orange, as the sun played upon the head and
back of a bird nearly the size of a jay.  "A regular Queensland bird.
I've seen it there."

"What is it?" said Carey.

"The rifle bird; a near relative, I believe, to the birds of paradise."

"But it's nearly black," protested Carey.  "Birds of paradise are all
fluffy buff feathers."

"Some of them," said the doctor, "but there are many kinds, some much
more ornamental than the kind you mean."

He raised his gun to shoot the rifle bird, but lowered it again.

"I couldn't preserve it if I shot it," he said.  "Come along."

They continued the ascent, finding the heat in the sheltered valley
rather more than they could bear, and Carey looked longingly down to his
right at the placidly flowing river, thinking how pleasant a dip would
be.

"I say," he said at last, "what a little shade there is."

"And unfortunately," said the doctor, "it grows less the higher we get--
a way with the growth on mountains; but we shall soon be high enough to
feel the sea breeze, and after all it's a wonderfully interesting
tramp."

Carey agreed that it was, for the bird life now was most attractive--
gaily dressed parroquets, green, and with breasts like gorgeous sunsets,
were plentiful.

There were the lovely little zebra parrots, too, in abundance, black
cockatoos, white with sulphur crest, beauties in pink and grey, and
finches with black or scarlet heads and breasts shot with topaz,
amethyst, and vivid blue.

Then every rock had its occupants in the shape of silvery-grey,
golden-green, or black and orange lizards, some looking as if they were
bearded, others bearing a singular frill, while again others were dotted
with hideous spikes and prickles, all being given to turn defiantly upon
the intruders to their domain, and menacingly open their gaping mouths,
lined with orange, yellow, or rich blue; but ready to take flight all
the same and plunge into the rock rift or hole which made their home.

At last there was a rocky slope to climb, up to the left of which a
sugar-loaf peak rose, which Carey at once concluded was the one which
the doctor had climbed; so, feeling that their task was pretty well
achieved, he manfully breasted the rock-strewn slope, ignored the
lizards basking in the sun, and directly after gave a shout of
satisfaction, for on one side there came a deliciously cool breeze,
while on the other he was looking down at a vividly blue lake lying in a
hollow a couple of hundred feet below where he stood, and quite
sheltered from the wind, so that its surface was like a mirror and
reflected the hills all round.

"Lovely, eh, Carey?"

"It is glorious," panted the boy.  "Isn't it fine, Bob?"

Bostock grunted, laid down his gun, swung round the satchel containing
the food, and passed the strap over his head, setting it afterwards on
the ground in a very significant manner.

"Yes," said the doctor; "we may as well have our lunch."

"But I say," said Carey, "do you really think this was once a volcano,
doctor?"

"Certainly, and the blue water we look down upon was preceded by a lake
of fire."

"But how was that?  Where did the water come from?  Not from the sea."

"No, from the draining of these hills or mountains all round, upon which
you have seen the clouds gather and melt into rain."

"And that put out the volcanic fire?" said Carey, quickly.

"Oh, no," replied the doctor, smiling.  "If those trickling streams had
run down into a lake of fire they would have flown up again in steam
with tremendous explosions.  This lake of water did not form until the
volcano was quite extinct, and--"

"Shall I cut up the wittles, sir?" said Bostock, who had been
impatiently waiting for the doctor to end his lecture.

"Here, fall to, Carey; Bostock is getting ravenous."  And they ate their
lunch, with Carey longing to go down the inner slope to examine the lake
for fish and try to find out how deep it was.

It was a double feast, one for the body and one for the brain, the long
walk and exertion having made all hungry, and as soon as this was
appeased the doctor led the way for the final cone to be climbed.

Here Carey feasted indeed--the glass showing him through the limpid air
reef after reef silvered with spray, and what were evidently islands,
looking like faint amethystine clouds floating between sea and sky.

These islands lay to the north-east, but though they all looked long and
carefully there was no sign of any great tract of land or continent.

"These are the times, Carey, when one feels one's ignorance," observed
the doctor.

"Ignorance?  I thought you knew nearly every thing."

"Nearly nothing," said the doctor, laughing.  "I mean as compared to
what there is to know.  Now, for instance, there are charts in the
captain's cabin, and the proper instruments for taking observations--
sextants and chronometer.  I ought to be able to tell exactly where we
are, Carey, and mark it upon a chart, but I can't."

"Never mind, sir, it's very beautiful," said the boy.  "I say, though,
we can't see the _Chusan_ from here."

"No, it is cut off by the projecting part of the mountain."

"Yes, and the lower parts and mouth of the river too.  But we can see
all round the other side of the island."

"Yes, and see what prisoners we are and shall be till some ship comes on
a voyage of discovery and sees the great wreck."

"Well," said Carey, thoughtfully, "if it wasn't for one thing I like it,
and don't feel in a bit of a hurry to go away."

"And what is the one thing?" asked the doctor.

"Mother and father's trouble.  They must think I'm dead."



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

The trio rested at the top of the peak for a couple of hours, and then
started back, the doctor taking the lead again so as to vary the way of
descent, and gain an acquaintance with as much of the island as was
possible.

This had the effect of lengthening out the journey, for there were many
detours to be made to avoid dense jungly patches through which they
would have had to clear their way; so that it was getting on towards
evening when, after descending slope after slope and dodging, as Carey
termed it, through little maze-like valleys, they came in sight of the
waving cocoanut palms beneath them, and finally passed through to reach
the sands.

They were still some distance from the landing place where the raft lay,
and the sand was hot, loose, and painful to walk upon; but at last the
rocky natural pier was reached, the raft cut loose, and, there being a
pleasant evening breeze sufficient to ripple the water, they sailed
steadily across.

"Might get a fish or two for supper easy to-night, sir," said Bostock.
"I've got a line, sir.  Shall I try?"

"No, we've done enough to-day," replied the doctor.  "Let's be satisfied
with what we've done and the provisions we have on board."

"Right, sir," said Bostock.  "There is plenty of pickled fish."

"I feel more like a cup of tea than anything," replied the doctor.  "It
was a thirsty climb.  Better take out the cartridges from your gun,
Carey."

"Mind taking mine out too, Master Carey?" said Bostock, who was
steering.

"All right," said Carey, following the doctor's example and returning
the little charges to the ammunition bag.  "I say, we shall only just
get aboard before dark."

"We ought to have been half-an-hour sooner," observed the doctor, and
five minutes or so later the raft rubbed with a grinding sound against
the side, where it was made fast to a ring bolt by their hanging ladder.

The doctor ascended first to the darkened deck, for the night had fallen
very rapidly during the last few minutes.  Carey followed him, and
leaned down before he reached the top of the ladder for the guns, which
he took from Bostock's hands and passed up to the doctor.

The satchels and bucket of treasures they had found followed, and then
Carey finished his ascent to the lofty deck.

"Look sharp, Bob," he said, "and let's have some supper at once."

"Supper it is, sir, in a brace of jiffies," replied the old sailor, as
he stepped on deck, and he was in the act of turning to his left to go
below to the galley, when he stopped short and uttered a warning cry.

"The guns--the guns!" he yelled.

Too late.  There was a rush of bare feet on the soft deck, and through
the gloom Carey was just able to make out that they were surrounded by a
party of blacks, each poising a spear ready to throw and holding in his
other hand either a knobkerry or a boomerang.

"Go mumkull white fellow; baal, lie down, quiet, still!"

This was said in a fierce voice by one of the savage-looking fellows,
and Carey mastered the desire to bound away and take refuge below.

"Who are you?  What do you want?" cried the doctor.

"Go mumkull white fellow; baal, lie down, quiet, still!"

"Says they're going to kill us all if we don't lie down and be quiet,"
growled the old sailor; then aloud to the blacks, "Here, what do you
want--'bacco--sugar?  Give plenty.  Black fellow go."

"Want 'bacco, sugar, take white fellow old ship," cried the black who
had first spoken.

"Take our old ship, will you?" said Bostock.  "I think not, my lad.
There, put down spear, mulla-mulla.  We'll give you sugar, 'bacco."

The man laughed, and his companions too.

"Where boat?" said Bostock, speaking as if he thought the savages must
be deaf, and the spokesman pointed over the other side of the vessel.

"It's all right, sir," said Bostock.  "Nothing to mind; they're a party
who've come in contact with English folk before, and they must have seen
the ship.  It only means giving them a bit of 'bacco and sugar and
sending 'em away again.  Don't look afraid of 'em.  Better give 'em what
they want and let 'em go.  They wander about, so we may never see 'em
again."

"Very well; fetch up some tobacco and sugar and give them," said the
doctor; but at the first step Bostock took half the men rushed at and
seized him, making his companions snatch at their guns, but only to have
them wrested away, the blacks cocking them and drawing the triggers so
as to fire them off if loaded, with a sharp _click, click_, as the
hammers fell.

"That's bad, sir," said Bostock, in his sourest growl.  "It means
fighting, and we aren't got no tools."

"It is horrible to be taken by surprise like this," replied the doctor;
"but it only means giving them presents; they were afraid we meant to
shoot them."

"Mumkull white fellow, baal, lie still," cried the principal man,
fiercely.

"All right, you dirty thick-headed black rough 'un," growled Bostock.
"Now then, what do you want?  Give it a name.  Tobacco or sugar, isn't
it, or both?"

"What's that?" said Carey, quickly, for the sharp sound of a match being
struck in one of the cabins came up.  "There's someone down below,
getting a light."

The attention of the blacks was taken too, and they stood as if
listening, till there was the sudden glow of a lamp seen in the cabin
entry, and directly after a fierce-looking ruddy-brown visage appeared,
the swollen-veined, blood-shot eyes looking wild, strange, and horrible
as the light the man carried struck full upon it and made the great
ragged beard glisten.

Carey stared at him in wonder, taking in at a glance his rough
half-sailor-like shirt and trousers and heavy fisherman's boots.  He
noted, too, that the man wore a belt with holsters which evidently
contained small revolvers.

The question was on his lips, "Who are you?" with its following, "What
are you doing there?"

But the words were taken out of his lips by the doctor, who asked the
questions angrily.

"Eh?" came in a hoarse, raucous voice, as the man rolled forward, with
the lamp, till he was near enough to hold it close to the doctor's face,
and then to those of the others.

"Only three on 'em, then.  Don't let 'em go, my sonnies.  Now then, you,
what do you say?  What am I doing here?  What are you doing--what do you
want aboard my ship?"

"Your ship, you bullying, drunken ruffian!" cried the doctor, in a rage.
"You've been down in the cabin helping yourself to the spirits, or you
would not dare to speak to me like this."

"Well!  You do talk," cried the man, with a hoarse laugh.  "Yes, I've
had a drop I found down there.  Thirsty, my lad, thirsty."

"Did you bring these black scoundrels aboard?" cried the doctor, who was
beside himself with rage.

"Sartain I did; they're my crew, and I'm their master, and I've only got
to say the word and over you go to the sharks.  Eh, sonny?  Sharks, eh?"

"Sharkum, sharkum!" cried the man who seemed to be the leader, and he
caught hold of the doctor, his example being followed by his fellows;
but in an instant he was sent staggering back, and Bostock's assailant
met with similar treatment, while Carey struck out, but with very little
effect, save that he hurt his knuckles against the grinning teeth of the
black who seized him.

"Hold hard, my sonnies; not yet.  Let's see how they behave themselves.
Stand back."

It was evident that the great coarse-looking ruffian had perfect command
over the party of black fellows, who shrank back at a word, and waited
with glistening eyes, their faces shining in the lamplight.

"There," said the man, "you see; so don't be sarcy.  I let you off this
time, because you didn't know; only if there's any more of it I says the
word, and over the side you go.  Now then, who are you?"

"I am the medical officer of this stranded vessel, the _Chusan_, upon
which you have trespassed; and I hold her in charge for the company of
owners until they send a relief expedition to reclaim or salvage her."

"That all?" said the man, with a hoarse laugh.  "That for you, then, and
all you say," and he snapped his fingers in the doctor's face.  "Now,
look here, my fine fellow, I'm Dan Mallam, Beachcomber [see note], as
they call me, King o' the Pearl Islands, dealer and merchant in copra,
pearl shells, and pearls.  These are my reefs and islands.  This is my
estate, and all flotsam and jetsam as is washed ashore is mine.  Do you
hear me?--mine, to do as I likes with.  This steamer's come ashore on my
land, and my black lads, as has been out shelling and collecting nuts,
saw it come and tell me, who have come over to see what the sea has
washed me up this time, for I've been getting short o' odds and ends,
and the rum was getting low.  There was the steamer, empty and cast
away, and I've took possession, when you come and begin bullying and
pretending you've got a claim on her."

"Claim on her, you scoundrelly pirate!" cried the doctor.  "Why, men
have been transported for life for what you are attempting to do."

The man scowled at the word transportation, and his right hand went to
one of the holsters, whose flap he pressed over the stud so as to lay
bare the butt of the pistol within.  This he drew out and cocked.

"I just warn you to be civil, my fine fellow," he said.  "I've only to
say a word to my black fellows, and, in spite of your kicking, over
you'd go into water that swarms with sharks; but when a man insults me,
Dan Mallam, King o' the Pearl Islands, my temper gets warm, and I show
my boys what a shot I am.  Do you hear?"

The pistol clicked, and sent a shudder through Carey, who started at the
ominous sound and looked wildly round for the guns, in the mad idea that
he might be able to catch one up, load it, and fire in defence of the
man towards whom he felt as if he were an elder brother.  But the guns
were all in the hands of the blacks, and others had possession of the
satchels containing the cartridges.

Second thoughts convinced him that such an attempt could only result in
the ruffian carrying out one of his threats, for he was beyond the reach
of the law, if he were, as he said, a dweller in some neighbouring
island, ruling probably over a little tribe of blacks.

What was to be done?

Just then the doctor spoke.

"Look here," he said, "I do not wish to insult you, but I am not going
to give up to a man who is acting as you are.  I tell you once more, I
hold this vessel in my charge, and I am prepared to defend it on behalf
of the owners."

"How?" said their visitor, with a mocking laugh.

"Never mind how," replied the doctor, more calmly.  "I am not to be
frightened by empty threats.  We are not so far from civilisation that
you dare injure me and my companions.  The news would be carried to
Brisbane, Adelaide, or Sydney, and one of her Majesty's war ships on the
station would soon be here to call you to account."

"How'd they get the noos?" said the man, mockingly.

"In the same way that you did: the blacks would hear it."

"Let 'em," said the man, fiercely.  "A black fellow's life aren't worth
much, but they think too much of it to care about chucking it away."

"The report would certainly reach headquarters, and, like the black
fellows, sir, you care too much for your life to care about chucking it
away, as you call it.  Now, look here, I am not frightened by your
threats, neither do I want to quarrel."

"Same here, sonny, so let's forget what's passed and be friends," said
the man, replacing his little revolver.

"Hear me out first," said the doctor.  "I am in command here, and I mean
to retain it, but I do not wish to be grasping or unfair to an
Englishman in want of necessaries out in this wild place.  I will let
you have what things you require in the morning."

"Thankye," said the man, drily.  "Now then, we've only just got here
after a long paddling against the currents, and the wind against us.  I
want something to eat, and my boys are pretty sharp set.  Where do you
keep your prog?"

"Call the men off, and tell them to camp down forward on the deck," said
the doctor.  "They can have a sail for tent, and they shall have such
rations as we have ready.  You would like a cabin, I suppose?"

"Well, rather," said the man, with a peculiar smile.

"We shall have a kind of supper ready soon; so call off your men at
once."

"All right; only no games."

"Treachery?" said the doctor; "I had no thought of anything of the
kind."

"Here, Black Jack, let go, and take the boys forward.  No mumkull, baal,
spear, baal, nulla-nulla.  Plenty much eat soon.  Get out."

The man grunted, said a few words to his fellows, and they all trooped
forward and squatted on the deck.

"Beg pardon, sir," growled Bostock; "give 'em some 'bacco; there's
plenty."

"All right," said their leader; "give 'em plenty of 'bacco.  That'll
keep 'em quiet for the night.  Only I say, just a word of advice.  Don't
try to play no tricks, for they're about as nasty as a bag o' snakes.
Rile 'em or rile me, and they'll bite.  If they bite they kill, and if
they kill you three there'll be no work got out of 'em for a week.
Understand?"

"No," said the doctor, quietly.

"Then I'll tell you: they'll take you ashore, and make a fire, and cook
you."

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Carey, derisively.

The next moment the man's hand closed tight upon the boy's shoulder,
holding him fast.

"You don't believe it, eh?"

"No," said Carey, boldly; "not a word of it, and don't grip my shoulder
like that--it hurts."

"Meant it to, puppy," growled the man, menacingly.  "D'ye hear?  Cook
you and eat you, and they'll begin on you, because you're young and
tender; and they'll go on eating you till they're as dizzy as drunken
men.  Then they'll go to sleep, and wake up again, and go on cooking and
eating till they can't see, and keep on till they've finished you all."

"Find me pretty tough," growled Bostock.

"Not they," cried the man.  "You'd be tender by the time they got to
you.  They don't mind how long it is first.  Don't believe it, eh?"

"No," said Carey, setting his teeth hard to master the pain he felt.
"It's a silly story about cannibalism to frighten me."

"Think so?" said the man.  "All right.  Here, Black Jack!" he roared.

The leading black snatched up spear and club and bounded to the speaker
with wonderful alacrity, his eyes flashing, and he looked from one to
the other as if expecting orders to slay.

"Ask him," growled his leader.

Carey was turning faint with pain, and the doctor saw it and stepped
forward.

"Take hold of his arm," he said to their captor; "the boy has had his
collar-bone broken."

As he spoke he removed the great coarse hand to the boy's fore-arm, and
Carey uttered a sigh of relief.  Then, turning to the fierce-looking
savage, he said quickly, "Here, you blackie."

"Not Blackie; Black Jack."

"Well, Black Jack, what do you do with your prisoners?"

The fierce look died into a broad grin, and he showed his white teeth.

"Make fire; eatum," he said, promptly.  "Make big feast."

"Go back!" growled the so-called king.

"No.  Mumkull; kill, eatum."

"Not now.  Be off."

The black darted back to his companions, and the beachcomber turned to
Carey.

"Want some more proof?" he said.

Carey was silent.

"Here, you," said the man, turning to Bostock.  "Been in these parts
before?"

"Lots o' times," said the old sailor.

"Tell him, then."

"Is it true, Bob?"

"Yes, my lad, it's true enough," said Bostock.  "They eat their
prisoners, their old folks, and the babies and wives, too, when
starvation times come."

