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´╗┐Title: Haviland's Chum
Author: Mitford, Bertram, 1855-1914
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Haviland's Chum" ***

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Haviland's Chum, by Bertram Mitford.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
HAVILAND'S CHUM, BY BERTRAM MITFORD.



CHAPTER ONE.

THE NEW BOY.

"Hi!  Blacky!  Here--hold hard.  D'you hear, Snowball?"

The last peremptorily.  He thus addressed, paused, turned, and eyed
somewhat doubtfully, not without a tinge of apprehension, the group of
boys who thus hailed him.

"What's your name?" pursued the latter, "Caesar, Pompey, Snowball--
what?"

"Or Uncle Tom?" came another suggestion.

"I--new boy," was the response.

"New boy!  Ugh!" jeered one fellow.  "Time I left if they are going to
take niggers here.  What's your name, sir--didn't you hear me ask?"

"Mpukuza."

"Pookoo--how much?"

For answer the other merely emitted a click, which might have conveyed
contempt, disgust, defiance, or a little of all three.  He was an
African lad of about fifteen, straight and lithe and well-formed, and
his skin was of a rich copper brown.  But there was a clean-cut look
about the set of his head, and an almost entire absence of negro
development of nose and lips, which seemed to point to the fact that it
was with no inferior race aboriginal to the dark continent that he owned
nationality.

Now a hoot was raised among the group, and there was a tendency to
hustle this very unwonted specimen of a new boy.  He, however, took it
good-humouredly, exhibiting a magnificent set of teeth in a tolerant
grin.  But the last speaker, a biggish, thick-set fellow who was
something of a bully, was not inclined to let him down so easily.

"Take off your hat, sir!" he cried, knocking it off the other's head, to
a distance of some yards.  "Now, Mr Woollyhead, perhaps you'll answer
my question and tell us your name, or I shall have to see if some of
this'll come out."  And, suiting the action to the word, he reached
forward and grabbed a handful of the other's short, crisp, jetty curls--
jerking his head backwards and forwards.

The African boy uttered a hoarse ejaculation in a strange tongue, and
his features worked with impotent passion.  He could not break loose,
and his tormentor was taller and stronger than himself.  He put up his
hands to free himself, but the greater his struggles the more the bully
jerked him by the wool, with a malignant laugh.  The others laughed too,
enjoying the fun of what they regarded as a perfectly wholesome and
justifiable bout of nigger baiting.

But a laugh has an unpleasant knack of transferring itself to the other
side, and in this instance an interruption occurred--wholly
unlooked-for, but sharp and decisive, not to say violent, and to the
prime mover in the sport highly unpleasant--for it took the shape of a
hearty, swinging cuff on the side of that worthy's head.  He, with a
howl that was half a curse, staggered a yard or two under the force of
the blow, at the same time loosing his hold of his victim.  Then the
latter laughed--being the descendant of generations of savages--laughed
loud and maliciously.

"Confound it, Haviland, what's that for?" cried the smitten one, feeing
round upon his smiter.

"D'you want some more, Jarnley?" came the quick reply.  "As it is I've a
great mind to have you up before the prefects' council for bullying a
new boy."

"Prefects' council," repeated Jarnley with a sneer.  "That's just it.
If you weren't a prefect, Haviland, I'd fight you.  And you know it."

"But I don't know it and I don't think it," was the reply.  The while,
something of a smothered hoot was audible among the now rapidly
increasing group, for Haviland, for reasons which will hereinafter
appear, was not exactly a popular prefect.  It subsided however, as by
magic, when he darted a glance into the quarter whence it arose.

"Come here--you," he said, beckoning the cause of all the disturbance.
"What's your name?"

"Mpukuza."

"What?"

The African boy repeated it unhesitatingly, willingly.  He was quick to
recognise the difference between constituted authority and the spurious
and usurped article--besides, here was one who had intervened to turn
the tables on his oppressor.

"Rum name that!" said his new questioner, eyeing him with some
curiosity, at the full-throated native vowels.  "Haven't you got any
other?"

"Other?  Oh, yes, Anthony.  Missionary name me Anthony."

"Anthony?  Well, that's better.  We can get our tongues round that.
What are you, eh?  Where d'you come from, I mean?"

"I'm a Zulu."

A murmur of real interest ran through the listeners.  Not so many years
had passed since the dramatic episodes of '79 but that some of the
bigger boys there, including Haviland, were old enough to remember the
war news reaching English shores, while all were more or less familiar
with it in story.  And here was one of that famous nationality among
them as a schoolfellow.

"Now look here, you fellows," said the prefect, when he had put a few
more questions to the newcomer.  "This chap isn't to be bullied, d'you
see, because he doesn't happen to be like everybody else.  Give him a
fair show and see what he's made of, and he'll come out all right I
expect."

"Please, Haviland, he cheeked Jarnley," cut in a smaller boy who was one
of the last-named's admirers.

"Small wonder if he did," was the uncompromising answer.  "Now clear
inside all of you, for you're blocking the way, and it's time for
call-over.  Who'll ring the bell for me?"

"I will!" shouted half a dozen voices; for Haviland was prefect of the
week, and as such responsible for the due ringing of the calling-over
bell, an office almost invariably performed by deputy.  There was no
difficulty in finding such; incipient human nature being as willing to
oblige a very real potentate as the developed and matured article.

It was half term at Saint Kirwin's--which accounted for the arrival of a
new boy in the middle of the term.  Now, Saint Kirwin's was not a
first-rate public school, but it was run as nearly as possible upon the
lines of one.  We say as nearly as possible, because the material was so
essentially different.  There was no such thing as the putting down of
names for the intending pupil, what time that interesting entity was in
the red and squalling phase of existence.  At Saint Kirwin's they would
take anybody's son, provided the said anybody was respectable, and
professed to belong to the Established Church; and whereas the terms
were excessively moderate, well--they got anybody's son.  There was,
however, a fair sprinkling of those who but for the shallowness of the
parental purse would have been at Eton or Harrow or some kindred
institution--among whom was Haviland, but the majority was composed of
those at whom the more venerable foundations would not have looked--
among whom was Jarnley.  However, even these latter Saint Kirwin's
managed to lick into very tidy sort of shape.

The situation of the place left nothing to be desired.  The school
buildings, long, high-gabled, drawn round two quadrangles, were
sufficiently picturesque to be in keeping with the beautiful pastoral
English scenery amid which they stood--green field and waving woodland
studded with hamlet and spire, undulating away to a higher range of bare
down in the background--all of which looked at its best this fair spring
afternoon, with the young leaves just budding, and the larks, soaring
overhead, pouring forth their volume of song.

As the calling-over bell jangled forth its loud, inexorable note,
upwards of three hundred and fifty boys, of all sorts and sizes, came
trooping towards the entrance from every direction--hot and ruddy from
the playing fields--here and there, an athletic master, in cricket
blazer, amid a group of bigger boys who had been bowling to him; others
dusty and panting after a long round across country in search of birds'
eggs--performed nearly all the time at a run--others again of a less
energetic disposition, cool and lounging, perchance just gulping down
some last morsels of "tuck"--all crowded in at the gates, and the cool
cloisters echoed with a very Babel of young voices as the restless
stream poured along to fill up the big schoolroom.  Then might be heard
shouts of "Silence!"  "Stop talking there!"  "Don't let me have to tell
you again!" and so on--as the prefect in charge of each row of boys
stood, note-book in hand, ready to begin the "calling-over."

"I say, Haviland," said Laughton, the captain of the school, in a low
voice, "you're to go to the Doctor after call-over.  I'm afraid you're
in for it, old chap."

"Why?  What on earth about?  I haven't been doing anything," answered
the other, in genuine surprise--"at least--" he added as a recollection
of the smack on the head he had administered to Jarnley occurred to him.
But no, it couldn't be that, for therein he had been strictly
discharging his duty.

"I don't know myself," rejoined Laughton.  "He stopped me as I passed
him in the cloisters just now, and told me to tell you.  He was looking
jolly glum too."

Another half-smothered shout or two of "Silence" interrupted them, and
then you might have heard a pin drop as the master of the week entered,
in this case the redoubtable "Head" himself, an imposing figure in his
square cap and flowing gown as he swept up to the great central desk,
and gave the signal for the calling-over to begin.

Haviland, shouting out name after name on his list, did so mechanically,
and his mind was very ill at ease.  His conscience was absolutely clear
of any specific offence, but that was no great consolation, for the
Doctor's lynx eye had a knack of unearthing all sorts of unsuspected
delinquencies, prefects especially being visited with vicarious
penalties.  That was it.  He was going to suffer for the sins of
somebody else, and it was with the gloomiest of anticipations that he
closed his note-book and went up to make his report.



CHAPTER TWO.

THE HEADMASTER.

The Reverend Nicholas Bowen, D.D., headmaster of Saint Kirwin's, ruled
that institution with a sway that was absolutely and entirely despotic.
His aim was to model it on the lines of the greater public schools as
much as possible, and to this end his assistant staff were nearly all
university graduates, and more than half of them in Holy Orders.  He was
a great believer in the prefectorial system, and those of the school
selected to carry it out were entrusted with large powers.  On the other
hand, they were held mercilessly responsible even for unconscious
failures of duty, and on this ground alone the luckless Haviland had
ample cause for his misgivings.

The outward aspect, too, of the Doctor was eminently calculated to
command the respect of his juvenile kingdom.  He was very tall and
strongly built, and half a lifetime of pedagogic despotism had endowed
him with a sternness of demeanour awe-inspiring enough to his charges,
though when turned towards the outside world, as represented by his
clerical colleagues for instance, it smacked of a pomposity bordering on
the absurd.  He had his genial side, however, and was not averse to the
cracking of pedagogic jokes, at which he expected the form to laugh.  It
is almost unnecessary to add that the form never by any chance
disappointed him.

To-day, however, no trace of such geniality was discernible, nothing but
a magisterial severity in every movement of the massive iron grey head,
a menace in the fierce brown eyes, as in a word, sounding like the
warning bark of an angry mastiff, he ordered the whole school to keep
their places.  The whole school did so, and that with a thrill of
pleasurable excitement.  There was no end of a row on, it decided, and
as it only concerned the one who was standing alone before the dread
presence, the residue prepared to enjoy the situation.

It was the more enjoyable to the vast majority of the spectators because
the delinquent was a prefect, and not a very popular one at that.

"Have you any further report to make, Haviland?" said the headmaster.

"No, sir," answered Haviland in genuine surprise, for he had made his
reports, all in order, his own roll, and the general report as prefect
of the week.  Yet he didn't like the tone.  It sounded ominous.

"Ah!  Let Finch and Harris step forward."

Two quaking juniors slunk from their places, and stood in the awful
presence.  The crime charged against the luckless pair was that of
trespass.  The system of "bounds" did not exist at Saint Kirwin's,
though there were limits of time, such being constituted by frequent
callings-over.  Otherwise the school could wander as it listed, the
longest stretch obtainable being about an hour and three-quarters.
There had, however, been a good many complaints of late with regard to
boys overrunning the neighbouring pheasant coverts in search of birds'
nests, for egg-collecting had many enthusiastic votaries in the school,
and now these two luckless ones, Finch and Harris, had been collared
red-handed that very afternoon by a stalwart keeper, and hauled straight
away to the Doctor.

But where did Haviland come in?  Just this way.  In the course of a
severe cross-examination in private, the headmaster had elicited from
the two frightened juniors that when emerging from some forbidden ground
they had seen Haviland under circumstances which rendered it impossible
that he should not have seen them.  It is only fair to the two that they
hardly knew themselves how the information had been surprised out of
them--certain it was that no other master could have done it--only the
terrible Doctor.  It had been ruled of late, by reason of the frequency
of such complaints, that all cases of trespass on preserved land should
be reported, instead of being dealt with as ordinary misdemeanours by
the prefects; and here was a most flagrant instance of breach of trust
on the part of one of the latter.  As for Haviland, the game was all up,
he decided.  He would be deprived of his official position, and its
great and material privileges, and be reduced to the ranks.  He expected
nothing less.

"Now, Haviland," said the Doctor, "how is it you did not report these
boys?"

"I ought to have, sir," was the answer.

"You ought to have," echoed the Doctor, his voice assuming its most
awe-inspiring tones.  "And, did you intend to report them?"

Here was a loophole.  Here was a chance held out to him.  Why not grasp
it?  At best he would get off with a severe wigging, at worst with an
imposition.  It would only be a white lie after all, and surely under
the circumstances justifiable.  The stern eyes of the headmaster seemed
to penetrate his brain, and every head was craned forward open-mouthed
for his answer.  It came.

"I'm afraid I did not, sir."

"You are afraid you did not!  Very well.  Then there is no more to be
said."  And the Doctor, bending down, was seen to be writing something
on a slip of paper--the while the whole school was on tenterhooks, but
the excitement was of a more thrilling nature than ever now.  What would
be the upshot? was in every mind.  A swishing of course.  Not for
Haviland though; he was too old, and a prefect.  He would be reduced.

Then the headmaster looked up and proceeded to pass sentence.

"These continual complaints on the part of the neighbours," he said,
"are becoming very serious indeed, and are getting the school a very bad
name.  I am determined to put a stop to them, and indeed it is becoming
a grave question with me whether I shall not gate the whole school
during the remainder of the term.  These two boys, who have been brought
up to me, represent a number of cases, I am afraid, wherein the
offenders escape undetected and unpunished: therefore I shall make a
severe example of them, and of any others in like case.  And now a word
to the prefects."

A long, acrid, and bitter homily for the benefit of those officials
followed--the juniors listening with intense delight, not that the order
was especially unpopular, but simply the outcome of the glee of juvenile
human nature over those set in authority over it being rated and brought
to book in their turn.  Then, having descanted on authority and trust,
and so forth, until every one of those officially endowed with such
responsibility began almost to wish they were not--with the exception
perhaps of the one who stood certain to be deprived of it--the
headmaster proceeded:

"Harris and Finch, I shall flog you both to-morrow morning after
divinity lesson, and I may add that any boy reported to me for the same
offence will certainly receive the same treatment.  As for you,
Haviland," handing him the slip of paper on which he had been writing,
"you will post this upon the board.  And I warn you that any further
dereliction of duty on your part brought to my notice will entail very
much more severe consequences."

Mechanically Haviland took the paper, containing of course the notice of
his suspension, and could hardly believe his eyes.  This is what he
read:

  "Haviland.  Prefect.

  "Fifteen hundred lines (of Virgil).  For gross neglect of duty.  Gated
  till done.

  "Nicholas Bowen, D.D., Headmaster."

The great bound of relief evolved by the respite of the heavier penalty
was succeeded in his mind by resentment and disgust as he realised the
magnitude of this really formidable imposition.  The Doctor had left the
desk and the room, and now the whole gathering was pouring forth to the
outer air again.  Not a few curious glances were turned on Haviland to
see how he took it: the two condemned juniors, however, being surrounded
by a far more boisterously sympathetic crowd--those who had been swished
before undertaking, with a hundredfold wealth of exaggeration, to
explain to these two, who had not, what it felt like, by way of
consolation.

"What's he given you, Hav?" said Medlicott, a fellow prefect, and rather
a chum of the principal victim's, looking over the notice.  "That all!
You've got off cheap, I can tell you.  We reckoned it meant suspension--
especially as Nick has a down on you."

"Nick," be it observed, was the inevitable name by which the redoubtable
headmaster was known among the boys.  It had started as "Old Nick," but
the suggestion diabolical had been sacrificed to brevity.

"That all!" echoed Haviland wrathfully.  "Fifteen hundred's a howling
stiff impos, Medlicott.  And it really means two thou, for the old brute
always swears about a third of your stuff is so badly written you've got
to do it over again.  It's a regulation time-honoured swindle of his.
And--just as the egg-season is getting at its best!  It's too beastly
altogether."

Haviland was an enthusiastic egg-hunter, and had a really fine
collection.  In the season he lived for nothing else, every moment of
his spare time being given up to adding to it.  Of course he himself
frequently transgressed the laws of trespass, but he was never known to
bring a junior to book for doing so--on the contrary, he was always
careful to look the other way if he suspected the presence of any such.

Now, having fixed the hateful notice to the board nailed to the wall for
such purposes, he got out a Virgil and sat down to begin his odious
task.  The big schoolroom was empty save for a few who were under like
penalty with himself.  What a lovely afternoon it was, and he would have
had nearly an hour and a half, just time to go over and secure the two
remaining eggs in that sparrow-hawk's nest in the copse at the foot of
the down--a programme he had mapped out for himself before this grievous
misfortune had overtaken him.  Now some other fellow would find them, or
they would be "set" and useless before he could get out again.  "Gated
till done."  Half the sting of the penalty lay in those abominable
words--for it meant that no foot could be set outside the school gates
until the whole of it was completed.

"I say, Haviland.  We're no end sorry."

The interruption proceeded from the two smaller culprits, predestined to
the rod on the morrow.  Haviland looked up wrathfully.

"Sorry, are you, you young sweeps?  So am I--sorry I didn't `sock' your
heads off."

"Please, Haviland, can't we do your impos for you--or at any rate some
of it?"

"D'you think Old Nick's such an ass as all that?  Why, he'd spot the
fraud a mile off!  Besides, remember what he said about breach of trust
and all that.  He'd better keep that for chapel next Sunday," he added
sneeringly.  "Look here, you youngsters, you'll be well swished
to-morrow, a round dozen at least, and you'd better toss for second
innings, because then Nick'll be getting tired--but anyway you're not
gated and I am.  Will you go and take a nest for me?"

"Rather.  Where is it?" chorussed both boys eagerly.

"Smallest of the two tree patches, foot of Sidebury Down.
Sparrow-hawk's--in an ivy-hung ash.  It's quite an easy climb.  You
can't miss it, and there should be two eggs left in it.  I collared two
a couple of days back, and put in stones.  You won't get pickled for it
any more either, because it isn't on preserved ground.  You'll have to
run all the way though."

They promised, and were off like a shot, and it is only fair to say that
they brought back the spoil, and duly and loyally handed it over to its
legitimate claimant.

Left to himself, Haviland set to work with an effort.  After a hundred
of the lines he flung his pen down angrily.

"Hang it, I hate this beastly place," he muttered to himself.  "I don't
care how soon I leave."

This was not strictly true.  He liked the school and its life, in
reality more than he was aware of himself.  He was always glad to get
back to it, for his home life was unattractive.  He was the son of an
extremely conscientious but very overworked and very underpaid parson,
the vicar of a large and shabby-genteel suburban parish, and the fresh,
healthy, beautiful surroundings of Saint Kirwin's all unconsciously had
their effect upon his impressionable young mind, after the glaring
dustiness, or rain-sodden mud according to the season of the year--of
the said suburb.  He was a good-looking lad of seventeen, well-grown for
his age, and seeming older, yet thus early somewhat soured, by reason of
the already felt narrowing effects of poverty, and an utter lack of
anything definite in the way of prospects; for he had no more idea of
what his future walk in life was to be than the man in the moon.

And so he sat, that lovely cloudless half-holiday afternoon, grinding
out his treadmill-like imposition, angrily, rebelliously, his one and
only thought to get that over as soon as possible.



CHAPTER THREE.

THE BULLY.

Haviland's gloomy prediction proved in so far correct, in that when,
after nearly a weary week of toil during his spare moments, he handed in
his imposition, his insatiable taskmaster insisted on his re-writing two
hundred of the lines.  Then with lightened heart he found himself free
to resume his all-engrossing and gloriously healthy pursuit.

There is, or used to be, a superstition that a boy who didn't care for
cricket or football must necessarily be an ass, a loafer, and to be
regarded with some suspicion.  Yet in point of fact such by no means
follows, and our friend Haviland was a case in point.  He could cover as
many miles of ground in the limited time allowed as any one in the
school, and more than most.  He could climb anything, could pick his way
delicately through the most forbidden ground, quartering it exhaustively
every yard, what time his natural enemy the keeper, his suspicions
roused, was on the watch in the very same covert, and return safe and
sound with his pearly treasures--to excite the envy and admiration of
the egg-collecting fraternity; yet though this represented his pet
hobby, he was something of an all-round naturalist, and his wanderings
in field and wood were by no means confined to the nesting season.

He might have liked cricket could he have been always in, but fielding
out he pronounced beastly slow.  As for football he declared he couldn't
see any fun in having his nose jammed an inch and a half deep into
liquid mud, with ten or a dozen fellows on top of him trying to jam it
in still deeper: and in the result he always wanted to hit some one when
he got up again.  Besides, a game you were obliged to play whether you
wanted to or not, ceased to be a game at all--and during its season
football was compulsory on half-holidays, at any rate for the juniors.
Now, as a prefect, he was exempt, and he appreciated his exemption.
But, his distaste for the _two_ great games notwithstanding, there was
nothing of the loafer or the muff about Haviland.  He was always in the
pink of hard training, clear-eyed, clean-skinned, thoroughly sound in
wind and limb.

In the matter of his school work we regret to say that our friend cut a
less creditable figure; for in it indeed he shone in no particular
branch.  His sole object was to get through his work as quickly and as
easily as possible, thereby to have more time for his favourite pursuit,
wherefore his ambition soared no higher than a respectable middle of the
fifth form.  The ethics of Saint Kirwin's held "cribs" to be perfectly
justifiable--needless to say not from the masters' point of view--and a
large proportion generously availed themselves of such dubious aid,
being of course careful to avoid all the stock catches.  Even a certain
amount of cribbing in form was held not to be unlawful, although
perilous; and when the Reverend Joseph Wilmot--an absent and star-gazing
type of master--gravely and impressively warned his Greek Testament form
one Sunday, _a propos_ of some suspiciously technical construing, that
he should, detect in a moment if any one used the English version, the
form was simply dying to roar; the point of the joke being that every
fellow composing it had got his English version concealed beneath his
locker, and was surreptitiously reading up the part where he would be
put on, this having been the practice of the form from time immemorial,
and, we grieve to say, destined to continue so indefinitely.

"Serve 'em right," pronounced Haviland, who was one of the offenders.
"They've no business to make us work on Sundays.  It's smashing up the
fourth commandment.  So if we take the English in to form with us it
saves us from working, and we get out of smashing the fourth
commandment.  See?"

