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´╗┐Title: In Search of the Okapi - A Story of Adventure in Central Africa
Author: Glanville, Ernest, 1855-1925
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 "In Search of the Okapi - A Story of Adventure in Central Africa" ***

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A Story of Adventure in Central Africa



Author of "The Diamond Seekers" "The Fossicker" "Tales from the
Veld" etc.

Illustrated by William Rainey, R.I.

Chicago A. C. McClurg & Co.



       I. THE HUNTER










      XI. A TRAP


















"Dick, why do you study Arabic so closely?"

"To understand Arabic."

"And further?"

Dick Compton closed his book and placed it carefully in a leather

"It is a pity you were born curious, Venning, otherwise you would
have made an excellent companion for a studious man.  'Why do I wish
to understand Arabic?' Why do you stand on one leg watching a
tadpole shed its tail."

"Excuse me, I always sit down to watch a tadpole."

"Yet I have seen you poised on one leg for an hour like a heron,
afraid to put down the other foot lest you should scare some
wretched pollywog. Why?"

"I do it for the love of the thing, Dick. What is a page of your
crooked signs compared with a single green pond and all that it

"By Jove! Is that so--and would you find a volume in a caterpillar?"

"Why not? Listen to me, Dick.  Take the silver-spiked caterpillar,
with a skin of black satin and a length that runs to four inches. He
lives his life in the topmost boughs of an African palm--a feathered
dome amid the forest--and there beneath the blue sky he browses till
he descends into the warm earth to sleep in chrysalis form before he
emerges as a splendid moth, with glass windows in his wide wings to
sail with the fire-flies through the dark vaults of the silent

"All that from a caterpillar?"

"That and much more, Dicky."

"And where will this study of the caterpillar lead you, Godfrey? One
can't live on a caterpillar."

"Yet there is one kind--fat and creamy--that makes good soup."

"Ugh, you cormorant! But tell me seriously, what is the end of your
studies--where will they lead you?"

"To Central Africa."

"Do you mean that, Venning?"

"I do, Dick. There is one spot on the map of Africa that is marked
black. That spot is covered over hundreds of square miles by the
unexplored forest. Think what that means to me!"

"Fever most likely--or three inches of spear-head."

"A forest big enough to cover England! Just think of the new forms
of life--from a new ant to an elephant or hornless giraffe. The
okapi was discovered near that great hunting-ground--and, who is to
say there are not other animals as strange in its untrodden depths?"

"Is it a wild-fowl, the okapi?"

"A wild-fowl, you duffer!" exclaimed Venning, indignantly. "Haven't
you heard of the dwarfed giraffe, part zebra, discovered by Sir
Harry Johnston? It lost the long neck of the original species which
browses in the open veld by the necessity to adapt its habits to the
changed conditions of life within the forest."

"Your neck is rather long, my boy, from much stretching to watch
things. Look out that you don't have it shortened. And so you intend
to visit Central Africa? That is very curious!"

"I don't see anything curious about it."

"Nor do I, as to one thing.  If a fellow is crazy about butterflies,
he may as well roam in Africa as a lunatic with a net as anywhere
else; but the curious part of the matter is, that my study of Arabic
is intended to prepare me for a trip to the very same place."

"Compton, you don't mean it," said the other, jumping from his seat.

"I do, most decidedly."

"But what has Arabic got to do with the Central African Forest?"

"Quite as much as your short-nosed elephant or long-tailed
hippopotamus. I also wish to discover  something that has been lost.
Don't open your mouth so wide."

"Is it an animal, Dick?"

"Good gracious, no! I don't care twopence about an animal, except it
is for the pot, or unless it wants me for dinner. No; mine is
another search.  It is connected with my father."

"Yes," said Venning, quietly; for his friend had suddenly grown

"When I was a little chap, about seventeen years ago, my mother
received a letter dated from the 'great forest.'"

"It contained only these words, 'Good-bye.' With it there was a
letter in Arabic, written by my father's headman. That letter was
seven months on its travels, and since then no other word have I

Venning muttered something in sympathy.

"My mother," continued the other, "died five years ago, without
having learnt the meaning of the message in Arabic. She had a wish
that no one but I should read the letter, and often she told me that
if it contained any instructions or directions, I was to carry them
out. Well, I have interpreted the Arabic signs."

"Yes, Dick; and----"

"And I can't quite make out the meaning. There is a reference to the
journal my father kept, with the  statement that it was safely
hidden; but then follows a reference to a Garden of Rest, to certain
people who  protected him, and to a slave-trader who did him an
injury. These references to me are a mystery; but what is clear is
his desire to have his journal recovered from the Arab slave-dealer,
described merely as 'The Wolf.'"

"And that is why you wish to go to Central Africa?"

"That is why, Venning. I must recover my father's journal if it
exists; I must, if it is not too late, find out how he died; I must
find out who are the wild people, and what is the Garden of Rest."

"The Garden of Rest! That sounds peaceful, but it is very vague,
Dick, as a direction. A garden in a forest hundreds of miles in
length will take some finding."

"I have a clue."


"There is mention of the 'gates' to the garden, whose summits 'are
in the clouds'--twin mountains, I take it."

"Even so, Dick, I think I should have more chance of finding my new
animal than you would have of hitting off your garden."

"Well, you know now why I have been studying Arabic. I have a little
money, and no ties."

"Like me. By Jove! why shouldn't we go out together?"

"Because we have some sense, I suppose," said Compton, coolly. "Have
you ever roughed it?"

"I have slept out in the New Forest--often."

"Oh, that's picnicking, with the bark of the fox in place of the
lion's roar, and good food in place of 'hard tack,' and perhaps the
attentions of a suspicious keeper instead of a surprise attack by
wild men of the woods. An explorer needs experience."

"Yes, and he must buy his own experience; but tell me how he can,
unless he makes a beginning."

"Now we come to the point, Venning. He should begin with some one
who already has experience."

"I see. And you will wait till some seasoned explorer kindly asks
you to join him? You'll have to wait a precious long time."

"I'm not so sure," said Dick Compton, with a knowing smile.

"Have you found your explorer, Dick?" shouted Venning, eagerly.

Compton produced a leather purse and extracted a slip of paper cut
from an advertisement column, and passed it to his friend.

"By Jove! eh, that's splendid!" spluttered Venning, in his
excitement as he glanced at the paper.

"Read it over."

Venning read the notice--

"A GENTLEMAN, who is an experienced traveler, being about to enter
upon an expedition into Central Africa, would like to make
arrangements with two young men of education and of means to bear a
share of the expenses to accompany him.--Apply, for further
particulars, to D. H., No. 109  Box, Office of this paper."

"Let us write at once to D. H.," he said eagerly.

"I have seen him."

Venning took a deep breath and stared at his friend.

"I saw him this very morning," said Compton, quietly.


"He said you were too young! Eh? Go on--go on!"

"And I told him I thought I could find a friend who would join me."

"You mean to say that he agreed to take you?" cried Venning, jumping

Compton nodded.

"Oh, splendid! And you will take me to him? You're a brick. What is
he like, eh? Is he old or young, eh?"

Compton kept cool outwardly, but he could not subdue the glitter of
his dark eyes, or keep the colour out of his cheeks.

"He is about five feet four. I can look over his head."


"There are grey hairs in his beard."

"Quite old; old and little! What bad luck! He will have to look up
to us."

"Well, you know, he can't help being small, can he?"

"I suppose, like most little men, he is as vain as he can stick,
bumptious, and fidgety," said Venning, despondently.

"He struck me as being very quiet. At any rate, you can judge for
yourself, as we are due to see him within half an hour. You must
tell him that you are a naturalist, as he intends writing a book, in
which a great deal of space will be given to animals. He said he
felt a 'bit shaky on his pins' when it came to scientific terms."

"I should be glad to help him there," said Venning; "but it is too
good. He would never take a youngster like me."

"He said he would rather have a youngster who would carry out his
own views about treating a subject, than a man who would try to
teach him his business. Come along and see him for yourself."

"Within half an hour the two friends who had just left school
entered a room which was part library, part museum, armoury, dining-
room, and cabin, so crammed it was.

"This is my friend Venning, Mr. Hume."

"Glad to see you, Venning. Sit down anywhere."

Compton sat down between the horns of a bleached buffalo skull, but
Venning stood like one in a trance. His hand had been swallowed up
by a huge palm and thick iron-like fingers, and he was staring down
on a pair of the broadest shoulders he had seen, with an arching
chest to match. This was the pigmy he had imagined--this man with
the shoulders of a giant and the chest of a Hercules. Then his eyes
ranged over the walls, gradually recovering their animation.

"Know 'em," said Mr. Hume, waving a bronzed hand towards the wall.

"I think so, sir."

"Just reel off the names."

Venning reeled off the names of a score or more of animals without
hesitation, and Mr. Hume looked pleased.

"There are some men," he said, "who come in here and talk over me
and round me and under me about fur and feather, and they can't tell
a bighorn from a koodoo by the horns on the wall. Now, my friend,
you knew those over there in the corner were the horns of a koodoo,
but do you know his habits?"

"No, sir; but I spent a month watching a Dartmoor deer."

"A month! Can't learn anything in a month, boy; but you've struck
the right book. The pages that are spread out under the sky hold the
right teaching, for those who wish to learn about animals. There are
writers who make a study of structure; they argue from bones, and
classify; but bones don't tell us about the living flesh and blood.
You take my meaning?"

"You make a difference between the structure of animals and their

"That's so, my lad. Ever read Jeffreys, and the sketches by the 'Son
of the Marshes'?"

"They're splendid."

Mr. Hume nodded and filled a pipe, having a footlong stem, made out
of the wing-bone of an albatross.

"I want to describe the personal habits of animals in their
surroundings. I said 'personal' habits. Do you take me?"

"No, sir."

"You think I should use another word, and say, perhaps,
'distinctive' habits. I say personal. Now, you take a lion--a bush
lion or a veld lion, a yellow lion or a black lion, young or old.
That lion, whichever one you take, is a lion by himself. He's got
his own character and his own experience. All lions have ways in
common because they're built alike. They're heavy and muscular
because they've got to pull down big game; and because they're heavy
they move slowly, and because they move slowly they've got to adopt
common tactics in hunting. Good; but one lion differs from another,
and so with other animals, right away through the list. So, I say,
one must study the personal habits of animals in their own back
yard, so to say, before he can give a true description of them. Do
you take my meaning?"

"I should like nothing better than to study animals in their home,"
said the boy, burning with excitement.

"And the two of you think you would like to join me in my

Mr. Hume looked at them out of calm yellowish eyes as if he were
studying them.

"We should," they said eagerly.

"Think it will turn out a picnic--a glorified sort of camping-out,
with black fellows to wait on you, and a lot of shooting and
fishing? Is that your idea?"

"We were talking about that this morning," said Compton, "and we
came to the conclusion that exploring was hard work. We are prepared
for rough living."

"That's right. And you tell me that you are free to go without
giving anxiety to relatives, eh?"

"We neither of us have near relatives."

Mr. Hume stood up and felt each one over in turn, making them draw
deep breaths.

"Seem sound," he mused, "in wind and limb. But there is one thing.
The great danger in Central Africa is from fever--not from animals
or blacks." Here he took down a bottle of white powder, and placed a
large pinch in a wine-glass of water.  "Quinine is the traveler's
stand-by, but there are some who cannot take quinine, It has no
effect on them, and such people have no business to set foot in
fever districts. Drink this?"

Compton emptied the glass with a wry face, and Venning, when his
turn came, shuddered; but they got the dose down, and smiled.

"Now," said Mr. Hume, "you both of you give me references to the
headmaster of your school, and I will give you one in return. I will
make inquiries about you, and I would advise you to make inquiries
about me. You can come back here to-morrow afternoon, and if we are
mutually satisfied, we will then fix up a contract."

"I don't think we require a reference," said Venning.

"Why not?" said Mr. Hume, sharply.

"Because," blurted out Venning, turning red--"because you have lived
among animals."

Mr. Hume laughed heartily with a deep rumbling laugh.

"Animals are tricky, boy; and yet," he added, "there may be a
meaning in what you say. They have a dignity in death that is grand.
Go and make your inquiries, lads. I am Dave Hume, the hunter, and my
life has been passed in wild lands, but there are some in London who
know me."

He rose up to open the door, and Venning overtopped him by inches,
yet he did not look either small or unwieldy. His step was springy,
and his head, poised on a massive neck, was well set, with the chin
raised. He was a man, evidently, who had always looked the world
straight in the face. His eyes had a yellowish tinge, and in their
colour and their calm they reminded Venning somehow of a lion, an
impression heightened by the tawny hue of a long beard.

The next day, the references having been satisfactorily followed up,
the contract was entered upon, and the two boys paid over the sum of
Pounds 50 each to David Hume, who in his turn agreed to let them
share in any profits which the expedition might make, from any
source whatever.

"Profits, Mr. Hume?" they asked.

"Profits from hunting, from trading, or from discovery. I don't say
that we shall make anything. The chances are, of course, that we may
lose all before we are a month out, but it is always well to be
business-like. There is gold in Central Africa. We may discover a
gold reef. There are new animals in the forest. We may catch an
okapi, and if we could land it in England it would fetch a large
sum. We might snare a live gorilla, and there is not a gorilla in
the zoological gardens of Europe."

"A gorilla!" said Venning, thinking of a picture he had seen of an
erect man-ape bending a rifle-barrel into an arch as if it were a

"A gorilla!" said Compton. "I should like to find the Garden of

"You have heard his story, Mr. Venning?" said the hunter, nodding
his head at Compton.

"Yes, sir."

"Well, it was because of that story that I have taken you two into
my expedition; otherwise I should have been obliged to decline your
services on account of your youth. But the story interested me, and
I will do my best to help Compton in his search."

"Thank you," said Compton, quietly.

"The Garden of Rest!" mused the hunter. "That, I take it, would be
an Arabian phrase; for such a term would not occur to a native, who
is too often idle to  attach much value to a state of rest. It
sounds peaceful;  but I have it in my mind that if we ever reach the
place,  it will be only after much hard work, much suffering, and
danger. You understand that this is no pleasure excursion?"

"We do, sir," said Compton; "yet we expect to get much pleasure from
the expedition."

"Another word. I am not an exacting man; but there is one thing I
will not tolerate, and that is disobedience. It is well to
understand that now;" and there came a stern expression into those
singular eyes.

"That is only right," said Compton; and Venning agreed.



A month was devoted to preparation--a month that was full of
pleasure to the two friends, for they came into close touch with
Dave Hume the hunter, and learnt to regard him almost as a brother.
Ordinarily, he was curt in his speech and cold in manner, especially
with strangers; but at night, when he had shed his boots and coat,
he would talk to them freely of his hunting experiences, and listen
with interest to their opinions. He never laughed at their mistakes,
nor damped their enthusiasm, but he got the best out of them by a
fine courtesy that seemed part of his nature.

Thus it was that when, early in the first week, Venning said he had
an idea for a boat that could be easily carried round the cataracts
and worked without much labour, he was at once encouraged to give
plans and specifications.

"I read once about a 'sneak-box'--a flat-bottomed shooting canoe--
that could carry a sail and serve at the same time as a cabin."

"I have used one myself duck-shooting. Go on."

"Well, sir, I built a boat on the plan given, and spent a holiday
one year on the Broads. It drew very little water, and was easily
managed. However, you know all that. But what I was thinking about
was a design for a larger boat of the kind, with a propeller
attached to it which could be worked by lever."

"By a lever?"

"Perhaps you have seen a lame man working a bicycle by a lever--
well, after that principle. There would be a steel rod with cog-
wheels, and one man could work the lever as the lame cyclist does
without the labour of  rowing." Venning waited nervously for the

"At any rate the lever would be a relief after the paddles," said
Mr. Hume, gravely.

"But that is not all," continued the inventor, hastily. "I would rig
up a light American windmill amidships, which could work the screw
and get more speed with a following wind in conjunction with a sail
rigged up forward."

"Bravo, my boy!" said Mr. Hume, laughing. "How many revolutions of
the screw to the minute do you expect to get out of your windmill?"

"That depends on the power of the wind, sir. Do you think it is a
mad scheme?"

"It would impress the natives," said Compton, "and at any rate we
could start wheat-milling, you know, in case we came to the end of
our resources."

"There's no wheat in Central Africa, you duffer! Besides, sir, it's
mainly a question of gear. With a lever, cog-wheels, and a running
chain after the pattern of the cycle chain, one could----"

"And ball bearings," suggested Compton, slyly.

"Yes; and ball bearings--the friction would be reduced, and we could
get more power out of a screw and propeller than we could from four

"You may be right," said Mr. Hume, thoughtfully.

"We don't want to take a large party, and I confess the water
transport has bothered me very much. The wind-mill, I am afraid, we
must leave to some other time, but the other part of your scheme is
worth placing before practical men, and I will give you a letter to
a friend of mine who had a boat built on the Thames."

Venning saw the friend the very next day; the friend gave him an
introduction to a member of a great firm of torpedo-boat builders on
the Thames, and this gentleman very kindly gave the matter five
minutes' attention.

"Your idea, eh?" said the great designer. "Explain what advantage
you expect to gain."

"Less labour in working than with paddles, and greater speed."

"Humph! Well, my lad, you leave the matter with me, and I will
report. You can look over the yards if you like."

Venning spent the rest of the morning among the wicked-looking
sharks of the Navy, and he went back depressed with the thought that
his "sneak-box" was merely a plaything. However, he picked up
confidence when the next day brought an offer from the builders to
turn out an aluminium sneak-box in three divisions, with capacity
for a crew of six, to be worked on occasion by two men pulling at
levers, driving the propeller by means of endless chains and cog-
wheels, the gear to be made of best oil-tempered nickel-steel, with
hardened ball bearings. Each division, when detached, of such weight
that it could be easily carried by three men, but no guarantee given
that the propeller would give the speed desired.

"That is good enough for us, I think," said Mr. Hume.

"They give no guarantee," remarked Compton, cautiously.

"No; but they would not undertake the work unless they had some
belief in the idea, and if the propeller proves useless, we can at
the worst unship it. In any case we must have the boat, and we could
not improve on the makers."

The order was given, and by the fourth week the little boat was
launched on the Thames for its first trial. It looked workmanlike in
spite of its wide beam and shallow draught, for the great designer
who had fashioned the lines of the fastest destroyer afloat had
himself drawn up the plans after giving a day's careful thought to
the job. The shaft, which rested on nickel-steel sockets, with ball
bearings supported by nickel-steel ribs for lightness, was protected
by a water-tight casing, and all the other parts made of the very
best metal, so as to secure both lightness and strength, with a
complicated set of cog-wheels to take off the strain. The steering
was by a neat wheel right forward, where the look-out man could have
an uninterrupted view. Forward, too, was the socket for the metal
mast. The boat was fifteen feet in length, with a beam of four feet
amidships, tapering fore and aft, with a well in the centre, and the
remaining space covered in with a light aluminium deck, strengthened
by oak bends. There was sleeping-room for two, so that with a crew
of four there would have to be four watches of three hours each. The
peculiar features of the long, low craft were the two levers rising
above the after-deck through slots, which gave each a thrust of
about one and a half feet, and two  saddle-like seats borne on stout
supports, one near the stem facing the bows, and the other further
forward facing the stem. Venning perched himself on one seat,
Compton on the other, one of the hands took the wheel, and Mr. Hume
and the designer sat in the well.

Compton's clear-cut face, with well-formed jaws, showed no other
sign of interest than a rather amused smile, but Venning's fair
features were flushed with excitement and nervous expectation, A man
pushed the boat out. It moved at first sluggishly.

"Full speed ahead!" cried out Mr. Hume.

Venning pulled his lever over, and as he shot it back Compton pulled
his, the two moving to and fro easily as if they had been rowing a
steady stroke.

"She moves, she moves!" cried Mr. Hume, with a shout.

"Take her over the mile," said the designer to the steersman; and he
pulled out his watch with exactly the same look of calm interest he
showed when presiding over the trial of the fastest craft afloat.

The shining aluminium boat answered to her helm, slipped through the
muddy waters in a graceful curve, and then steadied for the straight

"Let her go, boys."

The levers worked to and fro with an easy swing; there rose the hum
of the chains moving easily below, and the quickened churning of the
propeller blades.

The designer glanced from his watch to the bank, which was fast
slipping away, and nodded his head at Mr. Hume.

"Easy all. I think she will do;" and he nodded at Venning. "Ten

"Ten minutes!"

"A mile in ten minutes--six miles an hour!"

"And it was as easy as nothing," said Venning--"wasn't it, Dick?"

"Like cutting bread," said Compton.

"Very good, I think; but you must remember that she carries no
cargo. Now we'll try her with the sail alone, and then with the sail
and screw combined, and then with the screw and oars, for you will
see that I have fitted row-locks."

Under a fair breeze the boat skimmed along at a merry pace, with no
wave worth speaking of; and with the sail and screw she put on an
additional four miles, and with the oars an extra three, making from
nine to ten miles an hour.

"I congratulate you, Mr. Venning," said the designer, as they
stepped out, thoroughly pleased.

"I am sure, sir, we thank you," said the boy, warmly.

"Eight," said Mr. Hume; "and we are thoroughly pleased with the
craft, every one of us."

"She is a beauty," put in Compton--"a real beauty; and I think she
would be perfect if a light awning could be fixed up over the after-

"That could be done easily.

"It would be an improvement, certainly," said Mr. Hume.

"I will rig up brackets to hold the rods for the awning."

"And we could fix up mosquito curtains round the sides. That is A 1.
Now, what is her name to be?" And Mr. Hume looked at Venning.

He had thought of a name, and was prompt with it--the Okapi.

"And what does that mean?" asked the builder, with a smile.

Venning explained, and the name was adopted.

"Now," said the builder, "if Mr. Venning will come down to-morrow
afternoon, my workmen will take the Okapi to pieces in his presence
before packing it for delivery in the docks, and explain thoroughly
how it is to be put together. I will give orders for several extra
plates with fittings to be placed in one of the divisions, so that
if you have an accident you will have the material for repairing the
mischief. You understand, aluminium cannot be soldered, but you
could cover a hole by means of nuts and screws."

Venning was in time next day to receive his instructions, and made
in his note-book an outline sketch of each part. While he was so
engaged, Mr. Hume, with Compton, were seeing the outfit packed for
the steamer, every purchase having been made with great judgment, so
that nothing superfluous figured in the list. Their armament
consisted of one double express for Mr. Hume, two sporting carbines
for the boys, three Mauser revolvers, and one fowling-piece, strong
hunting-knives, as well as four Ghoorka knives for cutting a path
through the forest. As far as possible all their food-stuff was
concentrated in tabloids and essences; each had his own special tin-
lined  medicine-case, in addition to the common drug-chest; each
his own water-bottle of double canvas, a material which, permitting
evaporation, keeps the water cool; and each his regulation "billy,"
or cooking-tin. As for clothing, it was a mixture of luxury and
rough wear, of the best silk underwear, cellular shirts of a light
blue, and yellow chamois-skin breeches, warranted to grow tougher
with use. Putties were discarded, as likely to give harbourage to
"jiggers," which bore into the toes, in favour of soft leather high
boots, tightly fastened at the knee; and the outfit included needles
for the making of moccasins, or  veld schoen, from the hides of the
larger antelope.

"Why do you select all blue shirts, Mr. Hume?" asked Venning.

"On account of the mosquitoes."

"Consider the feeling of the gorillas," said Compton, dryly.
"Perhaps they would prefer green."

"They may find us green enough for their taste, Compton; but I am
not joking. Mosquitoes have a preference for some colours and an
aversion for others. They dislike blue most of all, so you see I
have a purpose in selecting blue--not only for the shirts, but for
the mosquito curtains."

"All these precautions for a wretched fly."

"Exactly. A mosquito's gimlet carries more terrors for the explorer
than the elephant's trunk, and his hum is more dreaded than the roar
of the lion. The mosquito is fever-winged, alert, and bloodthirsty.
He carries the germs of malaria with him; and malaria kills off more
men than all the reptiles and wild animals combined."

"Is there no way of fighting?" asked Compton, impressed.

"Oh ay; they are fighting him on the West Coast by draining the
swamps, where he breeds about the villages. But who can drain the
swamps of the Congo, or let light into the Great Forest?"

"Then we stand a fair chance to catch malaria?"

"A better chance," said Mr. Hume, grimly, "than we have of catching
the okapi. Fear the mosquito, but at the same time take every
precaution against its attack. I have an idea myself that nature has
provided a safeguard."

"Quinine?" said Venning.

"Quinine is an antidote. I mean a preventive--but that is your
department, Venning. It will be one of your duties to study the
little brute, and you may make a great discovery, for instance, it
has been discovered that the mosquito dislikes certain colours. Why?
It may be that he would show more distinctly on one colour than on
another, and so fall an easy victim to an insect-eating bird. But it
may be that the leaves of some plant of a particular hue, or the
juices of the plant, are distasteful to the insect. Flies don't like
the leaves of the blue-gum, and I guess mosquitoes have their likes
and dislikes. Find the plant they dislike, and we may defy them."

They had no accommodation for such a luxury as a tent, but instead
they purchased canvas hammocks, each with a waterproof covering, and
a roll of green canvas with strong eyelet-holes, to serve the
purpose of a tent, in addition to a canvas awning with bamboo rods,
to cover the whole boat in case they were not able to land for any
length of time.

It was a pleasant time for the boys, and when at last they were
pitching down the Channel into the Bay of Biscay, having meanwhile
passed through a miserable twenty-four hours, they inhaled the
strong salt air and clapped each other on the back.

It was grand!

They stood in the bows, one hand on the rail, the other on the brim
of a hat, and tasted the salt with a smack of the lips. The wind
blew its life into their eyes, brightened them, toughened their
skins, reddened them, and the spray, drying on the red, softened the
colour to a fine healthy brown. Then the good ship heeled over and
rolled back with a swing of the yards, and the first roller from the
Atlantic went majestically by. They were on the old, old track of
the adventurers, of the sea-rovers, of the great captains, of the
empire builders, and before them, far off in the fastness of the
Dark Continent, was the Great Forest with all its secrets fast held.



They passed in time the rocks that guard Madeira, the green bay of
Funchal, the peak of Teneriffe, and then the ship turned on its heel
to the West Coast, and, while yet a thousand miles away, was
welcomed by two messengers--a shrike and a hawk-moth, who had sailed
along some upper current of air with red sand from the Sahara to
filter down at last on to a firm resting-place.

They went away down into the Gulf of Guinea, and with many a call by
the way to discharge cargo,  approached the mouth of the Congo,
whose flood gave a tawny colour to the sea. So far they had seen
nothing but the squalid fringe of the Continent, and the damp heat
had steamed them and tried them, but the young explorers had not
lost the fine edge of their imagination. They knew that hundreds of
miles back in the unexplored heart of the land there were secrets to
be unraveled, and though they shed their warmer clothing, they
retained their ardour. The river somewhere in its far reaches held
for them, and them alone, new forms of life--the  grandfather of all
the crocodiles, a mammoth hippo; and  somewhere in the forest was
some huge gorilla waiting to offer them battle. Moreover, were these
not the gates of the Place of Rest?

"Surely," said Compton, as they steamed slowly into the night off
the mouth of the great river, "thy slave is not cast down because
the black children of the mud-house at our last calling-place did
mock us with their mouths, and the man, their father, wore the silk
hat and frock-coat of civilization?"

"Perish the thought," said Venning, throwing a banana peel at a
brilliant flash of phosphorescent light in the oily waters. "Yet the
man-who-was-tired, he of the parchment face, who sat on a verandah
with his feet on the rail, prophesied that within seven days we
should be sighing for English bacon in the country where a white man
could breathe."

"There is no snap in the air; but I can breathe freely. See;" and
Compton took a deep breath.

"That is the teaching of the hunter," said Venning, wisely. "Deep
breathing gives a man deep lungs. That is his teaching. Also this,
that a man should keep his skin clean and his muscles supple by hard
rubbing after the bath. Therefore, I did ask the bo'sun to turn the
hose on us in the morning when they clean down the decks. It is good

"And he has another saying--that it is good for the skin to apply
oil with the palm of the hand till the skin reddens. I have a smell
about me like a blue gum-tree, for the ointment he gave contains
eucalyptus oil."

"And the fat of a goat. There is much virtue in goats' fat, and the
eucalyptus is not to the taste of the trumpeter."

"The mosquito?"

"Even so."

"Then why don't you say so in good English?" and Compton dropped
away from his high-flown speech. "I bet that's a shark kicking up
all that phosphorescence."

"He swims in fire, like the--like the----"


"Like Apollo, you lean-minded insect. With every sweep of his tail
he sends out diadems of liquid gems, and his broad nose shovels fire
before him like a----"

"Stoker. Exactly; and if we had a lump of fat pork and a hook we
could drag him up and collect a basketful of jewels.  I dare say he
is leering up at us with a green and longing eye."

"Did you hear that cry?" asked Venning, suddenly.

"No." "Was it the shark whispering, do you think?"

"Shut up and listen."

They leant over the rail and peered into the night. The drowsy air
throbbed to the measured beat of the engines, but they scarcely
noticed that accustomed sound.

"There it is again."

"Yes. I heard something like a sheep bleating."

"Would a sheep be swimming out here, you ass?"

"The shark's off--look!" and they saw a streak of fire shoot

"And there goes another. By Jove, they must have heard the cry!"

"I'm sorry for the sheep then," muttered Compton.

They bent far forward, listening intently, and following the course
taken by the sharks as defined by the gleaming wake. The leadsman
swung out the sounder as the vessel slackened down with a yell from
the escape-valve that drowned all other sounds with its deafening

"By the deep nine!" cried a bass voice.

The bell in the engine-room signaled the skipper's order, and the
ship felt her way once more. Again there was silence, save for the
throb of the engines and the grating of the steering-chain at

"I have not heard the cry again," said Compton.

"Can you see anything over there--follow the line of my finger--
there, just by that gleam?"

"Yes; I think there is something."

"Then I think the captain ought to know;" and Venning ran off first
to Mr. Hume.

"Something afloat, eh?" and Mr. Home rose from his deck-chair.

"Some one in distress, I think," They went on to the bridge, and
Venning began his story; but the captain cut him short by wheeling
round to the rail.

"Ahoy, there--ahoy!"

A startling response came in a long, quivering wail out of the dark

"By the lord," muttered the captain, "what's that?"

"Jackal," said Mr. Hume.

"Impossible! We are miles from the shore."

"Jackal, sure enough. Maybe sent adrift by a flood, and taken to a

The captain laughed. "I thought it was a hoodoo at least.  Well,
lad"--turning to Venning--"you don't want me to pick up a creature
like that?"

"I don't think it is far away, sir. I think I see a tree or boat,
and if you would lower me over the bows and ease the vessel----"


"Perhaps I could pick it up."

"You are not afraid of being bitten?"

"I think it would know I meant it good."

The skipper laughed good-humouredly. "Well, you're a plucky lad,
and, at any rate, I'd not be losing time." He touched the bell, and
motioned to the steersman. The ship slowed down and came round. "Mr.
Bobbins, just sling this young gentleman over the port-bows, and
have a light lowered.  Do you still stick to your bargain?"

Venning answered by sliding off the bridge and climbing up into the
bows, where a knot of sailors had gathered at the gangway. A rope
was looped round his thigh, so as to give his arms play, and two men
stood to pay him over and down.

"Here she is!" sang out the mate.

The bell rang out, "Stop her," and Venning went over, catching the
rope above his head with his left hand, and taking a turn round with
his right foot. There was a scraping sound against the side of the

"I've got hold," he shouted. "It's a tree--no, a boat." Then, "By

"What is it?" cried several together, excited by the startled

"Lower the light!" The lantern sank over the side, but those above
could not see well because of the bulge of the hull.

"Now lower me. I shall get in and make fast."

"Take care!" cried Mr. Hume.

"Look out for the sharks, sir," sang out a sailor. "There's one
coming up."

"Lower away, please--quick!"

The men lowered. "That's right. I'm in the boat, or whatever it is.
Now let down the lantern."

Those leaning over the side saw Venning reach up for the lantern,
and then they heard a snarling and snapping.

"Stand ready to haul in!" cried the captain. "That brute will attack
the boy. One of you men go down."

The snarling continued, mingled with soothing cries from Venning;
and then the weird howl burst forth anew, daunting the sailor who
was carrying out the captain's order.

The mate stepped forward. "Stand aside!" he cried, and swung himself
over and down. He reached Venning's  side, and they saw him peering
about him.

"By thunder!" he muttered.

"What is it?" demanded the captain, irritably. "D'ye expect me to
spend the whole night here?"

"A minute, sir. Let over a running tackle, and we'll have the whole
thing aboard."

"Lively there! Lower the tackle, and don't stand staring with your
mouths open. Swing out those davits."

The davits swung out, the tackle ran through the pulleys into the
water with a splash, and the mate shifted the unknown craft, with
its mysterious freight, amidships. A few moments he occupied in
getting the tackle into position.

"Haul in!" he shouted.

"Heave!" roared the captain, in a state of high excitement; and the
sailors, wrought up to a pitch, heaved with a will.

The captain, Mr. Hume, and Compton, peering over the side, saw a
long, narrow canoe rising up, with the forms of the mate and Venning
standing amidships, and some huddled object aft.

The canoe swung clear of the rails, the tackle was made fast, the
davits swung in, and then the canoe was slowly lowered to the main

"Why, it's a man," shouted Compton.

"And a dog," muttered the sailors, falling back. "With a mouthful of

The mate and Venning stepped out as the canoe reached the deck, and
the mate turned the lantern full on the huddled group, showing a
jackal, with raised mane and bared teeth, crouching over the
prostrate form of a man, whose teeth also were bared, and whose eyes
seemed to glare with the same fury that showed in the flaming green
eyes of the animal.

"What a pair of demons!"

"The man is gagged and bound, captain," said Venning.  "If the cook
will bring a piece of meat for the jackal, I think I can get to the
man without trouble."

"You've done very well, Venning," said Mr. Hume, quietly. "Leave
this matter to me; it is more in my line."

With his eyes on the jackal, he placed his hand on the side of the
canoe and moved forward gently while he spoke in Kaffir. "Peace,
little friend," were his words, as he afterwards explained to the
amazed captain. "We are hunters both, eh? We know each other, eh?
There is no harm in me towards you. You know it, little hunter; you
know it well."

It was strange to hear the deep accents of an unknown tongue,
strange to see a man using speech in complete gravity to a wild
animal, but stranger than all to note the effect on the animal

At first the red mouth opened wide and the green eyes flamed up, but
as the strong hand crept nearer, the glare went out under the steady
gaze of the man's tawny eyes, and next, with a whimper, the jackal
crept forward on its stomach, till the sharp black nose smelt the
man's hand.

"We are friends, little hunter, we three;" and the great fingers
passed over the yellow body up towards the face of the bound man.
"Friends--together--for we are hunters all--you, myself, and this
poor one here with his speech cut off." "We will see to that, eh?"
The fingers were on the man's face, and with a twist the gag was
out, and the man drew in his breath with a great sob.

"Ow--ay, that is better; now a little water."

Still keeping his eyes fixed on the man and his beast, Mr. Hume held
out a hand for a cup, and with a moistened handkerchief bathed the
cracked and swollen lips. The eyes of both the man and his beast
continued fixed on the hunter, following his every movement, and
never straying to the ring of faces round, showing white in the
glare of the light. The strong fingers moved swiftly here and there,
loosening the hide ropes that bound the legs and arms, and then
rubbing ointment with a strong smell of eucalyptus into the bruised

"So--now a little broth for the man, cook, and a scrap of meat for
the jackal. Gently, gently, cook; don't scare them, and don't crowd
in, you others."

"Ay, ay," burst out the captain, in a sudden fury. "What's the whole
ship's company doing here? Is this a garden-party, Mr. Robbins?"

"Get forward!" roared the mate, in a voice that sent the jackal
almost crazy with renewed fright; and at the creature's wild cry the
sailors hurried off, muttering that they had taken a whole cargo of
misfortune aboard.

The hunter looked reproachfully at the mate, who was mounting to the
bridge, and then began once more to soothe the frightened animal,
which in time took a bit of raw meat he proffered.  The man drank
his broth, and then sat up to stare about him with quick glances.
When lying down he had seemed black, but, now that he was in the
light, it was seen that he was more mahogany than black, with a more
prominent nose and thinner lips than are usually found with the
negroid stock. His hair, however, was in little tufts, and the white
of his eyes had the smoky hue of the negro. As he sat, Mr. Hume
rubbed the back of his neck, and fed him with broth, a mouthful at a
time, and as this went on the fierce black eyes again and again
returned from their swift, suspicious range to the hunter's face.

"He seems to grow stronger," said Venning.

"Fetch a rug from my cabin; we will make him a bed in his own canoe.
He will rest easier there till the morning."

The rug was brought, and the man nodded his head as it was arranged
comfortably; then, with another long intent look at the hunter, he
settled himself down with a sigh, spoke a word to his strange
companion, which at once curled itself at his feet, and was asleep.

"Now, boys," said Mr. Hume, "you go to bed. I will watch here, and
in the morning, maybe, we will find out the mystery."

In the morning the steamer was on the yellow waters of the Congo,
and the boys forgot even about the strange couple in their first
view of the mighty river; but the sight of a native-manned canoe,
shooting out from the mist which hung in wisp over the waters,
recalled the incident. They found Mr. Hume in an easy-chair,
drinking his early morning cup of coffee, and at his feet,
stretching along the scuppers, was the canoe, still with its crew
aboard and asleep, though the jackal slept apparently with one eye
open.  The canoe was, they saw, made out of a single tree-trunk, and
was thickly coated with the slime of the river, a heavy, sodden,
roughly shaped craft, most unlike the light boat that skimmed into
view from out the mist.

"What do you make of it?" said Mr. Hume, after the two boys had made
a long inspection.

"It seems to me," said Venning, "that the jackal has a very dark

"That is so; it is unusually dark. What does that suggest to you?"

"Well, as the colour is adapted to the nature of the country in
which the animal hunts, I should say that the jackal came from a
wooded district."

"Good. And what is your opinion, Compton?"

Compton bent down to examine the bows.  "Look here, sir," he said;
"there is a prayer to Allah carved in Arabic on a leaden medallion,
and fixed into the wood."

"Is that so?" and the hunter looked at the signs with interest. "I
had not seen that. And it means----"

"That Arabs had something to do with the making of the canoe."

"Umph! I doubt very much if it is Arab-built. That talisman may have
been found by a native and fixed on--though that is impossible;" and
Mr. Hume pondered. "The Arabs may have taken the canoe from the
native owner and fixed in the medallion."

"He's awake," said Venning; and the three of them saw that the man,
without so much as a movement of surprise at his awakening under
such altered circumstances, was keenly observing them.

After he had gravely inspected each in turn, he sat up and raised
his hand in salutation. The rug slipped off his shoulders, showing
his bare breast, with every rib exposed, and clearly outlined in
blue was the form of an animal.

"A totem!" exclaimed the hunter.

"Otter," said Venning.

"Ask the steward if he has the porridge ready that I ordered."

Venning ran off, and returned with a basin of thick oatmeal
porridge. The man took it gravely, made another salutation, and ate
the whole.

"There's nothing wrong with him," said Mr. Hume, with a smile. "Now
we'll get him out of that and fix him up comfortably. I like his
looks, and have hopes that he will be useful."

They removed him to a deck-chair, whither he was followed by the
jackal, who was in such a state of  suspicion that he declined food.

"What I think," said Mr. Hume, in answer to the boys, who wanted his
explanation, "is this--that the man and the jackal have come from
the interior."

"From the Great Forest?"

"Probably from the Great Forest; for these reasons--that the men who
shaped the canoe had no knowledge of the coast-built craft with
their high bows; that the man is of a different race from the coast
tribes; and because the jackal, from his dark markings, is evidently
from a thickly wooded region. That is merely a theory, which does
not help us much, and certainly does not explain how he came to be
bound and gagged in a canoe at sea hundreds of miles from the
forest. However, the main point is that we have got him, and having
got him, will keep him."

"Against his will, sir?"

"Oh, I reckon he will be only too thankful for our protection."

"I should think, sir," said Venning, "the fact of his totem being an
otter proves that his tribe derives its living mainly from fish."

"That is plausible; but it may, again, be a sign of chieftainship,
and a chief I have no doubt he is. Maybe he was sent adrift by some
rival faction; but that can scarcely be, for he would not have
survived a long journey; and, again, the canoe would have gone

"There is another explanation," said Compton, with a grin. "He may
not have come down the river at all. He may have been set adrift
from one of those ships we passed for insubordination."

"Ships do not carry canoes or jackals," said Venning, who had made
up his mind that the castaway was from the forest, and from nowhere

They went down to breakfast, and the morning was occupied in getting
their kit and packages together. At noon the steamer was berthed at
a pier, and their packages were transferred to a paddle-wheeler,
which was to take them over three hundred miles up the wide estuary
to a Belgian station. Thence, perhaps, they would proceed hundreds
of miles further by another river steamer before they took to their
own boat.

"Why, we may be days before we really get to work," said Venning,
when the vastness of the Congo was forced on his attention by a
casual reference to "hundreds of miles."

"Days--weeks, my boy, before we come to the fringe of our field. The
river is more than half the length of the Continent; its length is
half the distance by sea from Southampton to the Cape, and, next to
the Amazon, it pours a greater body of water into the sea than any
river in the world."

"Africa," said Compton, "seems to be the driest and the wettest, in
parts, of any country; and all its great rivers, except the Nile,
run to waste."

"They'll keep," said Mr. Hume.  "When the old world gets tired, worn
out, and over-populated, it will find use for these big, silent,
deserted rivers, that would carry the ships of the world on their
yellow waters."



They went from the wide estuary into the true river, with a width
that opened out at times to twenty miles; and while the white men
sweltered on the sticky decks, the rescued man grew in strength.
When they reached Stanley Pool his skin was like satin again, with a
polish on it from the palm-oil he rubbed in continually.

And when he found his strength he found use for his tongue, and in
the speech he made to his rescuers. Mr. Hume caught the meaning of a
few words of Bantu, Compton detected a phrase or two in Arabic, and
Venning, who had been schooling himself since they passed Banana
Point at the river mouth, picked out other words in the tongue of
the river tribes.

The meaning of his speech, when they had made a mosaic of the
different understood facts, was this--that he was a great man in his
own land, but only a child now, being without arms or men, but that
if the white men ever came to his place, he would be a father and a
mother to them. He would throw his shield before them, and protect
them with bow and spear.

After this they sat together learning a polyglot speech that would
serve roughly as a medium of exchange.

And this was the story of the chief, slowly put together out of
these talks--

"I am Muata the chief. The kraal of my house is toward the setting
sun, but the fire no longer burns on the hearth. The men-robbers
fell upon the place in the early morning.  The people were scattered
like goats before the lion. Many were taken by the men-robbers, and
many were slain; and among them my father.

"The chief's wife, my mother, fled with me into the Great Forest.
Many days she lived on roots, and the 'little people' found her in
her wanderings. They took her by crooked paths far from the land of
her people. Ohe!

"Through the dark woods--through the dark and terrible woods,
through the mist and the rain, with much pain, she followed them as
they went before her like shadows. And in the folds of her blanket
she bore me on her back. It is true.

"She was straight as the palm when she fled from the kraal, and when
after long journeying she set me down at the hiding-place, she was
thin and bent. Thin and bent was the chief's wife, she who had
maidens to wait on her.

"At the hiding-place in the forest there were people whose kraals
had been burnt by the men-robbers. Outcasts  they were, of many
tribes, living together without a chief; but the place was fat, and
they grew fat, being without spirit.

"And Muata the child played with other children and grew. He grew on
the fatness of the land, and when he could walk, his playmates were
the young of the jackal; his playthings were the bow and the spear.

"Ohe! Muata grew to strength like the lion's cub in the knowledge of
the hunt. She, even his mother, taught him to follow the trail,
showed him the leaf bruised by the foot of a man traveling, showed
him the tracks of the beasts, taught him the cries of the animals.

"She rubbed the oil into his skin, set him to hurl the spear, to
shaft the arrow, to hit the mark; set him to run and swim, to creep
like a snake, to bound like the buck.

"So Muata grew in the ways of a hunter; and when the men of the
place went on the hunt, Muata went with them--went as a hunter, and
the hut of his mother had meat to spare.

"Then the chief's wife took the boy to the headmen, and the witch-
doctors. They drew on his body the sign of the otter--he who is
cunning and brave, who is at home on land or in the water. They made
him a warrior, he who was a boy, because there was always meat in
the hut of his mother.

"But his mother spoke. 'O Muata, hunter of the wild pig, take your
spear and your bow, and the quiver of arrows with the iron heads.
You will hunt men.' Thus it came that Muata went alone on the war-
trail. With him went his mother, who carried the pots and the
sleeping-mat, she who carried nothing at her kraal.

"The trail led into the Great Forest toward the rising sun, and
there were dangers between the sunrise and its setting--dangers
between the setting of the sun and its rising.

"A man-ape of great stature, hairy and fierce, stood before us in
the path. He lifted his brows at us, and bared his teeth. Muata was
afraid, but his mother called to him softly--called to him not to
run, called to him to drive this thing from her path.

"Muata notched an arrow and smote the man-ape in the neck. Yoh! He
stood like a man upright, and roared. His roar was like the roar of
a lion in pain. Foam came from his lips, and his eyes were fierce.

"The knees of Muata shook; his blood was like water. He was afraid,
but his mother laughed and cracked her fingers. The man-ape drew
near, but she stood--she the chief's wife. So Muata the boy notched
an arrow, and would have loosened it, but she spoke--'Let him come
still nearer, O warrior.'

"Muata grew stronger at the word. The man-ape came nearer. Three
paces away he stood--and his head was above the head of Muata, his
arms were like a young tree, and the chest was like the chest of two
men. He opened his mouth and the arrow flew into his throat, bit
deep till the point stood out behind. He clutched the shaft with his
hands, rocked, and fell, and Muata, taking his spear, thrust it
between the great ribs.

"Yoh! the man-ape was dead, and the chief's wife broke the great
teeth from the jaw, and cut off the hairs above the eyes. She burnt
them, and mixed them with his blood, for Muata to drink.  Muata
drank and was strong.

"So those two passed through the forest, through the silent dark of
the woods, in pain and hunger. Passed out into the plains where
there were kraals and yellow men in white coverings.

"And the chiefs wife spoke: 'Behold, it is for this I have suffered
much for thee, Muata. What I have sown in sorrow and pain I will
reap in your strength. Look and look again! Those are of the race
who destroyed the kraals of your people. They are men-hunters,
kraal-burners, slayers of children. Steal upon them where they walk
idly, and for each arrow slay a man.'

"Muata waited on these men a day and a night, and when he sought his
mother on the edge of the forest his quiver was empty, and the
chief's wife spoke: 'Where did the arrow strike, O warrior?'  And
Muata answered, 'In the throat, O my mother.'  And the chief's wife
said again, 'It is well; but the warrior sees to it that he can
recover his arrow.  And your quiver is empty.'  So Muata returned
and recovered his arrows, for the men lay where they fell, the
living having gone into the kraals in fear.

"So Muata and the chiefs wife went slowly back to the place of
hiding. And because Muata had slain the man-ape and the robbers--
they who slay children--the chief's wife sought out the headmen, and
spoke: 'Oh, listen! This is Muata, the son of a chief. He has slain
the man-ape, and for each arrow that was in his quiver a man-robber.
It is fit that he be your chief.' But they laughed, and the chiefs
wife held her peace.

"And again, after the crops were gathered, Muata went again on the
war-trail alone--went to the river, followed it down the bank, and
the little people led him to a kraal in the wood by the river bank--
a kraal with a high fence, the kraal of the yellow men-robbers.
Muata dived beneath the fence with a short spear in his hand. With
his spear he slew the man who watched by the gate, opened the gate,
and put fire to the huts. The yellow men ran, some into the forest,
and there the little people found them; others fled into a canoe to
cross; Muata swam after, and with his spear ripped open the bottom,
so that it filled and sank.

"And again, when the place of hiding was reached, the chief's wife
sought out the headmen and spoke, saying that Muata was a chief's
son. They put her aside with words, saying there was no proof of
this last thing he had done. But Muata whistled, and the little
people came forward, saying the chiefs son had destroyed the kraal
of the  evil-doers. Then the headmen took counsel, and again put the
chief's wife off.

"The chief's wife bowed her head, but, seeing that she was weak, and
that her mind was fixed on the thing she asked for, Muata took the
matter into his own hand. He bade the women prepare a big hut for
his mother--he put a stick to their shoulders; and when a man sought
to slay him there in the presence of them all, Muata smote the man
under the arm with his spear. So they built the great hut, and women
waited on the chief's wife, his mother, carried water for her, cut
the wood, and built the fire.

"So Muata was chief, and year by year he led the men of the place
against the yellow robbers, till the name of Muata was feared.

"The would Muata take to himself wives, and would drink beer, and
grow fat; but his mother counseled with him, saying he was a boy--
saying he was only at the beginning of the path. And Muata listened,
for she was wiser than all, and he set his heart on the plan she put
before him to win back the land of his people.

"Thus Muata the chief was still a warrior and a hunter. He followed
the spoor into the fastnesses of the woods, and trained the young of
the jackal to drive the buck towards him.

"Ohe! it was ended. The evil-doers, the child-slayers,  the robbers
of men, sent spies into the forest, and when Muata returned from his
hunting there was wailing at the kraal, and the fire was dead on the
hearth. And the women cried, 'O chief, they have taken the lioness;
they lured her out with tales of ill that had befallen Muata, even
the young lion. So she went forth between the gates, and they, the
robbers, carried her away.'

"Muata turned on his heel straightway. He sought the trail of the
man-thieves. It was plain and level. It led through the forest, and
by night his jackal led him on the scent. By day he followed; by
night and day Muata went on the track to the river. At the river he
heard news. They had gone on the river towards the setting sun.

"Muata took a canoe from the river people, and with his jackal he
followed, while the sun rose and set many times, and he came to the
father of rivers.

"The waters were wide, and his canoe was like a leaf carried here
and there. His heart was sad, but the spirit of his mother
prevailed. He followed, and a man came to him saying that the yellow
men were near at hand, and sick of the sickness that shakes. Muata
gathered together his strength and pushed on. Ohe! and he fell into
the hands of his enemies like a child. He went among them sleeping,
and when he awoke his hands and limbs were bound.

"And the enemy mocked him, saying, 'Is this Muata?' saying, 'even
the ant will make him cry aloud;' and they smeared fat on him. They
shook the ants over him, and they bit deep. They reviled him, they
spat on him, as day by day he followed in the canoe tied to their
greater canoe. They made plans about him to kill him, but the chief
man said even a dog had his price. So they forebore to slay Muata,
but they carried him down the father of waters to where there was a
still greater canoe with wings. They put a gag into his mouth to
still his voice, but in the night the jackal bit through the rope,
and Muata was alone on the waters.

"Then the jackal cried suddenly, and Muata was borne out of the
water, and he was fed.

"That is the story of Muata, and his heart goes out to the white men
who brought him out of the darkness."



That was the story of Muata!

The white boys looked and wondered. This man who had been through so
many dangers could not be much older than they were. If his story
were true, he had shown endurance, courage, and a force of character
that set the stamp of greatness upon him as greatness would be
reckoned among his kind.

Was it true that he had slain a gorilla with bow and arrow, that he
warred successfully against the Arab slave-hunters? Had he subdued a
band of men by sheer force of will?

The boys believed him.  They did not stop to ask whether the story
was probable.  They formed their opinion upon the manner of the
young chief--upon his grave dignity, and upon the absence of a
boastful spirit.

"If his story is true," said Mr. Hume, "he owes much to his mother."

"Where is your mother?" asked Compton.

"The chief's wife is not a woman," said Muata. "And yet she is a
woman. She beguiled them in the forest by pretence of great
submission and fear of the woods. So they trusted her to bring
firewood, believing she would not go far from the camp. But she was
watching  for sign of the little people. This I know, for she
vanished in the woods near the river. And the yellow hunters of men
knew not how she had gone; but they left word to people by the river
to say to me that my mother had been carried away in a canoe."

"And what will you do now?"

"See, I am no one--a liver on kindness, a slave at the gate. But in
time Muata will return to the place of hiding."

"Better stay with us, Muata. We go into the forest ourselves. We
will give you food, and teach you how to use the weapon of the Arab
hunters. You will hunt for us, work in the canoe for us, and, maybe,
we will go with you to your hiding-place."

"The forest is dark and terrible. Why, will my father enter the
darkness with his sons?"

"We go to hunt, and for the love of the woods and the water. Has not
a hunter joy in the hunting?"

"I know it;" and the chief observed them intently, as if he were
unpersuaded. "The ways of white men are strange. Muata hunts to keep
the hut supplied with meat, but the white man carries his meat with
him. When he kills he leaves the meat and takes only the horns or
the skin of the thing he has slain. Muata is not a child. When he
sees a single vulture in the sky, he knows there are others coming
behind.  A white man comes out of the beyond into the black man's
country. He is soft-spoken; he is a hunter only. Mawoh! and behind
him comes an army."

"What do you know about white men, Muata?"

"The wise men at the hiding-place talked. They knew one such. He
lived among them. His ways were strange. He talked with the trees;
he sought among the rocks; he communed with spirits. He was
harmless, but the wise men said others would follow on his trail
doing mischief. So I ask, my father, why do you wish to enter the

"Because," said Compton, leaning forward, "my father was lost in the
forest, and I would find him. Tell me, where is the white man your
old men talked of?"

"The forest takes, the forest keeps," said Muata, lifting a hand

"Do you mean," asked the boy, quietly, "that the white man does not

"The people dealt well by their white man. They gave him food; they
carried water for him, and built his fire. Even I, as a child,
carried wood to him and listened at his knees."

"I am not blaming the people; but I want to find the place that is
called the Place of Rest, where my father lived; perhaps where he

"This, then, is the hunting?" said the chief, softly.

Mr. Hume recognized the suspicion in the altered tone and suave
manner of the chief.

"We have spoken," he said sharply. "We go into the forest to hunt
and to seek without anger against any. We thought you would have
worked in well with us; but I see you are a man of a crooked mind."

"Softly, my father," said the chief, quietly. "Is it wise that a
chief should listen to the counsel of strangers without taking
thought for his people?"

"We saved the chief's life."

"The chiefs life is his own"--Muata snapped his fingers--"but the
secret of the hiding-place is the life of the people. Go slowly, my
father. Muata would work for you and with you; his shield is your
shield; his eye is your eye; but the secret of the hiding-place is
not his to give away."

"Then you must land here on the bank among your enemies."

The chief glanced at the far-off wooded banks, with lines of smoke
rising from cooking-fires.

"I have no weapons," he said.

"We cannot help that," said Mr. Hume, with indifference.  "Either
you agree to take us to the Place of Rest, or you land."

Muata rose up, looked under the flat of his hand all around, then
let the cotton sheet they had given him slip to the deck. The jackal
started up, with his ears pricked and his eyes fixed on his master's
face. The chief caught hold of a wire rope and jumped on to the
rail, where he steadied himself.

"What will you do?" asked Mr. Hume.

Muata turned round and pointed to the otter on his chest.

"You don't mean to say," said Venning, indignantly, "that you are
going to let him swim ashore? Why, the bank is miles away, and the
crocodiles are in between."

Muata's glance fell on the jackal, and he spoke to it. The animal
whined, then crouched.

"A favour, my father," he said. "If the beast followed me, he would
be food for the crocodiles. Place him on land when you reach the
bank, for the sake of good hunting."

"I will do so."

The chief took another long glance around, then drew himself up for
the dive.

"Stop," said Mr. Hume.

Muata looked round.

"Your shield is our shield. So be it. We will not ask you to lead us
to your hiding-place. Is that so, Compton?"