"What, do you mean to tell me that such things go on out here in
Australia and the islands--now?"

"It's true enough, Carey," said the doctor, gravely.  "I've seen the
bones at one of their camps after a feast."

The beachcomber laughed hoarsely.

"Now you know what you've got to expect, youngster; so behave yourself,"
he said.  "Now, doctor, you know.  Be civil, and I daresay we shall be
very good friends; be nasty, and I shan't keep my black pack quiet, but
let 'em do as they like.  Hi!  Black Jack!"

The savage bounded once more to his side.

"See that the canoe and boat are fast, and then you shall have a feast."

"All fast.  Tie rope," said the black, pointing to the farther side of
the steamer deck.  Then, to Carey's horror, he made a peculiar gesture
and pointed at him.

"No.  Salt beef.  'Bacco," growled his leader, and the man once more
bounded away.

"Come below," continued the man, hoarsely, "and get those brutes
something to keep 'em quiet; and I want a big drink.  You three go
first."

Carey glanced at the doctor and then at Bostock, both of whom avoided
his eye and went to the cabin entrance, leaving the boy to follow,
feeling half-stunned and wondering whether they ought not to make some
effort to drive the intruders overboard.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note: Beachcomber.  A white man who settles down in one of the South Sea
Islands and lives by trading with the natives for copra--the dried
kernels of cocoanuts--pearl shells, and the sea slug _Beche de mer_;
often living by wrecking, kidnapping the natives, or any nefarious
scheme.  Many of them have been drunken, unprincipled scoundrels, their
ranks in the old days having been recruited from the convicts escaped
from Botany Bay or Norfolk Island.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

To Carey's rage and discomfiture he found that their captor treated him
as the ship's boy, following Bostock to the store-room and ordering him
to carry the most solid of the provisions to the blacks.

"They won't want any knives and forks and plates, young 'un.  Wait a
moment.  Where's the tobacco?"

This was produced in its tub, and in obedience to his orders Carey took
out twenty of the long square compressed cakes.

"That's right.  Twenty of 'em, and don't let either of the warmint
snatch two."

"How am I to stop them?" said Carey, bitterly.

"Got a fist, haven't you?"

Carey nodded shortly.

"Hit the first as does in the mouth."

"To be knocked down with a club," said the boy, bitterly.

"No one dare touch you, my lad, unless I give 'em leave.  I'm king here,
I tell you, and the black dogs know it.  Be off."

"You hideous, red-eyed brute!" said the boy to himself, as he took his
load and turned to go.  "How I should like to--"

He did not mentally say what, for he was brought up short by the word
"Stop!" roared in a bullying tone.

"Here, you," cried the man to Bostock, "light a lanthorn; it's dark on
deck.  Follow him, and hold it till he's done.  And look here, bring it
away again, or they'll be setting the ship afire.  They can see in the
dark like cats.  They want no light."

Bostock fetched a lanthorn, lit it in a surly way, and then went first,
closely followed by Carey, who just caught sight of their captor pouring
himself out a tumbler of rum from a half-emptied bottle; but there was
no water near.

"Bob," panted the boy, as they reached the deck, "are we going to put up
with this?"

"Dunno yet, my lad," growled the old sailor.  "Not for long, I hope.
Seems to me like me knocking that there red and white savage's head off,
and then blowing up the ship."

"But why doesn't the doctor do something?"

"Aren't made up his mind yet what to do, my lad, seemingly.  He's
hatching.  That's what I think he's a-doing of.  I s'pose we'd better
wait."

"I can't wait," whispered Carey, "I feel in such a rage, I must do
something."

"Take the prog to them black beasts then, sir, now.  They aren't much
better than annymiles."

"Look sharp, you two, and come back to the cabin," came in a fierce,
hoarse voice from the cabin stairs, proving that they were watched.

"Come on, and get the dirty job done, Master Carey," whispered Bostock.
"I shall 'ave to kill somebody over this before I've done."

Carey said nothing, but walked forward with his load, hearing the
savages, who were chattering loudly, suddenly cease as if listening, and
the next moment Black Jack came bounding to their side, looking eagerly
from one to the other.

"Why can't you walk?" growled Bostock.  "Can't you get over the deck,
and not come hopping like a hingy-rubber ball, or one of your
kangaroos?"

"Kangaroo?  Wallaby?" said the black.  "Over there.  Lots."

"Go and join 'em then, you sable son of a three-legged pitch-pot."

"Got meat?"

"Yes," said Carey, and he served out the big lumps cut ready, while
Bostock held the light, the blacks taking it steadily enough till all
were served, and Carey stood looking at them.

Then a murmur arose, Black Jack shouting the one word "'bacco," and his
fellows all joining.

"Can't you wait a minute, you set o' undressed nigger minstrels?"
growled Bostock.  "There, give 'em the cakes o' 'bacco, sir, and I wish
it would make 'em sick."

Carey had placed the oblong squares of compressed leaf in his pocket,
and he now took out half-a-dozen, the light being cast upon his hands
and giving the boy a glimpse of one of the party in the act of making a
snatch.

Carey recalled his orders, and he was in the right humour for taking
advantage of it, for his blood was up, and he jumped at the opportunity
of getting a little satisfaction out of his enemies.

The black was quick, but the boy was equally so, and as the savage made
a snatch, Carey's disengaged fist flew out in good school-boy fashion.
There was the sound of a heavy blow, a yell, and the black bounded off
the deck, to come down again club in hand and grinning ferociously as he
raised it as if to strike.

Carey did not pause to think.

"Ah, would you?" he cried, and he struck out again quick as lightning,
striking the black on the right cheek and drawing back quickly,
expecting a general attack for his pugnacity.

But to his great surprise and satisfaction there was a yell of laughter,
and the party danced round him, shouldering their fellow away, as in a
series of strange antics they displayed their delight at his
discomfiture.

"'Bacco, 'bacco!" they kept on shouting, as they pressed round, each
taking his portion eagerly enough, but there was no snatching, till all
had received a cake save the one who had been made to give way.

"There you are," cried Carey, holding out the last, but standing on his
guard so as to avoid an expected blow.

But it did not come.  The black took his cake and joined the others, to
go back chattering to partake of their meal, while Carey and Bostock
turned to go back to the cabin.

"Now, I call that there plucky," said the old sailor, gruffly.

"What?" said Carey, wondering.

"You hitting that walking blacking bottle twice over in the mouth.  I
don't know as I should ha' dared."

"Plucky!" said Carey, wonderingly.  "You don't know what a fright I felt
in when I did it; but I was in such a passion that I was obliged to hit
something."

"And so you did, sir, a regular smeller.  I don't believe a French or a
Jarman boy would ha' done it."

"Nonsense, Bob."

"Oh, no, it aren't, my lad; it's some sense, and it's taught me a deal."

"What do you mean?"

"Why, it's give me a feeling as we're going to get out o' this job
without being cooked and eaten.  You see how they go down on their knees
like to old Bottle-nose yonder?"

"Yes."

"Well, it's because he's a white man and not a bit afraid of 'em."

"Yes, of course; but we--I mean, I am."

"Not you, sir.  Didn't look like it just now.  Well, you're a white un.
I won't call you a white man; that would be gammoning you, because man
you aren't yet.  But you're a plucked un, and they was all delighted to
see you hit their mate.  Well, you go on like that, and they'll be
afraid of you.  There's something in a white skin as is too much for
them, and you've only got to let 'em see that you don't care a quid o'
'bacco for their blunt wood sticks and knob clubs, to keep 'em where
they ought to be, down--right down.  For they're only good enough to
make door-mats to wipe your shoes on.  Eat us?  I should like to ketch
'em at it!"

"I shouldn't, Bob."

"Ah, well, I didn't quite mean that, sir; it was only a way o'
speaking."

"Are you two chaps going to be all night?" came in a fierce voice from
the cabin stairs.

Carey stepped up to the speaker directly.

"My black pack haven't worried you, then?" said the man, with a grin
which showed two or three yellow teeth.  "I began to think they'd eaten
you raw, as you didn't come back.  There, I don't want to starve you;
get below and have your supper along with your mate.  I've half done
mine."

They went into the saloon, to find the doctor waiting for them with some
food ready at one end of the table, while at the other the beachcomber's
stood, consisting of a ship's biscuit and about half of the bottle of
rum, which he had taken possession of before they came back.

"Get your prog, my lads, and then go to sleep.  And look here, don't you
either of you try any games, or maybe you won't see daylight again."

As may be supposed, the trio had not much appetite for their suppers,
but they made pretence of eating, and saw that their captor was watching
them all the time, sipping his neat rum and nibbling a little of the
hard biscuit, which he softened a little at times by dipping it in his
rum glass.

"Now then," he said at last, "is that your cabin?"

"It is mine," said the doctor.

"All right.  Go in then, all three of you."

"I don't sleep here," growled Bostock.  "I've got a bunk below."

"You'll go in there," said the man, fiercely.

"But there aren't room."

"Sleep on the floor then."

Bostock turned to the doctor, but the latter's eye was averted, and he
made no sign, nor spoke.

"All right," growled the old sailor, and he turned to Carey.  "I won't
snore more'n I can help, sir," he said.  "It aren't my fault."

"In with you all," said the beachcomber, roughly; "and look here, I'm
going to sit here a bit to finish my physic, so don't come out and
disturb me.  My black pack used to come prowling round sometimes of a
night, but they never do now."

As he spoke he took out a revolver and cocked it, before laying it down
beside his tumbler of spirits with a meaning look.

"Are we to consider ourselves prisoners, sir?" said the doctor, speaking
at last.

"Dunno," was the reply, shortly given.  "All depends.  If you ride the
high horse I may tell my pack to set you ashore somewhere else, but if
you're civil--well, we shall see.  Only just recollect this, and don't
argue.  These are my islands all round here, and all that comes ashore's
mine.  Now go to bed."

He threw himself back in his chair and raised the glass to his lips, and
without a word the three prisoners filed into the state-room, and the
door swung to and clicked behind them.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

They were in total darkness, but Bostock took out his match-box and
struck a light to apply to the lamp, which he coolly proceeded to
regulate, and then turned to wait for the doctor to speak.

Doctor Kingsmead was standing with the veins in his forehead swollen,
his teeth set, and his hands clenched.

"The dog--the brutal ruffian!" he said, as if talking to himself.  "So
helpless.  Quite at his mercy.  Seemed like a coward and a cur."

"No, you didn't," said Carey, shortly.  "We were taken by surprise, and
they're seven to one, and all armed."

The doctor turned to him sharply.

"Seven to one?" he said.

"Yes, I counted them; twenty black fellows and him."

"And threes into twenty-one goes seven times," growled Bostock.

"Yes, yes, seven to one," said the doctor, drawing a deep breath, "and
the ruffian has us at his mercy, for those black fellows would rush at
us at a word, like the black pack he calls them.  It's plain enough they
have been within sight in a canoe, and reported to him what they saw.
The scoundrel has, no doubt, played the part of wrecker for years and
taken possession of every unfortunate vessel that has come ashore,
plundered and burnt it."

"Humph!" growled Bostock.

"What do you say?"

"On'y grunted, sir.  That's it.  I've heard tell of chaps like him here
and there in the South Seas.  They knocks a few of the black fellows or
coffee-coloured ones down, and makes 'em afraid, and then they do as
they like, sir."

"But is it true about their eating people?" said Carey, in a low voice,
and he glanced at the door as if half-expecting to be overheard.

"Oh, yes, sir, that's true enough.  Our captain once said, when we had a
report of a ship going ashore and the crew being massacred, that these
chaps in some of the islands get such a little chance to have anything
but fruit and fish that they're as rav'nous as wild beasts for flesh."

"Yes, yes, true enough," said the doctor.  "So unfortunate for them to
come when we were away.  We could have defended the vessel easily."

"That means fighting, sir," growled Bostock.

"Yes; wouldn't you have struck a blow to defend the vessel?"

"Well, you see, sir, I'm only a sailor and not a fighting man," said
Bostock, slowly.

"You coward!" cried Carey, indignantly.  "Why, boy as I am, I'd have
tried to do something, if it was only reloading the guns."

"Course you would, sir; I know that," said the old sailor, quietly.
"Didn't you give that there nigger a smeller just now?"

"What!" cried the doctor, sharply.

"Got in a temper with one of 'em for trying to steal more'n his share o'
'bacco, sir, and give him two, one in the mouth and one in the cheek.
Stop a moment; let's tell the truth if I die for it.  Warn't one o' them
cracks on the nose, sir?"

"Oh, I don't know," said Carey, hurriedly.  "But I did think at a time
like this, you'd have been ready to fight, Bostock."

"Bob, if it's all same to you, Master Carey, and I didn't say I warn't
ready to fight.  Why, o' course I will at the proper time."

"Then I beg your pardon, Bos--"

"Bob, sir."

"Well, Bob then, for we can't sit down quietly like this."

"That's what I think, sir, but I aren't the skipper, and it's what the
doctor says as'll have to be done."

"Yes, of course, Bostock," said the doctor, hastily; "but I was so
absolutely stunned by this surprise."

"Yes, sir, reg'lar took aback, I know."

"I have not known what to do or say.  I must have time to think."

"That's it, sir.  I know you've got to make your plans.  Bit o'
scheming, because we none on us want one o' them dirty black warmint's
skewers run through us.  You make up your mind what to do, and tell me
which rope I'm to pull, and I'll spit on my hands and haul like a man."

"Yes, yes, I know you will," said the doctor.  "As to that old
beachcomber, sir, shooting aren't in my way, but 'volvers or no
'volvers, you give the word when you're ready and I'll chuck him
overboard to get some water to mix with his rum; and I believe that'd be
doing a good action."

"Yes," said the doctor.  "Look here.  That man can't go on drinking
strong spirit as he does without soon being quite prostrate."

Bostock looked at the speaker with an expression of disgust and contempt
upon his face.

"I What, sir?  Do you think that old rough would ever drink enough rum
to make him stupid?"

"Of course."

"Never, sir.  He just about lives on it.  Bound to say he's gone on for
a score o' years.  Didn't you see as he only nibbled a biscuit?"

"Yes, I noticed that," said Carey, quickly.

"Yes, sir.  Rum won't have no more effect on him than tea would on you
and me.  You try another idea, sir.  What do you say to frightening them
black fellows overboard?  They're a rum lot; just like a pack o'
children.  Frightened o' bogies.  Show 'em a good scarecrow or tatty
dooly, as the Scotch folk call it, and they'd think it was what they
call a bunyip."

"What's a bunyip?"

"What they calls a debble-debble, sir.  They're awful babies in anything
they can't understand.  You must give 'em some red fire, or blue fire,
or 'lectricity."

"Wait, wait, wait," said the doctor, impatiently.  "We must temporise.
It is no use to try and do anything in haste.  The first thing we have
to find out is whether that ruffian goes off to sleep or keeps watch."

Carey pointed to the ventilator over the door.

"I could see through that," he whispered, "if you could take me on your
shoulders."

Bostock nodded, and placed his hands firmly on the sides of the door,
bending down his head and standing as firm as a rock, while Carey's
first instinct was to take a run and a jump; but he did not, for one
reason, there was not room, another, that it would have been folly; but
he placed his hand upon the man's shoulders and steadily climbed up till
he could stand stooping upon his back, and then he cautiously peered
through a little crack, and the first thing he saw was the beachcomber
sitting back fast asleep.

This sent a thrill of satisfaction through him, and he turned his eyes
towards the saloon door, and a chill of horror ran through him, for he
caught sight of something bright and flashing, and it was a few moments
before he grasped the fact that it was the lamp reflected from the eyes
of one of the blacks close to the floor.

Nearly a minute elapsed before he could make out the black figure of
their owner, and then he saw it move.

It was plain enough now as it crept in and nearer to the shaded rays of
the lamp.  Carey could even see that the black had his club and the
curved knife-like blade of his boomerang stuck behind in the coarse hair
girdle he wore about his waist.

"Why, he's creeping in to kill his master," was the boy's first thought,
and a chill of horror ran through him.

The black crept slowly and silently over the floor of the saloon, and
Carey would have uttered words of warning to his companions, but he
could not speak, every faculty seeming frozen, save that he could see;
and he stared wildly as he saw now two more pairs of eyes and a couple
of the blacks creep in silently, but only to stop at the door, squatting
on their heels, as if watching their leader.

The latter took up Carey's whole attention now, and he waited to see him
take out his club before he uttered a warning shout to the sleeping man,
for he felt that he could not stand and see him murdered in cold blood.

The black crept on till he was quite close to the sleeper, and then he
rose, squatted like his companions, and at last raised his hand.

The warning cry rose to Carey's lips, but it did not leave them, for the
black did not bring out his club, but softly took down the empty glass,
smelt it and then thrust in a long black finger, passed it round and
sucked it, repeating the action several times, till he could get no more
suggestion of the taste of the spirit, when he replaced the glass, to
sit staring at the bottle; but he did not touch it, only squatted there
like a great dog watching over his master, while his two companions
remained silent as a couple of black statues at the door.

That was enough, and Carey softly dropped down and whispered what he had
seen to his companions.

"And they could brain the old scoundrel at any moment with their clubs,"
said the doctor.  "It is astonishing."

"Yes, sir," said Bostock, softly; "but aren't it a bit like big savage
dogs as I've seen?  They could take a man by the throat and shake the
life out of him in a minute, but they don't.  They sits and watches over
him, and it'd be an ugly business for any one as attempted to touch him.
He's got hold of the black fellows, sir, and can do just what he likes
with 'em.  That's how it is there."

"That makes our position more difficult," said the doctor.

"Well, it do, sir; but if I might make so bold, I should like to propose
something."

"Yes, by all means, Bostock.  What is it?"

"You sleep on it, sir, and see how you feel in the morning--both on you,
and I'll take the watch."

"It is impossible to sleep to-night," said the doctor, with a sigh.

"Yes; suppose those blacks were to take it into their heads to come and
finish us."

"Nay, they won't do that, sir.  Besides, I shall be on the watch."

"No," said the doctor; "you and Carey will lie down and sleep if you
can.  I will take the watch.  Do as I tell you at once."

"But it isn't fair, sir," said Carey, protesting.

"I must be obeyed in this time of emergency," said the doctor, sternly.
"Lie down and sleep if you can, and I will try and think out some way of
proceeding.  Good-night."