They did see, for a shout of acclamation hailed this young casuist's
special pleading.  "Besides," he added, "Old Joe is such an ass.  Detect
in a moment if any one used the English!  Faugh!  As if any one in this
form had ever done anything else?"

It may be thought that by reason of his own delinquencies Haviland's
authority as a prefect would have been partially if not entirely
undermined, yet such was not the case, for under the school code they
were justified, whereas the terrible crime of "sneaking" was as much the
one unpardonable sin at Saint Kirwin's as elsewhere.  And in the
enforcement of that authority he was pitiless, hence his unpopularity--
but it answered--and whether he presided over preparation, or in the
dormitory, or elsewhere, order reigned.  The spirits of misrule were
laid.

Once indeed an offender thought to round on him.  He had unearthed a
smoking case, and the use of tobacco was of course a capital offence.
One of the offenders--three biggish fellows by the way--had said
meaningly:

"If you do anything in this, Haviland, we can hand you up.  We saw you
in Needham's Copse only last week, and other places besides."

"All right, Starford.  You must go before the next prefects' council,
all three of you.  This'll mean a licking I'm afraid, but you'll have an
appeal to the Doctor.  You can give me away then if you think it'll do
yourselves any good, but I believe you know Nick better than that."

He was right, except that the headmaster took the matter out of the
prefectorial hands and soundly flogged the culprits himself.  But no
word did these utter with regard to any delinquency on the part of him
who was instrumental in bringing them to justice.

Meanwhile the Zulu boy, Anthony, otherwise Mpukuza, was not finding life
at Saint Kirwin's exactly a bed of roses, the more so that Jarnley and a
few other choice spirits were making it their especial business that he
should not.  Deprived of the protection of his first and accidental
defender, he was very much at their mercy.  Haviland was gated, and
would so remain for some days to come, and so long as they could catch
their victim outside, this rough element promised itself plenty of fun.
There was no fear of the victim himself giving it away, for although
complaining to a prefect was immeasurably less heinous than complaining
to a master, still it was not held justifiable except in very extreme
cases.

"Come down and have a bathe with us, Snowball," cried Jarnley, catching
sight of his intended victim, while proceeding with a group of his
followers to one of the school bathing-places.

"Can you swim, Cetchy?" cried another of the group--that being the Zulu
boy's nickname as the nearest they could get to Cetywayo.

"Swim--eh?  Well, I dunno."

"Come along then, and we'll teach you," and grins of malignant delight
went round the group.  They anticipated no end of fun.  They were going
to duck this somewhat unusual specimen until they nearly drowned him.
Jarnley, in particular, was radiant.

Mpukuza grinned too.  There was no escape.  They had hedged him about
too completely for that.  He might as well accept the situation
good-humouredly.  And--he did.

About half a mile from the school buildings there flowed an
insignificant sluggish river, opening here and there into broad deep
pools.  One of these, screened off, and fitted with a diving board,
constituted the bathing-place of those who had passed a certain swimming
test, and thus were entitled to disport themselves aquatically when they
listed.  It was not a good bathing-place, far from it, for the bottom
was coated thickly with slimy mud.  Still, it was the best obtainable
under the circumstances.

Jarnley and Co. unvested in a trice, nor did their intended victim take
any longer.

"Come along, Cetchy," laughed Jarnley, grabbing the other by the scruff
of the neck, and leaping out into deep water with him.  "Now I'll teach
you, you black beast," he snarled, between the panting and puffing
extracted by the coldness of the water as they both rose to the surface.
"I'm going to duck you till you're nearly dead.  Take that first
though," hitting him a smart smack on the side of the face.  Those still
on the bank yelled with delight, and hastened to spring into the water
in order to get their share of the fun.

They got it.  The African boy uttered an exclamation of dismay, broke
away from his tormentors, and in a few swift strokes splashed across to
the furthest and deepest side of the pool.  This was what they wanted.
With more yells of delight all hands swam in pursuit.

Mpukuza was holding on to a trailing bough, his copper-coloured face
above water, showing every indication of alarm, as his assailants drew
near.

"Now we'll duck him!" yelled Jarnley.  "It's jolly deep here."

But as they swooped towards him something strange happened--something
strange and utterly unexpected.  The round head and dark scared
countenance had disappeared.  So, too, at that moment did Jarnley, but
not before he had found time to utter a yell--a loud yell--indicative of
surprise and scare--drowned the next second in bubble and splash.

What on earth did it mean?  That Jarnley was playing the fool, was the
first idea that occurred to the spectators as they swam around or trod
water--the next that he had been seized with cramp.  But what about
Cetchy?  He too, was under water, and they hadn't gone down together,
for Jarnley hadn't touched him yet.

No--he hadn't.  But Mpukuza knew a trick worth two of waiting for that.
These confiding youths had overlooked the possibility that this
descendant of many generations of savage warriors might be far more at
home in the water than they were themselves.  But such in fact was the
case.  Watching his opportunity, as his would-be tormentors bore down
upon him, the Zulu boy had simply dived, and grabbing Jarnley by both
ankles dragged him under water.  And there he held him--and all the
bully's frantic attempts to escape were in vain.  The grasp on his
ankles was that of a vice; and when at last it did relax, Jarnley rose
to the surface only to sink again, so exhausted was he.  He was in fact
drowning, and but for his intended victim--who rose unruffled, unwinded,
even smiling, and at once seized him and towed him to the bank--he would
actually have lost his life.  For the African boy could remain under
water a vast deal longer than they could, and that with the most perfect
ease.

"What's all this about?"

The voice--sharp, clear, rather high-pitched--had the effect of a sort
of electric shock on the streaming and now shivering group gathered
round the gasping and prostrate Jarnley, as it started round, not a
little guiltily, to confront a master.

The aspect of the latter was not reassuring, being decidedly hostile.
With his head thrown back he gazed on the dumb-foundered group with a
stony stare.

"Umph!  Bathing before permission has been given?" he said.

"That black beast!  I'll kill him," muttered the muddled and confused
Jarnley.

"Eh?  What's the fellow saying?" cried the new arrival sharply, who, by
the way, was dressed in clerical black himself, and was now inspired
with the idea that the speaker was suffering from sunstroke, and was off
his head.  For all its apprehensiveness, a sickly grin ran round the
group.

"He's talking about Cetchy--er--I mean Anthony, sir," explained some
one.

Now the Reverend Alfred Augustus Sefton was endowed with a vast fund of
humour, but it was of the dry quality, and he was sharp withal.  He had
seen more than they knew, and now, looking from one to the other, the
situation suddenly dawned upon him, and it amused him beyond words.  But
he was a rigid disciplinarian.

"What have you been doing to him?" he said, fixing the African boy with
his straight glance.

"Doing?  Nothing, sir.  We play in the water.  He try how long he keep
me under.  I try how long I keep him under.  That all.  That all, sir."
And a dazzling stripe of white leaped in a broad grin across the
speaker's face--while all the other boys tittered.  Mr Sefton gave a
suspicious choke.

"That all!" he echoed.  "But that isn't all," and extracting an envelope
and a pencil from his pocket, he began to take down their names.  "No,
that isn't all by any means.  Each of you will do four hundred lines for
bathing before permission has been given, except Anthony, who will do
one hundred only because he's a new boy.  Now get into your clothes
sharp and go straight back and begin, and if you're not in the big
schoolroom by the time I am, I'll double it."

There was a wholesome straightforwardness about Mr Sefton's methods
that admitted of no argument, and it was a very crestfallen group that
overtook and hurried past that disciplinarian as he made his way along
the field-path, swinging his stick, his head thrown back, and his soft
felt hat very much on the back of it.  And on the outskirts of the group
at a respectful distance came Anthony, keen-eyed and quick to dodge more
than one vengeful smack on the head which had been aimed at him--for
these fairplay-loving young Britons must wreak their resentment on
something--and dire and deep were the sinister promises thrown at the
African boy, to be fulfilled when time and opportunity should serve.



CHAPTER FOUR.

CONCERNING AN ADVENTURE.

Mr Sefton did not immediately repair to the big schoolroom.  When he
did, however, the half-dozen delinquents were at work on their
imposition.  He strolled round apparently aimlessly, then peered into
the fifth form room, where sat Haviland, writing his.

Haviland was not at first aware of the master's presence.  An ugly frown
was on his face, for he was in fact beginning the extra two hundred
lines of which we have made mention.  It was a half-holiday, and a
lovely afternoon, and but for this he would have been out and away over
field and down.  He felt that he had been treated unfairly, and it was
with no amiable expression of countenance that he looked up, and with
something of a start became aware of the master's presence.

"Sit still, Haviland," said the latter kindly, strolling over to the
desks.  "Have you nearly done your imposition?"

"I've done it quite, sir, but you can always reckon on having to do a
third of it over again when it's for the Doctor," he added with intense
bitterness.

"Look here, you mustn't talk like that," rejoined Mr Sefton briskly,
but there was a kindliness underlying his sharp tones which the other's
ear was quick to perceive.  They were great friends these two, and many
an informal chat had they had together.  It involved no favouritism
either.  Let Haviland break any rule, accidentally or not, within Mr
Sefton's jurisdiction, and the imposition entailed was not one line
shorter than that set to anybody else under like circumstances, as he
had reason to know by experience.  Yet that made no difference in his
regard for this particular master.

"Well, it's hard luck all the same, sir," he now replied.  "However,
this time I've got off cheap with only a couple of hundred over again.
But it has done me out of this afternoon."

Mr Sefton had hoisted himself on to one of the long desks and sat
swinging his legs and his stick.

"What d'you think?" he said.  "I've caught half a dozen fellows bathing
just now.  The new boy Anthony was among 'em.  And he'd nearly drowned
Jarnley--the beggar!  What d'you think of that?"

"What, sir?  Nearly drowned him?"

"I should think so," pursued the master, chuckling with glee.  "Jarnley
lay there gasping like a newly caught fish.  It seems he'd been trying
to duck Cetchy, and Cetchy ducked him instead.  Nearly drowned him too.
Ha--ha!"

Haviland roared too.

"That chap'll be able to take care of himself, I believe, sir," he said.
"I need hardly have smacked Jarnley's head for bullying him the other
day."

"I know you did," said the other dryly, causing Haviland to stop short
with a half grin, as he reflected how precious little went on in the
school that Sefton didn't know.

"Well, he's got four hundred lines to get through now," went on the
latter.  "I let Cetchy off with a hundred."

"I expect the other fellows made him go with them, sir," said Haviland.
"And he's hardly been here a week yet."

"If I let him off them, the other fellows'll take it out of him," said
Mr Sefton, who understood the drift of this remark.

"They'll do that anyhow, sir.  But I've a notion they'll tire of it
before long."

So Anthony was called and made to give his version of the incident,
which he did in such manner as to convulse both master and prefect--and,
to his great delight, the imposition was remitted altogether.

"He's no end of an amusing chap that, sir," said Haviland when the
African boy had gone out.  "He has all sorts of yarns about Zululand--
can remember about the war too.  He's in my dormitory, you know, sir,
and he yarns away by the hour--"

The speaker broke off short and somewhat confusedly--as a certain
comical twinkle in Mr Sefton's eyes reminded him how guilelessly he was
giving himself away: for talking in the dormitories after a certain
time, and that rather brief, was strictly forbidden.  Mr Sefton,
secretly enjoying his confusion, coughed dryly, but made no remark.
After all, _he_ was not Haviland's dormitory master.

"What a big fellow you're getting, Haviland!" he said presently.  "I
suppose you'll be leaving us soon?"

"I hope not, sir, at least not for another couple of terms.  Then I
expect I'll have to."

"You're not eager to, then?" eyeing him curiously.

"Not in the least."

"H'm!  What are they going to make of you when you do leave?"

The young fellow's face clouded.

"Goodness only knows, sir.  I suppose I'll have to go out and split
rails in the bush, or something about as inviting, or as paying."

"Well, I don't know that you'll be doing such a bad thing in that,
Haviland," rejoined Mr Sefton, "if by `splitting rails' you mean
launching out into some form of colonial life.  But whatever it is
you've got to throw yourself into it heart and soul, but I should think
you'd do that from what I've seen of you here.  At any rate, life and
its chances are all in front of you instead of half behind you, and
you've got to determine not to make a mess of it, as so many fellows do.
Well, I didn't come in here to preach you a sermon, so get along with
your lines and start clear again."  And the kind-hearted disciplinarian
swung himself off the desk and departed, and with him nearly all the
rankling bitterness which had been corroding Haviland's mind.  The
latter scribbled away with a will, and at length threw down his pen with
an ejaculation of relief.

Even then he could not go out until the lines had been shown up.  The
next best thing was to look out, and so he climbed up to sit in the open
window.  The fair English landscape stretched away green and golden in
the afternoon sunlight.  The shrill screech of swifts wheeling overhead
mingled with the twittering of the many sparrows which rendered the
creepers clinging to the wall of the school buildings untidy with their
nests.  Then the clear song of larks soaring above mead and fallow, and
farther afield the glad note of the cuckoo from some adjoining copse.
Boys were passing by twos and threes, and now and then a master going
for his afternoon stroll.  Haviland, gazing out from his perch in the
window, found himself thinking over Mr Sefton's words.  He supposed he
should soon be leaving all this, but didn't want to.  He liked the
school: he liked the masters, except the Head perhaps, who seemed for no
reason at all to have a "down" on him.  He liked the freedom allowed by
the rules outside school hours, and thoroughly appreciated his own post
of authority, and the substantial privileges it carried with it.  A
voice from outside hailed him.

"Hi--Haviland!  Done your impos yet?"

"Yes."

"Come with me after call-over.  I've got a good thing.  Owl's nest.
Must have two to get at it."

The speaker was one Corbould major, a most enthusiastic egg-hunter, and,
though not a prefect, a great friend of Haviland's by reason of being a
brother sportsman.

"Can't.  I'm gated.  Won't be able to take the lines up to Nick till
to-morrow."

"Why not try him in his study now?  He's there, for I saw him go in--and
he's in a good humour, for he was grinning and cracking jokes with
Laughton and Medlicott.  Try him, any way."

"All right," said Haviland, feeling dubious but desperate, as he climbed
down from the window.

It required some intrepidity to invade the redoubtable Head in his
private quarters, instead of waiting until he appeared officially in
public; however, as Corbould had divined, the great Panjandrum happened
to be in high good humour, and was graciously pleased to accept the
uttermost farthing, and release the prisoner then and there.

Half an hour later two enthusiastic collectors might have been seen,
speeding along a narrow lane at a good swinging, staying trot.  A quick
glance all round, then over a stile and along a dry ditch skirting a
long high hedge.  Another quick look round, and both were in a small
hazel copse.  On the further side of this, in a field just outside it,
stood a barn.  This was their objective.

Now, before leaving cover, they reconnoitred carefully and exhaustively.
The farmhouse to which the barn belonged stood but two fields off, and
they could distinctly hear the cackling of the fowls around it--and in
another direction they could see men working in the fields at no great
distance.  Needless to say, the pair were engaged in an act of flagrant
trespass.

"That's all right so far," whispered Corbould major, as they stood
within the gloom of the interior, feebly illuminated by streaks of light
through the chinks.  "There's the nest, up there, in that corner, and
you'll have to give me a hoist up to the beam from the other end.  We
can't take it from this because there's a hen squatting on a lot of eggs
right underneath, and she'll kick up such a beastly row if we disturb
her."

A warning "cluck-cluck" proceeding from the fowl in question had already
caused Haviland something of a start.  However, they were careful not to
alarm her, and she sat on.  Meanwhile, Corbould had reached the beam,
and with some difficulty had drawn himself up and was now creeping along
it.

Haviland's heart was pulsating with excitement as he stood there in the
semi-gloom, watching his companion's progress, for the adventure was a
bold one, and the penalty of detection condign.  Now a weird hissing
arose from the dark corner overhead, as Corbould, worming his way along
the beam, drew nearer and nearer to it, and then, and then, to him above
and to him below, it seemed that there came a hissing as of a thousand
serpents, a whirlwind of flapping wings, a gasp, a heavy fall, a crash,
and he who had been aloft on yonder beam now lay sprawling beneath it,
while the hen, which had saved itself as though by a miracle, was
dashing round and round the barn, uttering raucous shrieks of terror.

"You ass!  You've done it now!" exclaimed Haviland, horror-stricken, as
he surveyed his chum, who, half-stupefied, was picking himself up
gingerly.  And he had.  For what he had "done" was to lose his hold and
tumble right slap on top of the sitting hen, or rather where that nimble
fowl had been a moment before, namely on the nest of eggs; and these
being in a state of semi-incubation, it followed that the whole back of
his jacket and trousers was in the most nauseous mess imaginable.

This was too much for Haviland, and, the peril of the situation
notwithstanding, he laughed himself into a condition that was abjectly
helpless.

"Shut up, Haviland, and don't be an ass, for heaven's sake!  We must get
out of this!" cried Corbould.  "Scrag that beastly fowl.  It's giving
away the whole show!"  And indeed such was likely to be the result, for
what with the owl hissing like a fury overhead, and the hen yelling
below, it seemed that the din should be heard for miles.

A hedge stake, deftly shied, silenced the latter, and this first act of
stern self-preservation accomplished, the second followed, viz.: to slip
cautiously forth, and make themselves remarkably scarce.  This they
succeeded in doing.  Luck favoured them, miraculously as it seemed, and,
having put a respectable distance between themselves and the scene of
the adventure, they made for a safe hiding-place where they could decide
on the next move, for it was manifestly impossible for Corbould to show
up in that state.

Snugly ensconced in a dry ditch, well overhung with brambles, they soon
regained wind after their exertions and excitement.  But Haviland, lying
on the ground, laughed till he cried.

"If you could only have seen yourself, Corbould," he stuttered between
each paroxysm, "rising like Phoenix from the ashes!  And that infernal
fowl waltzing round and round the barn squawking like mad, and the jolly
owl flapping and hissing up top there!  O Lord, you'd have died!"

"We didn't get the eggs, though.  Wouldn't have minded if we'd got the
eggs."

"Well, we won't get them now, for I don't suppose either of us'll be
such asses as to go near the place again this season after the to-do
there'll be when old Siggles discovers the smash up.  It's a pity to
have done all that damage though, gets us a rottener name than ever."

"It couldn't.  These beasts of farmers, it doesn't hurt them if we hunt
for nests.  Yet they're worse than the keepers.  _They_ have some
excuse, the brutes."

"How on earth were you such an ass as to come that cropper, Corbould?"
said the other, going off into a paroxysm again.

"Oh, it's all jolly fine, but what'd you have done with that beastly owl
flapping around your ears and trying to peck your eyes out?  But I say.
What are we going to do about this?" showing the horrible mess his
clothes were in.

Both looked blank for a few moments.  Then Haviland brightened.

"Eureka!" he cried.  "We'll plaster you up with dry mud, and it you're
asked, you can swear you had a fall on your back.  You did too, so
that'll be no lie."

The idea was a good one.  By dint of rubbing in handfuls of dry earth,
every trace of the eggs, half-incubated as they were, was hidden.  But
as far as further disturbance at the hands of these two counted for
anything the owl was allowed to hatch out its brood in peace.  Not for
any consideration would they have attempted further interference with it
that season.



CHAPTER FIVE.

"HAVILAND'S CHUM."

When Haviland expressed his belief, in conversation with Mr Sefton,
that the Zulu boy would prove able to take care of himself, he uttered a
prediction which events seemed likely to bear out.

When three or four of the fellows who sat next to him in chapel
conceived the brilliant idea of putting a large conical rose thorn--
point uppermost of course--on the exact spot where that dark-skinned
youth was destined to sit down on rising from his knees, they hardly
foresaw the result, as three or four heads were quickly and furtively
turned in anticipation of some fun.  They were not disappointed either--
for Simonds minor, the actual setter of the trap, shot up from his seat
like a cork from a soda-water bottle, smothering an exclamation
expressive of wild surprise and something else, while the descendant of
generations of fighting savages sat tight in his, a rapt expression of
innocence and unconcern upon his dark countenance.  Nor did the fun end
there, for the prefect in charge of that particular row, subsequently
and at preparation time sent for Simonds minor, and cuffed him soundly
for kicking up a disturbance in chapel, though this was a phase of the
humour which, while appealing keenly to the spectators, failed to amuse
Simonds minor in the very least.  He vowed vengeance, not on his then
executioner, but on Anthony.

Under a like vow, it will be remembered, was Jarnley.  Not as before,
however, did he propose to make things unpleasant for his destined
victim.  This time it should be on dry land, and when he got his
opportunity he promised to make the very best of it, in which he was
seconded by his following--who connected somehow the magnitude of the
impos, given them by "that beast Sefton," with the presence of "Cetchy"
in their midst.  So the party, having completed their said impos, spent
the next few days, each armed with a concealed and supple willow switch,
stalking their quarry during his wanderings afield; but here again the
primitive instincts of the scion of a barbarian line rendered it
impossible for them to surprise him, and as to catching him in open
pursuit, they might as well have tried to run down a bird in the air.
He would simply waltz away without an effort, and laugh at them: wherein
he was filling Jarnley and Co.'s cup of wrath very full.  But an event
was destined to occur which should cause it to brim over.

One afternoon, owing to the noxious exhalations arising from a
presumably poisoned rat within the wainscoting common to the third and
fourth form rooms, both those classes were ordered to the big
schoolroom, and allotted desk work to fill in the time.

Now the rows of lockers were arranged in tiers all down one half of the
long room, leaving the other half open, with its big desk in the centre
dominating the whole.  Ill chance indeed was it that located Anthony's
form in the row beneath, and himself immediately in front of, his sworn
foe.

Now Jarnley began to taste the sweets of revenge.  More than one kick,
hard and surreptitious, nearly sent the victim clean off the form, and
the bright idea which occurred to Jarnley, of fixing a pin to the toe of
his boot had to be abandoned, for the cogent reason that neither he nor
any of his immediate neighbourhood could produce the pin.  Meanwhile the
master in charge lounged in the big desk, blissfully reading.

"Look here, Cetchy," whispered Jarnley, having varied the entertainment
with a few tweaks of his victim's wool.  "Turn round, d'you hear: put
your finger on that."

"That" being a penholder held across the top of one of the inkwells let
into the desk.

"Put it on, d'you hear.  I'll let you off any more if you do.  No--press
hard."