"When he leads us," said Compton, nodding his head, "it will be at
his own will."

"At any rate," muttered Venning, "he has proved himself to be a man;
but I wonder if he would have reached the shore?"

As he spoke the jackal howled, and the chief, who was still standing
on the rail, slipped and fell with a splash. They ran to the side,
and the jackal, with another howl, sprang to the rail and thence
into the river, where a second or two later it was in the troubled
wake of the steamer, beating frantically with its fore paws.

"Man overboard!" shouted Mr. Hume. "Stand by with a rope."

But the Belgian skipper on the little bridge held to his course,
while a small knot of coloured passengers aft stood laughing and

"Stop her, you swab," cried Mr. Hume; then, as the man took no
notice, he ran to the wheel, thrust aside the steersman, and jammed
the wheel over.

The displaced man, with an oath, flung himself at the hunter with
the sympathy of the passengers, who, ceasing their laughter,
advanced with menacing cries.

Before the boys had time to comprehend the situation, Mr. Hume
settled the matter out of hand. Letting go the wheel, he caught his
assailant by the waistband, and with a heave flung him overboard.
Then with a quick right and left he sent two of the others reeling.

"Now," he roared at the skipper, "back her, or by the Lord I'll
fling you in as well."

"Fetch the rifles," said Compton to Venning.

A moment later the two boys stood at the ready with their rifles,
and amid a babel of cries the skipper signaled "Stop her." The
steamer slowed up, swung gently round, and shaped back to where
three dark spots showed.

"There are four," cried Venning, at his first swift glance; "and one
is a crocodile. It is making for the jackal."

"Take the wheel, Compton," said Mr. Hume, quite calm again. "Give me
your gun, Venning."

The hunter, with the gun, went to the side and looked over. Nearest
him was the man he had thrown overboard;  beyond was the jackal,
making a great splashing; and further on was the face of Muata, who
was crying out encouragement to his faithful companion as he swam
swiftly towards it; and to the left, moving rapidly towards the
jackal, was the crocodile, swimming in a great swirl, with only his
eyes showing, and the end of his snout. The hunter steadied himself
with a shoulder against a stanchion, and then, without hurry or
excitement, and after a look round the deck at the people, to see if
there was any further mischief brewing, took deliberate aim and

A shout went up, and the very people who had a minute before been so
hostile, now were abject in their praise of Mr. Hume, for the
crocodile span round and round in answer to the shot.

"Stand by with a rope, Mr. Compton," cried the hunter, taking
command as if by right; and Compton obeyed promptly, but without

The first man caught the line and swarmed up wet, but subdued in
spirit, casting an appealing glance at his late assailant. Muata, in
the mean time, reached the half-drowned jackal, held it by the
scruff of the neck with one hand, and, turning over on his back,
waited for the rope. This flung and seized, he also climbed on
board, but there was nothing abject in his appearance. Standing with
his head thrown back and his nostrils quivering, he glared a moment
at the group of natives; then, seizing a bar of iron, he made a
bound forward, uttering a wild war-whoop.

There would have been bloodshed had not Mr. Hume, with surprising
quietness, flung himself forward and seized the chief round the

Compton, cool and ready, wrenched the bar away; and, seeing this,
the natives plucked up spirit, calling on the white man to throw the
"black dog" to the crocodiles, which had been attracted by the blood
of their wounded fellow, still beating the water in his flurry.

Venning, however, stepped between with his rifle, and the uproar
ceased once more.

"Now," said Mr. Hume, holding the chief by his arm, "what does this
mean? What harm have those men done you?"

"My father has the lion's grip. Mawoh! Muata was a babe in his

"That may be, but it is no answer."

"What harm! Did not my father hear the jackal give tongue?"

"I heard; and those jackals there"--indicating the watching group--
"yelped at me, so that I flung one into the water. But--what then?
Do you seek to slay when your beast howls?"

"My father does not know, then."

"I want to know, for it seems to me you were all mad together."

"Ohe! it is the madness that slays. Ask of those mudfish there for
news of the man who stood behind them to slay Muata, who had the gun
aimed to shoot when Muata leapt into the water. Ask them, and they
will lie."

"What manner of man was this?"

"One of those who hound me in the canoe--even one of the man-hunters
who seized my mother."

Mr. Hume looked at the boys. "Did either of you see an Arab on
board? Muata says a man was about to fire at him when he sprang

"I thought he fell," said Compton. "I saw no one with a gun."

"Nor I," said Venning; "but the Arab may have gone below."

Mr. Hume hailed the captain. "My man said an attempt was made on his
life. Have you taken an Arab onboard?"

"I have some mad English on board," said the captain, gruffly; "and
I will see they do not stay on longer than I can help."

"As to that we will see."

The captain nodded his head and signaled full speed ahead, turning
his back on the Englishman.

"I think we can manage the lot," said Compton, coolly.

Mr. Hume laughed. "Perhaps so; but it would be very awkward to be
detained at the next station as prisoners, or to be sent back. We
must let the matter slide."

"Shall we search the ship, sir?"

Mr. Hume shook his head. "Suppose we found some suspicious
passenger. What then? There was no actual attempt on Muata, and we
have only his word; besides"--and he glanced at the angry captain--
"there is no need to look for trouble--it will come."

He was right. At the next station, reached within a few hours, the
captain lodged a complaint to the  authorities in the persons of the
Belgian officials, who  were evidently charmed with the opportunity
of teaching the Englishmen a lesson.

First of all, they placed Muata in chains straight away on their
finding that he was a dangerous person. When Mr. Hume protested,
they placed him under restraint; and that done, they pronounced
judgment. The English would pay a fine of Pounds 100, surrender
their weapons, and return to Banana Point by the next steamer down.

"Is that all?"

"That is all. But stay. As you will be possibly detained a
fortnight, there would be a charge for  maintenance."

"Be good enough," said Mr. Hume, producing a document,  "to read
that paper. It is a passport from the President of the Congo State--
your king--authorizing Mr. Hume and party to proceed with his
servants by land or water anywhere within the State for purposes of

The officers examined the document with sour faces, and one of them
made an observation in a low tone.

"Precisely," said the other.  "This document," he remarked, turning
to Mr. Hume, "is not in order. It has not been visaed by the
officers at the sub-stations."

"But it was initialed by your superior at the coast."

"It must go back to the sub-stations for endorsement."

Mr. Hume put a restraint on his temper. "And how long will that

"Who knows? Perhaps a month."

"And in the mean time?"

"In the mean time, m'sieur, you will remain our guests."

"Is there no other way?"

"Monsieur must surrender himself to the unpleasant delay. There is
no other way."  "Unless--but m'sieur would not perhaps face the

"Explain, gentlemen."

"There is a special transport for State business, but to call upon
the service for other than State purpose there would be a charge of
ten pounds per day."

"I see." Mr. Hume saw that these gentlemen wished to make money out
of him. "Very good. I will myself go to the sub-stations by your
special transport, and if the Governor says the charge is
reasonable, I will pay on my return. I think that will meet the

But it did not at all meet the matter, and the junior officer at
once informed his senior that unhappily the special transport had
that very morning developed a leak in the boiler.

There followed an embarrassing delay. The authorities waited for Mr.
Hume to make a business-like proposal, but the hunter remained
grimly silent. The two officers whispered.

"Observe, m'sieur," said the senior, clearing his throat, "my
colleague suggests a middle way. If you will place sum demanded by
the State in these cases, in the nature of a surety for good faith,
we may permit you and your friends to proceed."

"My servant also?"

"Your servant?"

"The man you have bound."

"Ohe! Pardon, m'sieur; you are not aware that he is an offender
against the laws--a notorious criminal. He will be detained and

"I will remain to attend his trial, unless a sum will secure his
freedom also?"

"There is a price on his bead."

"Offered by the slave-hunters?"

The shot went home. The officers had been hand in glove with the
lawless traders, but they did not want the matter bruited about by
meddlesome Englishmen. They scowled.

"He has broken the peace," said the senior, sharply; "he has slain
the servants of the State. Am I to understand that you claim to be
his master, responsible for his conduct?"

"No, m'sieur," exclaimed the hunter, quickly, fearing he had gone
too far, and shifting his ground. "The man is a stranger; do with
him as you please; but as for us, since we are here, we will, with
your permission, make the place our headquarters. We could not be in
better hands."

"You wish to wait for another steamer while your passports are

"We will proceed in our own boat, which we would put together."

"Ah, you have a little boat?"

"A very small boat, m'sieur, with barely room for four men. We
should be honoured to have your opinion on its qualities, and also
upon our stores and their suitability."

Venning looked at Mr. Hume with puzzled eyes. He could not
understand his callous abandonment of Muata.

"But," he began, "we cannot----"

"I think it is an excellent place," said Compton, quickly; "and
perhaps these gentlemen would be good enough to assist us with
advice out of their great  experience."

"We should be delighted," said Mr. Hume, politely.

The senior officer stroked his huge moustache with an air of renewed

"There are two spare rooms in my little house," murmured the junior--
"one for the stores, the other for sleeping quarters."

"It is understood," said Mr. Hume, "that we pay rent, and also that
we pay for the protection you may afford us. I insist on that,

The senior nodded a dignified assent, but he was not quite won over,
and retired to his quarters, while his junior inspected the landing
of the goods, including the sections of the boat. In the afternoon,
however, after his nap, the senior succumbed to the influence of a
good cigar, and condescended to sample some of the stores. He was
even pleased to crack a few jokes over the novel machinery for
working the screw of the Okapi by levers, and in the  evening he
invited Mr. Hume to a friendly game of cards, thoughtfully including
in his invitation a bottle of brandy and a box of cigars, for, said
he, he wished to wash out the execrable taste of the everlasting

All the day Muata stood bound to a post in the square, the central
figure of a ring of squatting natives, who chewed manioc and
discussed his approaching fate with much satisfaction.

He was there, an erect, stoical figure, when the boys sought their
room in the little thatched house--a room bare of furniture, divided
from the next compartment by hanging mats of native make.

"It's a beastly shame," said Venning, for about the fourth time, as
he stared out at the black faces reflected in the blazing log-fires.

"What is a shame?" asked Compton, who was inspecting the  partition
before seeking his hammock.

"You know well enough. Not a soul stands by the chief; even his
jackal bolted as soon as he jumped ashore."

"Because Muata ordered him. He is probably watching from  the dark."

"All the worse for us, then. I never thought Mr. Hume would have
knuckled down so easily. Hark at him shouting over the game."

"What is the game, do you think?"

"Cards," snorted Venning, in disgust.

"So! Queer sort of partition this;" and Compton moved the mat aside.
"No need for doors, you see. Hulloa! Who are you?"

"Me Zanzibar boy, master," exclaimed a soft, oily voice.

"Then clear out."

"Me put here watch my master--see black fellows no steal."

"Oh, I see.  Chuck a cake of tobacco, Venning. Here! You like that?"

"Ver good," said the boy, reaching out a yellow hand for the

Venning crossed over and peered into the other room. "You boy," he
said, "tell me, what will they do to Muata?"

The Zanzibari chuckled. "You want know, eh?"

"We don't care. One black fellow does not matter," said Compton,

"You brute!" muttered Venning, but stopped as Compton's hand gripped

The Zanzibari chuckled again. "What you give, eh, if cut loose that

"What do you say?"

"You pay me? Good. In night Muata is loose. He run up river. Bymby
master go along in little boat, pick Muata up, eh? What you pay?"
and the boy chuckled softly.

"Suppose I tell your white master, you rascal?"

"Wow! You tell, they kill poor Zanzibar boy."

"Then clear out," said Compton, launching a kick; "and if I see any
more of you I will tell."

The boy turned sulky. "Me guard--me stay."

"You go," said Compton, "or I will call your masters, and let them
deal with you."

Growling under his breath, the self-styled "guard" slunk soft-footed
out of the room.  Compton struck a match and looked around the
apartment, then turned to Venning with a grin.

"That is the game," he whispered.

"I think I understand," Venning replied softly. "That fellow was
testing you?"

Compton nodded.

"And you think Mr. Hume has not forgotten Muata?"

"I am sure he has not."

They crept into their hammocks, but not to sleep, and they were wide
awake when Mr. Hume entered noisily some two hours later.

"To-morrow night," he shouted boisterously.

"With pleasure, and the night after, for good visitors are rare,"
called the Belgian.

"And good hosts also. Touching those two men you promised as the
crew for my boat?"

"They will be here to-morrow evening," said the senior officer,
thrusting a head round the mat. "Ah, you are comfortable, eh? Yes, I
sent a messenger to Hassan's camp by the vessel which brought you.
Rest well."

"They are good fellows, these Arabs," said Mr. Hume, with
enthusiasm--"good fellows. I remember once----"

"To-morrow night," said the officer, as he withdrew, laughing.

Mr. Hume hummed cheerfully as he prepared for bed, taking no notice
of his young comrades, who were regarding  him with silent
disfavour.  With one yawn after another he blew out the light, and
struggled into his hammock, to fall asleep almost at once.

Venning's uneasiness returned. He tossed restlessly, listening to
the unaccustomed noises from without, and as the hours went by, and
at last the sound of talking about the fires died off in a lazy
drone, the desire to see what had become of Muata was too strong to
resist. Softly he lowered himself to the earth-floor, but, soft as
he moved, others had heard.

"Are the mosquitoes troublesome?"

Venning started at the deep voice so unexpected. "I did not know you
were awake, sir."

"I sleep very lightly my boy."

"As you are awake, sir, I would like to say----"

But he stopped as the mat rustled.

"Come in," said Mr. Hume.

"Me guard, great master"--in the same soft, oily tones Venning had
heard before. "Hear noise. Think may be thieves."

"Mosquitoes, not thieves," said Mr. Hume, quietly. "Bring a light."

The Zanzibar boy complied, and, holding a taper above his head,
looked not for mosquitoes, but at the rifles in the corner.

"The skeeters, master," he muttered, with an evil squint at Compton,
who was blinking at the light.

"Better get back into your hammock, Venning. You can go, boy; and
keep a good watch, for we are coming to the thieves' hour."

The man showed his white teeth in a grin as he withdrew.

"Don't stir from your hammocks until I do," said Mr. Hume, very
sternly, in a whisper; then louder, "Good night, Venning."

"Good night, sir," said Venning, convinced that the master was alive
to the game, and more easy in his mind.

As he dropped off to sleep he heard the wail of a jackal, and next
he was awakened by the sound of a native chanting. It was already
daybreak, and Mr. Hume stood on the verandah, having drawn the mats

The sun, striking under the thatch, shone on the hunter's tawny hair
and beard, and Venning wondered how for a moment he could have
doubted the courage of a man with such a lion-like head. But he was
to receive another shock.

"Silence, dog!" roared the hunter, addressing the singer, evidently.

Compton, who was sitting on his hammock dressing, looked out.

"By Jove," he muttered, "he's shouting at Muata!"

Venning jumped down to the floor and looked out. Muata was still
bound to the post, and, with his face to the sun, was chanting his
words of greeting or of farewell in tones that lacked the deep
chest-notes of his war-cry.

One of the natives, hearing the order of the white man, flung a
stick at the chief with an insult; but Muata, nothing heeding, sang
on his slow song in a voice that was almost like a woman's.

"Must white men lose their sleep because a robber is to die?" roared
the hunter again.

Venning snatched up a beaker of water and ran out barefooted. He
held the water to the chiefs mouth. Muata turned his smouldering
eyes on the boy, sucked in a mouthful of the water, and then shot it
out over Venning's outstretched arm.

Venning dropped the mug, and went back with a red face to see the
two officers regarding him with sour faces.

"Serve you right," shouted Mr. Hume, in apparent fury. "When will
you learn to treat a black like the brute he is?"

"Quite so," said the senior officer, showing himself. "I am glad to
find you have no ridiculous sentiment."

"Ah! good morning, my friend," said Mr. Hume, heartily. "As for my
young comrade, you must pardon him."

"He has his lesson," said the officer, dryly, as he pointed to the
soaked pyjama.

"The man woke me with his singing. I have seen men shot for less
than that."

"In good time," said the officer, with a sinister look, "the
accusers will be here to-night, and to-morrow"--he made a gesture--
"to-morrow you can also choose the two men you need for your boat's

After breakfast, Mr. Hume had an opportunity of speaking without the
fear of being overheard, for they finished putting the Okapi
together, and worked her out by the levers into the river, where she
gleamed in the sun.

"I dare say you think I am a brute," he said, "and I don't blame
you; but if we mean to save Muata's life, we must appear to be
altogether indifferent to his fate. Those men are keeping a close
watch on us."

"I know it," said Compton.

"You do, eh?"

"That Zanzibar boy was spying on us last night before you came, and
he tried to get us to bribe him to free Muata."

"I hope you were not so foolish as to fall into the trap?" said the
hunter, sharply.

"I kicked him out of the place," said Compton. "I told Venning you
were playing a game for Muata's life."

"You did me justice?" said Mr. Hume, with his gaze on Venning.

"It seemed to me terrible to leave him without a word of
encouragement," said the boy; "but I am awfully sorry I doubted you,

"You don't now, eh? Well, that's all right, and I think the chief
knows too. That is why he spouted the water over you."

"A strange way of showing his gratitude," laughed the boy, with a
reddening face at the thought of the outrage.

"Not so strange. He saw the Belgians, and did it to put them off
their guard."

"That ought to help us in our plans for his escape."

"We have plans, have we?"

"You have," said Compton, confidently; "and your plan is our plan."

"Thank you," said the hunter, quietly. "If the plan is to succeed,
it must work to-night. I do not fear these people here, but I must
say I fear the Arabs who are expected this evening."

"I understand that you will choose two of those Arabs as boatmen?"

"The Belgians have arranged that, Compton, not I. Have you any
suggestions to offer?"

"I think, sir, that we should get all our things stored in the boat
to-day," said Venning.

"Eight; and then?"

"And then," said Venning, his face all alight with ardour--"and
then--why, sir, then you shoot one of the hippos over there on that
little island. Shoot two; and while all the people in the village
are cutting them up for a great feed, we could free Muata

"That is not so bad," said Compton, judiciously.

"Not at all," said Mr. Hume. "But when Muata is free, what is to
become of him--suppose, that is, he can get away unobserved?"

"I have it," said Compton. "The Zanzibar spy suggested it. Let Muata
wait for us up the river, and we will pick him up."

Mr. Hume stroked his beard for some moments in silence.

"We'll, try that plan," he said finally; "but don't show any
excitement. The native, remember, is a very keen observer. Now pull
the boat in."



In the afternoon the village hummed with excitement. The word had
gone round that the new white man who had shot the crocodile would
give a feast, and the people squatted in rows on the bank watching a
couple of their stalwart fellows preparing a canoe for an expedition
after the river-horse.  When Mr. Hume appeared with his Express in
company with the Belgian officers, who were indifferent sportsmen,
the people saluted him with a feeling of gratitude for favours to
come in the shape of fat meat.

"Good luck," said the junior officer, "but I back the animals; they
are very wary and very fierce."

"What is the betting?" cried the hunter.

"Oh no, my friend!" exclaimed the senior. "Keep your money for to-
night; and don't drown yourself. We must have one game, you know."

"Very well. By the way, Compton?"

"Yes, sir."

"You and Venning may as well amuse yourselves by getting the stores
on board in case we leave to-morrow."

"That depends on how the game goes," replied the officer. "If you
win, we must keep you for a return match."

"That is only fair. But I may lose; so, my lads, go on with the

The boat went off up the river hugging the banks, and the whole
village sat down to watch the stalk, all but a few who went to and
fro between Venning at the house and Compton in the boat, carrying
the stores. The two officers turned in, with mats drawn, to enjoy
their siesta, and the guards on duty sought the shade of the trees
by the bank to watch the hunt.

The hunt was not a matter to be decided out of hand, by a swift
paddle straight up to the sand-bank in the river, and a chance shot.

The canoe crept up slowly and passed out of sight. The old hunters
in the watching crowd took counsel together, and then the chief of
them announced what would happen. The "slayer of crocodiles" would,
he declared, get above the island and then slowly descend with the
current upon the river-horse.

"May he shoot straight and his powder be strong," shouted a river-
man; "for it is the father of bulls who sleeps there--he who has
eaten many canoes."

"It is the same," said the old hunter; and, taking a pinch of snuff,
he began to tell the deeds of the old bull hippo.

So the drowsy afternoon passed lazily away to the watchers, and
wearily to the white boys. Their thoughts were in the canoe, and,
moreover, they were irritated by the slowness of the men who carried
the parcels. No man would carry more than one package at a time, and
after each journey he sat down to rest and discuss the chances for
and against the feast.

When the shadows were creeping across the deserted square--deserted
save for the man bound to the post, Venning for the hundredth time
looked across with an aching desire to rush over and cut the bonds.
As his eyes ranged sadly over the bronzed figure, he detected a
movement in the shadow of a hut opposite. Looking more attentively,
he saw the round ears of a jackal, and then made out the sharp face
resting between the outstretched paws, and the yellow eyes fixed
intently on the chief.

Muata lifted his head slowly, as if it were top heavy for the
muscles of his neck, and his gaze went sideways to see if any

Venning nodded eagerly from the shelter of the room; made a movement
with his hands as if he were cutting; pointed up the river and
spread his arms like a swimmer.

Muata let fall his head again, with his chin on his naked breast;
and the carriers ranged up for the last load. A shout from the bank
made them hurry. Several people who had gone to see about their
fires rushed, yelling, across the square to the bank.

"It was as I said," shouted the old black hunter. "See where he
creeps down-stream on the bull." "Wow! he has hidden the canoe in
leaves. It is as a tree floating."

"Ow ay, we smell meat!" sang a big man, stamping his feet.

"We smell meat--red meat, fat meat; the red meat of the fat cow for
the women; the tough meat of the old bull for the men;" and the
women clapped their hands.

The Belgian officers were awakened, and stepped out of their
darkened rooms. They found the village empty, save for Venning
stooping over his last parcel, and Muata at his post with what
looked like a yellow native our lying at his feet.

"The bull opens his mouth!" chanted the old hunter. "He wakes from
his sleep! There is the smell of man on the wind! He looks around!
He sees a tree borne on the current! He will surely eat lead!"

Venning picked up his parcel and followed the officers. Out of the
comer of his eye he saw the seeming yellow cur lift its head and
smell at the thongs which were bound about the prisoner's legs. Then
he hurried on.

"Wow! the bull drives, the cow into the water. He is cunning. Ow ay,
he knows."

"What does he know, old talker?" asked one of the officers.

"The cow is fat," laughed the old man.  "The hunter would shoot the
fat cow first, and so the bull makes her take the risk. He is wise."

"He is shameless!" screamed the women.

"See them?" said Compton, offering his glasses to Venning and
pointing up-stream.

Far up Venning saw three dark objects on the shining glance of the
vast river. One, the canoe fringed with branches, slowly drifting
upon the other two, raised but a few feet above the water on a
gleaming yellow sand island. One hippo, with its huge head swinging,
was standing up, looking not unlike an overfed prize pig. Then the
other rose, and the two walked towards the water.

"Wow! the old bull keeps on the safe side. I said it; he is wise."

"Shameless!" cried the women.

"Wherefore does the crocodile-slayer delay? Surely he knows the body
will sink in the river if it reach the water."

"The smoke! He fires!"

"The cow is down! To the boats children--to the boats!"

Men and boys made a rush, and, out of a tremendous uproar of
splashing and shouting, half a dozen canoes were flying at full
speed for the cow's meat, altogether indifferent to the future

"The smoke again! The bull has it! He is down; he is up; he is in
the water! Wow! Look out, O 'slayer of crocodiles!'"

"But the cow lies still!" cried a woman, anxiously.

"Oh ay, there will be meat for the feast. But what of your man in
the canoe if the bull seize him?"

"It is his risk," said the woman, calmly.

Venning dropped the glass, and he and Compton stood looking from the
island to the old hunter, who seemed to know every point in the game
better than they could follow through the glasses.

"Ah, it is well. They tear the branches from the canoe. They row
straight for the island. The white man jumps--the men tumble out--
wow-wow!--the bull takes the canoe in his jaws. It will go hard with
those who go for the meat if he get among them."

"The white man leaps in the water!" shouted another. "But he holds
his gun above him. He reaches the sand; the others crawl up also.
They run! I do not see the bull!"

"There are crocodiles!" shrilled a woman, pointing with an arm
heavily ringed with brass bangles.

"This is not their fight, mother."

"But they will take our meat."

"It is the bull I think of."  "Will he meet the canoes, or will he
face the three on the island? The white man sees the canoes; he
waves them to go back, but they smell meat; they keep on."  "What is
this? He points his gun at them. They stop; they turn back."

"A pity," said one of the officers, with a grin.  "We should have
seen sport."

"But the sport is not over," said the other. "I back the bull.
Remember how he put you to flight, my friend. What is the meaning of
this, old man?"--this to a hunter.

"Surely, O great one, it means one thing. The white man is afraid
the canoes would draw the bull away. He wishes the bull to land--to
attack him."

"More fool he, ay, my friend," said the officer, with a sneer.

"One of the men on the island is pointing," said Compton, who had
taken up the glasses again. "I see something in the water where the
canoe went down."

"I said it," shouted the old black; "the bull will fight. Stand,
fast, O white man, for it is either you or he."

Those watching saw the bull land and hurl himself with amazing
swiftness at Mr. Hume.

"Why doesn't he shoot?" yelled Compton.

"Wow! the white man springs aside. The bull squeals; he staggers; he
is down. Behind the ear. I say it. There the bullet went in. There
will be much meat." The old man took snuff, and cast a proud look
around as if he alone had done the deed.

"By Jove!" muttered Venning, wiping his forehead. "It seemed a near

The two officers went back to their cool rooms, and the crowd broke
up, the women and children going off dancing to collect firewood.
The little fleet of canoes descended on the island, and in a few
minutes the carcasses were hidden by bands of naked men, who slashed
and cut, while crocodiles, attracted by the blood, appeared from all
directions. In a very short time the fleet returned, and Mr. Hume,
standing in a heavily laden craft, ran a greater risk than when he
faced the savage old bull, for the gunwales were flush with the
water, and the men were utterly reckless as they dashed along at the
head of the flotilla.

As the men leapt ashore, women seized the meat, and the village at
once entered upon the wild orgy of the feast, forgetting Mr. Hume
and all else in the one desire to start their jaws on the half-
cooked flesh.

"Is all aboard?" asked Mr. Hume, as he jumped ashore.

"Everything," said Compton.  "We watched your shot, sir; it was

"Well, that part of the plan has gone off all right. It will be a
more difficult job to free Muata and get away ourselves."

Venning described how he had seen the jackal approach the chief, and
as he and Mr. Hume went into the village, leaving Compton in the
boat, they cast an anxious glance at the square already agleam with
fires in the growing dusk. Muata was still at the post, his head
drooping and his body relaxed.

"That's bad," muttered the hunter; "he looks quite exhausted."

"Perhaps he's shamming."

"Let us hope so. In any case we may have to wait until past
midnight, as I am afraid our hosts will not let me off. It would be
better if we could get away early."

Fortune favoured them, for as the Zanzibar boy approached  with a
message from the officers, there arose the sound of rifle-shots from
the forest beyond. The people in the square shouted a reply, and
presently a party of men, dressed in long white robes, appeared.
They halted in the square, and the leader came on alone. He stooped
to stare into the face of Muata as he passed,  then approached.

"Welcome, Hassan! My people are feasting; thanks to the skill of my
friend here;" and the Belgian who had come forward indicated Mr.

The Arab peered into Mr. Hume's face and salaamed, with an evil
smile on his wide, thin-lipped mouth.

"I am thankful," he said in the native dialect, "for your kindness
in bringing back my slave"--pointing towards Muata.

"It was a small thing," said Mr. Hume.

"But it pleases me; and when you reach my zareba, all that is mine
to command is yours."

He looked at Venning, and the boy noticed that the pupils of the
eyes had a white speck, which gave to them a sinister appearance.

"Good," said the Belgian. "We will have a night. Pardon me for a
short time while I discuss a little matter touching the reward for
Muata with my friend Hassan."

The two went off, the Arab casting a ferocious look back at the

Venning tugged at the hunter's arm.  "Look," he whispered.

Muata was slipping down the post, as if his legs had utterly given
way. The party of new-comers were stacking  their arms at the
"indaba" house at the end of the square, and the village people were
talking, laughing, and eating. Muata reached the ground, but not in
a state of collapse, for the next instant the two watchers saw him
crawl to the shadow of a hut, where he remained as if stretching his

"Come," said Mr. Hume, in a fierce whisper, recovering from  his
surprise; and the two went swiftly to the river.

Compton had already cast off and was holding by the boat-hook.

"Bring her in."

The Okapi ran her stern into the bank, and the two stepped aboard,
Mr. Hume going forward to the wheel, with his rifle in his hand.

"Shove her off; run as silently as you can out of hearing, and then
work the levers."

Compton looked inquiringly at Venning as he picked up the oars, and
then at the village, from which came a loud babble.

"Is he free already?"

Venning nodded.

"Good;" and then they bent themselves to the oars with every nerve
on the quiver, and their eyes on the shore.

"Stop! Back-water!"

Obediently they stopped the way of the boat and backed her,
wondering what had gone wrong. A turn of the wheel sent them in
among the canoes. There was a flash of steel, a plunge of the strong
arm down into the boats, accompanied by a ripping noise. Then the
hunter waded ashore, and with his great hunting-knife ripped up the
boats lying on the bank. Quickly he was back at his place.

"Now, off!"

Again they pushed off, the boys with their excitement increasing
after this interlude, which showed them the imminence of danger. A
few long strokes took the Okapi well out; then she was put about
with her nose up-stream.

"The levers now, my lads!"

They perched themselves on the saddle-seats, and at the clanking of
the levers the beautiful craft slipped swiftly up-stream.

Then out of the dark there rose the mournful howl of a jackal,
almost instantly replied to by a similar call at a distance.

"The chief calling to his jackal," said Mr. Hume. "Thank Heaven, he
has got away. Now I will let him know we are also off;" and he, too,
gave the jackal  hunting-cry.

Back out of the darkness came the chief's exultant war-cry, and on
it a furious shout from the village, followed by the discharge of a
rifle, and the rolling alarm of a war-drum. Then shone out the glare
of torches at the river bank, and a savage yell announced that the
men had discovered the injury done to the canoes.

One of the purchases made in London had been a lamp with very fine
reflectors. This Mr. Hume fixed on a movable bracket within reach of
his arm as he sat at the wheel, and when the lights at the village
faded astern, he lit the lamp, in order to thread a passage by its
light through the dark waters. As the noise of shouting, the
drumming, and the report of fire-arms died down, other sounds
reached their strained hearing--the booming of the Congo bittern,
the harsh roar of a bull crocodile, and the cries of water-birds.

Then Venning laughed--a little short nervous laugh. "We have done
it," he said.

"We have, indeed," said Compton.

"But if we can only pick up Muata and his jackal, we should be all
right. Just a nice party."

The rudder-chains clanked; the boat set up a heavy wash as she
turned from her course.  There was a splashing, and something
snorted almost in Venning's face.

"Nearly ran into a hippo!" sang out Mr. Hume. "We must keep out into
mid-river; it's too risky inshore. Tell me when you are tired."

"We're quite fresh yet," replied Compton. "It is easier than

"Moves like clockwork," said Venning, gaily. "I could keep on all

"We'll have to keep on all night and all to-morrow," muttered Mr.
Hume; and in a few minutes he relieved Compton, making him put on a
heavy coat before taking the wheel. "It's the chill that is
dangerous. In an hour you will relieve Venning."

Turn and turn the boys relieved each other at intervals, but Mr.
Hume swang to his lever till the dawn, when the mast was stepped,
the sail spread, and the spirit-lamp got out for the making of
coffee. After breakfast the awning was spread, the mosquito curtains
stretched round, and the boys were ordered to sleep. They demurred
at first, but the hunter rather sharply insisted, and no sooner were
they stretched on the rugs than they were asleep. The yoke had been
slipped over the rudder, and, using the lines, Mr. Hume sailed the
Okapi single-handed, taking her across the lake-like width till he
was under the wooded hills of the south bank, where he beat about
for an hour or so in the hope that Muata might have covered the
distance at the native's trotting-pace. It was, he told himself, not
likely, however, that the chief could have done so, after being for
hours bound to a post; and after a time he beat out again into mid-
stream afar off, so that no village natives should spy upon the
craft. He did not share in the triumph of his young companions.  Too
well he knew that they had risked everything by their secret
departure; but he could not see that any other course was open to
them, as if they had remained it would have been difficult for them
to prove that they were not concerned in Muata's escape.  He knew,
too, that if he had abandoned the chief, as the price of security,
the boys would have lost all faith in him.

What, however, he did feel was, that the responsibility rested on
him. If a mistake had been made it was his mistake, and if the boys
suffered from it the blame would be his.

So he beat out into mid-stream, where the sail of the low-lying
craft would be but a speck when viewed from the shore, and with a
beam wind laid her on a course which she kept almost dead straight,
with a tack at long intervals only.  In the shade of the awning the
boys slept the dreamless sleep of the healthy, and he let them sleep
on till the sun stood almost above the mast, sending down a blaze
that scorched. Then he beached the Okapi on the shelving shore of a
sand-spit, without vegetation of any kind to give shelter to
mosquitoes, and awoke them.

"All hands to bathe!" he shouted; and the three of them were soon
in, and no sooner in than out; for, according to the hunter, the
virtue of a bathe was not in long immersion, but in friction. "With
their heads well protected, but their bodies bare to the sun, the
friction was obtained by rubbing handfuls of the dry, clean sand
over limbs and body till the skin glowed.

"Now I will snatch a few winks while you work the levers, until the
wind springs up again."

Mr. Hume stretched himself forward under the awning after unstopping
the mast; and the two friends, after tossing a bucket of water over
the canvas awning, took their seats, clad in pyjamas and body-belts
only, and bent gaily to the levers which "click-clanked" merrily.
Their feet were naked, for Mr. Hume had taught the lesson that the
feet should be cool and the head protected; their arms were bare to
the elbow, of a fine mahogany hue; their movements were brisk; but
the best evidence of health was in the clearness of their eyes.
Fever shows its touch in the "gooseberry" eye, dull and clouded; in
the moist pallor of the skin, and in a general listlessness. Even if
they are free from fever, white men in Central Africa often grow
listless because of insufficient nutriment. Their flesh-diet is
chiefly the white meat of birds, and their blood-cells are really
starved by the small amount of nitrogenous matter. A deficient diet
in its turn is a frequent cause of diarrhoea and constipation, two
of the most common complaints among new chums. In his hunting
expeditions Mr. Hume had learnt his lesson from experience, and he
accordingly was a martinet on the rules of health. All the drinking-
water was first boiled. The boys could wear as little as they liked
during the heat of the day, so long as they protected their heads
and necks, but on the approach of evening they had to get into warm
and dry under-garments; they had to keep a sharp watch for the
striped "anophele" mosquito, were taught to spray the puncture, if
they were tapped by the mosquito lancet, with chloride of ethyl, and
had to submit occasionally to a hypodermic injection of quinine. The
nitrogen they got from condensed meat juices.

"This is very much more like what I expected," said Venning, looking
from the broad river to the distant wooded banks, and from the dark
forest to the blue sky.

"I can see two string of duck, a whole crowd of ibis on a little
island, a crocodile and a hippo."

Compton, who was facing the stern, glanced over his shoulder, then
directed his gaze aft again.

"We seem to be traveling slowly," he growled.

"There's no hurry, is there?"

Compton raised his head a little, and looked under the shelter of a

"They're coming," he said briefly.

"Eh?"  Venning stopped, and looked back.  The water glimmered under
the sun like a vast silver sheet. "I can see nothing."

"Don't you see a dark smudge. Well, that is the smoke from a
steamer. I thought at first it came from a land-fire. But it does
not. Send her along."

Venning quickened up, and for some minutes pedals and levers worked
at almost racing speed.

"We cannot keep this up. Give him a call!" Venning shouted, and Mr.
Hume looked round.

"Bid you call?"

"They are after us," and Venning jerked his head back, while still
bending to his work.

The hunter loosened the canvas awning, and stood up for a long look
aft. Then he faced about, and threw a quick glance up-river.

"Keep her straight for that wooded island," he said, pointing ahead
towards the south bank; and Venning pulled the steering-line to
place the Okapi on a new course.

Mr. Hume took in the awning and packed it away. "Now, my lads," he
said, "we'll just face the position. That's the fort launch racing
up, and she could overhaul us in two hours. If we surrender we
should be safe from violence, but they would probably confiscate our
boat or detain us for weeks. If we resist they would be justified in
running us down. What shall we do?"

"Escape," said Compton.

"Of course," Venning chimed in.

"By attempting to escape," continued Mr. Hume, "we as good as admit
that we aided and abetted Muata, and, if captured, they would make
it harder for us."

"At any rate, we meant to free Muata."

"Besides, we must escape," said Compton, with  determination.

The perspiration was rolling off their faces, for, as soon as they
worked at high pressure, they felt the pull of the screw.

"Come forward, both of you," said Mr. Hume, rolling up his sleeves.
"Compton, you take the wheel, and Venning, you get out the guns."

They obeyed him, and he, kneeling on the aft-deck between the two
levers, grasped one in either hand, and got more speed out of the
Okapi than they had by their united efforts. The muscles stood out
like ropes on his brawny arms, and the levers smoked in the slots.

"Keep her to the north of the island."

The boat hummed along, drew up to the nose of the island, skirted
its reedy side, where stood a hippo eating at the rank grass, and
then dropped it astern.

"Good," said Mr. Hume, with a great grunt of satisfaction,  as he
swept his eyes over the river.

"See those dark spots ahead? They must be the first of the thousand
islands that stretch away right up to the Loanda river. If we can
get into them we are safe."

"Can I help?" asked Venning, having set out the rifles in the well,
with the ammunition handy.

"Whistle for a wind.  That's all. Fix your eyes on the islands,
Compton, and slip in where they are thickest."

"Ay, ay," muttered Compton, frowning under the stress of his

Venning searched for the field-glasses, and as the island they had
passed sank low astern, he swept the river for sign of the pursuing

"By Jove!" he muttered, with a start.


"She has shifted her course. I can see the white of her hull right
under the trees on the south bank."

"She must have gained a lot, then," grunted Mr. Hume, "if you can
see her hull."

"She's making out again. Perhaps she put in to speak a native
village, and maybe they have not seen us; we are low in the water."

"They'll see us soon enough. Tell me when she passes the island we
just left."

"She's making across. No, she's turning. Ah, now she's pointing
straight for us. I can see several people in her bows."

"Now turn your glasses on the islands ahead."

Venning turned round, and looked up-stream.

"Is the launch nearer than the islands?"

"I can see a stork standing on the edge of the water. The first of
the islands is nearest." He turned again to watch the launch.
"There is more smoke--they are stoking up."

The launch was unquestionably coming up hand over hand, and it was
not long before Venning could see the foam at her bows, and the flag
of the Congo Free State flying at her stern. Then he saw a ball of

"She is firing!" he yelled.

Compton never took his eyes off the little cluster of reeds ahead
that marked the first of the thousand islands.

"Keep her going!" he shouted.

Mr. Hume smiled grimly, for he was doing the work of two men.

"They are loading the gun!" cried Venning. "Oh, if I only could
help!" He buttoned and unbuttoned his coat, then picked up the
sculls, and fell to rowing with fierce energy. "The smoke!" he
cried. Then, a moment later, "What's that noise?" as a menacing
sound with a shrieking whistle to it smote on his ears.

There was no need for an answer. The shot struck the water about a
hundred yards short, and skipped by, wide of the Okapi, but still
too near to be pleasant.

"Keep on!" shouted Compton, fiercely.

The levers clanked furiously, and Venning, who had suspended his
sculling under the menace of the shot, tugged again at his work.

The steam-whistle of the launch sounded a series of sharp, jerky
calls, followed by the firing of a Mauser bullet. Venning's heart
was pumping blood at express speed under the violence of his
efforts, and his eyes in a wild stare were fixed on the approaching
craft, which had now brought its living freight within recognizable
distance. He could distinguish the two Belgian officers and the
swart face of the Arab chief, Hassan. He could see the men with
rifles, aiming, as it seemed, straight at him, and then he ducked
his head as he saw the smoke once more belch from the seven-pounder.
At the same moment he was nearly capsized by the sudden swerve of
the Okapi, as she almost turned on her keel. The shot struck the
water so close that the spray drenched them. Compton looked round
and shouted aloud--

"They're aground! Hurrah!"

Venning, recovering himself, saw the men on the launch hurled to the

"Hurray!" he shouted.

"Keep on!" shouted Compton; and, after another five minutes' burst,
the Okapi swept behind one island and passed in between two others.
"Now," he said, "give me the levers."

"You're welcome," said Mr. Hume, wiping the moisture from his brow
and taking a huge breath.

He went forward to the wheel, and threaded the Okapi through narrow
passages between islands of all shapes and sizes, until after having
got into such a fastness as would be impracticable for the launch to
reach, he ran the boat on a shelving sandbank. Then, before anything
else was attempted, the awning was fixed, and they settled down for
a needed rest. Next the boys smacked each other on the back.

"Was it by accident or design, Compton, that you led them into the

"I saw we could not reach the shelter of the island, and was feeling
bad, when I caught a ripple on the water to the right. I edged the
Okapi on after the first ball shot was fired, and as we drew nearer
I was sure there was a long sandbank. When I made that sharp turn as
the second shot was fired, I could see the outline of the bank just
under water, and turned to avoid it."

"It was a mercy you altered our course just at that moment,

"Wasn't it? It was touch and go. We stood to be run down or knocked
into smithereens in another minute;" and Venning shook Compton's

"Did you see them go over like ninepins," laughed Compton, "when
they struck? But I'm not claiming any credit, you know. If it had
not been for Mr. Hume----"

"We all did our share," said the hunter, "and we have every cause to
be thankful; but we must not imagine that the chase is over."



They shoved off again, and Compton, being the least tired, took the
sculls and pushed on slowly in search of an anchorage for the night.
They passed many likely places, but Mr. Hume had one objection or
another to them, and the spot that finally satisfied him was a small
wooded island flanked by others of larger size, and so placed that
if they were menaced from any side there would be an opening for
escape in the opposite direction. The channel into which they
steered was so narrow that the branches of the trees joined
overhead, and when they tied up, the Okapi was completely hidden.
Before forcing their way into the leafy tunnel, they had taken down
the awning, but now, after having broken away many branches, they
refixed the canvas roof and drew the mosquito-curtains round, after
which they sought out and killed all the insect pests that remained
within the nets. There was no danger in showing a light, and
accordingly the lantern was hung amidships, the spirit-lamp lit, to
prepare a nourishing and at the same time "filling" soup. They made
a hearty meal, got into warmer clothing, oiled the rifle-barrels,
arranged their rugs, and prepared for the night, which came on them
with a rush, heralded by the noise of birds seeking their accustomed
roosting-places. Such an uproar the boys had not before heard. It
seemed as if the Zoological Gardens had emptied its noisiest
inhabitants.  Parrots flew across the river, every one talking at
the top of its voice, while colonies of ibis croaked out the news of
the day in gruff, discordant notes; cranes flying laboriously, with
long legs trailing, emitted their deep "honks;" frogs lifted up
their voices from out the reeds, and at intervals came the booming
cry of the shovel-beaked bittern, and the harsh, baboon-like bark of
the green-crested toucan. The noise of the home-going of the winged
multitudes ceased as the night drew its black mantle over the river.

Out of the spell of silence there grew presently other voices, soft
whisperings, deep sighings; mysterious sounds telling of things
stealthy and oppressed by the stillness; abrupt splashings that
startled by their suddenness: grunts, rumblings, and the roar of
bull crocodiles. It must not, however, be supposed that there was a
continuous succession  of sounds. Each noise had its own place, and
there would be often long intervals between one sound and another.

Venning, who had the first watch, found this out. He would hear a
startling splash, followed by a snort and the snap of jaws; then all
would be quiet for several minutes, when, from another direction,
would come perhaps a heavy sigh; then another interval of silence,
again a splash, and so on until the impression grew on him that the
beasts and reptiles who made the noises were working slowly towards
him in a circle.

It was his first night on guard in the wilderness, and he felt the
uneasiness of the hunter who discovers how limited are his senses
compared with those of the wild creatures about him. Man, himself
the most secret, the most cunning, the most deadly, and, if truth
must be told, the most bloodthirsty, for he kills too often for the
love of killing, is the most helpless in the dark. His sense of
hearing, of sight, and of smell, fail him--thanks to a wise
provision of Nature in the interests of her other children--for if
man had the eyes of a cat, the nose of a wolf, and the hearing of a
deer, he would have cleared the earth of its creatures, who would
have had no rest night or day.

All the time, too, the river talked, as it rolled its great flood
along, sending up a soft volume of song from the innumerable sounds
produced as it washed along the islands and foamed against the rocks
of the shores. Presently, down the narrow channel, there came a rush
of water which rocked the boat, and next Venning heard close at hand
a strange noise, which he took to be made by a large animal cropping
at the river-grass. He looked about for a weapon, and, picking up
the long boat-hook, lashed his hunting-knife to the iron hook at the
top, converting it into a lance. He had read of hippos swamping
boats by seizing the narrow bows or keel in their vast jaws, and he
wished to be prepared for a possible attack. Presently the boat
again rocked as another animal took to the water, then the new-comer
dislodged the other with a snap of the jaws, and the first, with a
complaining grunt, surged down the channel. Venning could see
nothing in the inky blackness, but he knew the beast had seen the
Okapi from the short note of alarm it sounded. Immediately the alarm
was repeated. Snorts and splashes arose from all sides. Some great
beast who had been standing unnoticed within a few yards of the
boat, crashed through the bushes into the water with an uproar that
woke the sleepers.

"What is it?" cried Compton.

Mr. Hume made a dart for his rifle.

The Okapi rocked and heaved, was lifted at the bows to fall back
with a splash.

"Hippo," gasped Venning, making a drive with his weapon through the
mosquito curtains. "Got him!--no!--missed!"

"What's that you've got there, Venning?"

"Sort of harpoon."

"By gum!" said Mr. Hume, taking the weapon, "I'm glad you missed the
beggar. I would not give much for our chances if he turned crusty in
this place."

The hippo reappeared aft with a snort, and, much to their relief,
continued down the channel into the wider waters.

"Find the watch pleasant?" asked Compton, sleepily, as Mr. Hume
turned in.

"Awfully cheerful," said Venning, earnestly; "but I'm not selfish,
and you can take your turn at it on the tick of the hour."

Compton dived for his rugs, and Venning once more returned to his
duties with his harpoon over his knees, and a string of winged
visitors entering joyously by the hole he had made in the curtain.
He pinned his handkerchief  over the rent to stop further free
entrance, then made war on those which had entered--an amusement
which carried him well into the fourth and last hour of the first
watch.  Then he sat up to listen for the old sounds--the groans and
the snorts--but they had ceased. A mist, like a wet blanket, had
settled down over the Okapi, over the islands and the river; and,
though any sounds made on the water were startlingly distinct,
confined as the sound-waves were by the mist, the creatures had
evidently gone to sleep. There was, however, one visitor faithful to
him. The light of the lantern, which showed the rolling wreaths of
the mist, just reached the water, and in the reflection he saw two
greenish points. After long looking, he made out that these were the
eyes of a crocodile, whose body was half in and half out of the
water, the tail end of him being anchored on the little island. At
eleven o'clock he roused Compton by dragging at his ankle.

Compton sat up, rubbed his eyes, and drew his rug over his

"What's the countersign, comrade?" he asked, with a yawn.


"Yes; when the watch is relieved he has to say something or other,
as a guide to the new man."

"Oh, I see. Well, let me introduce you to the companion of  your
watch. See those green points out there?"

"Yes--like dull glass."

"That's your new chum. He's been there an hour without moving, and
it's no good trying to stare him down."

"What is it?"

"Crocodile. Good night. Wish you joy;" and Venning crept  under his
waterproof sheet with a sigh of relief.

Neither of the two boys smoked, taking the advice of Mr. Hume, who
persuaded them that tobacco acted as a poison when used too early,
and spoiled good hunting. It lowered the action of the heart,
affected the hearing and the sense of smell. In place of a pipe,
therefore, Compton found comfort in chewing, not tobacco, but a meat
lozenge. As he chewed he watched the two little dull green spots,
and the crocodile watched him with the deadly patience that so often
brings grist to the mill, or, rather, food to his jaws.

It was not a pleasant companionship, and Compton, after a long
attempt to stare the reptile down, turned his back to it and watched
the efforts of several large moths to get at the light through the
mosquito curtains. He could not so much see them as hear them, from
the way they bumped into the net, and the little soft splash they
made as they dropped into the water. By-and-by there came another
sound, made by some large fish, who had also been attracted by the
light, and then by the fat moths.

The news that these were good eating quickly spread under water, and
presently there was quite a gathering about the boat. Then Compton
turned to look at his unwelcome watcher. He was still at his post,
his eyes still fixed in an unwinking stare, but seemingly brighter
than before. Yes, he was evidently nearer. He was moving! Compton
picked up the boat-hook with its dagger-ended spear, and prepared
for the attack. Slowly, almost without a ripple, the reptile
slithered into the water; then came a rush, a snap of jaws, a swirl
of waters, and something heavy and wet came right through the
mosquito nets, landing in the well of the boat with a tremendous

"Look out," yelled Compton; "keep out of his reach."

"What the dickens is it now?" roared Mr. Hume, as a series of
resounding thwacks arose out of the well.

Compton drove his harpoon into the well, and held on like grim
death, as the impaled thing lashed out to free itself.

"A crocodile!" he shouted. "I can't hold him down much longer."

"Crocodile be blowed!" shouted Mr. Hume, unhooking the  lantern and
directing its light into the well. "It's a fish."

"But," said Compton, "I saw the crocodile. It came straight for the
boat. Venning saw it too."

"It was over there," said Venning, peering into the dark.

"Then the fish must have jumped aboard to escape the crocodile.
Anyway, we can have fish-steak for  breakfast," and Mr. Hume quieted
the fish with a blow on the head.

"I made sure it was the crocodile," said Compton, in an aggrieved
tone. "Look at the hole in the curtains; there'll be tons of
skeeters aboard."

"You turn in and I'll smoke," said the hunter, who smoked enough for
three; and, with his pipe filled and lit, he took up the watch.

Once more the little party settled down to pass the night, and this
time there was no disturbance until, in the chill of the early
morning, the sleepers were awakened to get in the awning, to make
all shipshape aboard, and to prepare breakfast. The fish was not
handsome-looking, but he cut up into really good steaks, which were
grilled on a gridiron fitted over the stove, and, with hot coffee
and a biscuit apiece, they ate a meal which made them proof against
the depressing surroundings.

Both Compton and Venning, as soon as there was light enough, took a
careful look around for the crocodile; but though that wily brute
was probably near, he did not show himself. They could, however, see
the track made by the hippo when he had broken through into the
water, and Mr. Hume, stepping ashore, went up this track to spy
around. He returned with the report that the natives were signaling
from village to village by columns of smoke sent up from fires fed
with damp wood to make a heavy smoke.

"They will be keeping a sharp look-out, and we had better remain

"It seems to me," said Compton, "that we have been here already a

"Quite that," said Venning.

"The time has seemed long because you have been receiving new

"I thought it was a fish I received," murmured Compton.

"Each impression," continued the hunter, "is a sort of milestone in
your memory, so that an hour crowded with several of these
milestones will appear to be longer than a whole blank day. You will
get used to such interrupted nights--that is, if our journey does
not end here."

"Oh, come, sir, we have dodged them beautifully."

"The feeling of security is the beginning of disaster," said Mr.
Hume, oracularly. "The rule of the bush is to keep your eyes

"What is the order of the day, then?"

"The order of the day is to watch and wait. Venning will crawl on to
the little island on our right and watch the south hank. You,
Compton, will take the head of the large island on our left, and I
will watch from the other end. If any of us see danger, we will give
the whistle of the sand-piper. Each will take water and food, and
each, of course, will keep himself hid."

"We take our guns, of course?"

"Best not. A gunshot would bring a host down upon us. Don't be
discouraged," continued the hunter, as he saw the boys' faces drop.
"We have got the advantage of position, and we've got grit--eh?"

He nodded cheerfully, and they smiled back, and then each crept out
to his allotted post. The first part of the watch was by no means
bad--so the boys decided when they had settled down, Venning under a
bush palm and Compton behind a log. There was a pleasant freshness
in the air; and as the broad river uncoiled under the mist, it
disclosed fresh beauties, till the lifting veil revealed the wooded
heights and the tall columns of smoke, grey against the dark of the
woods and black against the indigo blue of the sky. They marked
where the hippos stood with their bulky heads to the sun, and saw
the crocodiles on the sands of other islands lying motionless with
distended jaws. And then the birds came to the hunting. Strings of
dark ibis, of duck, and storks; small kingfishers all bejeweled, and
greater kingfishers in black and white. The air was full of bird-
calls, of the musical ripple of waters, of the hum of the forest
moved by the morning wind.

By-and-by, however, the sun got to work in earnest, and the pleasure
went out of the watching as the air grew hot and steamy. The sand-
flies and the mosquitoes found them out, and blessed the day that
brought two tender white boys into their very midst. They gathered
to the feast in clouds, but these boys were not there for the fun of
the thing. They drew gossamer veils over the brims of their felt
hats, and gathered them in about their necks. They pulled their soft
high boots up to their knees and secured them there; and, moreover,
they smeared an abomination of grease and eucalyptus oil over their
hands. The mosquitoes set up a shrill trumpeting that could be heard
ten paces away, and held a mass meeting to protest; whereupon the
father of all the dragon-flies, a magnificent warrior in a steel-
blue armour, saw that a conspiracy was afoot, and swept into the
midst with a whirr and a snap, a turn here and a flash there, that
scattered the host in a twinkling of a gnat's eye.

The islands shimmered in the glare as if they were afloat; the
hippos took to the water, and a deep and drowsy silence fell upon
the great river. But man, ever restless, was astir, and through the
stillness there was borne to the three a soft continuous humming,
that merged quietly into the short, clamorous throbs of an engine at
work under pressure.

The launch was afloat again! Mr. Hume caught the trail of the smoke
first, and Compton next. They marked the course under the north bank
right up to a bend about six miles off, and they judged that the
launch had stopped there, as the smoke went up in a straight thin
column. Then Venning saw a canoe dart out from the south bank,
followed by two others from different points. The sun struck like
fire on gun-barrel and spear-head, and gleamed on the wet paddles.
He moistened his parched lips with a taste of water from his filter-
bottle, and gave the call. The answer came, and he drew his friends
to him with a low whistling. As they came crouching, he pointed

"Three canoes put out. Two are hidden behind that outside island,
and there is the other creeping round the end."

"Oh ay," said Mr. Hume. "If they're after us, they will have placed
outlooks in the tallest trees;" and with his glass he swept the

"They could not see us at that distance."

"But they could see our boat as soon as we appeared in open water.
We'll stay where we are."

"Then we shall need our guns."

"It is not our guns that will save us, my lad, but strategy. Any one
could fire off a rifle, but it takes nerve to keep cool in readiness
to do the right thing at the right time."

"But," said Compton, obstinately, "we don't want to be caught

"Leave this matter with me," said the hunter, sternly. "See that
crocodile asleep on that stretch of sand? He's our best protector.
Why? Because he is asleep. The natives, seeing him, would think we
were not near. We will, however, keep watch together."

They returned to the boat, made all ready for an instant departure,
in case they were discovered, then settled down to wait and watch
once more. Gradually the strain wore off, the old silence fell upon
the scene, and their eyes grew heavy from sheer monotony. The night
had seemed long, bat the day was worse.