Ten minutes later the doctor was sitting with his back to the door, and
in spite of all that had gone by and the belief that he could not sleep
a wink in the midst of the peril, Carey dropped off fast, and Bostock's
loud breathing told that he had followed suit, while the three blacks
squatted there hour after hour, watching their master and tyrant like so
many faithful hounds.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

Carey opened his eyes just at sunrise, feeling, as a healthy lad should,
light-hearted and happy; for he was perfectly unconscious of all that
had taken place overnight till he turned his head a little and saw
Doctor Kingsmead with his arm resting against the side, gazing out of
the open port.

Then it all came to him, and he felt horribly selfish and miserable.

"Oh, doctor!" he cried.

"Ah, Carey, lad!" said the doctor, starting and turning to him.
"Morning.  You've had a capital sleep."

"Yes, and you watching there.  Why didn't you rouse me up to take my
turn?"

"I've not been watching all the night.  I sat thinking till I felt that
it was of no use to worry any longer, and then I dropped asleep.  I've
not been awake now for more than half an hour."

"Ah, that's better," said Carey, raising himself a little to look
towards the door, to see Bostock lying across it, turning himself into a
human bar to prevent any one from entering without waking him up.  He
was now on his back, sleeping heavily, with his mouth open.

The doctor looked at him too and then smiled sadly at Carey.

"I say," said the latter, "it seems rum, doesn't it, for us three
prisoners to go off to sleep like that without minding a bit?"

"Nature will have her own way," said the doctor.

"Eh?  Right, sir!  I--well, look at that now!  It's a rum 'un."

Bostock had suddenly awakened, and he now rose quickly and stared at
Carey.

"I say, I aren't been asleep all night, have I?"

"Yes, Bob.  There, it's all right."

"Well, they haven't killed and eaten us, sir; but I don't like this.
You ought to ha' wakened me, doctor."

"I was not awake myself, Bostock."

"Oh!  That was it, was it?" said the old sailor, shaking his head and
looking very serious.  "Then about work, sir; what's the first thing?
Shall I see about breakfast?"

The doctor was silent for a few moments.

"Yes," he said at last.  "I have thought over our position again this
morning, and it seems to me that the best thing to do, if we are
allowed, is to go on quietly and submit, until a good opportunity
occurs--say of the blacks going ashore in their canoe."

"And then seize the vessel again?" said Carey, eagerly.

"And chuck Mr King Beachcomber overboard, sir," whispered Bostock.

"Or make him prisoner till we can hand him over to the authorities,"
said the doctor.

"But there are no authorities to hand him over to, sir," said Carey.

"Have patience, my lad; we never know what may happen.  We had a piece
of bad luck last night; to-day we may have a bit of good.  Yes, we'll go
on as usual.  See to the breakfast."

"Right, sir," cried the old sailor, and he turned the handle of the door
without effect.

"Locked?" said Carey, in a hoarse whisper.

"Can't say, sir, but it's made fast somehow."

To the surprise of all, though, the door was opened the next moment, and
their captor stood before them, looking from one to the other, while at
a glance Carey saw that the blacks had disappeared.

"Come out of that," growled the ruffian, sourly.  "I want some
breakfast; and you, sailor chap, get out rations of beef or pork for my
pack.  They'll be hungry again by this time.  Light the fire first, and
let's have some tea soon."

Carey involuntarily glanced at the bottle on the table, and saw that it
was empty.  He saw, too, that his glance was noticed, for the
beachcomber said with a hoarse laugh:

"Oh, yes, I drink tea too.  But put another bottle of that stuff on the
table as well."

They passed out into the saloon, and Carey made at once for the door.

"Where are you going, boy?" cried the beachcomber.

"To get a bucket of fresh water and have a sluice," replied Carey,
sulkily, for he objected to be called "boy."

"Humph!  You look clean enough," growled the man.  "Be off then, and
make haste back to get breakfast."

Carey stepped back to catch up a towel, and then went to the saloon
doorway and out on deck.

"Yes, I'll come back soon, and I'll help," muttered the boy through his
teeth; "but only wait till I get my chance.  Brrrr!" he snarled, "how it
all makes me feel as if I should like to do something to somebody."

He walked sharply to where the bucket he used every morning stood ready,
with a line attached to the handle; but before he reached it, there was
the soft pattering of feet, and the pack of black fellows came running
to meet him, headed by Black Jack, who stopped short close upon the boy
to strike an attitude, making a hideous grimace, and poising his spear
with one hand while he rested it upon the fingers of the other as if to
steady it for hurling, while his companions snatched melon-headed clubs
or boomerangs from out of the cord-like girdles which supported a broad
shell hanging in front.

Carey had not had his breakfast, a fact which added fuel to the hot
temper he was already in, consequent upon his treatment in the saloon.

Feeling perfectly reckless and irritated by the action of the naked
blacks, and the most utter contempt for their childish attempt to
frighten him, Carey's temper boiled over.

"Out of the way, you black monkey," he cried, and, treating the
threatening spear with the most perfect contempt, he made a dash at the
black and flicked at him sharply with the towel, catching him with a
smart crack on the thigh and making him utter a yell, as he bounded
back, dropping his spear and stooping to rub the place.

As soon as Carey had delivered the flick so dexterously, one often
practised on bathing excursions when at school, he repented, fully
expecting that the others would rush upon him with their clubs.

But to his utter astonishment and relief, they uttered a shout of
delight on seeing their leader's discomfiture, and some broke into a
triumphal dance, chattering and laughing, while three of the party threw
themselves on deck and rolled about in convulsions of mirth.

"I don't care," muttered Carey; "I'll let them see I'm not afraid of
them," and, without pausing now, he walked to the side, caught up the
bucket, and twisting one end of the line round his left hand, went to
the open gangway of that side of the vessel to throw down the bucket
into the clear, cool water.

But he paused, for just beneath him, fastened by ropes, were a small
whale-boat and an outrigger canoe.

He walked farther, and as soon as he was clear of the two craft, he sent
the bucket down topsy-turvy so that it filled; hauled it up and turned
to find himself hemmed in by a semi-circle of blacks.

Again acting on the impulse of the moment, Carey placed a second hand to
the bucket and gave it a quick swing round, discharging its contents in
an arc, with the intention of dowsing the savages; but they were too
quick for him, bounding back, grinning with delight at their cleverness,
but coming forward again, laughing like a pack of mischievous boys to
tempt him to throw again.

"Oh, I'm not going to keep on at that," muttered Carey, as he raised the
bucket again and threw it overboard for a fresh supply; and as soon as
he had it up, he knelt down by it, had a good sluice, and rose to begin
towelling, while the grinning blacks looked on.

As he finished, with the towel now well damped, he made believe to throw
the water over his audience, and as they bounded away, he hurled the
contents over the side, put down the bucket under the bulwarks and
turned to go back to the cabin, making the wet towel snap like a whip as
he flicked at first one and then at another of the naked bodies so
temptingly displayed, the blacks roaring with laughter as they leaped
and bounded about to avoid the cuts; but far from showing any resentment
against the boy, evidently treating it all as a magnificent piece of
fun.

The boy left them chattering and laughing, Black Jack as merry as the
rest, while the object of their mirth began to wonder at the power he
seemed to have exercised over the pack of childlike savages, and to ask
himself whether there was anything in these people to mind.

"But dogs will bite if they are set at any one by their master," the boy
said to himself in conclusion, and found himself face to face with the
man of whom he had been thinking.

"Oh, there you are," he said, sourly.  "Go and help them with the
rations, and then go and feed the black dogs."

Carey nodded, and from some half-conceived and misty notion that he
could not even analyse to himself, more than that it had something to do
with trying to make himself as much master of the black fellows as the
beachcomber seemed to be, he went about the work with alacrity, finding
Bostock with his jacket off and sleeves rolled up, fast filling a basket
with ship's biscuit.

"I s'pose I shall have to boil up a lot of the men's pork, Master
Carey," he said.  "The black beggars must be satisfied with biscuit this
morning."

"I'll take it to them, Bob," said Carey.  "I say, though, can you find a
jar of molasses?"

"Ay, there's plenty, my lad.  Going to give 'em that?"

"Yes, look sharp."

In another minute or so, the jar was brought out of the store, and Carey
provided himself with a big iron cooking spoon, and thus armed and with
basket and jar, he made his way towards the deck, to be met directly by
the blacks, ready to chatter, grin, and dance about him, as he brusquely
walked right through them till well forward, where he seated himself on
a ship's fender and set the basket and jar before him.

Black Jack did not seem to display the slightest animosity as he pressed
forward, grinning and showing a set of the whitest teeth.

"Whar bull cow meat?" he cried.  "Baal beef."

"None cooked yet," said Carey, shortly.

"What dat?" he cried, and his hand darted at the treacle jar.

_Crack_!

Carey was as quick, bringing the iron spoon down heavily on the black's
hand, making him utter a sharp cry as he snatched it away, sending his
companions into an ecstasy of delight, and making them dance about and
twist and writhe.

Black Jack clapped the back of his hand to his mouth, and then, as if
the injury were not of the slightest consequence, he pointed now at the
jar, in which the boy was inserting the big spoon.

"Dat not good," he shouted.  "Dat mumkull, kill a fellar.  Chuck um--
chuck um away."

"Ah, you thick-headed, tar-faced idiot!" cried Carey.  "Not good,
indeed!  I suppose you want raspberry jam."  And he brought out the
spoon covered with the stringy treacle, turned it a few times and placed
a great dab on one of the biscuits.

"Baal good!" cried Black Jack, angrily.  "Mumkull.  Black fellow.  Chuck
um 'way."

He made a snatch at the biscuit, but down came the spoon on his black
hand.

"Yah!" he yelled, and clapped the treacly place to his mouth, tasted the
molasses, and the fierce look died out, his countenance expanding into a
grin as he sucked, and then in good animal fashion began to lick,
holding out his other hand for the biscuit.

The next minute he was munching away in a high state of delight, while
the others crowded round with hands extended, and were served as fast as
the boy could place dabs of the sticky syrup on the hard biscuits.

They crowded him so that several times over he whisked the spoon round,
giving one a dab on the hand, another on the cheek, while one had a
topper on his thick, black-haired head--all these rebuffs being received
with shouts of laughter, the recipients setting to work at once to
prevent the saccharine mess from being wasted.

But at last all were supplied, and the boy rested for half a minute,
looking at the merry, delighted crowd with good-humoured contempt.

"Well, you are a set of savages," he said.

"More--gib more," cried Black Jack, who had just finished.

"You look a pretty sticky beauty," said Carey.

"Berry 'ticky good," said Black Jack.  "Gib more; plenty 'ticky."

Carey took another biscuit from the basket and put a very small dab of
treacle upon it, to the black's great disgust.

"No, no, no!" he yelled, with childlike annoyance.  "Plenty 'ticky--
plenty 'ticky."

"Not good," said Carey, mockingly.  "Kill a black fellow."

Black Jack's face expanded again into a tremendous grin.

"Yah!" he cried; "baal mumkull.  Good--good--good!"

"There you are, then," said Carey, giving the spoon a twirl and dabbing
a goodly portion on the biscuit.  "That do?"

"Good, plenty 'ticky," cried the savage, gumming his face gloriously and
grinding up the biscuit as easily as if it were a cracknel.

By this time the others were finishing, and for another quarter of an
hour the boy was kept busy at work, to find in the very thick of it that
he had an addition to his audience in the shape of the coarse-faced
beachcomber, who looked less ferocious now, with his countenance
softened by a good-humoured grin.

"Feeding 'em up then," he said.  "Mind they don't finish up by eating
you."

"I'm not afraid of that," said Carey, shortly.

"Aren't you?  Well, perhaps we shall see.  But it's your turn now:
breakfast.  Come on."

Carey followed him without a word, and, like his companions in
adversity, ate the meal in silence.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

The doctor made no opposition and showed no sign of resentment, for he
was biding his time.  The beachcomber asked questions and he answered
them, about the lading of the vessel; but both Carey and Bostock noticed
that he carefully avoided all reference to the bullion that was on
board.

Later on in the morning the invader announced his intention of
inspecting the stores, and made his prisoners march before him and show
him all they could; it was hot and stifling between-decks, and he was
soon tired and ordered all on deck, where he had a long look round, and
at last caught sight of something on shore.

"Hullo, here!" he cried, turning his fists into a binocular glass
without lenses; "who's been meddling with my pearl-oyster grounds?"

The doctor, being referred to in this question, turned to the man and
laughed bitterly.

"Your pearl-oyster grounds!" he said, in a tone full of the contempt he
felt.

The man thrust his unpleasant-looking face close to the doctor's.

"Yes," he said, with an ugly smile; "mine.  Didn't I tell you before
that all the reefs and islands here, and all that's on them or comes
ashore on them's mine?  Someone's been meddling over yonder and
collecting and stacking shells; someone's been sinking tubs and rotting
the oysters to get my pearls.  It's been done by your orders, eh?"

"Yes," said the doctor, quietly; "I suppose I am to blame for it."

"Ho!  Well, I suppose you did it for me, so I won't complain.  Here,
bring out the box."

"What box?" said the doctor.

"What box?" roared the man, fiercely; "why, the box o' pearls you've got
put away.  Now don't you put me out, young fellow, because when I'm put
out I'm ugly.  Ask Black Jack what I can do when I'm ugly.  He can
understand and talk English enough to tell you."

"I tell you this," began the doctor, but he was stopped by a growl that
might have emanated from some savage beast.

"You wait till I've done.  Coo-ee!"

"Coo-ee!" came in answer, and Black Jack rushed forward in a series of
bounds, nulla-nulla in one hand, boomerang in the other.

"Here, Jack, what do I do when I'm ugly?"

"Mumkull--killa fellar," said the black, grinning as if it were a fine
joke.  "Mumkull now?" he continued, with his eyes beginning to look
wild, as he turned them questioningly on one after the other.

"Not yet.  Get out."

The black darted away again as quickly as he had come.

"That chap's a child o' nature, young fellow," said the beachcomber,
scowling; "so I say to you, don't you try to gammon me.  Fetch out that
box."

"How can he," cried Carey, boldly, "when he hasn't got one?"

"What?" roared the man, clapping his hand upon his revolver, and turning
fiercely upon the boy.  "What's that?"

"You heard what I said," cried Carey, in no way daunted.  "Why, we
haven't tried one of the tubs yet."

"Good job for you," growled the man, fiercely, as he tried to look Carey
down; but the boy did not for a moment wince.  "You're a nice imprunt
young cock bantam, though.  But you're shivering in your shoes all the
same--aren't you?"

He made a snatch at the boy's shoulder, but quick as thought Carey
struck at the coming hand, catching it heavily with his fist and eluding
the touch.

"Don't do that," he cried, fiercely, "you know I've got a bad shoulder."

"Why, you insolent young cock-sparrow, I've a good mind to--No, I
won't--I'll let them do it by-and-by."

He jerked his head sidewise in the direction of the blacks, who were
eagerly watching and seeing everything, the sight of the boy striking at
their white king sending a thrill of excitement through them; however,
they did not advance, but stood watching and noting that the beachcomber
was laughing heartily.

"I like pluck in a boy," he growled.  "Hi, coo-ee."

Black Jack darted to his side, with eyes flashing and nostrils
distended.

"Boat," said the man, abruptly.

Black Jack shouted something incomprehensible, and three of the black
fellows bounded to the side and disappeared into the whale-boat with
their leader.

"Now then," said the beachcomber, "you stop aboard, cookey, and get
something ready for dinner.  Hi, Black Jack.  Fish.  Tell 'em."

"Tell boys kedgee fis'?"

The beachcomber nodded, and the black shouted again, with the result
that six more of the blacks came running to the side and dropped over
into the canoe.

"Hi, Jack, tell the others, if cookey here--"

"Dis cookey?" asked the black, touching Carey on the head.

"No, stupid.  That one."

"Iss.  Dat cookey," and he nodded and grinned at Bostock.

"Tell 'em if cookey tries to get away, mumkull."

"Iss.  Mumkull," and the black darted forward, to return with the
remaining ten, all grinning, to seat themselves in a row, spear in hand,
upon the starboard bulwarks, staring hard at Bostock, who tried to
appear perfectly calm and composed; but his face twitched a little.

"They'd better not try to mumkull me," he whispered to Carey.  "Two can
play at that game.  But what's he going to do?"

"Now then," cried the beachcomber, "into the boat with you.  I'm going
to have those casks tapped and see what the stuff's like.  Hi!  Jack,
take some buckets in the boat."

The black darted about and secured three buckets, which he tossed over
the side into the boat.

"Now then, down with you," growled the beachcomber, and Carey and the
doctor had to go, leaving Bostock with his eyes far more wide open than
usual.

"I wish the doctor would talk to me," said Carey to himself as he took
his seat in the well-formed whale-boat, which he rightly supposed must
have come ashore somewhere on this ocean king's dominions.  "He is so
horribly quiet."

Then the boy looked at Black Jack and his three companions, who as soon
as their ruler was in his place, gun in hand, thrust out their oars and
began rowing with the skill and jerk of men-o'-war's men.

A minute later he was watching the outrigger canoe being paddled along
quickly, its occupants trailing mother-o'-pearl baits behind, and soon
after he saw them hook and drag in a fish.

Then Carey turned to gaze at the shore they were approaching with a
bitter feeling of resentment arising as he thought of all their labour
in the hot sunshine, collecting and piling up the great pearl shells,
and more bitterly still as he dwelt upon the tubs of liquid and
liquefying oysters which would, he did not doubt, now have quite a thick
deposit of pearls at their bottoms.

"Oh, it does seem so hard for that ruffian to get them!" he said to
himself, and he sat there with his teeth set, gazing straight before
him, till he caught Black Jack's eyes twinkling laughingly at him as
that individual shone like a well-polished pair of boots, and glistened
in the sun, while he lustily pulled stroke.

As soon as he caught Carey's eye he laughed loudly, and in the most
perfectly good-humoured way, as if they were the very best of friends,
and when the beachcomber was looking another way he raised one hand to
go through the pantomime of licking treacle off his fingers and rubbing
his front, to the delight of his toiling companions.

It did Carey good, and he smiled back, and nodded.

"I don't believe they'd hurt me," he said to himself.  "They're just
like a lot of schoolboys, only so much uglier."

The beachcomber made a movement, and the blacks' faces were in a flash
like so much carved ebony, and they rowed on, choosing as if from old
habit the way into the canal-like passage among the rocks, and leaping
out at the home-made wharf.  Here they held the boat steady in a regular
naval style, while their chief and his companions stepped out, the
former using the black backs for support, for big and strong as he was
his obese state made him far from active.