For Anthony had begun to obey orders, but gingerly.  Once more was
Jarnley digging his own grave, so to say.  The black finger was now held
down upon the round penholder, and of course what followed was a
foregone conclusion.  Its support suddenly withdrawn, knuckle deep went
that unlucky digit into the well, but with such force that a very
fountain of ink squirted upward, to splash down, a long running smudge,
right across the sheet of foolscap which Jarnley had just covered,
thereby rendering utterly useless the results of nearly half an hour's
work.  This was too much.  Reaching forward, the bully gripped the
perpetrator of this outrage by the wool where it ended over the nape of
the neck, and literally plucked out a wisp thereof.

"I'll kill you for this, you black devil," he said, in a snarling
whisper.

But the reply was as startling as it was unexpected.  Maddened by the
acute pain, all the savage within him aroused, and utterly regardless of
consequences, the Zulu boy swung round his arm like a flail, hitting
Jarnley full across the face with a smack that resounded through the
room, producing a dead and pin-dropping silence, as every head came
round to see what had happened.

"What's all this?" cried the furious voice of the master in charge,
looking quickly up.  "Come out, you two boys.  Come out at once."

Then, as the two delinquents stood up to come out of their places, a
titter rippled through the whole room, for Jarnley's red and half
scared, half furious countenance was further ornamented by a great black
smear where his smiter's inky hand had fallen.

Now the Reverend Richard Clay was hot of temper, and his method under
such circumstances as these short and effectual, viz.: to chastise the
offenders first and institute enquiry afterwards, or not at all.  Even
during the time taken by these two to leave their places and stand
before him, he had flung open the lid of the great desk, and jerked
forth the cane always kept there; a long supple, well-hardened cane,
well burnt at the end.

"Fighting during school time, were you?" he said.  "Hold up your coat."

"Please sir, he shied a lot of ink over my work," explained Jarnley in
desperation.  Anthony the while said nothing.

"I don't care if he did," was the uncompromising reply.  "Stand up and
hold up your coat."

This Jarnley had no alternative but to do, and as Mr Clay did nothing
by halves the patient was soon dancing on one foot at a time.

"No, no, I haven't done yet," said the master, in response to a muttered
and spasmodic appeal for quarter.  "I'll teach you to make a disturbance
in schooltime when I'm in charge.  There!  Stand still."

And he laid it on--to the bitter end; and with such muscle and will that
the bully could not repress one or two short howls as he received the
final strokes.  But the Zulu boy, whose turn now came, and who received
the same unsparing allowance, took it without movement or sound.

"Go back to your seats, you two," commanded Mr Clay.  "If any one else
wants a dose of the same medicine, he knows how to get it," he added
grimly, locking up the cane again.

"Oh, wait till I get you outside, you black beast," whispered the bully
as they got back to their seats.  "I'll only skin you alive--that's what
I'll do."

"Come out again, Jarnley," rang out Mr Clay's clear, sharp voice.
"Were you talking?" he queried, as the bully stood before him, having
gone very pale over the prospect of a repetition of what he had just
undergone.

"Yes, sir," he faltered, simply not daring to lie.

"I know you were," and again quickly the cane was drawn forth from its
accustomed dwelling place.  Then, as Jarnley was beginning to whine for
mercy, the master as quickly replaced it.

"I'll try another plan this time," he said.  "There's nothing like
variety."  The room grinned--"You'll do seven hundred and fifty lines
for talking in school hours, and you're gated till they're done."  The
room was disappointed, for it was looking forward to another execution,
moreover the bulk of it hated Jarnley.  It consoled itself, however, by
looking forward to something else, viz.: what was going to happen after
school, and the smaller boys did not in the least envy Anthony.

The latter, for his part, knew what a thrashing was in store for him
should he fail to make good his escape; wherefore the moment the word to
dismiss was uttered, he affected a strategic movement which should
enable him to gain the door under convoy of the retiring master, while
not seeming to do so by design.  Even in this he would hardly have
succeeded, but that a simultaneous rush for the door interposed a crowd
between him and his pursuers, and again his luck was in the ascendant,
and he escaped, leaving Jarnley and Co. to wreak their vengeance on some
of the smaller boys for getting in their way.

Anthony had been put into Haviland's dormitory, which contained ten
other boys, and was a room at the end of a much larger one containing
forty.  This also was under Haviland's jurisdiction, being kept in order
by three other prefects.  At night he was left entirely in peace, beyond
a slight practical joke or two at first, for the others were not big
enough to bully him, what time their ruler was perforce out of the room.
Besides, they rather liked him, for, as we have heard so unguardedly
divulged, he would tell them wonderful tales of his own country--for he
was old enough to just remember some of the incidents of the war, and
could describe with all the verve and fire of the native gift of
narrative, the appearance of the terrible impis, shield- and spear-armed
as they went forth to battle, the thunder of the war-song, and the grim
and imposing battle array.  He could tell, too, of vengeful and bleeding
warriors, returning sorely wounded, of sudden panic flights of women and
children--himself among them--and once indeed, albeit at some distance,
he had seen the King.  But on the subject of his parentage he was very
reticent.  His father was a valiant and skilled fighter--so too, had
been all his ancestors--but he had fallen in the war.  He himself had
been educated by a missionary, and sent over to England to be further
educated and eventually to be trained as a missionary himself, to aid in
evangelising his own people; although with true native reticence he had
refrained from owning that he had no taste for any such career.  His
forefathers had all been warriors, and he only desired to follow in
their steps.  Later on he imparted this to Haviland, but with all the
others he kept up a certain reserve.

To Haviland, indeed, the African boy had attached himself in doglike
fashion, ever since that potentate had interfered to rescue him from
Jarnley; yet his motive in so doing was not that of self-preservation,
for no word did he utter to his quondam protector that he was still a
particular object of spite to Jarnley and his following.  At first
Haviland was bored thereby, then became interested, a change mainly
brought about by a diffident entreaty to be allowed to see his
collection of eggs, and also to be allowed to accompany him during the
process of adding to it.  This was granted, and Haviland was amazed at
the extent of the Zulu boy's knowledge of everything to do with the bird
and animal life of the fields and woods, although totally different from
that of his own country.  So he was graciously pleased to throw over him
the wing of his patronage, and the beginning of this strange friendship
was destined to lead to some very startling experiences indeed before it
should end.

But the school regarded it with partly amused, partly contemptuous
wonder, and in like spirit Anthony became known as "Haviland's chum."



CHAPTER SIX.

THE HAUNTED WOOD.

"What a rum chap Haviland is!" said Laughton, the captain of the school,
as from the window of the prefects' room, he, with three or four others,
stood watching the subject of the remark, rapidly receding into
distance, for it was a half-holiday afternoon.  "He and Cetchy have
become quite thick."

"I expect he finds him useful at egg-hunting," said Medlicott.

"Yes--and how about it being wrong form for us to go about with
juniors?" struck in Langley, a small prefect who had attained to that
dignity by reason of much "sapping," but was physically too weak to
sustain it adequately.  "Haviland's never tired of jamming that down our
throats, but he doesn't practise what he preaches.  Eh?"

"Well, Corbould major'll be a prefect himself next term," said
Medlicott.

"Yes, but how about the nigger, Medlicott?  A nigger into the bargain.
Haviland's chum!  I don't know how Haviland can stick him," rejoined the
other spitefully, for he loved not Haviland.

"I wish he'd chuck that confounded egg-hunting, at any rate for this
term," said Laughton.  "He'll get himself reduced as sure as fate.
Nick's watching him like a cat does a mouse.  He's got a down on him for
some reason or other--don't know what it can be--and the very next row
Haviland gets into he'll reduce him.  That's an absolute cert."

"Haviland did say he'd chuck it," replied Medlicott.  "But what's he to
do?  He's a fellow who doesn't care for games--swears cricket's slow,
and football always makes him want to hit somebody."

"He's a rum card," rejoined Laughton.  "Well, I'm going round to the
East field to do some bowling.  I expect Clay'll be there.  Coming,
Medlicott?"

"No.  I don't care about bowling to Clay.  He expects you to keep at it
all the time just because he's a master.  Never will bowl to you.  I
bar."

The two under discussion were speeding along--Haviland jubilant over
having obtained leave from call-over--thus being able to get very far
afield.  He fancied Mr Sefton, the master of the week, had eyed him
rather curiously in granting it, but what did that matter?  He had the
whole afternoon before him.

As they proceeded, he was instructing the other in various landmarks,
and other features of the country.

"Think you could find your way back all right, Cetchy?" he said, when
they had proceeded some distance, "if you were left alone, I mean?"

"Find way?  Left alone?  What do you mean?"

"Why sometimes, if you get chevvied by a keeper it's good strategy to
separate, and get back round about.  It boggles the enemy and at worst
gives one of you a chance."

"Find way--ha!" chuckled Anthony.  "Well, rather.  All that tree--hill
over there--plenty church steeple.  Fellows who can't find way here must
be thundering big fools."

"Quite right.  I hope we shan't be put to it to-day, but it has saved
both of us before.  Though as a rule, Cetchy, I never go out with
another fellow, except Corbould now and then.  Much rather be alone--
besides, when there are two fellows together they get jawing at the
wrong time.  Remember that, Cetchy.  Once you're off the road don't say
a word more than you can help--and only that in a whisper."

The other nodded.

"I know," he said.

"One time I had an awful narrow squeak," pursued Haviland.  "It was in
Needham's Copse, the very place Finch and Harris were swished for going
through.  There's a dry ditch just inside where you can nearly always
find a nightingale's nest.  I'd just taken one, and was starting to get
back, when I heard something and dropped down like a shot to listen.
Would you believe it, Cetchy, there was a beast of a keeper with a brown
retriever dog squatting against the hedge on the other side!  It was
higher than where I was lying, and I could see them against the sky, but
they couldn't see me, and fortunately the hedge was pretty thick.  The
wonder was the dog didn't sniff me out, but he didn't.  It was lively, I
can tell you, for nearly an hour I had to squat there hardly able to
breathe for fear of being heard.  At last they cleared out and so did I.
I was late for call-over of course, but Clay--it was his week--only
gave me a hundred lines--said I looked so jolly dirty that I must have
been running hard.  He's a good chap, Clay, and a bit of a sportsman,
although he is such a peppery devil.  Well, Cetchy, you see if there had
been two of us, one would have been bound to make a row, and then--what
with the dog we couldn't have got clear.  That would have meant a
swishing, for I wasn't a prefect then."

With similar narratives did Haviland beguile the way and instruct his
companion, therein however strictly practising what he preached, in that
he kept them for such times as they should be upon the Queen's highway,
or pursuing a legitimate path.

So far, they had found plenty of spoil, but mostly of the commoner sorts
and not worth taking--at least not from Haviland's point of view--all of
whose instincts as a sportsman were against wanton destruction.

"Why don't you begin collecting, Cetchy?" he said, as, seated on a
stile, they were taking a rest and a look round.  "I should have thought
it was just the sort of thing you'd take to kindly."

"Yes.  I think I will."

"That's right.  We'll start you with all we take to-day, except one or
two of the better sorts, and those we'll halve.  What have we got
already?  Five butcher-bird's, four nightingale's, and five bullfinch's,
but I believe those are too hard-set to be any good.  Hallo!" looking
up, "I believe that was a drop of rain."

The sky, which was cloudy when they started, had now become overcast,
and a few large drops fell around them.  Little enough they minded that
though.

"Are you afraid of ghosts, Cetchy?" said Haviland.

"Ghosts?  No--why?"

"See that wood over there?  Well, that's Hangman's Wood, and we're going
through that.  It's one of the very best nesting grounds in the whole
country--it's too far away, you see, for our fellows to get at unless
they get leave from call-over, which they precious seldom can."

He pointed to a line of dark wood about three-quarters of a mile away,
of irregular shape and some fifty acres in extent.  It seemed to have
been laid out at different times, for about a third of it was a larch
plantation, the lighter green of which presented a marked contrast to
the dark firs which constituted the bulk of the larger portion.

"It's haunted," he went on.  "Years and years ago they found a man
hanging from a bough right in the middle of it.  The chap was one of the
keepers, but they never could make out exactly whether he had scragged
himself, or whether it was done by some fellows he'd caught poaching.
Anyway the yarn goes that they hung two or three on suspicion, and it's
quite likely, for in those days they managed things pretty much as they
seem to do in your country, eh, Cetchy--hang a chap first and try him
afterwards?"

"That's what Nick does," said the Zulu boy with a grin.

Haviland laughed.

"By Jove, you're right, Cetchy.  You've taken the length of Nick's foot
and no mistake.  Well, you see now why they call the place Hangman's
Wood, but that isn't all.  They say the chap walks--his ghost, you
know--just as they found him hanging--all black in the face, with his
eyes starting out of his head, and round his neck a bit of the rope that
hung him.  By the way, that would be a nice sort of thing for us to meet
stalking down the sides of the wood when we were in there, eh, Cetchy?"

The other made no reply.  Wide-eyed, he was taking in every word of the
story.  Haviland went on.

"It sounds like a lot of humbug, but the fact remains that more than one
of the keepers has met with a mortal scare in that very place, and I've
even heard of one chucking up his billet rather than go into the wood
anywhere near dusk even, and the rum thing about it too is that it never
gets poached: and you'd think if there was a safe place to poach that'd
be it.  Yet it doesn't.  Come on now.  I got a lot out of it the season
before last, and we ought to get something good to-day."

Keeping well under cover of the hedges the two moved quickly along.
Then, as they neared the wood, with a "whirr" that made both start, away
went a cock-pheasant from the hedge-row they were following--springing
right from under their feet.  Another and another, and yet another
winging away in straight powerful flight, uttering a loud alarmed
cackle, and below, the white scuts of rabbits scampering for the burrows
in the dry ditch which skirted the covert.

"Confound those beastly birds!  What a row they kick up!" whispered
Haviland wrathfully as he watched the brilliantly plumaged cocks
disappearing among the dark tree tops in front.  "Come along, though.  I
expect it's all right."

"There you are," he went on disgustedly, as they stood in the ride
formed by the enclosing hedge of the first line of trees.  "`Trespassers
will be prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law.'  Nice free
country this, eh, Cetchy?"

The notice board, nailed some seven or eight feet from the ground,
stared them in the face.  But Haviland was used to such.

Cautiously, noiselessly, they stole in and out among the trees, one eye
and ear keenly alert for that which they sought, the other for
indication of possible human, and therefore hostile, presence.  The
shower had ceased, but the odour of newly watered herbage hung moist
upon the air, mingling with the scent of the firs, and the fungus-like
exhalations of rotten and mouldering wood.  A semi-twilight prevailed,
the effect of the heavy foliage, and the cloud-veiled and lowering sky--
and the ghostly silence was emphasised rather than disturbed every now
and then by the sudden flap-flap of a wood-pigeon's wings, or the
stealthy rustle in the undergrowth as a rabbit or pheasant scuttled
away.

"Look, Cetchy," whispered Haviland.  "This is the place where they found
the chap hanging."

Right in the heart of the wood they were, and at this spot two ridges
intersected each other.  A great oak limb reached across this point like
a huge natural gallows beam.

"The fellow who found him," went on Haviland, pointing at this, "did so
by accident.  He was coming along the ride here in the dark, and the
chap's legs--the chap who was hanging, you know--sort of kicked him in
the face as he walked underneath that bough.  Then he looked up and saw
what it was.  Ugh!  I say, Cetchy, supposing that sort of thing was to
happen to you or me!  Think we'd get in a funk, eh?"

The Zulu boy, coming of a race which is intensely susceptible to
superstitious fears, shook his head, and muttered something in his own
tongue.  The drear and dismal aspect of the place and its gruesome
legend impressed him.  He did not like it at all, but would not own as
much.  If Haviland, to whom he looked up as something of a god, was not
afraid, why should he be?  Haviland, moved by some spirit of mischief,
went on, sinking his voice to a still more impressive whisper:

"Supposing we were to see the ghost now, Cetchy, looking just as they
say it walks--black in the face, and with its eyes and tongue all
bulging out of its head, and the bit of rope dangling from its neck!
Think we should get in a beastly funk, eh?  There, just coming out from
under those dark firs--can't you imagine it?"

For answer the other started violently, and uttered a scared
ejaculation.  Even Haviland's nerves were not entirely proof against the
interruption, coming when it did.  Something had happened to startle
them both.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

THE GHOST.

The next moment Haviland burst into a fit of smothered laughter.

"It's only a hen pheasant, Cetchy," he whispered, "but she made such a
row getting up right under our feet just as we were talking about the
ghost.  It quite gave me the jumps."

"She's got nest too," said the other, who had been peering into the
undergrowth.  "Look, nine, ten eggs!  That's good?"

"Yes, but you can't take them.  Never meddle with game eggs."

"How I make collection if I not take eggs?"

This was pertinent, and Haviland was nonplussed, but only for a moment.

"I've got some extra specimens I'll give you," he answered.  "Come on,
leave these, and let the bird come back."

The other looked somewhat wistfully at the smooth olive-hued eggs lying
there temptingly in their shallow bowl of dry leaves and grass.  Then he
turned away.

"We'll find plenty of others," said Haviland.  "Last time I was here I
took a nest of blackcap's, and the eggs were quite pink instead of
brown.  That's awfully rare.  We'll see if there are any more in the
same place."

Round the cover they went, then across it, then back again, all with a
regular system, and soon their collecting boxes were filled--including
some good sorts.

"There!  Big bird go away up there," whispered Anthony pointing upward.

They were standing under a clump of dark firs.  Over their tops Haviland
glimpsed the quick arrowy flight.

"A sparrow-hawk, by Jingo!" he said.  "Sure to have a nest here too."

A keen and careful search revealed this, though it was hidden away so
snugly in the fir-top, that it might have been passed by a hundred
times.  The Zulu boy begged to be allowed to go up.

"I think not this time, Cetchy," decided Haviland.  "It's an easy climb,
but then you haven't had enough practice in stowing the eggs, and these
are too good to get smashed."

It was not everything to get up the tree: half the point was to do so as
noiselessly as possible, both of which feats were easy enough to so
experienced a climber as Haviland.  He was soon in the fir-top, the
loose untidy pile of sticks just over his head; another hoist--and
then--most exciting moment of all, the smooth warm touch of the eggs.
The while the parent bird, darting to and fro in the air, came nearer
and nearer his head with each swoop.  But for this he cared nothing.

"Look, Cetchy," he whispered delightedly as he stood once more on _terra
firma_ and exhibited the bluish-white treasures with their rich sepia
blotches.  "Three of them, and awfully good specimens.  Couple days
later there'd have been four or five, still three's better than none.
You shall have these two to start your collection with, and I'll stick
to this one with the markings at the wrong end.  What's the row?"

For the Zulu boy had made a sign for silence, and was standing in an
attitude of intense listening.

"Somebody coming," he whispered.  "One man."

Haviland's nerves thrilled.  But listen as he would his practised ear
could hear nothing.

"Quick, hide," breathed the other, pointing to a thick patch of bramble
and fern about a dozen yards away, and not a moment too early was the
warning uttered, for scarcely had they reached it and crouched flat to
the earth, when a man appeared coming through the wood.  Peering from
their hiding-place, they made out that he was clad in the velveteen suit
and leather leggings of a keeper, and, moreover, he carried a gun.

He was looking upward all the time, otherwise he could not have failed
to see them, and to Haviland, at any rate, the reason of this was plain.
He had sighted the sparrow-hawk, and was warily stalking her, hence the
noiselessness of his approach.  The situation was becoming intensely
exciting.  The keeper was coming straight for their hiding-place, still,
however, looking upward.  If he discovered them, they must make a dash
for it that moment, Haviland explained in a whisper scarcely above a
breath.  The gun didn't count, he daren't fire at them in any event.

Suddenly the man stopped.  Up went the gun, then it was as quickly
lowered.  He had sighted the flight of the hawk above the tree tops, but
the chance was not good enough.  And he had sighted something else, the
nest to wit.  The bird was sure to come back to it, and so give him a
much better chance.  Accordingly he squatted down among the undergrowth,
his gun held ready, barely twenty yards from the concealed pair, but
with his back to them.

That sparrow-hawk, however, was no fool of a bird.  She seemed possessed
of a fine faculty for discrimination, and manifestly knew the difference
between a brace of egg-collecting schoolboys, and a ruthless,
death-dealing gamekeeper, and although at intervals she swooped overhead
it was always out of range, but still the latter sat there with a
patience that was admirable, save to the pair whom all unconsciously it
menaced with grave consequences.

For, as time fled, these loomed nearer and nearer.  As it was, they
would need all their time to get back, and were they late for evening
chapel, especially after being granted leave from calling-over, it was a
dead certainty that the Doctor himself would have something to say in
the matter, at any rate in Haviland's case.  And still that abominable
keeper lurked there, showing no sign whatever of moving within the next
half-hour, in which event it mattered little if he did not move at all.
A thin, penetrating drizzle had begun to fall, which bade fair to wet
them to the skin, but for this they cared nothing, neither apparently
did their enemy, who furthermore was partly sheltered beneath a great
fir.  Haviland grew desperate.

"We shall have to make a run for it, Cetchy," he breathed.  "Look,"
showing his watch.  "If the beast doesn't make a move in five minutes,
we must run and chance it.  I'll give the word."

The hand of the watch moved slowly on--one minute--two--three--four.
Haviland replaced it in his pocket, and drew a long breath: but before
he could give the word, his companion touched him and whispered.

"No run.  He run.  I make him."

"What?"

"I make him run.  I flighten him.  I ghost.  You'll see."

For a great idea had occurred to Mpukuza, christened Anthony, named by
Saint Kirwin's "Cetchy"--and exactly one minute and as rapid a
metamorphosis in his personal appearance was all he needed to put it
into execution.

Darker and darker had grown the lowering skies, and now the wind began
to moan dismally through the tree trunks.  Anything more drear and
depressing than the brooding gloom of the haunted wood could hardly be
imagined.  The keeper, however, was of the dogged order of rustic, and
doubtless lacking in imagination, for he remained patiently at his
self-appointed post.  Then, suddenly, he started to his feet and faced
quickly round.