Then the boys rubbed their eyes and lifted their heads. Where there
had been a bare stretch of water white under the sun between two
islands a quarter of a mile off, there appeared a long canoe, with a
tall spearman standing in the bows, and a full crew behind.

The man in the bows looked straight down the channel to their lair,
where in the narrow cut the Okapi lay hidden behind a screen of
leaves. Then he moved his hand to the right, and the canoe,
silently, without a ripple almost, skirted the island on that side,
into whose reedy sides the men darted their glances. Again the hand
was moved, and the long boat crept across to the island on the left,
which was swept by the sharp suspicious eyes of the natives. Again
the bowman directed his gaze into the narrow opening, and this time
he looked long. There was one small island to pass, and if the canoe
kept on the north side, it would have to come right into the hiding-
place; if it kept to the south, it would reappear at the end of the
passage by which the Okapi had entered.

In either case, the danger of discovery seemed certain. The three
pairs of eyes from behind the tall grass were glued to the man's
face. They saw him start, then move his hand to the left, and as the
canoe went stealthily out of their view round the south side, they
heard the sullen plunge made by a crocodile as, disturbed from his
sleep, he took to the waters.

Then the three crept back to the boat. "Pull her through the
screen," whispered the hunter, as he caught up his rifle, "but make
no noise;" and he took up another position ashore, this time facing
the other end of the channel.

With great caution the boys coaxed the Okapi through the trailing
branches, so that she would be hidden from view if the natives
looked up the channel. Then they waited and waited for ages before
the hunter showed himself.

"Well?" they asked in a whisper.

"They have passed on."

"And?" they said, watching his face.

"I don't quite like it. They may have no suspicions, but I think
they have; for one man pointed up in this direction."

"If they suspected anything they would have stopped surely."

"Perhaps not. The native doesn't like the look of a trap, and it
maybe that they passed on with the intention of returning at night.
Or they may have gone for the other boats." Mr. Hume stood up to
glance shorewards.

"Would it not be better to move on?" said Venning.

"If we could be sure that we should not be seen from the land, that
would be the move." He stroked his beard. "I guess we'll move," he
said, "just about dusk, for I'm pretty sure in my mind that they did
take particular notice of this channel, and my policy is always to
listen to your instincts."

"Instincts," muttered Compton; "call them nerves."

Mr. Hume laughed. "About the time you were born, Dick, I was playing
a lone hand in Lo-Ben's country as trader and hunter, when a loss of
nerve would have meant loss of life. See! So just leave this to me,
and shove her along."

Compton grinned back at the hunter, and tugged at his oar, for the
levers clanked too loud for this work. They crept along to another
berth a little way off, and tied up in the shadow of the bank; and
they had scarcely settled themselves when they heard again the beat
of engines. The launch was returning, and was returning in answer to
a signal that the game had been found! A pungent smell of smoke
suddenly reached them, and, standing up, they saw over the reeds
that a fire had been made on one of the neighbouring islands.

That was the signal!

Glancing shorewards they saw that more canoes were putting off--dark
smudges on the water, but growing clearer as the crews dashed the
paddles. But there were enemies even nearer. As they pulled the
Okapi closer into the shadows a boat swept into view, and, evidently
obeying directions given from the island where the fire was, took up
a position overlooking the first hiding-place of the Okapi.  All the
time the launch drew nearer, racing evidently to take advantage of
the brief spell of light before the dark, and the canoes raced from
the shore to take part in the great man-hunt. As they drew near, the
fleet scattered, some going up-stream, others down, and the
remainder dashing straight on in among the islands.

As they scattered to take up their positions, there came a report
from the launch's gun.

It was the signal for the drive to begin, and as the echo rolled
away, a deep silence followed the previous uproar. The savage look-
out men, standing erect in the sharp bows of the long canoes,
motioned to the paddlemen to  stop, and all heads were turned to the
wind to catch any sound in case the hunted should attempt to move
away. Fierce eyes were directed towards one spot, where the fire
blazed on the island over against the place where the Okapi had laid

Not a whisper had come from the three in the boat. After they had
first seen the signal smoke, which told them so plainly that Mr.
Hume's suspicions were justified, they had crouched low, watching
every move that was visible to them.

A canoe rounded their hiding-place and crept stealthily by towards
the narrow passage with its screen of bushes, every man fixing his
gaze directly ahead, the broad nostrils quivering, and spears
grasped in the hands that were not busy with the paddles.

Then through the silence there came the sharp yap of a dog who has
struck the scent, and next the loud, excited bark. Too cautious to
land on the suspected island themselves, some of the canoe-men had
drawn near from the north side and thrown a cur on the island to
find the white men in their supposed hiding. The dog had, of course,
struck the spoor and found the dark hiding, empty, but suspicious-
looking. In his fear he gave tongue. The gun from the launch fired,
a yell rose from every side, and all the canoes near dashed forward.

Mr. Hume shoved out, and the Okapi slipped up-stream  undetected
under the uproar, darting from one island to another, and keeping as
near the banks as  possible.  They were doing splendidly!  The enemy
was behind; it seemed that they must reap the advantage of their
caution and resourcefulness, when, without any  intimation of
danger, they came right upon a canoe lying in mid-channel between
two of the innumerable islands.

"Back-water!" cried Mr. Hume, at once.

The boys obeyed without, of course, any knowledge of the course, and
the Okapi slackened down.

"Well met, my friends," came a voice they knew; and the two looked
over their shoulders.

"Dished, after all!" muttered Compton, bitterly; then he snatched up
his rifle.

"Hassan thought you would come along this way," went on the junior
officer--for it was he; "but I doubted, and yet here you are."

"The praise be to Allah," remarked Hassan, piously, as he glanced
along his rifle.

The Okapi had lost the little way she was making, and began to move
with the current away from the canoe. Mr. Hume suddenly spoke for
the first time since his order.

"Turn that canoe round!" he roared; and his Express leapt to his
shoulder. The boys followed suit.

The paddle-men promptly ducked their heads, and one of them called
out in his lingo that this was the slayer of crocodiles and of the
great bull.

"But, my friend----" began the Belgian, who now, together with
Hassan and several Arabs in the stern of the canoe, came under the
levelled barrels.

"Oblige me," said the hunter. "Compton, cover that Arab Hassan with
your rifle, and Venning, take the man to the right. If they move
their weapons, shoot."

Hassan snarled and turned a furious face to the Belgian. "This is
your folly!" he hissed. "Why didn't you fire at once?"

Mr. Hume repeated his orders in the native tongue, and the cowed
men, using their paddles, turned the long canoe round.

"Now, keep straight on in silence, till I tell you to stop. Follow
them"--this to the boys, who immediately picked up their sculls.

The Belgian glanced back. "Come," he said, "this is not amiable.
See, we could, had we liked, have caught you in an ambush."

"And so your friend Hassan advised you, eh?" replied Mr. Hume; "but
you thought we would surrender at discretion. You see, you were
mistaken. Now just listen to me. Do not look back again, or this
rifle may go off. Out with the sculls, lads."

Hassan growled out curses at this complete turning of the tables
upon him, but the natives bent to their paddles. They bad no wish to
be shot down in the cause of the slave-hunter, however ready they
would have been to have fallen on the Englishmen if the advantage
had been with them.

The darkness was coming on fast as the strange procession passed up
the channel to thread the intricate passages among the clustering
islands. In a few minutes the canoe would be almost hidden from
sight; but the very last thing Mr. Hume wanted was to keep company.

"Baleka!" he cried. "Quicker! I have your heads in one line. One
bullet would stretch you all dead. Quicker!" he roared.

The broad paddles flashed, the water churned fiercely, and the long
canoe shot off into the dusk; and as it sped on the hunter pulled
the wheel over, altering the course of the Okapi, and taking it
towards the open water between the islands and the south bank.

"By Jove! you did that splendidly," said Compton. "I thought it was
all over."

Venning laughed that little nervous laugh of his. "I wonder why they
gave in like that?"

"We had the drop on then," said Mr. Hume, grimly; "and we knew our
own minds. Now, then! up with the sail, and, dark or not, we must
get on."

Very smartly and silently the boys hoisted the sail, and as the
Okapi beat up they heard a great uproar from the left. Apparently
Hassan was using violent language to the Belgian officer for not
having ambushed the "dogs of Englishmen." Then several rifle-shots
were fired from the canoe, and answered from the people down-stream,
who were still searching for their prey. But the Okapi slipped on,
making a musical ripple under her bows, until she beat up under the
great wall of woods on the south bank, when she tacked away into the
gathering darkness, feeling for the wind. Down-river was the glare
of fires at different spots, where the men had landed from the
different canoes; but there was no light ahead through the whole
vast width of the river, and they dare not even rig up their own
lamp to get what little guidance it could give. The wind was fitful,
and the direct progress was slow, so that when the glow went out of
the sky they were still within hearing of the shouting.  Indeed, it
seemed that the shouting gained on them, as if the men in Hassan's
boat were keeping their place in the renewed pursuit, and directing
other crews as to the line they should take.

Then the sail napped idly against the mast as the wind died down,
and as they unstepped the mast before depending on the screw, a fire
sprang out right ahead, sending up a tall column of flame that flung
its reflection far across the waters.

"We must make out into the islands again," said Mr. Hume; but, as
the boat pointed on the new course, an answering flame sprang up,
and then another and another at brief intervals, until from the fire
on the bank there was a semicircle of flame from island to island
barring their advance.

"There must be an army out," muttered Venning.

"It is one canoe, but most likely Hassan's, firing the dried reeds
as they pass from island to island."

"Then the flames will die out soon."

"Yes, they will die down; but in the mean time other canoes will
come up, and if there are men on the shore waiting, they will see us
outlined against the reflection."

Even as he finished there came a shrill cry from the shore, followed
by the wild beat of the war-drum, and next by the sound of paddling.

"Shall we make a bolt for it?" asked Compton.

"Not yet," said the hunter; and he brought the Okapi stem on for the
deep shadows under the bank.

The oars moved softly, covered by the noise of the paddling, and the
Okapi slipped out of the reflection into the darkness, while the
canoes dashed straight on, passing about one hundred yards behind
her stem.

"Easy now," whispered Mr. Hume, "and keep quite still."

The oars were drawn in as the Okapi, caught in a current,  was borne
right into the bank at a spot where the trees came down to the
brink. Mr. Hume caught a branch, and the stern swung round. Before
them, about a quarter of a mile off perhaps, was the great fire they
had first seen, still fed by natives, whose dark figures stood out
and disappeared as they moved about. Out on the river they could
hear the noise of paddles, and of men calling to each other.

Near them on the bank something moved, and above the swishing of the
current they heard the low whine of an animal.

Mr. Hume pricked his ears at the sound, and crept into the well,
where the boys sat anxiously watching.

"Put on your coats," he muttered.

Again there came the whine, then the sound of an animal scrambling,
and next the patter of feet.

"A dog," whispered Venning.

"I advise keeping on," said Compton.

"And I," replied Mr. Hume, "advise that we have something to eat.
Will you serve us, Venning?"

They ate hungrily, for through the day they had been too much
excited to think of food. And as they feasted their eyes were on the
move, and their ears on the stretch. Their manoeuvre had apparently
succeeded, for the canoes were all beating up towards the fires
under the belief that the Okapi had kept on, and there was no
suspicious movement  by the people on the shore. So they remained
where they were, keeping themselves in position by holding  on to
the branches. To the boys it was a weird scene, with the blood-red
glow on the waters and the sense of vastness and of wildness. They
were not afraid, but they could not help a feeling of weariness, and
they edged nearer the hunter for the comfort of his presence. For a
long time they watched, sitting silent; and by-and-by the fires on
the islands died down one by one, until only the flare on the bank
remained as a beacon to those on the river. Then the sound of
paddling drew near again.

Again the whine came from behind the screen of trees, and there was
a rustling among the branches.

Taking a bit of the dried meat he had been eating, Mr. Hume tossed
it through the leaves. There came a sniff, a snap of the jaws, and a
whimper. The hunter shifted his rifle till it pointed through the

"Peace," said a low voice.  "It is Muata and his beast. They hunt me

"Us also, O chief!"

The canoes came rushing in. Already some of the crews had landed
near the fire; but others were coming down-stream, hugging the banks
for safety, or, maybe, having a last look for the Englishmen.

"It is Muata!" cried Venning, in a joyous whisper. "Muata and his
jackal. What luck!"


A canoe went by some distance out, after it another, and as they
swept into the darkness, a third announced its presence, coming more
slowly and closer in. While it was nearly opposite the hiding the
howl of the jackal rose from out the bush, wringing a startled
exclamation from the two boys by its suddenness.

"What devil's noise is that?" sang out a voice they recognized as
that of the Belgian officer.

A sharp order was given, the paddles ceased, and the canoe, looming
long and black on the water, drifted towards the Okapi.

"I have heard that cry before," said a rasping voice. "Be ready with
your weapons. Allah the merciful may yet deliver those we seek."

"What would they be doing here inshore?" asked the Belgian.

"They would be here because it is here they would not expect us to
search. I think I see something gleam."

In the water by the shore there was a faint splash, and again the
jackal whined.

Mr. Hume pressed his hand on Compton's shoulder, forcing him into
the well; and he did the same by Venning.

"Surely," said the Belgian, "it is something. Shall we call in the
other canoes, and guard the place till daylight?"

"I will have them now," said Hassan, with fury.

"They will not look on another sun;" and he gave the order to his
men to kill when they closed in. "It is they who let free the thief
of the forest--the dog Muata."

"You lie, O woman stealer; Muata freed himself;" and out of the
water, out of the blackness, came the voice, without warning, "Muata
is here, by your side, man-thief."

The Arab fired, and the flash from his discharged rifle flamed into
the water, into which he peered with features convulsed.

"Kill him!" he yelled.

"Muata!" cried the paddlers. "Haw! To the shore, to the shore, or we
perish! The water-wolf, he!"

"Yavuma!" cried the voice from the water; and the canoe heeled over
as the chief rose under the sharp bow. "Yavuma!"--he wrenched a
paddle from one of the men and hurled it at the Arab. The crank
craft rolled as some of the excited men in the stem tried to use
their spears. "Yavuma!"--this time with a triumphant whoop, and the
canoe turned over!

With a couple of powerful strokes the swimmer had his hand on the

"O great one," he cried, "Muata is come to work and to watch--to be
your shield and your spear."

Mr. Hume reached out a strong hand and pulled the chief on board.

Muata gave a low cry, and with a frightened whimper the jackal shot
out from the bank and lighted on the deck. Then the Okapi slid out
silently into the river.

"By Jenkins!" gasped Venning.

"It beats all," laughed Compton. "Well done, Muata."

As the capsized crew struggled to the shore they yelled abuse and
threats, but their power for mischief had gone with the loss of
their weapons. Some of them went off down the bank shouting for the
canoes that had gone on, and others made their way to the fire; but
Mr. Hume and Muata took a spell at the levers, heedless of the noise
made, and under their powerful arms the boat was soon far out in the
waste of waters--safe, at any rate, for that night.



After an hour or so Muata was sent forward as look-out, and with his
jackal by his side, apparently aiding him in his task, he showed
such eyes for the night that they kept on safely till the morning,
when the sail was hoisted, and by breakfast-time they judged they
had covered about forty miles--quite enough for safety. They ran the
Okapi in among the islands which still stretched away as far as they
could see, and made fast, to eat and to sleep. The noon heat woke
them. They sat up under the awning and talked of the great drive, of
Muata's escape, and of his wonderful luck in finding them--though he
made out that there was nothing strange about it, since from the
woods he had seen the preparations for the hunt, and had, too, made
out the Okapi in the dusk. For the rest, his jackal had scented out
the white man's lair, and all he, the chief, had to do was to upset
the canoe of the Arab.

"That was no great work for Muata--the otter, the water-wolf," he

"And how did the chief escape?"

"Before the shouting arose that Muata was gone, he found a calabash
of fat for the cooking, by the door of a hut. Some fat he rubbed on
the soles of his feet to kill the scent. Then he sent the jackal
into the woods and crawled into a hut, being stiff from the binding.
In the hut he remained, rubbing the fat into the joints, till the
people came back to the feast."

"The feast was made by us, so that while the people ate we could
loosen your bonds."

"Wow! Never yet have I known any to give such thought to a

"It is our way to stand by those who stand by us."

"It is a great word that;" and the chief turned the thought over in
his mind. "Ow aye! They came again to the feast, and Muata went out
into the woods in peace."

"And was that all?"

"There was a man gathering fruit in the morning as I passed through
a garden, and his knife I took."

"And what did the man do?"

"He took a message to my father, the chief," said Muata,
enigmatically. "The chief's son has been like a hunted dog. His
stomach hungers for red meat. His spirit thirsts for the hunt. Wow!
O hunter, set your shining boat for the shore, and let us follow the
trail. There be buffalo in the lands beyond the hills which line the

"That's a splendid idea!" cried Venning.  "I'm beginning to get
mouldy. A trip ashore would be ripping, now that we have distanced
our pursuers."

"I second that motion," said Compton, with a longing glance
shorewards. "Do you know, sir, that we have not shot a thing since
we entered the Congo?"

"I have no objection," said the hunter. "And we must have a good
supply of biltong before we enter the forest; but we cannot afford
to take risks. Just examine the shore for a creek, and at dusk we
will run across."

The boys passed the afternoon searching the south bank for signs of
a creek, and in the evening the Okapi shaped her course across to a
likely spot they had marked out. But though they found a creek, it
was not one that commended itself as a hiding to Mr. Hume, and it
was not till after a wearisome hunt for hours in the dark that they
found a channel leading through the hills which he agreed to follow
up; and then, when they had entered about a mile, Muata, with his
jackal, was landed to "feel" around for native paths or villages.
Muata, after a long absence, reported all safe as far as he could
judge, and they tied up. In the morning they found themselves in the
thick of the woods, and pushed on down a dark and sluggish stream
strewn with fallen timber, till they came to a pool in a gorge. Here
they resolved to leave their boat.

They took the Okapi to pieces, stowed them away in a dry cavern in
the krantz, covered them with the tarpaulins, and pushed on down
through the gorge on foot, emerging beyond the hills which bordered
the Congo into a rolling country, park-like in appearance. They
studied the land well before they continued, first for signs of
native villages, and next for game. Smoke rose far away to the
right, but nearer, the country seemed deserted, and as plenty of
game appeared in sight, they determined to camp on the slopes of the
hill. So they looked about for a good pitch, and made choice of a
sunny spot at the foot of a rocky cliff, not far from the stream
they had followed, and well screened from view by a thicket of bush
in the front. They stowed away their blankets in a small cave at the
base of the cliff, and then started off for the first hunt, the boys
in a fine state of excitement. They struck into a game-path leading
through thick scrub, and five minutes from the start there was a
sullen snort, a tremendous crashing in the woods, as if, at least, a
herd of elephant were stampeding. Mr. Hume dashed down the game-
path, and before the boys could see what manner of beast it was, he
had fired and bowled it over with a bullet behind the ear.

"A bit of luck," he said, as they reached him.

"What is it?" asked Venning, glancing around with bright eyes.

"A buffalo, over there."

The two boys saw a dark form on the ground, half hidden by a bush,
and were running forward.

"Quietly," said the hunter. "Always approach dangerous game
cautiously when they are down--especially buffalo;" and with his
finger on the trigger he went up slow-footed.

But the buffalo was stone-dead--a great bull with an immense boss
between the bend of his sharp horns.

"It's the luck of hunting," said Mr. Hume, as the boys walked round
the great beast. "Some days you never get a shot, and other times
you find game at your back door, so to speak. One of you boys will
stay with Muata to skin and cut up. It will be a good lesson."

The two looked at each other, and then away over the plain. Skinning
and cutting up was not exactly amusing.

"All right; I'll stay," said Venning.

"Each in his turn," said the hunter. "Come along, Compton;" and they
went off, as Venning turned up his shirt-sleeves.

It was hard work, this cutting up, but Muata was a master at the
job, and Venning learnt his lesson thoroughly.

The great hide was taken off in one piece without a slit; then long
strips of meat were cut off and hung over the branches of a tree.
When the rest of the meat had been stripped off, they packed it all
away in the hide, slung the bundle to a sapling, and, with each end
of the pole on a shoulder, they slowly carried the whole to the
camp. Venning hoped that his labours were over; but they had only
completed one task.  They had now to build a scaffolding on which to
hang the strips, after each had been well peppered to keep off the
flies, for the drying and smoking. This took another slice out of
the day; and when Venning had washed in the river, and cooked and
eaten his buffalo-steak, he resigned himself to the study of insects
in place of the pursuit of game, while Muata, who had melted down
the fat from the kidneys, sat and rubbed the oil into his limbs till
his skin shone.

"Have you seen many buffalo?" asked Venning, with a keen eye on a
bit of crooked stick that had seemed to move.


"And you understand their ways?"

"I have watched as you watch the stick that is not a stick."

Venning picked up an insect--a strange creature which had adapted
itself to its surroundings by pretending to be a dried twig.

"Tell me what you saw."

"I saw the twin bulls when they were calves, and I saw them when
they led the herd, and when they lost the leadership. I watched
them. Ow aye, I knew their ways. Sometime, when I was yet a boy, I
could understand what they said."

"What they said, chief?"

"See, the creatures are like men in their ways, and men are like
animals--each man like to one kind of animal. Haw! So I judged what
the buffalo would say if he could talk like men."

"And what was the talk? Tell it me; for I also have given speech to
animals when I have watched alone."

"I will tell you what I thought when I was young, and watched the
things of the forest. The wisest among the people I have met is a
woman; and among the things of the forest, the wisest were even a
buffalo cow who never had calf, and the mother of the yellow pack,
who had white eyes in her long head. Haw!

"Now, the pack hunted on the same veld where a troop of buffalo
grazed, but the bull who led the troop was wise. He took counsel
with the old cow that was calf-less, and the pack could never find
the fat heifers or the younger calves unguarded. In the troop were
two young bulls--brothers; and these I had watched grow--watched
from my hiding. They were strong and fierce, and they eyed the old
bull full. Scarcely would they turn from his path. Wow! One morning
the old bull stood in the game-path, considering in his mind how it
came to happen that the earth had been fresh turned. While he stood,
the young bulls pressing behind suddenly put their horns to his
flanks and urged him forward. Mawoh! The old bull stepped on to the
newly turned earth, and went down into a pit that the hunters had
dug. He called to the troop to run from the danger, and they crashed
through the wood to the open glade.

"Haw! A young dog of the pack heard the bellow from the earth, and
creeping near, he looked down upon the great bull. Then, with his
nose to the ground, he ran upon the trail of the troop till he saw
them in the opening. The young bulls moved among the cows. They
pushed the old cow aside, and later went through the tall grass into
a shallow vlei, where they wallowed in the mud. Then the young dog
ran back to the pack. This is what he said, as I understood--

"'Behold, O mother,' he said, 'the great bull, even the leader, is
fallen in the trap made by man in the path.'

"Who leads the troop now--the old cow or the two brothers?"

'The young bulls, O mother, and they lie in the mud.'

"Then the she-dog called the pack together. I heard the call, and
knew there would be hunting. She called them and made a plan. I saw
afterwards the plan she made. The young dogs she sent round to the
far side of the vlei, and she came with the biggest of the pack to
the side nearest the forest. From the edge of the wood she looked
out on the open. The old cow stood alone, with her head turning now
this way, then that way. The others grazed with their calves. The
heifers stood foot-deep in the water near the bulls.

"The old dog turned to the pack. 'This comes of the folly of the
young,' she said; and her white eyes ran from dog to dog. 'Those two
lie like pigs. We will eat buffalo to-night. Scatter and wait.'

"Three dogs went to the right of her and three to the left. They
stretched themselves in the grass. The old cow blew through her
nostrils. She struck the ground, and the cows with the young calves
ran to her. They gathered in a bunch, heads out. From beyond came
the hunting-cry of the young dogs. The heifers moved, but the bulls
kept still.' It is but a dog yapping after a hare,' they said.
'Stand you still.'

"But the hunting-cry drew nearer. The cows lowered their heads,
bellowing, and the heifers ran. Wow! The young dogs cut one out, and
raced her right to where the great mother of the pack crouched. As
the heifer came by, the white jaws snapped at her belly, and bit
deep, so that blood flowed, and on the scent of the blood the pack
went into the forest. They ate buffalo that night.

"The young bulls rose from the mud. They ran to and fro in the open;
their eyes were red, and the foam dripped from their black lips.
Wow! they were angry, Ow aye, they were covered with shame and mud.
The old cow moved away, and the cows with young followed her. The
heifers, trembling in their limbs, would have followed also, but the
bulls headed them off. There was much talk in the forest over this.
They said the bulls had learnt wisdom. No dog would take a member of
the troop again. The bulls tossed their horns. 'If a lion comes,'
they said, 'we would beat him off.'

"The pack tried again, and were beaten off; but the old she yawned.
'In a few days, my children,' she said, 'we will eat buffalo, even
of the meat of the young bulls. There never were two leaders in a
pack'--and her white eyes went to a dog who had hopes of the
leadership--'never; and in a day, or two days, these brothers will
fight. They will fight hard; and when the fight is done the pack
will steal upon them. When they stand panting, with lowered heads
and feet wide apart, we will bite at the softness of their bellies.'
She licked her lips, and the tongues of the pack curled over their
lips also. So the young dogs were set to watch upon the brothers;
and it came to pass as the old mother said--the brothers fought. It
began in play. One swung his head at the other, and the other swung

"When a grown bull swings his head, O white boy, who picked me out
of the sea, it is like the blow of a falling tree. There is the
weight of his head with the heavy horns, the arch of his neck, and
the power in his shoulders where the muscles lie. The blows roused
the fury in them. They looked sideways at each other, then their
tails went up, and they came together. Wow!! The noise rang far. The
hunting dogs ran swiftly to the pack, and as they ran there followed
them the noise of the fight.

"I stole near to watch. It was a battle. The ground was torn up as
in the hoeing, where their hoofs clung for a footing under the
pressure. First they pushed, head to head, nose near the ground, red
eyes looking into red eyes. The heifers stood in a cluster watching.
It was a still battle. They saved their breath, and as they breathed
the dust flew. For many minutes they pushed, swaying, one losing
ground for a time, then gaining it back. The foam gathered on their
lips and dropped to the ground. The sweat ran under their bellies.
Then one slipped, and the other struck under the shoulder. From the
lower rib to the back there ran a white mark. The white mark turned
black, and blood came out. At the pain of it the stricken bull
grunted and struck up.  His horn struck under the body, and with the
cracking of his joints he heaved the other over. Haw! He rolled him
right over and sprang at him. Wow!! He struck and stood back. The
other was on his feet swiftly. With the swiftness of a little cat he
gained his feet. So they stood with their heads up, staring with red
eyes. Again they came together. Again they shoved and strained, and
the dust caked on the blood that covered them. The ground beneath
them that was dry, was now muddy from the trampled blood. Then they
swung their heads and struck, grunting at the blows, and stood
apart, and came together, till the blood started from their ears.
Their breath came in gasps, and the silence was broken. From their
lips, all blood-covered, there came a moaning. Ow aye, the moaning
of a mother over her dead. The heifers ran forward, then back; they
ran round and galloped away, afraid--galloped into the forest.

"In my heart, O white friend, I was sorry for the brothers. The
moaning was the cry of sorrow that one felt for the other. 'O my
brother, I must slay you,' that was the meaning of the moaning.
Their tongues rolled out, swollen; their legs shook, their eyes were
covered with mist. Yet they swung their heads, and each time the
horns were wet with blood, and the moaning came always. Then they
came together, and went on their knees. Their muzzles were in the
mud; their hind legs were wide apart.

"Ow aye, I looked away and saw the white eyes of the mother of the
pack. She was creeping up. Her lips were wet; the hair on her neck
stood up. Behind her came others. I gave the low growl of a lion--
the cry he makes when he is angry at being disturbed. She threw up
her head and sniffed the air. Then she growled in her throat, for
there was no taint of lion in the air, but the taint of man! Her
white eyes found me out where I sat in a low tree, and there was
death in them. So I gathered the air in my lungs and shouted. A
man's shout is as much dreaded as the lion's roar. The dogs jumped
up, but the old mother called to them, and they crouched down.  The
brothers stood moaning head to head. I shouted again; I whistled.
Then the bulls drew apart. One fell slowly on his side; the other
smelt at the fallen one. Then he tried to bellow, but his tongue was
thick in his mouth. The she-dog crept forward, and I whistled loud.
This time he flung up his head and looked around. He saw the white
eyes above the grass; he saw the round ears everywhere around. Then
he smelt at his brother. Wow! He smelt at him; he licked the blood
from his nostrils.

"This is the law among the wild things--when one is down he is down.
The weak are driven forth by their fellows; the hurt are left. The
bull smelt at his brother; then again he flung his head up to look
at the white-eyed one, and he moved away for the vlei, moaning as he
went. The dogs let him pass; their eyes scarcely went to him, for
they were fixed on the fallen. They moved upon him in silence, a few
steps at a time, then crouched with hanging tongues; then a few more
steps; and as they closed in the fallen bull watched those he could
see. Meat for dogs! He a chief in the forest, who could toss the
largest dog the height of a tree! Wow! He gathered his hind feet
under him and lifted. Slowly he reached his feet, and the white-eyed
mother ran in open-mouthed. She gripped the sinews of his hind leg
and held on. The pack crowded in. Haw! It was no fight. The bull
looked after his brother, who was slowly moving to the vlei, moaning
as he went. Then, but for a little time, he fought as a chief should
fight when his foes are on him. With a swing of his head here, and a
swing there, he stove in the ribs of two of the pack; then he sprang
on another, flung him, as a boy would a stone, into the air, watched
him go up, watched him come down, then flung him up again, and fell
forward on his knees with his nose on the ground, and the pack
snapped the flesh from him in mouthfuls. The other bull turned not
at the howling of the pack. He walked on slow and straight to the
vlei, drank deep, and made a bed in the mud. He covered his wounds
with mud, and when his wounds were healed he was an outcast. The
troop had another leader, and the old cow led them all to another

"And what became of you, Muata?"

"Muata stayed in the tree. Mawoh! Muata was afraid. The mother of
the pack had not forgotten. Even while she ate she looked at him,
and when the milk-mothers with their young came to the forest,
having been called, she lay off and watched, with her evil eyes on
me. The jackals, smelling blood, howled, sitting on their haunches,
and a lion came up growling in his throat. But he did not come right
up; he stood a way off, watching,  and presently he stretched
himself on his stomach to wait. Haw! Even the lion will not attempt
to drive the pack from its kill. Ow aye, it is so. The old mother
never turned her eyes to watch the lion, but when the pups played,
having eaten their fill, she stood up. The pack looked at her and
moved off; then the lion rose and came forward. The old one stood
her ground, and the great one, when he was within three bounds of
her, also stood. The white eyes turned away from the yellow eyes--
they turned to me; then she yapped and went off after the pack. The
lion looked after her; then he stretched himself on the ground again
and stared. He lifted his head to the wind and sniffed. Mawoh! Well,
I knew the old mother had told him of my presence; but the lion
never looks up. It was well for me, for his mind was uneasy. A long
time he lay, while the jackals sat howling. Then he crept round the
tree and the carcase. Twice he crept round; then, as the smell of
the meal was too much, he trotted up to the carcass and growled at
his feast. His back was toward me, and I fled."

"And did you meet the white-eyed mother again?"

"The wisest among the people I have met," said Muata, gravely, "was
a woman; and among the creatures of the forest, the wisest was a
she-dog. It is in my mind that the leader of the pack was umtaguati.
Ow aye, she was a wizard; and it is not well to make war against

Venning looked at the chief with curiosity.  "Are there many wizards
in the forest, Muata?" he asked with a smile.

"By day and night, many; but most by night. Our people will not
venture forth in the darkness of the forest for fear of the wizards
and the bad spirits that watch from behind the trees and follow
stealthily; but a spell was given to Muata. He could walk in the

"Have you seen these--eh--spirits, Muata?" Muata put the question
aside. He rose and pointed to the east.

"The sun dies away and the hunters return."

"I don't hear them. Where are they?"  "The birds cry out and fly.
That is the sign that man is on the move; for hear, you who split up
the shining boat, birds will scold at a leopard or a great snake,
hovering around as they scold; but they fly from man. From nothing
else will they fly. From an eagle they will hide after giving the
warning call; but from man they fly."

A few minutes later the two arrived, Mr. Hume carrying an  antelope
on his shoulder.



They turned in very early after banking up leaves over the fires
under the biltong strips, to give them a good smoking during the
night, but in the small hours, when the night is at its quietest,
the moonlight, shining on Venning's face, woke him. The fires were
glowing bright, altogether too bright for safety, and he rose to
cover the glare with some green leaves. He looked at his sleeping
companions, for all, tired out by disturbed nights, slept on, except
the jackal, which had one eye open.

Venning sat awhile looking down upon the dim uncertain shadows that
came and went, as a fleecy mist-like cloud passed overhead.  Beyond
the fitful murmur of the wind there was no sound but the hooting of
a great homed owl somewhere from the woods above. Drawing his
blanket round him, and picking up his gun, he walked to a point on
the right overlooking the bed of the little river, and there he sat
down with his back to a rock and his gun over his knees. Scarcely
was he seated when the jackal startled him by its sudden appearance
at his side. He scratched its ears, and it sat close to him, staring
fixedly down on the river. Just below there was a stretch of sand in
the bed gleaming white under the moonlight, and Venning watched this
with the eye of a naturalist, in the hope of seeing some of the
great forms of animal life. And he had his hope, for several
creatures crossed the white patch, and each time the jackal was the
first to see them. The round ears would suddenly prick forward, the
sharp nose would twitch, and then Venning would dimly discover
something down there in the uncertain light. A porcupine he made
out, its quills gleaming and rustling as it went down to the water;
then a great wart-pig  with curved tusks; and next, after a long
interval, a fine buck with long powerful horns. A water-buck he
judged it to be from the length of its horns, and it stood there
long with its face up-stream, motionless, save for the constant
twitching of the large ears. He rested his elbows on his knees as he
sat and aimed at the shoulders, but did not fire, for fear of
alarming the camp; and  presently the buck, even as he watched,
vanished as softly and silently as it came. Then Venning's eyes
closed, his chin dropped, the gun settled between his knees, and he
was asleep.

He was asleep, and he was awake again so suddenly that he did not
know he had slept until he saw the position of the gun. The jackal
plucked at his blanket. He remembered that something had disturbed
him, and he judged that the jackal had done the same thing just
before. He yawned and patted its head; but, instead of sitting down,
it ran a few yards, sniffed the air, whined, came back, glanced long
over its shoulder into the riverbed,  looked into Venning's face,
then ran off in the direction of the camp. As soon as it was gone
Venning felt lonely. He stood up, thinking to return to the camp,
then sat down again, for he heard the sharp stamp that an antelope
makes when alarmed, and he hoped to see it come into the moonlight.
So he settled down to watch again, and drowsiness fell upon his
eyes. He could see the white patch of sand, and as his heavy lids
were lowered and lifted between the drowsy intervals, he became
dimly conscious that there was something on the sand.  Yes; there it
was, something grey, short, and thick. A donkey, he told himself.
He smiled sleepily. A donkey! It was strange to see the old familiar
form out there in the wilderness. He wondered dreamily where it came
from; then a shadow cast by the moon on a passing cloud blotted out
the river-bed. He rubbed his eyes, and when the cloud had gone there
were two animals--donkeys, unmistakably--one larger than the other,
both with their heads turned upwards towards him. Another cloud
sailed by, and when it had passed he missed them, and, his curiosity
roused, he rubbed his eyes again for a closer scrutiny. Surely that
was not a bush on the bank? No! it moved. The donkeys were coming
towards him. One of them, the larger, moved forward quickly, then
stopped. Then a chill ran through him, his heart grew weak, his
breathing grew sharp, and the sweat suddenly started out all over
his face and body. That was no donkey standing there, with its huge
head now sunk almost to the ground, now lifted high, as it tried to
make out what manner of living creature it was crouching there by
the rock above!

Venning felt the hair stir on his head as the two animals stood
gazing at him, and then he knew. The one behind sank to the ground,
and with long steps began to creep round to the right. The moon
struck along its side, and showed the tawny hide and the whitish
under-parts of a lioness. The other, then, was a lion! With a sort
of gurgling in his throat he turned his eyes to it, and he saw it
trotting up straight for him, its shaggy mane giving to its head and
shoulders an enormous size. He felt spell-bound, incapable of moving
hand or foot. It was the silence of the ferocious beasts that
paralyzed him. Then the jackal howled behind him, and his blood
rushed through his veins. His tongue no longer clave to the roof of
his mouth, and when the great beast was within ten yards of him, he
let forth a terrific yell and jumped to his feet, with his rifle in
his hands.

The lion stopped suddenly in its charge with a low harsh grunt of
surprise. Never before in its hunting had it heard such a wild
uncanny noise. In one motion it stopped in its charge and swerved to
the right, and as it swerved the boy fired. The lion gave a mighty
bound, he heard it strike the ground with a heavy thud, and then it
seemed to disappear, though he knew it was near from the low
growling it set up.

From the camp there came a confused shouting, followed by the sound
of a man running.

Venning moistened his lips. "Look out," he shouted, "there is a lion

"Where are you?"

"Here, by this rock."

"Stay there, and keep quite still."

The growling increased, and once more the same paralysis attacked
the boy so that he could scarcely breathe. Then some one stood at
his side, and the fear went from him at once.

"He's over there, somewhere; but I can't see him."

"I can. Get round the rock, my boy. He's lying flat with his head
between his paws, and it's a mercy you did not fire again and draw
his charge."

Venning moved round the rock, and Mr. Hume slowly followed. He
stopped awhile to listen to the incessant growling.

"You've hit him, but not, I think, mortally; anyway, we'll leave
him, if he will leave us. Move on towards the camp quietly--don't

"No, sir," said Venning; but it required an effort not to make a
bolt for it when he saw the friendly gleam of the fire.

Mr. Hume followed slowly, with his head over his shoulder, towards
the place where the growling came from. When he reached the fire he
gave a great sigh of relief.

"Thank God. Now tell us what happened, my boy;" and he put his hand
on Venning's arm.

Venning started violently, for just then from the river there came a
harsh, growling call; and no sooner had it ceased than the ground
shook to a terrific roar.

"The lion answers the lioness," said the chief, calmly.

"Throw a little wood on the fire, Muata.  Now, my lad."

Venning told his story, and Compton listened with intense
excitement; but the hunter treated the whole thing calmly, with set
purpose. He had in his experience seen the effect of a terrible
shock, in the complete breakdown of the victim, and, personally, he
had known one man die from the shock to his system caused exactly by
the sudden and unexpected appearance of a lion at night. He kept
Venning's thoughts off the mental picture of the charging lion until
dawn, when all hands prepared for the hunt.

"If you hit him hard he will be lying near, and I guess it will be a
different matter meeting him by daylight--eh, my lad?"

Venning looked into the hunter's calm eyes, and felt strong. He went
straight to the rock against which he had crouched, and pointed to
the deep scars made in the hard ground by the sharp claws as the
lion had stopped his charge and wheeled.

Compton measured the distance from the rock to the claw-marks.

"Fifteen feet! By Jove! it was a narrow squeak. I would have yelled
like fits."

"I did yell."

Muata pointed to the ground.

"Blood spoor, eh? You did hit him. Put the jackal on the track,
chief," said Mr. Hume.

The jackal took one sniff at the ground, stared sharply around, then
peered up into his master's face.

"Search," said the chief, in his own tongue. "Follow the great one,
O little friend. The trail is laid; the great one has sought out a
moist spot; he lies angry and sore in the shade. Search and find."

The jackal looked intently into the chiefs face, sniffed at the
ground, ran forward a few yards, stopped, sniffed again with lifted
mane at a spot where the grass was pressed down, threw up his head
with eyes half closed, then ran down towards the river, stopping on
the bank to look back.

"That is where he joined his mate.  There is the spoor on the sand
going and returning. That is the round pad of the lion; just note
and compare it with the pads of the lioness over there. Just look,
and read the writing."

The two boys looked at the marks in the sand, and followed them down
to the moist ground on the edge of the water.

"They entered the river side by side," they said.

"That is plain; but the writing tells another story. See, this
footprint here is faint--very faint, eh? He did not rest his weight
on his left fore-foot.  Why, eh?"

"Because the bullet struck the left front leg," they both said.

"They learn the signs, Muata. They will be hunters yet. Tell them if
the lion be hard hit, chief."

Muata waded into the river, which reached to his armpits at the
deepest, and bent over something on the further shore. They
undressed, and waded through to him.

"Congela," he said, pointing to the bank. "The great ones came out
here. The great, great one was not sore hurt, for he came right
through, using all his feet to swim."

"It will be luck, then, if we find him," said the hunter.

"Bad luck," muttered Compton to Venning, with a grin.

"Forward, little friend!" cried Muata. "Search and find. It is a
great hunt this day. We follow the hunter of all things."

They slipped into their clothes and followed at a trot after the
jackal, which ran straight on, its bushy tail held low. It followed
the river down for a mile or so, then stopped, looking back at its

Mr. Hume and the chief stood silently inspecting the hard ground,
then they walked on a few yards. The same thoughts seemed to come to
each, as the boys judged from their actions; for from the ground
their eyes ranged over the land, then were turned skywards. Muata
pointed a finger at a ringed crow flying with bent head.

"They killed," said Mr. Hume.

"Oh!! They killed."

"You see," said the hunter to the two boys, "the pair crouched here;
these circular marks in the sand were made by the swing of the
tails. They sighted game. One of them--the lioness, no doubt--worked
round to drive the game towards the lion."

"It is a guess," said Compton. "Perhaps the lion stopped because of
his hurt."

"No; the bleeding has stopped. They not only sighted game, but the
lioness drove it from the river-bed towards the lion, and the lion
brought it down."

"Oh, come," said Compton. "How can you tell that?"

"From the spoor"--laconically. "He sprang twice--here, where he
alighted the first time; and the second spring landed him on to the
neck of an antelope powerful enough to struggle on into that thicket
of reeds. There the two of them pulled it down."

"And there he is!" shouted Venning.

He pointed to the right of the reeds, and there was a great
yellowish beast walking away at a slow walk, with its head sunk.

"The lioness," said the hunter. "Venning, keep by me, but a little
behind. Compton, when I whistle, fire into the reeds."

Compton nodded his head, and the two went off, while Muata sat down
as a spectator.

Mr. Hume walked steadily up to within fifty paces of the reeds on
the upper side, then whistled. Immediately Compton fired.

The lion was there. He signified his presence by a low growl, but he
did not move. Compton fired again, and this time the reeds shook,
and a great shaggy head appeared, with its yellow eyes fixed on the
boy. Mr. Hume made a slight noise, and the great head turned at once
in his direction. For a moment the lion exchanged glances, then with
a growl he turned into the reeds to reappear further on, going
slowly in the direction of the lioness.

"It is your shot, Godfrey; take him just behind the shoulder."

Venning's heart was thumping against his ribs; but he steadied
himself for the shot, and fired. The lion sprang forward, snarling,
and faced about towards his enemies. Then up went his tail, and with
a savage growl he charged straight down to within about thirty feet,
when he stood for a moment, as is the way of the charging lion if
his enemy stands fast. The pause was enough; and before the huge
muscles of the flanks and backs could be set in motion to hurl the
great body forward, a bullet, crashing into his breast, laid him out
helpless in the throes of death.

"Your first lion, Godfrey."

"But you killed him," said Venning, pulling himself together with a
great effort; for he had been through a very severe ordeal.

"The first hit counts. See here, your bullet last night struck him
above the elbow, just missing the bone, and your second shot hit him
low down in the ribs."

"My word," said Compton, as he came up, his eyes blazing with
excitement, "it was grand to see that charge. Yes, and to see how
you two stood. My heart was in my mouth."

"It's a simple shot," said the hunter. "All you have to do is to
keep perfectly cool and wait for the lion to come to his stand."

"Very easy," muttered Compton, with a grimace, as he looked at the
white fangs and the cruel-looking claws, finishing off that mighty
weapon the lion's forearm, capable  of battering in a man's head at
one blow.

The chief stood looking from the lion to the hunter. "Ye be
brothers," he said, "ye two; both great men of the hunt; chiefs by
your own right wherever you go."

"When I was young," said Mr. Hume, "I shot lions for the pride of
the victory; but long since I gave that up, and only when a lion
seeks me have I gone out to kill him."

"Ye be brothers," said the chief. "The great one stands alone, for
he is merciful in his strength. The spotted one kills for the love
of killing. He will kill, if the chance comes, many times more than
he can eat. The warrior will slay of his enemies all his spear can
reach. The great one eats and is satisfied. The rest may live till
he be hungry. I know, for I have met him face to face in the path. I
say to him, '''Inkose' (chief), the path is yours.' I have stood
aside, and the 'inkose' has gone on his way in peace.'

"If you carried a rifle, chief, it might be otherwise. Take the
claws, Venning; we cannot find room for the skin."

The claws were cut off, and they returned to the camp for breakfast.



It was good to sit around the glowing embers where the buffalo-steak
sizzled and threw out an odour that made their mouths water, good to
sip the hot coffee and to look out upon the great wilderness rising
up to the distant watershed of the lower bank of the Congo. From the
cliff above starlings flew out to seek their feeding-haunts where
the big game fed; and there was a familiar visitor near them in the
black and drab stone-chat, whose scolding chirp they had so often
heard in England among the gorse and bramble. The metallic cry of
guinea-fowl down by the little river had a farm-yard ring; but the
chatter of parrots flying overhead was still new, and so with many
other calls, so that they sat munching in silence, with eyes and
ears too much engaged for speech, even if the buffalo-steak had not
given their mouths other occupation. They saw the vultures speeding
from out the uttermost reach of the blue vault to feed upon the
carcass of the dead monarch, the whereabouts of the feast having
been detected from their distant haunts by a keenness of sight which
for swiftness outdoes wireless telegraphy. They swept on like
frigates of the sky, heads thrust down, and the vast wings seeming
to bear them on without beat or motion.

After breakfast the two boys left the camp for a little hunt on
their own account, while Mr. Hume remained to help the chief cure
the buffalo hide. They struck out down the river, passed the reeds
out of which the lion had sprung, saw the cluster of vultures
standing round the body of the lion, and then they saw a troop of
antelope  grazing in a patch of mimosas. After a careful stalk,
Compton fired, and the herd dashed off together, with the exception
of one, which took its own course at a slower gait.

"You hit him, Dick."

"Yes; and we'll get him. You go to the left, and I'll keep him away
from the river."

The two dashed off, each on his own line, and for several minutes
the stricken animal led them through fairly open country, with every
promise of a speedy run, for it was evidently hard hit. Then, taking
advantage of an old watercourse, it turned to the right, and when
Compton recovered the track he had lost touch with Venning. He gave
a "coo-ee," and then getting a view of the antelope making down to
the water, he turned it with another shot, and sprinted to overtake
it. Yard by yard he gained in this final burst, and shifted his
rifle to his left hand in order to have his right free to use the
hunting-knife. Another effort and he was almost within touch; but
the buck also had a reserve of power, and, gathering its quarters,
it made a couple of bounds, which carried it into the shelter of a
thin sprinkling of reeds. Compton responded, and in a few strides
was so near that he flung himself forward in an effort to get
astride the animal's back. The buck slipped forward, letting him
down, and, when he rose he saw the white tail whisking round a
corner in the reeds. On he dashed down a narrow path, which twisted
and turned so sharply that he could only see a few yards ahead; but
he was never in fault, as when he could not see the game he could
hear it plainly, so he never slackened. The chase went on always
with the prospect of success tantalizingly before him, until at last
he was at fault in a little clearing where the reeds had been beaten
down, and from which there branched several lanes. He stopped to
listen, but the buck had stopped too. Then he searched for the
blood-trail, and, finding it, set off once more, and this time,
after another chase lasting about ten minutes, the buck was
overtaken and despatched. Then he threw himself on his back and
panted for breath. When he had recovered he sat up and wondered, for
his hands and bare arms were bleeding from a number of cuts that
began to smart most painfully. The sharp saw-like edges of the reeds
bad cut into his flesh, and in the excitement he had not noticed the
injuries.  Thanks, however, to the regulations enforced by Mr. Hume,
he carried in the pouches of his belt a little store of quinine,
vaseline, and meat lozenges. He rubbed the vaseline on the cuts,
mopped his face, and felt all right. Then he put his hand to his
mouth and gave a "coo-ee." The call was strangled in the reeds. He
called again, fired off his gun, and waited, but he could hear
nothing but a soft whispering.  The reeds reached above his head,
and he could see nothing but the matted stems around him and the
blue sky overhead. He gave a grunt of impatience, lifted the buck,
hoisted the body on his shoulder, brought the fore legs round on one
side, the hind legs on the other side, and secured them before him
with his handkerchief. Then he stooped for his rifle, and plunged
into a path with the object of tramping straight through to the
outer edge, when he would get his bearings for the camp.

This was more easily intended than carried out; for the reeds closed
in so as to hamper his movements, and in a short time the path ran
into other tracks, which doubled here and there without any decided
direction, and led him into little dens. In one of these there was
the bleached skull of a buffalo, and he sat down on this to

He got the direction of the sun from the shadows, made a rough guess
at the points of the compass, and then started off again, picking
out a path that seemed wider than the others, and which led in the
right way. After steady tramping, he found himself back at the very
spot where he had killed the antelope. It was a nasty shock, but, in
no way dismayed, he tried to pick up his old spoor, and after a
patient search he hit it off, and went on with a little laugh. He
hesitated when he entered another little open space, but finally
kept on in the same direction, and finding the way easier, stepped
out confidently, although the weight of the buck was beginning to
tell, combined with the closeness of the air in these long aisles.
At last the reeds thinned, and he stepped out into the open. He
slipped the legs of the buck over his head to stretch himself, and
then a little cry of disgust broke from his lips, for the place he
had come to was not the outskirts of the reeds at all, but merely an
open space, larger than any he had met before, with a little grass
mound in the centre. Mounting this, he could see a run of trees in
the distance, and in between a sea of green leaves, giving back
myriad points of light under the rays of the sun. Queer soft noises
came out of the white rows of reeds all around, and from the vast
expanse a continual murmur that was something like the moaning of
the wind in the pines.

He fired his gun off and listened. A faint far-off answer he thought
he heard; but when he fired again he could detect no sound but the
whispering murmur. He cut a couple of stout reeds, fitted one into
the other, tied his handkerchief to the top, and planted the pole on
the mound. Then he placed the buck at the foot of the pole, covered
it with an armful of reeds, took a long look around, and started off
once more. He was resolved to keep straight on, path or no path, but
after a tussle with the serried ranks of reeds, with their razor-
like leaves, he soon gave up that idea as hopeless, and took again
to the paths--going very slowly, and taking his direction at
intervals. But, try as he would, there were the kinks and twists in
the paths which turned him out of his course. The endless game-
tracks formed a worse snare than any he had been in of human
contrivance; and at places, moreover, the ground was boggy, catching
hold of his feet, and exhausting him by the heavy going. Several
times animals broke cover and crashed away unseen. At one spot in
the ooze he saw the form of a huge crocodile, and at another place
the menacing head of a python was reared above the tops of the
reeds, with his forked tongue  flickering about the blunt nose.
These sights, and the sudden snorts from unseen beasts, bred in him
a growing feeling of uneasiness, which in turn weakened his powers
of reasoning,  so that he blundered hither and thither in a sort of
reckless fury, until he went flat, face downwards, in black mud,
that gripped him at every point. If he had struggled he would have
been hopelessly bogged, but luckily he recovered his wits, and set
himself slowly to extricate himself. His left foot was in up to the
knee, and his left arm was sinking each moment, when he steadied
himself and drew his knife. Beaching out, he cut a swathe of reeds,
drew them towards him with the knife-blade, packed them under his
chin and breast, then rolled over on to this firmer support, after a
strong and steady pull. Repeating the performance, he managed to get
one knee on to a bedding of reeds, then with one violent effort
freed himself and reached hard ground.

This incident shook him up so, that coming, after another effort, to
the open where he had left the buck, he gave up the struggle, seeing
that he must think of some other plan if he wished to get alive out
of this prison.

First he rested until his strength came back, then he cleaned his
mud-covered rifle, and scraped the black ooze off his clothes with
the knife. Then he heard a murmur in the reeds--a snap, then a
rustle; a long pause, then a rustling again. He stood up with rifle
ready, and he saw a reed shake about ten yards away, then heard it
snap. He shouted, and the rustling ceased, to break out after an
interval on the other side. Again it was resumed in the front, and
in a little while it seemed to him that the reeds were alive with
the stealthy rustlings of beasts and reptiles, all moving towards
him. A reed bent again a little way off, and he fired in the
direction. There was a crash and a growl, followed by a peculiar
moaning from the opposite side. From somewhere deep in the sea of
green there came the hoarse bellow of a bull crocodile. Nothing now
could have induced him to enter that bewildering labyrinth again,
and he looked about with a shudder, for the day was sinking to its
close, and the night would soon be upon him. There was only one
thing that could protect him in the night, and that was fire. With a
feverish energy, regardless now of the rustlings about his little
island, he began to cut the tallest of the reeds that were hard and
sapless, and these he banked in six heaps round the base of the
mound; and when the task was done he reared a bigger pile in the
centre as a reserve.

Then the black of the night swept over the reeds quick almost as the
shadow of a cloud, and with the dark came a sad rustling, as of a
thousand whisperings. It was still and not still. Up in the sky was
the quietness of a still night, the stars watching and brooding over
the silence; but down below, in and out of the miles and miles of
avenues, stretching every way through the millions of smooth
gleaming stems, came a whispering as if creatures were moving tip-
toe, moving up nearer and nearer, treading  carefully, watching and
listening. An owl brushed like a shadow overhead, and his loud
"whoo-whoo" floated away in sadness and sorrow.

He sat with his back to the reserve heap of reeds, and waited with
his rifle over his knees for the signal to fire his first pile.
There was as yet no clear meaning in those mysterious whisperings.
What he listened for was a sound that he could interpret, and it
came very soon in the grunt of a leopard, harsh and grating. The
reeds rustled just before him, and then there came a sound, regular
and strange--a thump and a swish, then a thump and a swish. Creeping
forward, he put a match to the heap, then went back; and as the red
flame crackled through the hard shining stems, he saw a dark form
crouching beyond, the green eyes blinking in the reflection, and the
tufted tail nervously jerking from side  to side. It was that made
the strange noise. As the flame  grew, the leopard sprang up and
turned away, stopping for a  long stare over its shoulder.

Light fragments from the burning pile floated high up like fire-
flies, and far over the white sea of leaves shone the reflection.
Others saw it from the far outer edge, and through the night came
the report of a gun, and then faintly the echo of a "coo-ee." He
shouted back hoarsely, and though he knew his friends could not
possibly force the way to him through that barrier, impenetrable
except by the devious game-tracks, he was greatly cheered.