"That's the way I taught 'em," he said, with a grim smile at Carey, who
nodded back, said nothing, but thought very deeply, his fancies taking
the direction of wondering whether the wretched tyrant would ever go too
far with his followers, and they would kill and eat him.

His thoughts took a fresh current directly, for the subject of them
shouted the one word, "Buckets!" and after making the boat fast the crew
came running with the buckets to where the beachcomber was now standing
examining the first tub, which happened to be the last filled, and he
growled, moved to the next, and then on and on to the last.

"Here you are, Jack; this first."

The black fellow nodded, looked in the tub, and then as if quite at home
at the work, picked up the great bamboo lying ready for the purpose and
set two of his followers to give all the other tubs a good stir-up, the
result being a most horrible odour of such extent that, but for the
breeze blowing and their getting on the windward side, it would have
been unbearable.

But it had not the slightest effect upon the beachcomber, who stood
looking on while Black Jack and a companion heaved together and tried to
overturn the oldest tub, but without result.

A yell to the other two brought them up, and with their aid the tub of
malodorous thick water was gradually overturned, and the foul water
poured off, to sink at once into the thirsty sand.

"Hold hard," cried the beachcomber, when the bottom was nearly reached.
"Water."

Three black fellows ran off with a bucket each and returned to Jack, who
poured one in and gave it a swirl round, handed the bucket to be
refilled, allowed the contents of the tub to settle, and then began to
pour out the top very gently.

Carey was so intensely interested that for the time being he forgot his
painful position.

"I say," he cried, "these black chaps have done this sort of thing
before."

"Hundreds of times," growled their chief, and then he was silent, while
even the doctor began to feel that his eagerness to see the contents of
the tub was mastering his misery and disappointment that the pearls
should fall into such hands.

So they watched till half a dozen buckets had been severally poured in
and emptied out, and then there was a hoarse chuckle from the
beachcomber.

"I'll forgive yer," he growled.  "You aren't done so badly for me.
That's a nice take o' pearls, and there's some fine big uns among 'em.
Up higher, Jack, and let the sun dry them a bit.  Next one."

The tub was tilted so that the last drops of water could run out while
the next was being emptied.

Carey's eyes met the doctor's, and the boy ground his teeth softly as he
gazed in at the soft lustrous pearls drying rapidly from the heat of the
air.

There they lay along the side of the great cask, seed pearls, pearls of
fair size, and here and there great almond-shaped ones, while fewest of
all were the softly rounded perfectly shaped gems, running from the size
of goodly peas to here and there that of small marbles, lustrous, soft,
and of that delicate creamy tint that made them appear like solidified
drops of molten moonlight, fallen to earth in the silence of some
tropical night.

The doctor shrugged his shoulders and turned away to watch the emptying
of the next tub, which ended with even better result than the first.

"Bucket," said the beachcomber, when this second watering had come to an
end, and Jack, who knew what was expected of him, took a bunch of grass
to make a brush, crept into the first tub, and while one of his fellows
held the bucket ready, the pearls, worth scores, perhaps hundred of
pounds, were swept into it.

The next tub was served the same, and then after the other tubs had had
a final stir the beachcomber cried abruptly:

"On board.  That's enough for to-day.  I'm dying for a drink."

"Oh," muttered Carey to himself, "I wish I could stop you drinking."



CHAPTER TWENTY.

The party which had been out with the canoe reached the vessel with a
goodly supply of beautiful fish just at the same time as the whale-boat
with the treasured-up pearls, over which Mallam had sat chuckling all
the way back, pointing out to Carey the beauties of the large ones, and
glancing furtively the while at the doctor in his delight over that
gentleman's discomfiture.

Carey was bitterly annoyed, but he took it all pretty coolly.

"All right, old gentleman," he said to himself.  "You've only set your
slaves to work and washed and cleaned them for us; we'll have them all
back again when you've cleaned the rest."

But Carey had not been without his anxious feelings, though, all the
time, regarding Bostock; and his first glance as he ascended the side of
the stranded steamer was directed to the spot where he had last seen the
old sailor with the row of black fellows watching him.

But a chill ran through the boy, for there was no sign of Bostock, and
the ten blacks, his guards, were all forward in a cluster.

Carey sighed with relief the next minute, for, hearing them on deck, he
thrust his head out of the cook's galley, and the boy grasped the fact
that Bostock was busy preparing dinner, and the blacks were attracted
there by the smell.

Directly after the old sailor had an addition to his work in the shape
of fish to fry, and Carey seized the opportunity the examination of the
fish afforded to whisper to the old sailor.

"Well," he said, "you're all right."

"Yes, I'm all right, my lad, but I were a bit mouldy when I saw you go,
and went and got ready for action."

"Yes?  What did you do?"

"Went and shoved the poker in the oven stove, sir; for I says to myself
they tames lions and tigers in wild beast shows with red-hot irons, and
if these here wild, black fellows tries on any of their games with me,
I'll try if I can't tame them."

"Capital!" said Carey, eagerly.

"I calls that an out-and-out good idee, Master Carey, and look here,
sir, when it comes for a strike for liberty, I'll undertake to tackle
the black uns with a couple o' hot pokers and a few kettles o' boiling
water, and if I don't clear the deck I'm a Dutchman, which can't be, for
I was born in Bromley-by-Bow."

"We'll win yet, Bob," whispered Carey, eagerly.

"Course we will, my lad, only take it coolly, and go about as if your
comb were reg'larly cut and your spurs took off.  I say."

"Yes?"

"I shall expect you and the doctor to tackle Old King Cole."

"Yes, yes, but we must have arms."

"Course you must.  You wait."

"Yes.  Were the blacks civil to you?"

"Yes, but they sat and gloated over me as if they were picking out
tit-bits, sir, till I felt all cold down the back, and as it didn't seem
the ripe time for the hot poker, for they didn't begin to show fight, I
thought I'd try a bit o' civility."

"Yes, what did you do?"

"Give 'em a civiliser."

"I don't understand you, Bob.  Oh, you mean you gave them some spirits."

"Tchah!  Think I'm off my head, sir?  Sperrits?  Why, ever so little
drives those black chaps mad as hatters.  No," whispered the old sailor,
with a low chuckle, "I beckoned to one of 'em, and he come down off the
rail where he'd been sitting in a row like a tame monkey with his mates,
and he followed me, club in hand, to the stooard's place, where I got a
big jar and a table fork, and brought it back on deck to where his mates
were waiting, and down they hopped as soon as they saw the jar, and
began to dance round, singing, `'ticky! 'ticky!' in a regular chorus."

"Ah," cried Carey, "they heard Black Jack call the molasses sticky."

"Soon, though, as I cut the string and pulled off the bladder cover, and
they saw it was all yaller, they began to show their teeth and snarl.
`'Ticky!  'Ticky!' they says again, but `all right, my lads,' I says,
and I sticks the fork into an onion, winks at 'em, and pops it into my
mouth.  Then I does the same with a gherkin, and, my word, didn't they
all change their tune!  Everyone wanted a taste, so I gives the fork to
the chap as come with me, makes him squat down, and claps the big brown
jar between his legs."

"Mixed pickles!" cried Carey, eagerly.

"Piccadilly, sir," said the old sailor, correctively.  "Then I makes all
the rest sit round him in what you calls a silly circle."

"Silly circle!" cried Carey, laughing.  "I should think it was!"

"That's right, sir--a black silly circle.  `There you are, grinning
idgits,' I says; `now amuse yourselves with that, and while you're busy
I'll go and cook the dinner and see if I can't get hold o' something for
the Guvnors to cook Old King Cole's goose.'"

"And did they eat the pickles?" said Carey, eagerly.

"Eat 'em, sir?  That they did, very slow and careful too as soon as they
found what they were like.  They played fair too, each chap taking his
bit in turn like young birds in a nest, beak wide open, bit o'
cauliflower or a couple o' French beans popped in, beak shut, and then
each chap shut his eyes, jumped up, and danced."

"Just like children," said Carey.

"They seemed to think the beans was some kind o' worms or grubs, sir,
and when it come to the capsicums, the chaps as got 'em rolled
themselves on the deck with delight, and all the rest wanted 'em too.
But I didn't stop long; I was off, and they took no more notice o' me
till I began cooking, when they stood about to grin and smell.  I got
'em, though," said Bostock, mysteriously.

"Got what?"

"Three double guns, three revolvers, and a box o' cartridges."

"Oh!" whispered Carey, excitedly.  "Where are they?"

"Rolled up in what's left o' the mains'l, and I folded it up and twisted
a rope round it.  Yonder it is, amidships."

"Hi!  You!  Come along here," came in the beachcomber's harsh voice, and
Carey had to hurry to him.  "Come and help with these," and he pointed
to the bucket of glistening pearls.  "Get me something to put them in."

Carey thought for a moment, and then went below, to return with the
first things he thought suitable, and Mallam nodded his satisfaction.

"They'll do," he said.  "'Bout dry now.  Your back's easier than mine.
Pour 'em in.  No smugging--"

The pearls were carefully emptied into a couple of cigar boxes, and
placed under lock and key in a small closet in the captain's cabin, of
which Mallam now took possession, while that evening his followers, who
quite scorned the forecastle below deck, camped above it, close up to
the bulwarks, starboard or port, according to which way the wind blew,
these seeming to remind them of their humpies or wind-screens, which
some of the most savage used instead of huts.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

Carey was not long in communicating to the doctor all he had heard from
Bostock, and his words revived his companion wonderfully.

"Capital!" he said.  "The fact of our being unarmed and this scoundrel
keeping all the weapons out of our reach half maddened me."

"Yes, wasn't it horrid?" said Carey.  "I felt better directly, and, do
you know, I don't think we have half so much to fear now from the
blacks.  I don't feel a bit afraid of them.  I can make them do just as
I like; so can Bob."

"Perhaps so, and if we were alone we could make them our obedient
servants.  They look up to the whites as superior beings, but they are
not to be trusted, my boy.  This Mallam has had them under his thumb for
years, and as you must have seen, a few sharp orders from him bring out
their savage instincts, their faces change, their eyes look full of
ferocity, and if their white chief wished it they would kill us all
without compunction."

"And cook and eat us afterwards without salt?" said the boy, merrily.

"You laugh," replied the doctor, "but it is a horrible fact, my boy; and
if we knew all that has taken place in connection with this man's rule
over them, we should have some blood-curdling things to dwell upon."

"I don't feel afraid," said Carey, coolly.  "Of course, I should if it
came to such a state of affairs as you hint at.  But if it came to the
worst, I should jump overboard and try to swim ashore."

"To be taken by a shark or a crocodile?"

"Well, that would be a more natural way of coming to one's end, sir.
But, pooh! we're not going to be beaten, doctor.  We must get Mr Dan
Mallam--Old King Cole, Bob calls him--shut up below somewhere and out of
sight of the blacks.  They'd obey us then, and we should be all right.
Why, we're not going to be afraid of one man."

"One man?" said the doctor.

"Yes, one man.  He's only one man when he's alone.  I felt yesterday
that we had twenty-one enemies.  Now I feel that we've only one.  Bob
says we must wait."

"Yes, it is good advice," replied the doctor, "and we will wait.  Carey,
my lad, we must bend to circumstances till our chance comes.  There, I
have been behaving in a poor, cowardly way."

"Oh, nonsense, sir!"

"I have, Carey, and there is no disguising it; but I am going to pluck
up now.  Let the scoundrel go on thinking we are submitting and are as
much his servant as the blacks are."

"Till the right time comes, sir, and he wakes up to the fact that he's
our prisoner.  I say, if a ship came in sight and saw us we could hand
him over and he'd be taken right off and treated as a criminal."

"Exactly.  It seemed very galling to see him seize the pearls."

"Yes," said Carey, "but let him think they're his, and the ship, and all
below.  We know better."

This was a trifling bit of conversation, but from that hour hope grew
stronger in the breasts of the three oddly made prisoners and slaves of
such a king.  Their semi-captivity seemed more bearable, and it showed
in their looks and actions, the beachcomber noting it and showing a grim
kind of satisfaction.

"That's right," he said.  "Glad to see you are all settling down and
making the best of it.  It's no use to go kicking against stone walls or
rocks.  Be good boys, and I won't be very hard on you.  You'll eat and
drink your food better, and instead o' grizzling you'll enjoy yourselves
and get nice and fat.  My pack, too, will like you all the better.  I
don't think I shall let 'em have that ugly chap Bostock, though; he
cooks too well."

But Carey took matters, according to the doctor's ideas, too easily--too
freely.  He did not shrink from speaking out and taking liberties with
his position.  It was as if he had forgotten that he was a prisoner, and
he pretty well did as he liked.

"Here, what are you after, youngster?  Where are you going?"

"Along with the pack to get cocoanuts," said Carey, coolly.

"I never told you," growled the old fellow, fiercely.

"No, but I want to see them get the nuts down," said Carey,
nonchalantly, and he went.

It was the same when a party of the blacks went fishing, which was
nearly every day, so that there was always an ample supply, and the boy
returned flushed and brown, full of the adventures he had had.

Black Jack now took to heading the fishing expeditions, and always
looked after Carey at starting time, grinning and making signs
suggestive of hauling up the fish and hitting them over the heads with a
nulla-nulla, while the crew of the outrigger canoe always greeted the
boy with a grin of satisfaction.

"They are all awfully civil to me now," said Carey to Bostock, "but I
think it's a good deal due to the ticky-ticky.  I say, Bob, how long
will the molasses last?"

"Oh, some time yet, sir."

"But when the last jar's eaten?"

"Then you must try the pickles, sir.  And when that's done, as it used
to say on a big picture on the walls in London, `If you like the
pickles, try the sauce.'  There's no end o' bottles o' sauce."

"Are there?  Are you sure?"

"Yes, sir.  There's a big consignment, as they call it, sent from London
to Brisbane.  One part o' the hold's chock full o' cases.  Why, there's
a lot o' sugar things too.  Oh, we shall find enough to keep them
beggars going for a long time yet."

Meantime the great tubs had all been emptied with more or less
satisfactory results, and re-filling began with the accompanying
stacking of the shells.  The pearls were stowed away in cigar boxes,
which were emptied for the purpose, the beachcomber now taking to
smoking some of those turned out, and giving an abundance to Carey, who
took them eagerly, always carrying several in his pocket.

"Surely you are not going to smoke those, my boy?" said the doctor, who
looked quite aghast.  "Wait a few years before you try anything of that
kind."

"Why?" said the boy, with an arch look.  "Because if you begin now you
will most likely be laying up a store of trouble for the future in the
shape of a disordered digestion, which may hang about you all your
life."

"I'm not going to smoke them," said Carey, laughing.  "Look here, I roll
each one up tight in a bit of paper, and then cut it with a sharp knife
into six, ready to give the black fellows if they behave themselves.
They'll do anything for me for a bit of tobacco."

"But don't they ever try to take it away from you?"

"Not now.  They tried snatching once or twice, but I gave the one who
did a good sharp crack, and they left it off, for I'm always fair to
them."

"A dangerous game to play."

"Oh, no.  The others always laugh at the one who's hit.  They don't seem
to mind taking a crack from me."

Those fishing trips were an intense pleasure to Carey, for there was so
much that was novel.  Now fish with scales as brilliant as the feathers
of humming-birds would be caught; now the blacks would be warning their
companions to beware of the black and yellow or yellow snakes.

"Mumkull--kill a fellow," Black Jack said, and to emphasise his meaning
he put out a hand in the water towards one of the basking serpents,
snatched it back as if bitten, and went through a regular pantomime
indicative of his sufferings.  First he drew up one leg, then the other,
threw himself on his back in the bottom of the canoe, kicked out, threw
his arms in the air, straightened himself out, rolled over, and then,
with a wonderful display of strength, curved his spine and sprang over
back again, repeating the performance, which was wonderfully like the
flopping of a freshly caught roach in a punt, even to the beating of the
tail, which was here represented by the man's legs.  By degrees this
grew more slow; then there was a flap at intervals, finishing with one
heavy rap, and he lay quite still as if dead.

"Dat a way," he cried, raising his head and grinning hugely.  "Mumkull--
kill a fellow."

But Carey's greatest treats were upon the hunting expeditions made by
the beachcomber's blacks ashore to obtain fresh meat in the way of a
delicacy or two for their chief and something substantial for
themselves.

One day Carey was gazing rather disconsolately at the shore and
wondering when the time would come for him and his companions to be free
again, when Black Jack bounded to his side, making the boy start round,
to find the man in a menacing attitude, his teeth bare, eyes wide open
displaying scarcely anything but the whites, for he was squinting so
horribly that his pupils had disappeared behind his thick nose, while
the club he held was quivering as if he were about to strike.  The
suddenness of the approach startled Carey for the moment, and he leaped
back, but the reaction came as quickly, and with doubled fist he rushed
at the black; but the latter was too quick, leaping aside, and Carey's
second attack, which took the form of a flying kick, was also
unsuccessful.

Black Jack's face was now covered with a series of good-tempered
wrinkles.

"Come 'long," he cried.  "Kedge bird--wallaby.  Be ticky-ticky, up a
tree."

"Be ticky-ticky?" said the boy, wonderingly.

"Ess.  Come 'long; be ticky-ticky.  Buzz-zz-uzz," he went, with a
wonderfully good imitation of the whirr of an insect's wings, while he
made his hand describe the dartings to and fro.

"Big fly so," he cried, and drawing his boomerang from the hair girdle,
he took a few steps, whirled it a moment or two, and then hurled it
towards the shore.  "Buzz--hum!" he cried, and then he stood grinning
with delight at the boy's admiration of the gyrations made by the
curious implement.

At the first throw it seemed to Carey that it would drop as soon as the
force was exhausted into the sea, where the hard wood must cause it to
sink.  But nothing of the kind; it went skimming over the water like
some gigantic insect, and at last made a graceful curve, rose up on high
quivering and fluttering, and came back till it was over the deck, and
then came twirling down.

"Big tree, ticky-ticky, fly dat how."

"Oh, I see; fly ticky-ticky," cried Carey.  "Honey?"

"Good ticky-ticky," said the black, licking his fingers and smacking his
lips.  "Come 'long."

"Yes, I'll come," cried the boy, and the next minute he was over the
side and in the boat, where half-a-dozen more of the blacks were waiting
and received him with a frantic shout of delight, flourishing their
paddles, which they plunged into the smooth water of the lagoon as soon
as Black Jack had dropped to his place; and away they went, with the
latter standing up beside Carey.