A sight met his gaze, transfixing him with terror, seeming to turn him
to stone.  Reared above the undergrowth, an awful head, covered with
dust, and bristling with brambles--a black face with lolling, swollen
tongue, and huge eyeballs protruding from their sockets rolling their
vivid whites in most hideous fashion--yes, and there, round the neck, a
strand of cord, while from the throat of this horrifying apparition
there proceeded the most hollow, half-strangled moan that ever curdled
mortal blood.  For a moment the appalled keeper stood with livid
countenance, and his knees knocking together--then with a wild hoarse
cry, and dropping his gun--he turned and fled away down the ride of the
wood as fast as his legs could carry him.

"Come, Haviland, we'll go now," chuckled the ghost, dropping down into
the undergrowth again.  But Haviland made no reply, being powerless
alike for speech or movement.  He lay there gasping, choking back with
superhuman effort the scarcely repressible roars of laughter that he
dared not let out.

"Come quick.  We be off," urged the Zulu boy.  "Praps he come back."

"Not he," gurgled Haviland faintly.  "Oh Cetchy, that's about the most
deadly thing I ever saw in my life.  Oh, it'll be the death of me."
Then recovering himself with a mighty effort:

"Come along, Cetchy.  You're right, by Jingo!  We'll have to put our
best leg forward as it is.  Oh, but we mustn't think about this or it'll
kill me again."

Cautiously and in silence, and ever keeping a bright look-out lest
mayhap their dupe should recover from his scare and return, they made
their way out of the haunted wood, then across country at a hard
swinging trot, and the far-away roofs of Saint Kirwin's seemed painfully
remote.

"I say, Cetchy," said Haviland as they sat beneath a hedge for a brief
but necessary breather.  "Supposing the chap had let off his gun at you?
Eh?  We never thought of that."

"He not shoot--he too much funk."

"So he was.  I dare say, too, he thought it wasn't any good firing at a
ghost.  No, I mustn't start laughing again.  Come along."

And indeed they needed to make the most of their time, for the bell was
already ringing during the last five minutes of their run.  However,
they got through by a narrow shave.

After chapel, as he was walking across the quadrangle, a scurry of feet
and a rustle of long garments behind him caused Haviland to turn.  He
beheld Mr Sefton.

"Did you find lots of eggs this afternoon, Haviland?" said the master,
who was still in his canonicals and square cap.

"Yes, sir.  A grand lot.  Thanks so much for giving us leave."

"Are you teaching Cetchy bird-nesting?"

"Yes, sir.  He wants to collect.  He's a good hand at finding them too."

"Ah!  Don't get him into mischief.  Eh?  And keep out of it yourself.
D'you hear?  Keep out of it yourself."

There was a warning note underlying the quaint, dry quizzical tone which
was not lost upon the hearer.  He was wondering how much Sefton
suspected, but at the same time was thinking how dearly he would have
liked to tell Sefton the joke about the ghost, but that of course he
dared not.  Yet Sefton would have appreciated it so keenly--no one more
so.  But he only answered:

"I'll try to, sir.  Yes, we had a real ripping afternoon--thanks to
you."

"Ha!"  With which enigmatical ejaculation the master nodded and went his
way.

That evening, in the dormitory, Haviland being in hall at supper with
the other prefects off duty, Anthony was relating, in his quaint racy
English, the exciting events of the afternoon, all except the ghost
episode, which he had been strictly enjoined to keep to himself.  Those
who were collectors were thrilled with envy.

"You are a lucky beggar, Cetchy," sighed Smithson minor.  "I wish to
goodness Haviland would take me with him once or twice--that's all."

"Ha!  Take you!"

"Yes.  Why not?" bristling up.

"You no good.  You can't run."

"Look here, Cetchy.  I'll smack your head if you talk like that to me."

"Smack my head!  You can't do it."

"Oh, can't I?" retorted Smithson minor jumping out of bed.  The other
said nothing.  He simply followed suit, and stood waiting.  This was not
in the least what Smithson expected, and now he remembered, when too
late, the Zulu boy's summary retaliation on Jarnley, and how sturdily
and unmovedly he had taken the caning it involved, what time Jarnley had
howled.  He remembered, too, the hard, wiry training the other was in
and--hesitated.  But it was too late to draw back, and so he rushed on
his enemy, hitting out right and left; and at first Anthony seemed to be
getting the worst of it, for, in common with his race, he had no idea
how to use his fists, nor had he been long enough at Saint Kirwin's to
have learnt, and the scuffle was enlivened by the encouraging though
stifled adjurations of the spectators.

"Go it, Smithson!  Now then, Cetchy!  Ah!  He's got it!  Shut up, you
fellows.  We'll have Medlicott in directly if you kick up such a row,"
and so forth.  But just then, Anthony, who, if he hadn't science,
assuredly had all the fierce fighting valour of his race, woke up to a
mighty effort, and dashing out with both hands and hurling himself
forward at the same time, landed his adversary full in the face, and
down went Smithson minor, and with him two other fellows who were
pressing him too close behind.  In the midst of which shindy the door
opened, and in walked Haviland.

"What's all this about?" he cried, turning the gas full up and revealing
the whole scene of disorder--the panting combatants and the now
sheepish-looking spectators, some of whom were making desperate efforts
to appear as if they had never left their beds.  "Come here, Smithson.
What d'you mean by it, eh?"

Smithson, who recognised in this formula a certain preamble to condign
punishment, thought he might as well try to say something for himself.

"Please, Haviland, he cheeked me," he faltered.

"Cheeked you, did he?  I wonder you haven't had Sefton up here with his
cane, and of course that wouldn't have meant a thousand lines for me for
not keeping order, would it?"

"He tell me he smack my head," cut in Anthony.  "I tell him he can't do
it.  Then he try.  Ha!"

The room tittered.  Haviland was mollified.

"Did he do it?" he said.

"No fear.  I knock him over.  Then you come in."  And the speaker stood
with his head in the air, and the light of battle in his eyes, albeit
one of them was rather swollen, looking for all the world a youthful
reproduction of one of his warrior sires.

"Well, I know jolly well that Cetchy didn't begin the row," pronounced
Haviland, throwing down his square cap, and beginning to take off his
coat and vest with a yawn.  "Get into bed, Smithson.  If I hear anything
about this to-morrow from Sefton, I'll sock your head off.  If not, I'll
let you off this time.  Now shut up, you fellows.  No more talking."

There was no need to repeat the order.  Silence prevailed in that
dormitory forthwith.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

JARNLEY AGAIN.

If the practical joke played upon the keeper in Hangman's Wood ever
transpired in the immediate neighbourhood of that ill-omened locality,
the tidings thereof did not reach as far as Saint Kirwin's--nor had its
perpetrators any opportunity of revisiting the place, by reason of the
distance, and the difficulty of so soon again obtaining leave from
call-over.  But other coverts were levied upon in like fashion, all, or
nearly all, we regret to say, under equally forbidden conditions.

The summer term proved exceptionally fine, and Haviland and other
collectors revelled in the bright and glowing weather.  If at times
illicit, the long breezy rambles over field and down were fraught with
all that was healthful and wholesome, in the splendid air, the beautiful
surroundings of the fairest of English landscapes, the hardening of the
young frame into the most perfect training, the excitement of a certain
amount of ever present risk, and the absorbing pursuit of a favourite
hobby.  And then the cool plunge into the swimming pool at the close of
the long summer's day.  There was plenty of cricket too, and some
exceptionally good matches in which Saint Kirwin's kept up its name
quite well.

"Can't think why you don't go in for cricket, Haviland," observed
Laughton, in the prefects room one whole holiday as he was getting ready
for one of the matches aforesaid, and in which he figured in the school
eleven as a bowler of no mean repute.  "You ought to, you know.  It's
due to your position."

"No, thanks, Laughton.  You don't catch me wasting a splendid day like
this shying a ball at three silly sticks."

"Well, you could go in for batting.  From what little I've seen you do
in that line, with a little practice you'd make a very fair bat indeed."

"Oh, yes.  Get bowled first ball, and spend the rest of the day fielding
out.  I'd as soon be doing an impos."

And the speaker finished some arrangement of cotton wool and cardboard
boxes, and stowing the same into his side pockets tightened the strap
wherewith he was girded, and nodding to Laughton started off there and
then upon his favourite pursuit--but alone.

After him from the third form room windows gazed a pair of wistful eyes.
Mpukuza, otherwise Anthony, had conceived a hero-worship for the other,
nearly akin to that felt by some of the old indunas of his race for
their king.  To accompany Haviland on one of these rambles had become
for him something to live for.  He would have "broken his gates" and
cheerfully welcomed the inevitable swishing thereby incurred, rather
than forego one such, and of late the occasions on which Haviland had
been graciously pleased to command his attendance had been growing more
and more rare--partly due to the unwritten code which was against a
prefect fraternising much with a junior unless the latter were about his
own age and size.  So he gazed wistfully after his hero, and in the
expressive idiom of his race "his heart was sore."

"Hallo, Cetchy!  Not gated, are you?  Come out bird-nesting."  The voice
was that of Smithson minor.

Since their little scrimmage in the dormitory the two had become very
friendly, and had been out together several times.

"All right."

"Thought you were gated when I saw Haviland go out alone," went on
Smithson as they started.  "Hallo!  There's Clay!  Quick.  We'll dodge
him.  I've got an impos to do for him.  I'm not gated, but if he saw me
he might want to know why I'm not doing it."

Having successfully dodged the master they struck across some fields.
But alack and alas! in escaping one possible danger they were destined
to run straight into the jaws of another and a more certain.  At the
crossing of a stile there was a rush of big fellows who had been lying
in wait on the other side, and in a trice they were pounced upon and
collared by Jarnley and his gang.

"Got you at last, have I, Cetchy?" snarled that worthy, fairly grinning
with delight.  "Oh, I've a long score to pay off on your black hide,
haven't I? and I'm going to begin now," tweaking the other savagely by
the ear with one hand though holding him firmly by the collar with the
other.  "You would get me tanned by Clay, would you?"

"I was tanned too," protested the victim.

"And now you'll be tanned again.  What Clay gave you--gave us--is
nothing to what we are going to give you now.  And the seven hundred
lines, and the lines Sefton gave us all but let you off."

"Shut up, Perkins, you beastly bully!" yelped Smithson minor, who was
undergoing his share of trial in the little matter of a twisted arm and
a fistic punch or two thereon.  "I'll report you to Haviland if you
don't leave us alone."

"Oh, you'd sneak, would you?  Take that--and that"--emphasising the
expostulation with a couple of sounding smacks on the head.

"Come on, you fellows," said Jarnley.  "Don't let him go, but we'll deal
with Cetchy first.  Oh, yes, my black snowball, my woolly-pated beauty--
I told you I'd skin you alive, didn't I?  I told you I'd rip the black
hide off you, and now I'm going to do it.  Now then, spread-eagle him
over the steps of that stile.  Oh, yes.  We've been keeping these for
you many a long day, my noble snowball," producing a thick but supple
willow switch, and one of the others, of whom there were just half a
dozen, producing one likewise.

It was then or never.  The victim, well aware of what a savage thrashing
would be inflicted upon him, should he fail, made one last effort.
Before the others had time to seize him he struck his heel down sharply
on to Jarnley's toes, crushing them into the ground, at the same time
sending his elbow back with all his force.  It caught the bully fair in
the pit of the stomach, and with a howl, promptly strangled in a gasp,
Jarnley partially relaxed his hold.  In a trice the Zulu boy had
wrenched himself free, and, deftly ducking between two of the others who
sprang at him, was off like a shot.

Jarnley was beside himself with rage.

"You asses!" he shouted gaspingly as he recovered his wind.  "All this
time we've been looking out for him, and now, just as we've got him, you
let him get away."

"It strikes me it was you who let him get away," retorted Perkins.
"Well, we'll take it out of this little beast instead."

Poor Smithson minor howled for mercy, but he howled in vain.  They
pulled him down over the stile step, the switches were uplifted and
ready when--

"Whack!  Whack!" came a couple of stones.  "Whack--whack--whack!" came
three more, flung hard too, and with a terrible precision.  One struck
Perkins on the hand, causing him to dance and swear all his fingers were
broken.  Another hit Jarnley on the shoulder, while two more found their
billet in violent contact with another of the bullies--and there, in a
gap in the hedge some little distance off, stood the one who had
escaped, grinning in mingled vindictiveness and glee.  Other stones
followed, hurled with the same unerring precision.  To proceed with
their congenial work under that terrible bombardment was impossible--and
so, leaving one in charge of Smithson, the gang started in pursuit of
the Zulu boy.

The latter chuckled, for he knew that not one of them could get any
nearer to him than he chose, when it came to running.  He sprang down
into the road again, quickly shovelled up a double handful of stones,
and loped on.  Then he turned, just as the pursuers came within easy
range, and opened fire again.  It was too much.  With dire threats they
beat a retreat.  They would get hold of him again sooner or later, they
declared, and that time he would not get off at any price.  At all of
which the Zulu boy chuckled and laughed, hurling abusive epithets at
them in his quaint English.

The while poor Smithson, in the grasp of the big fellow who custodied
him, was having a bad time, in the shape of a slight forestalment of
what he might expect when the others returned.  But for him, too, came
relief--rescue, and it came in the shape of a couple of prefects who
appeared in sight, sauntering along the field-path towards them.

"You'd better let me go," he said, "or I'll call out to Street and
Cluer."

The other saw the force of this, and, with a threat and a sly cuff,
acted upon it, and slunk away to give the alarm to the rest.  Half an
hour later Smithson and Anthony were forgathering under a hedge, talking
over their escape.

"Well, you are no end of a brick, Cetchy," said the former.  "Why,
they'll make you cock chief of your tribe one of these days, I should
think."

"Ha--ha--ha!" chuckled the other.  "Jarnley hurt more'n we hurt.  All of
'em hurt.  Ha--ha--ha!"

"Well, you got me out of it with those beasts.  I say, Cetchy, old chap,
I'm expecting a hamper next week, and won't we have a blow out then!" he
added, in a burst of gratitude and admiration.

"Hamper?  What's that?"

"Why, a basket of tuck.  Grub, you know, from home.  No end of good
things."

"Ha!  All right," said the other with a jolly laugh.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

That day Haviland was making the most of his time and his solitary
ramble.  His collecting boxes were fairly well filled; among other
specimens he had hit upon a grasshopper warbler's nest, whose existence
he suspected, containing five eggs, beautifully fresh and thus easily
blown, likewise a sedge-warbler's, hung cuplike, among the bulrushes of
a reedy pond.  The spoils of two wheatears, extracted with some
difficulty from a deep burrow on the slope of Sidbury Down, had also
fallen to his lot, and now, stretched on the springy turf on the summit
of that eminence, he was enjoying a well-earned rest, thoroughly
contented with himself and all the world.  And what a view lay
outstretched beneath and around--a fair, rolling champaign, green meadow
and darker wood--here and there the shining surface of a pond: farm
buildings too, picturesque with their red roofs and yellow corn-stacks,
nestling among hanging elms noisy with the cawing of restless rooks, and
the shrill whimsical chatter of jackdaws.  The bark of a sheepdog, and
the glad melodious shout of the cuckoo here and there, were borne upward
on the still air--and far away over this beautiful landscape the brown
high-pitched roofs of Saint Kirwin's, conveying a sort of monastic
suggestion in its surroundings of field and wood.

Haviland had been making the most of his day--therefore this was his
fourth expedition, and it was now late afternoon.  His watch marked ten
minutes past five, and chapel was at six.  There was plenty of time, but
he thought he would take it easy going back.  So, having allowed himself
another five minutes' rest, he took a final look around, and started to
come down.

He had nearly reached the bottom of the slope when he stopped short,
with an exclamation of unbounded amazement and unmistakable dismay.  He
stood listening, motionless, intent.  Only the sound of a bell, pealing
out with startling plainness through the sleepy afternoon air.  Great
heavens!  It was the chapel bell at Saint Kirwin's.

No.  It couldn't be!  Why, it wasn't nearly time.  Chapel was at six--
not half-past five.  Eagerly, almost convulsively, he jerked forth his
watch.  Still the hands marked ten minutes past five.

He groaned aloud.  The game was up.  Not by any possibility could he now
be in time for chapel.  The bell always rang for a quarter of an hour,
and he knew--none better--that exactly double that period of time was
required to cover the distance between where he stood and the school
gates, and that at a sharp run all the way.  By a wellnigh superhuman
effort it might possibly be done in twenty-five minutes, but not one
second less, and here he was with something under a quarter of an hour
to do it in.  He was in despair.

For being late for chapel was one of the most heinous offences he could
commit.  The only chance for him was if for any reason the Doctor should
happen to be absent himself.  In that event the best he could expect was
a stiff imposition from the master of the week.  Should however the Head
be there, as was nearly always the case--why then it would mean certain
suspension for him at any rate.

He glared at the offending watch, and shook it savagely.  It ticked
feebly for a few seconds, then hopelessly stopped once more.  A pretty
trick it had played him, and he felt inclined to hurl it into the first
pond he should pass, as he sped along at a hard steady run: for every
minute he was late would, if possible, render his case worse.



CHAPTER NINE.

DISASTER.

Saint Kirwin's boasted a really beautiful chapel, large, lofty, rich in
stained glass and abundant sculpture of first-rate design and execution.
The services, which were fully choral, were rendered by an excellent
choir drawn from the school, and on Sundays and on certain saints' days
its performance would have done credit even to the average cathedral.
The structure was in shape a parallelogram, the seats running in long
rows, tier upon tier the whole length, certain stalls, however, being
returned against the west wall on either side of the entrance.  The
principal of these was that of the headmaster, who thus had the whole
assemblage under his view.  And his lynx gaze was quick to descry any
irregularity, and woe indeed to the prefect in whose row such should
occur, and still greater woe to the delinquent or delinquents.

We have said that Dr Bowen cut an imposing figure as he entered the big
schoolroom in cap and gown amid an awed silence, but he looked, if
possible, more imposing still in chapel, in his snowy voluminous
surplice and great scarlet hood, as, preceded by a verger, he made his
way along the aisle to read the Lessons from the great eagle lectern
which stood in the middle of the choir; indeed, so majestic was his gait
and bearing on these occasions as to be the source of a good deal of
surreptitious fun on the part of the more satirically minded, among
whom, needless to say, was our friend Haviland.

Now the latter, on this ill-fated afternoon, was standing outside the
door, striving to recover breath after the length and severity of his
run.  If only he could enter and reach his place unseen by the Doctor,
it would be all right.  The master of the week--in this case Mr
Williams--his own dormitory master, a good-natured and genial athlete,
would give him an imposition, as in duty bound, but would almost
certainly not report him at head-quarters, which he was not strictly
bound to do.  But how on earth could he accomplish any such entrance
seeing that the Doctor's stall was next to the door, and commanded
everything that went on, as we have said?  And then there occurred to
him a desperate scheme, one which spoke much for his readiness and
resource, and on that account alone deserved to succeed.  What if he
were to seize the opportunity when the Doctor should descend from his
stall, and, the moment his back was turned, slip in and walk close
behind him all the way to the lectern.  Arrived there, the attention of
the Great Panjandrum would be momentarily diverted while turning to
ascend the steps, and he could slip into his seat, which, luckily, stood
there hard by.  The chance was a desperate one indeed, but it was his
only one.  He would risk it.

Would the chanting never cease?  Haviland's heart thumped, and a mist
seemed to come before his gaze.  Ah, now for it!  The voices were
tailing off into an Amen; the organ stopped with a final snarl, then
silence, only relieved by a rustling sound and that of footsteps on the
stone floor.  Now was his time.

The door, fortunately, was not quite closed, and so could be opened
noiselessly.  Now it was done, and Haviland was within the chapel, his
rubber-soled shoes making no noise as he stole along, conscious of a
confused sea of faces; and, indeed, that progress seemed to his excited
brain like hours instead of minutes, and the great scarlet hood adorning
the Doctor's back seemed like a huge red-hot furnace before his eyes.

This strange procession had reached the lectern.  Haviland felt safe.
He had calculated his move to a nicety, and in a fraction of a second
would have gained his place.  But he had reckoned without the consummate
shrewdness, which was the result of long experience, of the headmaster
of Saint Kirwin's.

For the look of surprise, of interest, on the rows of faces on either
side of him as he paced up the aisle had not escaped that potentate, but
he was not going to impair the majestic dignity of his march by turning
then.  When he had gained his objective he did just half turn, and in
the momentary compression of the lips and that one look on the Doctor's
face Haviland knew that his fate was sealed.  To many there who had
witnessed the episode, and there were few who had not, it seemed that
there was a menacing growl in the sonorous voice rolling out the
splendid old Scriptural English.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Well, Haviland, what have you got to say for yourself?" said Mr
Williams, when our friend went to report himself afterwards.

"My watch stopped, sir.  I thought I had plenty of time, and then heard
the bell begin when I was just coming off Sidebury Down.  Even then I
tried to do it, but it was impossible."

"Well, I can't help that.  You'll have to do four hundred lines,"
answered Mr Williams, fully intending to let him off half of them.
"One of my prefects, too," he added, half quizzically, half with a mock
aggrieved air.

"Very sorry, sir."

The imposition was really less than he had expected.  If only the matter
were to rest there, he thought.

"I say, Haviland," subsequently remarked Laughton in hall.  "You're a
cool customer, marching in behind Nick in that stately manner.  Did you
think he wouldn't see you?"

"Yes.  It was the only chance, and I took it.  He wouldn't have, either,
if all those asses hadn't given, the show away by gaping like so many
idiots, confound them."

"What's Williams given you?"

"Four hundred.  I believe I'll try and get him to let me off one.  He
hasn't gated me either.  He's a good sort, is Williams.  What do you
think, Laughton?  Think Nick'll take the thing any further?  The old
brute looked vicious, and he perfectly hates me.  I don't know why."

Laughton wouldn't commit himself to an opinion, and the general feeling
at the prefects' table was about evenly divided as to whether the Doctor
would take it up or not.

"If you could only have seen yourself, Haviland!" cut in Cluer, another
prefect.  "It was enough to kill a cat, I swear it was.  It looked for
all the world as if you and Nick were trying which could crowd on the
most side."  And he spluttered over the recollection.

"Jolly good fun for you, Cluer, no doubt," said Medlicott, "and for all
of us, but it's beastly rough on Haviland, remember."

"Rather, if Nick's in one of his rotten moods," said Laughton.  "But
let's hope he won't be."