His mind was taken off his loneliness for a time, and he suddenly
found that he was fearfully hungry. So with his handy knife he
stripped the skin from a hind leg of the antelope, cut off a fine
steak, and scraping out a layer of glowing embers, placed the meat
on. With the cooking and eating of his supper the time went
cheerfully; but meantime the flame had died out, and something
alighted with a thud just behind. He whipped round, but could see
nothing, and moved to the fire to kick some of the live coals to the
next heap. In that instant the antelope was seized and carried off
in a couple of bounds just inside the reeds, for he heard plainly
the tearing of the flesh, the snarls, the growling, and the
crunching of bones. He crouched near the fire, for it was not
pleasant to think of that stealthy approach and that bold foray, and
wondered whether the buck would satisfy the pair of fierce
creatures. The fire flared up, crackled fiercely, sending up, as
before, its fiery messengers into the air, then gradually died down
to a glowing heap; and the leopards were still at their meal,
purring now, a monstrous cat-like purr. There was comfort in it,
however, for it seemed to him to tell of hunger satisfied, and by-
and-by they indeed went off, grunting to each other.  Then there
came a long spell of silence. He gathered the unburnt fragments that
fringed the two heaps of embers and piled them on one of the heaps.
They blazed up, and by the light he rearranged the other stacks of
fuel. He realized that he could easily be struck down by a leopard
if he ventured away from a fire, and he hit on the idea of building
his fires in the shape of a cross, one at the top, one at the
bottom, one on each side, and space inside for him to lie down.
Inside he made a bed of reeds, from which he could draw supplies as
they were needed. He fired the top pile, and then, after a long
wait, the bottom one, and when that had burnt down to embers, and
the night was far advanced, he stretched himself out, protected by
four smouldering heaps of ash, that glowed like four red eyes in the

He looked up at the stars for a long time as he rested in his lonely
camping-ground, and then dropped into an uneasy sleep. Something
awoke him very soon, and his eyes opened on the dark vault above. A
booming noise reached him. It was the grunt of a lion this time, but
far off--a deep monotonous sound made by the lion on the trot, with
his mouth near the ground. It was very far off, and with a sigh of
relief he closed his eyes. And then he heard the sound again, and
knew it was not the lion that had awakened him. He rose on his elbow
and peered about, but the darkness came right up to the ash-heaps,
looking white now instead of red. He placed a handful of dry reeds
on the nearest heap and blew. There was a glow, a flicker, and then
a flare. In the reflection he saw dimly a patch of white, then
another patch next it. This roused him, so that he set all the four
fires going again, and, with his rifle ready, he stood up to see
what manner of visitors these were with the white marks.

He had heard slight noises as he fed the fires, and now the reeds
rustled, but he could see no living form. Sitting down, he laid a
few handfuls of reeds ready to each fire, then waited with shaken
nerves, for there was something mysterious about this visitation.
The fires flared up and sunk back to red embers, and yet there was
no sign. The embers took on a covering of grey ash, then the
rustling began anew, and the white objects reappeared. He turned his
head, and saw that they stretched right round! What the dickens were
they? He strained his sight, and, at first indistinctly and then
clearly, he saw the gleam of eyes above each white patch. Softly he
laid a few reeds on the embers, and as they crackled he saw one of
the white objects move. As the flame mounted up, he made out an
animal with round ears and brindled hide, staring nervously at the
fire. It was a wild-dog! Only a dog, and with a "shoo!" he thought
to scare the creature off. The yellow eyes went from the fire to his
face, a red tongue slithered out over the black nose, and the dog
sat down again. All round were the white breasts of the pack, as
they sat in silence and stared. He searched about for a missile,
found an empty cartridge, and threw it. A dog leapt up and sniffed.
The circle seemed to close in.

He shouted at them, and they gave back a yelp, but never stirred.

"All right," he said grimly, then aimed at a white breast and fired.
The pack scattered into the reeds; there was a beating and kicking
noise, followed by a wild rush, a savage snarling and snapping of
teeth. Dog was eating dog; and, with a feeling of disgust and
contempt, he prepared himself to rest. A little later the white
circle was complete again, and the silent inspection was continued.
This got on his nerves, and, springing over the fire with his rifle
clubbed, he gave two sweeping blows. The dogs slipped away from his
front, only to reappear with threatening growls on his flank. He
leapt back to safety and fired; but the light was bad, and he
missed. Piling on a few more reeds, he emptied his magazine rapidly,
facing all parts of the circle, and making some hits, as he judged
from the howling that went up.

"There!" he shouted savagely, "will that satisfy you?" The pack fell
upon the wounded, and was back again into position, coming closer
and closer as the fires died down.

Then he remembered the stories he had heard of the persistence of
the wild-dogs--how they would drive off even a lion from his prey--
and he fell to counting his cartridges. There were only five left.
He counted the dogs. There were more than fifteen, as far as he
could reckon; and if he reduced them to ten, he could not hope to
withstand the final rush of ten big-jawed and active animals. Even
if he could keep them off in that open space, he could not stay
there another day; and if they tackled him in the reeds, he would
have no chance. He began to rack his brain for a scheme; but while
he thought, the circle closed in until quite plainly he could
distinguish the staring eyes all centered upon him. He piled on more
fuel, and as the flames sprang up they fell back. As the flames died
down, they advanced as by a given signal. He kept on adding to the
fires until his fingers, groping for fresh reeds, found none, and
the sweat broke out on his forehead. In one hour at least there
would not be light enough from the smouldering heaps for him to see
a mark, and then--something had to be done!

No doubt the watchful eyes saw the sign of fear in his face. At once
the circle closed in, and this time he could see that several of the
dogs were not sitting, but standing, as if ready for the final
spring. He fingered a cartridge, then suddenly flung it into the
topmost heap of glowing ash. The eyes of the pack followed the
missile, and for a second each dog looked at the heap. As they
looked there was a report, and a mass of live embers was scattered
high and wide, over them, over the opening, into the fringe of
reeds. With wild yelps of fear and pain the pack broke, and Compton
groveled on the ground with his hands before his face, for he had
flattened himself just in time to escape being blinded by the
burning dust, some of which, however, did get into his eyes. A
little fly in the eye, as many a cyclist has found to his cost, is
enough to engage the entire attention for five minutes, but a
handful of ash gives more anguish to the square inch; and when
Compton succeeded in opening his inflamed vision upon the scene, a
transformation had happened in the writhing interval. The air was
full of a sharp crackling and little explosions, and the first thing
he saw was a slender tongue of flame running up a tall reed, and
quivering for a moment high above. Other flames ran in and out among
the withered white sheaths that had dropped off, and mounted up the
smooth stems, and then there came a wandering puff of wind, which
rustled over the bending tops and fanned the little serpent-tongues
of fire into one devouring flame.

He had no wish to be roasted. Once more using his knife to cut down
a sheaf of stems, he made a flail of these, and beat out the fire to
windward. And as he worked on the one side of the little clearing
the fire grew on the other side, and then raced along, leaving
behind in the blackened area many separate fires, where masses of
reeds had been beaten down. And the smoke went up in a growing cloud
that blotted out the sky--went up and fortunately rolled away
towards the great river under the sufficient strength of the wind;
otherwise he would have been suffocated. The cracking of the reeds
was like rifle-fire breaking through the roar of the flames, and now
and again the crashing of animals on the stampede could be heard. He
looked out upon his work with awe, stood and gazed spellbound,
wondering if such a sea of flame could ever be stopped, fearing that
it would spread out into the bush beyond, and run up into the forest
and devour every tree until stopped by the mighty river itself. As
he looked, he heard some creature before him writhing in the
blackened track of the fire, and presently he made it out--a great
crocodile convulsively lashing its powerful tail. Going near with
cautious steps, he put it out of its misery with a ball under the
forearm; then he went on over the scorched ground very slowly, for
the burnt reeds were like sharp stakes to the feet. And as he
followed, the fire died out before him, and began to eat its way
right and left, working back through the reeds against the wind.
Then he heard the report of a gun, and as he stepped from the burnt
area on to the short grass that had offered no fuel for the fire,
something came springing around him, and before he could pull
trigger it was off with a yelp into the darkness under the canopy of
smoke. "Coo-ee--coo-ee! Compton--ahoy! Compton!"

Compton croaked and hobbled on.

Then the creature yelped about him again, and his friends were
shaking him by the hands.

"You know," he said with a croak, "I didn't mean to set fire to the

"Thank God, my boy, you did," said Mr. Hume, fervently.  Then he
lifted the boy up in his arms.

"I can walk," said Compton; and, to prove it, his head rolled
helplessly on his shoulder.

Mr. Hume strode off to the river, and washed the layer of soot off
the blackened face, laved the red eyes, and moistened the cracked
lips and parched tongue. Then he gave the boy a soothing drink,
rubbed oil on his feet and face; rolled him in a blanket, and
carried him up to the camping-ground under the precipice.



In the morning they packed up and made their way upstream to the
place where they had left the sections of the Okapi, for such a
banner of smoke as was still mounting  from the smouldering reeds
was bound to attract inspection from the natives. They found the
hiding-place undisturbed, and, after putting the boat together, went
on down to the Congo. Slipping out upon the great river in the dusk,
they went on slowly for several miles, tied up till the early dawn,
and spread the little sail to the morning breeze. The boat had a
singular appearance, for  strips of biltong were suspended from the
awning, not  having been quite cured, and the buffalo-hide was
hanging  over the side, in soak, to soften it for the final
treatment that would take the hair off and leave it soft  and

Compton was allowed a day off, and slept the sleep of the tired; but
the others were all occupied--one keeping watch, another steering,
and the third cleaning up. The jackal, like Compton, was unemployed,
and curled itself up by his feet, opening one eye occasionally to
see that all was shipshape. Through the morning they went, and into
the afternoon; then Venning, who was outlook-man, gave tongue--

"A sail--a sail!"

"Where--away?" yelled Compton, waking up.

"On the port bow, hull down, paddle showing."

"Then it's a canoe, you duffer, not a sail."

"A canoe it is, sir; single-handed, and bearing right down upon us.
Shall we speak her?"

"Luff--luff! and we'll pour a broadside into her lee scuppers," said
Compton, ferociously.

"She's signalling," returned Venning; "distress signal, I think."

Mr. Hume went forward and took a look through his glasses. A
solitary canoe was certainly in view, with a single boatman aboard,
who was frantically waving his paddle. Then he swept the shore for
signs of life.

"There are some people squatting just by that tall palm," he
muttered. "Have a look, Venning."

Venning made out several persons at the spot. "They can't do us any
harm," he said, and brought the glasses to bear on the canoe. "The
chap appears to be in a stew about something, from the way he
glances over his shoulder."

They sailed down towards the lonely paddler, who was soon alongside
--thanks to an extraordinary agility. He appeared to be greatly
pleased at the meeting, grinned continuously, and at once prepared
to get aboard the Okapi.

Mr. Hume, however, kept him off with a "not so fast" and a hand
against his breast.

"Talk to him, Muata. Ask him what he wants, who he is, and all the

Muata stepped into the canoe, caught up the paddle, and sat down to
palaver. A line was made fast to the canoe, and it drifted astern of
the Okapi, which kept on her course.

The canoe-man's grin faded away, and his eyes rolled as Muata
ordered him to sit. He seemed to be a river tribesman, with only a
loin-cloth on.

"Don't eat him, chief," sang out Compton; for Muata had a very ugly
look on his face as he eyed the stranger.

The man himself seemed to think there was cause for this plea on his
behalf, for, to the amazement of all, he responded in broken

"Oh yeh-es, he eatee me. Poah black man come to white master for
heiup, not to wild black man."

"By Jove, he talks English! Let the poor beggar come aboard, sir."

"He's all right where he is," said Mr. Hume.

The man did not think so, and began hauling on the rope, when Mr.
Hume drew his knife and made as if he would cut the canoe loose. He
ceased from pulling, and, after a despairing look, crouched down.

"We will talk," said Muata, courteously, poising the paddle in his
hand. "How is your venerable mother?"

"She has a wonderful dish of fish and manioc for her son's guests.
You will do her the favour to eat of that dish," said the stranger,

"And is your venerable mother's kraal up the river?"

"A sun's march distant, by a garden of bananas. Also there is a fat

"And what does her excellent son so far from the village?"

"There were tales of bad men," said the stranger, plucking up
spirit, "and these tales drew me away, for the price offered for
their capture was great, and my  fetish told me where they were

"And the little son was greedy? He kept this word of his fetish from
the honourable ears of his mother, so that he would have the price
to himself, eh?"

"Truly a great chief," murmured the boatman, with reverence. "It was
as you say."

"And it fell out that, when you came to the place where the boatmen
were hid, they were on their guard, so that you fled?"

"O great chief, it was even so. I fled in a canoe."

"And seeing this our canoe of shining metal, you found courage to
leave the reeds wherein you hid to come to us for help?"

"Oh, wonderful!" said the canoe-man, turning up his eyes. "When
these eyes saw your shining canoe, they were gladdened, for I said,
'Here come helpers.'"

"And you will take us to where these men are hidden, so that we may
share the price that is on their heads?"

The man grinned. "You can have all the prize--all," he said, "and
after we will go to my venerable mother, and eat fish and goats'

Muata smiled gently. "All the price?"

"Did I say all?" said the man, with a swift look at the chief. "I
did wrong to my people--a portion to them and a portion to me."

"That is fair," said Muata.

"Oh, good words. See, I beat my mouth for the ill word I spoke;" and
he struck his mouth. "But see, O chief, we move on, and the bad men
will see us going, and make a plan to escape."

"Let it be so. If they see us they will see we are passing on, and
be comforted. And who will pay the price that is set on their

"They have the price with them," said the man, with a cunning look,
"in ivory, in palm-oil, and in many things they have robbed from the

"And what avails them, all those things--which are heavy things--if
they have no canoes to carry them in to the traders?"

"Did I say they had no canoes? A great fleet they have waiting in
hiding, till all the band come together from the hiding, waiting on
the other shore. It was because I saw the fleet of canoes on the
river, crossing to the far side, that I hoped to surprise the few
who were left."

"And when may those canoes return?"

"The men collect their goods for the going; the time must be short
before they leave."

"And where do the others lie hid?"

"By the great palm-tree, over there."

"Where there were men sitting watching? It was because they had no
canoes that they did not follow you? Shall I tell you what was in my
thought? This, that you and they were friends, and that you were the
bait to draw us into the trap."

The man grinned nervously, and glanced at the water. "Would a little
man trust himself in the power of such great chiefs, if his heart
was crooked. I came for help, but if it pleases you to continue to
the village, and to leave these bad men, it will please me also."

"And if we attack these men," asked Muata, after a pause, "what plan
have you made for us?"

The boatman was relieved. His eyes brightened again. "See, we would
land beyond that point ahead, and in the dark steal upon the

"We are too few," said Muata, after turning the matter over. "Now,
if you could bring some of your friends to help, it might be done."

"I am alone, and you are great warriors. Your name has gone abroad."

"How? You know us, then?"

"All white men are the same in battle," said the other, quickly.

"Think over my words--that some men are wanted. There must be men to
guard our canoe, others to watch for the return of the robbers from
across the river. You must get men, otherwise we do nothing."

The canoe-man pondered, then he clapped his hand over his mouth.

"Yoh! The fear of death confused me, and drove from my thought that
my brother is near with warriors protecting the gardens."

"Good, then.  Go to your brother. Bring him and his warriors to the
point you spoke of, light a fire there to guide us, and in the dark
we will join you."

Muata hauled on the rope, boarded the Okapi, and set the canoe

"Do as I have said--gather the men quickly, light a fire, guide us
to the hiding-place, and in the morning we will share the riches.

"And is that the word of the white chief also?" asked the man,

"Did not the white chief leave this palaver to me? Go! for there is
no time to waste."

The paddle flashed as the man sped for the shore near the point he
had referred to, which was several miles above the spot where he had
been taken in tow.

"Well?" said Mr. Hume, glancing at the chief, "He goes to collect
men to meet us this night."


"Wow! There are bad men--robbers--to be attacked, and much ivory to
be taken."

"We want no ivory, nor quarrels either."

"But I gave my word we would help him. It is a good thing to fall
upon robbers."

"If there is to be a shindy, I'm in for it," said Compton.

"Who are the robbers?"

Muata laughed, and snapped his fingers. "You saw the man in the

Mr. Hume nodded, and looked after the paddler with knit brows.

"And you?"--to Compton.

"I have eyes, chief."

"And you?"

"I saw him first," said Venning.

"And he was a stranger?"

"Of course."

Muata laughed. "White men know many things, but not all. Haw! Who
are those to be eaten up?" He touched his naked breast, and then
pointed at each in turn.

"They would attack us," roared Mr. Hume.

The chief nodded. "Now you know who that stranger was who came with
his long story."

"One black chap is like another," muttered Compton.

"Who was he?" asked Mr. Hume.

"The servant of the white chiefs who bound me."

"The Zanzibari boy!" exclaimed Venning. "My Jenkins!"

"Why didn't you knock the beggar overboard?" said Compton. "What

"Does he know you recognized him?" said Mr. Hume.

"The dog was afraid; but at the last he went away, thinking he led
Muata by a rope, as he would lead a goat. Had Hassan, the wolf,
tried to blind Muata so, then----" The chief touched the hilt of his

"Let us hear the story."

Muata repeated the whole conversation with much byplay, even
imitating the tones, the nervousness, and the sly glances of the
Zanzibar spy, for nothing had escaped his keen glance.

"And those men whose presence he suddenly  remembered, and who are
to meet us to-night, will be Hassan's slave-robbers, too?"

"Ow aye," said Muata, with a ferocious gleam in his eyes.

"So, then, they have been waiting for us?"

"On both sides of the river they have been waiting;" and the chief
looked out over the brown flood towards the north bank.

"It was well you talked to the man, for he was skillfully
disguised, even to me, who am no child in these matters."

"Muata is old in cunning," said the chief, quietly. "If he were not
wise, he would not be dreaded by the Wolf."

"I never recognized the beggar," said Venning, "and even now I
cannot recall a feature that was like the Zanzibar! How did you
discover him, Muata?"

"Wow! He wore nothing in his ears, there were no marks on his body,
he had rubbed the dark juice of the chewing-leaf over his skin, and
there was a lie on his tongue, and in his eyes. Ho!--white men, this
is my word, that we fall on them to-night." The chief picked up a
Ghoorka knife. "This is my weapon."

"We are not man-hunters," said Mr. Hume.  "We will, however, hang
about till evening, so that they may think we have no suspicions,
and then in the dusk we will push on."

"Wow!" said the chief.  "My plan would be to land above, to creep
down and take them unprepared."

"And the canoes from the other side would steal across and cut you
off. No; we will leave them."

"The canoes from the other side," said Compton, starting up. "I
rather think I saw one shoot into that island--the big one with the
palm-tree in the centre."

"All right," said the hunter, quickly. "Don't look that way; take in
the sail. If they are there, we don't want to draw their attack now.
Get out the sculls, Venning, and keep her towards the sandbank
ahead. Just keep her moving."

The sail rattled down, and the Okapi lazily moved nearer the shore,
leaving about a mile of water between her and the island, towards
which Mr. Hume, lying flat, was directing his glasses. The others
were looking ostentatiously shorewards.

"You are right, Compton; canoes are gathering under that island."

"Congela," said the chief, "there is a man watching  us from the

"Signal to him," said Mr. Hume. "You see, what we want is to keep
those canoes where they are till night; and they probably won't move
till they have a signal from their friends ashore."

Muata called out, and a man who was skulking behind a bush stepped

"Why do you watch, my friend?"

"O chiefs," shouted the man, "all goes well. The men will be here at
nightfall, and the fire will be lit to guide you."

"It is good," said Muata. "We will wait."

The man stood for some time watching, then went into the bush, and
the crew of the Okapi, to divert suspicion, got out fishing-lines
and fished; but all the time Mr. Hume, lying under the awning,
watched the distant island, which shielded an unknown number of
their watchful foes.

"Woo!" said Muata, "the great one was right; and Muata is still a
boy. Haw! Truly, if we had landed, our journey would have ended

"Suppose the canoes dash out before dark?" said Venning.

"Then we will make a run for it."

It was a long, long afternoon. Anxiously they waited for the sun to
set, and the boys marked the slow creeping of the shadows over the
river thrown by the ridge on the south bank, and anxiously Mr. Hume
watched the island and the broad sweep ahead--for the danger was
ahead. If the enemy had taken precautions to send a portion of the
fleet up-river, they stood a chance of being intercepted.

At last the hour had come. The sky was turning grey, the shadows
reached right across, and the evening wind was rustling the leaves.
The Okapi began to move. She crept away from the shore, and then
turned again with her bows to the bank.  So she waited a few minutes
while the darkness deepened, then, as a flame broke out on land, the
sail was run up; she came round once more with her bows up-stream,
and slipped along. Looking back, they saw the fire spring up at the
appointed landing-place, and, listening intently, they caught the
crackling of the burning wood.

"They move," said Muata.

The others bent their heads, and presently they too heard the sound
that had reached the keener sense of the warrior--a rhythmical beat
and hum made by many paddles as the man-hunters, who had hidden
behind the island, were dashing forward in hot haste to catch the
Okapi, which they expected would be landing its crew. But the Okapi
slipped on, and had a very good lead when Hassan and his slave-
hunters set up a terrific outcry on finding that once more they had
been tricked. They made right across in a long beat for the north
bank, then working the screw in turns, with the great lamp at the
bows to scare off the hippos, they made good progress till sunrise.
For five days thereafter they kept steadily on their way, meeting
with no adventure, and keeping out in mid-river to avoid the
attention of the villagers. When, at intervals, they did land to buy
goats'-milk, bananas, and manioc, they took precautions to approach
clearings where there were only a few huts.



On the fifth day they turned from the mighty Congo into a tributary
that threaded the dark mysterious forest, whose depths had never
been trodden yet by white men, whose dark retreats and sombre
avenues, into which no ray of sunlight struggled, were the haunt of
the gorilla, of pigmies, and of cannibals, dreaded most of all.
After the broad Congo this was a mere thread, no more than a few
hundred yards across, a gloomy opening in the gloomy woods that
marched right down to its shores; that sent out huge branches in a
leafy roof over the water near the banks, making dark retreats, in
which lurked watchful crocodiles. The stir and bustle of the great
river found no echo in this silent byway.  Nowhere was there any
trace of man. The forest seemed  impenetrable, beyond all his puny
efforts to make a footing.

There seemed no room enough for a man to set his foot, so close was
the foliage from the ground to the topmost bough of the tallest
tree. Mile after mile they went on, without a sign of life, then
from the shore an arrow whistled, pierced the awning, and rang on
the metal deck.

Compton put the wheel over, and the Okapi slid away from that
dangerous screen. Then they slowed up and looked, but there was no
sound and no sign from the hidden enemy. Doubtless, fierce eyes were
glaring out upon them, but they could see nothing, and with a long
uneasy look all around they kept on for a mile or so, when they came
upon a clearing that spoke of man. It spoke of man, but there was
nothing living in the few acres that had been hewn out of the woods.
A ring of black embers showed where huts had stood, a dug-out canoe
lay half in, half out the waters, a broken clay pot, a rusty hoe,
and a litter of bones were gathered forlornly in one spot, and a
strip of cloth fluttered from a scarred post. They ran the Okapi in,
and Muata, with his jackal, leapt ashore to decipher what this
writing in the forest meant. The jackal showed none of the delight
that a dog would have shown under similar conditions, but at once
vanished into the wood, with his nose to the ground, bent on the
serious business of life--that of nosing out the enemy, while his
master, with his favourite Ghoorka knife in his hand, rapidly
inspected the ground.

Instinctively they all felt the need for caution. The boys had the
edge taken off their rash ardour long before, but that sinister
warning from the forest in the shape of the arrow had driven home
again the lesson that it was necessary to be always on guard.

The forest, in its silence and in its gloom, was menacing.  They
glanced up the river. It stretched away like an avenue cut out of a
solid mass of vegetation, and all the length to the spot where the
banks seemed to run together, as if the river had ended, there was
no sign of living thing.

Suddenly an animal darted across the clearing and crouched behind
Muata. It was the jackal, the hair on its neck erect, and its body
quivering with fear, or excitement.  Then a branch snapped with a
startling report, there was a violent shaking of leaves, a short
bark-like roar, and then a noise of shaking gradually decreasing.

Muata had fallen back to the river's brink at the roar, but now he
turned his attention once more to the clearing.

"What was that?"

"Man-monkey," he said quietly.

"Gorilla! By Jove!" and the boys stared into the forest, and then at
each other. "Perhaps he's gone to call up the others. Will he come
back, Muata?"

"Not he," said Mr. Hume.  "He's just about as frightened as we were.
What are the signs, Muata?"

"Wow! Bad--bad signs. These be the bones of men;" and he turned over
the ashes with his foot. "They were few who made a home here, and
the man-eaters marked them for their own. In the night they fell on
the village, killed the men, and rested here while they feasted--
rested till the last was eaten; then with the women and the children
they went back. That much the signs tell me."

"Does he mean," asked Venning, in horror, "that they were

Mr. Hume nodded his head.

"The brutes," muttered Compton, turning white.

"I don't wonder," said Venning, in a whisper. "This place is enough
to breed any horror."

"It will be safe to land," said the chief, quietly.

"But what of the arrow?"

"That was not shot by a man-eater. It was the arrow of a river-man;
maybe the same man loosened it as tied the fetish cloth to the pole,
for one has been here since the man-eaters left."

He put two fingers in his mouth and produced a shrill whistle.

There was no answer; and after a time they all landed to stretch
their legs, but the associations of the place, with those grim
remains of the cannibal feast, were too terrible, and they did not
stay long. As the Okapi resumed her voyage up the sombre defile, a
faint whistle sounded on the opposite bank. Muata replied in the
same fashion, and called out.

Back from the shadows came a quavering answer. Muata called again,
and out from under the roof of leaves, formed by the overhanging
branches, shot a tiny craft, with two men in her. The Okapi slowed
down, and the little canoe, with many a halt, timidly drew near till
the occupants could be clearly seen. One--he who wielded the paddle
--was a young man, black as soot, with a shaggy head of frizzled
wool, and wild, suspicious eyes. The other, who appeared to be
urging the other to more speed, was an old man, whose head was
covered by an Arab fez.

"Peace be with you," said Mr. Hume, in Arab.

"And with you, also," replied the old man, in a thin voice. "Haste,
my son!"--this to the paddler. "They are white men, such as I have
spoken of."

The canoe gradually drew near, and the old man held out a shaking
hand to be helped on board the larger boat; but the wild man
remained in his dug-out. The old man told his story slowly in a
strange dialect understood by Muata, and the purport of it was that
the cannibals had surprised the village at dawn, killed all the men
with the exception of themselves, and had gone off with the women.

It was a familiar story to Muata, and he related it coldly; but his
indifference did not last very long. It was plain that the old man
was not of the same race as his companion, and when the two had
eaten, Compton asked the old chap how he came to wear a fez and
speak Arabic.

"It is the speech of my fathers, effendi," he said, turning his
smoke-bleared eyes on the young face.

"And how came it that an Arab was dwelling with the river-people?"
asked Muata. "Sooner would I have looked for an old wolf living at
peace with the goats."

The Arab withdrew his gaze from Compton and fastened it on the otter
outlined on the chiefs breast. With a skinny finger he pointed at
the chief.

"Allah is great," he said. "This is his work; and you will follow on
the track of the man-eaters."

"Save your speech, old man, for we work not for river-people; and
you forget the arrow that was loosed at us."

"This one loosed it in rage at the loss of his wife, mistaking you
for wolves; but, even so, it was as Allah willed, for the arrow
warned you of our presence."

"You speak in circles, my friend," said Compton. "Show us the finger
of Allah in this matter?"

"This," said the old man, solemnly, placing his finger on Muata's
breast, "is he they call the River Wolf, the son of the wise woman,
the warrior who will follow the track of the man-eaters."

"What know ye of the wise woman?" demanded the chief.

"We talked together, she and I, at the village that is burnt, of the
days when Muata was a babe in her arms, when these limbs of mine
were strong to do service for a white man, whose voice was the voice
of the young effendi."

"And where now is the wise woman, old man?"

"It is four days since the cannibals left.  Tell me where they would
be, O warrior, for the forest is your hunting-ground."

Muata lowered his eyelids, and took the news of his mother's capture
by the cannibals in silence; but Compton was burning with excitement
at the reference to the white man.

"What white man was that you spoke of? I look for such a one."

"Men search not for the dead, effendi."

"But for signs of the dead--for the place of his burial, for the
book he wrote, for the things he left."

The old man nodded. "Allah is great. Is it not as I said; you have
been guided hither?"

"But tell me of the white man," said Compton, impatiently.

"We two, the wise woman and I, talked of the white man; and she
knows all. See, I am old, and the past is like a mist, through which
old memories pass quickly like shadows; but the wise woman can blow
the mist away. Find her, and you will learn all of my white man."

More than this the old man could not say, and presently  he fell
asleep; but from the wild man Muata learnt that his mother had
indeed been at the village.

"And you will want to leave us, chief?" said Mr. Hume, when the
story had been straightened out.

"Ow aye. Shall a son leave the mother who bore him through the
dangers of the wood? I will follow;" and his eyes lingered on the
Ghoorka knife.

"The knife you can take, chief, and food; but we will miss you. Put
him up some biltong, Venning."

Venning hesitated.

"Put up some for me too," said Compton, peremptorily.

Mr. Hume raised his brows.

"I mean it so, sir. You will remember that my great hope was to find
some trace of my father; and who can this white man be if he is not
my father? Will you take me with you, chief?"

The chief shook his head. "This river-man and I go together on the

Compton stormed and begged; but the chief remained silent, with his
eyes on Mr. Hume.

"What's all the fuss about?" put in Venning. "We have come here to
explore and hunt, not to crawl for ever up a river. What is to
prevent us all from following on the track of the cannibals?"

"If Compton had made that suggestion," said Mr. Hume, "we could at
least have considered it calmly in the interest of the whole party;
but he has thought only of himself."

"I am awfully sorry," said Compton, firing up. "I did not think."

"No," said the hunter, drily; "otherwise you would have known that I
would not permit you to leave us."

"Of course I could not break up the party," said Compton, eagerly;
"but you will think over Venning's proposal, won't you, sir? We have
come to explore the forest. Let us begin now when we have such a
good reason."

"Do you hear, Muata; the young men say that we should all follow on
the trail?"

"It is my quarrel," said the chief, not jumping at the offer.

Mr. Hume smoked in silence.

"Yet the man-eaters are strong," Muata said presently.

"They have also guns given by the man-stealers. The great one and
the young lions would be worth many men; but the forest is dark, the
way is hard, and not fit for white men."

Mr. Hume grunted.

"When Muata goes on the war-path, he fights his own way, on his own
plan. On the war-path Muata is chief."

The hunter turned his calm eyes on the wild river-man.

"Chief of one."

"Of one or none, it does not matter, great one; since to be chief is
to do what is best."

"Your plans are your own. Consider. If we go, we will do nothing to
spoil those plans; but, in the end, if you want help to rescue the
wise woman--your mother--then we will be ready to help you."

"It is a good word; but consider also, great one, that those who
walk the forest must know the forest, and those who know the forest
must lead, lest there be divided counsels, and wanderings that lead
nowhere but to death."

"Am I, then, a boy at this work?"

"Wow! That was not my thought; but the lion hunts in the open land,
the tiger in the bush.  If the lion roared in the forest, see, the
evil ones would hear and prepare a trap for him."

"Well, chief, hear this. In all things I will take your advice. If
it is good, we will follow it; if bad, you can go your own way."

"It is well," said the chief, slowly. "I and this man will follow on
the trail to find whither it leads. Tomorrow we will return, and if
the great one is then of the same mind, we will start."

"Good. In the mean time we will find a place where we can leave the
boat, with such things as we do not need."

Muata glanced at the old Arab, then said softly, "When you have
found your hiding-place, see that ye three only know of it." He
nodded his head. "I would trust no man with the secret. I should not
like to know of it myself, for the things you have would make one of
us rich."

With a little packet of food, his Ghoorka knife, and his jackal,
Muata entered the dug-out, and landed again on the clearing. They
waved their hands to him, and then turned their attention to the old
Arab, who was sipping a cup of coffee with every sign of

"Old man, we go soon on the trail of the cannibals into the forest
where you could not follow. What shall we do with you?"

"As Allah wills," was the resigned reply.

"Think. Is there any village where you would be safe until we

"Few who enter the forest ever return.  A day's journey in a canoe
there is a path in the wood that leads to a village. If I could
reach the path, it would do; but----"

The Okapi straightway continued up the dark river, through the
silence of the sombre woods, and the old man drank his coffee, and
then gave himself up to the pleasure of tobacco, with his dull eyes
fixed on Compton.

In the afternoon he pointed to a palm-tree. "There is a path," he

"Is there anything you would like?" asked Compton.

"Coffee is good, and tobacco is a great comforter."

They made him up a packet of these luxuries, and added a blanket.

"Allah is good," he muttered.

"After we have recovered the wise woman, maybe we will search you
out, for we look, then, for the Garden of Rest."

"Ay, so he called it.  The Garden of Rest, and the gates thereof.
Ay, I would see the place again."

"You know it?" Compton said eagerly. "Then you must have known my

"A white man I knew, effendi. The good white man, many years ago;
and my old eyes told me that you were of his blood. If the forest
gives you up, search for this path and follow it; and if I be alive,
I would go to that place in the clouds. Allah be with you."

"And with you."

The Okapi was driven into the bank, and the old man stepped ashore.

"See that you keep your counsel, my friend," Said Mr. Hume.  "We
want no prowlers about our camp."

They turned the Okapi down-stream again, and considered  where they
should hide her, for that was a thing to be done with the utmost
care. It was, however, very difficult to decide; for in the screen
of the wood, all along the banks, every spot seemed the same, and
there were many reasons against tying up in some dark retreat and
leaving the precious craft to its fate, at the mercy of the rising
or falling water, and at the risk of discovery by prowling

"We must get her aground," said Mr. Hume; and they poked into the
banks here and there in search of a likely landing, ultimately
finding a spot where a huge tree had fallen bodily into the river,
dragging away with its roots a mass of earth. They marked the place,
and returned to the clearing to camp for the night. By the light of
a fire and of the lamps they went through the stores, and made up
five packages, one for each man to carry. Sheets of oiled canvas
were left out, rubber boots, and oilskin coverings for their hats
and shoulders. In the morning Compton was left behind in the
clearing in charge of the packages, while the other two took the
Okapi down to her berth, which was about half a mile down on the
same side. They drove the boat into the little natural dock, then
with their Ghoorka knives cleared a little place in the forest, and
next, with a small pioneer spade, dug a trench in the soft mould
more than large enough to hold the boat. Then a foundation was laid
of saplings; the walls were also lined with tough wood, and the
Okapi, lightened of her cargo and steel deck, was bodily dragged up,
and, after a long effort, safely lowered into the dry dock.
Everything was made trim, a layer of branches placed over all, then
the leaf-mould restored, and all leveled down. Working unceasingly,
the job took them till well on into the afternoon, when they rested
a while; then, with their knives in hand, set off to work their way
back to the clearing. All they had to do was to follow the river. It
was simple enough in theory, but in practice it was a tough job, as
they had to struggle every foot of the way, squirming and crawling.
When they heard Compton's hail they had come to the conclusion that
the forest was a trap, its mysteries a delusion, and its general
qualities altogether disgusting.

"You have been a time!" shouted Compton, as the two, hot, red-faced,
and tattered, stepped out and straightened themselves up with hands
to the small of the back.

"I'm as hungry as three, and have been under a terrific strain to
keep from eating the finest and fattest baked 'possum you ever saw.
Come on."

"'Possum?" said Venning, hurrying forward. "There are no 'possums in

"Well, it's something."

"Smells nice."

"Sit down--sit down, and we'll find out what it is afterwards."

They sat down with sighs of relief, and the "'possum" disappeared
without a word being spoken.

"Beggar was eating earth-nuts over there, and I bowled him over with
a stick. See, there's his skin--long tail and sharp face."

"Monkey," said Mr. Hume.

"Prehensile tail," muttered Venning, examining that appendage.
"Anyway, it was good. See anything more?"

"Lots. One crocodile, and about one million ants and insect things.
Finished your job?"

"We buried the boat on the bank, and you youngsters had better be at
great pains to take your bearings, in case anything happens; and for
a sign we'll lash that pole and its bit of rag to the top of a tree.
Up you go, Venning, and make it fast."

The pole with its dirty flag was lashed to a tall tree, and then
they waited for Muata. The jackal was the first to make its
appearance, but the chief was not long after, and the river-man, a
few minutes later, looking quite  exhausted. The chief first ate,
then he washed, then at last he condescended to take notice of
things, and then to give particulars. He had followed the trail of
the cannibals. It led straight into the forest. They could follow in
the morning.

With the morning came a heavy white mist that made travelling
impossible, and all they could do was to wait in the mugginess
until, through a window in the sluggish clouds which hung low
overhead, the sun shot its rays and sucked up the moisture. Then
they started, and a minute later they were in the silence and the
gloom of the most tremendous extent of unbroken wood on the face of
the earth--a Sahara of leaves, stretching away to the east for five
hundred miles, and reaching over the same extent north and south.
Trackless, the forest was, to any one not acquainted with its
secrets; but there were paths through it, and the villagers had made
their own approaches to the main system of thoroughfares, so that
the going was not difficult, especially as the direction up to a
certain distance had been decided upon by the previous day's

They had, however, to walk in single file, with much care to their
steps, for the obstacles were ceaseless in the way of trailing
vines, saplings, and fallen trees. The narrow and tortuous avenue
they threaded was gloomy in the extreme, affording scarcely any
glimpse of the sky, and opening out no vistas between the serried
ranks of steins, each clothed in a covering of velvet moss, and all
looped together by the parasitical vines, whose boles were often as
thick as cables.

As they plunged deeper into the woods over a yielding surface of
leaf-mould, which sent up a warm smell, the silence was as the
silence of a huge cavern, into which is borne the hollow rumbling of
the waves, the sound in place of that being the continual murmur of
the sea of leaves moved by a breeze ever so slight, so soft that no
chance breath of it found its way below.

Yet the place was not really silent, and by-and-by, as their ears
grew attuned to the new surroundings, the boys detected the sounds
made by living things large and small, far and near--sounds which
seemed a part of the silence, because they were all soft and a
little mysterious, with a pause in between, as if the insect or
creature which made them was listening to find if any enemy had
heard him. They were little detached sounds, as if an insect would
start out to sing its song, and then suddenly think better of it;
and even when some large animal made its presence known by the
snapping of a branch, or a sudden scurry in the undergrowth, the
noise ceased almost as soon as it began.

"It gives me the creeps," muttered Venning, after a long silence.

"That's just it," said Compton; "everything appears to be creeping."

"Even the trees. They seem to watch and whisper and wait, and the
news of our coming has been carried right away for miles. Shouldn't
wonder if the trees were to close in and shut us up."

"Oh, come, now; that's a bit too fanciful."

They shifted their loads to relieve aching shoulders, and kept on
through the unending avenues in another long spell of silence.

"Reminds me of the reeds again," said Compton; "only this is worse."

"By Jenkins! just imagine the blaze and the scorch if this forest
caught afire like your reeds."

"Couldn't--too damp. We've been tramping for two hours, and I have
not seen a bird, or an animal, or a reptile; nothing but snails and
ants. Don't see where the game comes in."

"We're not after game; we're after cannibals."

"By Jove! yes, I suppose we are--that is, if they are cannibals. I
thought the species had died out."

"It will be a long time before cannibalism dies out," said Mr. Hume,
who was bringing up the rear, "particularly  in those parts where
the people find a difficulty in getting flesh-food; but, at the same
time, scarcity of flesh-food does not always turn a tribe to
cannibalism. What does happen is this--that people who live in a
poor district become small In the Kalihari you find the bushmen, in
the forest you find the pigmies."

"Then the forest is poor in animals?"

"It has its types, but I should say they must be very few. You see,
animals want sun, And where would they find it here? No! what
animals haunt the forest will not be found on the ground."

"I see," said Compton, with a grin; "they fly."

"I know," interposed Venning, triumphantly; "they live in the tree-

Compton looked up at the matted roof of leaves and branches.

"Well, all I hope is that a tall giraffe will not fall through on
top of me."

"There is one thing that should give you comfort," said Venning,

"What is that?"

"It would be the giraffe who would suffer."

"Wait till I have got rid of these parcels, young 'un," said
Compton. "Are you getting tired?"

"Well, I am," said Venning--"tired and stuffy."

"Glad to be back on the boat again--eh? Well, if it's any comfort to
you, I'm tired too. Haven't got my land-legs yet."

Mr. Hume cried a halt, to their great content, and though there were
some hours yet to evening, he set them to work to make the camp. The
work was the same they undertook each evening they were in the
forest. First they cleared a circle about twenty feet in diameter,
with an outer ring of large trees, and, using the trunks as posts,
built a fence with the saplings and young trees. A hole was dug in
the soft ground for the fireplace, and another fence built round to
screen the glare of the fire. Next their waterproof sheets were
arranged, the sheet of canvas stretched overhead, and, when all was
shipshape, the three white members of the party went through a
course of massage, which prepared them for the one good meal of the
day. Then they overhauled their clothing, repaired any tears, oiled
the rifles, and entered up the log-books. There was always something
to do, and according to the man-of-war discipline observed, every
man had to do his share of work--a rule which gave the mind
employment, and kept it from dwelling on the monotony and the
depressing silence of the woods. While the camp was springing into
existence out of the tangled woods, the jackal kept guard, circling
at a distance, like a well-trained collie herding a flock of sheep.

The first night was a repetition of many others. When the night came
down, as it did long before darkness set in on the wide river, where
the afterglow was reflected from the waters, it was black beyond
thought, so black that a few yards from the fire the sharpest pair
of eyes could not see a hand held a foot away. And with the darkness
came a sense of mystery, a hollow murmur as of the surf heard a long
way off, which intensified the brooding stillness; and at times the
groaning of the trees.

"What noise is that?" asked Venning, hearing the sound.

"The trees talk," said Muata, gravely.

"Eh?  The trees talk!  Wonderful!" muttered Compton, sarcastically;
but, nevertheless, he listened with open mouth and staring eyes.

"What do they say, chief?"

"The young ones ask for room; they shove and push to reach up into
the air, to feel the touch of the rain, to enjoy the warmth of the

"And the big trees?"

"They cry out against the young, who come thrusting their branches
up from below, who crowd in upon the old people."

"And the squeaking noise?"

"That is made by one branch rubbing against another. Wow! It is
nothing. Hear them talk when a wind is blowing; then it is as if all
the great ones were gathered together roaring to the four comers,
with the voice of the storm booming from the skies, and the
bellowing of a great herd of bulls, and in between the cries of
women in fear and the screaming of tigers. Mawoh! It is then a man
would hide in a hole. Now it is quiet; they but whisper among
themselves half asleep, but in the morning they will stretch their

"Of course," said Compton, "and yawn!"

"How will a tree grow if it does not stretch? It bends this way and
that, to loosen the bark, to make its body and its arms supple and
tough, so that it can bend to the blast and yet spring back straight
again. Tell me what would happen if the young tree were bark-bound.
It would die--as these old ones die smothered by the creeping arms
around them. Ow aye, they stretch in the morning and grow."

So they talked in the night, and listened to the strange sounds that
came mysteriously out of the brooding silence.



The next day they came to the end of the trail that Muata had
followed with the river-man; but the scent was still on the ground,
and for a mile or so the jackal led the way, slinking along like a
shadow with his nose down and his bushy tail drooping. Then he
stopped, and, after a look up into the face of his master, stretched
himself out, as much as to say his part was over.

"They have gained on us," said Mr. Hume.

"They rose early and travelled fast," said Muata. "The scent is
cold, but there is the trail marked on the tree;" and he pointed to
a slight cut in the bark, from which had oozed a thick juice, now
caked hard.

"Some one pierced the bark."

"It is the sign of the wise woman, and she made it, maybe, with a
wire from her armlets."

They went on more slowly, guided only by the faint cuts at intervals
on tree-trunks, all of which "bled," giving out a milky sap; and
then again the sign failed. About them were the trees in endless
columns, overhead was the roof of leaves, and on the ground was a
tangle of undergrowth and decaying vegetation, that gave out a moist
earthy smell, which set the lungs labouring for oxygen.  The boys
were uncomfortable.  Their skins were clammy, their eyes were heavy,
and their limbs languid. Mr. Hume was glad to sit down, and even
Muata showed the effect of the muggy atmosphere in a dulling of his
skin. The river-man, sullen and silent, was alone apparently
unaffected; but they did not reckon him one of the party, for no one
of them had broken through his apathy.

Muata began patiently to make casts in that labyrinth that seemed to
hold no living thing but themselves, and as he went slowly through
the undergrowth, the boys went off to sleep, from which they awoke,
heavy and unrefreshed, at the cry to "fall in."

The trail had been recovered fifty yards further on, the intervening
ground having been covered apparently by the cannibals without
leaving a sign. Venning blundered on a little way before he
discovered that he had left his bundle behind.

"I'll wait for you," said Compton, sitting down on a tree-stump,
while Mr. Hume, who had left his position in the rear to consult
with Muata, had his back turned.

Venning recovered his bundle, and turned to retrace his steps, but
for the time his heavy eyes were no longer faithful guides, and,
instead of taking the right direction, he entered a likely looking
opening through the trees to the left and hurried on. When he had
covered a distance that should have brought him to Compton, he

"Halloa! halloa!" he cried.

There was no answer.

"Compton! I say, no larks. Where are you?"

A little in advance he heard the rustle of leaves, and went on
quickly. When he reached the place where the sound came from there
was nothing there, and he gathered his wits together. With a little
laugh at his carelessness, he began to retrace his steps, but there
was a problem to be dealt with at every step, for he could see
nothing familiar. In that multitude of trees, planted so close
together, each tree seemed alike. He put his hand to his mouth and
uttered a long "coo-ee." The call seemed to be shut in, sounding in
his ears very weak and quavering.

"Coo-ee!"--and again "coo-ee!" Ah, that was an answer; and with a
glad shout he set off in the direction whence came an answer to his
call, forced his way through the undergrowth, tripped and fell over
a dead branch with a thud that made his head throb so that he was
glad to sit back with closed eyes.

When he opened them again he heard a rustling of the leaves, and
moved his lips to call out. "Compton!"

There was unmistakably the sound of some one jumping  aside as if

"Over here!" said Venning; and then he closed his eyes again with a
feeling of languor. Compton, in the meanwhile growing impatient,
walked a few steps in the direction his chum had taken. The rest of
the party had moved on, thinking, no doubt, he was following, and he
knew that neither he nor Venning could pick up the spoor if they
lost touch. He peered through the scrub for some time without seeing
any one, and then he heard a low cry--a strangled sort of cry, as if
Venning were calling in a very feeble voice. Unshipping his Lee-
Metford carbine from the loop, by which it hung at his side, he
dashed forward, fully expecting to find his friend in the hands of
man or beast.

But at the last stopping-place there was no sign of his friend; and,
with head bent, he listened for some sound, his mouth firmly set,
and his dark eyes glancing from under his well-marked, brows.

He could hear the beating of his heart, and the innumerable creeping
sounds that seemed to have no origin. He was about to shout, when
again he heard a thin cry, and, suppressing the shout, he began to
advance cautiously from tree to tree, planting his steps carefully.
In the soft mould he saw now the footmarks left by Venning as he had
hurried, the print of his heel at one spot, a little further on a
broken branch, and next, some dislodged moss from a huge tree. He
peered round this, examining the ground ahead, then stepped out into
a little clearing, across which Venning had walked.  He started as
he looked down, then threw up his gun, with a quick glance round,
for on the ground, side by side with the footprints, were the pugs
of a lion or leopard.

Venning was in danger, then! With an involuntary action he pressed
his hat down firmly on his head, then moved forward, swiftly and
silently, to another tree beyond.  Looking round this, he saw at
once through the twining tendrils the form of an animal, moving
slowly, with flattened ears and twitching tail.

This did not surprise him, for he was prepared by the spoor; but
what surprised him was to see that the brute was advancing towards
him--not retreating. For a moment he felt sick at the thought that
he was too late, that his friend had been already attacked, and that
the beast had left Venning for the new-comer.

The brute was unmistakably stalking some one. Its body was stretched
out, the forearms reaching out in long stealthy strides, the round
head sunk low, with a fixed snarl that bared the white teeth. A
leopard it was in form, but without the black rosettes on a grey
ground, the colour being of a uniform yellow along the sides, with
black markings down the muscular shoulders, and a streak of white
from the throat under the belly. The eyes were large, and of a
greenish hue. They were fixed in a steadfast stare on some spot to
the left. Compton glanced in that direction, and, to his joy, he saw
Venning, alive, seated with his chin on his breast, and his back to
a fallen stump. As Compton looked, the boy's eyes opened, and his
head turned as if he had heard some noise.

Compton's distress left him. A feeling of great thankfulness  swept
over him when he saw that he was not too late, that his friend
lived; and with firm nerves he stepped clear of the tree to shoot.
The movement caught the notice of the leopard. It had crouched down
as Venning turned, but now it lifted its round head to view the new-
comer. With a low growl it made a sudden leap forward, covering an
incredible distance, which brought it nearer to Compton, and as it
gathered itself together he fired, then sprang aside. There was a
rush through the air, a thud, and a tearing noise. There, almost
within reach of him, with the blood running over its face from a
scalp-wound, and its fore-paws tearing the moss from a tree, was the
leopard; and, swift as thought, Compton fired from his hip at the
shoulder. The leopard rolled over, growling, then tried to drag
itself by its powerful paws towards Compton, its mouth wide open. He
fired again, into the gaping jaws, the muscles relaxed, the beast
fell, and he ran towards Venning.

"Are you all right, old chap?"

Venning held on to his friend's arm, and as they stood, the leopard

"He is quite done, old fellow. Come and see."

Venning went forward quietly, as if still in a daze, and they looked
down on the leopard, struggling in the death-throes. It raised its
torn head, and again the scream rang out from its red jaws--a
terrible cry, and out of the forest came the answer, shrill and
fearsome. With a low growl the leopard fell forward, dead; but they
could hear an animal advancing rapidly, with fierce grunts; though
from what direction it was impossible to tell.

"It must be the mate," said Compton, with an anxious look at
Venning. "How do you feel?"

"I'm all right now;" and he passed his hand over his forehead. "I
can help you this time. If it is the mate, it will go first to its

"Then we'd better crouch down by that tree."

They knelt side by side a little way off, with their rifles ready;
but, though the noise made by the advancing animal grew louder, they
could see no movement whatever.

Then an extraordinary thing occurred. A bough above shook heavily,
and a large flattened body shot down from one branch to another,
tail, neck, and legs at the full stretch, alighting easily on the
rounded branch. It paused for a moment, then flew right across from
one tree to another, a distance of about thirty feet, when again it
gathered itself together for another flying leap to the ground,
alighting with singular ease within a few paces of the spot where
the dead leopard was lying.

With outstretched neck and twitching nose, it stepped to its mate,
sniffed, then threw its head up with bristling hair and emitted a
terrible scream of rage, ending in a harsh cough.

As Compton pressed the trigger it bounded aside, as if it had seen
him, and an instant later had reached the trunk of a tree.

"Where is it?"

"Went up that tree," said Venning, rising and stretching  his neck.

"You take that side, I this."

They moved slowly, finger on trigger and eyes swiftly scanning the
branches, but they made the circuit of the tree without a glimpse of
the yellow and black body that had so swiftly come and gone.

"Where the dickens has it gone?"

"Maybe into a hole up there."

They stood staring up in bewilderment, but there was not a movement
anywhere, and presently they wandered around examining the trees
near. The beast had vanished as completely as if it had been no
bigger than a fly.

"Well," said Compton, with a short laugh, "I'm going to take the
skin off the dead one, before it disappears too."

They set to work stripping the skin off the muscular body, stopping
often to listen and glance around. The work, however, was completed
in peace, and then, suddenly remembering their position, they
hastened to retrace their steps. Slowly they hit off the trail, and
finally arrived as far as the place where Venning had first missed
his bundle.

"It's after us, Dick!"--in a whisper.


"Up among the branches. I saw it spring across as I looked back."

They looked up into the trees, and then at the dark shadows before
them, for the afternoon was slipping away.

"I don't like it.  The beggar may spring on us at any moment."

"Or it may wait bill it is too dark for us to see."

"Yes, by Jove!"

"It is bad; but I am afraid we do not know the worst."

"What do you mean?"

"Mr. Hume must have missed us a long time back; and he would have
come after us if----"

"I see," said Compton, gravely. "You think that something has
happened to them?"

Venning nodded. "It's all my fault, Dick."

Compton was glancing up into the trees. "We must dispose of that
brute first. But how?"

"I have an idea," said Venning, after a long pause. "One of us will
go on. Animals can't count. Seeing one of us moving, he may show
himself to the other, who remains hidden."

"Good. I will go on;" and at once Compton, taking the more dangerous
post, advanced slowly, leaving Venning standing against a tree.

A few moments later the watcher saw a dark form flitting through the
branches high up, without, however, offering a ghost of a mark, and
there was nothing left for him but to follow Compton and explain.

"And I suppose it's watching us now?" said the latter, gloomily.
"Any good to climb up a tree?"

"I should think not. Why, it's at home up there. You can see that
from the length of the claws, and the length of the tail, which acts
as a steerer, a balancing-pole, and a brake. You see when it brings
the tail down---?"

"No, I don't; but I do see that we are in a fix, and that the others
must be in a worse position."

"I cannot imagine Mr. Hume being caught in a trap, especially when
he has the jackal."

"And Muata!"

"And the black chap!"

"By Jove! suppose that fellow has proved treacherous;" and the two
turned this unpleasant thought over in their minds until a light
sound attracted their notice. Looking up, they caught the glare of
fierce green eyes.

"We've got him now!" yelled Compton. "Round that side."

Venning dashed round the tree, and three shots were fired in rapid
succession at a vanishing object.

"Missed again!"

"By gum, yes; and if we go on playing hide-and-seek any longer,
we'll be missing ourselves. We've got to build a camp at once.
That's the place, between those three trees. I'll cut, and you

Compton, rolling up his sleeves, cut down saplings, and Venning
built a low roof, using the long tendrils of the creepers to bind
it. Then the spaces in between the trunks were filled in, and large
chunks of tinder were cut out of a fallen tree and placed at the
entrance, a fire of dry wood being made in a hole inside. There was
enough water in their flasks for a "billy" of tea, and by the time
they had finished their meal the darkness was on them. No sooner had
they settled down to watch than their foe was down, sniffing out the
position, and they were thankful they had acted in time. They beard
it at the back first, then overhead, and next at the side, its
presence indicated by low growls. Then it was in the front, and
Compton fired at a momentary gleam of two luminous spots. It bounded
right on the roof, which shook to its weight, then clawed up a tree,
detaching fragments of moss, and again leapt to the ground, emitting
this time a ferocious roar. It seemed as if its long patience were
exhausted, and that it was lashing itself into a fury, for it was
here and there with lightning quickness, striking blows at the
fence, and at times seizing a branch in its teeth, but so quick that
they could not move their weapons smartly enough to cover the point
of attack.

It was nervous work for the watchers. Every moment they expected to
find themselves under the claws and teeth of the maddened beast,
with the odds all against them, for in such a small enclosure they
would be helpless. It was bad enough when the brute was emitting his
terrible roars and screams, but the spells of silence were worse.

In one of these spells Venning felt for the raw skin of the
slaughtered leopard, and threw it out into the darkness. There were
stealthy footsteps, the noise of sniffing, followed by the sound of
an animal rolling on the ground, and they fired together. With a
snarl the leopard bounded right to the very mouth of the opening,
knocking over the smouldering tinder and sending out a shower of
sparks. Venning fired. Compton lunged forward with his big knife,
and the leopard leapt aside.

"Hit him that time, I bet," muttered Venning, who was shaking with

Then followed a weary time of waiting in complete silence, broken
only by the soft melancholy murmur of the forest. They refilled the
magazines of their carbines, built up the tinder fire, and stretched
their ears to catch the first warning note of danger. Then the
whisperings swarmed in upon them. A creak of a branch, the turn of a
leaf, the scraping of creeping insects, the whizzing of moths, and
the murmur of the forest, all seemed to them the whisperings of
stealthy foes. Every now and again they moistened their lips, which
dried after the repeated spells during which they held their breath,
while intently listening for the footfalls of the enemy.

Then, with a feeling of relief, they heard an unmistakable  wouf!
That, at least, was a tangible sound--the sound of a startled

Presently they heard its footsteps, as it came cautiously forward, a
little way at a time. Once more the fingers coiled round the
triggers, and the barrels were raised.