As they were passing round the bows, Bostock's head suddenly appeared
over the side, and at a sign from the boy the blacks ceased rowing.

"Where away, lad?" said the old sailor.

"Ashore, hunting wallabies or something."

"I say, young gentleman, is it safe to go alone with those chaps?"

"Oh, yes; there's nothing to mind.  Haven't I been fishing with 'em lots
of times?"

"Yes, but that was on the water, my lad," said Bostock, shaking his
head.

"Bob--Bob, come along; kedge wallaby--snakum--ticky-ticky."

"Who's to do the cooking if I do?" growled Bostock.

"Cookie, come kedge ticky-ticky."

"No.  I say, my lad, keep your weather eye open."

"Both of them, Bob.  I'll take care."

The paddles were plunged in again, and the boat glided onward.

"I don't half like it," muttered Bostock.  "That there boy's too
wentersome.  S'pose they got hungry--they most always are--and took it
into their heads to make a fire.  Ugh!  They aren't to be trusted, but I
b'leeve they all like him and would be precious sorry when they got back
and Old King Cole asked where he was.  There'd be a row and a bit o'
shooting, I dessay, for it's amazing, that it is, amazing, the way the
old vagabone has took to our lad.  But I don't like his going off with
'em, and with nothing better than a bit of a toothpick of a knife.
Wouldn't be long before he got hold of a club, though, I know."

Bostock went back to his galley shaking his head, and at the same time
Carey was mentally shaking his own.

"An old stupid," he said.  "I wish he hadn't said that.  Just as if it
was likely that Black Jack or either of the others would hurt me without
Old King Cole was there to say `Css!' to them and hound them on.
Wouldn't hurt me, would you, Black Jack?" he said aloud.

"Hey?  Wood hurt um?" cried the man, and he pulled the boy on one side,
dropped on his knees, and began to feel about the bottom of the canoe
with his hand.  "No hurt."

"No; all right now," said Carey, smiling.  "Here, Jackum, I want to
learn to throw the boomerang.  Give me hold."

The boy made a snatch at the crescent-moon-like weapon, and got hold;
but the black seized it too, shouting, "No, no, no!" and his companions
began to shout what sounded like a protest.

"No, no throw.  Go bottom."

"I should make it come back."

The black grinned knowingly.

"Jackum show soon.  Jackum fro."

He sent the strange weapon flying on before them, and cleverly caught it
as it returned; but then he stuck it in his girdle again, shaking his
head.

"Go bottom," he said.

Carey was disappointed, but his attention was taken up directly by
something more exciting, for as the canoe glided along, with the
outrigger literally skipping over the water, the boy suddenly became
conscious of what seemed for the moment like another canoe of nearly the
same size, sunk beneath the surface and gliding along at the same speed.

For the moment he thought it must be the canoe's shadow somehow cast
beside them, but the next moment he grasped the fact that it was a great
fish, probably a shark, which had come in through the opening with the
last high tide, and was now on the prowl.

There was no doubt about it, for the blacks had seen it, and they
laughed as they saw their passenger shrink to the other side and lean
over towards the outrigger.

The next moment Jackum drew his attention with a touch, and began making
hideous grimaces at the creature, while the others began to shout and
were apparently calling it every opprobrious name that their limited
vocabulary supplied.

But the monster, which must have been some fourteen feet long, only rose
a little so that his black triangular fin appeared above the surface.

Jackum grinned, stooped, and picked up one of a bundle of spears which
lay along at the side, and handed it to the boy, signing to him to stand
up in the boat.

It was not much of a weapon, being only a straight bamboo sapling with
an ill-made point hardened in the fire.

"Gib big poke," cried the black.

"If I don't they'll think I'm afraid," thought Carey; so he seized the
spear, feeling not the slightest inclination for his task, and drove the
point down on the shark's back.

It was an unlucky stroke, for, instead of penetrating as intended, it
glided over the slimy skin, while, overbalancing himself in consequence
of meeting with no resistance, Carey to his horror found himself
following his stroke, and he would have plunged overboard had not a
muscular black arm darted like a great snake about his waist and plucked
him back.  For a moment or two the boy gasped, but he recovered himself
directly.

"Shake hands, Jackum.  Thankye."

The black grinned, and took the extended hand for a few seconds.

"Let's try again," said Carey; but the shark had sunk down out of sight.

"Ticklum," said the black, grinning.  "Come soon."

Carey was disappointed, for he wanted to redeem his character, though it
was not an easy task to try and emulate the blacks with their own
weapons.  But Jackum was right; it was not long before the great fish
re-appeared, now on the other side of the canoe, rising slowly till its
fin was above water, its intention being apparently to pick one of the
paddlers out for a meal.

His appearance there, however, was not approved of, the blacks by their
actions showing that they considered it highly probable that their
visitor would get entangled with the bamboos of the outrigger and
capsize the boat.

Jackum took the lead by snatching the spear from Carey, evidently
considering that the position required skilled instead of amateur
manipulation; and, as his fellows turned their paddles into choppers and
struck heavily at the shark's back, Jackum drove his spear down with all
his might.

It went home in spite of its clumsy make and miserable point, for in a
moment it was twitched out of the strong hands that held it, the water
came flying in a shower over Carey, consequent upon a tremendous blow
delivered by the fish's tail; then there was a violent eddy at the
boat's side, a great shovel-shaped head rose, and the monster shot out
of the water, rising several feet and falling with a crash across the
main boom of the outrigger, taking it down lower and lower, while Carey
clung to the other side of the boat.  The water came creeping in over
the lower side, and they would, he felt, be taken down and lie at the
mercy of the enemy the blacks had tried to destroy.

In rushed the water faster and faster, and Carey looked towards the
shore to see how far it was to swim, when all at once the weight glided
off the great bamboo, which rose quickly, the boat was level again, but
half full of water, and the blacks chattered and grinned with delight,
as they began shovelling the water out on both sides with their paddles.

Jackum used his hands, but stopped short directly after to point.

"Tickum, tickum.  Mumkull," he cried, and Carey made out the spear-shaft
performing some strange gyrations some twenty yards away, before it once
more disappeared.

As Carey owned afterwards to the doctor and Bostock, he still felt a
little white, and his heart was beating heavily.  But it calmed down
rapidly as he felt that the worst that was to happen to him was to feel
his legs wet until the sun had dried his trousers and boots, while the
blacks chattered away, taking it as an every-day occurrence, rapidly
emptying the boat, and once more in high glee paddling hard for the
shore, where the great enjoyments of the day were to begin.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

As Carey landed he glanced at the now enormous stack of pearl shells and
at the tubs once more well filled with oysters, for the beachcomber had
not let his men be idle.  But the sight of the treasures of which they
had been robbed only irritated the boy, and he turned away to forget it
in encountering the grinning face of Black Jack close by.

"Come, fro boomerang," he said, handing the wooden scimitar-like blade,
and pointing along the sands.

"Ah," cried the boy, eagerly, "give me hold."

As he caught the boomerang, the other blacks started off along the sands
as if they were going to field for a ball, and Carey laughed as he
prepared to throw.

"It will begin to sail up before it gets to them," he thought to
himself, laughingly, and he rather enjoyed the idea of the big, lithe
fellows running through the hot sand in vain.

Then, imitating, as he thought, the black's action exactly, Carey sent
the weapon spinning along about a yard above the sand; but it did not
begin to rise, and before it dropped one of the men caught it cleverly
and sent it back with such accuracy that Jackum caught it in turn and
handed it to the boy.

Carey threw again half-a-dozen times, for the curved blade to be caught
by one or the other, no matter how wildly diverse were the casts, and
sent back to Jackum, who never missed a catch, standing perfectly calm
and at the proper moment darting out his right or left hand, when
_flip_, he had it safely and handed it back, grinning with delight.

"White boy no fro boomerang," he said.

"No," cried Carey, who was hot and irritable with the failure attending
his exertions.  "You're cheating me; this one won't go."

"No make um go," cried Jackum, slapping his thighs and dancing with
glee.

"No; it's a bad one; it won't fly back."

"Yes, fly bird come back."

"But it doesn't when I throw it."

"No, won't come back."

"And it won't when those black fellows throw."

Black Jackum understood him perfectly and threw himself down on the hot
sand to roll himself over in the exuberance of his delight.

"Look here," cried Carey, growing more irritated; "you're a cheat.  You
knew that thing wouldn't go when you gave it to me.  Get up, or I'll
kick you."

He made a rush to put his threat in execution, but the black rolled over
and sprang up laughing.

"White boy get wild likum big Dan.  No fro boomerang.  Look, see."

"It's too bad, you're a cheat.  Bad one.  Bah!" cried Carey, throwing
the wooden blade down.  "You've changed it."

"Look, see," cried the black, catching it up; and in the most effortless
way he sent it skimming along the sand right away, full fifty yards
beyond the farthest fielder, before it began to mount high in the air,
executing a peculiar series of twirls and flutterings as it came back,
till the momentum died out as it dropped not half-a-dozen yards from
Carey's feet.

"Ah!" cried the boy, excitedly, "I see how you do it now.  Here, let me
try."

"Jackum fro makum come back ebry war."

"Yes, but let me try."

_Bang, bang_, came softened by the distance, and, looking sharply in the
direction of the stranded vessel, two faint puffs of white smoke were
visible.

"What does that mean?" cried Carey, as he saw the fielders come running
towards him.

"Big Dan shoot, shoot.  Say go hunt, get bird to cookie, cookie.  Come,
run fas'."

He set the example and plunged at once into the great cocoanut grove,
followed by Carey and his companions.

"Big Dan no see now," cried Jackum, and he grinned and pointed up at the
nuts overhead.  "Good, good?"

"Yes," cried Carey; "let's have some."

The black said something to his companions, two of whom took off their
plaited hair girdles, joined them together, and then the band was passed
round a likely tree, knotted round one of the wearers' loins, and the
next minute he was apparently walking like a monkey up the tree,
shifting the band dexterously and going on and on till he reached the
crown of leaves and the fruit, which he began screwing off and pitching
down into the sand, where they were caught up, the pointed end of a
club-handle inserted, and the great husk wrenched off.  Then a few chops
with a stone axe made a hole in the not yet hardened shell, and a nut
with its delicious contents of sweet, sub-acid milk and pulp was handed
to the boy, the giver grinning with satisfaction as he saw how it was
enjoyed.

The blacks were soon similarly occupied, each finishing a nut, and then
Jackum led the way inland.

"Are you going to the river?" asked Carey.

"No, walk, kedge fis'," said Jackum, shaking his head.  "Bully-woolly
dar."

"Bully-woolly?" said Carey, wonderingly.

Jackum threw himself on the ground, with his legs stiffened out behind,
and his hands close to his sides.  Then with wonderful accuracy he went
through the movements of a crocodile creeping over the sand, and then
made a snap at the boy's leg with his teeth, making believe to have
caught him, and to be dragging his imaginary prey down to the water,
ending by wagging his legs from side to side like a tail.

"I see," cried Carey.  "Crocodiles.  Yes, I know."

"Big, big.  Mumkull black fellow, white boy.  Come 'long."

Jackum started off, followed by Carey and the rest in single file, their
leader with his head down and eyes reading the ground from right to left
as if in search of something lost.  He made straight for the forest, but
selected the more open parts where the undergrowth was scarce, so as to
get quickly over the ground, stopping suddenly by a great decayed tree,
about which his companions set to work with the sharp ends of their
club-handles, and in a very short time they had dug out of the decayed
wood some three double handfuls of thick white grubs as big as a man's
fingers, and these were triumphantly transferred to the grass bag one
man had hanging to his girdle.

Starting once more, Jackum suddenly caught sight of traces on the ground
which made him begin to proceed cautiously, his companions closing up,
club, spear, or boomerang in hand, and then all at once there was a rush
and a spring, then another, and a couple of little animals bounded away,
kangaroo fashion, in a series of leaps through the open, park-like
forest, till as they were crossing a widish patch Carey saw the use of
the boomerang, one of which weapons skimmed after the retreating
animals, struck it, and knocked it over, to lie kicking, till one of the
men ran swiftly up and put it out of its misery with one blow of his
club.

The other was missed, the boomerang hurled just going over its back and
returning to the thrower after the fashion of a disappointed dog, while
the little animal took refuge in a tree, leaping from bough to bough
till brought down by one of a little shower of melon-headed clubs.

Jackum held up the two trophies with a grin of delight, tied their legs
together, and hung them on a stump.

"Back, come fetchum," he said, nodding.

The hunt continued till a couple of brush turkeys sprang up and began to
run and flutter among the bushes, but only to be brought down by the
unerring boomerangs; and these were also hung against a tree ready for
picking up as the hunting party returned.

The traces on a sandy patch, showing that a snake had crossed and left
its zigzag groove, were next spied, and a little tracking showed the
maker of the marks coiled up on an ant-heap basking in the sun.

The reptile was on the alert, though, and raised its spade-shaped head
high above its coils, displaying a pair of tiny diamond-bright eyes for
a few moments, before a blow from the end of a spear dashed it down,
broken and quivering.

"Mumkull--bite a fellow," said Jackum.  "Makum swellum.  Brrr!"

Carey grasped the fact that the snake was of a poisonous tendency, and
it was left writhing on the ant-heap, with the little creatures swarming
in an army out of their holes to commence the task of picking its bones
into skeleton whiteness.

A couple more large turkey-like birds were brought down and hung up in
the shady forest they were now passing, the spreading branches of the
huge trees being most grateful interposed between Carey's head and the
sun.  Here the blacks proceeded with the greatest care, starting no less
than three snakes, which were allowed to scuffle off.  At last one of
the blacks uttered a faint cry, and he took the lead, following the
trail of something quickly, till he stopped short beneath a huge
fig-tree whose boughs spread far and wide.

The black here turned to Carey and pointed upward with his spear to
where, half hidden by the dense foliage, a clump of knots and folds upon
some interlacing horizontal boughs revealed the presence of a carpet
snake, whose soft warm brown and chocolate markings of various shades
were strikingly beautiful.

"Ugh! the monster!" exclaimed Carey, shrinking back.  "Are you going to
kill it?"

"Mumkull, eatum.  Good, good," cried Jackum, and the noise made below
roused the sleeping serpent, whose head rose up, showing the mark where
the mouth opened, and Carey could see the glistening forked tongue
darting in and out through the orifice at the apices of the jaws.  And
now the creature seemed all in motion, fold gliding over fold, and one
great loop hanging down from the bough some fifteen feet above their
heads.

"I mustn't run off," thought Carey; "but it looks a dangerous brute."

He stood fast then, and the attack began, the blacks hurling their clubs
up at the reptile with such accuracy and force that in less than a
minute the creature had been struck in several places, and was striking
out with its jaws and lashing its tail furiously.

Another blow from a whizzing boomerang made the creature cease its
attempts to get to a safer part of the tree and writhe so violently in a
horrible knot of convolutions that it lost its hold upon the branch and
came down through the interlacing boughs with a rush and a thud upon the
ground.

Here it seemed to see its aggressors for the first time, and, gathering
itself up, its head rose with the jaws distended, and it struck at the
nearest black.

But his enemy was beforehand.  Holding his spear with both hands he used
it as a British yeoman of old handled a quarter-staff, and a whistling
blow caught the reptile a couple of feet below the head, which dropped
inert, the vertebrae being broken, and a series of blows from other
spears, one aimed at the tail, finished the business.

The danger was over, and the serpent began to untwine itself, till it
lay out, a long heaving mass of muscles, completely disabled and dying
after the slow fashion of its kind.

"Why, it must be sixteen or eighteen feet long," thought Carey, and then
he stood looking on while the delighted blacks, who looked upon their
prize as a delicacy that would be exclusively their own, cut a few
canes, twined them into a loose rope, made a noose round the writhing
creature's neck, and after one of the party had passed this rope over a
convenient bough the reptile was hauled up so that the tail was clear of
the ground and safe from the attacks of marauding ants.

Then the hunt was continued.  Several splendid birds were knocked over,
and they were now high up in the river valley, where the great monitor
lizards haunted the sun-baked volcanic stones.

"Knock one of those down, Jackum," said Carey, who was anxious to see
how the blacks would deal with the tail-lashing creatures.

"Plenty, plenty," said the black, grinning; but he obeyed directly
after, sending his boomerang whizzing at one, which suddenly bounded on
to a rock and turned defiantly with open jaws upon those who had
interrupted his noon-tide sleep.

Carey had ocular proof that the nude blacks were cautious enough to keep
their skins clear of the fearful lash formed by the steel-wire-like
tails.  For the boomerang struck the distended jaws with a sharp crack,
and the next moment the reptile was down, with its silvery-grey scales
flashing in the sun like oxidised silver, as it lashed its tail about
like a coil-whip.  It was not round Jackum's legs, however, when he ran
up to recover his boomerang, but round and round the spear-shaft which
he held ready for the purpose.

A few minutes later the great lizard was dead.  "Plenty cookie now,"
said Jackum, and they began to return, picking up their trophies as they
went back exactly over their trail.

"They'll only cut a piece out of the carpet snake," thought Carey.
"It's too big to take back."

But he was mistaken.  That serpent was too fat and juicy, and promised
too many pleasant cookings, to be left behind, and it was soon lowered
down, to be dragged after the party by two of the blacks, who harnessed
themselves to the canes about the reptile's neck, the smooth hard scales
making the elongated body glide easily enough over the grass and sandy
earth.

"But I'm not going to ride in the canoe with that horrid beast,"
muttered Carey.  "It's alive and moving still."

But he did, for, when all their game had been successively picked up and
they reached the edge of the lagoon, the great serpent was dragged in
and fitted itself in the bottom of the canoe, and the rest was thrown
fore and aft.  Carey set his teeth, for he dared not let the blacks see
him shrink, and stepped calmly in, to sit down with his knees to his
chin and the thickest part of the serpent passing round behind his
heels, the head and tail lying forward, with the paddlers sitting inside
the loop it formed.

They had cargo enough to make the slight vessel seem heavily-laden, but
it was sent rapidly across the lagoon, the blacks eager and triumphant
to display their successful efforts to their companions, who were all
perched up on the bulwarks on either side of the gangway, face outward,
waiting to see the portion that would come to their share.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

The proximity of the evil-smelling serpent to Carey's legs doubtless had
something to do with the speed of his movements in quitting the canoe
and climbing the side; and on reaching the gangway he looked round in
vain for the doctor and Bostock, for they were not visible, neither was
Mallam on the deck.

"Where's the doctor?" he said to one of the blacks, but the man merely
stared at him blankly.  "Cookie?" cried Carey, and the man grinned and
pointed towards the galley.