Alas for any such hopes!  On the way out of hall the fatal summons came:
"Haviland to go to the Doctor's study after prep, bell."

"All up!" groaned the implicated one.

When, at the appointed time, Haviland entered the dread presence, there
was no doubt but that the headmaster was "in one of his rotten moods,"
as Laughton had so graphically put it.  Seated there at his study table,
his face wore a very thundercloud of sternness, as he curtly invited the
other to make his explanation.  This was exactly the same as that
offered to Mr Williams, but here it was received with a wrathful
grunt--and then in his most magisterial manner the Doctor proceeded to
deliver himself.

"You have been guilty of a double breach of rules, in that you were
absent from calling-over--for a part of which, by virtue of your office,
you were personally responsible--and you were late for chapel.  It is no
excuse to say that your watch stopped; if that were any valid reason,
why then half the school might stay away from calling-over, and, indeed,
we might as well do away with calling-over altogether, or any other
rule.  For a prefect to break the rules, which it is his bounden duty to
help in enforcing--to do which, indeed, is the very reason of his
official existence--has always been, in my eyes, a ten times greater
offence than the same conduct on the part of a junior.

"Now, over and above this double breach of the rules you have been
guilty of two further and very serious offences.  You have disturbed the
decorum and dignity of divine service by entering the chapel in the way
you did, and you practised deceit in making that entrance in such manner
that you hoped it would escape my observation.  Let me tell you that
nothing escapes my observation--"

"No, by Jingo it doesn't!" thought the delinquent, ruefully.

"--and of late that observation has convinced me that you are unfit to
hold the office you bear, for I have had you specially under my notice
for some time past.  As, therefore, you have proved yourself utterly
unfit to hold office, I have made up my mind to deprive you of it, and
you may now consider yourself no longer a prefect."

Here Haviland broke in desperately:--

"Sir, has there ever been any report against me--I mean of any disorder
arising where I was in charge?"

The unheard-of audacity of this expostulation seemed to take away the
Doctor's breath, to render him utterly speechless.  _He_ to be answered,
remonstrated with!  Why, the thing was unprecedented!

"Silence, sir!" he thundered, rising in his seat, and Haviland thought
he was going to strike him.  However, he did not, and went on:--

"And as you have abused the reasonable liberty which the rules of the
school allow--and that not once, but continually--thus setting a bad
example where it was your duty to set a good one, you will be confined
to the school grounds from now until the end of the term.  You may go."

Seen from the windows of the somewhat sombre room in which he stood, the
fair open country seemed to Haviland's gaze more alluring than ever in
the summer twilight, as he heard his sentence of imprisonment.  And now
he might roam it no more.

Then, as he went forth from the dread sanctum, a feeling of desperation
dashed with recklessness came upon him.  They might just as well expel
him now, he thought, and perhaps he would do something to deserve even
that.  Practically gated until the end of the term--a matter of about
seven weeks!  Yes, he felt desperate.

At the breaking up of preparation that evening there was considerable
excitement among the groups scuffling to get a glimpse of the notice
board in the big schoolroom, in the brief time allowed between prep, and
prayers, and the attraction was a brand-new notice which ran thus:--

  "Haviland--prefect.

  "Suspended from his office and confined to the school grounds for the
  remainder of the term for gross breach of rules and general
  misconduct.

  "Nicholas Bowen, D.D., Headmaster."

"It was a pretty stiff account to have to settle, all because a fellow's
watch happened to stop," Haviland had remarked to Laughton and some
others when giving an account as to how he had fared.  "Suspended, gated
for the rest of the term, and four hundred lines to do for Williams into
the bargain."

The latter, however, was not to be added to his already burdened
shoulders, for at dormitory time, when he went to report to Mr Williams
that he was no longer a prefect, the latter said:--

"I'm sorry to hear that, Haviland.  But now you must just lie quiet a
bit and keep out of mischief.  The Doctor's sure to reinstate you.  Oh,
and look here.  You needn't do those lines I set you this afternoon.  It
doesn't seem fair that a fellow should have two punishments for the same
offence."

"The Doctor doesn't seem to think so, sir," he could not restrain
himself from saying.  "But thank you very much, sir.  Reinstate me?  No.
The Doctor has a regular spite against me--why I can't think."

"Oh, nonsense, Haviland," said the master very kindly.  "At any rate you
must try not to think so.  Good night."

But while uttering this protest officially, Mr Williams did so
half-heartedly, for in his own mind he thought the young fellow had been
very severely treated indeed, and that the punishment was out of all
proportion to the offence.



CHAPTER TEN.

BROODING.

Haviland, fallen from his high estate, did not take his misfortunes
well.  He was of a proud and sensitive temperament, and now that he
found himself humiliated, reduced to the level of the rank and file,
deprived of the very material privileges he had formerly enjoyed, shorn
of his powers, and now in a position to obey where for so long he had
been accustomed to command--yes, the humiliation was intolerable, and
for no greater crime than that his watch had unfortunately stopped.  A
mere accident.

Not that his former colleagues were in the least likely to add to his
humiliation by word or act of theirs.  _Esprit de corps_ was strong
among them, very largely fostered indeed by his own influence while in a
position to exert it.  Even the two or three among them who disliked him
would have shrunk from such an act, as being one of unspeakable
meanness.  And his fall was great.  In seniority he had stood next to
Laughton, the captain of the school, and were he eventually reinstated,
he would lose this, and have to start again at the bottom of the list.

As for the juniors, some were unfeignedly glad, though their instinct of
self-preservation made them remarkably careful not to obtrude that fact
upon him, yet, though his strictness while in office had rendered him
unpopular, now that he had fallen most of their sympathies were with
him.

But from sympathy or condolence alike he himself shrank.  His mind was
bitter with thoughts of hatred and revenge--the latter, if only it could
be obtained--yet why not?  He was utterly reckless now.  They could but
expel him, and for that he didn't care--at least, so he told himself.
It was in this dangerous mood the day after his suspension that he
encountered Jarnley--Jarnley and his gang.

But Jarnley had seen him coming, and tried to shuffle away.  So, too,
did his gang.

"Here--Hi, Jarnley!" he cried.  "Wait a bit.  I want to speak to you."

There was no escape, short of taking to his heels, wherefore Jarnley
stopped, with a very bad grace and faced round.

"Eh?  What is it, Haviland?"

"Just this.  That day I smacked your head for bullying Cetchy you said
you'd fight me if I wasn't a prefect.  Well, I'm not a prefect now, so--
come on."

"Oh, I was only humbugging, Haviland," returned Jarnley, not in the
least eager to make good his words.

"Then you'd rather not fight?"

"Of course I don't want to," said Jarnley, shrinkingly.  "And, look
here, Haviland, I'm beastly sorry you've been reduced."

What was to be done with a cur like this?  Haviland knew that the other
was lying, and was the reverse of sorry for his misfortunes.  He had
intended to give Jarnley his choice between fighting and being thrashed,
but how, in the name of common decency, could he punch a fellow's head
who expressed such effusive sympathy?  He could not.  Baulked, he glared
round upon the group.

"Any one else like to take advantage of the opportunity?" he said.
"You, Perkins?"

"I don't want to fight, Haviland," was the sullen answer.

"Very well, then.  But don't let me hear of any of you bullying Cetchy
any more.  He can tell me now, because I'm no longer a prefect; and any
fellow who does will get the very best hammering he ever had in his
life.  That's all."

His former colleagues spared no pains to let him see that they still
regarded him as one of themselves.  Among other things they pressed him
to use the prefects' room as formerly, but this he refused to do.  If he
had been walking with any of them he would stop short at the door, and
no amount of persuasion could prevail on him to enter.

"You needn't be so beastly proud, Haviland," Laughton had said, half
annoyed by these persistent refusals.  "Why, man, Nick's bound to
reinstate you before long.  The notice, mind, says `suspended' only."

At which Haviland had shaken his head and laughed strangely.

The confinement to grounds told horribly upon his spirits.  Three
miserable cricket fields--as a matter of fact they were remarkably open
and spacious--to be the sole outlet of his energies during all these
weeks!  He hated every stick and stone of them, every twig and leaf.  He
saw others coming and going at will, but he himself was a prisoner.  Not
even to the swimming pool might he go.

In sheer desperation he had followed Laughton's advice, and gone in for
cricket, but had proved so half-hearted over the game, then bad-tempered
and almost quarrelsome, that no one was sorry when he declared his
intention of giving it up.  More and more he became given over to
brooding--seeking a quiet corner apart, and looking out on to the open
country from which he was debarred.  While thus occupied one day, a hand
dropped on his shoulder.  Turning angrily--thinking some other fellow
was playing the fool, and trying to startle him--he confronted Mr
Sefton.

"What were you thinking about, Haviland?" said the latter in his quick,
sharp, quizzical way.

"Oh, I don't know, sir.  Nothing very particular, I suppose," forcing a
laugh, for he was not going to whine to Sefton.

The latter looked at him with straight, penetrating gaze.

"They tell me you've given up cricket again.  Why?"

"I don't care for it, sir, never did.  Everybody seems to have a notion
that nothing can be of any use, or even right, but that confounded--I
beg your pardon, sir--cricket and football.  A fellow is never to be
allowed to take his own line."

"Yes, but it's a good wholesome rule that if a fellow can't take his own
line he'd better adapt himself to the lines of others.  Eh?"

Haviland did not reply.  He merely smiled, cynically, disdainfully.  Mr
Sefton, watching his face, was interested, and more sorry for him than
his official position allowed him to say.  He went on:--

"Don't mope.  There's nothing to be gained by it.  Throw yourself into
something.  If one has lost a position, it is always possible to regain
it.  I know, and some others know, your influence has always been used
in the right direction.  Do you think that counts for nothing?  Eh?"

"It hasn't counted for much, sir, in a certain quarter," was the bitter
reply.  "It isn't the position I mind--I don't care a hang about it,
sir!" he burst forth passionately, "but to be stuck down in these three
beastly fields, in the middle of a crowd all day and every day--I'd
rather have been expelled at once."

"Don't be an ass, Haviland," said the master, stopping short--for they
had been walking up and down--and peering at him in his quaint way.  "Do
you hear?  Don't be an ass."

This commentary, uttered as it was, left no room for reply, wherefore
Haviland said nothing.

"Why don't you go to the Doctor and ask him to remove your `gates'?"
went on Mr Sefton.

"I wouldn't ask _him_ anything, sir."

The tone, the expression of hatred and vindictiveness in the young
fellow's face, almost startled the other.  As a master, ought he not to
administer a stern rebuke; as a clergyman, was it not his duty to reason
with him?  But Mr Sefton, no part of an ass himself, decided that this
was not the time for doing anything of the sort.

"You talk about not caring if you were expelled, Haviland," he went on.
"How about looking at it from your father's point of view?  How would he
feel, d'you think, if you ended up your school life with expulsion?
Eh?"

He had struck the right chord there, for in the course of their
conversations he had gathered that the young fellow was devotedly
attached to his father, whom he regarded as about a hundred times too
good for the barren, ungrateful, and ill-requited service to which he
had devoted his life--at any rate, looking at it from the unregenerate
and worldly point of view.  And, with a consciousness of having said
just the right thing at the right time, Mr Sefton wisely decided to say
no more.

"Think it over, Haviland.  Think it over.  D'you hear?" and with a
friendly nod of farewell, he went his way.

A few minutes later he was walking along a field-path, his hat on the
back of his head as usual, and swinging his stick.  With him was Mr
Williams.

"I've just been talking to that fellow Haviland," he was saying.  "Of
course, I didn't tell him so, but Nick has made a blunder this time.
He's piled it on to him too thick."

The Doctor's _sobriquet_, you see, had got among the assistant masters.
It was short and handy, and so among themselves they used it--some of
them, at any rate.

"I think he's been most infernally rough on him, if you ask me," replied
Mr Williams, who, by the way, was not in orders, but an athletic Oxford
graduate of sporting tastes, and who was generally to be met when off
the grounds surrounded by three or four dogs, and puffing at a
briar-root pipe.  This he was even now engaged in relighting.  "One
would think it'd be enough to kick the poor devil out of his prefectship
without gating him for the rest of the term into the bargain.  I
promptly let him off the lines I'd given him when I heard of it."

"That's just my opinion, Williams.  And it's the gating that's making
him desperate.  And he is getting desperate, too.  I shouldn't be
surprised if he did something reckless."

"Then he'll get the chuck.  That'll be the last straw.  Why has Nick got
such a down on him, eh, Sefton?"

"I don't know, mind, but perhaps I can guess," said the other,
enigmatically.  "But look here, Williams.  Supposing we put in a word
for him to Nick.  Get him to take off the fellow's gates, at any rate?
Eh?  Clay would join, and so would Jackson, in feet we all would."

"That'd make it worse.  Nick would think we were all in league against
him.  He isn't going back one jot or tittle on his infallible judgment,
so don't you believe it.  We'd get properly snubbed for our pains."

"Well, I'm going to tackle him, anyhow.  I'm not afraid of Nick for all
his absurd pomposity," rejoined Mr Sefton, with something like a snort
of defiance, and his nose in the air.  He meant it, too.  Yet, although
the above expression of opinion between these two masters very fairly
represented the general estimate in which the whole body held the Head,
they were fully alive to the latter's good points, and supported him
loyally in upholding the discipline and traditions of the school.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

A MIDNIGHT FORAY.

There was one in whose eyes Haviland, fallen from his pedestal, was on a
still higher plane even than he had been before; and that one was
Mpukuza, otherwise Anthony, sneeringly known among the ill-disposed as
"Haviland's chum."  With the entire and unswerving loyalty of his race
towards the object of its hero-worship, the Zulu boy looked upon his
god's misfortune as his own misfortune, and was not slow to proclaim the
fact in season and out of season.  Any fellow within measurable
dimensions of his own size who professed satisfaction within Cetchy's
hearing had got to fight, while more than one thrashing came his way
from bigger fellows, towards whom his championing of his hero's cause
took, perforce, the form of cheek.  As for the prime author of the said
misfortune, it would have been astonishing to note the result upon the
reverend but stern Doctor's mind, could he either have heard or
understood the awful threats and imprecations muttered at him in the
liquid Zulu language whenever he came within view of Anthony.

The latter, since he had been at Saint Kirwin's, had made his way very
fairly well.  Acting upon an earnest and wise warning from the
missionary who had placed him there, the masters had refrained from
taking undue notice of him, and so spoiling him, as perhaps might
otherwise have been the case, and being thus left to make his own way,
he had made it, as we have said.  And he was growing taller and
stronger, with all the fine physique of his race.  Lithe, active,
enduring, he was as hard as steel; nor would it be very long before he
might be in a condition to turn the tables on Jarnley and Co., quite
independently of his hero and protector.

To whom one day he sidled up, and opened conversation this way:

"You not sick of being always in?"

"You ass, Cetchy!  What d'you mean by asking such an idiotic question?"
was the excusably irritable retort.

"_Au_!  Then why you not go out?"

"Look here, Cetchy.  If you're trying to make a fool of me, you'll
promptly find you've got the wrong pig by the ear.  What are you driving
at?  Eh?"

The other looked quickly around.  The two were alone.

"I not make fool.  _Ishinga 'nkulu_ not let you go out in day.  _Au_! go
out at night.  Why not?"

We regret to say that by the above epithet--which being interpreted
means "big rascal"--this descendant of generations of fighting savages
was of late wont to refer to the Reverend the Headmaster of Saint
Kirwin's.

"No one see you," he went on.  "Quite easy.  I go with you; we find lots
of nests.  We go to Hangman's Wood again.  Plenty of time.  All night
long."

"Now, Cetchy, you young ass, how are you going to find nests in the
dark?"

"Not dark.  Plenty moon.  Besides," and here he looked round once more,
and said something in a quick, hurried whisper.  Haviland started, and
his face flushed red with eagerness and excitement.

"The very thing," he exclaimed.  "By George, won't we have fun?  But I'm
not so sure about the other fellows in the room.  Some of them hated me
while I was a prefect.  What if they sneak?"

"They not sneak," tranquilly replied the other.  "No; they not sneak.  I
know."

Then the two plotters put their heads together and talked a good while,
but always cautiously.  If any one came within earshot, why they were
only talking about bird-nesting.

We said that Haviland occupied a smaller room at the end of the big
dormitory, the said room containing ten other fellows, and from this it
had not been deemed necessary to shift him at the time of his
suspension; indeed, the same order prevailed therein as before, so great
the force of habit and his own prestige.  Now, a night or two after the
above conversation, just before "lights out" time, Haviland remarked
meaningly:

"Any sneaks here?"

The boys stared, then tittered.  What on earth was Haviland driving at?
they were all thinking.

"Don't stand grinning like a Cheshire cat, Smithson, you young ape,"
said the ex-prefect.  "Why don't you answer, all of you?  Are there any
sneaks here?"

"No," came the unanimous answer; while one or two added, "Of course not.
Why?"

"Ha!  Any fellow sneak, I kill him!" said Mpukuza, otherwise Anthony, in
would-be blood-curdling tones, and rolling the whites of his eyeballs
hideously.

"There's no need for that, Cetchy," said Haviland, judiciously.  "I know
none of these fellows are sneaks."

"Of course not," they repeated.  "But why, Haviland?"

"You'll see, or, rather, you won't see, for you'll all be asleep.
You'll all be asleep, d'you hear?" he added significantly.

He turned out the gas.  Not for another hour could he begin operations,
and all he and his accomplice had to do was to sit and wait.

Ten of the occupants of the room were pretending to be asleep, except
two or three who, wearied with waiting to see what was going to happen,
actually were so.  The others noiselessly arose.  Both were dressed, but
instead of their boots wore light running shoes.  Then the other inmates
of the dormitory thrilled with excitement and admiration as, peeping
furtively from beneath the clothes, they beheld in the moonlight, which
streamed into the room, their ex-prefect busily engaged in knotting a
cord to the framework of the two iron bedsteads which stood right under
the outside window.

This long wing of the school buildings ended here.  Without, the chapel
wall, buttressed and lofty, extended at right angles to it.  Another
convenient buttress on the other side of the window screened the corner
thus formed, in most effective fashion.

Haviland and his dusky satellite proceeded to pay out the cord.  The end
just swung clear of the ground, and the height, from twenty-five to
thirty feet, was a mere nothing to such practised climbers.  Down they
went, hand over hand, first one, then the other.  Then, taking advantage
of the shadows thrown out by the rose bushes that grew outside, they
flitted along the chapel wall, then over the fence and into the field
beyond.

How good it was to be out again, to move freely over this glorious open
country spreading around so still and soft and mysterious in the
moonlight!  Half hundred fragrant scents seemed to blend and fuse,
distilled from grass and bank and hedgerow, upon the pure night air, and
mingled with the odour of kine asleep in the pasture meadows.  A
nightingale "jug-jugged" in an adjacent copse, and was answered by
another; a large hare, long-eared and ghostly, sprang out of their way
and loped off into misty dimness--but, over all, that sense of freedom,
of entire and complete liberty, which a sense of risk, and very real
risk, did but add to.

For a keeper would likely be on his beat these moonlight nights, and to
encounter one such would be almost fatal.  And to-night they had higher
game in view than bird-nesting.

"Here it is," said Mpukuza, diving into a bed of leaves at the bottom of
a dry ditch and dragging forth--an air-gun.  "Now we have fun.  _Au_!"

Haviland's hand shook with excitement as he took the weapon.  Fun
indeed!  Wouldn't they?  He was not unpractised in the use of firearms,
for on rare and happy occasions when he had visited at the country place
of a distant relative he had been taught and encouraged to shoot, and he
was passionately fond of the sport.  But his opportunities, alas, had
been few and far between.

The air-gun was a good one of its kind, and up to a certain distance
shot true and hard.  The Zulu boy had seen it among the wares of a
travelling pedlar during one of his solitary wanderings, and had
purchased it for five shillings, it having probably been stolen in the
first instance.  He had hidden it craftily away, with an eye to just
such an adventure as this.

Haviland put in a pellet and fired at nothing in particular.  Even the
slight twang as he pulled the trigger seemed quite loud in the midnight
stillness; but he felt that it would hit hard.

They stole along in the shadow of a hedgerow, Haviland carrying the gun.
A covert loomed darkly in front of them.  As they entered it
stealthily, the flap-flap of startled wood-pigeons set their nerves all
tingling, for would not a tale be thereby conveyed in the event of
keepers being abroad?

But alas for their reckoning!  It was the wrong time of year for
night-poaching.  The foliage was so thick that they could see nothing.
Every tree might have been weighted with roosting pheasants for all the
sport that fact would afford them.  For some time they went round and
round the copse, looking upward, and were just going to give it up
when--there in a young ash of scanty leafage, they made out two dark
balls silhouetted against the moonlit sky.  Controlling his excitement,
Haviland took careful aim and pressed the trigger.  There was a thud, a
flapping of wings, and one of the dark balls fell to earth with a louder
thud.  There lay at their feet a splendid cock-pheasant.  The Zulu boy
promptly ended its struggles by a tap on the head with his stick.

"Shoot again," he whispered.  "Shoot again."

Now at ordinary times Haviland's sporting instincts were far too true to
allow him to find much satisfaction in shooting birds on the roost.  But
here the night adventure, the secrecy and risk, and, further, the skill
required to pick off a bird with a single pellet, and that in a very
uncertain light, all went to render the situation intensely exciting.
Again he raised the weapon and took careful aim, with the same result as
before.  Mpukuza capered with delight.

"That enough for to-night," he whispered.  "Now we go and eat him.
Come."

For the speaker had been carefully planning this adventure for some days
past, consequently it was not surprising that when the two gained the
congenial hiding-place formed by a deep dry ditch with clayey
overhanging banks, the whole well concealed by brambles, the materials
for a fire were laid and ready, and only wanted lighting.  The fireplace
was cunningly scooped out of the clay bank, and now, in deft manner
known to himself, the Zulu boy managed to light and foster that fire in
such wise that it soon consisted of a mass of ardent and glowing
charcoal, giving forth little or no smoke.  The while the birds had been
hastily plucked and cut in pieces, and set on the embers to broil.