Then came a yelp, this time of fear, followed by the leopard's
terrible scream.  Some animal darted by the opening, so close that
they could see the gleam of its eyes as it glanced in upon them, and
after it with a bound went a larger form. They listened to the
dwindling noise of the chase, and Compton stirred up the fire.

"What's up now, eh?"

"It," said Venning, referring to the leopard, "is after something,
don't you think?"

"I hope to goodness it will have a good run, then."

But even as he spoke the sound of the chase grew; the smaller animal
flashed by again with the savage pursuer at its heels, flew round
the trees, and leapt inside--leapt in and pressed itself down behind
the two of them.  With a snarl, the leopard stopped before the
smouldering logs, and then sprang on to the roof, at which  it
struck two or three tremendous blows before bounding off again.

"Where's my knife?" yelled Compton.

Venning felt a warm tongue on his hand, and drew it away with a cry,
as if he had been stung.

"Use your knife, man. I'm blinded."

"All right," gasped Venning.

"Feel for it first, or you'll be hitting me. Quick! I say."

"What is it?" cried Venning, alarmed at the sudden change in
Compton's tones from rage to alarm.

"Something's pulling me. It's got its arm through the side."

There was a sudden fierce yap and a snapping of jaws. Compton's
shirt gave way with a tear, and outside in the dark the leopard
screamed. Inside the cry was answered by the howl of a jackal.

"It's our jackal," shouted Venning.


"Here;" and Venning laughed hysterically. "Poor old chap!" then,
"Good old jacky!"

"Nonsense!" said Compton; but his band groped out in the dark, and
when he felt the rough tongue, he joined in the laugh. They were as
pleased as if Mr. Hums or Muata had returned.

"Did the brute really hook you?"

"Forced his paw through," said Compton, shuddering, "but the jackal
bit him."

The jackal's tail thumped the ground, then they felt it stiffen, and
were again on the alert. Venning ran his fingers lightly along the
jackal's back till he reached the nose, which was pointing straight
up. Without a moment's delay he raised his rifle and fired.

At the same moment the saplings forming the roof snapped and fell in
upon them with an added weight, which knocked them flat. They were
dimly conscious of a tremendous struggle, but when they had crawled
out of the litter, they were thankful to find that each was still
alive. After the first hurried words, they faced the darkness
apprehensively, for their shelter was gone, and their rifles were
under the branches.

"Quick!" said Compton, "help pull the branches away."

Guided by the tinder, they felt for the branches and pulled, but let
go at once and fell back, for a fierce growl greeted them almost in
their faces.

"By Jove!" muttered Compton, "it's all over now. Don't run; let us
stick together."

"I'm not running," said Venning. "We've got our sheath-knives."

They drew their knives, and, holding each other by the disengaged
hand, fell back step by step, till they found the support of a tree-
trunk, when they waited for the attack. From time to time the low
growls gave warning of the enemy's close presence, and to them each
sound was as a death-knell; for what were their knives against a foe
so powerful, who had, too, the advantage of sight?

For perhaps two hours of awful suspense they stood, and then Compton
lost patience.

"I can't stand this," he said. "That brute's playing with us, and
I'm going to finish it."

"Wait; when the morning comes we can see."

"Will it ever come? No."

Compton struck a match, cradled it in his hand till it caught, then,
with his face showing rigid by the reflection, he moved forward.
Venning went too, shoulder to shoulder. Each held his knife, point
up, every muscle on the strain. A snarl greeted each step, and
presently they saw two glowing spots before the match went out.
Another match was struck by a steady hand, and this time the spots
blazed out from the blackness.

Venning felt for his log-book, tore out a sheet, screwed it up, lit
it, and held the flame up.

There, less than six feet away, was the leopard, its mouth open, the
gleaming fangs showing their full length--a sight so forbidding that
he dropped the paper and sprang back.

"Light another," said Compton, steadily.

This was done. He went down on his knees, reached out, seized the
butt of a rifle, and drew it forth. A second later a bullet crashed
into the brain of the leopard, and then, worn out by the strain they
had been under so long, they sat with their backs to the trees.

"I'm going to sleep," said Compton.

"I wonder what's become of the jackal?" muttered Venning, drawing up
his knees with a sigh of relief.

"Don't know, and don't care, for he's better off than we are. Good

"Good night, old chap; and it was awfully good of you to turn back."

Snore! Venning yawned, and in five minutes they were both asleep in
the forest, without so much as a twig to cover them. But they were
not altogether unprotected, for when they rubbed the sleep out of
their eyes in the morning, they found the jackal curled up at their
feet, with one ear cocked and one eye open.  But a very different
jackal he was from the graceful animal they knew so well.  His body
was distended to enormous proportions, and it was clear how his
absence was to be accounted for. While they had stood in the dark,
expecting  every moment to be pounced upon, he had been gorging  on
the dead leopard. They now looked at their foe of the night, and
found why it was that it had left them uninjured. There were three
wounds on the body--the bullet-hole in the forehead, a fleshy wound
on the hind leg, and a hit on the spine, which had disabled it just
as it was in the act of springing down upon the roof.

"It's your bag," said Compton. "To think that we stood shivering and
shaking for two mortal hours, while all the time the beggar was

Venning did not echo the complaint; he was too much occupied
examining his prize, and taking exact measurements with a tape,
which he entered in his log' book, together with a description of
the markings.

"It's a new species," he said, with the pride of an explorer who
discovers a new mountain. "I will call it a tree-lion--leo
arboriensis Venningii--that is, if you don't wish it called after

"Call it anything you like, old fellow; but I should say it was just
an ordinary leopard."

"You never saw a leopard with those markings."

"And no one ever saw a climbing lion."

"It has adapted itself to changed conditions.  The markings match
the colouring of the branches, and there has been a change in the
formation of the claws"--holding  up a huge paw--"while the forearm
is a little curved, and the skin between the elbow and the body
bears a resemblance in its growth to that found on the so-called

"It's a tough customer, whatever it is, and I hope that it is the
last of its kind. Do you know that we have no more water?"

"I shall examine the contents of the stomach, and I fully expect to
find that its usual prey is the monkey."

"It had a great hankering for white man, at any rate. Did you hear
me say there was no water?"

"Its hind legs are very much longer than the fore legs--another
proof of an arboreal existence.  It's a most important find. I wish
Mr. Hume were here."

"So do I," said Compton, heartily, stirring the jackal with his

That sagacious animal rose slowly, stretched itself, one leg at a
time, sniffed at the dead leopard, or tree-lion, whatever it was,
and then curled itself up again.

"Coo-ee--coo-ee!" came out of the woods.

"Coo-ee!" replied Compton, to the glad sound. "Coo-ee!" and he fired
off his gun.

Muata's shrill whistle pierced through the files of trees, and the
jackal slunk away.

"Hurrah!" yelled Compton, taking off his cap. "Hurrah! Here we are--
all safe!"

"All safe, thank God;" and Mr. Hume hurried forward, with his eyes
beaming. "Thank God."

"It is as I thought. Here is the hind leg of a monkey, with some of
the hair still attached;" and Venning held up a disgusting-looking

Mr. Hume looked at the dead animal, the broken hut, and back at

"We shot it last night, and its mate in the afternoon."

Then he pulled Venning to his feet and shook him. "Believe he's gone
off his head."

"I've not," said Venning; and he held out a blood-stained hand to
Mr. Hume, who took it with a great happy laugh. "Have you seen a
beast like that before, Muata?"

"Any one would think," said Compton, "that nothing had happened--
that we had not been lost, and that he had not brought us into this

"Steady," said Mr. Hume, with a smile.

"Dick is right, sir. If it had not been for him, I should have been
dead. I am a little bit excited now; but I will tell you all soon.
Well, Muata?"

"Wow!" exclaimed the chief, who had been talking with the river-man.
"One of these I have seen, and he also. It was a great thing to kill
two; of all things that walk they are the fiercest."

"And I am very thirsty," said Compton.

"Their home is in the trees," continued Muata.

Venning nodded. "Leo arboriensis."

"Venningii," added Compton, as he took his lips from a water-bottle.
"And now we'll have breakfast, if you don't mind."



"We were stopped by ants," said Mr. Hume, in explanation.

"By ants!"

"No less. I missed you not long after we had started, and passed the
word on to the others to turn back. And in the mean time an army of
marching ants had cut the line of communications.

"Couldn't you sweep them aside, or jump over?"

"I did not venture to try, my boy. I did try climbing across from
tree to tree, but their skirmishers were everywhere. As for jumping
across, I took the chiefs word for it, that the feat was impossible.
Once that kind of ant gets a grip, he does not let go, except with
the morsel he has fastened on to. And there were millions!"

"I can hardly imagine you were stopped by ants," said Compton.

"The ground before us was alive as far as we could see, and red.  It
was like standing on the bank of a river, and the myriads went on
through the day until dusk. I have seen swarms of locusts on the
march in the voetganger stage, and a large swarm will cover a length
of three miles, but never would I have believed so many living
things could gather together."

Compton laughed again. "Held up by an army of ants! I can't get the

Mr. Hume rolled back his sleeves, and there were red marks from
wrist to shoulder.

"And that was done only by the scouts on the tree I attempted to
climb. Muata says they have put whole villages to flight."

"Eweh," said the chief, "and even the elephant will turn from their
path, else would they get into his ears, his trunk, and to the soft
parts between his legs, biting each a little piece of skin. They
fear nothing. Death to them is nothing. I have seen them stop a fire
by the numbers of dead they heaped upon it in their march."

"So we had to wait, and it was not a pleasant time for me. But,
thank goodness, you are safe--aye, and safe, thanks to your own

"Dick did it all," said Venning. "I seemed to get dizzy all at

"I am not surprised," said Mr. Hume, looking grave; "and I think we
ought to go back.  The air is too heavy."

"After a good sleep I shall feel better," said Venning.

"It would be too bad to turn back."

"It would be too bad if you fell ill."

"What do you say, Muata?"

Muata lifted his hand. "Those who would cross the forest must be of
the forest. Who are the people of the forest? Not those who live in
the plains. Even the river-people are afraid to go far in. What are
the creatures of the forest? They are those born among the trees,
and those who dwell in the open seldom enter into the darkness and
the quiet of the wood."

"Yet," said Compton, "there are people of the forest, and animals
also, and they live." "For them are the trees."

"But when they go about they must travel under the trees."

"That is your word," said the chief. "But it must be so."

"Muata is right," said Mr. Hume. "We have only entered the fringe,
and already we are different people. The lungs cry for pure air."

"Yet there is a way," said Muata; and his eyes fell upon the tawny
hide of the tree-lion. "How, chief?"

"On top of the trees, not under!" cried Venning, who had seen that
the chief was working up to some point.

Muata spread out his fingers gravely. "Even so," he said. "There are
paths on the tree-tops known to the little people, and made by them.
Maybe they will let us travel also by them."

The others stared at the chief in amazement; and even Venning, in
spite of his intelligent anticipation, was too surprised to speak.

"There you can look upon the sky; there the wind blows fresh."

They looked up at the roof of branches, and then around into the
sombre aisles.

"And where are the little people?" Muata smiled.  "Who knows?  They
come like shadows, and like shadows they go. Even now they may be
near watching to see if we are friends or enemies."

"You would not tell us an idle tale, chief. Let us hear what is in
your mind."

"Stay here, my friends, while I seek the little men. Maybe, if I
find them, they will put us on our way; but if I fail, then my word
is that you go back to the river, lest the sickness of the woods
come upon you."

"We will wait; but I have seen no signs of the little men. They may
be far and difficult to find."

"They have watched us all the way," said Muata, calmly; "and it was
in my heart that they had fallen upon the young chiefs in the

"Glad we didn't know," said Compton, thoughtfully.

Muata went off on his self-appointed task, and the white men felt,
as they saw him disappear, how impossible it was for them to cope
with the mystery of the forest. They were even more helpless than
castaways at sea without a compass; for at sea in the day there is
the clear sweep to the horizon miles away, while in the forest all
they could be certain of was a little circle with a radius of less
than fifty yards. Beyond that was the unknown, because unseen--a
vague blur of trees that might be sheltering wild animals or savage
men. And what made their helplessness the more felt, was the
knowledge that Muata knew so much, and that others--the mysterious
pigmies--knew still more. If there had been open glades, stretches
of greensward, rippling brooks, or even a hard clean carpet such as
is found under a pine forest, they would have been undismayed; but
this gloomy, shrouded fastness, without glimpse of sunbeams, was
becoming a nightmare.

Yet it would never do to become a prey to depression, for there is
no danger so fatal to the explorer as low spirits, the forerunner of

By common consent they fought against a strong fit of the blues. Mr.
Hume and Compton held a consultation over Venning, examined him,
doctored him, and put him through the ordeal of a Turkish bath
roughly made with the aid of the oil-sheets. After that he was
rolled up in blankets and left to slumber. Compton was next treated
in the same way, and then Mr. Hume busied himself with his note-

When the boys woke up in the afternoon, much refreshed,  Muata had

"Fall in, lads."

"Has he found them?" and the boys were up and glancing round for the

"Yes; we are to go 'upstairs' at once."

"But where are they?"

"The little people have gone on," said Muata. "They will spy out on
the man-eaters."

"You really did find them?"

"Ow aye; they know Muata. They and I have been on the path before,
else they would have fallen on the young chiefs in the night--for
they saw. The killing of the fierce ones much rejoiced them. It
opened their lips about the upper way."

"We are ready," said Compton, "for the upper way--for the trapeze
and the aerial flight."

Muata struck off into the woods, and the rest crowded on him,
glancing up at every tree for signs of the new track.

"Behold the road," said the chief, showing his white teeth in a rare
smile, as he caught in his hand a trailing vine that swung clear
from the neighbouring growth, and reached up forty feet or so to a
thick branch.

"Are we to swarm up that?"

Muata nodded.

"And what will you do with the jackal?"

The chief turned a look of disgust at his bloated ally. "He will
follow underneath;" and reaching up, tie went hand over hand, using
his toes very much like fingers to help. Then he lowered a rope
which he had coiled round his waist; and Mr. Hume, putting the loop
under his arm, trusted his weight to the swaying vine. Venning and
Compton followed, with the help of the rope, but the river-man
declined. He preferred to travel on the firm ground with the jackal.
From the branch the four passed to the fork of the tree and held on.

"I don't see any path," said Venning.

"Nothing in the shape of a foot-bridge that I can see; and it would
not be quite safe to fall, would it?" replied Compton, as he glanced

Muata went on up into the topmost branches, and, when they followed
him, they found a small platform of saplings lashed to the branches
by vines, and from this vantage they looked out over a wonderful sea
of leaves, reaching unbroken as far as eye could reach, with billows
and hollows, patches of light and shade, and splashes of colour
where red flowers gleamed. And it was good to see the domed sky, the
white clouds racing low, with shadows moving swiftly over that sea
of leaves; to see the flight of birds, and to hear the voices of
living things.

The tree on which they stood was very tall, but there were others as
tall, standing up like rocks out of the sea; and when they grew
accustomed to the strange surroundings, they saw something peculiar
in the shape of these tree islands. They were cleft through the
centre, leaving a narrow passage, quite distinct to any one standing
in line--as they were, for instance--with the domed head of a tall
tree about three hundred yards away.

"That is our way," said Muata.

"But where is the foothold?"

Muata pointed to notches cut in a lateral branch, and walked to the
end of it, steadying himself by holding to a guiding branch above;
then passed over the slight intervening distance between the last
notch and the next tree by swinging on a vine tendril, otherwise a

The others followed very gingerly, for the feat was like walking on
a yard-arm, but each in turn reached the farther tree. After a
little, as they went on, now walking,  now swinging, they all were
able to pick up the singular track by the notches, by the lay of the
lateral branches, and by the absence of projecting twigs along the
course. These had all been cut back, leaving a sort of tunnel, not
easily discernible, however, because of its  undulating character to
accommodate itself to the varying height of the trees. They very
soon found two obstacles in the way of easy progress, due to the
small size of the engineers who had designed this extraordinary
road. In the first place, the notches on the branches were too
small; and in the next, the tunnel was too low for their height, so
that they had to stoop; while it was also evident that the overland
swing-bridges between the trees were too frail for their weight.
They quickly, therefore, resorted to their Ghoorka knives and to the
rope. Venning, being the lightest, crossed over first by the monkey
vine-bridge, when he made the rope fast to his end. It was then
secured at the other, enabling the heavy weights, Mr. Hume and the
chief, to pass next, Compton bringing up the rear with the rope
round his waist, to guard against a fall in case of accident.
Naturally, their progress was at first very slow, though not so much
slower than it would have been had they to force a way through the
undergrowth below; and the river-man found his work cut out to keep
pace underneath when at times he encountered dense thickets.

By the time they had covered the three hundred yards and reached the
next platform, they were finding their "tree-legs."

They stopped a while to take their bearings, looking out on the same
unbroken expanse of tree-tops, tossed up into all manner of
inequalities, and then recommenced their acrobatic, performance,
making for the next "station." With a few slips, a few scratches,
and bruised shins, they kept on until they had covered about a mile,
when the growing dusk warned them to form camp.

"We'd better go down below," said Mr. Hume.

"Not I," said Venning.  "I had enough of down below last night; I'm
going to sleep on deck, sir."

"Ditto," said Compton, emphatically; "and I don't see why we all
should not camp out aloft. We could easily widen the platform, rig
up the waterproof sheets as a tent, and haul up some mould to make a

The idea was acted upon vigorously, the platform widened and
strengthened, the roof pitched, the mould hauled up in a bag made
out of one of the leopard skins, and the fire lit upon a foundation
so made. They roosted high and secure, but they could not claim in
the morning that they had passed a pleasant night, for the bed was
hard, the space cramped, and each one dreamt he was falling off a
tremendously high perch.  Moreover, sound travelled more freely up
above, and, in place of the brooding silence of the under-world,
there were many strange noises up aloft, the most menacing being an
occasional booming roar, which they recognized as the cry of the

The morning was wet as usual, and heavy clouds trailed over the
forest like a leaden mist on the sea. They crouched under the tent,
listening to the drip, drip, drip, and filling their water-bottles
from the tricklings. About ten the clouds lifted, and then the sun
drove his arrows through until, almost in a twinkling, the great wet
blanket rolled itself up and vanished swiftly into the horizon,
leaving behind the sparkling of myriad raindrops on the leaves. Then
for an hour the forest steamed, as the sun licked the drops off the
roof and chased the moisture along the boughs. When the way was
dried for them, they went on, going barefooted this time, for the
better grip to be obtained.

Other creatures had waited for the drying of the leaves beside
themselves, and whenever they passed the white-grey branches of a
wild fig tree, they were treated to a scolding from green parrots on
the feed, and heard frequently the clapping report of the wood-
pigeons as they brought their wings together, and the harsh cry of
the toucans. Oh yes, there was life and there was death.

Venning, going on ahead, saw below him in the fork of a tree the
face of a monkey, with the eyes closed as if in sleep. He stopped to
look, stooping his head, and his eyes caught a slight movement. Then
he saw that the sleeping monkey was cradled in the coils of a python
resting in the forks of the tree, its head raised a little, and its
tail gripping a branch. The head of the monkey rested peacefully on
one of the black and yellow coils, for death had come upon it

"What do you look at?" asked Muata, bending forward.

"Shall I shoot?

"So," muttered the chief. "It is the silent hunter. Let him be; let
him be, and pass on. No other looks at man as he looks. It is his
kill; pass on."

They passed on, leaving the "silent hunter" with the monkey, that
looked as if he slept, and silent and motionless he remained as each
one paused to glance down, his dull, unwinking yellow eyes showing
like coloured glass in the lifted head.

"Look well," said Muata, warningly; "where there is one, there will
be another near. The silent ones hunt in couples."

"Would they attack men?"

"Ask the 'little' people."

"But they are no bigger than monkeys."

"There is the monkey bigger than man, and he, too, must give way to
the silent hunter."

"What! Is the gorilla afraid of the python?"

"Between the ape and the serpent there is always war. See where you
place your foot then, for you travel the monkey-path, and we go hand
and foot like monkeys. Look well where you place your hand, for a
straight branch may be the body of the silent hunter."

Venning went on with renewed caution, studying the branches above
and below, for, lover as he was of all manner of live things, he had
the common repugnance to the serpent-kind. But the trees were
innocent of guile, and presently some other object claimed his
absorbed attention, no less than an old man gorilla, who thrust his
black head above a tree-top a little way off, and violently shook
the branches. At the noise every one stopped and peered out.

"Look!" he shouted.

"By Jove, a gorilla!" cried Compton, from the rear.

The great head was thrust forward, with its low black forehead and
blacker muzzle; then they saw the whites of the eyelids as the
fierce creature swiftly raised and lowered its brows; then the gleam
of the great tusks as the mouth opened to emit a tremendous roar.
The branches cracked under its grip as it shook them again before
disappearing. Mr. Hume unslung his rifle and planted himself firmly,
for, from the sound, it seemed as if the great ape were coming
straight for them. But the noise of its progress ceased, and, after
a long wait, the march was resumed. They kept a very keen outlook,
and at times stopped to listen, but apparently the gorilla had
vanished. Yet many were the startled looks whenever the least sound
broke on their ears, for the face of the great ape, suddenly thrust
into view, was a terrifying object.

"Halloa!" said Venning, pulling up, "the path seems to end here.
See, the branch is broken off; and there is no swing-bridge. Yet the
track did go straight on, for you can see the old marks across

"Wow!" said Muata, as his dark eyes swiftly took in the details.

"If I climbed up that branch, I think I could get into the other
tree, and you could then use the rope."

"What is it now?" asked Mr. Hume.

"They have cut the track," said the chief; "and it is as I thought,
they have gone down from this tree to the ground, maybe to climb up
further on."


"Maybe a man has fallen to the ground here--who can say; or the
stinging ants have made a home. That tree beyond is taboo to the
little people, and we also will go down here."

"What's the good?" said Venning, beginning to climb up.

"No, no," said Mr. Hume. "We must leave this to the chief;" and he
turned to descend.

Venning, however, was standing well placed for a swing, and he let
himself go, reaching out with his left hand for another hold, and
gaining the other side easily. Compton, of course, followed, and the
two stood examining the tree for sign of the path. The track
certainly had gone through that tree, but there were no signs of
recent passage, and moss had grown over the branches. They called
down that they were going on, and, passing across several trees,
found themselves once more cut off from the next tree, on which the
well-beaten track once again ran on.

"Here's the place," they shouted, to guide the others; then looked
about to see how they were to cross.

"We'll have to shin down," said Compton, "for there's no crossing

Venning sat down astride a branch with his back to the trunk.

"May as well rest awhile till they come up."

"That's a queer-looking branch underneath," said Compton, following
suit, and dropping a piece of bark on a bough that had attracted his
attention. "It's covered all over with little squares of velvet
moss. See!"

"Suppose we lower our guns by the rope, then we can swarm down
easily," replied Venning, who had seen too many branches to be
interested; and passing the rope round the two rifles, he lowered
them to the ground, letting the rope follow.

"I believe it's moving, or else I've got fever or something."

"What's moving?"

"That;" and Compton pointed down.

"By Jenkins!" muttered Venning; and the two knitted their brows as
they peered down into the shadows, for the branch certainly was
moving, and moving away as if it meant to part company with the
trunk. Their glances ran along the branch outwards, and then their
eyes suddenly dilated, and their bodies stiffened.

So they stood like images, their hands clasping a branch, their
heads thrust forward, and their eyes staring. On the same level with
their heads and about twelve feet off was the head of that moving
"branch," square-nosed, wedge-shaped, with the line of the jaws
running right round to the broad part under the eyes, and a black-
forked tongue flickering through an opening beneath the nostrils, It
was the fixed stare of the lidless eyes, and the rigid position of
the grim head poised in mid air on a neck that began like the
muscular wrist of an athlete, thickening to where it was anchored on
a branch three feet away to the size of an athlete's leg. And while
the head, with the three feet of neck remained rigid, the body was
gliding out and up, finding an anchorage in the forks of the tree on
a level with the head, in readiness for the attack.

With an effort they drew their eyes away from that cold glance that
held them almost paralyzed and glanced down. Beyond, the light
branches shook as the huge coils passed over them. Such coils! As
they moved into the sunlight they saw the glitter of the scales and
the ridges of the muscles, and the movement was like the movement of
several serpents instead of one.

Venning looked again at the motionless head. "When it has gathered
its length behind and above its head," he said slowly, "it will

"And you dropped the guns!"

"No one can stare a snake out--no one," said Venning; and his eyes
were fixed.

"How far can it strike?"

"It has no lids to its eyes. It just looks and looks. Compton!"

Compton took Venning by the arm and shook him. "Come on," he cried.
"What are we standing here for?"

But as he spoke his eyes went up involuntarily, and his pupils

"It's coming closer," he whispered.

"And its eyes are brighter." Venning shut his eyes, and gripped his

They swayed, and just managed to save themselves from a headlong
fall by grasping a branch. The shock restored them, and the next
minute they had swung themselves up on to the branch, and from that
to the next. It was done in an instant, but when they cast a
breathless look down, they saw the unwinking eyes looking  up at
them from the very spot they had just left. The snake had a double
coil round the branch that had supported them, while the huge body
bridged the distance to the branches from which the blow had been
delivered just a moment too late.  As they looked, the hinder part
of the body fell with a thud against the tree-trunk, and began to
ripple up.

"Back," said Compton, "to the next tree."

They darted to the vine-bridge, swung over, then stopped to see if
the snake would follow.

"The monkey-rope would never bear its weight," said Venning.

"Can you hear it? By Jove, I feel all of a jump. I felt as if I had
to stand there and watch it come right up."

"Ugh!" said Compton. "It was awful. Get ready to run. I see it--over
there--just opposite; it's going up--no, down. I say, it will chase
us from underneath. Come on!"

Venning went a little lower, the better to see the ground.

"Hi! underneath, Mr. Hume! Muata! Hi! Coo-ee!"

"Halloa! What is it?"

"A snake! He's going down the next tree to this. Look out!"

"All right; but you will find it safer down here."

They were of that same opinion, and were down with a run, that took
some of the bark off their shins, as well as off the trees.

"And where are your guns?"

"Dropped them," said Compton.

"I see. Dropped them first, and discovered your danger after."

"Rub it in, sir. We ought to have followed you; and we have had a
fine fright. It's big enough to scare any one."

All the time, they had their eyes turned up on the watch for the
slightest movement, but the tree was as quiet as if it had not
harboured anything more dangerous than a caterpillar.

"Where's Muata and the other boy, sir?"

"Gone after a red bush-pig.  I think I hear them breaking back."

They heard the hunting cry of the jackal, then a sound of crashing,
and an animal, brick-red--a strange hue for the sombre shadows of
the forest--darted into view, and seeing them, halted with snout
lowered, and the bristling neck curving up grandly to the high
shoulders. A moment it stood there facing them, defiant, its little
eyes gleaming, its tusks showing white, and the foam dripping from
its jaws. A moment, and then it sank to the ground, and was hidden
under a writhing mound of coils. Swift as an arrow the python had
swooped at the prey, fastened on the neck with its jaws, and then
overwhelmed it by the avalanche of its enormous length. There
followed a sickening crunch of bones, and next a wild cry from the
jackal, repeated by Muata and the river-man.

Mr. Hume advanced with his Express ready, but Muata, running round,
begged him not to fire.

"It is the father of the wood-spirits. He took the red pig instead
of one of us."

"Not for the want of trying," said Venning. "He nearly had us both,

"But he took the pig," said Muata. "It is his hunt, and it means
well for us that he took the pig."

"It certainly does; but how are we to get our guns, if we don't
shoot him?"

Muata placed his weapon on the ground and advanced. The python had
completed its work so far. Two vast coils were round the crushed
body of the boar; the head rested on the upmost coil, with the eyes
fixed on the intruders, and the rest of the body reached away into
the shadows.

Muata advanced with the palms of his hands open, and his eyes
downcast, as if he were in the presence of some great chief. Yet he
showed no fear, never faltered, but walked up to the guns, picked
them up within a foot of the spot where the length of the serpent
had formed a loop, and returned. The lidless eyes watched, but not a
coil moved.

"It is well," said Muata, gravely, as he returned the rifles. "He
means well by us."

"You would not have said that if you had been up the tree with us,
and with him," grumbled Compton.

"The tree is taboo. I said it."

"Do you mean that he lives here? I should think he would starve."

"That would be your word, young great one. But, see, look at my
father there. He is big, very big, very heavy, very old. He does not
care to move far. Yet he is wise. So he has chosen his hunt; and he
has chosen well."

"I cannot see it. The little people give him a wide berth, and a pig
might come along once a year."

"Such is your wisdom, little great one. But, see, in the trees above
there is a roadway, and on the ground below there are other paths
for the things of the forest who neither fly nor climb. These trees
lie in the way of such a road. On the ground, if you had looked you
would have seen the spoor of the red pig and other things of the

"By Jove, yes!" and the boys stared at the unfamiliar spoor of
animals. "But why do they use this particular part of the forest?"

"That we shall see, for our way lies now along this ground-path. The
little people have done their tracking. The man-eaters are near."



"The man-eaters," said Venning, blankly. "I had forgotten  about

"And there is another thing you have forgotten," said Mr. Hume,
sternly, "you and Compton. You have forgotten to obey orders. My
orders were to descend from the tree. You both kept on, and by so
doing ran a very great risk. Understand now, that you will do
exactly what I wish."

Compton looked rebellious, and opened his lips.

"Not a word!" said the hunter, in a roar, with a hard look in his
eyes, that gave a fierce expression to his face.

The two boys stared at him dumfounded.

"You understand?" he said.

"I do, sir," replied Compton, gravely; for, high-spirited as he was,
he was in the wrong, and had the courage to admit it.

That night they saw the fires of the man-eaters, who had encamped on
a knoll comparatively free from trees and entirely bare of
underwood. Beyond the knoll was the gleam of water, and at the same
time they heard the familiar trumpeting of the mosquito hosts, whose
attentions they had been free from ever since they left the river.
They anointed their faces and hands with an ointment that contained
eucalyptus oil, while Muata and the river-man went off to scout.
Then they stood in the shadow of a great tree and watched the weird
scene in the thick of the forest. There were several fires, and
about each squatted a ring of wild black men.  Their skins glistened
like ebony from the fat they had liberally rubbed in, and their
teeth and eyes gleamed in the reflection of the fires. Their hair,
fizzled out in mops, had the appearance of fantastic Scotch bonnets;
but apparently all their vanity had been lavished on their heads,
for of dress they wore nothing but anklets and a strip of hide round
the waist. They talked unceasingly, cracking their fingers and
making play with their hands, while all the time one or another of
the different groups was on his feet, stamping the ground, swinging
a club, and shouting at the top of his voice.

"Ah men," said Mr. Hume. "Not a woman or a boy among them."

"What have they done with their prisoners, if these are the same we
are after?"

What, indeed! Their eyes searched the shadows at the foot of the
knoll for trace of the unfortunate people who had been captured, but
they could neither see nor hear anything.

"Ugh, the brutes!" muttered Venning, with a shudder, as he brought
his rifle to the "ready."

Mr. Hume pressed the barrel down. "We'll have no night attack," he
whispered. "At the first note of danger they'd scatter like shadows,
when they would have the eyes and the ears of us. Well hear what
Muata has to say, and then wait for the morning."

"There are thirty-six of them," muttered Compton. A bull crocodile
roared from the water near at hand, and one of the black men
imitated the cry, drawing a yell of wild laughter from his comrades.
It was the wildest of scenes. The little circle of red fire threw
into light against an impenetrable wall of black the trunks of a few
trees, the trailing vines, and the forms of the savage men. That was
the one bit of the world visible, a space on which appeared some of
the lowest forms of the human race; but, though they could see not
an inch beyond the furthest reflection of the fires, they knew how
well the setting fitted the picture. It seemed only natural that in
that gloomy wilderness of wood these savage types should prevail,
for if man had to live there, he could only hold his own by a
cunning and ferocity greater than the beasts possessed. Every item
of the scene stamped itself on the minds of the boys as they stood
for a long time watching the antics of the savages.

It was a relief when Muata made his presence known by a cricket-like

"Are these the men we are after, chief?" asked Mr. Hume, when the
two scouts silently crept up. "They are the same, but the trail is
different." "Then they are already on another hunt, and have left
the women and children they captured elsewhere? Is that so?"

"As you have seen, they are warriors only. Such of the women and
children who yet live are hidden. These await the coming of the
other wolves."

"Oh oh! Then there is to be a great war-party?" "A great killing! I
went near, round by the riverside, where also there is a fire as a
signal. I heard their talk. Others will join them in the night or
the morning, and together they will go in the war-canoes."

"And who are they that are expected?"

"I said we had not done with the thief-of-the-wood and the river,
the man-robber, the slayer of babes."

"Hassan! Do you mean that the Arabs are coming?"

"Even so, O great one. They are well matched, the man-eaters and the

"And whom do they go against?"

"What should bring Hassan here but one thing, and that the fear of

"Humph!" muttered Mr. Hume.

"They go against my people, so that when Muata returns there will
not be one left--man, woman, child, or dog--to greet him, not one
hut left to shelter him, not a single manioc-root for him to eat.
Hassan will let in the waters upon the Garden of Rest."


"That is his word. He has sworn it in his beard, and these jackals
howl it out. They talk of new fish that are to come to their nets."

"New fish?"

"Oh aye. When the water is let in, they will stand on the sloping
banks of the Garden of Rest and net the drowned."

"These are strange words, Muata. What are you talking about?"

"I talk of the plan that is made by Hassan to destroy utterly my
people in the Garden of Rest," said the chief, gloomily--"the secret
hiding whence I went forth against the man-stealers. Hassan comes
hither in the morning, and with these eaters of men, these jackals
of the wood, he will go on his way."

"I see," said Mr. Hume, slowly. "They are not on our trail."

"Let us go for them now," said Compton, who had been eagerly

Muata paid no heed to the words.

"There must be a new plan, chief," said Mr. Hume.

"And what says the great one?"

"There is only one good plan, Muata, but you have yourself opposed

"What is the plan, my father?"

"We should get to the Garden of Rest in advance of the enemy, and be
ready to beat them off. That would be the best way, but you have
said you would not lead us to your secret hiding."

"It is the plan," said Muata.

"What!" cried Compton, "would you run away from these swabs without
firing a shot? What do you say, Venning?"

"I am willing to listen to all sides," said Venning, judiciously.

"We must not fire a shot,"' said the hunter, with decision; "we must
withdraw without Hassan knowing of our presence. If they learnt we
were hereabouts, they would be on their guard, and, having the
'legs' of us by reason of their canoes, and the advantage by reason
of their numbers, they would push on, and arrive at the hiding-place
before us. If they do not suspect our presence, they will take
matters easy, and give us time."

"But what of Muata's mother?"

"That is the chief's matter," said Muata.

"And what of the Okapi?" asked Venning. "This is my word. You will
go back in the morning," said the chief, "marching quickly; and when
you have found the shining canoe, you will move fast up the river to
the place where the first little river from the forest joins it on
the right bank. There you will find me."

"And if we don't find you?"

"Haw! What Muata says, that he will do."

"And how are we to find our way back through the woods?"

Muata drummed his fingers against the stretched skin of his cheek,
making a hollow noise.

"Behold," he said, "there is your guide."

They looked around in the dark, but could see no one.

"Do not look hard, for he is afraid of the white man's eyes."

"If we knew what we were expected to look at," said Compton, "we'd
know where we were; but--oh----"

He broke off, and stared at a little figure that barely reached up
to Muata's waist.

"A pigmy, by Jenkins!"

"By Jove! yes."

Mr. Hume unhooked a steel chain from his belt, with a knife
attached, and offered it to the little man, who, at a word from
Muata, grabbed at it, and, after a minute inspection, hung it round
his neck. Muata said a few more words to the new guide, then,
lifting his hand, gave the farewell salutation to his friends, and
disappeared with the silent river-man. The little man, taking one
end of the rope, led them away from the camp of the cannibals, and
after a brief rest, without the comfort of a fire, they were early
on the march; but it was not until the sun was well out that they
saw what manner of man their new guide was. A strange monkey-figure
--very black, with wrinkled skin about the elbows, thin arms, knobby
knees, a bulging stomach, and round bright eyes! He carried a little
bow, a sheaf of tiny arrows, and wore the glittering chain and knife
round his neck. He took the "upper road," and was very like a monkey
in the ease and agility with which he manoeuvred the branches.
Presently he was joined by two companions, who appeared apparently
from the tree-tops--one was black, the other lighter in colour, and
of vast pigmy stature, reaching a height of quite 4 ft. 6 in. It was
found advisable to give these two some badge of office, for when
they had become accustomed to the white men, they stopped the march
for a violent discussion about the glittering jewel worn with such
outrageous pride by the first man. The present of a red silk
handkerchief to one, and of a tin box that had held meat tabloids to
the other, restored peace.  The handkerchief was converted into a
turban, the box into a decoration for the breast, and then, chatting
like a treeful of monkeys, the three guides went on at a quick pace.
There was no midday rest, no halt for coffee-making; they had
evidently been told by Muata to hurry, and whenever their white men
showed a tendency to slacken, they frowned, cracked their fingers,
and capered about. Towards night, however, they descended from the
upper road.

"Thank goodness, they'll have to stop when it grows dark," sighed

The little men gave a long rolling call by moving the hand before
the mouth; then two of them slipped away, and presently an answering
call came out of the wood. A little later the travellers stood on
the edge of a small clearing, surrounded by little round huts made
of leaves, and in the centre stood the gigantic warrior with the tin
box, and his proud companion with the flame-coloured head. They were
grinning from ear to ear as they beckoned their "white men" to
advance within the circle of that forest city! Stepping over one of
the leafy buildings, and just avoiding knocking down the pillars of
an edifice that was probably the town hall, they entered the
opening, piled their outfit, and started a fire to prepare the
evening meal. The town had appeared deserted, except for the three
little guides; but as the giants sipped from their pannikins little
forms flitted nearer, and quaint little faces peered at them from
every point.

"Take no notice of them," whispered Mr. Hume, as he handed a
pannikin to the first guide.

As that sooty imp sipped, with a loud indrawing of his breath in
dread of scalding, and a loud outward blowing in token of
satisfaction at the comforting taste, the other two guides took the
proffered pannikins from the boys, and the entire population crept
closer and closer, with many a timid jump. When, however, these
strange visitors from the strange outer world, where there was no
roof of trees to keep off the shooting stars and other dangers--when
these queer people began to massage each other in turn, to rub and
to thump, to slap and knead the limbs and muscles, then, in their
intense curiosity, even the children forgot their timidity and
crowded round. A pickaninny--the queerest little mite--even ventured
to poke a tiny finger into the ribs of one of the three. After that
there was a great pow-wow. Mr. Hume, with a man in the palm of each
hand, a boy on each shoulder, and a couple hanging from each brawny
arm, sent the spectators into shrieks of amusement, and they there
and then christened him "The Gorilla," in token of esteem--a piece
of flattery which was to have a startling sequel. As night fell the
little people lamented the disappearance of the sun with a long,
melancholy, dirge-like wail; but when darkness was upon them they
built up the fire and prepared their evening meal from the body of a
red pig they had killed. When the three travellers wrapped
themselves up in their blankets, their hosts were still busily
engaged in eating and talking, and long into the night, whenever
they glanced up through half-closed lids, there were the little
forms still about the fires. But in the morning, behold, they were
alone with the three guides! The huts remained, and the town house,
with its posts, at least six feet high; but the little doors were
open, and the huts were empty.

"They've gone," said Venning, much disappointed. "And they have
stolen nothing," said Mr. Hume, after a careful inspection of the

The guides pointed to the trees, and once more they were traveling
the upper road through the moist leaves, glistening under the sun
from the myriad drops of condensed mist. It was more than they could
do to keep pace with the agile leaders, and time and again the
little men had to wait for the big-limbed, awkward-footed strangers
to come up.  As on the previous day, they stuck to the work,
grudging even a few minutes' rest in the heat of the burning noon,
and they only relaxed their efforts to introduce a peculiar sporting
event, which nearly put an end to the party. The quick eye of the
light-coloured guide saw some object in the tree-tops, and miming
out lightly to the end of the branch, he gave a peculiar bark. In
response there came the familiar barking roar of a gorilla, followed
by the appearance of the black face at a little distance.
Immediately the three little men grossly insulted the great monarch
of the woods, whose undisputed sway no denizen of the forest cared
to dispute, who had been known to break the back of a leopard, and
to outstare some chance lion prowling on the outskirts. They made
"monkey faces" at him, and no monkey can stand that. They raised
their eyebrows, grinned, shot out their jaws, made little grunting
noises; and when the great ape imitated them unconsciously in his
rage, they broke into unseemly laughter. The gorilla took up the
gage of battle and advanced, snapping the branches as a sign of what
he would do when he laid a hand or a foot on his enemies. The little
men doubled back and put themselves under the sheltering bulk of the
hunter's powerful frame, while the two boys sat astride of a big
branch, the better to handle their carbines. The gorilla, however,
did not push his attack home. They heard his surly grunt as he
stopped to take stock of them, and as he did not venture closer,
they had to resume the march, not, however, without a very distinct
feeling of uneasiness. For when they had got into the swing once
more, the gorilla dogged them. Like a hungry shark about an open
boat at sea he came and went, now following steadily behind, now
ranging up on the starboard quarter, now forging ahead, again coming
up mysteriously from the depths below, and now breaking cover on the
port side, but never giving a chance for a shot, and always
reappearing at a new point after a long interval of silence.

"I don't like the game of hide-and-seek," said Mr. Hume, stopping.

"It's the fault of those little beggars," said Compton. "They appear
to enjoy the joke."

The guides pointed to the ground and started to descend, pausing,
however, to see if they were followed.

"I suppose we may as well go down?"

The little men laughed when they saw the others descending, and,
sliding to the ground down slender vine-ropes, they immediately set
to work insulting the gorilla again by a series of rapidly emitted
cries. This brought the brute up with a charge, just as the three
white men had their attention occupied, and their hands engaged, by
the descent. From the branches above there dropped a huge black
hairy object, with apparently four pairs of hands.

"By the Lord," cried Mr. Hume, who was the first to see the enemy,

He shinned down on top of Compton, who in turn descended on Venning,
and the whole three of them reached the ground together in a jumble.
The gorilla lighted on all fours a few feet away, then, instead of
springing on his helpless victims, he slowly raised himself to an
erect position, and so standing on short bow-legs, emitted a
tremendous roar, beginning with low mutterings, increasing to the
deep-throated bark, and then dying away in hoarse grumblings.  A
terrible object he was truly, with his fierce grey eyes, formidable
dog-teeth projecting from his powerful jaws, which rested without
the interval of anything like a neck on the curve of a chest that
swept out vast on the well-founded ribs, wrought in strength to
support the weight of the protruding stomach.

One arm was raised with the palm of the hand on the chest, the other
hung down, a truly fearful weapon, reaching to the crooked knee, and
ending in great flattened fingers, that were bent inwards. After the
roar the fierce creature lowered itself on to the knuckles of its
arms, and seemed as if in another instant it would spring on its
foes, still scrambling for a footing, when a piece of mould struck
it on the cheek.  It made a side-spring at the sooty guide, who
nimbly jumped out of reach, and, when it turned, Mr. Hume was on his
feet swinging his rifle-strap over his head. Quick as a trained
boxer the long black arm shot out and sent the rifle flying through
the air, but as its fierce eyes followed the whirling flight of the
weapon, the hunter, putting forth all his great strength, smote the
animal full on the ear, a blow that would have felled the strongest
man. Then he leapt back, just in time to escape a terrific sweep of
a hooked hand that would have disembowelled him, as the monster,
after a shake of the head, delivered its favourite blow at the
abdomen of its adversary. Going down on its knuckles again, it leapt
high into the air, and as it descended thrust a long black arm round
a tree to seize Mr. Hume, who all the time was calling out for a
weapon. The flat fingers hooked under the leather belt, and with a
fierce grunt the gorilla put forth its strength to draw the white
man closer, while the latter, with his feet braced against the tree,
resisted. Then Compton and Venning, who had unslung their rifles,
but who had been confused by the rapid movements of the great ape,
found their opportunity and fired. Both bullets took effect, and the
gorilla, loosening his hold, turned with a roar upon his new foes.
His aspect as he faced them was truly ferocious, and his strength
was apparently unimpaired, for the thin pencil-like bullets had
merely bored two little holes through a fleshy part. A moment his
terrible eyes glared at them, and then with a mighty bound he leapt
towards them. They fired hastily, and then in stepping back the one
stumbled against the other, so that they both fell. They were at the
gorilla's mercy!  One step forward and he would have struck the life
out of them with a couple of blows, but fortunately habit was too
strong for him, and he raised himself erect to give out his defiant
challenge. A little man tugged at Mr. Hume, who stood transfixed
with horror. Looking down, the hunter saw the haft of his Ghoorka
knife. He acted at once.  Seizing it, he ran forward, and raising
himself up, brought the heavy blade down on the monster's skull just
as the last guttural bark was emitted.  The boys, with their hands
lifted in a despairing effort to ward off the danger, saw the gleam
of metal, heard the rushing swish and the dull sound as the keen
blade bit through skin and bone; and then they saw the monstrous
black form suddenly sink to the ground. The next second they were
snatched up and tossed aside out of reach, and as they regained
their feet they heard the report of a rifle as Mr. Hume fired into
''  the hairy body. With its last effort the dying ape seized the
hunter by the leg and hurled him to the ground, his fall being
luckily broken by a decaying branch, which was crushed under his
weight. Bruised and shaken, the three travellers stood by the
carcase, over which the little men were singing a song of triumph,
as if they had been the chief actors instead of intensely interested
spectators. One of them was tugging at the knife to free it from the
skull, and as he could not move it, the second, and then the third,
had a try, all laughing with much merriment.

"It's fun for them," said Venning, rubbing a bruised arm.

"I believe," said Mr. Hume, sourly, "they contrived the whole thing
as a gladiatorial spectacle for their amusement. I don't think I was
ever so near death;" and he shook hands gravely. "If you had not
fired when you did, he would have had me."

"And what about us?" said Compton. "I never saw anything so awful,
and never felt so helpless, as when it stood over us."

"A good job for us he did stand," said Venning, taking out his tape.
"I should like to have his measurements. Just straighten him out."
He passed the tape over. "Length, 6 ft. 2 in.; round the chest, 55
in.; round the abdomen, 60 in.; length of arm, 44 in.; biceps, 14
in.--not so very huge; forearm, 15 in.; calf, 13 in. His power is in
the muscles of the shoulders, chest, and back."

"And jaw," said Compton. "Look at the sweep of the jaw-bone. He
would crack a man's thigh with ease."

"And just think," said Venning, "that he has practically four hands,
that he can spring like a lion, climb like a leopard, walk like a
man, swing like a monkey, bite like a hyaena, and strike like a
battering-ram. I guess I've had enough of gorillas."

When Mr. Hume signalled to the guides to continue, they expressed by
signs their astonishment that the white men did not sit down to make
a meal off the gorilla; and when they really did gather that the
feast was to be abandoned, one remained behind, and another
disappeared into the trees, while the third resumed the journey with
backward looks of regret. About an hour later they met the entire
pigmy tribe on the way to the feast, and as they swarmed over the
tree in passing, the little people greeted Mr. Hume with much honour
as the "father of all the gorillas."

The next day the travellers reached the opening whence they had
started on the trail of the cannibals a few days before.  They
parted with the sooty guide, giving him a handful of sugar, a stick
of tobacco, a small tin of salt, and a cartridge-case.  The latter
he placed proudly in a hole in the lobe of his ear; the other things
he stowed away in his little sack, made from the skin of a small

When he had gone, the three plunged into the wood to follow the
river down to the spot where the Okapi had been docked. After
leaving many shreds and patches of clothing on the thorns, Mr. Hume
and Venning discovered the spot by the "blaze" on the trees
adjoining made by the axe. If it had not been for those signs, they
would not have recognized the place, for they had expected to find a
clearing, and, instead, there was already a thicket of young shoots,
which had sprouted from the buried saplings. Cutting away this
growth, they soon removed the soft mould and the covering of
branches. Then they cut a way down to the river, and ran the Okapi
out into the water.  The chains were greased, the deck riveted in
position, the mast fixed, and the boat washed down. That done,
Venning put into effect a scheme he had been turning over in his
mind for a regular hot-air bath that would steam all the ague,
rheumatism, and fever out of them.

"What we must do," Mr. Hume was always insisting, "is to keep the
circulation active."

"We're going to have a Turkish bath," said Venning, firmly--"a real
one--one that will clear all the germs put at a run, and remove this
continual singing in the ears."

"Does your head sing?" asked Compton, pressing his forehead. "My
brain seems to be on the shake as if it were jelly."

"That's the feeling," said Venning; "and I've got a notion. See the
well? Good; that's to be our hot-air bath. We'll rig the oil-sheets
over it by means of a couple of bent saplings. We'll put the lamp
inside, bank loam around it, moisten the loam with water, leave it
until it steams, then pack one of us in. I'll be the first, to show
that it is safe."

"Good," said the hunter, gravely. "And when you have been steamed,
we'll knead you, wash you down with warm water, and shave your

They did it. Venning went under the sheet; he went in nearly black,
and very heavy in the head. He came out brown and white, with a
feeling of lightness; and when he had been shaved, shampooed,
thumped, whacked, and kneaded, he felt "pounds better." Compton and
Mr. Hume each underwent the hot-air cure, with the same good
results; and then, clothed in clean underwear, and protected by a
dose of quinine, they manned the levers, and went skimming along the
river, glad to be back in their good boat.

"We must call for the old Arab," said Compton, "now that we are
bound for the Place of Rest."

"He'll be in the way," growled Venning; "and we have no time to

"We will call for him," said Mr. Hume. "If we miss Muata, the old
chap could act as guide."

So they put in where the tall palm grew, and while Venning guarded
the boat, the other two went up the path to find the village. They
found it in ruins, and on a post was the head of the old Arab with a
lot of Arab writing.

Compton read it out. "Hassan has been.  Those who are silent when
they could talk remain silent for ever."

"So," muttered Mr. Hume, staring around under frowning brows,
"Hassan has been."

"Poor old harmless chap," said Compton; "and he knew my father. I
should like," he added sternly, "to meet that Hassan, Mr. Hume." "So
should I, my boy."

"He certainly tried to get some news of us from the old Arab, and
failing, lolled him."

"Ay, ay. That's the whole story, lad." They took the head of the old
man, who, they believed, had been faithful to them at the cost of
his life, and gave it reverent burial. Then they returned to the
boat, and pushed off.

"Not there?" asked Venning.

"Ay, he was there, but Hassan has been before us, and the old man
was dead."

"He must hate us very much to pursue us so relentlessly," said
Venning, when he had heard the story.

"He is not bothering about us," said Mr. Hume. "I take it that he
has heard of Muata's hiding-place, this Garden of Rest, and wants it
for his own use. Now, lads, is this to be our quarrel? There is no
call upon us to interfere, and we should escape a lot of trouble if
we did not interfere. I put the matter to you. Shall we 'bout ship,
and go down past the Stanley Falls towards the Zambesi and the
south, where there is good hunting."

"We'll keep on, sir, if you don't mind."

"Oh, it's all the same to me," said the hunter.

"Don't tell me," said Compton. "You are not indifferent about it,
for you said you would like to meet Hassan."

"So I would, lad. I would rather shoot a man like that than a lion.
The animal kills for food, the man slays for the savage lust of

"Then we keep on," said Compton, "and no more speeches from the
captain to the crew on the score of turning back."

"There's one thing," said Mr. Hume; "this Garden of Rest, if we find
it, may turn out to be a complete naturalist's preserve."

"Hurrah!" cried Venning. "Give me the beetles, and you can have the
gorillas. Let's hope we shall have a real rest in this wonderful

"Won't be much rest while Hassan is around," said Compton; "but
we'll have the pull of him if we can get there first."

"Without his knowledge," added the hunter. "The advantage of a
surprise is everything in native warfare, as you have gathered in
listening to Muata's yams."

"We'll have to lie up to-night, I suppose, or else we shall overrun
the spot where we are to meet Muata."

"It cannot be very far. I take it we are now travelling on the short
leg of a triangle, the long leg being the track we made through the
forest, and the other leg the tributary stream down which Hassan
went to pick up his cannibal allies."

"All we want, then," said Compton, "is a few hours' start, for we
can show a clean pair of heels to any canoe afloat."

"That is right enough; but you have to reckon with a cunning foe,
and it is more than probable that Hassan has left some of his men
ahead to keep watch. We'll hug the shore, and keep on as long as

The levers clanked merrily, the little screw lashed up the dark
waters. One reach of the river was very much like another, but the
silence and the absence of life which at first had depressed them
now gave them comfort, for in this gloomy waterway a strange human
being meant a possible enemy.



As the night came stealthily creeping over wood and water, sending
hosts of birds with loud scoldings to their chosen roosting-places--
for out of those myriads of trees only certain trees were selected--
the boat was put in near the right bank. The levers were muffled,
and the "lookout,"  with a bill-hook ready to fend off any snag, and
a bull's-eye lantern to shoot a sudden light, took up his position
in the bows. She crept on slowly through the pitch darkness, the
crew easing off at times to listen as some loud noise broke the
silence--the plunge of a hippo, the snort of an angry bull, the
swirl of a fish, or the cry of an otter from the bank. In one of
these silences a whisper came from the bows.

"Look," said Venning; and he flashed the bull's-eye on the bank.

The others, glancing along the streamer of light, saw reflected two
bright eyes, a gleaming muzzle, and the tips of curved horns.

"A buffalo," whispered Mr. Hume.

As the boat drifted slowly past, they watched the bright eyes, and
the eyes of the animal followed them. Out of the intense blackness
only those points were visible--the luminous eyes, the shining
muzzle, and the tips of the horns. The rest was left to the
imagination; yet the picture seemed to stand out of a shaggy forest
bull, his fore feet on the brink of the water, and his head thrown

"What a picture for a flash-light photo!" muttered Venning,

"What a mark for a shot!" sighed Mr. Hume. "And red meat would be
very welcome."'

As they slipped away the buffalo snorted, crashed into the forest,
and battered his way on a course parallel to them to get another
view of that mysterious light, for presently they heard his snort
again. A little further on a bull hippo charged at them, but the
glare of the light full in his eyes stopped him, and he remained
open-mouthed, so that all they saw was a yawning gulf bristling with
ivory. Mr. Hume, who had picked up his Express at the first snort,
laid it down again with a laugh.

"Took the fight out of him that time, Venning; but it's a little

"Keeps one wide awake, at any rate," said Compton.

"We'll continue for an hour or so and then tie up, for we may have a
heavy day to-morrow."

For a couple of miles the boat felt its way through the dark without
incident, and then the look-out signalled another discovery.

"Light ahead!"

The Okapi was brought broadside on, so that the crew could have a
clear view of the river; and they sat for some time in silence,
looking at the strange object--a tiny but steady glow of fire.

"Shut off the bull's-eye, Venning. We'll make for mid-stream, and
approach the fire with caution."

The boat moved out into the current, then worked up very tenderly
while Venning steered, with his eyes fixed on that little speck of
red. Slowly they advanced, cautiously were the levers pulled over
and shot back, so that there should be no noise, and silently the
smooth craft cut into the darkness. But light travels far, and they
seemed to get no nearer.

"I believe it's a light in a boat," muttered the lookout.

The others slowed up, and they listened, but they heard no sound of
paddles, only innumerable stealthy whisperings from the woods.

"It is stationary," said Mr. Hume, "and ashore, as you may see from
its fixity. Beep her away. We can't be too careful."

They made a long reach down, going very warily, and taking care not
to keep their eyes solely upon the fire; for a light is a good lure
to draw the careless into an ambush, unless they are on the look-out
for danger in a different quarter.