But Carey did not go in that direction, turning aft towards the saloon
entrance, where on reaching the top of the brass-bound stairs he stopped
in alarm, for a hoarse groan ascended to his ears.

A shiver of dread ran through the lad, for it was evident that something
terrible had happened during his absence, and for a few moments he stood
listening.

Then, mastering the coward dread, he took a few steps down.

"What's the matter?" he cried, excitedly, but there was only another
groan, and he leaped down the remaining stairs to the saloon door, but
only to find that it was shut and fastened, and that the startling
sounds had not come from there, but from the lower cabin.

The boy did not stop to question, but began to descend.  He had not
taken two steps, however, before there was the sharp report of a pistol,
and a bullet whistled by his ear.  Then there was another shot, which
was better aimed, striking him in the chest, and he fell back against
the bulkhead, to slide down in a half-sitting, half-lying position upon
the stairs, struggling to get his breath, while a deathly feeling of
sickness made his head swim and everything seemed to be turning black.

It was some minutes before he came sufficiently to himself to realise
that he was lying back there upon the stairs, unable to move, and a
greater time elapsed before he fully recalled the cause and clearly knew
that he had been shot at, the second shot having caused the dull, heavy
pain in his breast, with the accompanying oppression.

His first movement was to clap his hand to his chest, the act dislodging
a bullet, which flew off and went rattling loudly down the brass-bound
stairs.

The next moment another shot was fired, and struck the wood-work above
his head, while before a puff of evil-smelling smoke had risen far there
was another shot, with the shivering of plate glass, which fell jangling
down.

There was a feeling as if a tiny hand were passing among the roots of
Carey's hair and he tried to crouch lower, but it was impossible.
Feeling though, that his life--if he were not already fatally injured--
depended upon his getting beyond reach of the person firing, he gave
himself intense pain by trying to ascend the stairs.  But at the first
movement he could not restrain a sharp cry, and immediately there
followed two more shots, which crashed into the wood-work overhead.

Not daring to stir now, Carey clapped his hand once more to his breast,
where the pain was most acute, shuddering meanwhile at the thought that
his breast must be wet with blood.

But no; his flannel felt dry enough, and plucking up courage as he
recalled the fact that the first two shots stung by his head and breast,
while the last four had flown high, he felt pretty sure that by crawling
to the top he might reach there in safety.  Besides, a revolver
contained only six shots, and that number had been fired.

Acting upon this, he turned quickly over upon his breast, and in spite
of the sickening pain he felt, began to crawl up; but his hope that the
last shot had been fired was damped on the instant, for the firing once
more began, and he felt certain that his assailant must be Dan Mallam,
since he always carried two revolvers.

Carey was desperate now, and he kept on breathlessly, hearing three more
shots fired, nine in all, before he sank down on the landing now by the
saloon door, to faint dead away.

How long he lay he could not tell, but it could not have been any great
space of time before in a sickened drowsy way he found himself listening
to the distant chattering of the blacks on deck.

Carey's hand went to his breast again, where the heavy dull pain
continued; but there was no trace of blood, and, satisfied on this
point, he crouched there listening to a dull, moaning sound coming from
the bottom of the stairs.

What did it all mean, and where was Doctor Kingsmead?  He knew that
Bostock was forward in the galley, for the black had pointed there when
he asked, and the thing to do now was to go and find him to hear the
worst.

Just then, like a flash, came the recollection of the two reports he had
heard that morning when he was on the sands, and he began to wonder
whether that was in any way connected with what had happened.

And now he tried to rise and get up on deck, but at the first movement
the sick feeling came back, and he leaned back to let it pass off.

As he sat there, there was a burst of laughing from the blacks--a sound
so full of careless, boyish merriment that it cheered him with the
thought that perhaps, after all, nothing very serious was the matter.

He made another effort, and stood up to take a step or two, with the
sick feeling passing off as he once more listened to the laughter of the
blacks.

And now a fresh thought came to him; he must not let the blacks see that
he was suffering, or they might look down upon him with contempt, so
that he would perhaps lose the high position he had won in their
estimation.

This seemed to give him strength, and, setting his teeth hard he put on
an air of stoical indifference as he stepped out on deck, feeling that
he was growing firmer each moment.

There was a strange sight before him as he walked aft, for the blacks
were gathered round four of their party, who had evidently begun in the
middle and worked away from thence towards head and tail, in pairs,
skinning the great snake, to the great defilement of the clean deck.

Black Jackum made way for the boy to see as he came up, grinning as was
his wont.

"Good eatum," he said, eagerly.  "Cookum, good."

"Yes," said Carey, quietly.  "Where is Cookie?"

"Cookie?" repeated the black, half-wonderingly, and he turned to one of
the party who had stopped on board.

"Baal.  Cookie he."

The man made some reply, and ran towards the forecastle to squat upon
the deck and thump upon the hatch with his fists, saying something with
great rapidity of speech, the only words Carey could grasp being Dan and
mumkull.

Black Jackum turned to the boy as soon as his companion had finished.

"Cookie," cried Jackum, pointing down at the closed and fastened hatch.
"Big Dan mumkull everybody open dat."

"Big Dan says he'll kill everyone who opens that hatch?" cried Carey.

"Issum," said the black, nodding a good deal, looking sharply from Carey
towards the cabin entry and back.

"Mumkull ebberbody.  Shoot, bang."

"Let him shoot me then if he dares," cried Carey, in a fit of
desperation, and the two blacks looked at him with horror and admiration
as the boy bent down over the hatch, pulled out an iron bolt thrust
through the staple, and threw open the heavy lid of wood; but all was
still below.

"Bob!  Are you there?" cried Carey, for there was a chilling silence
below.

"Ay, ay!" came in half-smothered tones, and this was followed by the
sound of someone turning out of a bunk.  The next minute Bostock's
bloodstained face appeared, with a tremendous swelling on the brow, the
result evidently of a blow given with marlin-spike or club.

"Bob!" cried Carey, wildly, as he caught the old sailor's hand.

"Master Carey!" cried the injured man, stumbling out as if giddy.  "This
is a good sight, dear boy."

"Which of the blacks struck you that cowardly blow?"

"Nay, nay, it warn't one of the black fellows, my lad, but Old King Cole
himself."

"But how? why--what for?"

"Don't you puzzle a chap with too many questions at once, my lad, for my
head's a bit swimming."

"Oh, Bob, my poor fellow!  Here, Jackum, a bucket of water to bathe his
head."

"Bucketum waterum?  Iss!" cried the black, darting off, and Bostock
seated himself on an upturned barrel.

"Let's see," he said; "how was it?  I forgot, sir."

"Never mind that, then.  Where's the doctor?"

"The doctor, sir?" faltered the old fellow, to Carey's agony, "I dunno.
Ah, I 'member now.  Comes to me in the galley, he does."

"The doctor?"

"No, sir; Old King Cole.  `Come here,' he says, `and get me something
out o' the forecastle.'  I goes with him, gets to the hatch, and he
says, `Fetch me up that noo axe as is down there.'  `Right, sir,' I
says, and I'd got down three steps when I sees his shadder across me as
if he was lifting something, and I turns sharply to see a club in his
hand just lifted up.  I shies and dodges, but I was too late; down it
comes dump on my forrid, and I dropped down into the forecastle."

"Bob!" cried Carey.

"That's true enough, sir, and then I seemed to go to sleep with every
idee knocked out o' me.  I just recklect thinking I should be better in
a bunk, and I lay there dreaming like till you calls me, and that woke
me up.  What's o'clock, sir?"

"Time we bestirred ourselves, Bob, to find the doctor.  Bob, he must
have served poor Doctor Kingsmead the same."



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

Poor Bob Bostock's head had seemed as much swollen mentally as it had
been externally, but these words on the part of Carey gave a fillip to
his power of thinking, and he stared at the lad with his mouth open and,
instead of being stupefied and weak, he grew rapidly stronger.

"My eyes and limbs, Master Carey!" he gasped; "you don't mean to go and
say such a thing as that, do you?"

"I do, Bob, but look here," he went on, keeping to a whisper; "try and
be cool and take it all as a matter of course.  Everything may depend
upon our taking our troubles calmly.  We must not let the black fellows
think we are upset over it."

"I see, sir.  Yes, that's right.  You mean if we show the white feather
these fellows'll come and pluck us."

"Something of the kind, Bob.  There, go on bathing your head and keep
friendly with Black Jack."

"Right, sir.  I see.  Chuck dust in their eyes?"

"Exactly."

"Here goes, then, sir, and I'll begin with water and make out that I
think it all a big lark."

The old sailor knelt down before the bucket and began to bathe his
forehead and the tremendous swelling, while Black Jackum looked on
anxiously.  The next minute Bostock raised his head, saw that the second
black was looking at him solemnly, and he made a hideous grimace at
him--an extremely hideous grimace, for his swollen and disfigured
forehead helped to make it so.

The black stared, with the opalescent whites of his eyes forming rings
around his irides.  Then, grasping the fact that it was done as a joke,
he burst into a loud guffaw, slapped his thighs and cried, "Bunyip--
bunyip!" bounding away the next moment, for Bostock sent a handful of
water splashing all over his face.

Black Jackum roared at this, and Bostock made a feint of splashing him,
to the other blacks' great delight.

Jackum dodged and ducked his head, Bostock keeping up the threatening
till Jackum protested.

"No--no--no," he cried.  "Let feel um," and he stretched out his hands.

"All right," cried Bostock, ceasing his watery threats; "feel then."

"Feel cookie," said Jackum, solemnly.  "Cookie brokum?"

The black's fingers were applied with delicate touch to the old sailor's
head.

"Gently, old soot-box," said Bostock, quietly submitting; "it feels as
if it was red-hot."

"No brokum," said Jackum, turning sharply to Carey and catching at the
boy's wrist.  "Feelum."

Carey felt the injured head gently, and was not a bit the wiser, save
that he could not feel the movement of fractured bones, so he nodded
back to Jackum and repeated the black's words.

"No brokum," he said, and the black laughed, caught hold of Bostock's
loose neckerchief, slipped it off, and tied it round the injured place,
laughing and nodding as he turned the old sailor round and pointed out
the bandage to Carey.  "Big Dan hit um," he said.

"That's right, sonny," cried Bostock, laughing.  "I say.  Big Dan,
drinkum, drinkum," and he made a pantomimic gesture with his hand as if
tossing off a dram.

Black Jackum gave a sharp glance aft to make sure that his white chief
was not on deck, and then, grinning with delight, he imitated Bostock's
action with his doubled hand as if drinking.

"Rum--rum," he said, and then, with a wonderful display of the imitative
faculty, he went through a clever pantomime, turning his black face into
a grotesque copy of Mallam's, as he made believe to pour rum out of a
bottle, drinking again and again, smiling in an imbecile manner at
first, and then beginning to grow fierce, while his companions squatted
on the deck, nodding and enjoying the performance.

In a few seconds Jackum's countenance changed, his eyes began to roll,
his face seemed puffed out, and a brutally savage look came over it.  He
growled like a wild beast, turned on his black companion suddenly, and
kicked him over, ending by jumping on him softly, to the black fellow's
great delight.  Then he seemed to run _amok_ among a number of imaginary
people, pulling out his boomerang, pretending to cock it, and shooting
in all directions, ending by making a furious rush at Bostock, making
believe to drag him to the hatchway, where he took out his club, struck
one tremendous blow and clapped down the trap-door.  Then he took up a
bottle and glass from where they did not stand on the deck, drank two
glasses and, after pretending to drain the bottle, threw it overboard,
and, with his eyes half shut and a horribly brutal look, went slowly to
the side, settled himself down, and went to sleep.

The whole performance did not take a minute, and then he was back beside
Carey.

"Big Dan," he whispered, with his eyes twinkling with the same delight
which infused his companion, who rolled on the deck in the excess of his
mirth.

"Yes, that's it," said Carey, impatiently.  "Big Dan.  Drink.  Bad.
Now, Jackum, look here."

"Look?" said the black.  "What look?"

"Listen, then.  Find doctor."

"Find doctor.  Where doctor?"

"Yes," said Carey.

Jackum turned to his companion and asked him, but it was evident that
the man knew nothing, and Jackum stood for a moment or two thinking.

"Doc-tor," he said at last, making a significant gesture downward.
"Sleep um," and he shut his eyes and laid his face upon his hand.

"No," said Carey.

"Jackum go see."

He started to run aft, and Carey and the other two followed, the black
fellows, who were busy picking and cleaning the game they had brought
back, paying no heed.

As they reached the cabin entry Carey anxiously caught Jackum's arm.

"Mind," he whispered, pointing downward.  "Big Dan.  Shoot, shoot!"

The black nodded, and dropped upon his face, to crawl up and cautiously
thrust his head inside and listen, drawing it back again directly,
shutting his eyes, puffing out his face and uttering a low deep snore.

The next moment he was in again, crawling like a huge black slug head
first down the stairs, till they saw only the soles of his feet, and
then they disappeared, the other looking on grinning as he squatted
down.

"It's not snoring, Bob," whispered Carey.  "There is something terrible
below.  I think the doctor is dead, after wounding Mallam badly."

"Oh, don't say that, my lad; but hullo! what's wrong with your chesty?
You keep putting your hand there."

"I don't think it's much," said the boy.  "Never mind now.  It hurts
badly now and then.  Mallam shot at me."

_Bang_!

There was a sharp report, a rush, and quite in a little cloud of smoke
Jackum bounded out on the deck, whipped his club out from where it was
stuck in his girdle behind, and made several vicious blows at nothing in
the direction of the cabin stairs, his teeth bared, and a savage look of
rage in his eyes.

Then, clapping his left hand to his ear, which was bleeding, he
whispered:

"Big Dan shoot."

He turned to his fellow, who examined the wounded ear, the lobe of which
was split.  Then the injury was pinched together for a few moments, a
little grass bag was produced from somewhere, and a pinch of clay-dust
applied to the wound.

This done, Jackum grinned again.

"Big Dan there," he whispered.

"But the doctor?" whispered Carey, excitedly.

"Jackum find," was the confident reply, and with a quick nod he bounded
to one of the open saloon skylights, lay down, and edged himself through
the slit, let his body go down, hung by his hands a moment or two, and
let go, dropping into the saloon without a sound.

Carey and Bostock stood listening for some minutes, but there was no
sign made, and though the boy lay down on the deck with his ear close to
the opening he could hear nothing; and at last he rose and made for the
cabin entrance, to kneel down and listen there to the low, deep groans
uttered from time to time.

It was horrible, and in spite of the pain he was in Carey was ready to
risk everything and rush down to put an end to his suspense.

Just when this was unendurable he felt a light touch upon his shoulder,
and turned to find the second black pointing upward to the quarter-deck.

Carey went up at once, and found that Jackum was just squeezing himself
edgewise beneath the hinged opening of the saloon skylight.

He grinned with satisfaction.

"Find doc-tor," he said, fumbling in his girdle.  "Big Dan shoot--
shoot."

"Not killed--mumkull?" whispered Carey, in a voice full of the anguish
he felt.

"No, no, no.  Baal mumkull.  Big Dan shoot.  Doctor broke."

"Where, his head?" said the boy, with a sigh of relief, as he touched
his own.

"Baal head.  Leggum," said the black, touching his thigh; and then from
out of one tightly clasped hand he took a roughly doubled-up piece of
paper, holding it out to the boy with a peculiar look of awe in his
countenance.

"Ah!" cried Carey, joyfully, as he snatched at the paper, a leaf
evidently torn out of a little pocket-book.  "Here, Bob," he said, with
his voice trembling, as he opened out the scrap to display a few words
hastily pencilled in straggling characters, and he read:

"Thank Heaven you are alive.  That ruffian fired at me, and the shot
divided an artery.  I am too weak to stir.  Take care.  He is somehow
injured and lying at the bottom of the cabin stairs groaning.  I am
dreadfully weak and faint, but I managed to stop the bleeding."

"Three cheers for that," said Bostock, softly.  "This is bad noos,
Master Carey, but there's a deal o' good in it, though; now, aren't
there?"

"Good?" cried Carey, with a look of horror.

"Yes, sir, good," said the old sailor, stolidly.  "You see, he says he's
stopped the bleeding."

"Yes, yes, that is good, certainly," said Carey, with his hand pressed
to his aching breast.

"Then there's something better, sir; he says Old King Cole's somehow
injured, and lying at the bottom o' the cabin stairs groaning, and if
that aren't a blessing in disguise I should like to know what is."

"And we don't know how he is."

"No, sir, we don't know how he is, but he must be pooty bad, or else he
wouldn't go on shooting at everybody who goes nigh.  I wish, though,
he'd ha' hurt old Jackum a bit more."

"Why?"

"Might ha' made the nigger so savage that he'd ha' gone down and
finished him off.  I aren't a murd'rous sort o' man, Master Carey, but
he tried to kill me, only he didn't hit hard enough, and I get thinking
that there old ruffian won't be perfeck till he's quite finished.  Well,
sir, what's to be done?  You're skipper now as t'others is both wounded.
I should say first thing is for you to rig yourself out with a revolver
and a gun as I've got waiting for you ready, and, as it used to be when
I was aboard a man-o'-war, you just read your commission out loud to the
crew.  They won't understand it, but that don't matter; we Jacks never
did.  Next you'd better make me your first lieutenant as well as cook,
and then go and knock over a nigger or two just to let 'em see you mean
business."

"Don't trifle, Bob," cried Carey, angrily.

"Nay, sir, I aren't trifling; I mean it.  You've got the whip hand o'
they niggers, and they 'bout worships you.  Just you bounce about a bit
and let 'em see what you're made of, and then give 'em your orders what
to do."

"Yes, what would you do first?"

"Well, sir, if it was me I should send Jackum and a couple more--no, I
wouldn't send jackum, because he's not a bad sort o' fellow, and we
couldn't spare him.  He'll be a splendid go-between, because you see he
understands the language, and it'll be better to tell 'em what they're
to do than knocking it into 'em with a club.  You send three of 'em down
below, and let 'em put the old king out of his misery."

"What!  Kill him?"

"Ay, sir, he must be badly hurt and half dead.  Such chaps as him aren't
a bit o' use in the world."

Carey looked at the man with so much disgust painted in his face that
Bostock shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, p'raps that would be a bit strong, sir, but one must do
something, and it won't do to leave him down there shooting at everyone
who goes nigh."

"Let's get to the doctor first," said Carey.