It was almost worth while undergoing his long imprisonment to have such
glorious fun as this, thought Haviland, as he watched the hissing and
sputtering flesh which, but half an hour ago, had been alive and totally
unsuspicious of approaching fate.  The dry ditch became a sort of cave
of romance, an episode in a life of wild adventure.  Perhaps some day,
at no great distance of time either, such a life might be his.  And as
the roast went on, his dusky companion told him strange tales of his own
country--tales of war, of stirring sights he himself had looked on with
childish eyes, of grim legends fraught with mysterious horror; stories,
too, of widespread slaughter, and ruthless, unsparing revenge.  The
listener's blood was all on fire.

"I say, Cetchy, I would like to go to that country of yours," he said,
half breathlessly.  "Perhaps I will one of these days."

"Ha! you come.  We have good fun then.  But it's no longer good country.
The English have driven out the king--broken up the people.  Ha!"

The first instalment of the broil was ready, and they fell upon it with
a will, the while Anthony had raked up the fire and put on as much more
of the birds as it would hold.

"Cetchy, old chap, this is splendid," said Haviland gleefully, as with
their pocket-knives they stripped the flesh from the bones, and devoured
it with their healthy school appetites.  "Why Nick himself can't get
roast pheasant now for love or money, because it's out of season.  Old
brute!  I'd like to give him a turn on that fire.  Eh?"

"Oh yes, make him wriggle on it like Umbelini make the Tonga prisoners I
was goin' to tell about.  They go work in diamond mines, come back
through Umbelini's country with plenty money.  They no tell where it is,
hide it away.  He burn them till they tell--most of them never tell;
Umbelini burn 'em till they dead.  One man tell.  Ha!"

The while Haviland had hardly noticed how the other had been allotting
all the choicest bits to his share.

"I say," he said at last, "I never thought you and I would be able to
polish off a brace of cock-pheasants to our own cheek.  Yet we jolly
well nearly have."

They had.  The night air and their natural growing appetites had
rendered the feat one of no great difficulty.  But it was time to go
back.  The nights were nearly at their shortest.  By two o'clock it
would be almost daylight.  So they started from their _alfresco_ kitchen
and banqueting-room, and, concealing the air-gun and its ammunition,
made their way back once more, and neglecting no precaution, shinned up
the rope which had been left dangling, and were safe and sound within
the dormitory again--the rope being carefully coiled away in Haviland's
box--he about five minutes thereafter being fast asleep, and dreaming
that he was plugging a huge cock-pheasant through and through with
air-gun pellets, the riddled bird finally taking shape as the Doctor, to
his own great and vengeful satisfaction.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

TYING KNOTS IN NICK'S TAIL.

A change seemed now to have fallen upon Haviland.  He was no longer to
be met wandering alone, and the moody frown had left his brow, giving
way to an expression of easy, light-hearted contentment.  Yet there were
days when he spent nearly the whole of his spare time lying in a corner
of the playing fields, his cap over his face and--fast asleep.  There
was no fear of him sleeping too long, or being late for anything--
Mpukuza, otherwise Anthony, took care of that--and was always at hand to
awake him in time.

Not much together were they in the daytime, in feet, hardly at all, yet
the Zulu boy was always at hand when his hero wanted him, actually or
unconsciously.  He could do without all this extra sleep, but the other,
with his nervous, high-strung temperament, felt the reaction after these
nights of adventurous excitement, to say nothing of the sheer physical
fatigue following upon the hard exercise attendant on their nocturnal
exploits.

For that first expedition was by no means the last.  The appetite for
such grew, and night after night the cord was let down, and these two
amateur poachers would sally forth upon their lawless but entrancing
errand.  Not always so lucky were they, however, as on that first
occasion, for it was generally impossible to see the roosting birds
because of the abundant foliage, and then too, the moon began to wane,
which added to the difficulty of bringing them down, even when they did
see them.  Moreover, they had at least two exceedingly narrow escapes at
the hands of unduly vigilant keepers.  They decided that the time had
come to change their field of action.  Things were getting too hot.

Not always, however, were they on poaching bent.  Sometimes the air-gun
would be left reposing in its place of concealment and egg-hunting would
be the order of the day--or rather of the night--and here Haviland's
consummate knowledge of the life of the fields and woods brought success
where another would have returned empty-handed.  But the season was
getting late, and the nests mostly contained young birds, or eggs so
hard-set as to be useless.

Now this change in Haviland did not long escape the keen, observant eyes
of Mr Sefton.  True to his resolution, that kind-hearted disciplinarian
had taken an opportunity of putting in a word with the Doctor, in
mitigation of his favourite's penalty, and had been incontinently
snubbed for his pains.  The headmaster saw no reason whatever for
modifying his former judgment, nor did he recognise the right of his
assistants to offer criticism upon his acts, had been the substance of
his reply.

"Ha!  Nick blew himself out like a bullfrog, by Jingo!" was Mr Sefton's
subsequent comment when he narrated the result to Mr Williams.  "But I
don't mind his bounce, not I, ha ha!  It's like water off a duck's back
with me.  Ha!" he added whimsically, with his head thrown back, as his
way was.

Of course he said nothing to Haviland as to his kindly meant attempt,
but this new attitude on the part of his favourite was sorely puzzling.
He would engage him in conversation from time to time--not out of any
motive of spying, but because he was really interested in the young
fellow, and liked him genuinely, but even then he could arrive at no
clue.

Haviland, for his part, was greatly enjoying that side of the situation.
He knew they were all curious about him, those, that is, who were
interested in him at all.  Laughton and Medlicott and others had at
times commented on his altered demeanour, but he had explained it away
on the ground that the end of the term was not far off, and he expected
to go and stay at an awfully jolly place for part of the holidays.  If
they only knew the fun he was having what time everybody else was in bed
and asleep!  The thought appealed to the humorous side of his nature.
It is possible he might even have forgiven the Doctor, but that his
sense of justice was outraged.  Other masters had punished him, but
never unfairly.  He knew he had earned such.  The extreme and
double-weighted penalty with which the Head had visited a not very grave
offence he could not feel he had earned.  Other masters had set him more
than one swingeing imposition, but even when they had spoken sharply
they had always behaved like gentlemen.  The Doctor, on the other hand,
had a bullying, overbearing way with him, which was quite unnecessary,
and galling and ungentlemanly to the last degree, he considered.  It
might be all right when dealing with some of these cads, thought
Haviland, but he ought to know when to discriminate.  No, he could not
forgive the Doctor.  The sense of injustice rankled, and festered, and
not the least side of the enjoyment of his new escapades was that he was
"tying knots in Nick's tail," as he put it to himself--and Anthony--
consciously or unconsciously "lifting" from Ingoldsby.

The only misgiving--and it was rather a serious one--that would strike
him was how long the other fellows in the dormitory would manage to hold
their tongues.  He did not believe that any among them would willingly
give them away, but the young asses might get chattering.  With this in
view, many and oft were the monitions addressed to them by himself and
his accomplice.  They were admonished, not only to make no confidences
to those outside, but never even to talk about it among themselves, for
fear of being overheard--in fact, to regard their knowledge as the
cherished secret of some privileged order, of which they had the honour
to be members.  This appealed to them more than any other argument, and
it hardly needed Cetchy's from time to time repeated threat: "Any fellow
sneak--I kill him."  This threat he would emphasise by the production of
a wicked-looking weapon, which he kept in his box--namely, the half of
an old sheep-shear, with which, spliced on to a short, strong handle, he
had manufactured a very creditable imitation of his native assegai.  Nor
did they regard the menace as an entirely futile one, for they had
witnessed an outbreak or two of genuine, though not unprovoked, savagery
on the part of the threatener, which, but for timely interference, might
have entailed serious--if not fatal--consequences.

Yet the above misgiving grew by dwelling upon, and there were times when
Haviland would feel exceedingly uncomfortable and almost make up his
mind to give up these perilous expeditions.  Were they worth the risk?
The end of the term was drawing near, and his irksome restraint would,
of course, end with it; whereas, were he detected, the result would be
inevitable expulsion.  Mr Sefton's words would strike uncomfortably
home to his mind, and, after all, embittered and reckless as he might
feel, he had no desire to be expelled.  His accomplice would get off
with a sound swishing, for which, of course, he himself was too old.  He
would certainly be expelled.

But such prudential moods were not destined to last.  His close
confinement galled him more and more, and, besides, there was one
expedition the pair had promised themselves, and that was to extend
their midnight marauding to Hangman's Wood.  That would be a famous
exploit.  They would shoot two or three pheasants there--the place just
grew pheasants--and at night they would be entirely safe, because no one
dared go into it on account of the ghost.  Yes, it would be the crowning
exploit of all, and the sooner they undertook it the better, while there
was some moonlight left.

They might have been less easy in their minds, however, could they have
assisted unseen in a discussion then going on in the Doctor's study
between that potentate and Laughton, with a couple of the senior
prefects.

"It is really becoming a serious matter," the Headmaster was saying,
"and I am considering what action I shall take.  Again I have had
complaints.  Both Mr Worthington's and Lord Hebron's keepers have been
to me again.  There is no doubt as to the truth of their stories, I am
afraid.  Their woods are overrun and pheasants taken--they gave me ample
proof of that.  They have even found a place where the birds have been
cooked and eaten, and a good many of them too."

"Surely, sir, that's no evidence whatever that it has been done by any
of the school," said Laughton, as the Doctor paused, as though inviting
opinion.

"I think it is, Laughton.  The ordinary poacher, you see, would remove
his game, not cook and eat it in a dry ditch.  Furthermore, the
footmarks observed by the keepers were made by cricket shoes, and not
large enough nor broad enough to be imprinted by the village
ne'er-do-well."

"But Lord Hebron's preserves are too far away, sir," urged Medlicott.
"No fellow would have time to get there and back unless he got leave
from calling-over."

"That's true," rejoined the Doctor; "but the Question is, has anybody
been getting such leave of late, and, if so, how many?  I shall inquire
into that.  And now have any of you any other suggestions to offer?"

The prefects looked at each other rather blankly.  It was, of course,
very flattering, and all that sort of thing, to be taken thus into the
counsels of the redoubtable Doctor; but then, unfortunately, they hadn't
the ghost of a notion what to suggest.  At last Laughton said:--

"I should think, sir, the best plan would be for the owners of the
shootings to increase their staff of keepers.  It seems hard for them to
lay the blame on the school when there's so little to justify the
suspicion."

"On the contrary, I think there is a good deal to justify it," returned
the Doctor.  "I think they have made out a _prima facie_ case.  The
question now is what steps I shall be called upon to take.  I am very
loth to put in force so grave a measure as withdrawing the privilege of
rambling over the country and confining the school strictly to grounds,
merely on suspicion, even though a strong suspicion.  I have always
held, too, that that privilege, combined with the natural healthiness of
our situation, has not a little to do with the high reputation for
health we have always enjoyed.  But, if this goes on, I shall be obliged
to take some such step."

"Perhaps, sir, some of us might make it our business to go about a
little and keep our eyes open," suggested Read, the other prefect.

"That is just what I was thinking, Read," replied the Doctor.  "If we
can discover the offenders, I shall make a grave example of them, and it
will be to the interest of the whole school.  Meanwhile, let me impress
upon you that I particularly wish this meeting to be considered a
confidential one.  To the other prefects its burden must, of course, be
imparted, but beyond them I desire no information to leak out, for that
might be to defeat our object entirely, for it is better for the
evil-doers to be detected than to be only warned and to desist for a
time.  And at this we will leave it."

And so they were dismissed.

The while Haviland and his dusky accomplice, blissfully unconscious,
were planning their great stroke, which had the additional attraction of
tying yet another knot in Nick's tail.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

A GRIM TUSSLE.

"I say, Cetchy, isn't this splendid?" said Haviland, drawing in long
breaths of the cool night air.  He was simply revelling in the sense of
absolute liberty as he gazed around upon the dim fields, then up at the
star-gemmed sky.

"Oh, yes.  Splendid, rather!  Hangman's Wood long way--get morning very
early," replied the other.

The long, dark outline of the ill-omened covert loomed before them; and
at sight of it Haviland could hardly restrain a wild paroxysm of
laughter, as he remembered the last time they visited the place, and the
awful scare they had put upon the unfortunate keeper.  Just as they
gained it, the moon in its last quarter arose above the tree tops.

"It's awfully dark in here, Cetchy," whispered Haviland, as they stood
within the gloomy depths of the wood.  "These trees are too thick.  We
can't see a blessed bird."

It was even as he had said.  The light of the feeble moon hardly
penetrated here, and the chill gloom and weird associations of the place
began to take effect even upon their spirits.  A fox barked in the
further end of the covert, and ever and anon the doleful hooting of
owls, both far and near, rang out upon the night, and now and again one
of the ghostly birds would drop down almost into their faces, and skim
along the ride on soft, noiseless pinions.  The earthy moisture of the
soil and undergrowth was as the odour of a charnel-house.  Every now and
then some sound--strange, mysterious, unaccountable--would cause them to
stop short, and, with beating hearts, stand intently listening.  Then
they went on again.

They had secured no spoil; the tree tops were too thick to see the
roosting birds.  At last, as luck would have it--whether for good or ill
we say not--they managed to glimpse a single pheasant through a gap
against the sky.  All of a quiver with excitement, Haviland pressed the
trigger, and missed.  Still the dim black ball up aloft never moved.
Again he took careful aim, and this time it did move, for it came down
from its perch with a resounding flapping of wings, and hit the earth
with a hard thud, still flapping.  In a moment the Zulu boy was upon it
and had wrung its neck, but not before it had uttered a couple of
raucous croaks that seemed, to the over-strained sense of its slayers,
loud enough to be heard for miles in the midnight stillness.

"I'm glad we've got something at last, Cetchy," whispered Haviland, as
he examined the dead bird.  "We'll have to be contented with it, though,
for time's up.  Come along, we must get back now."

Bearing off their spoil in triumph, they had gained the centre of the
wood--the spot, in fact, where the old tragedy had occurred, and close
to that whereon they had so badly frightened the keeper.  Suddenly
Haviland felt a hand on his arm, heard a brief whisper:

"Stop!  Something moving."

At first he could hear nothing; then his ears detected a sound, and his
nerves thrilled.  As the other had said, it was something moving, and
instinctively he realised that it was something heavier, more formidable
than any of the light-footed denizens of an English wood.  Somehow his
mind reverted to the grim legend.  What if it were true, and the
strangled man actually did walk, with all the marks of his horrible and
violent death upon him?  In front, where the rides of the wood
intersected each other, the moonlight streamed through in a broad patch,
rendering blacker still the pitchy blackness beneath the trees beyond.
The stillness and excitement, together with the gruesome associations of
the place, had got upon their nerves even more than they knew.  What if
some awful apparition--appalling, horrible beyond words--were to emerge
from yonder blackness, to stand forth in the ghostly moonlight, and
petrify them with the unimaginable terrors of a visitant from beyond the
grave?  Haviland's pulses seemed to stand still as the sounds drew
nearer and nearer.  A keeper's?  No.  They were too quick, too heavy,
too blundering, somehow.  Then Anthony breathed one word:

"Dog!"

A dog!  Of course, that solved the mystery.  But even then the jump from
supernatural fears to the material hardly seemed to mend matters.  A dog
meant a keeper, of course, unless it were a midnight poacher like
themselves, in which event it would give them a wide berth; but this was
too much to hope.  On the other hand, if it were accompanying a keeper
on his midnight round, the brute would certainly attack them; and that
it was a large and heavy animal they could determine by the sound of its
quick, fierce rushes to and fro, and a sort of deep-toned grunt which it
uttered now and then as it snuffed the ground.

Breathlessly they crouched.  Ha!  It was coming!  The sound of its
approaching rush in the pitchy blackness was almost upon them--then it
passed.  It had not discovered them yet, but evidently suspected their
presence.  When it winded them, as it might do any moment, then it would
come straight for them.  There was something terribly unnerving in this
feeling of being hunted, and that by an enemy whose strength they had no
opportunity of estimating.

As the retreating sound grew fainter, Haviland suggested climbing a
tree.  There was no such thing as playing the ghost again.  That was all
very well with a keeper, but it wouldn't do for a moment with a dog.
Besides, the brute could maul them horribly even before the keeper
should arrive on the scene; but Anthony negatived the suggestion.

"No climb tree," he said.  "I kill him.  Look, he come again."

It was even as he had said.  The rush of a heavy body through the
undergrowth, this time on the other side of the ride, and then, from the
darkness beyond, there sprang forth into the moonlit ride an enormous
bull-mastiff.

Terrible to a degree looked the formidable brute, his fangs exposed in a
white line across the blackness of his huge bullet head: and the great
muscular brindled body looked powerful enough to bring down a bullock
with ease.  Why, these two would simply be torn to pieces.

As the brute sprang into the light it paused a moment.  Then, uttering
one deep, cavernous "gowl" it came straight for them.

But at the moment it began its rush, there darted forth into the light a
form, lithe and dark.  Something flashed aloft, and at the same time
descended--and then animal and human were mixed up together in a
struggling mass upon the ground.  The descendant of a long line of
warriors knew better than to give his antagonist the choice of battle
ground, and did not prefer to fight in the dark, wherefore he had hurled
himself straight at the onrushing monster--stabbing furiously with his
improvised sheep-shear assegai.

Not ineffectually either, but the sheer weight of the heavy muscular
brute had hurled him flat.

It had all been done with a rapidity that was almost lightning-like.
Haviland, witnessing it, felt all in a maze for a moment, realising that
he was unarmed--for the air-gun of course would be about as effective
against such an adversary as this as the common or school pea-shooter.
Yet he bethought him of a weapon more useful still, and without
hesitation he advanced upon the struggling pair, and his right fist was
armed with a knuckle-duster of the most formidable kind, each knuckle
constituting a sharp point--a terrible implement, one moderately strong
blow of which could kill a man easily.

The Zulu boy lay on the sward beneath the great dog--his one object
being to shield his throat.  Fortunately he had previously rolled his
jacket round his left arm, and this had received the powerful jaws,
which hung on, with a dreadful worrying snarl--while, with his right, he
was stabbing furiously at the creature's body, but somehow without much
effect.  Haviland saw his chance--and the good moonlight befriended him.
With the utmost coolness and ready promptitude he selected his
opportunity--letting out with all the force of his iron-bound right
hand.  "Woof!"  It caught the snarling, gnashing monster full and square
on the side of the head, and without waiting to see the result he
followed it up with another.  One quick gasp, and the great brute rolled
off, lying on its side, hardly moving--stunned, if not dead.  But the
Zulu boy would leave nothing to chance.  Springing to his feet he drove
his sharp weapon through and through the body of the dog.  There was no
doubt about it then.  The animal lay still--the dark pool of its blood
widening ever in the moonlight.

"Are you hurt, Cetchy?  D'you hear--are you hurt?" gasped Haviland,
panting with the effort and excitement of his supreme exertion.

"Hurt?  No.  He bite me once.  Ha!  I, Mpukuza!  I can kill!  Ha!"

Thus spoke the savage--the descendant of a line of fighting savages,
standing there, grasping his savage weapon, surveying the dead and
bleeding body of his formidable enemy, not in his own native wilds, but
in the peaceful glade of an English game preserve.

"Well, come along then, and quick.  There's sure to be a keeper not far
off."

Quickly they took their way to the edge of the wood.  They were over the
fence and away, but hardly had they gone some fifty yards when a voice
behind them shouted:--

"Hi!  Stop there!  Stop, do 'ee 'ear?  I'll shoot 'ee if 'ee don't."
And immediately the bang of a discharged gun crashed out upon the night,
Haviland laughed.

"It's all right, Cetchy.  He daren't fire at us, for his life.  It's
bluff.  Come along."

And away they raced, but a glance over their shoulder showed them that
the keeper was giving chase.

That in itself didn't afflict them much, but by and by when they had
covered several long fields, they observed with concern that he was
still on their heels.  As a rule, a keeper was easy to distance, but
this one seemed lightly built and in excellent training.  Even a dark
lane down which they dived, hoping to double on him, proved of no avail;
rather did it serve to make matters worse, for the keeper, knowing where
they were bound to come out, had wasted neither time nor energy, but
made straight for that point: a manoeuvre which brought him alarmingly
close when he did emerge.  And at all hazards he must not be suffered to
head them off from their objective.

"Now, then--'ee'd better stop, I tell 'ee!" he shouted, reckoning them
done up.  But the fugitives knew better than to waste wind, if he did
not.  They simply raced on, offering no reply.  And by degrees their
superior wind and training told, the more so that the race was a long
one.  They saw they were shaking their pursuer off, and it was all
important they should do this, because it would never do for them to let
him run them all the way back to the school.  They might as well
surrender at once as that.

"My clothes all over blood!" said Anthony at last, when they were safe
beyond pursuit.  "What I do?"

Haviland examined him critically in the moonlight.

"So they are," he said.  "Well, Cetchy, you must peel them off and stow
them away in the ditch, and go in without them.  You can think you're
back in Zululand again."

"So I can.  Yes," answered the other, showing his white rows of splendid
teeth.

Half an hour later, two wearied perspiring figures shinned up the cord
under the angle of the chapel wall at Saint Kirwin's, and so ended
another night of excitement and adventure--as they thought.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

THE BOLT FALLS.

"I say, you fellows, there's no end of a row on," pronounced Wood major,
joining a group of others.

"No!  Is there?  What about?  Who's in it?" were the eager inquiries
which hailed the good news.  For a row at Saint Kirwin's was, in its
generation, akin to the Coliseum sports in theirs, inasmuch as it
afforded pleasurable excitement to the multitude.  To the small minority
directly implicated it afforded excitement too, but the reverse of
pleasurable.  This particular group, however, being presumably clear of
conscience, hailed the news with unfeigned satisfaction.

"Why, the small room at the end of Williams's dormitory are all in it, I
believe," explained Wood major.  "Cetchy's been caught getting out late
at night."

"What, Cetchy?  Haviland's chum?"

"Rather.  We're going to see something, I can tell you."

"Then Haviland's in it too," said some one else.

"I expect so.  I believe the whole room's in it."

"A case of Cetchy caught," remarked a puffy-faced fellow who set up for
being a wag.

"Oh, shut up, Cross.  We don't want Clay's second-hand wheezes," was all
the appreciation he met with.  "Why we've yelped at that in all its
variations till I believe we'd sooner do his impos. than get off it by
putting him in a good humour over that `honk' any more.  Go on, Wood.
What have you heard about it?"