"I can't see any one about," said Venning, who was using the night-

In complete silence they came at last opposite the fire, but no
sooner had they passed it than it went out.

"Put her round," whispered Mr. Hume.

The boat answered her helm like a well-trained horse, and they went
back on their course to see if they could fetch the light again.

"Yes, there it is."

"Then it's a signal," muttered Mr. Hume; "only to be seen by some
one coming up-stream."

"Suppose it is meant for us?"

Mr. Hume went forward with his Express, and relieved Venning at the

"We'll creep nearer in this time, but be ready to make a dash if it
proves to be one of Hassan's watch-parties."

This time the Okapi hugged the shore, and stopped when it came
opposite the light.

Out of the darkness came a low laugh. "I have been awaiting you, O
great one; but you came so softly that I should not have known
except for these wise ones here."

"Welcome, Muata!" The boat was run in now without further pause, and
Mr. Hume leapt ashore with the line. "And who are the wise ones,
chief, that could smell us out in the dark?"

"Who but the jackal and the wise woman?"

"You found your mother, then! I'm very glad--very glad. And what
about Hassan?  He has passed this way, and made his sign at the
village where we left the old Arab."

"The Arab thief comes up the little river with many canoes and the
whole pack of man-eaters. So we three will get into the shining
canoe, if the great one wills, and make good the time before

"The boat is ready."

Muata called. The fire was put out, and presently two figures
appeared within the range of the bull's-eye lantern--a woman and the
jackal. The woman halted to speak a few words to Muata, then she put
a hand on the hunter's shoulder and peered into his face. She
laughed and said something.

"What says the wise woman, Muata?"

"Lion--not gorilla. Haw! We heard the story from the little men how
the great one cleft the skull of the gorilla; and how they called
you my father, after the man-monkey. But I told her you were more
lion than ape, and she has judged for herself."

Mr. Hume laughed, and held a hand to help the woman into the boat;
but she stepped aboard unassisted, and moved forward, the jackal
following very humbly.

"And the river-man?"

"He struck the trail of three man-eaters, and followed them, seeing
red. Maybe he slew them and was slain, for there was much noise, and
he did not return. So we here are all till we reach the hiding-

The boat was pushed off, and Muata took one of the levers.

"Let the young lions sleep," he said. "We can have no better watch
than we now have. See! the jackal smelt you while you were still
afar, and the chiefs wife heard the noise of the boat before I did.
Wow! We are safe while they watch."

"Does the chiefs wife smoke?" "Ow ay! tobacco would please her
heart." Mr. Hume passed a pipe and tobacco to the woman, and Compton
gave her a lighted match. She took them as if they were ordinary
objects of her life, lit the pipe, and by the flame of the match
leant forward to peer into the boy's face as she had stared at Mr.
Hume. And she spoke a word or two before turning her face to the
bows for the long watch.

"The river runs into the sea; but the river is always full. That is
her word, young lion."

"Which means?"

"I told her you were the white man's son, and she has seen for
herself. Maybe her words mean that when the father is gone the son
takes his place. But in time you will know, for her meaning is
sometimes hard to understand. Now sleep, you two, for there is great
need for us ahead."

Without more ado the two "young lions" rolled themselves in their
blankets and enjoyed the rare luxury of an untroubled sleep, and
when they awoke they were in a vast lagoon, out of which stood the
bleached skeletons of dead trees, with gaunt bare branches, in all
manner of fantastic shapes. But it was only the trees that were
dead, for the astonished eyes of the boys rested on such a
multiplicity of animal life as they had never before seen. Birds
roosted on the aforesaid dead branches--sooty ibis, white pelicans,
crows, kingfishers, and here and there, like sentinels on the
topmost branches, a white-headed eagle, with his hooked bill,
dominating the scene. Wheeling through the air were strings of duck
and wisps of snipe in battalions, rows of cranes with their long
legs trailing, and on the surface of the smooth water, on scores of
small islands, formed originally by uprooted trees, and under the
water, there were yet innumerable creatures. It was certainly grand
hunting for all. There were flies and gnats for the frogs, tadpoles
and the spawn of frogs for the little fishes, little fishes were
preyed on by the ducks and the big fishes, while the birds and the
big fishes in turn provided breakfast, dinner, and supper for the
crocodiles. Apparently the crocodiles were too tough, too musky, and
too powerful, to serve as food for any other animal higher up in the
scale; but it is not to be supposed that they had merely to open
their jaws to snatch a meal, for there were shallows all about where
the waders could go to sleep in peace, standing on one leg. And
there they stood, regiments of them--crested cranes, blue cranes,
black ibis, pink ibis, flamingoes, and wild geese.. And the noise
was tremendous!

The Okapi sailed under a gentle breeze right into the thick of this
sportsman's paradise, and from the low islands armies of mosquitoes
gaily advanced to meet her until they formed a moving cloud around
her, only kept off from eating up the crew by the merciful
intervention of the canvas awning and mosquito curtains.

"What a magnificent specimen of the spoonbill bittern," groaned
Venning. "If we had only brought an air-gun--for I suppose we cannot

"Look at those fat geese in a row," said Compton.  "What a stew they
would make.  Just one shot, sir."

"It won't do," said Mr. Hume. "A single shot would raise noise
enough to wake the seven sleepers."

"There is another way," said Muata.

"What way?"

"A line such as you used for fish--see." He shaved off some thin
shreds of buffalo biltong, chewed it, and dropped it astern. An
inquisitive teal watched him keenly, and, as the boat went by, made
a swoop for the fragment. The incident was noticed, and a big
gander, curiously tame, came sailing up, arching its neck in
imitation of the swan. The boys were at the lockers in a flash, drew
out a couple of lines, bent on a large hook, buoyed it, by the
advice of Mr. Hume, between two floats, baited the hooks, and payed
the line over the stem, while Muata dropped over a few more pellets.
There was a flotilla of duck and geese following in the wake of the
Okapi, and in less than a minute there were two bites. Compton had
the black and grey gander, while Venning had a fat duck in tow. The
Okapi was backed full speed astern and the astonished fowl pulled on
board before they knew what had happened. The geese sheered off at
once, speaking to each other in subdued tones, but in the next
quarter of an hour three more ducks were added to the bag. Then a
piratical craft appeared in the very thick of the peaceful convoy,
opened its broadside, as it were, and engulfed a couple. There was a
swirl in the water, a resounding smack made by a long scaley tail,
and a third fowl went the way of the others. Beating their wings,
the duck rose with loud quacks to seek the safety of a shallow, and
the leery green eyes of the piratical crocodile appeared above the
disturbed water.

"You old thief!" cried Venning.

"It is his hunting-ground," said Muata, with a chuckle, as he passed
the birds to his mother, who began at once to pluck them.

"Out with the big pot and the preserved vegetables," said Compton.
"We'll have one big feast, even if we go hungry for a week."

The pot was got out, water from the lagoon was boiled, strained, and
boiled again, then, as each bird was cleaned, it was cut up and
placed in the pot, the offal falling to the share of the jackal. It
was a great meal, of soup, game, cabbage, potatoes, onions, and
carrots, all mixed up, and when it had been eaten down to the last
drop, with a dose of quinine for safety, and a cup of coffee for
comfort, they were all shiny and happy. The oily fat from the birds,
which formed a layer on the top while the mess was boiling, had been
carefully removed, and when it had cooled, Muata and his mother
rubbed it over their faces, necks, arms, and hair until they

"Well, I'm sugared!" said Compton.

"Fat very good for the skin," said Muata, showing his teeth. "You

"Better for the guns, chief.''

"Wow! and for the big knife;" and the chief polished up his Ghoorka
blade, while the boys greased the rifles and stared at the chief's
wife, thinking, as they stared, of the adventures which she had been
through since she fled from the kraal of her husband, driven out by
the slave-hunters. They had seen old black women at the villages,
wrinkled old crones, phenomenally thin; but this woman was not much
wrinkled, and she was not thin. Neither was she ugly as those others
had been, for she carried herself straight, and there was a dignity
about her actions whenever she moved her long bare arms. But they
came to the conclusion that she was not a person to sew on buttons,
for there was a hard look about the eyes, and the whole cast of the
face was set and stem. It did not seem possible that she could
smile, and, remembering the careless laughter of native women, who
were amused at anything or nothing, she was a mystery to them. So
they very soon gave up trying to make anything out of her, and
turned their attention to the lagoon, which stretched away a good
ten miles on either hand to the dark fringe of forest. Evidently the
forest had grown where the shallow waters now were, as the dead
trees testified.

"The land has sunk about here," said Venning, "and underneath there
must be a coal-bed in process of formation. Now, if there were hills
around, and a nice clean sand-beach, I should like to spend months

"Too many mosquitoes!"

"Besides," said Mr. Hume, striking in, "there are hills."

"Where? Over there? Why, that's a cloud!"

"Perhaps so; but the cloud rests on a hill-top. Isn't that so,

"Those be the gates to the Place of  Rest."

"By Jimminy! How far?" This was something to be excited about.

Muata held up five fingers. "So many suns will rise and set."

"And does the forest lie in between?"

"Between and beyond."

"And the Place of Rest, is that forest also?"

"The sun shines there all day," said the chief; "and a man can see
his shadow lengthen. The little ones play on the white sand, the
women and the girls work in the gardens on the open slopes of the
hills, and the men----"

"Well, what about the men?"

"They lie in the sand like lizards, and talk like parrots."

It was the chief's wife who spoke scornfully, using the language
they had mastered.

"Wow!" chimed in the chief, "they are timid people, the men; but the
time is at hand when those who will not fight will be set to do
women's work in the gardens."

The woman nodded her head grimly. "The time is at hand when the
reapers will work, not in the cornfields, but about the fires where
the men sit.  Hassan is to be feared; but he can only enter if he is
helped from within."

"I listen, O wise one," said the son, sternly. "Even if I weed them
all out so that there are none left but Muata and these three white
strangers, your counsel shall be followed."

"It is well," said the mother, nodding her head.

"You seem to have little faith in your people," said Compton.

"Haw! They grow fat and timid. They have no fight in them. Once
before, when I was a boy, I beat them; but they have forgotten."

"I rather think, chief, that they would be as well off under Hassan
as under you."

"Hassan would yoke them in and drive them out through the forest
into the plains. A man must fight for his kraal. That is the law."

"It is the law," said the woman.

"And that is the Place of Rest?" said Venning, lingering on the
sight. "More like a place of trouble for some; but, at any rate, if
there are hills and open places, I shall be glad to get there. It
would be a real treat to have space enough for a trot. But, I say,
it is time you two slept."

"That is just what I have been thinking," said Mr. Hume.

The two boys took the levers, but Muata declined to rest. He said
there were two openings leading from the lagoon to the hills--one a
broad channel, commonly used, the other a smaller channel.

"We will take the little river," he said, "so that Hassan, who will
follow the other track, will not know of our going. But it is hard
to find this little water-path, and I must search for it."

"Don't go up a track that will not give water for the boat. Are you
sure that it will carry us?"

"Ow ay! there is water enough, great one. So sleep well."

For a couple of hours the boys worked the levers, and at the end
they came upon a thicket of reeds, along which the Okapi skirted,
while the chief and his mother kept a keen outlook. Twice they
plunged into the reeds on a false trail; and then, as they lay off
scanning the oily water for trace of a current, the woman held up
her hand.

"It is Hassan," said the chief.

Venning reached for his glasses, and far back over the shining lake
he saw little black specks emerging, as it were, out of the forest.

"Canoes," he said; "a great many."

If they did not find the outlet soon they would be sighted. Muata
and his mother spoke a few words rapidly, and then he signalled to
the crew to enter the reeds. This done, and the boat screened, he
slipped into the water and disappeared shorewards. For some time he
was away, during which the flotilla of canoes came into view like a
flock of ducks, still so far off that the boys could not hear the
sound of paddles. Presently Muata splashed back, and, towing the
boat, made across a barrier of reeds that had been banked up,
forming a sort of natural breakwater, and most effectually hiding
the mouth of the stream he sought. Mr. Hume was awakened, and the
entire crew, taking to the water, managed to hoist the boat over the
barrier. This done, they climbed on board again, and were soon in
the mouth of a dark river, almost overhung by great trees.

"That is well done," said Muata. "Now we can sleep, great one; for
the other river runs far from this, so that Hassan's men will not
hear us."

They were soon asleep. Even the chief's wife stretched herself out
with the jackal at her feet, and the two boys were left in sole
charge. They had been toughened by the rough-and-tumble of their
strange experiences, and inured to the brooding silence and dark
avenues of the forest; but they entered into a scene that tried
their nerves. The trees closed in as they advanced, and very soon
they entered a leafy tunnel, lit up by a faint light that barely
showed up the slimy banks, covered by a network of snake-like roots.
The little waves churned up by the screw splashed softly upon the
roots, making the only sound that disturbed the sombre silence of
the place. So low was the leafy roof at places that branches rustled
on the awning.

"Fix up the big lantern in the bows, old man," said Compton, who was
facing up-stream. "There is not light enough to steer by. Better sit
up there with the bill-hook while I work the levers."

Venning went forward, and soon a shaft of light pierced the gloom.

For a mile or more they threaded this tunnel, and not a sign of life
was there the whole way. When they emerged from the darkness into
comparative space and light, the boys wiped their faces, which were
clammy with moisture.

"A few more experiences like that, Dick, and we cross the river for


"Why, man, it's the Styx. It has given me the shivers."

"Quinine," said Compton; and they dosed one another there and then.
"I say, I'd give the whole five hundred miles square of this forest
for one little glade in Epping."


"Of all the squirmy, snaky, gloomy, airless, sunless, moist,
decaying masses of misery, I think this is the worst."

"It is, Dick; it is. There's not a butterfly even."

"Thunder! It's raining fire! No; it's an ant S It's raining ants, by

"You ass, you've hooked the bill into a nest. There--that round,
black thing--like a football. They're running up the bill-hook."

There was a splash as the boat was shoved off, then muttered
exclamations and a yelp from the jackal: Many scores of ants had
invaded the Okapi, and each ant, full of murderous rage for the
wanton attack upon the nest, seized hold of the first soft thing it
came across, and once it gripped it held on like a bull-dog. War was
waged on the invaders, and when the last had been discovered and
crushed, there was no sleep in the savage eyes of the awakened.

Incidents like these alone varied the monotony of the dreary days
they spent in that mournful slough, and if it had not been for the
regular exercise at the levers, and the hope of a speedy release
from their surroundings, the young explorers must have succumbed. As
it was, they lost colour, became pale, languid, and heavy-eyed; and
Mr. Hume, noting the signs of the dreaded wasting sickness with
anxiety, did not spare himself or Muata when it came to their turn
to work the levers.



The chiefs wife urged them on. Neither night nor day did she seem to
rest, for whenever one of the boys, in a feverish sleep, tossed his
arms about, she was at his side with a drink compounded of herbs,
that kept the fever away. She took her spell at the levers, her long
round arms moving with unexpected power, and only the hunter himself
could tire her out. As for him, he was not happy unless he was
working, and at times he made the screw spin again under his fierce
strokes, whenever his eyes fell on the wan faces of his young
companions stewing in the insufferable heat. He shortened the
journey by twenty-four hours, for on the afternoon of the fourth day
the woman, for the first time, showed signs of joy.

"Lift up your heads, O young lions," she cried; "let the light come
into your eyes, and the strength into your limbs, for we are at the
gates! You will catch the cool wind in your mouths. Your nostrils
will sniff the air of the hills; your feet will tread the open way;
your eyes will see the white clouds afar. Awake, my children, we are
at the gates."

They lifted their heads, throbbing with the touch of fever, and
before them they saw a sheet of clear water; beyond that a
glistening wall of rock, and following up higher and higher, they
saw the deep blue of the sky.

"We are out at last," said the hunter, in his deep tones. "Off with
the awning, Muata; let us breathe again."

The awning was thrown back, and the boys sat up, drawing in the air
in great gulps.

"This is but the beginning," said the woman. "A little further and
your eyes will rest on the gardens below and the hilltops above. You
will skip like the he-goat from rock to rock. You will shout and
rejoice. I know. I was young, too, and I also came through the dark

"Where now, Muata?" asked the hunter.

"If the great one cares to leave the canoe, we could reach the top
to-night, and sleep far above the woods. None come here.  The water
is 'taboo,' and the boat would be safe."

"Let us go up," urged Compton.

"Yes; up out of this stagnation," cried Venning, with a longing look

Mr. Hume ran the boat in, and Muata leapt ashore. As his feet felt
the firm ground he raised one hand high and broke into a chant, the
woman joining in at intervals. As he chanted he stamped his feet on
the sand; and this song was of himself--of his deeds in the past, of
his triumphs in the future.

"Wow!" he said, when he had finished. "There were many days that
Muata thought never to look upon these walls again; many times, when
his heart was dark, when his blood was like water; and lo! he stands
against the walls of his home."

"Of his resting-place," corrected the woman. "His home lies beneath
the setting sun."

"I know how you feel, Muata. If I were to see again the cliffs of
old England, I would sing too."

"It must be like finding a new beetle," said Venning.

"We are not out of the woods yet," chimed in Mr. Hume, grimly, "so
just give your attention to our stores. We must carry up as much as
we can, for, 'taboo' or not 'taboo,' I do not like the idea of
leaving all our things here."

They made up in parcels as much of the stores as they could carry,
and the woman strode off first, erect and graceful, with the largest
parcel on her head. Venning followed, carrying only his carbine,
blanket, and bandolier; then Muata, with sixty pounds' weight on his
head, then Compton, and, last of all, Mr. Hume, with an ample load.
A fairly open path, over a lattice-work of roots, mounted up through
the trees, and the hunter "blazed" the path by chipping a slice of
bark off every fifth tree. Up and up the woman swung with free
strides, her short leather skirts, trimmed with beads, rattling as
she went; and after many a breather, for the sake of the whites, she
strode out, one thousand feet above the lake, on to a rock-strewn
slope, free of trees. A glance back showed the evening mist rolling
like a huge curtain over the sombre forest, so that they seemed to
be looking down upon a silent sea.

"A little more, my children--a little more, and you will sleep under
a roof."

She swung off, balancing the load easily, and the others followed in
and out among great rocks that had an unfamiliar look, bending their
bodies to the steep and labouring for breath; and as they went Mr.
Hume drew marks on the ground, as a guide, with the point of his
knife, for he trusted no man in the wilderness, except himself.
After another thousand feet of climbing, they entered into a gorge,
that narrowed at the summit to a mere cleft, and from that cleft
they stepped out on to a broad platform, which dominated a wide
valley rimmed with cliffs.

"Behold the Place of Rest, O white men; and ye, O great one, who
marked the trees below, and whose glance went ever back to note the
way so that you should know it again, know that we have led you to
the hiding, whose secret was our refuge."

"Ay, mother," said Mr. Hume, quietly, though surprised she had seen
his actions; "and remember that we are here to help you keep out the
wolf from your refuge. I marked the trail, as ye saw, for it is well
that a man should know his way out as well as in."

"He is right, O wise one," said Muata, bearing down his mother's
suspicious look. "Should Hassan prevail in the fight, there would be
no Muata to guide these our friends to safety."

"He prevail!" cried the woman, sternly; then her finger shot out,
and her form seemed to increase in stature. "Look, O warrior of
feeble words; see how it greets the chief;" and her eyes blazed as
she followed the flight of a great bird that swept out of the mist.
"A sign--a sign, my son."

"A black eagle," said Venning. "Maybe it has its nest somewhere
about here."

"As this is the Place of Rest," said Mr. Hume, "it would do us all
good to sit down. Where is the hut you spoke of, mother?"

"Shall I carry you, little one?" said the woman, with a loud laugh.
"A few steps only. A little way, and you can eat and sleep."

She passed to the right under shelter of a cliff, and came very
quickly to the door of a wide cave, that ran back some thirty feet.

"Here is your home, and in the morning the sun will look in at the
door, and from the threshold, when you awake, you may sit and feast
on such a sight as will gladden your eyes, for now the shadows hide

They threw their packages on the floor and sat down on a carpet of
clean white sand.

"A little further there is water. Muata, my son, for the last time
do woman's work and light the fire, while I go below for food."

"Say nothing to the people of my coming," said the chief. "Presently
I will go down secretly, and see how the men bear themselves."

"Wow! I see now it is the chief, and not a carrier of wood."

She went off into the gathering gloom, but was back in the hour with
a great bunch of yellow bananas, a calabash of goats'-milk, and a
young kid, showing no signs of weariness for all her toil. Those
bananas, growing with an upward curve against the stem to relieve
the dead weight on the branch as they grew, were just then a finer
sight than the most magnificent scenery, and the travellers made a
great feast, which done, they stretched themselves out on the clean
dry sand up there in the clean, crisp air, and slept till the sun
next morning streamed into the open cave.

They woke up to find themselves alone, but not forgotten; for
outside there lay a little heap of good things, including fresh
eggs, a calabash of milk, sweet potatoes, and a bundle of firewood.

"By Jove!" cried Compton; "look at the view. Isn't it splendid?"

"Well, it won't vanish," said Mr. Hume, "so we'll have breakfast

Further on along the ledge there was a little cascade, falling into
a bath-like opening evidently, from the signs, of human
construction, and here, in ice-cold water, they refreshed
themselves. After breakfast they were like new men. The keen air put
to flight the beginnings of malaria contracted in the noisome
atmosphere of the dark water-course they had last travelled, and
brought the sparkle into their eyes, and a smile to the lips.

"Now for the view--for a good long look at the Garden of Rest."

"Not yet. We'll first overhaul our rifles and stock of ammunition.
This is no picnic, you know. We may be fighting for our lives to-
morrow; so to work!"

Orders had to be obeyed, and the ammunition was sorted out--
providing 150 rounds for the Express, 250 rounds each for the three
carbines, and 175 rounds for the shot-gun.

"That is a short supply, boys. We must be careful not to throw away
a single shot; for, remember, we've got to go a long way before we
reach safety, even after this business of Hassan's is done. We must
try and do with fifty rounds apiece in this little affair."

"Little affair!" muttered Venning, remembering the flotilla of
canoes and the mob of fierce-looking cannibals.

"Big or little, we can't afford to indulge in reckless firing. One
bullet, one man, is my motto."

"But we cannot all shoot like you," grumbled Venning.

"A matter of habit," said the hunter, quietly. "All you have to do
is to get the advantage of position, and then it is no merit to
shoot straight. Drop three men out of a hundred, and you will stop
the remainder; drop thirty out of a thousand, and the same thing
happens. If there are only a hundred, and you have the upper ground,
let them come within two hundred yards; if the enemy is in great
numbers, open at five hundred yards; and anywhere down to fifty
yards according to his dwindling strength. Shoot straight every
time, and the plan answers like clockwork."

"Have you tried it?"

"Many times, but only in self-defence. Now we'll just examine our
position, for it is always good to have open a line of retreat."

They walked along the ledge to the mouth of the gorge up which they
had ascended, saw that the ledge ended there, then retraced their
steps past the cave and the bath to a spot where a break in the
ledge opened up a way down into the valley.

"Just take note of that path," said the hunter, "and follow it

"What a beautiful spot!" said Compton.

"It does the eyes good to look on it," said Venning,
enthusiastically. "See how the sun shines on the broad leaves--
banana-leaves, I think--bordering the silver stream."

"Never mind the silver stream," broke in Mr. Hume, testily. "Fix
your attention on this path. Get it into your mind. See how it drops
down to that solitary palm."

"Now remember that if you are down there, and have to run, you are
to make for that palm, ascend here, and cut along to the gorge. Have
you got that fixed? Good. Now we will go back."

At last, with their feet dangling over the edge of the ledge before
the cave, they were at liberty to satisfy their longing to take
their fill of the beauty outspread before them. Perhaps it was by
contrast with the monotony of the forest that the scene below them
seemed to them all to be the most beautiful that had ever gladdened
the eyes of men.  Imagine a valley about five miles in length,
narrowing at each end, and opening out about the centre to a width
of two miles, the sides of grass sloping up to a buttress of rock,
and rippling along the whole length into folds, with little valleys
in between--narrow at the summit, where they joined the rock-wall,
and wide at the base, where they opened out on the parent valley,
through which flowed a broad stream, fringed its whole length with a
border of pale green banana-leaves with stems of gold. In the little
valleys were gardens, showing up like a chessboard pattern in neat
patches of green, red, and brown, according to whether there was
ripening millet, young maize, or new-turned mould. Halfway down the
valley was a village of beehive-shaped huts, with an open space in
the centre, adorned with one fine tree, under whose spreading
branches they could see distinctly the forms of men. In the strong
white light every object could be easily picked out--goats browsing
among the rocks at the base of the cliffs; flocks of birds circling
above the gardens; fowls walking among the huts; tiny little black
forms toddling in the sun, and their mothers squatting with their
faces turned to the council tree.

"No women in the gardens," said Mr. Hume, "and that always means

Venning readjusted his glasses. "There is something I can't quite
make out at the back of the village. Looks like men lying down."

Mr. Hume took the glasses and turned them on the spot. "Humph!" he
muttered, while his brow clouded. "They are dead men."

"Five," said Compton.

"Yes, five. Muata has been at work!"

"Muata? He was sitting here quietly eating last night."

"Maybe it was either he or they, and he happened to be first to

"It is awful!" muttered Venning.

The discovery destroyed their pleasure in the gentle beauty of the
scene below, and they fell to discussing Hassan's probable plan of
attack, arriving at the conclusion that the chances of success were
with him, when they contrasted his force with the small band of men
down below.

"While they are talking," said Compton, "Hassan will be seizing the
best positions. Why on earth don't they do something?"

"Perhaps they are at work already," said Mr. Hume. "There is a small
party coming down the valley from the left. Muata said something
about Hassan's determination to drown the people of the valley. He
could only flood the valley by damming the stream at its outlet,
which would lie to the left, and I guess those men have been seeing
to the defence."

"The leading man has plumes in his head. A chief, I suppose."

"It is the chief himself, Dick."

"So it is. I can make out his Ghoorka knife. Let's give him a
shout;" and the two sent a loud "coo-ee" ringing down the slope. The
sound reached the ears of the little band of warriors, for they
stood to look up; it also reached the people in the village with a
startling effect. The men jumped up from the ground, women snatched
up children and scuttled hither and thither like ants disturbed.
From the depths below a cry came up clear and crisp--the marvellous
voice of the native, trained through long centuries to speed a
message of war or peace, of victory or disaster, from hill to hill.

"Ohe! Ohe! my brothers, the chief awaits you."

"Does he?" said Mr. Hume, dryly. "Then he may wait until he sends up
a proper escort.  Oh, here they come, I suppose," as half of Muata's
body-guard detached themselves and advanced towards the palm-tree.

"Shall we go down?" said Compton, rising.

"Sit still, my lad. No chief ever hurries; and, you understand, we
are all chiefs."

"Are we, though?"

"We take rank with Muata, if he is the head chief; not out of pride,
you understand, but out of policy. So just keep cool. Just look as
if you were a sixth-form boy approached by a deputation from the
kids. See?"

"I'll be as cool and haughty as a----"

"Freshman in a bun-shop," interposed Venning. "Me, too;" and he put
on a high and mighty look.

"Don't overdo it, my boy," said Mr. Hume, with a grave smile.

There were seven men coming up, and they breasted the slope in
single file at a walk which quickly got over the ground. On reaching
the ledge they advanced at a trot up to within a few feet, when they
suddenly halted, grounded their spears with a clang, and raised the
right hand with the fingers spread.  They were fine lads, straight
of limb, supple and lithe, without, however, much show of muscle.
Their quick glances, with a certain quality of wildness in the eyes,
ranged over the three seated and silent whites.

"Greeting, O white men from out the forest, and the water beyond,
and the father of waters beyond that." The spokesman stepped
forward. "Greeting from the great black one, the river-wolf--he who
met the wild man of the woods alone; he who crept in at the gate and
slew the man-hunters; he the chief Muata. Greeting to the lion-
killer, the cleaver of heads, the maker of plans, who came out of
the mist in a shining boat. Greeting to the young lions who slew the

"What is your word?"

"The great chief awaits at the war council."

"Go down and tell your chief we will descend when we have made war

"Wow!" The spokesman fell back into the ranks. The seven warriors
stood for a time in silence; then, at a word from the spokesman,
they went through a salute, turned, and marched back in single file,
chanting a war song as they went, as an accompaniment to a dancing

"What is the war medicine we are to make, sir?"

"Just the remains of our breakfast and supper, with a dose of
quinine to finish up."

"And those chaps will be telling the people down below that we are
making strong medicine, warranted to kill Hassan at sight, and ward
off spears, bullets, mosquitoes, and Arab swords."

"Well, it will give them courage, if they think all that," said Mr.
Hume, coolly, as he inspected the rations.



In the afternoon, having hidden away the reserve ammunition, they at
last went down to the war council assembled under the tree in the
village. Mindful of the instructions of Mr. Hume, the two boys were
quite self-possessed and incurious, though it was a great effort to
restrain expressions of surprise when they were face to face with

If they were under the necessity to play a part, so in a greater
measure was he. The men about him were a mixed lot--of adventurers
who had been compelled to seek a harbourage from revengeful enemies,
of fugitives who had escaped from the slave gangs--and they were of
several tribes. Only a strong hand could keep them in order, and
Muata could not afford for a moment to sacrifice his authority. He
was master in that valley, or nothing. Hence he received the
greeting of his old white friends without a sign of cordiality.

His naturally fine face was hideous in war-paint, two lines of
yellow extending to his ears from the comers of his mouth, and
another black line running from the centre of the forehead down
between the eyes. Two long black feathers were secured in his head
circlet, and about his throat he wore a necklace made of the teeth
of the gorilla and the claws of a lion.  His eyes were fierce and
bright, and the quivering of his nostrils showed also that he was
labouring under suppressed excitement. Mr. Hume recognized at once
that he was face to face with a crisis, and instinctively he
realized that it depended on him to save the situation, not only for
himself and his young companions, but for Muata also. His calm eyes
travelled over the ring of black faces behind the chief. He saw
there were two parties. On one side were the young warriors, men of
the chiefs age, who probably had been brought up in the valley; on
the other was a larger number of older men, whose lowering looks
told a tale of distrust and incipient revolt.

"Behold," he said, making up his mind to the role he would play, "we
are the chief's 'white men.' We have made strong medicine. Shall I
speak, O black bull of the forest?"

"Speak," said Muata, who had caught the hunter's eye when he
acknowledged himself to be the chief's white man.

"Thus says the medicine," said the hunter, in his deep tones. "There
are wolves on the way to eat up the people of this place."

"Eh--hum!" sneered the older men. "We know."

"We are ready for them," shouted the young warriors.

"Ye know--yes; but thus says my medicine--that you are not agreed
among yourselves."


The hunter paused, and his strange eyes dwelt on the faces of the
old men so that they looked away.

"There are some among you who would make terms with the enemy. There
were some who had sent secret word to Hassan. Go ye a little way up
the slope and ye will see the bodies of some of those slain in their

"Wow!" The older men exchanged uneasy glances, and a woman's voice
rang out exultingly, "Ye speak the truth, O lion."

"Thus says my medicine. If ye do not stand together, the enemy will
enter at the gates, and not one will be left alive, for Hassan will
slay those whose hearts were with him as he will those who were
against him."

One of the older warriors interrupted, shooting a finger at Muata.

"Great one, give us the word that we may slay this dog who comes to
make trouble. Is this the counsel of a wise man on the coming of the

"What would you do with him?" asked Muata, suavely.

"Send him after those others;" and the man pointed up the hill.

"You stand alone in your words," said the chief, doubtfully.

The spokesman, with a look of fierce triumph, looked around.

"These also I speak for."

"Haw!" said the chief, slowly, running his eye over the old men.
"All men of wisdom! Do ye all hold with these words? Be not hasty.
Ye have heard the words of the white man. Think well before ye

"How do we know that he is not Hassan's man?" said the first
spokesman, fiercely. "He was summoned to the council when the sun
was young, and he has only now come. Who vouches for him?"

"I--Muata, the chief. Yet Muata does not give face to him or to you.
Ye have heard both sides. Think well and decide quickly, for the day
is passing, and we must be at the gates this night.  First let me
know"--and the chief's voice was very mild--"do we agree in
resisting Hassan, or is it that we differ about the white men?"

"We will fight against Hassan," said the spokesman, quickly; "but
this white man has spoken evil words. We know him not; and if thus
early he begins to make mischief, what will happen when the fight is
fierce? Stand by me, friends, so that the chief may see our mind."

"Nay," said an older man, who had been watching the chiefs face--
"nay, let us talk the matter over."

But it was too late, and the spokesman stepped aside, drawing with
him a score of men.

"Is that all?" asked the chief, quietly, and his eyes ran keenly
over the faces of the other warriors. "I will consider, for it is
well that we should have no differences."

"Hark to the wisdom!" shouted the warriors.

"We must stand together," continued Muata, "or we fall. And I am
glad of this thing; it has shown our weakness." He stood a moment,
then, with a sudden glance back at his young men, he bounded
forward, and with one stroke of his terrible knife struck the leader
of the band to the ground.  "Hold!" he roared, as the young men,
with a terrific shout, sprang forward. "Let a man move but a hand,
and he is dead."

There was one breathless moment, during which men stood with
upraised spears, their eyes glaring, their breasts heaving, and
their breath coming in quick gasps. A woman laughed and the tension

"Back--back!" and before the fierce word of command the young
warriors drew off.

"One is enough," growled Muata, transformed, terrible in his fury,
and glaring at the small band who stood around the fallen body. "If
I thought that ye were in the counsels of this dog who lies there,
not one of ye would be spared. It was in his heart to betray us to

"We knew it not, great black one," muttered the men, humbly.

"If I thought ye knew," growled the chief, with a terrible look,
"there would be an end to you. See that ye carry yourselves well."

The three travellers had stood fast during this scene, and now
Muata, having wiped the blood from his knife, turned to them.

"It is the law," he said, as if in explanation. "Haw! when I
descended into the valley, in the night, I heard evil words spoken
round the fire. It was time to act, and as it was seen by your
medicine, the law was done."

"Ohe! the law was done," chanted the young warriors. "In the dark he
came--the great strong one--silently out of the woods, and in the
morning he smote."

"It is the law. If any of you feel a thorn in the foot, you cut it
out. Good; we are now whole."

"We are whole, O chief," cried all the warriors together. "Good;
then we will go up to the gateways to be ready. In three companies
we will go, and with each will so one of the chief's white men. Ye
have seen how strong is the white man's medicine. If any hold back,
the medicine will tell."

The chief divided the men into three equal numbers of about fifty
each, which left over some twenty-five of the older men who had
sided with the slain man.

"Ye," he said, addressing them, "will stay here with the women; and
if it chance that the enemy prevail, take the women and the flocks
to the foot of the rocks above, where the white men were. O
Inkosikase! (chieftainess)."

Muata's mother came forward, armed with spear, and behind her came
other women carrying bows and arrows.

"These men, O mother, will stay by the kraal. They have learnt
wisdom; but if they weaken, send a messenger to me."

"There will be no messenger needed, O son," said the woman, as she
eyed the cowed men. "So go forth to the battle, for your scouts upon
the heights call. They see the man-eaters and the women stealers."
Her long arm shot out, and every man stared to the far end of the

Muata gave a few sharp orders, and the first band of fifty young men
went off up the valley at a trot.

"O great one, you said the word that helped betwixt me and my men. I
go forward with the next band--do you follow with the others; so
that when Hassan presses us back, as he must, being the stronger,
you will let a part of his men pass through the gate; then stop the
rest, and we who ran will deal with those who got through."

"Is that your plan?"

"It is a good plan. When the leopard is caged his cunning goes. Your
men will know where to hide; I have overlooked the place."

"Good. The plan will be carried out."

"There is also a second plan;" and Muata fixed his eyes on Compton.
"Some men will be hidden within the valley, to fall upon those who
enter. I wish the young lion to remain with them."

"I should like that," said Compton, quietly.

"Very well, my lad," said Mr. Hume; "and I think Venning had better
go with you. I prefer it. And hark! if the plan fails, you know the
way to the boat. Shake hands."

They shook hands, and the two lads placed themselves beside Muata as
he went off with the second band. Mr. Hume, with the last company,
followed at a slower gait, along a path that skirted the river with
its fringe of banana trees, whose broad leaves shone in the sun.
After a couple of miles, the river entered the defile through which
long since it had cut its way out of the valley. It was at the
entrance to the defile that an ambush was formed by Muata of fifteen
men, with Compton and Venning. The warriors were already in position
behind fallen rocks, the two lads being higher up the slope. They
showed themselves as Mr. Hume came up, and waved their hats to him.

"Good luck!" they shouted, with a lump in their throats, for they
loved the "great one," and they feared the task allotted to him was
full of danger.

"Take cover," he said cheerily; "take good aim; and remember the
palm tree, if things go wrong."

"And remember," they cried, "that we want you back safe and sound."

"I'll take precious care of myself," he said with a smile, and
followed his men into the dark defile.

"I wish we were going with him," said Venning.

"The next best thing is to do our part as well as we can."

They stretched themselves out each behind a rock and waited.

"There is one thing," muttered Venning, after fidgeting about; "we
cannot wait long, for it will be dark within an hour."

"The sooner they come the better."

They watched the shadows creeping across the valley--already over
the river and halfway up the opposite slope; they watched the light
on the cliffs above; but, most of all, they watched the young
warriors crouching below them.

"They hear something," said Venning; and his finger curled round the

"Keep cool, old chap. Remember, we don't fire until after these men
have given the sign. They are coming!"

Sure enough, they were coming. The crouching warriors were quivering
with excitement, as their gleaming eyes sought the mouth of the
defile, out of which came a confused murmur. From a murmur to a
hoarse rumble, then swiftly to the sound of fierce cries, the noise
grew, and then a man leapt into view, and after him a score, all
running as if for life. The plan was working, but was it not working
too thoroughly? Would those men in whom was the panic of flight be
able to stand? Muata came last, the long feathers streaming from his
head; and as he ran, he shouted at his flying men words of insult.
He cleared the defile, and at his heels there grew a fierce and
growing clamour. Then, like a pack of wolves on the heels of a deer,
the wild men of the woods burst into view. Close together they ran,
and when they saw the valley stretching green and peaceful before
them, they halted to drink in the sight. They feasted their eyes on
the gardens, on the little flocks of goats, on the huts, on the
women and children streaming up the slope on the right. Then they
shouted in their joy of the promise of blood, of loot, of feasting--
shouted and bounded forward. As they were in their stride once more,
a wild yell rang out of the defile--a yell of fear and warning, that
reached them, and that brought them up with a jerk. They faced round
impatiently towards the defile again, and, behold, the mouth was
held by a party of the enemy! But only a small party, less than half
their number. With a yell they charged, and then they halted, and
then they broke, and in a twinkling they had lost their cunning and
were themselves the fugitives; for at the first step two of their
leading men had fallen, and into the thick of them, from a distance
of a hundred yards, came an accurate and unexpected rifle-fire. A
trap! They shouted to each other, then broke streaming across the
river in a frantic search for hiding. In vain they fled, for the
valley seemed alive with men, Muata's band having scattered
purposely; while keen-eyed boys, standing in tree-tops, marked down
the fugitives, and shouted directions to the hunters.  Even the
women, led by the chief's mother, came down to join in the pursuit.

This work was not to the taste of the two white boys. They had
played their part, and now they entered the defile to seek their

Compton went ahead into the shadows, following the river, and
thinking of nothing but the fight that they knew from the sounds was
raging somewhere before them. As he turned a corner made by a
projection in the wall, a dark hand seized him by the neck, and he
was on his back, with a roaring sound in his ears, and a feeling of

"What's the matter?" he gasped presently, when the grip on his
throat relaxed.

"Can you stand?"

"Yes, of course." Compton got up. "You look queer."

"Feel queer," said Venning. "Enough to make a chap queer to see you
go down like that with a big black on top of you."

"Where is he?" and Compton hunted for his rifle.

"Shot him; but, for all I knew, I might have shot you. He fell in
the river. Perhaps there are more of them hiding."

"You shot him?"

"Yes--go along; but for goodness' sake don't let another one jump on

Compton gripped his friend's hand, then went on, very cautiously
this time, for a little way, until he heard the crack of the
Express, followed by the Hunter's bull voice calling on the men to
"stand fast." He dashed on.

"We are coming," yelled Venning, in a voice that sounded very
youthful; but keen ears heard the high treble, and to them it
brought comfort.

"The chiefs white men," was the cry that rose, that reached Mr. Hume
as he fought coolly, warily, in a crisis of the battle, knowing
that, if he gave back an inch, the men behind him would bolt, and
Hassan's horde would swarm into the valley.

"Hurrah, my brave lads!" he roared. "You there behind, meet the
white men and lead them up to the place where I first stood."

"Yebo Inkose! (yes, chief)" cried a Zulu of the Angoni.

Thus the chief's "white men" were met in the gorge by a dark figure
panting heavily, who led them through other dark forms, some lying
groaning, others silent--led them up to a ledge that overlooked the

"What now?" asked Compton, looking at the Zulu, and in the better
light noticing the wounds on his head and left arm.

The Zulu pointed down. "Fire, O white men, between that tree and the
rock. There they are thickest."

The two rifles flashed out simultaneously.

"Hurrah!" roared the Hunter from below. "Give them the whole

"Empty the magazines," said Venning between his teeth; and the Lee-
Metfords poured out a little rain of thin bullets into a space
between the tree and the rock.

"Yavuma!" cried the Zulu.

"Yavuma!" roared the Hunter. "Stand firm, my children!"

The Zulu knelt on the brink of the ledge and peered down into the
gloom, out of which came the shouts of the enemy, thrown into
confusion, when apparently all was going well with the attack. An
arrow struck on the rock, then another.

"The tree," he said, pointing into a great tree-top. "Let one chief
fire into the tree and the other at the white spot."

"I see the white spot," said Compton; and again he emptied his
magazine, while Venning riddled the tree-top, out of which at the
discharge men dropped in haste.

"Cease firing," came the command from below. "Now, my children,
forward once more. They run."

"They run!" shouted Muata's men, as they swept out from the defile
after Mr. Hume.

"At the white spot," said the Zulu, gripping Compton by the arm.
"Fire; ye will not hurt our men. There are men with guns where the
white is; and, see, others join them. Quick! Shoot, white men, or
they slay our friends."

A flame spurted out from the gloom down where the white specks
gathered, and the Lee-Metfords were not idle. The little bullets
rang into the place where those white-robed Arabs were waiting with
their rifles, and before they could play their part, the beaten van
of their assaulting party broke upon them in their flight. The
battle was over! Muata, returning from the killing of the men he had
decoyed into the valley, raised the shout of victory, and the two
boys went down into the gorge to join in the throng of exultant and
excited warriors.

"Way for the chief's white men!" cried the Angoni Zulu, staggering
from his hurts.

"Bayate! to the white men," shouted the warriors, rattling their

"We are no chiefs men," said Compton, proudly.

"Ohe!" said Muata, overhearing the words. "Lion's cub, I hear. Ye
shall have the chief's feather; and the great one, where is he?"

Out of the darkness beyond came the chant of deep voices--the song
of the men who had held the gate, "The great one," "Lion-throated,"
"He whose roar filled the valley," and so on, until they recognized
the form of their chief, when very wisely they directed their praise
to his deeds.

Mr. Hume, bare-armed, reeking of battle, hoarse from shouting,
stepped up and gripped hands with the boys.

"We go to our house on the hill, chief," he said.

"There will be feasting to-night, my brothers, and your places will
be beside the chief," said Muata.

"'Sot for us. Feast well; but watch well also, for Hassan has not
had his fill. Come, lads."

They left Muata giving directions for guarding the gate, and went
back through the gorge into the valley, and down towards the
village, where they were met by a band of women carrying torches and
singing. The women formed a ring about them, and in this the chiefs
mother danced, stamping her feet, and clapping her hands, while she
sang of the battle.

"We go up to the cave," said Mr. Hume, when the dance was over.
"Send us food, mother."

"In plenty, O shield of my son!"

"And hark to this, wise woman--see that the warriors drink
sparingly, for the wolf is most dangerous when he comes to the kraal
a second time secretly."

"Wow!  That is my thought also; but men are foolish. If the horn is
filled, they would empty it without thought of the morrow. Ohe! you
will eat well;" and she issued orders to some women, who returned to
the village, and other orders to a couple of boys, who were only too
glad to lead the popular white men up to the cave, to light the
fires and bring water. And almost as soon as they were at the cave
the women arrived with meat, fruit, and milk.

The Hunter stretched himself at once on the blankets. "I am not so
young as I was," he explained.

"That won't do," said Venning, lighting the lamp. "You must not go
to sleep without having had your supper." He turned the light on.
"Why, you're wounded!"

"I dare say, lad. It was pretty hot down there at one time."

"Oh, you know this is not fair to us! I say, Dick, come here."

"What is it?" asked Compton, coming in from attending the fire.

"Mr. Hume has got himself wounded, and he never told us."

"Don't bother about me, lads; I'll be all right in the morning."

But they did bother about him--washed the blood from his face,
cleansed and treated a jagged wound on the skull and fomented a
swelling on the right wrist, and then insisted on his taking food.

"Now, you go to sleep," said Venning; "and in the morning, perhaps,
you'll tell us all about it."

They were very silent, until the Hunter fell into a deep sleep, when
they tiptoed out to the fire, and sat long into the night listening
to the noisy shouts of rejoicing that floated up from the village
below, where the fires gleamed brightly, too anxious themselves to
even discuss Mr. Hume's injuries.  In the morning, however, when
they opened their drowsy eyes, they were gladdened by the sight of
the Hunter returning from the bath, with the drops still glistening
on his tawny beard.

"Now tell us," they said, when the breakfast was prepared, "all
about the fight."

"It is soon told. I let the enemy pass in pursuit of Muata, as
arranged, but when it came to our part in the plan--that of closing
the defile--we found the job tougher than we anticipated. Those
cannibals are hard fighters. They fell back as we unmasked our
ambush; but they rallied quickly, and delivered one assault upon
another. I tell you, we were at our last gasp when your arrival
decided the matter."

"You must have come to close quarters?"

Mr. Hume nodded his head. "I received the blow on the wrist guarding
my head from a club, and the cut on the head from a spear."

"And you used your knife?"

"I dare say I did my share," said the Hunter, who had held the
defile alone at one time, his staunchest supporter, the Angoni Zulu,
having fallen back exhausted.

For a trying spell his undaunted spirit had stood between the valley
and destruction, and the wild men went back to Hassan with a tale of
a terrible white man who had struck down their bravest with a great

"That Ghoorka knife," he said, "is a great weapon;" and with that
summing-up of the struggle in the gloom of the defile he lit his
pipe, and sat down to gaze upon the valley, so peaceful in
appearance, so charged with the everlasting tragedy of life.  "If
those people were whites, or Arabs, they would now be following up
the enemy to crush him while he is disorganized. But being blacks,
they don't look further ahead than their noses, which were made
short for the purpose."

"Let us go down and offer to lead an expedition in pursuit," said

"I guess not, Dick. They'd leave us to do all the fighting
ourselves; and there's no sense in that. What we have to think about
is how to get away."

"Surely there is no difficulty about that. We will go when it suits

"I'm not so sure," said Mr. Hume, gravely.

"But Muata is our friend."

"Muata cannot do what he likes, and, if he could, you've got to
remember this--that Muata in the Okapi, dependent on us, is another
person to Muata the chief in his own kraal."

"I don't think he would be treacherous," said Venning.

"He need not go so far as that to upset our plans. Maybe he would
find it convenient to keep us here as his 'white men' until it suits
him to let us go. You see, he has got to think of himself as chief
and of his people first."

"I don't think he would treat us unfairly," said Compton, warmly,
"especially as they owe so much to us."

"That's nothing."

"But, sir, these people were kind to my father; and Muata stood by
us all along like a brick."

"Well," said Mr. Hume, lighting his pipe, "I always find it pays to
keep your powder dry and your eyes skinned. So whether Muata
continues friendly or not, be always on your guard."

Muata was friendly. He paid them a visit, and he proclaimed them
chiefs with full right to offer council at the Indabas under the
title of "The Old Lion," "The Young Lion," and "The Spider," the
last distinction falling to Venning, because of his fondness for the
pursuit of insects. Muata then dismissed his body-guard and joined
his newly appointed chiefs at the fire. He sat a long time silent,
his eyes bloodshot, his brows bent, and when he did speak, his words
veiled a hidden meaning.

"The place is yours," he said, "to go and to come, to eat and to
drink, to take and keep. Choose any place, and the people will build
huts for you."

"This cave is dry and comfortable. We want no huts, chief."

"It is well enough now, but in the rains it is not good."

"We shall be well on our way before the rains set in, chief."

"Wow! The Spider has seen how the ants live."

The Spider admitted that he had studied the ways of the ant.

"Good. There are strangers in the house of the ant."

"Oh yes; you mean what are called the 'cows' of the ants."

"Haw! That was the word given them by the white man who was here
before. They enter the house of the ant, but out of it never do they

"Is this, then, the house of the ant?" asked Mr. Hume, quietly.

The chief turned to the Hunter an impassive face. "My people can
build ye good huts, and there are many places thereunder near
running waters, with well-grown gardens. Choose which ye like, my

"We will examine and select," said Mr. Hume, with assumed unconcern.
"And what of Hassan?"

The chief rose. "He will return like the badger to a bee-tree when
the bees have quieted down."

"And you wish to keep us to help you drive him from the honey again?
Is that it?"

The chief looked down upon the valley.  "A child I came here, O
great one; a boy I herded goats among the hills; and while yet other
boys kept the birds off the grain, I went alone into the darkness of
the woods beyond to seek the man-hunters. Now they seek me. Ye have
helped in one great fight. All the time Muata has been at war--the
hunter and the hunted."

He turned his face again towards them, and there was in it a touch
of dignity. He broke into a kind of chant.

"Ye may hear the laughter of the little ones. There are no such at
the door of Muata's hut, for a man cannot take unto himself wives
and keep his arm strong to cast the spear, his eyes clear to follow
the trail, and his heart strong to face the dangers that come out of
the forest.

"Ye hear the voice of the young men and maidens singing in the
dance. Ye may see the mothers about their work, and the old men at
the fire. For them the cloud is past. They sit in the warmth of the
sun, and heed not the shadows that gather in the trees. The boy who
sits in the tree to frighten the birds from the grain has his turn
at the dance. But the chief, he watches always; for Muata there is
no rest in the Place of Rest."

"You are the first chief ever I heard take that weight upon his
shoulders," said Mr. Hume, with admiration he could not restrain.

"Why don't you resign?" said Compton.


"Let some one else be chief."

Muata's nostrils quivered in disgust. "Wow! I am a chief, and the
son of a chief. Who is there to take my place?"

"But you were a long time away."

"Ohe! and, as ye have seen, men conspired to let Hassan and his man-
eaters in upon the valley. So my word to you, my brothers, is, to
choose ground for huts;" and the chief stalked away.

"I don't envy him his post," said Mr. Hume, looking after him; "but
I was right, you see."

"Well, when we want to go we will go," said Compton. "In the mean
time we will make the best of these quarters and this valley, which
is a good enough place for a holiday. And remember I have to find my
father's journal."

Leaving the Hunter at the cave, the Young Lion and the Spider went
off on an excursion, and, of course, turned their steps first of all
to the gorge, to see the place where the great stand had been made.
They were greeted by a small band of warriors, who were squatting on
the ledge from which they had fired, and who apparently were on
guard. They found themselves on the outer slope of the crater,
looking down once more on the interminable reaches of the forest,
with just a gleam of water showing at intervals to mark the course
of the river up which Hassan's flotilla of canoes had sailed after
leaving the wide lagoon. Descending from the ledge to the level of
the gorge, they saw the place where the Hunter had made his stand--a
little square of rock opening on to the wood path, up which the wild
men had rushed to the attack. This path, as they saw, was nothing
else than the dry cataract of a river, strewn with boulders, and
then they suddenly turned to each other with an exclamation at the
thought, "What had become of the river?"

"It's queer!" said Venning. "Where is the water?"

On looking around, they beard for the first time a peculiar
subterranean rumbling, and going back a few feet, saw the river
disappear in a smooth, green slide down into a wide fissure. They
stood looking down, fascinated at this mysterious, silent, and
stealthy disappearance of the waters that come with such a sparkle
out of the bright valley; then dropped stones down, and stooped
their heads in vain to catch even the slightest sound out of the
depths. The fissure was about twenty feet wide, with a sloping lip
on the near side, and a straight wall on the far or forest side. The
slope seemed to carry the water to the left, and with a desire to
discover its course, they tugged at a large post which stood against
the wall of the gorge and rolled it into the fissure. It whizzed
away down into the dark, and nearly dragged Compton after it, for
the sleeve of his coat caught on a projecting point, and he was
jerked on to his knees, being saved from further danger by the coat

"Thanks," he said, looking a little white; "I am quite satisfied
that the water disappears."

"I rather think," said Venning, "that we have pulled up a gate-post.
See, there is one on the other side. A few tree-trunks thrown across
would make a fine barricade. Come on back into the valley."

They went back slowly, looking up at the dark walls of the rocky
gorge, and Venning stopped.

"See that rock up there?"

"Looks as if it would drop at any moment."

"Remember what Muata said about Hassan drowning out the valley."

"One of his figures of speech."

"S'pose that rock fell; it would just about fill up this passage,
river and all. And if it did not quite, a few men working from the
ledge, which you see would be behind the dam, could easily fill up
the cracks. Then the river could be dammed and the valley flooded."

"They'd have to blast the rock, and the task would be too

They returned slowly through the defile, stopping at the place where
the warrior had sprung out on Compton, and on reaching the valley,
went down among the rustling bananas and among the gardens, where
the women stopped their work to shout out merry greetings, and to
offer them earth-nuts, wild cherries, sweet cane from the maize
patches, and a thick porridge-like beverage made from the red
millet. They watched the little pickaninnies basking in the sun, and
as they strolled, rejoicing in the brightness and in the beauty of
this little island of rest, set within an ocean of trees, they were
followed by an admiring company of lads, each carrying his hurling-
stick. Coming to a little patch of reeds in the far corner of the
valley, the black boys, with shouts, gave chase to a long-tailed
finch, clothed in a beautiful waistcoat of orange. The two white
chiefs threw aside their dignity, and when, after a breathless
chase, the bird, hampered by its streaming tail-feathers, was
caught, each chief stuck a feather in his hatband. They worked round
the valley, seeing many strange birds and curious insects, back
towards the cave, arriving on the ledge at dusk. At once they opened
out on Mr. Hume with a description of where they had been and what
they had seen.

The Hunter listened patiently, but he was evidently preoccupied.

"We have seen all the valley, sir, and if we do have to stay here
longer than we thought, it is a consolation to think that it is a
jolly place."

"I have been away myself," said Mr. Hume, "and I made an unpleasant
discovery. At first I thought it best to keep it from you, but I
know you would not like that."

"No, sir."

"The boat has gone!"


"Clean gone; stolen or hidden away. I went down shortly after you
had left, found the path by the marks I had made, never saw a living
soul or any spoor but our own; and I tell you it was a great shock
when I saw at the first glance that the boat was not there."

"I wonder----" began Venning.

"It is no good wondering," said the Hunter, testily. "Muata or his
mother has had a hand in this."

"We can soon put that right," said Compton, "by demanding that the
boat be produced within a certain time."

"That would mean war," said Mr. Hume.  "I had thought of that, and
so no doubt has Muata. The odds are in his favour by force of
numbers, for he could starve us out in a week. Violence is no use.
Our best plan is to remain friendly, but watchful."

"Don't you think," said Venning, thoughtfully, "that we are on the
wrong scent? Suppose the boat was stolen by Hassan's men."