"Nay, sir; I aren't going to let you go down them stairs and be shot
again, whether you're my officer or whether you aren't," said the old
sailor, stoutly.

"I am not going down that way.  We must get axes to work and enlarge the
opening through the skylight," said Carey.

"Ah, now you're talking sense, sir.  Of course, but you'll have a
revolver?"

Carey nodded, and Bostock hurried off, to return in a few minutes
without the objects of which he had been in search.

"Well, where are the arms?" cried Carey.

"Aren't got 'em yet, sir.  Them chaps want me to light a fire and cook
the thumping big snake they've got, and it's a horrid idee, sir.  The
oven'll never be fit to use again.  They made signs that if I didn't
they'd light a fire on the deck, and one chap began rubbing his
fire-sticks to get a light."

"I can't spare you, Bob," cried Carey, anxiously.  "What am I to do?
Here, I know," said the boy, rising to the emergency.  "Here, Jackum!"

The man, who had been watching him intently, sprang to his side on the
instant, looking ready to obey the slightest order.

"Tell your boys to take the snake over to the sands and light a fire
there to roast it.  They can make a feast."

The black nodded, as if fully endorsing the plan.  "Jackum go too."

"No, stop, I want you.  Send all the others."

"Jackum want eat."

"You shall have plenty to eat," cried Carey, and the man grinned, spoke
sharply to his companions, who ran with him forward, and, as the pair
watched them and listened, they heard quite a babel of excited voices
rise, and Carey's heart sank.

"They won't go," he said.

"Oh, won't they, sir," said Bostock, with a chuckle.  "You'll see
directly."

The old sailor was right, for directly after they were seen carrying the
carefully skinned and cleaned serpent to the side, where they lowered it
into the boat, into which they crowded till it was full, four of them
perching on the outrigger.

Then with a loud shout the heavily-laden canoe was pushed off, the
paddles began to splash, and Jackum came back.

"All gone 'way," he said, rather solemnly, as if disappointed at not
being able to join the banquet.  "Jackum want eat."

"Yes, of course.  Come along.  Here, Bob, what can you give him to eat?"

The black's eyes sparkled, as he turned eagerly to Bostock.

"What yer like, Sooty?" said the latter.

"Bob gib ticky-ticky; Pick Dilly.  Much cake."

"Look ye here," said the old sailor.  "You love damper?"

"Iss.  Damper."

"Ticky-ticky?"

"Iss.  Much ticky-ticky."

"And I'll light a fire and roast something for you to eat by-and-by."

"Jackum no like roast somefin.  Cooky big bird."

"Yes, I'll cook a big bird for you.  That do?  Come along then."

A minute or two later Jackum was seated with a big damper cake and a
basin of treacle between his legs, smiling all over his face wherever it
was not coated with molasses, and that was naturally about the mouth.
When they saw him fully occupied Carey and Bostock turned to where the
arms were hidden, and soon after each was provided with a revolver and
gun loaded, and with an ample supply of cartridges.

"Now, Bob," cried Carey, excitedly, "the _Chusan_ is once more our own.
If we fastened up the gangways we could keep all those blacks off."

"What about Jackum?"

"He would obey me now."

"Dessay he would, sir, but what about Old King Cole?"

Carey gazed at him with wrinkled brow and was silent for a few moments,
for the question was hard to answer, and he gave it up.

"Get an axe," he said.

This-was soon done, and they repaired to the saloon skylight, where
Bostock leaned his gun against the erection ready for use if wanted, and
began to use the axe.

At the first blow there was a crash of glass, followed by a revolver
shot from the bottom of the stairs, when Bostock dropped the axe and
seized and cocked his gun.

"The old un's at it, sir.  Look out; maybe he's coming out."

"Fire at him if he fires at us," said Carey, excitedly.

"I'm a-going to fire at him, sir, afore he does," said the old sailor,
sturdily.  "See my swelled head, sir?"

Carey nodded.

"That's right, sir.  Well then, 'cordin' to the rules of the game it's
my first play this time, and yours too."

Carey was silent, and nothing followed the shot.

"He must be disabled, Bob?" whispered the boy.  "Go on again."

Bostock struck once more, and there was another shot below, but this
time the old sailor went on, striking again and again, beating out glass
and dividing the cross pieces of wood to make an easy entrance for
anyone to get down.  But not a dozen strokes had been delivered before
the black was once more at their side.

"Hullo!" cried Bostock; "you haven't eat all that damper."

"Jackum eat allum damper, allum ticky-ticky.  Good!" cried the black,
grinning.

"Well, I couldn't ha' done it myself in the time," said Bostock.  "Here,
lay hold."

He pointed to the partially demolished light, which the black seized and
wrenched off, threw it down on the deck, and then, without hesitation,
glided through, and dropped softly into the saloon cabin.

"You go next, Bob."

"Nay, sir, oughtn't you to order me on guard to shoot down the enemy if
he comes on deck?"  Carey nodded.

"Yes, keep watch," he said.  "I'll go down."  The way was easy enough
now, and the next minute Carey was on the saloon table, from which he
leaped to the floor, to face Jackum, who cried, eagerly:

"Doctor.  Jackum know."

The black led the way to the captain's cabin, and there was a faint cry
of delight as the boy sprang forward and let his gun drop against the
locker, to grasp Doctor Kingsmead's extended hands.

"Oh, doctor, doctor!" he cried.  "At last! at last!  But how thin and
white you look."

"Loss of blood, my lad.  Ah, Jackum!"

For the black had crept close up to the berth and squatted down, gazing
anxiously in the sufferer's face.

"Doc-tor mumkull?" he said.

"Killed?  Oh, no, my man.  I hope not for a long time yet."

"Mumkull--no," said Jackum.  "Brokum?"

"Yes, broken if you like," and he pointed to the slit-up leg of his
trousers and a large bloodstained bandage, tightly bound round.

"Who 'tick 'pear froo doctor leggum?" cried the black, springing up,
with his eyes flashing and the look of war in his set teeth; and it was
as if he wanted the name of the member of his pack, as he drew his club
from behind, to shake it menacingly.

"No, no.  Shot-gun," said the doctor.

"Ho!  Big Dan?" whispered the black, and he pointed downward.

"Yes," said the doctor, and for a few moments his voice grew a little
stronger.  "Carey, lad, the cowardly ruffian must have been mad drunk
this morning, for he came to me furious and foaming and accused me of
encouraging you to set the blacks against him.  I denied it, of course,
and he grew more furious, using bullying and insulting language, till in
my irritation I struck him, and he went away, while I began to repent,
feeling how awkward our position was.  But a few minutes later I had
come to the conclusion that the time had arrived when we must strike for
freedom, and I was looking longingly across the lagoon at where I could
see you practising throwing the boomerang, and wishing you back.  Then I
turned to go forward and speak to Bostock, who was busy in the galley,
when I saw that ruffian standing just outside the cabin entry, taking
aim at me with a gun.

"I shouted and rushed at him, but he fired twice before I could reach
him.  I felt a tremendous blow on the leg, but I closed with him and we
fell together, struggling down step by step to the saloon door, where I
loosed my grasp and rolled in, to lie half insensible; but I heard the
door banged to and locked on the outside.  Then a deathly feeling of
sickness came over me, and I lay wondering at the sounds I heard as of
water splashing, as if bucket after bucket was dashed down to wash
something away.

"That sound saved my life, Carey," said the doctor, after a pause, "for
it seemed to revive me to a sense of what was wrong, and I crawled from
the dreadful pool in which I lay, to tear a strip from the tablecloth
and staunch the bleeding, before I fainted away, to be revived again by
hearing a horrible crash as if someone had slipped upon the wet stairs.
The door was nearly driven in, but the fall continued, and I could hear
Mallam cursing horribly as he tried to get up, but only to fall back and
lie silent for a time.  I must have fainted again, but the desire for
life was strong, and I forced myself to see to my injury.  It's a
horrible wound, Carey, and bled so that I thought it would never stop;
but the bone was sound, and I was surgeon enough to tie the artery,
and--and--"

His voice had been growing weaker and weaker, and now it ceased, the
poor fellow lying with his eyes half-closed.

"Doc-tor go mumkull," whispered Jackum, but Carey made an angry gesture
and, fetching water from the table, he moistened the wounded man's lips,
and in a short time had the satisfaction of seeing him revive a little
and in a faint whisper ask for a drink.  Carey raised his head a little,
and half a glassful was swallowed with avidity.  This was reviving, and
the doctor was soon able to press his young companion's hand.

"Where's Bostock?" he said at last.

"On deck," said Carey, promptly; but he said nothing about the old
sailor's injury.

"Hah!" replied the doctor; "I can get better now.  But what is the
matter with you, my lad?  Your voice sounds strange, and you keep one
hand over your breast.  What is it?"

"Oh, nothing much," said Carey, with a feeble attempt at a smile.

"Tell me," said the doctor, in almost a whisper; but there was a stern
look in his eyes as he said, "I know.  You have been overtaxing
yourself.  The old trouble has broken again."

"No, no," cried Carey, eagerly now.  "I was on the cabin stairs seeking
for you, when that old wretch fired at me, and I felt something strike
me here."  He pressed his hand upon his breast.

The knowledge that another was suffering seemed to renew the doctor's
strength.

"Let me see," he said, more firmly.

Carey hesitated, but the stern eyes forced him to obey, and as he sat
there with the last rays of the setting sun streaming into the cabin, he
bared his breast, to show a great red patch as large as the palm of his
hand.

"Spent or badly loaded bullet, Carey," said the doctor, faintly.
"Painful, but no danger, lad.  The skin is not pierced."  He could say
no more, but lay holding the lad's hand, while Jackum watched in the
midst of an intense silence, till a shot suddenly rang out, just as the
cabin was darkening.

"Hullo!  What's that mean?" came in a deep growl from the top of the
cabin stairs.

"Ahoy there!" roared Mallam.  "Where's that there doctor?"

"You ought to know," shouted Bostock, every word in the silence of the
gathering night sounding plainly on the listeners' ears.  "Down below,
with your shot in his limb."

"Curse his limb!" roared Mallam.

"Look ye here," said Bostock, in hoarse, stentorian tones, "I've got a
double gun, double-loaded, in my fins, and I'm pynting down straight at
you, my old beachcomber; and I tell you what it is, if you begin any of
your games again I looses off both barrels and ends you.  D'yer hear?"

"Yes, I hear, cooky.  I won't fire any more.  You must bring that doctor
down to see to me.  I'm wrecked."

"What's the matter with you?" growled Bostock; "too drunk to move?"

"No-o-o-o!" roared the beachcomber.  "I fell down these cursed stairs
and broke both my legs."

"Oh, that's it, is it?" said Bostock, coolly.  "I was wondering what was
the matter.  Well, it'll keep you quiet for a bit."

"You send down the doctor, I tell you."

"He can't come, and if he could he wouldn't.  I'll send some of your
black fellows to come if you give up your pistols and gun."

"What!" roared Mallam.  "I'm king here, and--here, you tell the doctor
to come to me directly."

"Shan't," growled Bostock.

"Big Dan brokum," whispered Black Jackum.

"Yes," said Carey, "both legs."

"Black Jackum go and men'.  No.  Big Dan shoot um."

At that moment there was the sound of joyous shouting from the island,
and the ruddy glare of a big fire played through the saloon window.

"Boy big eat corroborree," said the black, sadly.  "Jack go eat snake?
No.  Big Dan not shoot, Jackum 'top men' both leggum."

"Ahoy, there!" roared Mallam, from the bottom of the stairs, "if that
doctor aren't down here 'fore I count five hundred I'll fire down into
the powder store and blow up the ship."



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

"Master Carey, sir!" came through the broken skylight.  "Hear that?
Hadn't we better begin first?"

"Wait a minute," replied Carey, who was trembling with excitement,
brought on by the responsibilities of his new position.  "Let me speak
to Doctor Kingsmead."

Bostock grunted, and the boy turned to the wounded man.

"Did you hear what this wretch said?" he asked.

The doctor pressed the hand which took his, but made no reply in his
utter exhaustion, and Carey drew back uttering a sigh, as much from pain
as anxiety.

"It's no use," he muttered, "there's no help for it.  I've got to do it
all."

"Big Dan go mumkull ebberybody?" asked Jackum, quietly, and as if it was
all a matter of course.

"No, no," cried Carey, angrily.  "I'd soon kill him."

"Ha!" cried the black out of the darkness, for it was night now, with
the black's figure just visible in the flames from the shore.  "No kill
Jackum?"

"Not I," cried Carey.  "Here, let me come by."

He thrust the black aside, and went under the broken light.

"Look here, Bob," he cried.  "Can that old wretch blow up the ship?"

"Well, sir, that's what I've been thinking.  It's all very well to say
you'll do a thing, but it aren't always easy, you see."

"But is the powder magazine close by where he's lying?"

"That's what I want to know, sir?"

"Don't you know?"

"No, sir; and that sets me a-thinking, how can he know?"

"But you've belonged to the ship for years."

"Ay, sir, I jyned for the first v'y'ge."

"And you've seen her loaded."

"That's so, sir."

"And you don't know where the powder magazine is?"

"Well, sir, to speak quite fair and honest, I don't."

"Isn't that strange?"

"Sounds so, sir, but 'tween you and me I don't b'lieve there is any
powder magazine.  The old _Soosan_ aren't a man-o'-war."

"No, of course not."

"She aren't got no great guns like we had aboard the _Conkhooroar_.
What do we want with a powder magazine?"

"But there is a gun on deck."

"Tchah!  A little brass pop-shot, to make signals with.  The skipper had
got some charges for her, and a few boxes o' cartridges in a locker; but
I don't believe there's even the ghost of a magazine."

"Then it's all an empty threat, Bob."

"I don't say that, my lad, because though I never heard o' one there's
room for half a dozen.  All I say is, it aren't likely.  Only I don't
want you if we are blowed to bits to pull yourself together afterwards,
and come and blame me."

"No fear, Bob," said Carey, speaking with some confidence now.

"You see, sir, that old ruffian says that he'll blow the old _Soosan_
up, and it may be solemn truth, and same time it may be only gammon; but
it makes a man feel anxious like and think o' our raft and the
whale-boat Old King Cole come in, and think he'd rather be aboard one o'
them than stopping here."

"Retreating to the boat, Bob?"

"Yes, sir, or else chancing it, and that last aren't pleasant.  I think
we ought to say, `Look here, my fine fellow, two can play at that game
o' yours,' and get a tin o' powder, put a bit o' touch paper through the
neck, set light to it, and chuck it down the stairs and blow him to
smithereens first."

"And explode the magazine ourselves if there is one?" cried Carey.

"Well, I _ham_ blessed!" cried Bostock.  "I never thought o' that!
Anyone would think I was an Irishman."

"If I'm to take the lead now, Bob, I won't have any talk of murder like
that."

"But it aren't murder, sir; it's on'y fair fight; tit for him before
it's tat for us.  Not as we need argufy, because it wouldn't be safe to
try that game.  Oughtn't we to take to the boat, sir?"

"How can we, Bob?" cried Carey, angrily.  "You wouldn't go and leave the
doctor?"

"Nay, sir, that I wouldn't.  I shouldn't call a chap a man who'd go and
do a thing like that.  We should take him with us."

"Hoist him with ropes through that broken skylight!  Why, it would kill
him."

"Well, Jackum and me we'd carry him out o' the s'loon door, sir.  We'd
be werry careful."

"Pish!  You know that the old ruffian commands the staircase, and he
shot both Jackum and me when we were there.  He'd riddle you both with
bullets, and perhaps quite kill Doctor Kingsmead."

"Well, sir, he's riddling of me now, sir; I dunno what to say; on'y it
don't seem nat'ral to stand still and be blown up in a splosion, when
you might get away.  Ha!  I have it, sir.  S'pose I get the boat round
under the cabin window, and you and Jackum shove the doctor out and
lower him down.  What d'yer say to that?"

"Nonsense!" cried Carey, impatiently.  "I don't understand wounds much--
no, not a bit; but from what the doctor said I'm sure if we tried to
move him he'd bleed to death."

"That settles it, sir, then; you and me's got to stay.  But look ye
here, Master Carey; they say it's best in a splosion to lie down flat
till it's over.  Ah, there he goes again.  It's coming now."

For Mallam's voice was heard once more, roaring for Bostock.

"No; he will not fire the magazine till he has had another talk to you."

"Think not, sir?  I were reading in the _Mariner's Chronicle_ that
pirates always blows up their ships when things go again 'em, and he's
nothing better than a pirate, say what you will."

There was a savage roar from the beachcomber, and as Bostock hurried
along the quarter-deck and descended to the cabin entrance two shots
were fired in rapid succession.

"Big Dan go mumkull--kill a feller," whispered Jackum, as the exchange
of words came to where they stood listening.

"Drop that!  D'yer hear?" roared Bostock.  "Drop it, before I come and
finish you off."

"Yes; come!" snarled Mallam.

"I've a big mind to, you cowardly old thief.  I want to pay you for that
crack on the head you give me from behind."

"Come down, then, you sneaking hound.  Where's that doctor?"

"Too bad to move, with your cowardly shooting."

"Wish I'd killed him," growled Mallam.

"You've bit your own ugly red nose off in revenge of your face.  If
you're waiting for the doctor to come and put you right you'll have to
wait a couple o' months; and then if he's a bit like me he'll finish you
off out of the way."

"Are you going to send him down?"

"No; I aren't going to send him down; but I tell you what I will do--if
you don't hand up that revolver I'll pitch a lanthorn down alight so as
to get a good aim at you, and then I'll give you two barrels o' this."

There was a few minutes' silence, and then the beachcomber began again.

"Send that Black Jackum down to me.  Where's he been all this time?"

"Keeping out of your reach, you old madman," growled Bostock.

"You send him down."

As Carey listened it became plain to him that no matter how defective
the black was in speech he understood pretty well every word that was
said, for a firm sinewy hand was laid upon the lad's arm and the man
said softly, "Jackum won't go.  Want 'top 'long you.  Big Dan mumkull
Jackum."

There were a couple more random shots fired, eliciting raging threats
from Bostock, and then the old sailor came back to the light.

"How's the doctor, sir?" he said.

"Sleeping heavily."

"Good job too, sir," said the old sailor, with a sigh.  "Wish I could go
to sleep and never know what's going on.  Come much easier to be blowed
up when one didn't expect it.  Wonderful how cowardly a man feels when
he knows that there's a lot o' gunpowder as may go off any moment just
under his feet."

"But you must see, Bob," said Carey, softly, "that it's only a bit of
bragging.  He can't blow up the ship."