"Why, Smithson minor told me.  He's rather a chum of Cetchy's, you know.
The first he knew of it was seeing Cetchy come out of Nick's study
looking precious puffy about the chops.  Nick had been socking him all
over the shop, he told Smithson; and then Nick came out himself, and
maybe Smithson didn't slink off.  Oh, no."

"Well, we shan't hear anything about it till to-morrow morning," said
Cross.  "Sure to come on at morning prep.  Great Scott, but there'll be
some swishing on!"

"Haviland won't take it, I expect."

"He'll be jolly well expelled then."

"He won't care.  I know he won't take a swishing.  I hated him when he
was a prefect, but now I hope he'll score off Nick."

"P'raps he's not in it."

"Not in it?  Why, the whole room's in it."

And so the discussion ran on; the while, however, the news had somehow
leaked out, and the presage of a row--and a very big row at that--hung
over the school like a thundercloud.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

It will be necessary to go back.

For a day or two after the exploit chronicled in the last chapter our
two midnight marauders plumed themselves on their feat of arms, and
delighted to meet and fight their battle over again in a secluded corner
of the playing fields, the only thorn in the rose being that they had
lost the air-gun, abandoned during the precipitancy of their flight,
and, of course, the pheasant.  This, however, they decided was of small
account compared with such a glorious experience as had been theirs, and
they positively glowed over the recollection of their adventure.  But
they were a little premature in their elation.  Retribution was at hand,
and this is how the bolt fell.

To a group of boys strolling along a field-path not far from the school
it was not strange that they should meet a keeper.  What was strange to
them was the gun in the hand of that worthy.

"That's a rum sort of gun you've got there," said one of them.  "I say,
let's have a look at it."

The keeper merely shook his head.  Then an idea seemed to strike him,
and he stopped.

"Yes, it be a rum gun, bean't it, young genelmen?" he said, extending it
to them, but not loosing his hold of it.  "That be one o' they
new-fangled air-guns.  They don't make no bang when they goes off."

The group gathered round interested.  The keeper explained the working
of the weapon, and from that got to talking on other matters--in fact,
was extraordinarily chatty and affable, which was remarkable, because
between gamekeepers and the Saint Kirwin's boys a state of natural
hostility existed.

"I've heard tell," he went on at last, "that there's a black African
young genelman up at the school there.  If that's so, I'd like to make
so bold as to see he.  I 'ad a brother servin' in the wars again they
Africans over yonder, and 'e told me a lot about 'em.  Yes, I'd like to
see he."

Now, under ordinary circumstances, this request would have caused them,
in their own phraseology, to "smell a rat."  Perhaps in this case it had
that effect all the same; but then, as ill-luck would have it, the group
the keeper had struck in this instance happened to be Jarnley and his
gang.  Here was a chance to pay off old scores.  Here was a noble
opportunity for revenge, and it would in all probability comprehend
Haviland too.  Jarnley, Perkins, and Co. were simply jubilant.

"There's no difficulty about that, keeper," said the former, genially.
"You go to the gate of the west field and ask any fellow to point you
out Cetchy.  I expect he'll be there now.  Cetchy--mind, that's the
name."

"I'll remember, sir, and thankee kindly.  Mornin', young genelmen."

Three-quarters of an hour later our friend Anthony, having, in obedience
to an urgent summons, hastened, though not without misgivings, to
present himself in the Doctor's study, found himself confronted by a
tall red-whiskered keeper, while on the table, exposed on a sheet of
newspaper, lay his lost air-gun and the corpse of a fine cock-pheasant.
Then he knew that the game was up.

"Yes, sir.  That be he, right enough," said the keeper.  "I saw him
several times as I was a chevyin' of him.  There was a good moon, and
I'd swear to him anywhere, sir.  There was another with him, sir, a tall
young chap, but I never got a chance of seeing his face.  But this one,
I can swear to he."

"Very well," said the Doctor.  "You had better go down to the porter's
lodge, and wait there in case I should require to see you again."

The keeper saluted and retired.

"And now," went on the Doctor, in his most awe-inspiring tone, "what
have you got to say?  On the night of Tuesday, you and another--with
whom I shall presently deal--were found by the man who has just gone out
in one of Lord Hebron's coverts.  That pheasant lying there was killed
by you with that air-gun.  Now, who was with you?"

"I don't know nothin' about it, sir."

"What?" thundered the Doctor, rising from his seat; and the next moment
Anthony received a terrific box on the ear which sent him staggering
against the table, followed up by another on the other side, the force
of which wellnigh restored him to his original equilibrium.  "So you
would add lying to your other misconduct, would you?  Now, answer my
question.  Who was with you?"

But the question was addressed seemingly to empty air.  The Zulu boy,
thinking to detect another hostile move, had incontinently dived under
the table.

Here was a situation wholly outside the Doctor's experience.  He was a
violent-tempered man when roused, especially when his dignity had
sustained, as he thought, any slight, but he had too much sense of that
dignity to embark actively in the chase of a boy who had got under the
table of his own study.  Not for a moment, however, was he nonplussed.

"Come out and stand where you were before," he said, "and that at once,
or I shall send for two prefects to drag you out, and shall cane you now
as I have never caned a boy before, and that in addition to whatever
punishment I shall decide to inflict upon you for your other offence.
Do you hear?"

Anthony did hear, and being, like most of his race, of a practical turn
of mind, had rapidly decided that it was better to be thrashed once than
twice; wherefore he emerged from under the table, and stood upright as
before, but with a quick and watchful eye, ready to dodge any further
hostile move on the part of the Doctor.

The latter, for his part, had had time to think; and in the result it
occurred to him that it was scarcely fair to judge this raw young
savage, for he was hardly more, with the same severity as the ordinary
boy.  So he would refrain from further violent measures for the present.

"Who was with you?" he repeated remorselessly, and in a tone which in
all his experience he had never known any boy able to hold out against.
But he reckoned without the staunch, inherent Zulu loyalty.

For now Anthony shifted his ground.  No power on earth would have
induced him to give his accomplice away--they might flog him to death
first.  But by confessing his own criminality he might save Haviland.

"No one with me, sir.  I all alone," he answered volubly.  "That man
tell big lie.  Or praps he seen a ghost.  Ha!"

The Doctor looked at him with compressed lips.  Then he rang the bell,
and in the result, within a minute or two, the keeper re-appeared.

"Now Anthony," said the Doctor, "repeat to this man what you have just
told me."  Anthony did.

"Why you tell one big lie?  Ha!  You saw me, yes, yes.  No one with me.
I alone.  How you see other when other not there?"

"Come.  That's a good 'un," said the man, half amused, half angry.  "Why
I see he as plain as I see you."

"See he?  Ha!  You see a ghost, praps?  You ever see a ghost in
Hangman's Wood, hey?" and rolling his eyes so that they seemed to
protrude from his head, and lolling his tongue out, the Zulu boy stared
into the face of the dazed keeper, uttering the while the same cavernous
groan, which had sent that worthy fleeing from the haunted wood as
though the demon were at his heels.

"Good Lord!" was all the keeper could ejaculate, staring with mouth and
eyes wide open.  Then, realising what a fool they had made of him, he
grew furious.

"You see ghost, yes?  Praps Hangman's ghost, hey?" jeered the boy.

"You young rascal, you!" cried the infuriated keeper.  "This ain't the
first time by a long chalk you've been in my coverts, you and the other
young scamp.  There was another, sir," turning to the Doctor, "I'll take
my dying oath on it--and I hopes you'll flog 'em well, sir--and if ever
I catches 'em there again I'll have first in at 'em, that I will."

"You bring another big dog.  I kill him too," jeered the descendant of
savage warriors, now clean forgetful of the dread presence of the
headmaster, and the condign punishment hanging over himself.  "Kill you,
praps, _Hau_!" he added with a hideous curl of the lips, which exhibited
his splendid white teeth.

"See that, Doctor, sir?" cried the exasperated man.  "The owdacious,
abandoned young blackamoor!  But his lordship'll want that dawg paid
for, or he'll know the reason why.  And 'e's a dawg that's taken
prizes."

Now Dr Bowen, for all his unbending severity, was a thorough
Englishman, and, as such, an admirer of pluck and grit.  Here these two
boys had been attacked by a brute every whit as savage and formidable as
a wolf, and that under circumstances and amid surroundings which, acting
on the imagination, should render the affair more terror-striking--viz.,
at midnight, and in the heart of a wood; yet they had faced and fought
the monster, hand to hand, and with very inadequate means of defence,
and had overcome and slain it.  In his heart of hearts the feat
commanded his admiration, and moreover, he was devoutly thankful they
had not sustained serious injuries, for the sake of his own
responsibilities and the credit of the school.  Yet none of these
considerations would be suffered in any way to mitigate the penalties
due to their very serious offence.  He had further been secretly amused
at the scene between Anthony and the keeper, though outwardly the
grimness of his expression showed no trace of any relaxation.

"That will be a matter for future discussion," he replied to the keeper.
"Now I shall not require your further attendance.  I have sufficient to
go upon to put my hand on all concerned, and you can rest assured that
they will be most severely punished."

"I hopes you'll flog 'em well, Doctor, sir," was the keeper's parting
shot, "and especially that there young blackamoor rascal.  Good-day,
sir."



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

SENTENCE.

The big room was full.  Every form room, always occupied at morning
preparation, was emptied of its contents, for all had been convened, by
special proclamation, to the large schoolroom, now to become, for the
time being, a species of hall of justice.  So, even as at prayer time,
arranged in the rows of lockers according to dormitories, the whole
three hundred and fifty or so of boys chattered in a continuous and
undertoned buzz--restrained, but not silenced, by the prefectorial
calls:

"Quiet there!"

"You, Jones.  I've spoken to you before already."

"Brown, come to me afterwards in the fourth form room."

"Now, then, that bottom row.  Stop that shoving about!  D'you hear?"

And so on.

Yes, the excitement was intense.  There had not been such a row on, said
some one, since that in which Thurston's gang had been caught smoking.
They had set up a kind of divan in a dry ditch, which, being
unexpectedly raided, they, and their pipes and tobacco, had been seized
in close conjunction the one with the other--and Thurston and five other
big fellows had been flogged.  Or, said others, since a far worse case
of another kind, wherein some fifteen fellows of all ages had been
swished.  And now all sorts of wild rumours began to go round.  All the
fellows in the small room at the end of Williams's dormitory were going
to be swished--so extensive was the order sent to the gardener for the
manufacture of birch rods, declared some, who affected to be in the
know.  But the centre light of all the excitement and conjecture was
Haviland.  He was not a prefect now, and therefore could,
constitutionally, be swished.  But--would he take it?  That was the
point--would he take it?  Some opined that he would not--others that he
would have to.

"Silence!  Ss-silence there!" roared the prefects, with a force and
unanimity that hushed the room in a minute.  For it meant that the
Doctor was coming in.

You might have heard a pin drop in that hitherto buzzing assemblage as
the Headmaster ascended to the big desk in the middle and signed for the
door to be shut.  Then it was seen that there stood before him of
culprits exactly one dozen, of whom all but two were in varying stages
of funk.

The Doctor, you see, acting upon his usual thorough and whole-hearted
method, had wasted no time in elaborate investigations.  He had simply
sent for Haviland and taxed him with what was charged, and Haviland,
disdaining to prevaricate or make excuses, had owned his whole share in
the alleged misdoing, and rather more, for he had endeavoured to shield
Anthony by declaring that the Zulu boy had been entirely influenced by
him; nor would it have helped him any way to have denied the matter, for
the Doctor meanwhile had ordered the search of every box in the
dormitory, and there in Haviland's box was the coil of cord, and in that
of Anthony the blood-stained weapon.  Further, with the same
thoroughness, he had chosen to consider the whole room as in a degree
implicated.

Now, confronting the whole school, speaking in his most awe-inspiring
tones, the Doctor commenced his harangue.  He dwelt on the complaints
that had been coming in for some time past of serious depredations in
the game preserves of the neighbouring landowners, and how such were
entirely detrimental to the credit of the school, as also to its
interests in another way, for the time had now arrived when it had
become a grave question whether the reasonable liberty which had always
been its privilege should not be withdrawn.  Here a stir of sensation
went through the listeners, who began to think that this rare
excitement, even to those not the most active participants in it, had
its unpleasant side.

Fortunately, though protracted, detection had overtaken the offenders,
he declared--the principal offenders--as sooner or later it invariably
and surely did, let them be certain of that, and, with detection,
chastisement immediate and condign.

"It should be a matter of shame and grief to all of us," he went on,
"that one who for so long has held a position of responsibility and
trust should be the ringleader in these occasions of disorder and grave
offence--leading astray not only his younger schoolfellows, but also one
whom the humane and civilising spirit of a noble and self-sacrificing
organisation has rescued from a life of barbarism and degradation, and
sent here, where every opportunity is placed in his way to become a
credit to that organisation, and a shining light in the noble endeavours
to rescue from heathenism his barbarous fellow countrymen.  I refer to
Anthony, upon whom, I trust, the punishment I am about to inflict will
act as a salutary warning and prove the turning-point in his school
life.  The other boys in the room I hold in a lesser degree to be
participants in the grave scandal--I will not say breach of rules,
because obviously such an offence as to get outside the school walls
surreptitiously at night is one that no rule need be definitely
formulated to cover."

Here two or three of the smaller boys implicated began to snivel.  The
whole lot would be swished, of course, they thought, and, indeed, such
was the opinion of the whole school.  It was precious hard lines, for
they had no more hand in the affair than anybody else in the room; but
such was the Doctor's way.

"As for you, Haviland," he continued, "it is simply lamentable how you
have time after time betrayed your trust and shirked your
responsibilities--in short, gone from bad to worse.  I had hoped you
would have taken warning when I was obliged to suspend you from your
office, and have behaved in such wise as to justify me in shortly
reinstating you; but, so far from this, you seem to have become utterly
reckless and abandoned.  You are nearly grown up now, and should be
setting an example; but, instead of that, you are using the influence
which your age and strength give you in the eyes of your schoolfellows,
to lead your juniors into mischief and wrong-doing.  It is clear,
therefore, that there is no further place for you among us.  Yet I am
reluctant, very reluctant, to proceed to such an extreme measure as your
public expulsion--"

Now the excitement had reached its height.  Haviland was going to be
swished, not expelled, decided the spectators, but--would he take it?
Haviland standing there, his lips compressed, a set frown on his brow,
was of the same opinion, except that he himself, and he only, held the
answer to the question.  He would not take it--no, decidedly not.  They
might expel him and welcome, he did not care, he was past caring; but
submit to the indignity of a flogging at his age he would not.

"Therefore," continued the Doctor, "I shall take time to consider so
grave and painful a matter; and, meanwhile, you will be withdrawn from
all intercourse or contact with the rest of the school.  Anthony I
shall, of course, soundly flog.  I shall also flog Smithson minor and
Mcmurdo; and, as for the other boys in the dormitory, on this occasion I
shall confine myself to severely warning them."

There was a sort of audible sensation among the listeners, but it was
nothing to what followed.  For now Haviland lifted up his voice:--

"Please, sir, Smithson and Mcmurdo had no more to do with it than the
man in the moon."

The Doctor frowned as he gazed sternly at the speaker.

"Keep silence," he said, in a curt tone.  Haviland obeyed.  He had made
his protest in the name of fair play.  He was not concerned to take any
further risks.  But those who saw--those who heard--was ever such a
thing witnessed before at Saint Kirwin's?  The Doctor--the awful, the
dreaded Doctor--expostulated with, and that before the whole school!
Why did not the very heavens fall?

The public floggings at Saint Kirwin's were public in the sense that
they could be heard by all but seen by none, for they took place in a
small room adjoining the big schoolroom, and the audience were able to
estimate how each of the victims "took it."  In the present instance,
Smithson and Mcmurdo got off with a comparatively slight infliction,
and, beyond a smothered yelp or two, "took it" well.  But when it came
to Anthony's turn, they wondered if it was going on for ever.  He
received, in fact, a most relentless swishing, but for all the sound
that escaped him--whether of cry or groan--he might just as well not be
undergoing chastisement at all.  The school was lost in admiration of
his pluck and endurance; and, afterwards, when he emerged, showing no
sign of pain, but scowling savagely, and muttering in his own tongue--
the word having been given to dismiss--he broke forth:--

"What they do to Haviland?"

"Well done, Cetchy!  Well done, old chap!  You did take it well.
Biggest swishing Nick ever gave.  He'd have stopped if you'd yelled
out," were some of the congratulations showered upon him.  But of them
he took no notice whatever.

"D--n!  What they do to Haviland?" he repeated, stamping his foot, and
scowling savagely.

"I'm afraid he'll be expelled, Cetchy," said some one.  The others
thought so too.

"What's expelled?  Sent away?"

"That'll be it."

The Zulu boy made no answer.  He gazed from one to the other, and then
his eyes began to nil, and great tears, which the most savage flogging
ever administered within the walls of Saint Kirwin's had failed to wring
from him, rolled down his cheeks.  "Haviland sent away! perhaps not even
allowed to bid him good-bye.  No, that was too much."

"Never mind, Cetchy, old chap.  Perhaps it won't come to that, after
all," were some of the well-meant attempts to console him.  But he would
have none of it, and turned away, sorrowful and speechless.

The while, in many a group, recent events were being volubly discussed.

"I always hated Haviland," declared one youngster emphatically.  "He was
such a brute when he was a prefect.  But I like him now, since he
cheeked Nick.  He _is_ a plucky beggar."

"Now then, get along to your places--sharp, d'you hear?" commanded two
or three prefects, breaking up such groups--for it was preparation time.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Haviland, after a day and a half of solitary confinement--retirement
would perhaps be a better word, for he was not under lock and key--had
reached the stage of sullen resignation.  Of course he would be
expelled.

There was no hope, and now that it had come to this, and he had had time
to think, he felt that he would give anything for another chance.  Then
his heart hardened.  The Doctor had driven him into it, had simply
persecuted him with an unrelenting spite: and his thoughts were bitter
and black and revengeful.  In the midst of which a sound of firm
footsteps was heard outside, and the door opened, admitting--the Doctor.
A hard resentful scowl came upon the young fellow's face, and he gazed
sullenly before him.

"Haviland, you are to go home immediately."

"Of course," thought Haviland to himself.  "Now for it!  I am to be shot
out, and the old brute's going to preach me a humbugging canting sermon
first."

But there was no sternness in the Doctor's voice as he went on.  It was
solemn, almost affectionate.

"I am sorry to say I have received bad news, I fear very bad news, but--
we must hope for the best."

"What, sir?" shouted Haviland, springing to his feet.  "Who is it?
Who?"

"Your father."

Haviland's face went deadly white.  He staggered forward, and in his
agony of grief seized the headmaster--the terrible headmaster--by the
coat sleeve.

"Is he--is he--?"

"Alive, yes.  But, my poor boy, you must go to him at once.  Everything
is arranged for you to catch the earliest train for London, and you have
just a quarter of an hour to get ready in."

"Tell me, sir, what have you heard?" besought Haviland piteously.

Dr Bowen, like many hot-tempered men, was at bottom soft-hearted, and
now he could hardly control his voice to reply, so deeply was he
affected.  For the telegram which he had received was to the effect that
Haviland's father had met with a street accident, and was not expected
to live till night.  If his son arrived in time to see him again, it was
all that could be hoped.

"Remember, Haviland," he said, after conveying this as feelingly as
possible, "that, after all, while there is life there is hope, however
small.  Go now and get ready.  In view of this great grief which has
been sent you I will say nothing of what is past, except that when you
return to us next term, I am sure you will redeem what is past and start
afresh."

The latter was intended to convey that, under the great sorrow which had
fallen upon him, Haviland might consider the past overlooked, and that
although he was going home now, it was not under expulsion.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

HUNTED.

On, through the steamy forest, heavy and damp with the tropical rain;
on, over stodgy swamp land, whose miasmatic exhalations rise misty and
foul in visible vapour, the fugitive is wending.  Toiling for very life
is he, dragging with infinite labour each spent footstep over the
yielding and spongy ground, drawing breath in long gasps; and ever
throughout his entire frame that sinking and yet sickening and agonising
sensation of feeling utterly spent; wounded too, in more places than
one, unarmed and without means of defence--a solitary fugitive in the
mighty heart of that vast stretch of African forest land.  What chance
has he?

He stumbles on, and a sigh of relief, of thankfulness, escapes him, as
his feet once more tread firm ground, though, did he but know it, the
soil of the washy swamp, by closing over his footsteps, has rendered him
invaluable service in hiding his spoor from his enemies.  That he has
enemies, more than one furtive and anxious glance behind--if nothing
else--would serve to show.

A pitiable spectacle, his clothing in rags and plentifully soaked with
blood--his own blood--still welling from and clotting round his wounds,
as he toils onwards, his heavy unkempt beard matted with it as it
trickles from a gash in his head, his progress beset by a whole cloud of
flies and voracious winged insects, yet the fugitive is a well-built,
strong-framed man of medium height, and well below middle age; strong
indeed he must be, for in this deplorable plight he has covered many a
weary mile, nor before him is there any hope of succour or refuge.  Yet
the sheer dogged instinct of self-preservation buoys him up, keeps him
ever moving forward, anywhere so that it is only forward.

The low-lying ragged rain clouds roll back over the tree tops, and the
dull blaze of the sun, watery through the tropical mist, but intensely
piercing and penetrating as though focussed through the lens of a
burning-glass, envelops him in an overpowering fold of heat, His brain
reels, his uneven steps are more staggering than ever.  Why keep on?
Why struggle further?  The spears and hatchets of his enemies were more
merciful.  Yes, but the fire, the lingering death of torment by that or
any other form, or at best the yoke and slave chain, and being
weaponless, he has no means of selling his life dearly, or even of
ending it with his own hand when the last hope had vanished.

Ah! the welcome shade of the trees is gained at length.  The lay of the
land is flat, with a scarcely perceptible undulation, and alternates in
open spaces--mostly swampy--and forest, the latter, however, not thick
with undergrowth.  Once within the shade, cool by comparison, the
fugitive sinks to the earth.  With bursting heart and labouring lungs,
his strong frame weakened by continual loss of blood, he can go no
further.  A lurid mist is before his eyes, and a feeling of intense
lassitude, of dissolution, overpowers him, and he lies unconscious.