"It may be--it may be, lad; and yet, if Hassan's men did find the
boat, it seems to me they would have let it alone to disguise the
fact of their presence. Anyway, we will make a further search to-

They had cause now for uneasiness, and the boys for the first time
began to entertain suspicions about Muata's faithfulness, for the
loss of the Okapi in the very thick of the forest meant to them what
marooning is to the sailor man. They sat discussing the matter long
into the night, and when morning came they looked out on the valley
with other feelings than before. It was to them a prison, lovely
still, but changed; and their eyes went to the spot where they had
seen the bodies of the men upon whom Muata had fulfilled the law as
he understood it, the terrible law of swift vengeance upon any who
opposed the will of the chief. There were armed men on their way to
the gorge from the village, and very soon, before the dew had dried
on the grass, and while the morning clouds hung white on the
hilltops, the chief himself came up with his headmen. And the reason
of his coming was none else than to make Mr. Hume vice-chief, with
full power, in his absence, over life and property in the valley;
for, said he, "I go upon the trail myself, and who should have
authority when I am gone but you, my friend?"

The headmen expressed themselves delighted.

"But," said the Hunter, troubled by this upset of his theory that
Muata would think only of himself, "our boat has been taken."

"The water there is taboo," said Muata, without showing any
surprise. "No one would go there but that one who may go. If the
boat is gone it will be returned at the appointed time. See, my
friend, I give you my seat under the council tree; have you also
trust in Muata, the lone hunter."

"Do you go alone?"

"Ay, alone with the silent one--he of the four legs;" and a faint
smile lit up the chiefs sombre and stern countenance, as he glanced
at the jackal now reappearing after good eating.

Mr. Hume went aside with Muata to dissuade him from his purpose, but
the chief was determined, having in his mind a plan to destroy
Hassan's canoes, as he had learnt from his spies that the Arab was
arranging for another attack. So while the Hunter went down to be
formally received by the clan, the two sub-chiefs, the Young Lion,
and the Spider, went off on a reconnaissance of their own to the
water that was "taboo," to all but one, as Muata had hinted. They
picked up the trail from the marks that Mr. Hume had renewed on his
last trip, and arrived on the banks of the unruffled pool. By
contrast with the open valley bathed in sunshine, this sheet of
water at the foot of the perpendicular cliffs was gloomy and creepy.
There was, too, a mystery about it, for it had no visible source.
There was no ripple on its smooth surface, no trace of a current,
except in the centre, where, from time to time, bubbles appeared and
disappeared, leaving just a trace of foam. They tossed pebbles in to
judge the depth from the sound which ranged from the "splash" of the
shallows to the gurgling "plop" of the deeps, and followed the
pebbles with rocks, till at last the sluggish pool was stirred and
furrowed with waves. And in the very midst of their sport a black
hand appeared above the waters, and with a heavy roll the body
itself floated before them, dead and stark.

The boys stood with their hands arrested, staring at this startling

Slowly it drifted away, the strong white teeth set in a grin, a dark
oily stain trailing from numerous wounds on the body and limbs.

"It's a cannibal," said Compton, in a whisper.

"How did he come to be here?" muttered Venning, with a fearful
glance around.

They stepped back to the shelter of a tree, and listened, for if one
cannibal had found his way to the pool, it was pretty certain that
others had. But there was no sound down in those shaded depths. The
little waves on the pool quieted down, the surface recovered its
glassy smoothness, the bubbles reappeared in the centre, and broke
with a faint noise audible yet in the stillness. The pool had
yielded up one of its secrets, and the poor body was now come to the
end of its voyage, anchored apparently against a log of wood which
had grounded against the bank.

"We can't leave it there!"

"No, Dick."

But the sudden, unexpected, ghastly upheaval from the deep of that
stark body had naturally badly shaken them, and they stood where
they were in nervous expectation of some other horror. If this place
was "taboo" except to one yet unknown to them, it might be that
solitary priest or priestess of the pool was now watching them, even
if there were no other cannibals near at hand. So they lingered yet
a little longer behind their tree, advancing a foot again and again,
only to withdraw it at some fancied noise.

At last Compton stepped out with his carbine at the ready, stood on
the shore a moment then went on till he was opposite the dead man.
There Vending joined him.

There was a movement in the water among some reeds, then a ripple
like that made by a heavy fish, and the body, leaving its moorings,
went slowly away.

"Crocodile," muttered Venning, whose nerves had never quite
recovered the shock caused the night the lion charged.

Compton frowned and shook his head.

The dark body went straight on, stopped a spell at a cluster of
reeds, then moved on across, moved by some volition not its own, and
not due to the current.

"It's very queer, Venning."

"It's horrible."

Compton's glance came back from the gruesome spectacle to the log,
and with a start of surprise he stooped down to pick up something.

As he did so, Venning, with a yell of terror, gripped him by the
shoulder. Looking up and across, Compton saw the dead man stand
erect in the water, his head and shoulders above the surface, and
his face towards them! He felt the moisture break out on his brow
when the horrid thing began to advance without movement of its own.

Venning pointed a finger across. "It's coming," he gasped, turned
and ran; and Compton felt no shame in running after.

They flew from the dark pool and its nameless horror; but when from
the height they paused breathless and gasping to look down, there
was no stain, or blot, or ripple on its calm face.

"Ugh!" said Compton, "it looks what it is--' Deadman's Pool.'"

Venning shuddered, turned his back upon the sheer drop with the
still water at its bottom, and did not stop again until he had the
peaceful valley at his feet, when he took off his hat.

"Thank goodness, we came out with our wits whole."

"It was a trick," muttered Compton, abstractedly.

"But who could play a trick like that?" asked Venning, in trembling
excitement. "No human being!"

Compton put his hand on the other's shoulder. "We've both had a rare
fright, old man, but neither you nor I will let a thing like that
upset our appetite. Mr. Hume promised us a treat in green mealies
for tea, and I smell some strange dish."

"Hulloa, lads, I was just thinking of starting out after you. Seen

"We've had a scare," said Compton, lightly, with a meaning look at
Mr. Hume; but already the observant eyes of the Hunter had seen that
Venning was upset.

"All right; just try this roast mealie;" and the strong hand
steadied the boy to his seat.

Mr. Hume talked, while they ate, about the ceremony of his
initiation as vice-chief and of the long, wordy arguments he had
listened to in a case at law concerning the ownership of a monkey,
to which there were two claimants, the boy who had caught it, and
the man who owned the garden where it had been caught.

"Now," he said, when they had eaten, "you have something to tell me.
Go ahead."

They related the incident, which lost nothing of its repulsiveness
by the relation:

"And you saw no one."

"No one alive, but I believe there was trickery. There must have
been," said Compton, with knit brows.

"I think so too, but the trick was horrible enough to produce the
effect desired. I must say I felt a creepy sensation when I was down
there yesterday."

"But we saw no one," said Venning, with a shudder.

"By Jove! I forgot this;" and Compton produced a fragment of cloth.
"I took that from a post in the pool."

"A bit of rag," said the Hunter.

"Yes; but a bit torn out of my sleeve yesterday over there in the

Venning snatched at it. "I have it," he shouted.

"I see you have; but you need not yell."

"The blind river! It comes out under the pool!"

Compton stared.

"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Hume.

"Why, sir, we dropped a tree stump into the opening which swallows
the river over there. As it slipped from our hands, it caught Dick's
sleeve, tearing out the bit of cloth, and nearly taking him down

"Well, what then?"

"Why, the stump turns up in the pool a thousand feet below, and so
must the river! You see, after entering the fissure, it twists back
underground, to emerge down there at the bottom of the cliff."

"Of course," said Compton, eagerly; "and that body must have
followed the same course."


"That accounts for the appearance of the pool and of the dead man,
but it does not explain the trickery."

"Perhaps it does," said Venning, who, now that he saw a cause for
things, recovered his nerve and his spirit. "There is a subterranean
passage. The formation here is volcanic. The valley is an extinct
crater, the hills are the walls.  Well, in volcanic formations,
there are usually enormous caverns.  Now, then, how do we know that
the Okapi has not been taken into one of those caverns opening on to
the pool?"

"Good; go on to the trickery."

"The person who hid the boat, if it is hidden, would probably be on
the watch to scare off any who tried to find out what had become of
it.  Well, then, if we admit that, it is easy to admit the rest--
that a good swimmer could play the trick played on us."

"Let me find him," said Compton, angrily.

"Yes--yes," muttered Mr. Hume; "there's a lot in that, and we'll
follow it up, but not without a good plan."

He filled his pipe, and stared into the fire for some time.

"Clearly," he said, "what we should do first is to find out if any
one leaves the valley for the pool. As far as we know, there is the
gorge up which we came, but there may be openings direct from the
valley into the underground passages. We will leave the pool alone,
as if we had had enough of it, and examine the interior cliffs."



The discovery made as to the source of Deadman's Pool gave a new
interest to the valley, and the boys played the role of detectives
under an arrangement to report the results of their investigations
at night. Each spent a day of careful observation, and at the camp-
fire each wore a look of preoccupation.

"Any success?"

They nodded their heads.

"I met the chief's mother at the council tree," said Mr. Hume, "and
she said she would pay us a visit in the morning.  She has been ill,
or she would have come before."

"Well," said Venning, "I met a boy five minutes after I left the
cave, and he stuck to me like a leech."

"One followed me also," muttered Compton.

"Seems to me we are under police inspection."

"Yes; there were boys everywhere."

"Anyway, I found a 'splash' beetle."


"A beetle that has developed the protective instinct till it looks
like a splash of white on a rock. Here it is;" and Venning displayed
his find.

"Doesn't help us much."

"No; but when I took it off the rock I could hear a faint rumbling
from below, over here to the left, between our gorge and the canon
where the river disappears."

"Come, that's something."

"Yes; but as far as I could make out, there was not an opening in
the cliff on that side big enough to hold a swallow's nest."

"Better luck to-morrow. Now, lads, if that old woman puts any
leading questions about the pool, don't give yourselves away."

But when the chief's mother came up the next day, she never breathed
a word about the pool. She talked of the "good white man" who had
lived in the cave when Muata was a boy.

"Often have I sat here and talked with him, and well do I remember
his teaching."

"Let us hear, mother," said Compton.

"He taught us how to till the land, so that it would produce other
crops than manioc. The men he showed how to win iron from the rock,
and how to forge the spear-heads and the hoes for the tilling.
Medicine he made from the leaves and the juices of the trees, and he
bade the women keep clean the huts and the place around the village.
But the thing he said most was that living here in peace, in a place
set aside for the weak, it was well we saw that no strangers who
came in should ever leave. For, said he, the strong will take from
the weak."

"This is a small place," said Venning--"too small for any people to
fight over."

"I thought I heard the sound of battle in the valley but two days

"It might serve Hassan as a robber's den; but I spoke of other
people--white men, mother."

"Since I had ears to hear the meaning of words," she said, "the talk
was ever of white men, and one 'white man' warned us against those
very men who eat up the land and the waters."

"But what use would this little spot be to them? In a short time it
will be too small for your own people."

"When that day comes, O Spider, we would be free to go to the land
of my fathers, where my son will find his kraal."

"You will want many canoes, mother, when that day comes."

"And they tell me," said the woman, with a keen glance, "that you
white men are good boat-builders. Aye, I have seen your boats on the
great river, with wings and with fire."

"Our boat--the one you sat in--the boat down in the pool, has
wings," said Venning, innocently.

"Muata the chief tells me the boat has gone. Wow! The place is
taboo; I knew the spirit people would take it; but you can build

"We have no tools."

"Wow! You could make them."

"We have no skill in such work."

The wise woman pondered. "He, the white man who lived here,
consulted a familiar he carried much with him; he would find from it
how to build boats and to forge iron."

Compton produced his log-book. "See, mother, was it like that?"

"Wow! It was like."

"Bring me the 'familiar' of the white man, for he was my father, as
you know, and you will hear his voice again. Maybe we will learn
from it how to make tools for the building of boats."

"I will search, O son of my white man."

She sat awhile, then produced a cob-pipe, and, after getting a fill
of tobacco, went off smoking with the bowl against her cheek.

"Humph!" said Venning. "Wants to keep us as boat-builders. I bet
she's taken the Okapi as the first of the fleet for the great

"And intends that we should be the navigators as well as the

Mr. Hume was of the same opinion when he joined them later on and
was in possession of the wise woman's remarks.

"She is the power behind the throne," he said musingly, "and I have
been wondering for some time what was her object. Now I see. I have
been giving my consent as chief to laws which are framed evidently
to keep us here."

"Making laws?"

"Been doing nothing else. There was a law making it a crime for any
man to leave the valley without the consent of the people. Another
law calling on all--men as well as women--to work for the good of
the clan. Another making it a crime to withhold knowledge that would
be for the general good. There was another declaring that the vice-
chief must have at least two wives."

"But you have not one wife."

"That is easily remedied," said the Hunter, with a groan.

"What do you mean, sir?"

"See that?" and Mr. Hume pointed at a spot in the valley where many
women were at work.

"They are building a hut," said Venning.

"My hut!" Mr. Hume filled his pipe with great deliberation, took a
coal from the fire, and stared at his two companions till his hand
was scorched. "I am to be married at the full moon!"

Venning sniggered.

"You can't mean it, sir," said Compton.

"It's true enough," said the Hunter, solemnly. "I was passing the
acts, as it were, without paying much attention when the women
clapped their hands. 'What was that last law?' I said to the chief
councillor, whose duty it is to keep the laws in his mind. 'The
great chief,' he said, 'will take to himself two wives at the full
moon.'  'I repeal that act,' I said; but they would not understand.
A law was a law when it became a law, and no one could alter it, but
considering my position they would build my hut for me. And, as you
see, they are building it."

He stared gloomily down into the valley; while Venning and Compton
made singular grimaces in the effort to keep becomingly grave.

"It is a great honour," said Compton, presently.

"And two of them!" said Venning. "I don't know, I'm sure. I'm no
lawyer, but I rather think that you, as an Englishman, would not be
allowed to take two. Polygamy would become bigamy."

"I never thought of that," said the Hunter, brightening up.

"On the other hand," went on Venning, with a judicial air, "as you
have been sworn in as a member of the clan, you become of course
amenable to the laws, and it may be that two wives will not meet the
requirements of your exalted rank."

Mr. Hume leant forward, and caught Venning by the ear.

"It is no joking matter," he went on. "When will the moon be at the

"In three weeks from to-day," said Compton, grinning.

"Then before that we must be well away, or we may find ourselves
life prisoners. Have you made any discovery to-day?"

"None! We were 'shadowed,' as before, by boys."

"So. Well, I will take measures to-morrow to put an end to this
spying. They have had their fun out of me as chief, but I will have
my turn."

Next day the vice-chief had his turn. He declared the next three
days to be a period of work. Some of the men were to build a boom
across the river in the defile, others were to construct a stone
wall across the gorge leading from the Deadman's Pool; while he
started the women and children on a new set of huts, having
condemned the old village as unfit for habitation. Further, he
passed a law that any man, woman, or child found wandering about
idle during the three days, would have to pass a night on the banks
of the "tabooed" pool tied to a tree; and, finally, he appointed
himself and the two sub-chiefs, the Young Lion and the Spider, as
overseers, with right to appoint substitutes in their place.

"Those be the new laws," he said, in a roar, when the astounded
council had listened to the end. "If any one disputes them, I will
tie them head to heels and throw them into the river to learn

No one so much as murmured, for they did not like the look of those
yellow eyes.

"Then see that ye begin your appointed work at sunrise," he said,
"for I will make medicine to see these laws are obeyed."

Then he returned to the ledge, and spent the afternoon with the two
boys making rockets, using stout reeds as cases. In the dark these
were fired off with great and awe-inspiring' effect on the
villagers, who scuttled into their huts, and remained hid for the
rest of the night, convinced that the "strong medicine" would indeed
find them out if they did not obey this strange new law.

"I think I have fixed them for a time," said the Hunter, grimly, as
he described his new feat as a lawmaker. "For three days we should
have liberty to fully inspect the side of the valley above the

In the morning, at sunrise, the entire clan started out promptly to
their allotted tasks, and Mr. Hume inspected each gang. The women
and children went to the far end of the valley, where the reeds
grew, and the wise woman was appointed inspector.

"What is this new law, O great one?" she asked quietly, having been
much subdued by the fiery rockets.

"You made the law, mother, that all should work, and I have honoured
it. See that you honour it also."

"Yebo, great one. We women do not complain. It is a joy to us to see
the men work also. Maybe in time," she added significantly, "the
great one will do his turn also."

"Each in his turn, mother."

He went on up to the gorge, where Venning was on duty, remained a
few minutes inspecting the work of wall-building, which should have
been done before for defence, then appointed one of the headmen as
overseer, and went on with Venning to the river outlet, where
Compton was in charge. An overseer was appointed there, and Compton
went on a tour of inspection from gang to gang, while the other two
made a close investigation of the cliff for an entrance to the
caves. The two following days they each in turn acted as general
inspector of the works, while the two disengaged made a close
inspection of the cliff; but at the end of the third day they had no
success to report.

"The only thing to do now," said Mr. Hume, "is to visit the pool,
and make a close examination of the walls."

"We could not examine the wall without swimming in the pool," said
Venning, "and before I do that I am prepared to stay here a very
long time."

"I cannot say I relish the idea myself, but I see no other way out
of the mess. We must have the Okapi before the full moon. I will
take a look at the pool alone to-morrow."



But when day dawned the vice-chief was summoned to hear a message
from Muata, who had reported that Hassan had discovered the dark
river leading up to the tabooed pool, and was sending up a strong
fleet of canoes, while still more canoes were gathering on the other
river by which he had made his first attack. His orders were that a
body of picked men were to join him to take part in an attack on the
first body of the enemy. Mr. Hume was fully occupied in carrying out
these instructions, but on the chiefs mother suggesting that the
chosen band should be accompanied by the Young Lion, he emphatically
declined to allow this.

"As you wish to keep us here," he said, "we will stay here; and,
take notice, we have already seen what was in the mind of the chief
by taking steps to protect the entrance above the tabooed water."

The chiefs mother desisted, but she went up to interview the two
young chiefs.

"The great one," she said, "has very strong medicine?"

Compton nodded his head gravely.

"He was consulting with the spirits in the night when he sent forth
those fire-devils?"

Another nod.

"Wow! And the spirits told him to build a wall across the entrance,
and to make a fence across the river?"

"That was wisely done, as you see, mother."

"Haw! Tell me why the spirits told him to move the village to a
place which is further from this cave;" and she looked through
narrowed eyes.

"Ohe!" said Venning, "that was also wise.  The old village stood on
low ground, the new village is on high ground."

"And a tall man sees over the head of a small one," she answered,
with a scornful laugh.

"Wait, mother of wisdom. If the enemy secured the gates and flooded
the valley, which would be safer--the village on low ground, or the
village on a hill?"

"Yoh! It is strong medicine." She sat looking at them for some time
in silence.  "It is only the great one who can make medicine?"

Compton looked thoughtful.

"Come," she said, in a wheedling tone, touching him with a finger,
"make medicine for one who carried food to the good white man."

"What would you like to know, mother?"

"Tell me, O son of him who taught us--tell me, O lion's cub--tell me
if the chief will find his own kraal."

"That would need strong medicine--very strong."

"Only a little.  Consider; it was these hands who carried the good
white man water and wood. Only a little word, his son."

"A little word, mother; but it requires much thought, and how can a
son make medicine without his father's 'familiar'--the thing he
consulted, the thing you promised to bring to me?"

"I will fetch it," said the woman, rising.  "In the morning you
shall have it;" and she went in the direction of the gorge.

"Seems to me, Dick, the old lady is at the bottom of this mystery.
You'd better be very careful how you deal with her."

"I want to get my father's book," said Compton.

"Of course you do; but you want to get back the Okapi as well, and
if you offend her it may turn out more awkward for us."

"Well, then, suppose we follow her now?" and Compton, always ready
to act, jumped up.

"What's the good? Remember how she spotted Mr. Hume the day he
'blazed' the trees. Believe she's got eyes in the back of her head.
No; but I learnt a trick from a keeper in dear old Surrey that will
do what we want."

In the dusk Venning put the trick into effect with the help of his
companions. It was simple enough. He drew fine linen threads from a
handkerchief, stained them black and stretched them across the track
down the gorge at five different intervals, and at the height of a
few inches from the ground.

In the morning, at sunrise, the chief's mother was at the cave.
Seeing Mr. Hume, she promptly begged a pipe of tobacco, and sitting
down, expounded at great length the laws of the clan, together with
those which had been passed during the past few days.

"The chief's hut," she said, "will be ready at the round of the
moon, and the people look forward to much feasting."

"They had better be preparing to meet Hassan and his wolves, lest
they themselves be food for the pot."

She snapped her fingers. "Hassan will die within the gates, and his
wolves will perish in the uttermost depths."

"What depths are they?"

She laughed, and, with a glance at Compton, went off down towards
the village, bearing on her head a square-shaped package.

"Your book, Compton! Better follow her. Evidently she wants to speak
to you alone, Keep her engaged while Venning and I go back on her

Compton overtook her below the ledge, where, as if expecting his
coming, she was waiting; and while they were engaged, the others
went off on the trail.

"Hurrah!" said Venning, pointing to the ground as they turned into
the gorge; "the first string is broken. She came out this way."

They went on, keen as hounds on the scent, and both pointed to the
snapped ends of the second string. Passing over the stone wall just
built which here crossed the defile, they came to the third cotton--
broken also. The fourth was, however, intact, and so was the fifth.

"Thank goodness!" muttered Venning.

"Bad luck, you mean."

"No, sir; good luck. I was beginning to think that she had gone
right on down to that dismal pool."

They went back to the broken strand, and Mr. Hume brought the broken
ends together. "Just hold them in position." He climbed on the wall,
and, with the gorge opening away between the enclosing cliffs, he
took his line from the spot where Venning kept his fingers on the
broken ends.

"Good," he said, returning. "The cotton was broken at a point two or
three yards out of the straight track. She must have gone towards
the wall on our right."

Venning's eyes went to the cliff; but the Hunter examined the
ground, and expressed his satisfaction at what he saw in a low

"What do you see?" asked Venning, breathlessly, glancing quickly at
Mr. Hume's face, and back at the wall of rock.

"I should like Muata to be here. It is a good point."

"What, sir--what?"

"A woman's skirt on the dew, lad. See, a man would pass through
those two rocks there and leave no mark; but a woman, with the swing
of her skirt, wipes a spread of dew off on either side. You can see
the dark smudge in the glister of the dewdrops."

"I see," said Venning, starting forward towards two rocks with a
passage between.

"Steady, lad. Follow me."

He went forward to the rocks, which were almost under the right
wall, and inch by inch examined the stony ground.

"The direction should be there," he said, pointing ahead; "but
there's nothing but a dead wall."

They ranged up and down in a fruitless attempt to pick up the lost
spoor, and came back to the two rocks.

"Maybe she did not pass this way, sir."

"A sign is a sign, and a spoor a spoor. She passed between these
rocks this morning."

"Then she must have come down the wall;" and Venning, stepping
forward, placed his hand on the rock. He started back and stared up
at the rock. Then he touched it again, with a curious look in his
face, and next placed his ear against it. "Come here, sir."

Mr. Home went forward, and, placing his hand on the rock, felt it
vibrating. Then he placed his ear to the rock.

"What do you hear?" asked Venning.

"A noise like the roar of the sea."

"Or the rush of a great body of water."

"Seek ye the honey-bee, O Spider."

They whipped round at the mocking voice, and saw the Inkosikase
standing a few feet off, having come upon them with great quietness.

"Where is the young chief?" asked Mr. Hume at once.

"Be not afraid, great one. He sits over the 'familiar' of his
father, learning wisdom and strong medicine. And is your medicine at
fault, great one, that you should set snares in the path for a
woman, as boys do for the coneys?"

She laughed, and the great one caught hold of his beard, as he eyed
her, wondering whether the time had come to make her speak.

"Is it honey ye seek, O Spider, young chief who watches always?"

"It is honey, mother." Venning tapped the rock. "Ye may hear the
bees humming within. We would enter the hive."

She laughed again. "Ohe! ye are too wise for me, ye two. If I did
not show you the way, I see ye would find it."

She stepped past them, walked a few paces, then, with one hand
upreaching to a knob of rock, and a naked toe in a notch, she
climbed up the height of a man, stepped to a ledge, and held a hand
down to Venning. A few steps along the ledge, when they stood by her
side, brought them to a depression in the cliff. Removing a few
stones, she said with a look of sadness--

"Behold the depth that was my secret, and is now yours."

A gush of moist air came out of the dark opening, bringing with if
the sound of hoarse mutterings. Now they had found the opening, they
did not know what to do, far; it was not inviting, and they stood
looking at it warily:

"You would have me enter first," she said quietly. "Come, then, for
it is not all dark within."

She disappeared, and Mr. Hume followed next, with a whisper to
Venning that they must not let her get out of sight. A little way
they passed along a narrow passage, facing a rushing current of
moist air, and then stepped out into a cavern dimly lit by a shaft
of light that crept through the roof. The woman crossed the floor,
and they followed her down another passage, into another cavern
larger than the first. This, too, was dimly lit, and as they stood
with a feeling of mystery and uncertainty that comes to men when
they quit the surface bathed in light fop the-dark underground, they
felt the floor vibrate under their feet, and heard, as if the source
of the uproar were near at hand, a great booming with a shrill note
at intervals.

"Would ye enter further?" asked the woman.

"Have ye entered further, mother?"

"Yebo, 'Ngonyama (lion)."

"Then lead on."

"Listen, Ngonyama; listen, Indhlovu (elephant). There is a path for
the lion in the veld, and another for the elephant in the forest;
but this path is only for those who know it, and are welcome to
those who made it. The sun shines without. It were better if
Ngonyama and the Spider blinked their eyes in the light Mid the

"If ye have trodden the way, so will we.  Lead on."

"Ye lose your wisdom, great one; but see, I go;" and she went from
the cave into a vaulted passage, in which they encountered the blast
laden with moisture, that made the walls slimy and the floor a
series of puddles.

The way was dark, and they splashed and stumbled in growing
discomfort in the footsteps of the leader, who kept on at a quick
walk, showing a thorough familiarity with the passage. Sometimes, as
they could tell from the sound, the roof of the passage extended to
great heights; at others it closed in till they had to stoop their
heads. But their guide kept on without a pause, and presently, to
their great relief, they saw ahead a faint reflection of the light
upon a wet slab of rock. Hurrying on, they emerged from the passage
into a vast chamber, across which, though there was light enough to
distinguish each other, they could not see. Mr. Hume took a step
forward, with his face turned up, in an effort to see the roof
through the films of vapour that floated overhead.

"Stop, Ngonyama--see to your footing;" and the woman's hand
restrained him.

He started back involuntarily, for at his feet there was a yawning
abyss, out of which came the sound of rushing waters, and the
curling wraiths of vapours, but so deep and so dark that the eye
could detect no gleam of the flood beneath.

"Thanks, mother."

"Ohe! Ngonyama, remember I stood between you and death that time."

She moved away to the right, and they followed, going on a ledge
which skirted the yawning abyss.

It was a perilous passage, and both of them would have been glad to
turn back after they had gone a few steps, if the woman had
suggested it. A feeling of vertigo seized them, so that they had to
stop, leaning away from them for fear of falling over out of sheer
dizziness. When they did move again, they groped for a footing with
a complete feeling of helplessness, expecting every moment to slip
on the slimy rock, and the further they advanced the worse they
felt, for it would be as bad to turn back as go on. Looking back,
Mr. Hume at one pause saw a little splatter of flame. Venning had
groped for a match and struck a light; but before he could see
anything by its reflection, Mr. Hume blew it out, and placed his
heavy hand on the boy's shoulders to steady him.

"Worst thing you could do," he said.

"It's so dark," muttered the boy.

"Dark enough, but she's gone ahead safely enough."

They stood for some time, and seemed to gather comfort from the
touch of each other's hands.

"I am ready now," said Venning.

"That's good.  Keep your eyes raised and your shoulder to the wall.

They crept rather than walked round that fearful gallery, traversing
the unknown height with the roar of waters coming up from the unseen
depth, and the silent wraiths of vapour making the darkness visible
as they curled upwards to disappear into the vast vault.

"If I can only get safe out of this," thought Venning at each step,
"I will never try to leave the valley again by this way."

The valley was only a few hundred yards away, but it seemed to him
that he must have left it ages ago. Every second had been charged
with a new sensation since he left the brightness outside, and each
slow, wary, suspicious movement he made had in it a whole sequence
of fears. Would he slip? "Would his foot fall on firm rock? Would
something--he knew not what--grab him from out that awful pit? Would
some one or something--he was sure there was something creeping
behind--would it spring on him? Would that woman's hand suddenly
shoot out from some crevice and hurl the both of them headlong? Was
it never coming to an end? And the rock was shaking worse than ever!
It would be easier to crawl! Of course it would. He went down on his
hands and knees and laughed, because it was so easy. There was
something on his back, something that jogged about and hit him on
the side of the head, that gripped him round the chest! What was it?
He felt gingerly, and laughed again. His carbine! What was the use
of a carbine there? No good, of course. What a joke to throw it down
and hear the splash, or, better, to fire it off and hear the echoes!


The boy chuckled as he sat on the ledge tugging at the buckle.

"Why, lad!"

The great hands closed on the boy, lifted him up, and bore him
lightly as the man felt his way with his feet. He counted his steps,
assuring himself that before he came to seventy-five they would be
at the end.

"Ngonyama!" cried a voice, quite close.

"We are coming, mother."

"Ngonyama! Ngonyama! Ngonyama!" and the voice grew fainter.

"Wait--wait, O mother of chiefs, for the way is dark, and we move

"Slower fast, slower fast, Ngonyama, it matters not."

"It is far, mother! Are we near the end?"

"Near the end--very near! Is it the dead ye carry, Ngonyama?"

"Nay, mother; the boy is but sick. But where are you, that ye see
and are not seen, that your voice is near and yet far?"

The woman laughed.  "So ye grow afraid, O great one? Said I not,
Indhlovu, that this was not your path? Death is around."

Mr. Hume went forward steadily, counting his paces to keep his mind
from wandering, and to his great joy he came suddenly on an opening
in the wall which led towards welcome light, away from the horrors
of that unfathomable pit. The woman waited for him there, looking
very tall against the light.

"The boy is sick, mother--a little water."

"It is water now. Outside it was the honey he asked for. Set him
down, Ngonyama--the child is weakly; set him down, and see to

"What words we these, woman?"

"Woman, yes; but master here, Ngonyama; and my words are easy to
understand. Let the child be, and I will bring you out of this."

"Bring me water," he said sternly.

"There is plenty beyond. Carry him to the water if ye will, but the
water will have you both." She laughed shrilly.

Mr. Hume went on towards the light, and found himself in another
cavern reaching far up to a roof, from which hung long stalactites
glistening white. There was light enough reflected from these
hanging pillars to see, and he looked anxiously into Venning's face.
The boy's eyes were closed.

"Water," he said.

"Ohe! there is water beyond;" and she pointed ahead.

Again he went on without a thought about the marvels that disclosed
themselves in the cave in the shapes of crystals and cones of
sulphuric origin; but, as he advanced, he was aware of strange,
intermittent sounds resembling explosions. Pushing on, he saw the
white spray of falling water, then the gleam of wet rock, and
stopped at the edge of a cataract, milk white from the churned foam.
He soaked a handkerchief in the water and bathed the boy's face.

The woman was at his side. "Leave him; he belongs to the water.
Leave him and follow, lest ye also go down."

"He Is only weak, mother. In a little time he will be ready to

He applied himself to the task of bringing the boy round, and when
he looked up again the woman had gone. Then for the first time he
glanced around him, and saw that he stood in a small cave opening
into a noble vault, lit up from top to bottom by a broad fan of
light that streamed through a fissure in the roof. Opposite to where
he stood, and a little above, the river emerged from its
subterranean passage in a long green slide, to break into white
where it fell upon the rocks before its headlong rush at his feet.
In the rock above the point where the river emerged there were
several round holes, and at intervals of a few seconds, columns of
water spurted through these with loud reports.  They shot far out,
then broke into fine spray, on which the light produced wonderful
colour effects. He could scarcely take his eyes off these blow-
holes, so strange, so fascinating was the sight, and it was only the
faint sound of a sigh that called his attention to his patient.



Compton had found his father's book. When the woman gave it to him
he sat down for an hour turning over the leaves, closely filled with
neatly written handwriting interspersed with many sketches. To him
it was a message from the dead--a priceless treasure; and as he read
and saw how valuable it was as a record of close and intelligent
observation in a new field, he was seized with an eagerness to be
off with it out of the wilderness. He hurried to the cave, but, of
course, there was no one there. Then, still carrying the priceless
book, he ran on to the gorge, where the warriors whose task it was
to guard that part were gathering. Some of them were examining the
broken lengths of cotton, and drew his attention to them.

"It is medicine," he said briefly. "Have ye seen Ngonyama?"

They had not seen him since in the early morning one had noticed the
great chief and the Spider enter the gorge.

"And it is not meet," they added, "that we should seek to find out
where the chiefs had gone, since the place below was taboo."

"It is well," said Compton; and he returned to the cave to wait with
as much patience as he could summon, under the impression that his
friends had, of course, gone down to the pool in search of the
missing boat.

The afternoon, however, passed quickly, for he was poring over the
Journal, and it was almost dark when a step without attracted his

"I say," he shouted, "come and see."

But it was not Venning who entered, but the chiefs mother. She
looked tired, and her short skirt was stained with mud and moss.

"Halloa, it's you, is it?"

She squatted before the fire with her eyes on the book. "Ye will
make medicine now, son of the wise man. Ye will teach our men how to
build swift boats, and how to make the 'fire that kills."

"You are wet; you have been in the water."

"Oh! it is a little thing."

"I thought you were the great one, or the Spider. I have not seen
them since the morning."

"Maybe they have gone a journey. What says the medicine?"

"It says that until they return safe as when they went, it will not
speak," said Compton, with a chill suspicion growing in his mind.

She laughed. "Look again, son of my friend. Maybe they will not
return except the things be done that must be done."

"What things?"

"I have said. The things that will make our people strong for the
going out--the swift canoes and the shooting fire. That is my word."

"And this is my word. If any injury befall them, the medicine that
is here"--and he tapped the book--"will work against yon and yours."

He looked at her very sternly, attempting to carry the matter with a
high hand, for he judged from her words that something had happened
to his friends.

"Wow! Are my people so few that a boy can talk to me in this way?"
She snapped her fingers.

"And what stand would you and your people have made against the wild
men but for Ngonyama? What will they do when Hassan comes again, if
the great one is not at hand to help?"

"Ohe!  Little chief," she laughed, "you cannot frighten me with
tales of Hassan; and think well over my word."

She went away down towards the new village that had been built
beyond the river, and her voice rose in a chant as she went--a chant
that was taken up and thrown back by the women returning home from
the gardens. Compton built up the fire, and then walked up to the
mouth of the gorge, restless and consumed with anxiety. Those words
of the woman, "maybe they will not return," haunted him. They seemed
to him ominous of danger. All night he patrolled up and down the
ledge, between the cave and the gorge, fearing they would not come,
and yet expecting to hear their voices at any moment; and in the
morning he was heavy-eyed from want of sleep. The night-guards from
the gorge trotted by, their places having been relieved.

"Have ye seen Ngonyama and the Spider?"

"There is smoke," they said.  "Maybe the white chiefs make the


"Beyond the water that is taboo."

He hurried off with his glasses, and from the gorge saw smoke rising
far down the forest; and the sight gave him hope, for it might mean
that his friends had followed the river down from Deadman's Pool on
the trail of the missing boat. Bidding the men keep a good watch,
and report any new development to him at once, he went back to the
eave to breakfast and to renewed study of the journal. As he read,
his attention became riveted on a series of sketches which laid bare
the subterranean passages under the south-west portion of the cliff,
between the gorge and the canon giving outlet to the river. As he
read, too absorbed to think of anything else, he came upon the
following note:--

"If it chance that understanding eye should fall on these notes, let
my directions be carefully observed.  No stranger--certainly no
white man--would be permitted to leave the valley once he discovered
its existence, by setting foot within its encircling cliffs. Let him
not try to escape by the gorge on the south, for though apparently
undefended, it is really guarded by a band of women who have the
right to kill any person--not taboo--who passes through. These
women, victims of a dark and degrading superstition, are recruited
from the village, and once they quit the valley they are never seen,
for they live about the shores of the pool beneath the cliff and in
caverns adjoining, which form the lower or basement rooms of a
series of stupendous vaults produced by volcanic agency. By night
they prowl about the slopes above the pool; by day, some of them
keep watch over the passage through the gorge and through the canon
from loopholes to which they have access from the lower vaults. I
know, because I myself tried to escape by this passage, and only
escaped owing to the vigilance of the chief woman in the valley, who
exercises control over the band, and who had her own purpose to
achieve in saving my life. I was useful to her. When ultimately,
after much labour, I discovered the only safe way out, I was, owing
to repeated attacks of fever, too weak to avail myself of the
discovery. My hope is that my efforts may be of service to some one
--if, unhappily, any should follow in my footsteps--who would be
better prepared to face the dangers and the difficulties of the
forest beyond.  Listen, then, to these instructions; On the ledge
skirting the south cliff, and leading up to the gorge, there is a
cave, which may be recognized from the existence near it of a bath
hewn out of the lava by human hands. That cave is the key to the
underground passage."

Compton looked up with shilling eyes.  "The very  place I am in," he

"For many months it was my home--if I may so misuse a word so
charged with bitterness to me. Not a day passed but my thoughts went
in sickness of spirit to my home, to my wife and little one; and it
was when I was thinking of them that I thought I heard them calling
my name from the cave. A sick man's fancy! But there had been a
sound, and on entering to the far end of the cavern, I heard it
repeated--a faint droning, such as would be produced by a shell held
to the ear. There was, too, a current of air, and, feeling in the
darkness, I found the crack through which it emerged. With a spear-
head I easily broke the rock away, for it was a mere envelope.
Thrusting the spear in, I felt there was an opening beyond. When I
had satisfied myself that the passage extended for some distance, my
first precaution was to find a slab of rock to fit the opening I had

Compton laid down the book, looked out to see that no one was near,
and crept to the far end of the cave. Pressing with his hand, he
soon found the rock yield. Satisfied, he returned to the journal
with renewed eagerness.

"My first careful examination of the passage disclosed the welcome
fact that it extended a great distance in a westerly direction, but
without lights I saw it would be dangerous to attempt a thorough
investigation. Accordingly, I occupied myself for several days in
making a supply of candles, using the barrels of my gun as a mould,
and mixing beeswax with oil clarified from the fat of animals, such
as monkeys and coneys. Provided with two such candles, I began my
explorations underground, and after many failures discovered a way
of escape, which others may   benefit by. The passage, in an
uninterrupted course, dips under the gorge and enters the south-west
cliff, which is completely honeycombed.  After dipping under the
gorge, it branches in several directions, but care must be taken to
follow the extreme right-hand passage. This follows the outer shell,
skirts what I have called the Hall of Winds, dips down through a
long tunnel, and emerges on the outer slope at a point near the spot
where the river disappears. The passage is safe, but can only be
taken provided a candle or torch is used. If these directions should
come under the notice of some unhappy traveller, let him accept my
earnest wishes for success in his efforts to escape from a place
which to me was first a haven of rest and then a hateful prison, and
there is a feeling I have that I have not written this in vain."

The son of the lonely Englishman who had written the foregoing in
sadness of spirit, but in hope for others, sat long staring before
him with a lump in his throat.

"Not in vain, my father--not in vain did you labour," he murmured.
Again he read over the directions, then very carefully he packed the
journal and strapped it on his back, to be with him wherever he
went. Noticing how the time had passed while he had been receiving
the message from the dead, he hurried to the gorge to see if there
were any signs of his friends, and his eyes went to the dark walls,
and to the silent pool far below, with a feeling of intense
repugnance at the thought of the ghoulish women who lurked unseen,
but seeing all.

"Have you seen Ngonyama?"

"The smoke ascends no longer, Inkose; but we have seen the signal

"How so?"

"Another smoke arose yet further off, and yet another, and beyond
that another, till the word of the fire-makers was passed back even
to the wide waters."

"Then it was not Ngonyama who made the fire."

"It was made by the enemy, Inkose."

"Have you sent out spies?"

"Of what use, lion's cub? Muata, the black one, hangs on their
trail, and when the time has come he will spring.  Wow! They are
fools to come up by that path."

He went back deep in thought, and made up his mind to see the wise
woman again.  So he passed down into the valley, crossed the river
to the new village built on a small flat-topped hill, and found the
chief's mother sitting before his hut.

"I want my brothers," he said at once.

"The valley is open--search for them. You are a chief; put the men
to the search. Why come to me?"

"Because you only know."

"Haw! If they are not in the valley they are out of the valley, and
once they are out they have broken the law. Who am I that you should
ask, since the law is made by the men?"

"Maybe, mother, they are not in the valley or out of the valley."

She threw a startled look at Compton, which he was keen to notice;
then, with an expression of puzzlement, she nodded her head.

"Your meaning is dark, lion's cub. See, the valley is kraaled in
like the goat-pen, and if the goats be not in the kraal they are
outside the kraal. As for Ngonyama, see where the women build his
hut against his coming."

"I see," said Compton. "Perhaps he was sent for by the chief, and
has gone a journey, for the enemy are on the move."

"That is plainer to me," she said quickly. "It must be so, for the
chief loves Ngonyama."

"Yes; that must be the reason. It lifts a load off my mind, mother."

"Ow aye I did not like to see your face clouded; and now you will
make medicine for me?"

"I will; bat there are a few things I require. I am young at this
work, mother, and cannot do without all the aids."

"Oh ay, I know," and she nodded her head with a fierce look in her
eyes. "The blood of a man, the heart of a kid, and the tongue of a

"No, no; a calabash of fat and a little wax.  Only that."

"Your medicine is not like mine," she said musingly; "but I have it
in my mind now that the good white man used much fat in his

She went into her hut, and returned presently with a calabash filled
with fat and a square of wax.

"And ye will build fast canoes?"

"We will do great things, mother," said Compton, taking the things.
"But it is not well that people should pry in upon one who is making
medicine. He must have quiet."

"Wow! No one shall pass your house in the rocks, O wizard of mine."

He hurried up to the cave, passing the reed patch on his way to cut
several stout stems, and began without delay his preparations for
making candles. While the fat and wax were melting in a couple of
"billies," he cut down the canes into sections of about six inches
each, and buried them on end with the mouth up in soft ground near
the bath, with a length of stout cord strung down the centre of each
tube, and secured by a cross-piece. When the stuff had melted, he
filled up the moulds, twelve in all, and left them to cool off. Then
taking a stout cane left over, he cut away one of the joints,
leaving a socket, thus converting it into a very handy candle-stick.
Next he made up a parcel of food and medicine, carefully oiled his
rifle, to protect it against the damp underground, and then went off
up to the gorge to have a last look for his friends.

The warriors were buzzing about the barricade, evidently in a state
of great excitement, and Compton saw the cause of this in the person
of a solitary man ascending the slope from the direction of the

"It is the chief's runner," said the men as the man came plainly
into view.

Up he came, breasting the steep ascent with a look behind at
frequent intervals as if he feared pursuit, and when he reached the
wall, he drew a great breath of relief.

"Mawoh!" he grunted. "I saw the dead water heave, and there was a
laugh from nowhere."

"What message?" asked one of the headmen.

"It is for Ngonyama," said the runner.

The headman fell back and looked at Compton, who then stepped

"Give the message to me."

"Wow! This, then, is the chief's word. 'Say to Ngonyama, the great
white one, that the enemy will come against the valley up from the
dead water. Ngonyama will let them advance until they are in the
jaws of the rocks. Then will Muata, the black one, fall on the rear
and eat them up.' So said the chief."

Compton tamed to the headmen. "Where are the white chiefs?"

"We do not know, Inkose," they said uneasily.

"Ye will take the orders of your chief yourselves then, for unless
my brothers are restored in safety, I will not help you."

"Maybe," said a man in a whisper, "the wizards have taken them to
themselves to learn wisdom."

"Who are these wizards?" demanded Compton, sternly.

"Haw! Inkose, how shall we know?" But their eyes went fearfully to
the silent walls of the gorge.

"Who does know?"

"We know not, Inkose.  These things are not for us."

"I know;" and Compton eyed them sternly. "It is a woman who is chief
in this place. Say to her the words of the chief, and bring me her

They hesitated, muttering.

"Ye know the black one," said Dick, quietly. "He has asked for
Ngonyama. Let the woman produce Ngonyama or give her authority, lest
the black one turn his anger on you."

"The lion's cub says well," answered an old man. "I will go."

As he went off, Compton bade the indunas see to the defence, "For,"
said he, "without the white men, you will have to fight hard for
your kraal." The indunas laughed as they gave their orders, saying
that all they wished for was a good fight. Compton retired to his
cave, and it was not long before the chiefs mother herself came up
with her bodyguard of women, armed with bow and arrows.

"Ye sent for me, O great chief?" she cried, with a little mocking

"You have heard the chiefs message?"

"And this is my answer," she replied, pointing to the women. "We
will meet the enemy."

"And Ngonyama?"

"Ngonyama! I have heard that name too often. See, young one, there
is not room in a kraal for two strong bulls."

She nodded her head with a very hard look in her eyes.

Compton kept down his rising wrath at this ominous speech.

"Very well, mother," he said quietly. "You know best. I will now get
about my work, if ye order that I am left in silence."

"I will see to that," she answered; "and see to it that you do all I
have asked, lest you also go to those wizards you spoke of to the

She looked at him meaningly, and went on with her escort.

Compton watched them out of sight, then ran to his moulds. Taking
out the canes, he split them down in turn, disclosing a dozen
candles, roughly moulded, and very greasy, but he hoped suitable for
his venture. One he fixed in the socket of the torch, the others he
packed away carefully in an oilskin bag. Then slinging on his
carbine, bandolier, haversack, and making them all secure by
strapping a belt over all, he crept through the opening at the far
end of the cave, replaced the rock, and lit his candle. After much
spluttering and a great deal of smoke, the flame caught, and he
started on his tour, breathing a fervent hope that it would lead him
to his lost friends.



We will return now to Mr. Hume, who was left supporting the
unconscious form of Venning on the brink of the rushing river, with
the vast vault above him, and the roar of sharp explosions bellowing
at intervals through the hollows. As he stooped over his young
companion, he caught a fluttering of the eyelids, and placing the
boy on the ground with a pillow made by his rolled-up coat, he
unfastened the little medicine-bag which each always carried, and
gave him a strong restorative. Then he chafed the cold hands, took
off the wet shoes, and did the same to the feet, which were like
marble. As the blood circulated under the friction, Venning regained
his colour, and suddenly looked about him.

"I'm here, lad," said Mr. Home, cheerily. "You grew a little dizzy,
but you're all right."

"What's that noise?" asked the boy, breathlessly. Mr. Hume picked
him up, and carried him to the door of the vault.

"Magnificent, isn't it? Aren't you glad we came? One of the wonders
of the world; and you've got the crow over Dick this time."

Venning sighed. "It's rather awful," he muttered. "It's grand, lad,
grand! See how the water juts out like a column of steam with the
roar of a big gun, and how the light falls upon it in a thousand
hues, as the fine spray falls."

Venning's eyes opened wide as they looked up. "Like golden rain at a
display of fireworks."

"The very thing, lad," answered the hunter, enthusiastically.

Venning's eyes ranged slowly down to the well of green water arching
out from the black wall, and then to the snow-white flood where the
foam hissed in its giddy descent.

"Where is she?"

"She'll be back soon. But we cannot wait for her here---there is too
much moisture. We'll get back to a drier place."

Still carrying the boy, he made his way back to the great chamber,
lit up mysteriously by those pale cones and glistening columns. Here
he found a dry place in a comer, and after placing Venning on the
ground, he struck a match.

"Here's a find," he said, pouncing on a piece of driftwood.

With his Ghoorka knife he soon split it up, and in a short time a
fire was blazing, throwing a red reflection on the stalactites. It
was an eerie place, echoing to the thunders of the explosions, with
pitch-dark comers, and those ghost-like forms in the misty heights,
but Mr. Hume would not allow his patient time to brood over the
surroundings. He shaved off fragments of biltong for him to eat,
talking cheerfully all the time, and at last had the satisfaction of
seeing the overwrought nerves of the lad quieted in sleep. Then the
anxiety that had filled him all the time appeared in the expression
of his face, and he stepped away a few yards to send a call for the
woman ringing up into the vault. The cry ran away mournfully in a
series of diminishing echoes, but no answer came, and he looked to
his weapons, built up the fire with other fragments of wood that had
been evidently borne in at times of flood, and explored the cave.
There was no sign of the woman anywhere, but he found three exits.
Relinquishing any idea of following them until Venning was fit to
walk, he returned to the fire, and sat down with his back to the
rock waiting for the woman's return. If he felt doubt or fear, he
fought against it, resolving that, come what would, his first care
was to save his companion, but that there was cause for doubt he
knew very well from the remarks and bearing of the woman. Probably,
he thought, the secret of the underground was hers only, and she
might well have a motive sufficiently strong to  preserve that
secret even at the sacrifice of their lives. Full of these thoughts,
he began another examination of the cave, confining himself this
time to a search of the floor. Going down on hands and knees, and
carrying a lighted stick, he minutely inspected the thin layer of
dust which had settled since the last flood-waters had rushed
through. Traversing slowly the width of the cave, he found his own
spoor and the spoor of the woman. Then working round with the object
of finding which of the three openings she had taken on leaving, he
came upon a calabash and a kaross made of goats'-skin. The calabash,
from the smell, contained goats'-milk. Leaving the fire-stick to
mark the spot to which he had carried his search, he went back to
place the kaross over the sleeping boy. Then taking another stick
from the fire, he took up the spooring from the place he had left
off, and crawled inch by inch, till he came to the first exit. Here
he saw his spoor entering together with the footprints of the woman,
both very plain from the mud which had adhered to their feet. The
woman, however, had not passed out. That, at any rate, was one point
settled, and he went on with a feeling of distinct relief at the
thought that there might be another way out than by the fearful
track they had followed on entering. On nearing the second exit he
paused, startled by what seemed to him the sound of shrill voices
borne suddenly in a pause between the bellowing of the water-jets
in the neighbouring vault. When he listened he could, however,
distinguish no sound in the mutterings and the boomings that was
human, and repressing a desire to cry out, he groped along up to the
second exit. Here, however,  there were no footprints. The surface
was smooth rock, and he was passing on when something about the rock
attracted his attention again. Leaving one of the sticks again to
guide him on his return by its glowing end, he returned to the fire,
rebuilt it, waited till it was fairly blazing, then with another
glaring torch he ran to continue his search. He found what he had
half expected, that the rock had been polished by the passage of
many feet, which had worn out quite a marked depression. He also
satisfied himself that the woman had not passed out there, for as
her feet had been wet she must have left some trace on the smooth
surface. There remained now the third and last exit, and as he edged
away to the left, he saw that the beaten track also led in the same
direction. He rose and walked, feeling for the opening with his
right hand, and, coming to it, he was glad, but not surprised, to
make two discoveries, first, that the well-marked path entered the
opening, and second, that the woman had also passed that way. There
was the spoor of one foot clearly outlined in particles of moist

"That's good," he muttered, standing up. "But I don't like the look
of that path. Means people. But what sort of people? And the kaross
and the goats'-milk. People again. No good taking risks."

He went back to the fire, drew the sticks away, thrust the burning
ends into crevices, and left the comer in darkness once more. Then
he sat down by Venning with his rifle across his knees and waited.
He had no thought of moving a foot from the cave until Venning was
fit to move; he would let him have his sleep out, and if he was no
better, well, then, he would carry him. So he sat waiting and
watching, listening to the hoarse rumblings which all the time
ascended from below, and to the tremendous reports, a little dulled
by the intervening wall, made by the spurting water. He watched the
coming of the night, marked the gradual fading of the sheen on the
stalactites, until softly the shadows sank and merged into the
darkness of the cave, leaving nothing visible but a faint gleam
where the nearest sulphur cone stood.

Eerie it was in the dim light, eerier it was now in the dark, with
those hoarse mutterings from beneath, and those thunderous
reverberations pealing at irregular intervals through the unknown
spaces above. He had his pipe, but his habitual caution deterred him
from seeking its comfort, and he was glad he had abstained, and glad
at having extinguished the fire, when suddenly he heard the sound of
shrill laughter. A sullen roar from the water-hole beyond drowned
the sound, but he knew in every fibre that he had not been mistaken.
There were others beside him and Venning in the vaults, but not for
a moment was he pleased at the thought. Instinct or the association
of the place warned them of danger. For a long spell, however, he
could distinguish nothing human in the hurly-burly of sounds, and
then again, nearer and plainer, the shrill peal rang out exultant,
with a note in it of some savage beast flinging back the news to the
pack that the scent was hot.

Slowly he stooped his head to hear if Venning slept, for he dreaded
what would happen if the boy awoke in the pitchy darkness and heard
that demoniac cry. The boy's breathing came at regular intervals,
and with a muttered prayer that he would sleep on, the Hunter felt
for the trigger.

"Ngonyama!" From the height a voice calling to him dropped soft as
the flight of a bat, faint as a whisper, yet clear as a bell in all
that turmoil.

He smiled grimly, but did not answer. This was some trick of the
woman. If she was friendly, why had she left them?

"Indhlovu! "--again it fell as from afar.

He ran his hand over the bandolier, loosened the cartridges, and let
his fingers curl round the trigger again.

A gust of wind blowing through some fissure shrieked amid the
heights as if terrified at having wandered into such a prison, then
for a long time the old sounds continued to make sport in the vaults
and tunnels without any interruption.

Then Venning suddenly woke, and Mr. Hume was in a fever to keep the
boy's mind occupied, and to get him asleep again.

"Drink this," he said, picking up the calabash, "and go to sleep

Venning took a long drink, "I dreamt I was by the sea, listening to
the waves. It was almost as good as being home again."

"That's right. It's the sound of water. Go to sleep again and dream
of old England, the best medicine you could have."

"I think I will," said Venning; and, with a sigh, he pulled the
kaross over him, being too tired out to wonder how it came there.

"Sleep well, lad, sleep well;" and the big hand rested on the boy's
shoulder to comfort him with its touch, but the man's face was
turned with a straining expression towards the exit which he had
last inspected, for it seemed to him that he had seen a streak of
light, such as would be thrown in advance by a torch.

To his relief. Venning dropped off once more into a deep slumber,
and he bent forward, alert in every fibre. He was not mistaken.
There was a light over in the dark, not a light that sparkled, but a
greenish glow, not unlike the eye of an animal as seen at night in
the reflection of a bull's-eye lantern. It moved, too, like the eye
of an animal, and presently other lights gathered around and at the
back, giving off no radiance, not bright enough to throw up into
relief the objects that produced them, but watchful, like the eyes
of a pack of wild-dogs regarding their prey. The Hunter tried an
experiment. Feeling for his great knife, he struck a stone, and
watched to see if there was any movement of surprise which would
indicate that there were living creatures aware of his presence.
There was no such movement. Like bits of dull green glass with a
light behind, these mysterious points remained as they had been,
moving gently as if to the action of respiration. He raised his
rifle, tempted to fire under the feeling of nervous suspense that
tried his iron nerves, but lowered it at once, with a glance down at
the dark form at his side. He would wait; and he sat watching the
things, whatever they were, that seemed to be watching him with such
cold and silent intentness. Then he made out that they were not
animals.  The eyes of animals blink, and these did not. Moreover,
any animal, however fierce, would turn its eyes away at times; but
these remained staring. What were they? He had seen fungus glow like
that in the forest, but never so many together. And then he strained
his ears to gather from any sound an inkling of their nature, but,
beyond the bellowings and the sullen roar, he could hear nothing.
How long could he stand the suspense? Already he felt a strong
impulse to jump up, to shout, to break up that fixed regard, to come
to the death-grapple, if need be, rather than sit there in doubt.
The minutes slipped by slowly; each slowly spun its time out, as if
every minute were an hour, each hour a week, and the moisture
gathered on his brow, when at last the tension was broken.