"Think not, sir?"

"I feel sure of it."

"Ah, I wish I could feel like that, sir," sighed Bostock.  "You
wouldn't, though, if you come up on deck and heard how he's going on."

"I can hear every word, Bob, and so can Jackum."

"Jackum?  Ah, I 'most forgot him.  I say, sir, his brothers, or whatever
they are, seem to be carrying on a nice game, over yonder.  P'raps it's
'cause they feel that they're safe enough.  They've got a thumping big
fire, and they're dancing round it like a lot o' little children playing
at may-pole.  Seems to me, sir, that these here blacks grow up to be
children, and then they makes a fresh start; their bodies go on growing
like anything, but their brains stops still and never grows a day older.
Hark, there he goes again."

"What, Mallam?"

"Yes, sir; you can hear him talking to himself as you stand at the top
o' the stairs listening.  He was at it when I was there, and he's at it
again."

"What is he doing?" whispered Carey.

"Seems to me, sir, as if he's tearing a way through a bulkhead so as to
get a clear opening to the powder barrels."

"If there are any," said Carey, sharply.  "O' course, sir; that's what I
mean.  Hear that?"

Yes, Carey had heard that--a sharp cracking tearing sound as of wood
splitting and snapping, and as the sounds continued it was easy enough
for the listeners in the dark to imagine what was going on, and that the
old beachcomber was preparing his mine.

"Here, Jackum," said Carey, in a sharp whisper.

There was a quick movement, and the black squatted beside the lad.

"You had better go ashore and join your men."

"Jackum men?  Jackum boys."

"Yes, go and join them."

"Jackum 'top 'long o' Car-ee boy."

"No, it is not safe.  You must go.  Big Dan is going to shoot powder and
kill."

"Big Dan shoot big gun; mumkull eberybody?"

"Yes; be off while you can."

"Car-ee boy come too?"

"No, I am going to stay here with the doctor."

"Jackum 'top 'long doc-tor too."

"But it is bad.  Big Dan mumkull--kill.  Shoot powder."

"Jackum don't care fig," said the man, nonchalantly.  "Jackum baal want
be mumkull."

"But you will be killed if you stop," said Carey, excitedly.

The black laughed softly.

"Jackum be mumkull, Jackum 'top?  Car-ee no kill Jackum.  Like Jackum
lots.  Give Jackum ticky-ticky."

"You don't understand," cried Carey.  "Big Dan will kill us all if we
stop."

"Hey?  Big Dan brokum."

"Going to shoot.  Powder--gun."

"Ho!" exclaimed the black, who seemed now to have some idea of there
being danger.  "Car-ee no 'top.  Come 'long shore.  Eat snake."

"No," said Carey.  "You go; I must stop with the doctor."

"Doctor not go," said the black, thoughtfully.  "Hole in leggum.  Jackum
won't go.  'Top 'long o' Car-ee."

"Better give it up as a bad job, sir," said Bostock, from the light.
"He means he won't go away and leave you.  They're rum chaps, these
black fellows, when they take to a man."

"Because they won't leave me, Bob?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then some white fellows are as queer, don't you think so?"

Bostock chuckled, but made no reply.

"Bob," said Carey, suddenly, "it is quite plain, isn't it, that we can't
move the doctor?"

"Well, sir, I s'pose so."

"Then it is impossible for me to leave him.  If there is an explosion I
hope and pray that we two may escape."

"What about me, then, sir?"

"You will go to the boat directly with Jackum.  I shall make him go."

"Right, sir, and wait in the boat till the ship blows up.  And some day
if I get away from here and reach Brisbane and your father comes to me
and says, `Where's my boy?'  I ups and says, `He wouldn't leave the
doctor, sir, who was lying bad, having been shot; so me and a black
fellow takes to the boat and rows half a mile away so's to be out o'
reach o' the falling bits when the _Soosan_ blew up as she did; and a
werry beautiful sight it was.'  Then he says to me, he says--Yah!  I'm
blessed if I know what he'd say; all I knows is that I aren't going to
meet him; not me, my lad; I'd sooner have a blow up from the _Soosan_
than one from him."

"Bob," said Carey, softly, "I wish I could reach up and shake hands with
you."

"Well, so you can, dear boy," said the old sailor, huskily.  "Thankye,
my lad.  Go and sneak away at a time like this?  I'm made of a different
bit o' stuff to that.  I say, lookye here, Master Carey; I bleeve it's
all flam and bunkum.  He aren't got no magazine to fire, or else he
aren't got no pluck to do it.  There won't be no blow up, and we're
a-going to face it with a bit o' British waller, eh?"

"Yes, Bob, we must face it," replied Carey.

"That's right, sir; then we'll do it comf'table and like men.  Lookye
here, my lad, you must be 'bout starving."

"Starving, Bob?  I had not thought of it," said the boy, sadly.

"Then I'll think for you.  I say you must have something, and so must I.
Fellow's engine won't work without coal.  Hi!  Jackum!  Something to
eat?"

The black bounded to his side.

"Jackum want eat.  Baal hab bit snakum."

"More you did, Sootie; but you shall have something better.  Come
along."

"Car-ee come 'long too."

"No," said Carey; "I'll stop here."

"Car-ee come.  Doc-tor farss 'sleep.  Big Dan brokum.  Sit alonga long
time.  Baal fetch um too much drinking grog.  Old man no good."

"Go along with Bob."

"Go alonga Cookie now?"

"Yes, and he'll give you plenty."

"Plenty eat.  Jackum come back soon."

Bostock reached down his hand, but the help was not needed, the black
springing up and rapidly making his way on deck, where he stood for a
few moments gazing across the lagoon, stained blood-red now by the big
fire; and he laughed softly.

"Black fellow eat plenty snakum.  Jackum eat plenty now.  Sit alonga
self."

A few minutes later he was happily sitting on the deck by the galley
"alonga self," eating half the overdone bird which Bostock had given
him, while the old sailor had roughly prepared the most tempting part
for his young companion and taken it to the saloon skylight.

"Here you are, Master Carey," he said.  "Brought your coals.  How's the
king?"

"I have heard him groan several times."

"That's because he's low-sperrited, sir, because he didn't quite mumkull
me and the doctor.  But I say, sir, he's a long time blowing up the
ship.  Got it, sir?  That's right!  You'd better eat it in the dark, for
fear he might crawl up a few steps if he saw a light, and want to pass
the time practising his shooting.  Now, no gammon, sir."

"What do you mean, Bob?"

"You'll eat that bit?"

"I don't feel as if I can."

"But you must, dear lad.  It's to make you strong to help the doctor,
and mebbe to shoot straight again' Old King Cole."

"I will eat it, Bob."

"Right, sir!  That's British pluck, that is.  How's your chesty now?"

"Very bad, Bob."

"Then sorry I am.  Next time the doctor begins to talk you ups and asks
him what he's got in his medsome chest as is good for it.  I say,
though, I s'pose it's no use to try and coax the doctor with a mossick
of anything, is it?"

"Oh no, no."

"Not a cup o' tea and a bit o' toast?"

"Not now, Bob; he's sleeping calmly, and that must be the best thing for
him."

"Right, sir.  It's Natur's finest fizzick, as well I know.  There, I'll
go and have a snap myself, for it's the middle o' the night, and I
haven't had a bite since breakfast."

There was silence then, and Carey thought the man had stolen softly
away; so he was trying to keep his promise, though the first effort he
made to partake of the food gave him intense pain.  Then he started, for
Bostock said softly:

"He's pretty quiet now, sir; I hope he aren't hatching any noo tricks
again' us.  Tell you what it is; I'm going down to him to-morrow with a
mattress to see if I can't smother him down till I've got his shooting
irons away.  We shan't feel safe till that's done.  My word!  I should
like to chain him up in the cable tier till we could hand him over to
the 'Stralian police."

"Yes," said Carey, gravely.  "Bob, that's the most sensible thing I've
heard you say."

"Is it, sir?  Then I'll go and give myself a bit o' supper after that.
Are you eating?"

"I'm trying to, Bob."

"Trying's half the battle, sir.  There, now I am off."



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

The dreary hours crawled along, and it seemed to Carey that he was
suffering from a long-drawn weary nightmare, made up of his own pain, a
sigh or two at times from the doctor and restless movements, groans, and
threats and cursings from the beachcomber.

It was a horrible night, for the boy, in addition to his other troubles,
felt as if he were somehow to blame for the sufferings of the wretched
man below.

Lying there in agony with broken legs!  It was horrible, and the boy
could not have suffered more if he had himself been the victim of the
accident.

But there were breaks in the misery of that long dark night.  Bostock
was soon back, announcing that his head was two sizes larger than usual,
but that he was all the better for his supper, and ready for anything
now.

He told the watcher, too, that the black fellows ashore were still
keeping up their fire, stopping probably to eat sometimes, but at others
re-making the fire till it blazed again, and playing in the bright light
at "Here we go round the mulberry bush."

But the little incident that gave Carey the most satisfaction was that
soon after Bostock's return to his post at the skylight there was a soft
rustling, a light thud on the floor, and directly after the black
squatted down close by where the lad was seated, and, though he could
not make out his figure, he felt sure that the Australian was watching
him with the dumb patience of a dog.

"That you, Jackum?" he said, softly, and he stretched out his hand, to
find it touched the black's rough head, which seemed to press itself
into his palm.

"Iss.  Jackum eat big lot.  'Top here now.  Car-ee go sleep."

The boy sighed, and then there was silence till he spoke again.

"Will the black fellows come back soon?" he said, as he thought of the
idea he had had about keeping them off.

"No come back.  Go sleep roun' fire.  'Top all snakum eatum."

Twice over it seemed to Carey that he lost consciousness, though he
never went fairly off to sleep, but sat there suffering terrible mental
pain and the burning sensation in his chest as if he were being seared
with a hot iron.

The night seemed as if it would never come to an end.  Mallam had begun
muttering hoarse threats again, and at last startled all into
preparation for action by firing three times, each shot striking some
place on the upper part of the staircase, and once shivering some glass.

Then he became quiet again, and it seemed directly after that Bostock
said:

"The blacks' fire's out, sir, and the stars are beginning to get
whitish.  Be sunrise in less than an hour.  I'll go and light our fire
now, and as soon as the kettle boils I'll make you a cup of tea."

"Thank you, Bob," said Carey, huskily.  "I shall be glad of that."

It seemed a long time to one suffering from a parched throat, and the
pale light of dawn was beginning to steal in through the broken opening
and the cabin ports, when there was the click of a teacup on the deck,
and Jackum said softly:

"Cookey make billy boil.  Car-ee tea."

_Crash_!

Down went the tray with the refreshing cup on the deck, and Bostock
thrust his head through the broken light.

"Master Carey, sir, ahoy!  Three cheers, and another for luck.  If ever
there was a sight for sore eyes it's now.  Sail ho, sir, not three mile
out, lying just beyond the reef.  A small steamer, dear lad, as must ha'
seen the fire last night."

"Help at last!" panted Carey.

"Ay, my lad, they've kept their fires banked up, and the smoke's pouring
out of her funnel and hanging to leeward like a flag."

"Iss.  Ship come," said Jackum, who had bounded up and inspected the
vessel.  "Jackum fess all aboy.  Car-ee going fight him?"

"No, no," cried the boy; "they must be friends," and, utterly worn out
now, he broke down and hid his face.

"Don't do that, dear lad," whispered Bostock.  "Keep it up a bit longer,
for I must leave you now.  Jackum and I must go off in the whale-boat
and pilot them inside.  Can't you keep it up just an hour more?" and the
old sailor's voice shook as he spoke.

"Yes," said Carey, as his teeth grated together.  "Go on."

"Right, my lad.  I don't think there's anything to fear, but take my
gun, and if that old ruffian does rouse up and crawl to the saloon
door--'tarn't likely, or he'd ha' been here before, but I says it, my
lad, because it would be your dooty, and you must--shoot, sir; shoot
him.  He aren't a human man, only a something in a man's shape; a
murderer, that's what he is, and you must shoot him as if he was a wild
beast.  Now, Jackum, give him the gun, and come with me."

The black obeyed with alacrity, and a few minutes later Carey heard the
faint plash of oars, and sat there in the utter silence, watching the
doctor's pallid thin features, as he still slept deeply, and listening
for the sounds from below which did not come.

It must have been close upon two hours before that silence was broken by
the sound of voices, the grating of a boat against the steamer's side,
and the trampling of feet on deck.

"Jackum backum," cried the black, as he dropped down, with his face
shining with excitement.

"Ahoy there!" cried Bostock.  "How goes it, my lad?  Here we are.
Boat's crew well armed, and we're going to have Old King Cole out before
many more minutes are gone."

"Take care," cried Carey, excitedly.  "Think of the danger.  What are
you going to do?"

"Roosh him, sir, somehow or another," cried the old sailor, "and I'm
a-going first."

"What!  He will shoot you."

"Let him try," cried Bostock, grimly.  "I aren't forgot what he did to
me with one of the nigger's clubs.  I've got Jackum's here, and maybe I
shall get its big knob home quicker than he can put in a shot."

Carey had no further protest ready, and he sat in agony, hardly
realising that it was strange the various sounds had not awakened the
doctor.

But his every sense was on the strain, as he listened to a sudden rush
down past the saloon door, expectant of shot after shot from the
beachcomber's revolver.

But no shot was fired, though a revolver was fast clenched in the old
ruffian's hand.

There was, however, to be no hand-cuffing and carrying off to the
justice of man, for the spirit of Dan Mallam the beachcomber had passed
out that morning, as the old sailor said, with the tide.

The small steamer lying anchored close by in the lagoon had after a long
and dangerous search at last achieved her purpose, having been
despatched, with Carey's father and the captain and chief officer of the
_Chusan_ on board, in search of the wreck if it were still on the reef,
and the meeting was a joyful one.

"I never could think you were dead, my boy," was whispered in Carey's
ear; "and your dear mother always felt the same.  I knew I should find
you, and I have, thank God! thank God!"

"Car-ee's ole man?" said a voice just after, and Mr Cranford turned
sharply round to stare at the shining black face.

"Yes," he said, frowning; "I am Carey's--er--old man."

"Me Jackum!  You shake han'?"

"Next to Bostock and the doctor, father, my best friend," said Carey,
eagerly.

"Then he is mine," said Mr Cranford.

"Here's a canoe of savages off from the island," shouted the captain of
the _Chusan_ from the deck.  "Does this mean a fight?"

"Jackum boy come back," cried the black.  "No shoot; all good boy.
Jackum take you Big Dan island.  Plenty shell, plenty copra, plenty old
ship 'tuff.  Big Dan mumkull.  Jackum give all Car-ee now."

But no start was made for the other portion of the King's domain, for a
few days were necessary in the way of rest for the doctor; and the
captain of the _Chusan_ and the mate had to satisfy themselves of the
impossibility of getting the vessel off.  During these days, though,
there were busy times, for the specie the _Chusan_ had been bearing was
all hoisted out in safety and transferred to the smaller vessel.

Not much else was done save the taking on board of the pearl shells as
the freight belonging to the doctor and Carey.  The pearls were already
in safety, and Bostock made a greater haul with the help of a chum and
the blacks from the tubs ashore.

"Twice as many as the first go, my lad," said the old sailor, rubbing
his hands, "and, I say, oughtn't you and the doctor to lay claim to what
we're a-going to find?"

"No," said Carey, "and besides, we have not found it yet.  If there is
much worth having it will go, I should think, to the company that owns
the _Chusan_.  But we shall see."

Carey Cranford saw the great treasures in pearls, pearl shell, and
valuables collected from wrecked vessels in the course of some twenty
years, during which Dan Mallam had reigned paramount in a lonely island
off the north-west coast of Australia, for Jackum piloted the steamer
there in triumph, and looked proud of his achievement, while he pointed
out everything he thought of value to Carey, and could not understand
the lad's hanging back from helping himself to articles he did not want.

The steamer was nearly laden with valuable pearl shell and the boxes of
pearls hoarded up by the old beachcomber, who was supposed to have
escaped from Norfolk Island with a party of his fellows who had all
passed away.

These must have been enough, with their insurance, to quite compensate
the company for their loss.  In fact, voyage after voyage was made to
the _Chusan_ and to Jackum's island during the following twelve months
on salvage business, and with excellent results.

But we have nothing to do with that.  It is enough to state that the
boats on the night of the wreck had been carried in safety to a western
Australian port; that the doctor rapidly began to mend; that Carey's
injured chest was doctored by a sick man; and that Jackum wanted badly
to follow the young adventurer when the time came for saying good-bye,
and was only stopped by its being impressed upon him that he was King of
Pearl Island now, and was to go on collecting till Carey came to see him
some day on a voyage with his father, to trade for all his copra, shell,
and pearls.

Jackum nodded and grinned.

"Get big lot.  You come some day," he cried.

"Some day, Jackum, if my father will fit out a vessel."

"Iss," said Jackum.  "No Big Dan.  Killa feller.  Mumkull eberybody.
You come sit along Jackum.  Jackum show Car-ee how fro boomerang next
time.  Ha, ha!"

The last Carey saw of him then was the tall black figure waving his
boomerang as he stood up in his canoe, before showing his teeth and then
hurling the weapon, to fly far after the retreating steamer, to curve up
and return--to the canoe--not quite, for it dropped into the sea some
fifty feet away, to be lost somewhere in the lovely submarine gardens of
the reef along by whose side the steamer glided.

A fortnight later, with the doctor steadily gaining strength, the vessel
glided into Moreton Bay.  Then Brisbane was soon reached; but the
message had flown before on wire to the lonely watcher, waiting for the
son she would not believe to be dead, month after month, till
three-quarters of a year had passed.

And when the house was in sight there was a figure at an open door, and
Carey dashed off, his father hanging back, while Robert Bostock,
mariner, who was laden with luggage, placed it in the road, turned his
back, sat upon it, and began to fill his pipe.  This done, he struck a
match, but somehow when he held it to the tobacco there was a sudden
_ciss_, and the match went out.

"Now, how did that there 'bacco get wet like that?" he growled.  "Dear!
and she a-waiting all this time for the dear lad as didn't come.  Ah,
it's no use wishin', but I do wish as my old mother was alive now to do
that to me."

"Bob ahoy!" came in a cheery shout.  "Come on!  Never mind the things.
Here's mother wants to shake your hand."

"Ahoy, sir; hand it is," shouted back the old fellow.  Then in a growl,
"S'pose I must go.  Think on it, though; me havin' a drop o' salt water
in one eye!"





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enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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