"Sisters, I smell smoke!"

"Thank God," was the man's thought, "they are living." The suspense
fell from him. He pulled himself together, and was ready for

"Smoke!" The voice reached him in sharp shrill accents that pierced
the continual growling of the waters. "Who is here?"

"Ngonyama!" was the reply uttered by several.

"He is terrible, sisters. Hear the thunder of his voice. Let us fly,
lest he tear us." And the speaker laughed.

"That is not his voice! He is afraid; he crouches like the panther
in the trap, trembling. His strength has gone from him."

"I heard a lion was in the plains, and the cows ran together in a
cluster, for they were afraid."

A shrill laughter was the response, but the dull lights remained
where they were, and again there was a long spell of silence, as far
as the voices were concerned. Then the lights went out. The Hunter
stooped forward, listening, but he could hear no footfall. He put
the gun down, and grasped the knife in his right hand, for he could
use it with better effect in a sudden assault.

"I smell meat!"

The voice came now from another quarter, and then the lights shone
out one after another.

"What meat is this, sister?"


"Wow! There are fat pickings on the bones of the great one; but he
is powerful. I hear his trumpeting."

"Haw! it is the voice of the unseen, mother. Indhlovu has fallen
into the pit that was set for him. His power has gone."

Again the voices ceased, again the strange lights were dimmed; but
the Hunter was ready, for he knew now they were quartering the cave
in search of him. He had no fear, only a feeling of intense disgust,
coupled with a determination to scare the lives out of these ghouls,
if they ventured on an attack.  By-and-by he beard faint rustlings,
and then breathings; but it was impossible to see, and he sat
perfectly still. Then the voices broke out again at another point.

"He is here, my sisters."

"Wow! We are hungry; let us eat. We are thirsty; let us drink."

"Sisters, terrible is the power in the arm of Indhlovu. He strikes,
and lo! as a falling tree sweeps a passage through the forest, so
would he sweep us away. Let him weaken; let hunger fasten on his
vitals, and fear trouble his brain."

"We are wolves; we would tear him down in his strength, while his
blood is red."

"Terrible is the trunk of Indhlovu, and terrible is the arm of
Ngonyama. In his hand is a broad knife, and with one stroke will he
split a head. Let the darkness hold him."

"We hunger, and he will go. The wizard will claim him for his own;
the dark waters will drag him down. Give him to us."

"He watches over his cub, and who so fierce as the lion who protects
his young? The cub will sicken. The sound of the waters will trouble
his brain; his spirit will fly before the terror of the darkness.
Wait, my sisters, till his cub be dead."

"Demons!" cried the Hunter, his patience gone in a storm of fury.
"Away!" He sprang forward with a roar, and his knife, whistling
through the air, fell upon the gleaming cone, and struck from it
sparks of fire.

With cries of fear the women--if women they were--fled, their lights
showing again from the second exit, where was the beaten footway,
and then out of the dark tunnel came a peal of fiendish laughter.
Then silence, or, rather, a relief from the mocking voices; but
there was a reminder of their presence in one of those pale greenish
lights. He strode towards it, saw it had been dropped, picked it up,
and found that it came from some substance held in a bag of open
network. With a short laugh he saw it was fungus, a discovery that
took all the mystery out of the recent performance, and since it
appeared that the only thing formidable about his persecutors was
their trickery in making the most of the terrors of the dark, he
remade the fire, for there was no mistaking the chillness of the
air. As he thought over the fantastic doings of the visitors, he
laughed again, and presently feeling the warmth of the fire, he
yawned and closed his eyes.

"Only a parcel of women," he muttered, and was asleep.

And as he slept, believing there was no danger, the shadows closed
in as the fire dwindled--closed in, taking queer shapes. Across the
smooth, gleaming surface of the cone these shadows came, like
stooping forms, with long lean arms. There were whisperings, too,
"clicks" made by the tongue, and Venning, opening his eyes, suddenly
heard these sounds at once, notwithstanding the walls of the cavern
trembled to the hollow thunder of the waters. His eyes fell upon
something beyond-the fire. He did not move, or cry out, or wonder
where he was; his mind was focussed like his wide-opened eyes on
that object. It was like a face, and yet he could not make out
whether it was the face of man, or bird, or beast, or reptile. One
glance at the thing by any one else would have been more than
enough, so terrible it was; but Venning's overpowering  curiosity as
a naturalist mercifully blotter-put the horror. He was trying to
identify it, and made mental notes such as these:--

"Forehead low, receding; brows contracted; eyes small, deep-set,
venomous; lower part of face banded black, and undecipherable; neck
long, skinny, vulture-like;  rest of body not visible."

"Snake, or wild-cat," he said.

"Eh?" said Mr. Hume, waking at once.

There was a ring of metal, a sudden babel of fierce cries, the flash
of a rifle-shot, and the clap of the report, followed by shrieks.

"It's all right, lad," shouted Mr. Hume, as Venning straggled to
rise; "keep down."

There was a sharp hissing. Something struck the rock above the
Hunter as he was stooping over Venning, and fell down into the fire.
It was a barbed arrow. He fired again, scattered the fire with a
kick, and crouched over the boy. Several arrows rang viciously
against the rock. He felt for Venning's carbine, swung it round with
one hand, and emptied the magazine, firing at different points. With
yells of disappointment, rage, and fear, the creatures of the night
fled once more.

"Are you all right, my boy?"

"Yes; but what does it mean? What were they? I thought the thing was
a snake."

"What did you see?"

"Something staring out of the shadows. I could not make out what it
was, and as you awoke it seemed to jump forward and strike."

"Ay, the blow fell on my belt. Thank God, you warned me; but it was
my fault. I should have kept awake. They're only women, lad. Don't
let any fancies come into your head."

Venning sniffed. "Smell anything? Seems to me like sulphur."

"It's the gunpowder fumes, hanging low."

Venning sat up. "What is that booming noise?"

"The sound of falling water."

The boy was silent for some time, while the Hunter reloaded the
carbine and his Express.

"So---we are still down below."

"But I know the way out, and as soon as it is daylight we'll get
back into the valley. Have no fears."

Venning's hand went out to feel for his companion. "I must have
given you a lot of trouble. You've got your coat off."

"I didn't want it, and it came in handy as a pillow."

"Put it on," said Venning, "and give me my gun."

Mr. Hume laughed cheerily. "Feeling yourself again--eh? Well, that's
good. And now we'll put an end to this nonsense."

"I certainly smell sulphur," said Venning; "and what is that blue
streak there?" He took a step towards the smooth cone.  "It is
sulphur!" he cried. "See, it's burning."

Mr. Hume stepped to his side, and saw the unmistakable blue flame
given off by burning sulphur, while a whiff of the fumes made him

"You're right; it's a mass of sulphur. The burning wad front the
cartridge must have set it alight." He sliced off the burning patch
with his knife. "We don't want to be fumigated, or to die of
suffocation. Now, if you feel strong enough, we'll explore the

"Is it safe? I mean, are there any chasms?"

"Smooth as a floor. Keep close by me."

They examined the cavern carefully by means of the strange lantern
filled with fungus, and Mr. Hume halted by the second exit.

"This is where they enter," he said, "and I think our best plan will
be to build a fire in the mouth. We should then have the advantage
over them, as we should see them once they came into the

They set about collecting wood, when Venning had a thought.

"Which way does the draught set in the tunnel--away from the cavern
or into it?"


"Because, if the current of air blows away from us, we can easily
keep them out."

"It blows from the cave into the tunnel. I found that out before."

"Then we have got them, whoever they are. Make the fire in the
passage, pile up blocks of this sulphur on the inner side, and the
wind will carry the fumes down into the tunnel."

"A splendid plan," said Mr. Hume; and very soon it was carded out, a
couple of shots being fired into the dark passage as a warning to
the enemy to keep off. As the flames caught the sulphur, a thick
smoke rolled away. "That will stop them; and now we can wait in
peace till the morning."

The rest of the night passed for them in peace as far as their
assailants were concerned, but the chilling damp of the vaults got
into their bones, and Venning was pinched and shivering when the
first ray of sunshine struck slanting down through the mist-laden
atmosphere, bringing with it a message of hope from the bright outer



They shared the goats'-milk remaining in the calabash, and at once
entered the first exit, that was to lead them, as they ardently
hoped, into the warmth and light of the day. Venning went first,
carrying only the strange lantern, and Mr. Hume a foot behind, ready
to support the boy with a helping hand if he were again overcome by
dizziness. Their progress was slow, owing to the dark, but the going
was easy enough with a gradual ascent. What pleased them very much
was the dwindling of the hubbub made by the waters--a sign that they
were going away from that source of danger. In silence and in
darkness they kept on up to a point where the walls widened out, and
where there was a familiar hut-like smell, necessitating a pause for
investigation. Mr. Hume struck a match--for the fungus-lamp shed no
ray--and holding it up, disclosed a slab of rock with a pile of
white ash on it. Blowing upon this, he started a glow from the still
live embers beneath, and placing on a few half-burnt sticks, soon
made a fire. By its light they saw a couple of rush-mats, such as
the natives make, on the floor, and these, added to the fire, made a
blaze which lit up a cavern bearing evidence of frequent use; for
there were other mats on a ledge, together with several calabashes,
and an earthen pot of native make. Seeing where the passage
continued, they hurried on, for these human belongings reminded them
forcibly of the existence of beings they had no wish to meet in
those dark passages.

"How do you account for people living down here?" asked Venning.

"They may be outcasts from the village, afflicted either by disease
or madness, or they may be members of some dark superstition."

"Ugh! I wonder if the Inkosikasi has any connection with them?"

"I rather think so, and when we get out we will have a word with

"When we get out! But it will be fine to see old Dick again, and to
see the birds and insects on the move in the sun. Halloa! the path
turns again--bends to the left."

"Keep on slowly."

As they went the noise of waters again reached them, growing in
volume; and when the path turned abruptly to the right, they looked
out through a small opening on billows of mist that rolled upwards
out of sight.

"Seem to have reached a spot above last night's resting-place."

The wall on their left was very thin, and shook to each report; but
presently the passage made a bend to the right, which took them away
once more from the mist-laden vault, and then, through a narrow
doorway, opened into one of the best-lighted caverns they had yet
entered. The light which streamed in from the wall beyond was very
welcome to them, but the taste of earth in the air blowing through
the crack was better. The first thing they did was to run across to
the crack and look out.

"The river--and the valley!" cried Venning.

Below them was the green of the valley bathed in sunshine, the river
glittering like silver, and the scene like a glimpse of Paradise
after the gloom of their vast prison.

"There goes the eagle we saw when we first arrived, and right away
yonder I can see a flock of goats among the rocks."

"Perhaps we could get through and climb down." Mr. Hume thrust an
arm through, and spread his fingers to the wind. "We are on the
south-west side of the cliff, nearly overlooking the entrance to the

"It is very steep there. We should want a rope--and a long rope,

"Yes, I am afraid we must keep on; but, at any rate, it is a comfort
to know where we are."

They stepped back and turned to examine the cavern. The floor was
dry, the roof high, and it would have made a good room. And a room
in occupation it was; for, now they took stock of it, there were
signs of the occupants everywhere--a stack of wood in one corner,
several karosses rolled up, sleeping-mats, cooking-pots, wooden
spoons, a bundle of reeds for arrow-making, and a half-shaped  bow,
and other odds and ends. But what fixed their attention were a
number of white objects on a ledge.

"Look like ostrich eggs," said Venning, reaching up "No, they're
not. Skulls--Ethiopian."

"Pah! Drop it," said Mr. Hume.

"Why?" said Venning, who had no qualms in these matters. "You can
see it is Ethiopian from the receding forehead, the high cheek-
bones, the heavy under-jaw and strong teeth. No white man ever has
teeth like that."

"Drop it," said Mr. Hume, sternly.

"But why?"

"Look at this." Mr. Hume pointed to a square block in the centre of,
the room--a block all stained with dark streaks that came from a
basin in the centre. Venning approached it. "Blood--perhaps a
sacrificial stone."

"And this," said Mr. Hume, pointing to a bone projecting from one of
the pots. "They are man-eaters."

Venning put down the skull and looked with a white face at his

"Cannibals! That is why they tried to kill us last night."

The Hunter nodded his head. "I did not want to tell you, but I could
not stand a lecture on skulls."

"Let us go."

"First let us take a couple of these mats. Cut up, they would serve
as torches at a pinch." He tied one on Venning's back and one on his
own. "Forward!"

When they wished to proceed, however, they could not find the
continuation of the passage, and, to their dismay, it seemed as if
they would have to retrace their steps in search for another way
out, when behind a hanging mat in the left-hand corner they found a
narrow opening. It was not inviting, but they were glad of any path
that led away from that evil place, and away also from the lower
depths. So, though the way became more and more difficult as they
advanced, they continued to press on, now up, now down, at another
place going on their hands and knees, and further on having to
wriggle between cracks which sorely nipped the Hunter as he forced
his heavy frame through. And in the end they came out on the verge
of the vast vault, which appeared to fill so much of the space
below; emerged on a wind-swept platform, with a sudden din after the
quiet of the tortuous passage as of demons shrieking through the

Here Venning gave up. He had been now over twenty-four  hours
underground without one good meal, except the drain of goats'-milk,
and after the shock of the previous afternoon, when he hung in mid-
air, the disappointment at coming upon another forbidding pit was
too much for him. He crouched back against the rock, and sat down.

Mr. Hume spread the mat under the boy, wrapped the kaross over him,
and made him comfortable as could be, and then he looked anxiously
about. Little comfort did he gain. They had evidently pursued a
false trail, and the platform was the end, standing sheer on the
edge of that very vaulted space, down which, far down, the jets of
water shot out through the blow-holes. Their windings had brought
them, after all, to an impasse, and the only retreat was through the
chamber of the skulls, where perhaps the savage beings of the
underground vault were already collected. Looking over and down, he
could see the jets of water shooting out to fall in a mantle of
spray, on which the arrow-like shafts of sunlight sparkled in
iridescent hues, and through the spray he could see the white waters
of the cataract. Above his head there was a jutting rock, which shut
out the wall immediately above, but outside the rock he saw the roof
of the vault, gaunt ribs of rock pierced at intervals by fissures,
through which shone the blue of the sky. Turning to Venning, he saw
that the boy's eyes were fixed on those openings with a longing in
his look that wrung the man's heart.

Clearly there were only two courses open. They must either go back
by the path they had entered by--making up their minds to cross that
dizzy ledge in the darkness--or he would have to leave the boy
somewhere while he went for help. He gave up the latter alternative
at once, and set his mind on the first.

"We will rest for an hour," he said. "Then we will go down."

"To look for another way?" asked the boy, wearily.

"Or to follow the track we entered by."

"I couldn't," whispered the boy.

"Then we will try another passage--the one 'they' went down by. Of
course"--and the Hunter's voice gained in cheeriness--"that is our
plan, and if we hurry we shall be outside in no time."

"Very well," said the boy, jumping up with a sudden flush in his
cheeks, showing a return of feverishness.

"Rest awhile, lad; it is morning yet. See how the sun's rays slant
towards the west. At noon they will be vertical, and then we shall
have the whole afternoon."

They sat down with their eyes turned up to the specks of blue, and
watched the sun-shafts dip from the west towards the centre till
they poured their white light straight down. Then they started for
the long downward track, Mr. Hume this time leading the way with his
rifle ready.

When they came again to the cavern of the skulls, the Hunter paused
before pushing the mat aside. For some seconds he stood listening;
then, cautious still, with the point of his knife he forced apart a
couple of the rush strands and peeped through. The place seemed as
it had been, and he was about to step in when he remembered that
Venning had placed the skull on the block of stone. There was the
block, but there was no skull upon it.  Standing back, he whispered
to Venning to keep where he was; then, with his rifle ready, he
quietly moved the mat aside.

There was a howl, as some creature, squatting on the floor, turned a
lined and hideous face towards the corner, and then scuttled out of
view. Mr. Hume leapt to the floor, and ran to seize the creature who
had taken refuge under a hanging mat. His hand, however, met with no
resistance, and, brushing the mat aside, he saw an opening leading

"It went down there," he said, as Venning, showing a startled face
at the opening, called out to know what had happened.

Venning jumped down, and looked into the new outlet. "Let us
follow," he said eagerly.

Mr. Hume shook his head. "We know one has gone. There are probably
others; and we don't know that it would lead us out. The other way

"It makes me ill to think of the other way," said Venning,

"It looks like a rabbit-hole."

"I'll go first."

"It may mean another night, if it takes up much time."

"I'm sure it's right," persisted the boy.

"Very well, here goes;" and the Hunter submitted against his
judgment, because he feared beyond anything the breakdown of the
boy's nerves.

He was obliged to slide down this black opening, and when he found a
footing in a dark, cellar-like place, he at once struck a match
under the belief that he stood in a mere pit and nothing else, but a
puff of wind blew the match out.

"Come along; there is an opening."

The opening they found, and, as they entered it, they heard a
shuffling noise behind.

"It's that hag gone up into the room," cried the Hunter, "and she'll
give the alarm. We must go after her."

Venning, however, pushed on.  "This is the way," he said wildly; and
Mr. Hume could do no less than follow, frowning as he went.

But it did seem that the boy was right. The little black hole of a
passage suddenly opened out into light that almost blinded them by
its brilliancy.  It was a broad track. On the right was the wall of
the cliff pierced with little holes, through which they looked down
again on the canon itself, the opposite walls seeming very near.

"Wasn't I right?" asked Venning, with an excited laugh. "We can't be
very far above.  I fancy I can hear the river."

"Well, there is this about it, if the worst comes, and we can't find
a way out, we can signal from one of these holes to people in the

"And Dick would find a way to rescue us--Dick and Muata. Hurrah!
Then we won't have to go down into that awful darkness."

"No; but we may as well see where this leads to."

They had to skirt a Y-shaped fall in the track, and this
accomplished, their course, after many windings, terminated at a
totally unexpected spot, no less than a point high up the face of
the cliff rising sheer up from the Deadman's Pool. They stepped out
from the passage into broad day, and raised their hats to let the
wind blow upon them, but they found that they were as far off from
escape as before. Below, the cliff sank hundreds of feet; above, it
rose like a wall without foothold; but they were thankful for the
sunlight, for the far view over the dark forest, for the privilege
to look once more on the unruffled sky. Now that they were in the
light, they could take stock of each other, and found it in their
hearts to start a feeble laugh at the covering of mud, smoke, and
green mould that almost disguised their identity.

But it was a comfort to stretch their aching limbs in the sun, to
take the pure air into their lungs, to look restfully away over the
trees that marched unbroken to the uttermost horizon. They dozed
under the influence of the sunlight, blinking their eyes like cats,
and when Mr. Hume stirred at last, the sun was slipping down the
western slope.

"We must be going," he said, looking down.

"I suppose so," said Venning, wearily.

"There's something astir down there. Men are moving up the slope
towards the gorge--and, by George, they are Hassan's men too!"

Venning stood up, and looked down upon a file of little figures
breasting the slope.

"Good thing I had that wall built.  Dick will be having his hands
full. Come along; we may get out in time yet to take a share in the
fight, for his sake."

Venning remained staring down, with a look in his face that brought
the Hunter back.

"What do you see?"

"Of all the idiots," said the boy--"of all the miserable,
shortsighted, thick-headed, addle-pated duffers and asses we are the
worst! We took pains to find a way into a fiendish maze of tunnels,
pits, and caverns, occupied by vampires and enveloped in darkness,
in search of a thing that was never there."

"As what?"

"Look there!" and the boy pointed down. "There's our boat--down
there, out in the broad daylight."

"You're mistaken, lad."

"There--straight down--in that patch of reeds on the right of the

"That's her, right enough," said Mr. Hume, excitedly.

"And to think we've been wandering about in fear of our lives on a
false scent."

"It makes me feel bad; but the mistake has been made, and now we've
got to get out, and get out in time to help Dick."

"Oh, Dick's all right," said Venning, crossly. "He's got plenty to
eat, and a warm bed."

"Chew this;" and the Hunter handed his last bit of biltong.

Venning took it, and followed on into the passage, chewing and
growling over their folly.

"We will laugh over our troubles," said the Hunter, patiently, "when
we get out."

"When we get out! I don't believe there is a way out. Anyhow, I am
not going a step further beyond the place where we found the

Mr. Hume made no reply.

"I have been thinking over it," Venning went on.

"The place cant be very high above the level of the ground outside.
We could easily attract attention by filing a shot out. Then we
would make a rope out of the rushes in these mats, lower it with a
bit of stone at the end, on which we could write directions to Dick
with a bit of burnt stick, to hitch on a rope. We would haul in the
rope, make it fast, and then shin down."

"But suppose Dick is busy beating off the attack of Hassan's men?"

"Then we'll wait. I'm not going further--not a foot. If you like,
sir, you can go, but I will stay. I am not going down into those
horrible caves." His voice rose to a shout.

"All right," said the Hunter, soothingly. "In any case, I am afraid
we have left it too late."

"Late or early, I'll not go on."

When they did reach the loopholes, they found on looking out that
the valley on that side was already in the shadow.

"We will stay, then," said Mr. Hume. "Let me unstrap the mat from
your shoulders."

Venning had already sat down with a dogged look in his face, and Mr.
Hume had to lift him up to loosen the mat. The boy--there was no
disguising the matter any farther--was ill, and it would clearly be
dangerous to excite him by opposition.

After making the boy comfortable, Mr. Hume sat smoking his pipe, the
first time for many hours, in lieu of food. He himself was feeling
the effect of the long period of anxiety, for he had scarcely eaten
a mouthful, beyond his drink of milk, as he had given his little
store to his young friend, who was in more need of it. But it was
not of himself he thought. He had a new anxiety about Dick, and
bitterly blamed himself for having so blindly followed the woman
into this horrible place, that was one succession of death-traps.

"I'm very thirsty," muttered the boy.

Mr. Home leaned over him. "Keep quiet," he said, "and I'll bring you
some water."

Taking only his Ghoorka knife and his match-box, the Hunter went on
to the Cave of Skulls. Luckily for the denizens of that ominous
place, none of them were there to bar his entrance, for he was in a
grim mood, so making a bonfire of some of the mats, he looked about.
One calabash contained water, and this he carried back, together
with something equally precious--a bunch of bananas that were black
with smoke, yet fit to eat by any one who was very hungry or did not
see them. The boy was sitting up waiting with burning eyes.

"You were so long," he muttered.

"But I won't go away again, old chap. I've brought you quite a

Venning took a long drink, ate the bananas, and fell back on his
pillow, while the Hunter resumed his seat to watch through another
night. It seemed as if they were to be left in peace. Since that
solitary, withered, and scared creature dived out of the cave they
had seen no one. But still he sat on guard as the hours slipped
slowly by, and then there came a surprising thing.

Just the tinkle made by a drop of water falling into a pool!

It came at regular intervals, incessant, musical, and he began to
count it, wondering at the height it fell, and marvelling at the
noise it made.

And then he leapt to his feet, and stood a moment in breathless
amazement. A single drop of water to be heard above all that
multitudinous clamour! What did it mean? It meant a silence so
profound that from the black depth of the yawning cavity the tiny
tinkle could reach him. It meant that the roaring torrent was



The river was no longer thundering through the underground  passage,
and as the sudden silence following the stopping of engines on a
passenger steamer will awaken every sleeper even more quickly than
the roaring of a gale, so this lull in the tremendous din aroused

"What is the matter?" he asked, starting up.

"The river has stopped."

They sat straining their ears for the swift roar of the waters, but
out of the slumbering depths below there came only the regular
splash and tinkle of the falling drops.

"I don't understand it," muttered the Hunter.

"I do," said Venning, with a shout. "Hassan has blocked up the mouth
of the canon."

"Nonsense, boy; how could he?"

"Look out of the loophole."

Mr. Hume put his face to the hole. "The water has risen, I think,
from the noise."

"You remember what Muata said about the drowning of the valley?
Well, that is what is happening. The Arab has blocked the mouth by
blasting a mass of rock which overhung the river. That's what!"

They pondered over this new phase.

"If we had food, this would be the safest place, after all, then."

"Food, Dick, and a way out."

"Dick, of course. Anyhow, sir, it is a relief to have silence; the
noise made my head throb so, I did not know what I was doing."

Before, they had to shout into each other's ears, now they spoke in
low tones, but even so the echoes seemed to people the dark with
whispers, and they desisted from talk. In the silence they heard
presently the swirl and lapping of waters out in the canon, then the
sound of men talking, and, what was strange, a noise as of paddles,
These outside  sounds were muffled and indistinct, but as the night
went on they heard a laugh ring out from below, loud and shrill,
followed by a confused murmuring, which quickly gained distinctness
in the form of a wild chant. The denizens of the underground world
were on the move. Looking down over the parapet they saw a spurt of
flame, and as the fire made for itself a ring of red light far down
in the dark, they could make out dimly the forms of people sitting
round in a circle. Then the smell of smoke reached them, and, after
an interval, the strong odour of burning flesh.

"Go to sleep, lad," said Mr. Hume; "they will not disturb us. They
have other prey, found, perhaps, on the scene of the fight in the

Venning shuddered, and sought his mat, while the Hunter continued to
look down on the unholy feast in the bowels of the earth, with an
itch to send a bullet smashing into the midst of the circle.

"Come and rest," said Venning.  "Don't you ever feel tired?"

"Tired enough, lad; but I don't like this news about the river
rising;" and ha went to the loophole.

"We're safe enough, sir--safe enough for to-night. There are six
miles at the back of the dam, and it would take a lot of water to
rise a foot an hour in the canon, and we are more than thirty feet
above the normal level, I dare say. Do rest."

Mr. Hume sat down, and closed his eyes, but when he heard the
regular breathing of the tired boy, he was up again. It was the
thought of Dick that filled him with sleepless anxiety, and he leant
on the parapet, fuming over plans in his mind with wearying
reiteration. He was staring straight before him, when a light
appeared on his own level, accompanied by the ring of metal on rock.
Instinctively his rifle was levelled, and, with his finger on the
trigger, he sighted a foot below the light, which was now quite
stationary, but, obedient to a sudden overmastering impulse, he as
quickly lowered the rifle.

A moment the light remained fixed; then it was raised, lowered, and
moved from side to side as if the holder were examining the ground;
then it advanced.

"Stop!" thundered Mr. Hume. "Stand back. There is a chasm at your

He had suddenly remembered the platform on which he and Venning had
emerged on their first attempt after leaving the Cave of Skulls, and
somehow he felt that the person who held that light had strayed to
that very place in ignorance.

He heard a startled exclamation, saw the light fall from the
person's band, and marked its swift descent, before the flame was
extinguished by the rush of air; then it was his turn to fall back.

"Who are you?"

"It's Dick," shouted Venning, with a sob in his voice.

"Dick," muttered the Hunter, cold to the heart at the thought of the
falling light.

"Hurrah!" There was no mistaking that shout. "Where are you? How can
I get to you?"

"For God's sake, don't move!" cried the Hunter, in a shaken voice.
"Stay where you are. We'll join you."

From below there came a shrill clamour, but the Hunter, never
pausing to give the creatures a thought, lifted Venning in his arms
and felt his way to the cave, clambered up through the hole, found
the other exit hidden by the mat, and crept down the broken passage
beyond. In a turn of the passage they saw Compton's face peering out
under a lighted candle, the one visible object in the darkness, set
in a strained expression, in which were blended joy, anxiety, and

They gripped hands in silence, then--

"We've found the boat," said Venning.

"What is that noise down below?" asked Dick.

"Have you got any food?" This from Mr. Hume.

"A sackful."

"Then let us eat first of all."

They sat down there and then and ate, and when they had eaten they
were silent, because the creatures below were silent too, and Mr.
Hume knew that then they were dangerous.  He went back to stand
behind the mat knife in hand, ready to attack, for now that he had
got his two boys back, he said to himself grimly that he would stand
no nonsense. Back in that dark passage Dick sat with his friend's
head on his shoulder, and one limp hand grasped in his, marvelling
much at the mystery of the place and at the providential meeting. He
had cause to wonder how Venning had borne the horrors of the
underground as well as he had, for towards the morning it seemed as
if those ghouls of darkness vied with each other in producing the
most appalling shrieks, howls, and bursts of mirthless laughter.
They played ventriloquial tricks in the passages and caverns, making
the sounds come from different points after varying intervals of
silence; and all the time, as could be gathered from occasional
words in the incoherent gabble, uttering threats against the white

Then, at the very break of dawn, after a couple of hours of silence,
the plot they had formed was put into shape.


Mr. Hume stepped out on to the platform. "Who calls?"

"It is I, the Inkosikase."

She was standing at the very parapet where he himself had leant when
he saw the light borne by Dick on the spot where he now stood. She
stood up boldly on the canon side of the great cavity, about fifty
yards away.

"Your life was forfeit, Ngonyama, but I spared you--I spared you."

"I hear."

"You are but a mouse in these earth runs, Indhlovu."

The Hunter laughed, and the unseen creatures took up the laugh,
flinging it back till the hollow places rang with the wild noise.

"Hear, and take heed.  Take heed lest they fall on you. Wow! Ye have
seen my power and the strength of my medicine in the stilling of the

"It was Hassan who stilled the waters. Say on."

"Yoh!" The woman paused, taken aback. "See, my medicine tells me you
came here to search for the shining canoe. Maybe I can tell you
where it is hid by the wizards."

"I know, wise woman. Say on."

"Wow! But," she said triumphantly, "ye do not know the way out, and
ye are helpless till I tell you."

"I know."

"Then why do you stay here?"

"Enough! I know the way out.  What is your message to me?"

His confidence staggered her, and it was some moments before she
could speak.

"But there is the young chief. Ye would save him. I will make a
bargain with you for his life."

"He is here, woman."

Dick stepped out from the shadows, and she threw up her arms with a

"Say what you have to say," said Mr. Hume, sternly, "for I see you
would have some service of me, and had hoped to buy me with news I
have no want for."

"Ngonyama, great white one, I am but a woman, and ye are too strong
for me."

Mr. Hume nodded.

"I am a woman; only a woman."

"Was it a woman's task to set those ravens upon me and the young

"I am a mother, Indhlovu, and a mother's heart is strong for her
child. I feared you because of my son. You were strong, and he
trusted you. He was away, and you were left to do as you wished--to
take his place, to destroy him.  It is the way of men to use power
for themselves."

"It is not my way."

"O great white one, give me counsel. The Arab thief has truly
stopped the river, and the waters rise in the valley--rise among the
gardens; and when Muata returns he will see water where there was

"Ay, Muata will ask how this thing happened. And they will answer,
because a woman interfered with his plans. The son will know that it
was his mother who brought this evil on the place because she
thought she could do better than Ngonyama."

"It is true; it is true," she wailed, beating her breast. "So tell
me, great one, how this evil may be put right, but it must be done
quickly, for the Arab has brought canoes up, and his men are in the
valley ready to seize the women and children."

This was startling news indeed.  "Canoes in the valley?"

"In the valley itself; and our men are scattered here and there on
the ridges at the mercy of these wolves, though they fight hard.
Ngonyama, tell me!"

"There is only one thing to do," said Venning, joining in.

"I listen," she cried, leaning forward. "Quick, wise one.  You who
played with the little ones at the huts, you who talk to the ants,
tell me."

"The one thing to do is to let the water in."

"Ye mock me," she cried fiercely.

"Let in the water, and the canoes will be dashed to pieces; the
women and the little ones saved." "But how can this be done?"

"You know this place and the secrets of it. Those holes behind you
that look out on the valley were made by hands. Is there no place
where the wall is thin?"

The woman lifted up her hands and shouted a cry of exultation, then
she ran swiftly, and they saw her presently standing above the V-
shaped wedge in the wall, a deep scar in the cliff made by the fall
of a portion of the rock. With wonderful agility she climbed down to
the apex and set to work on the face of the rock with a kind of
maniacal fury. When she climbed out to the top they saw she had
drawn a square, with a mark at each corner plainly visible.

"Ngonyama, for the sake of the little ones and the women, for your
own sakes, if ye wish to live, send a bullet to each mark."

"By Jove!" said Venning, "that's a good notion. The rock must be
thin there, and the force of the bullet should crack it."

"Quick, white one. I can hear the death-song of our warriors. Quick,
if ye would see the sun again."

Mr. Hume raised his Express. He saw the need as well as she for
swift measures, and he planted each smashing shot on the little
white mark at each corner of the square.

The square was starred with cracks from side to side, and before the
echoes of the reports had ceased to roll and rumble through the
vaults, there was a dark stain on the rock.

The water was coming through, but the woman, in her mad impatience,
could not bear the delay. Clambering down, she worked feverishly at
the cracks with a spear-head, and with a sharp hiss a stream of
water like steam shot out.

"Climb up," roared Mr. Hume.

"Another thrust, Indhlovu, and a woman will have won. One blow for
the sake of my child--the chief." Her long sinewy arm flew back, and
she drove the spear-head into the crack.

Then came a tremendous report. The block of loosened stone flew out
as if propelled from a big gun, whizzed far out, and after it, with
a deafening roar, flashed a white column, that widened as it leapt
forward. Spreading his arms, the Hunter threw himself back, bearing
his companions with him, as a mass of water struck the platform on
which they had stood. As the flood poured through the opening,
tearing and screaming like a thousand furies, other fragments of
rock were torn out and sent whirling down, to increase the terrible
din rising up from the cauldron below, where the waters once again
rushed and boiled through the dark tunnels, after their terrific
leap. The whole upper space of the great vault was filled with a
mist, which condensed and fell in a fine rain upon the three
crouching figures, deafened by the uproar, and expecting every
moment to be involved in one complete break-up of the interior walls
under the smashing blows of the flood. As they crawled back into the
passage for safety, some solid object crashed against the rock near
them, and the broken blade of a canoe paddle shot past them into the

It was sign of the terrible fate that must have overtaken those of
Hassan's men who had entered the valley by canoe. It served as a
spur to urge them to escape.

They crept into the Cave of Skulls, and there finding some relief
from the uproar, Mr. Hume asked Compton if he knew the way out.
Compton nodded, lit the last of his candles, and, guided by marks he
had made on the wall, led the way out and down to a spot where he
pointed to a hole several feet above the ground. They passed through
that, and after a long and wearying march--during the last part of
which the Hunter again carried Venning--they crawled out into the
old cave, and through that on to the ledge overlooking the valley.

A glance took in the position. Muata's people were gathered on the
tableland where stood the new village, watching the sinking of the
river, as unaccountable to them as had been the swift rising in the
night that had cut them off and marked them out as easy victims to
the men in the canoes, which Hassan, in his great cunning, had
brought up to complete his plan for the complete destruction of the
community. Of Hassan's men, and the canoes, carried up through the
forest with so much labour, there was no trace. Men and canoes must
have been sucked into the canon, dashed to pieces, and swept down
into the dark, probably to emerge in the Deadman's Pool.

Mr. Hume gave a hail to the people below. "Bayate!" they shouted,
recognizing him. Some of the men swam across and came up.

They made a humble salute to the white men. "Great ones, the people
are afraid. The earth shook and the water arose, and out of the dark
came men in canoes. We were afraid. It was witchcraft. Again the
earth shook, the waters sank, and the canoes were swept away."

"Say to the women they may go about their work in peace, for the
white chiefs keep watch, and all is well. And say to the headman to
send up food, fruit, milk, and the flesh of a kid."

These orders were promptly obeyed, and the three were soon busy at a
good meal, that put life and strength into them, so that when they
feasted their eyes upon the wonderful beauty of-the garden-valley,
the horrors of the underground world swiftly faded into the
background, phantoms of reality.

And while they rested in the afternoon, Muata came out of the gorge
chanting his song of triumph at the head of the picked warriors who
had gone down into the forest to hang on the trail of the wild men.

His song died away as his eye fell upon the still swollen river, on
the sheen of pools gathered where the ground was flat, on the banks
of debris showing the highwater mark far up the little side valleys.

"Greeting, Ngonyama!"

"And to you, chief."

"My brothers have not slept."  The young chief's eagle-glance dwelt
swiftly on the three friends. "They have looked on great trouble."

"You have come from victory, chief; your men are fresh."

"Ohe! they are fresh, for the fight was short."

"Then send some of them up the cliff on the other side, so that they
may overlook the place where the river goes under."

Muata looked down into the valley again, and asked the question
which he had been burning to ask all the time, but could not for
fear of showing anxiety.

"So Hassan has tried to drown out the valley?"

"The river rose and the river fell! While he sent some men to attack
the gorge, he found the river-gate unguarded, and seized it, blocked
the course of the river with a great rock loosened from above, and
then, as the water rose, lowered canoes on the inside, and sent his
men forward to eat up your village."

"Where was Ngonyama when the gates were unguarded?"

"In the caverns under the cliff."


"The wise woman led us there. She left us there, fearing I,
Ngonyama, would supplant you, her son; and on the second morning,
when she found that Hassan was too cunning, she came with an offer
of liberty if we would destroy his plan. We told her the way. It was
to let the water in."

"It was a good plan. Haw!"

"She let the water in to save the people of the valley, and Hassan's
men were lost utterly; but the first victim was your mother, Muata."

"It was a good death," said Muata, after a long pause.

"Ay, it was a good death, chief. Now send your men up the cliff, so
that they overlook the river-gates."

"I will see to it, Ngonyama;" and Muata went down with his band to
the village once again, chanting the deep-chested song of victory.

The jackal, who had accompanied Muata on the new trail, remained
with his white friends. He was thin, he was famished, and he sat
with his left front paw lifted. Venning, who had a fellow-feeling
for one in distress, being himself worn out, took the paw,
discovered a nasty cut on the pad, washed it out with warm water,
treated it with carbolic, bound it up, and gave the animal the pot
to dean, which he did, polishing it out with his long red tongue.

The boy and the jackal stretched themselves on a kaross to the sun,
while Mr. Hume and Compton went away off to make sure about the
Okapi; for, as they said, they were in no mind to lose the boat,
after all their exertions, just because they were a little tired.

In the drowsy noon the tired boy slept, and through the afternoon,
opening his eyes for a moment occasionally as the voices of the
women rose to a higher pitch in a mournful dirge they were singing
over the missing, and at intervals the jackal would raise his sharp
muzzle and sniff the air. There was some note in the dirge that
disturbed the boy, and there was some taint in the air that made the
jackal uneasy. Once it stood up as if to explore, but the sight of
its bandaged foot brought a pucker to his brows, and it curled
itself up again after an intent look into the face of his human

For the rest of the day the dirge went on, rising and sinking like
the murmur of the sea in its flow and ebb on a still day. At dusk
the two came back from their long march to the Deadman's Pool,
bringing the report that they had recovered the missing boat, and
concealed it in a place of their own choosing this time. Venning
awoke to hear the news, but he heard it without enthusiasm, just as
they had imparted the news in tones of weary indifference.

The sickness of the forest was on them all--its monotony, its
vastness, and its brooding silence--and it caught them when they
were most liable to the attack; that is, when they were tired out,
with all the spring gone from mind and sinews.

"My poor father!" muttered Compton, as he sat down with his back to
the rock. "No wonder he looked upon this as a prison, placed as it
is in this wilderness of trees."

Mr. Hume nodded, and sat with his arms resting on his knees,
smoking, and staring at nothing.

Muata joined them, but his coming did not rouse them.

"I have looked down on the gates, Ngonyama. As you said, the river
was blocked by Hassan; but there is no sign of the thief, only some
canoes dropped by his men in their flight."

He sat down and smoked, too, with the same listless look on his

The jackal rose at his master's coming, and stood whining and
sniffing the air.

No one took any notice of him but Venning, who coaxed him to him,
and placed an arm round his yellow neck.

"Why don't they sing something else?" said Compton, irritably, as
the mournful wail dinned its misery into his ears.

Muata looked at the white men. "It is the rains," he said.


"The rains are coming. Maybe that is why Hassan struck so soon, for
when the rains come, every warrior is like the bow-string that has
been soaked in water. They hide the sun, they breed chills and
sickness. I can feel the breath of them in my bones. It is the

He shivered, and threw a stick on the fire. "In the morning," he
said, "we must find a new home, for the rains blow in at the mouth
of this cave. The clouds hang low on the hills."

"We have found our boat, chief; we will go on our way," said the
Hunter, bluntly.

"That way would be the way of death," answered the chief, slowly.
"It is bad here, but in the woods it is like the spray blown off
from the rushing waters. Every tree is a rain-cloud, every leaf
drops water, and the air you breathe in the woods is wet. If you
would live, great one, you must stay here. Wet when you sleep, when
you eat, when you sit you sit in wet, when you stand the water runs
off; wet, all wet in the rains down in the woods."

"Ugh!" said Venning, with a shudder; and Compton put on another

"We will see," said the Hunter.

They sat in silence, pondering over this new source of worry, then
turned in to sleep. They slept heavily, having taken great care
first of all to block up the entrance to the underground passage,
and as they dropped off to sleep, they heard the women chanting
still in the village below. The fire glowed red in the entrance,
making the roof look like beaten gold, but the air blew chill, and
the sleepers were restless. A hand would reach out to the firewood
for another log, or to tuck the blankets under the body, so that the
cold could not sift under.

The jackal was as weary as the rest. Several times he ran to the
entrance to look out with pricked ears, then back again to stare
into a sleepy face; but as his human companions gradually sank into
heavy sleep, he crouched on the floor with his sharp nose resting
between his forepaws, the one sound, the other bandaged.



As the fire-sticks snapped under the heat, the jackal would open his
yellow eyes and start back with his gaze fixed inquiringly on the
fire, whose mystery he could never solve. One of these starts roused
Venning, who, seeing the cause, threw out a hand and drew the animal
to him. He felt nervous, and the company of the jackal comforted
him, and the jackal in its turn forgot its uneasiness in the warmth
of the blankets. With a little sigh it curled up and went to sleep.

The boy was the only one awake, and out in the wide space beyond he
heard a voice calling--


He held his breath, and his throat grew very dry, for it was the
voice he had heard in the cavern, only sad this time, and not
mocking as before.

"Ngonyama!--yama!" It came thin and melancholy, with a long
lingering on the last syllables.

He put his hand out to rouse Mr. Hume, then drew it back ashamed of
his fancies; but the movement awoke the jackal. It lifted its head,
snuffed the air, then sprang up with the ruff on its neck erect, and
its sharp white teeth gleaming. Several moments it stood so, then
with many a look out, curled itself up again.

Venning had watched it breathlessly, now he patted it to sleep, and
dozed off himself, only to wake up in a violent tremble, with that
sound quivering plaintively in the air--

"Ngonyama! Ngonyama!"

He brushed his hand across his forehead, and found his face burning
hot. He removed his blanket from his shoulders and sat up, still
patting the jackal. The fire was before him, and the dark ring of
the cave's mouth; but his eyes dilated as he looked, for within the
glare of the fire was that same awful face he had seen down in the

He would have cried out, but his voice would not come; and with an
effort--for all the blood seemed to have left his limbs--he slowly
moved his hand to Mr. Hume's.

The Hunter made no sign; but Venning, with his face turned still in
a frozen stare towards the entrance, caught a change in the
breathing, and knew that his touch had answered its purpose. To the
boy they were acting over the scene in the cavern again. He was
waiting for the shrill laugh, the sudden treacherous thrust of steel
in the dark, and then the ring of metal on the rocks.

Then, without any sign having been given that he was awake, the
jackal in a bound was over the fire, swollen to double his size by
the bristling hair, and uttering as he charged a fierce yelp.

Muata seemed to awake and spring forward all in one movement. A
moment he paused in the glare of the light, stooping forward, the
glare showing red on his blade, and the next he was gone with a war-
whoop, and in his place stood the Hunter, crouching also with the
broad blade in his hand. Between the fierce yelp of the jackal and
the spring of the Hunter only a few seconds had passed. The three of
them less than half a minute since had been asleep; and now, out of
the darkness on the ledge beyond came the ring of metal and the
savage grunts of men fighting for their lives.

Venning remained where he was, too ill to rise; and Compton, not yet
trained to act on a sudden emergency, sat up, bewildered by the

"Mr. Hume--Godfrey--what is it?"

"The witches," said Venning, "out of the underground. I saw one
looking in."


Compton felt for his carbine, and, gathering his wits, ran out,
receiving promptly, on getting within the ring of light, a blow on
his arm, followed by a clutch at his throat. Driving the muzzle of
his gun forward into something soft which emitted a grunt, he freed
himself from his assailant, and sprang aside. He heard the whizz of
weapons, the clash of blows, and saw dark forms indistinctly moving
rapidly this way and that; then his rifle flashed as he saw a
crouching form stealing upon him.

"Yavuma!" cried the Hunter's voice, giving the Kaffir war-cry as he
swung his terrible weapon at a foe.

"Yavuma '" cried Muata, with the jackal snarling by his side. "Fire,
little great one, into the thick."

It was very well to say fire, but Compton could not tell friend from
foe until, bending low, he made out that while two men had their
backs to the cliff there were others around them in an enclosing
ring. Judging these were the enemy, though he could make out no
distinguishing point, he went down on his knee and fired rapidly.

A man dashed by him towards the gorge, and the rest who could
followed. One gave a slashing left-hand stroke with a long sword as
he went by the kneeling marksman, and Compton went down in a heap.
The man paused to finish his work, but with a savage roar the Hunter
leapt forward and bore him to the ground.

At the heels of the flying men went the jackal, and after him, soft-
footed, went Muata, still-voiced.

The fight was over. Mr. Hume picked Dick up and carried him into the

"A light," said the Hunter.

Venning, with his head throbbing, crawled feebly to where the
lantern was, lit it with trembling fingers, and, sitting up, threw
the light on the two forms--on the one face, beaded, working still
with the fury of the fight; on the other, still, white, and blood-

The boy's hand shook more violently, and in his weakness he sobbed.

"Put the lantern down," said Mr. Hume, fiercely.

Quickly he staunched the flow of blood, cut away the hair, and then,
with an impatient look at the sobbing boy, lowered the head he was
supporting, and searched for liniment, ointment, and restoratives.

Bending over his task, he worked with skilful fingers, and then,
with a sigh, watched the white face intently. Then he went outside
to listen, to bend over the figures lying still in the darkness, and
returning, built up the fire.

Venning watched him return to Dick, saw the long, anxious scrutiny,
and then burst out crying as he saw a look of relief come into the
rugged face.

"Don't worry, lad; he'll pick up."

"I know you think I'm no good," was the boy's heartbroken reply.

Mr. Home was at his side. "Nonsense, lad. I know what it is to have
a touch of fever; and besides, I believe it was you who gave

"I heard some one calling Ngonyama," said the boy, in a whisper,
"and I saw the face in the entrance--the same face I saw down under
there.  Were they the witches?"

"It was Hassan and some of his men. They must have escaped from the
river and remained in hiding. I felt your hand in the night, and it
woke me. So, you see, you did your part. Now rest, there's a good

Mr. Hume made the boy a cooling drink, with a dose of quinine.

"I would have helped, if I could."

"You did help," said the Hunter, earnestly. "If it had not been for
you we should have been killed while we slept. You saved our lives,
just as you saved the valley by your thought of letting the water

Venning was comforted. He rose up on his elbow to have another look
at Dick, saw that the colour was coming back into the white face,
and leant back on his pillow.

In the morning Muata came into the cave, staggering like a drunken
man from loss of blood, and at his heels limped the jackal with his
tongue out.

"Well?" said the Hunter.

"The last fell on the shores of the dead pool, and the last was
Hassan himself."

The chiefs bloodshot eyes roamed over the cave, until they rested on
Venning's startled face.

"On the brink of the pool he fell, and where he fell there, too, was
the Inkosikase." It seemed as if he were addressing the remark to

"I heard her call 'Ngonyama' in the night," whispered the boy.


"So the young chief told me after you had gone," said the Hunter.

Venning nodded his head.

The chief accepted the explanation. "The Inkosikase waited for the
wolf by the water's edge," he said simply, "and I smote him behind
the ear. So her spirit is at rest."

"Let me see to your wounds, chief."

"Wow! It is well my people should see them;" and the warrior went
down with unsteady steps to the village, leaving a trail of blood;
and when the people had shouted in triumph at his story of the last
fight, the medicine men took him into their charge, when his life
was in danger of escaping through one of those gaping cuts made by
Arab swords on his body.

For a fortnight Mr. Hume nursed his young friends back to health,
and for a week they sat and walked in the sun, slowly regaining
strength; and then came the first forerunner of the rains in a day
of pelting showers.

"It is the beginning," said Muata, who was proud of his newly healed
scars. "You must come down into the valley."

"There was something said about the full moon," said Mr. Hume,

The chief laughed. "It was the wish of the Inkosikase; but now she
is gone, it is in my heart to take the wives to myself. But there
are others, Ngonyama."

"No, chief," said the Hunter, quickly. "How do you live in the
rains, chief? Is there much discomfort?"

"Wow! it is the red pig's life--mud all about; and there is much
sickness, for the people crowd together in the huts."

"I suppose we must stay and make the best of it; but the huts are

"They are the best we can make."

"I don't know," said Venning, thoughtfully, with his eyes on the
opposite cliff. "I see there are trees up there. Is there a way up?"

"There is a goats'-track. What is in your mind, young wise one?"

"We will climb up that goats'-path, chief," said Venning, "with all
the men, cut down many of those trees, and roll them over the cliff
into the valley. Then will we build a great house, and the women
will gather grass and reeds for the thatching of it."

"It would be a good plan, if it could be done."

"We'll do it," said the Hunter; "but if we are to stay here, we must
bring up the boat, and you must let us have some of your men."

"All," said the chief; and that day the Okapi was brought up in

Then Venning's scheme was taken in hand, the cliff scaled, a hundred
trees felled, and rolled over as they fell, with all the branches
on.  Then they returned to the valley, drew the fallen trees out,
lopped off the branches, shaped the poles, dug holes, and got the
uprights into position.  Then followed the ridge-poles and the
sideposts, and the roof took shape, to the wonder of the women, a
noble span covering some thousands of square feet, with a length of
one hundred and fifty feet, and a height of fifty feet. As the
supporting rafters were laid, the women climbed up and set to work
at the thatching, using long bands of bark for the binding. And
while the women worked at the roof, the men built up stone walls,
under directions of the architects. The great house built, a smaller
one was made for the women, to serve as a general kitchen, with
great stacks of wood piled up all round for the fires. The entire
population was kept hard at it for a week, and when the work was
done, there was a grand ceremony over the wedding of Muata; and then
one morning they awoke to find a low grey canopy drawn over the
valley, from which fell a steady drizzle of rain. The next day was
like the first, and so on for nearly three months there was a
perpetual mist in the valley, a long dismal succession of leaden
skies hanging low. One of these days the three white friends, in
company with Muata, paid a visit to the underground world to obtain
a supply of sulphur to serve as a disinfectant and purifier--another
idea of Venning's. They found the dark passages thundering to the
fall of the water, but they found no signs whatever of living
creatures. With their loads of sulphur they very soon left the
forbidding place, and for some days after the unhappy people of the
village had to submit to the terrors of fumigation. As the
"medicine" was undoubtedly strong, and as it certainly stopped the
progress of sickness that had broken out, the "Spider" rose in the
estimation of the people as a great wizard.

At last the curtains were drawn, the blue of the sky appeared, and
the valley glittered in the brilliant sunlight.

Then the women went singing to their gardens, the men prepared for
the hunt, and the white chiefs got out their shining canoe from its
wrappings, rubbed it with fat, and polished it with wood-ashes till
it shone like a looking-glass.

"Ton will go, then?" said Muata.

"If your men will carry the pieces down to the larger river below
the gates, we will thank you."

The men went off singing, six men to each section, and in the
afternoon the Okapi was once more in her proper element.

"And which way will you go, Ngonyama?"

"We have thought it over during the rains, chief. We will go back
through the open water, back past the place where we landed in the
forest, back into the great river, and then south, even to the
farthest reaches of the Congo, when we shall be among people I know.
There we will get carriers to take the boat to the waters of another
great river, the Zambesi."

"Towards the setting sun," said Muata. "And you will want a man?"

"Two men, we would ask; and one of them, the Angoni warrior, who did
so well in the fight, for his country is to the south."

"Only one man you can have," said the chief, shortly.

They had said their good-bye to the people in the valley, who had
wept at their departure, for the white men had done much for them,
and never before had they borne the visitation of the rains with so
little discomfort.

Now they said good-bye to the chief, the man who had shared so much
of danger with them, whose shield had been their shield, whose spear
had been theirs to command.

It was difficult to say good-bye, for he seemed moody, answered them
in monosyllables, and at last, after a curt nod, left them long
before they were ready to go. And when at last they were heading
down the broad river to the old pleasant music of the clanging
levers, the edge of their joy was blunted by the thought of the
warrior's lowering looks.

"I'm sorry," said Mr. Hume, for the third time.

"I believe he has had something on his mind for days past," said
Venning; "and yesterday I saw him arguing with the headmen."

"Yet he never opposed our going. I have never seen him like that
before. Hang it all, I can't bear to think we have left him looking
so down;" and Compton banged the lever over.

They went on in silence for a mile, still thinking over Muata, when
the Angoni, who was on watch, cried out--


"What do you see?"

The man pointed a black finger at the river, and on it they saw two
black spots. The man's teeth gleamed in a smile and his black eyes

They stood up to look, and then Mr. Hume motioned to the boys.

"Let her have it," he said; and they made those levers smoke in the
slots, for they saw in those black spots the long face of the jackal
and the head of Muata!

They were helped dripping on board, the chief with nothing else than
his Ghoorka blade.

Mr. Hume waited for an explanation, and the chief gave it in his
calm way, without a smile.

"You wanted two men, great one. I am the second."

"But we go far, while the moon is many times at the full."

"You go towards the setting sun, Ngonyama, and there also goes the
son of the Inkosikase."

"But your people?"

"I have said my say with them. They are in peace, and they can live
in peace; but is Muata a goat that he should live in a kraal? Wow! I
am a Hunter, like this little one;" and he patted the jackal on the

"We are only too glad to have you, chief, if your mind is fully made

"See, Ngonyama, I thought to live in ease and grow fat, but the
spirit of my mother called out upon me--ay, it fought within me--and
I go for the hills and the open plains. Behold, I am no longer
chief." He took the long blue feather from his head, and let it
glance to the water. "My shield is your shield."

He sat down in the bows with his face toward the river, and the boys
laughed as they worked the levers.

"Ripping!" said Compton, feeling quite happy, as he touched his
precious journal.

"As good as finding a new butterfly," said Venning.

Mr. Hume nodded his head gravely several times, and then a smile
came into his eyes.

"I guess," he said, "we'll have some good hunting."

And good hunting they had after they had passed the Stanley Falls
and were in the game country, stretching for hundreds of miles to
the Zambesi. Some day, perhaps, we may hear of the adventures they
had in their long voyage before at last, a thousand miles off, they
touched bottom in the shallows where the mighty Congo narrowed down
to a stream that could be crossed at a jump. From the Congo they
marched to a tributary of the Zambesi, and at the Victoria Falls,
after having gathered a store of ivory, they found an ox-wagon,
which took them to Bulawayo; and near Bulawayo the two boys, now
stalwart young men, took possession of a farm owned by Mr. Hume, to
wait for the return of the Hunter from England, whither he had gone.
On his return they would go north, in order to keep their promise to
pick up Muata, whom they left at an Angoni kraal, on another hunting

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In Search of the Okapi - A Story of Adventure in Central Africa" ***

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