Not for long, however.  All creation--human, animal, insect, even
vegetable life--seems leagued together against the hunted man.  Great
black ants, attracted by the blood from his wounds, are crawling over
him, and soon their sharp bites have the effect of bringing him back to
himself again.  But on the whole the infliction is salutary, for it acts
as a spur; and, staggering to his feet in quick loathing, the fugitive
shakes off the horrible insects, and drags on his weary way.

The solitude is intense, but not so the silence.  The call of bird
voices echoes through the shade; some shrill and piping and not
unmelodious, others harsh, half human, almost menacing; the screech of
cicalas too, loud, vibrant, distressing to overwrought and weakened
nerves.  Green lizards of some size dart scramblingly through the
scattered bark or lie motionless, with head erect, and ruby-like eyes
dilated, as they watch the intruder; and a great tree spider, huge,
hairy, and hideous, shoggles up a trunk within a yard and a half of the
wanderer's face.

And now hunger is gripping the unfortunate man; thirst, too, which the
slimy swamp water he has drunk--though, in prudence, sparingly--has not
availed to stave off for long.  The day is waning, moreover, and well he
knows that another night spent in the forest spells death.  And still no
sign of human habitation or friendly succour; yet how should there be,
seeing that the red scourge of the slave-hunter, or of warring barbarian
clans, equally ruthless, has swept this zone of terror and of blood,
leaving it a howling waste of uninhabited wilderness.  Or even were
things otherwise, why should those he half hoped to meet prove any more
desirable than those from whom he fled, here in the dark places of the
earth, where anything in human shape, any fellow creature, was almost
synonymous with a cruel and ruthless enemy?  But the enduring courage,
the bulldog tenacity of purpose, which characterise the true explorer or
up-country adventurer, whatever his nationality, is to this man an ever
present force.  The traditions of his order that no hardship, no peril,
however great, however hopeless, is without abundant precedent, are with
him now, to steady his staggering steps as he plunges forward, to uphold
and cheer his despairing mind.

There is light ahead; a break in the skies.  Only another tract of open
swamp, is the first thought of the fugitive; and yet with it a sort of
instinct--hardly more, although the creation of experience--warns him,
tells him, that human habitation lies at hand.  With renewed strength
and quickened steps he presses forward to the edge of the forest line
and peers forth.

At the sight which meets his gaze his heart gives a great bound.  His
instinct has not been at fault.  There, in the midst of the open space,
are the thatched roofs of a native village--and a village of some size.

It is situated in the open--in the midst of an amphitheatre of forest
which engirdles it on three sides, the further being bounded by a line
of jagged rocks of no great height.  But around it there is no sign of
life.  No human forms are issuing from or entering its low stockade, no
sound of human voices comes to him from within it.  Perhaps they are
sleeping throughout the heat of the day.  And then he pauses.

What will be his reception?  Hostile possibly.  Yet here lies his only
hope.  To remain as he is means certain death.  He will warn the
inhabitants of yonder place of the proximity of his enemies and theirs,
that it not strong enough for defence, which is more than likely, they
may save their lives--and his--in timely flight.  And, having decided
upon this line of conduct, he steps from his hiding-place, and proceeds
to cross the intervening space.

But as he draws near the village, he is conscious of a renewed sinking
of the heart; for now he perceives that the stockade is broken down in
several places, and what he has hardly noticed before in his excitement
and hunger as he snatched at the bunches of millet--a field of which he
is passing through--that the crops are trampled and torn about, as
though hurriedly foraged.  And then, as he gains a wide breach in the
stockade, and is about to step through, a sight meets his gaze which is
not entirely unfamiliar, but which somehow or other never seems entirely
to lose its horror and repulsion.

Strewn around in scattered profusion are hundreds of bones.  Skulls,
too, grinning up out of the long herbage which in some instances has
sprouted right through the battered orifice which has let out the life,
producing the most hideous and ghastly effect.  Everywhere they lie,
grouped in batches, mostly just within the stockade, though others are
not wanting immediately around the low-roofed grass huts.  Well enough
does the fugitive know these signs.  The fate of this village has been
that of many another in the blood-stained heart of the Dark Continent.
Its inhabitants have been surprised, and all who have shown resistance,
or for any reason were not worth carrying away, ruthlessly massacred,
regardless of age or sex--as not a few skulls of diminutive size lying
around eloquently proclaim.  His supposed place of refuge is but a
village inhabited by the dead.

Grim and gruesome as this thought is, a new hope springs within the
hunted man's resourceful mind.  His pursuers, even should they suspect
the direction he has taken--he is satisfied that they have lost his
spoor, or they would have been upon him long since--will forbear to
follow him here.  The last asylum they will dream of him seeking will be
this village of the dead.  There is comfort in this, at any rate, and
now, his next thought is to collect the ears, or rather bunches of
millet--there is still plenty left which is not crushed and trampled--
and as he devours great handfuls of the grain, he remembers that where
there is a village there must be water.  Fortified by even this sorry
food, rough, indigestible, unwholesome as it is, he renews his search
and is soon rewarded.  He has no difficulty--save for the exhaustion of
dragging along his weary frame--in finding water, which, though slimy,
and tepid and unpalatable, is still water--and having slaked his thirst,
he crawls back to the village again.

The sun has sunk beneath the ridge of black rocks, and in the brief
gloaming the miasmatic vapours seem to roll up thicker than before.  One
by one, the stars twinkle forth into the hot misty sky, and soon the
reddening glow of a broad moon suffuses the tree tops, flooding with its
spectral light the open space and whitened relics of those who erewhile
tenanted these silent and primitive dwellings.  Gigantic bats are
flitting to and fro, uttering their strident squeaks, and the forest
depths begin to resound with the howling of hyaenas, and the shrill
baying of hunting jackals.  To the fugitive the sounds are not without a
certain sinister significance.  Well he knows that the hyaena is the
most cowardly of beasts, but he remembers too, how in these regions of
constant massacre, even the most cowardly of beasts can hardly have
failed to lose all respect for the dominant animal, Man--seeing that he,
at any rate dead, constitutes an easy and abundant form of prey.  He
realises his own enfeebled state, and knows that the otherwise cowardly
carnivora will realise it too.  Even now, he can descry grisly,
blunt-snouted shapes, skulking about in the moonlight, allured by the
scent of fresh blood--his own blood to wit--nor does the occasional
subdued shout he utters avail to alarm them overmuch, or cause them to
retire very for.  The stealthy patter of their footfalls seems ever to
increase--to be drawing nearer and nearer.

Hitherto he has shrunk from entering any of the huts; now, however, the
instinct of sheer self-preservation prescribes that course.  Selecting
one, a large oblong structure, whose wide low-pitched roof forms a kind
of verandah all round it, he crawls within.  But it has no door, and his
strength is not equal to questing about for a substitute for one--
indeed, hardly is he within when he stumbles forward, and sinks to the
ground.  The pain of his wounds has become intolerable, a deadly
faintness seizes him--and before his final unconsciousness his hand
closes with convulsive grip upon the skull belonging to a fleshless
skeleton lying there within.

Huge spiders--hairy monsters, the size of a man's hand--crawl over the
prostrate form, then, startled by the instinct that here is life, scurry
back to the shelter of the thatch again.  A wicked-looking centipede
draws its shining rings in disgusting length along the ground in the
stripe of moonlight, and flying beetles whirr and buzz in and out of the
doorway; and there, among such surroundings, lies the dying explorer--
his sands of life run out--every object which might meet his failing
gaze, that of loathing and horror and repulsion.

But, outside, the whole place is alive with stealing, skulking shapes.
Here and there a subdued snarl, or some snapping, is audible, but they
are all converging on one point--the structure which as their scent
informs them contains fresh blood; and the pointed ears and bared fangs
of the hideous, blunt-snouted brutes, show plain in the moonlight.  And
now the foremost is standing snuffing within the open doorway, while
others are stealing up, by dozens, behind the first.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

THE SCREAM IN THE FOREST.

"How much further to this village of yours, Somala?"

"We are there now, Sidi.  What you call one hour's march."

"Always that `one hour' story!"

And the speaker turns away somewhat shortly.  The question, put in a
kind of mongrel Swahili dialect, was put shortly and with a touch of
impatience, for the torrid equatorial heat makes men irritable--white
men, at any rate--and the first speaker is a white man.  The second is a
negroid Arab, hailing from the island of Pemba.

Through the moonlit forest the long file of men is wending, like a line
of dark ghosts.  There are perhaps three score of them, and most of them
carry loads.  Some few do not, and of such are the two who have been
conversing.

"But," rejoins the Arab, "it may be written that when we arrive there we
shall find no village.  Mushad's people have been busy of late, and this
village lies in his return path."

"I don't care whether we find any village or not, so long as we find the
water," is the reply.  "What do you say, doctor?"--relapsing into
Anglo-Saxon, as he turns to another man, the only other white man of the
party.

"Why, that it's time we did find some.  This swamp water is awful bad
drinking stuff."

Under the broad moon it is almost as light as day, and as this strange
band emerges into an open space its concomitant elements can be seen to
advantage.  The man who had first spoken, and who seems to be its
leader, is tall, supple, and erect, with straight, regular features; the
lower part of the bronzed face is hidden by a thick brown beard, not
guiltless even here in these wilds of some attempt at trimming.  This,
together with his alert and weather-beaten appearance, gives him a much
older look than his actual years, for he is quite a young man.  The
other, he addressed as "doctor," and whose speech is dashed with just a
touch of the brogue, is much older.  He is a man of medium height, with
a quiet refined face, and his hair is just turning grey.  Both are armed
with a double-barrelled express rifle, revolver of heavy calibre, and
sheath knife.  The Arab, Somala, and a few others are also armed with
Martini rifles; but the bearers of the loads, who are composed of half a
dozen nationalities, carry no firearms, though each has a sheath knife
of some sort strapped round him--long or short, straight or curved or
double-edged, but all wicked-looking weapons enough.

The line swings along at an even, wiry-paced walk, to the croon of some
wild, weird melody.  Then, as, the open space passed, they re-enter the
forest shade, they stop short, the whole line telescoping together--
loads colliding, and men falling with them in confusion.  For, from the
sombre, mysterious depths in front comes a most horrible and appalling
sound.

A scream, so awful in its long-drawn intensity--so fraught with terror
and energy and despair--surely such a cry could never have issued from a
human throat.  Louder and louder it peals through the grim midnight
shades, as though some unknown and gigantic monster were in the last
throes of a despairing struggle with countless and overwhelming
assailants.  Of those who hear it, the superstitious natives huddle
together, and trembling in every limb, too scared even to bolt, stand
bunched like a flock of bewildered sheep.  All save a few, that is, for
those immediately in attendance on the leaders come of more virile
nationality.  Even the two white men are conscious of a wave or
superstitious fear thrilling through their veins, possibly the result of
climate and condition.

"Sidi," whispers Somala, impressively, indicating the direction whence
proceeds the horrible sound, "the village is yonder.  Mushad has been
there, and that is the voice of the dead."

"Not so.  It is the voice of some one or something very much alive,"
answers the leader.  "And I intend to find out all about it.  Eh,
doctor?"

"Why, of course."

"Those who are men and not cowards, come with me," says the leader,
shortly.

Not a man of his armed followers hangs back.  Even the frightened
porters, in terror at being left to themselves in this demon-haunted
place, will not stay behind; for, like all natives of an inferior sort,
the presence of a resolute white man is to them a potent rallying
influence.

Soon the forest opens out again, and there, in the moonlight before
them, lie the thatched roofs of a considerable village.  Again peals
forth that awful, blood-curdling scream, proceeding right from among
those primitive dwellings.

"Come along!  Let's make a dash for it!" warns the leader, under the
natural impression that some human victim is being barbarously done to
death at the hands of its inhabitants.  His swarthy followers do not
share this opinion, their own pointing to the supernatural, but they
will go with him anywhere.

Even as they advance, quickly but cautiously, the leaders are wondering
that no volley of firearms or spears greets them.  There is something of
lifelessness about the place, however, which can be felt and realised
even before they are near enough for the scattered skulls and bones to
tell their own tale.  Now they are through the stockade, and now, rising
from right in front of them, peals forth that awful scream once more,
and with it a most horrible chorus of snapping and growling and
snarling.  And rounding the corner of one of the primitive buildings the
whole explanation lies before them.  A weird and terrible sight the
broad moonlight reveals.

In front of one of the huts is a human figure.  Yet, can it be?  It is
that of a man of tall and powerful build, his body covered with blood,
his clothing in rags, his hair and beard matted and streaming, his
rolling eyes starting from their sockets.  In each hand he brandishes a
short white club, consisting, in fact, of the leg-bone of a human being,
as he bounds and leaps, yelling his horrible, maniacal scream; while
around, on three sides of him, a densely packed mass of beasts is
swaying and snarling, now driven back by the sheer terror of his
maniacal onslaught, then surging forward, as the man, ever keeping his
rear secured by the hut door, retires again.

But it is an unequal combat that cannot last.  Even the prodigious
strength and courage of the assailed cannot hold out against the
overwhelming numbers and boldness of the assailants.

Then the tables are turned--and that with a suddenness which is almost
laughable.  Their approach unperceived, these timely rescuers simply
rake the closely packed mass of hyaenas with their fire.  The cowardly
brutes, driven frantic with the suddenness and terror of this surprise,
turn tail and flee, many rolling over and over each other in their rout,
leaving, too, a goodly number on the ground, dead or wounded.  The
latter the natives of the party amuse themselves by finishing off, while
their leaders are turning their attention to the rescued man.

"I say, old chap, you've had a narrow squeak for it," says the younger
of the two.  "We seem to be only just in time.  Good thing you yelled
out as you did, or we shouldn't have been that."

The other makes no reply.  Gazing vacantly at his rescuers, he continues
to twirl his gruesome weapons, with much the same regularity of movement
as though he were practising with Indian clubs prior to taking his
morning bath.

"How did you get here?" goes on the leader, with a strange look at his
white companion.

"Eh?  Get here?  Ran, of course."

"Ran?" taking in the woeful state to which the unfortunate man had
manifestly been brought.  "Why did you run?  Who was after you?"

"The devil."

"Who?"

"The devil."

"But--where are your pals?  Where are the rest of you?"

"Pals?  Oh, dead."

"Dead?"

"Rather.  Dead as herrings, the whole lot.  Fancy that!"

The coolness with which the man makes this statement is simply eerie, as
he stands there in the moonlight, a horrible picture in his
blood-stained rags.  More than a doubt as to his sanity crosses the
minds of at any rate two of his hearers.  Nor do his next words tend
towards in any wise dispelling it.

"They were killed, the whole lot of them.  Cut up, by Jove!  I'm the
only man left alive out of the whole blessed crowd.  Funny thing, isn't
it?"

"Rather.  Who killed them, and where?"  And there is a note of anxiety
in the tone of the question.

"We were attacked by Rumaliza's people couple of days' march back.  They
surprised us, and I am the only one left alive.  But, I say, don't
bother me with any more questions.  I'm tired.  D'you hear?  I'm tired."

"I expect you are.  Well, come along and join us.  We're going to camp
down yonder by the water.  You'll want a little overhauling after the
cutting and wounding you seem to have gone through, and here's the very
man to overhaul you--Dr Ahern," indicating his white comrade.

But the response to this friendly overture is astounding.

"Oh, go away.  I don't want you at all.  I didn't ask you to come, and I
don't want you here bothering me.  When I do I'll tell you."  And
without another word the speaker turns and dives into the hut again.
The two left outside stare blankly at each other.

"A clear case for you, doctor.  The chap's off his chump.  Say, though,
I wonder if there's anything in that yarn of his about being attacked by
Rumaliza's people."

"Might easily be.  We'll have to keep a bright look-out, if any of them
are around.  But we must get him out."

"We must."

The same idea was in both their minds.  It was not a pleasant thing to
have to creep through that open door with the probability of being
brained by a powerful maniac waiting for them in the pitchy darkness
beyond.

"I'll strike a light," says the younger of the two men.  And, taking out
his match-box, he passes quickly through the aperture, at the same time
striking a couple of wax vestas.

The object of his search is lying in a corner.  Beside him, gleaming
whitely, are two fleshless skeletons.  There is a third, all battered to
pieces.  It is a weird and gruesome spectacle in the extreme.

But the unfortunate man's dispositions seem scarcely aggressive as they
bend over him.  He does not move.

"He's unconscious," pronounces the doctor.  "That simplifies matters.
Pick up that end of him, and we'll carry him out."



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

AFTER TEN YEARS.

"I say!  Was I very `dotty'?"

"Pretty well.  But that's only natural under the circs."

"Talk much, and all that sort of thing--eh, did I?"

"Oh, yes.  The usual incoherencies.  But that's nothing.  We're used to
it.  In fact, we now and then take a turn at it ourselves when this
beastly up-country fever strikes us.  Eh, doctor?"

"We do," answered Dr Ahern, turning away to attend to the unpacking and
examination of some scientific specimens, but not before he had added:--

"I wouldn't talk too much if I were you.  It won't hurt you to keep
quiet a little longer."

A fortnight had gone by since the rescue of the solitary fugitive when
in his last and desperate extremity; and, indeed, nothing but the most
careful tending had availed to save his life even then--that, and his
own constitution, which, as Dr Ahern declared, was that of a bull.
Several days of raging and delirious fever had delayed the expedition at
the place where it had found him, and then it had moved on again, though
slowly, carrying the invalid in an improvised litter.  At last the fever
had left him, and his wounds were healing; by a miracle and the
wonderful skill of the doctor he had escaped blood-poisoning.

The latter's back turned, the convalescent promptly started to disregard
his final injunction.

"I say," he went on, lowering his voice, "it won't hurt me to talk a
little, will it?"

The other, his tall frame stretched upon the ground, his hat tilted over
his eyes, and puffing contentedly at a pipe, laughed.

"I don't know.  Doctor's orders, you see.  Still--well, for one thing,
we've been wondering, of course, who you are, and how you got into the
hobble we found you in."

"Well, I'm Oakley, and I've been inland a year and a half in the
plant-hunting line."

"That so?  I'm Haviland, and I've been up rather more than two years in
the bug-hunting line, as the Americans would call it.  Ornithology,
too."

"So!  Made a good haul?"

"Uncommonly.  We've got some specimens here that'll make our names for
us."

"Let's see them," said the other eagerly.  "I was--am, in fact--keen on
beetles, but I'm professionally in plants now."

And then these two enthusiasts set to work comparing notes.  They clean
forgot about the circumstances of their meeting or knowing more about
each other; forgot recent perils and the brooding mysteries of the
wilderness, as they hammered away at their pet subject, and talked bird
and beetle to their hearts' content.  In the midst of which a displeased
voice struck in:--

"I'd like to ask if that's what you call keeping quiet, now."

Both started guiltily.

"My fault, doctor," said Haviland.  "I let him go on.  He's in the same
line as ourselves, you know."

"Is he?  He'll be in a different line from any of us if he gets thinking
he's all right before he is.  Sure, the constitution of a bull won't
pull a man through everything--not quite."

The patient accepted this grave rebuke with a smile, and lay still.  He
had not yet put these friends in need in full possession of the facts of
his misfortunes, but there was plenty of time for that.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ten years had gone by since last we saw Haviland, in imminent danger of
expulsion from Saint Kirwin's, and which it is probable he only escaped
through a far greater grief than that--the death of his father; and for
the most part of that period his career has been pretty much as we find
him now--a wandering one, to wit.  He had not returned to Saint
Kirwin's, for the potent reason that the parson had left his family in
somewhat of straits, and the eldest member thereof was old enough, at
any rate, to do something for himself.  This had taken the form of a
bank clerkship, obtained for him by an uncle.  But to the young lover of
Nature and the free open air and the woods and fields, this life was one
that he loathed.  It told upon his health at last, and realising that he
would never do any good for himself in this line, the same relative
assisted him to emigrate to South Africa.  There he had many ups and
downs--mostly downs--and then it occurred to him to try to turn his
much-loved hobby into a profession.  He obtained introductions to one or
two scientific men, who, seeing through the genuineness of his gifts,
offered him employment, sending him as assistant on scientific
expeditions, and finally entrusting the leadership of such entirely to
his hands.  And he succeeded wonderfully.  He had found his line at
last, and followed it up with an entire and whole-hearted enthusiasm.

Yet such expeditions were no child's play.  A capacity for every kind of
hardship and privation, indomitable enterprise, the multifold perils of
the wilderness to face, starvation and thirst, the hostility of fierce
savage tribes, treachery and desertion or overt mutiny on the part of
his own followers, and the deadly, insidious malaria lurking at every
mile in the miasmatic equatorial heat.  But the same spirit which had
moved those midnight poaching expeditions at Saint Kirwin's was with
Haviland now, and carried him through in triumph.  Young as he was--well
under thirty--he had already begun to make something of a name for
himself as a daring and successful exploring naturalist.

He had kept in touch with Mr Sefton, as much as a correspondence of the
few-and-far-between order could so be called, and from time to time
obtained the latest news about Saint Kirwin's.  Among other items was
one to the effect that after his own departure the Zulu boy, Anthony--
otherwise Mpukuza--had turned out badly, had become so intractable and
such a power for mischief that the missionary who had placed him there
had been invited to remove him.  This was done, and they had lost sight
of him.  Probably he had returned to his own land and reverted to
savagery; and this, Haviland thought, was very likely the case.  Yet he
himself had been in Zululand, and had made frequent inquiries with
regard to Mpukuza, but could obtain no satisfactory information, even in
the locality where the boy was said to hail from.  It was no uncommon
thing for missionaries to take away their children and place them in
schools, declared the inhabitants, and one case more or less was not
sufficiently noteworthy to remain in their recollection.  Nor did they
know any such name as Mpukuza, and in the ups and downs of a somewhat
struggling and busy life the matter faded from Haviland's mind as well.

As time went on the injured man, in spite of the steamy heat and a
drained system, had recovered so as almost to regain his former
strength; but, before this, the information he had given to Haviland and
the doctor about himself had caused a change in their plans.  Briefly,
it amounted to this.  His expedition, consisting of himself and a German
botanist, together with a number of porters, had been surprised at
daybreak by a party of Arabs and negroes who he had every reason to
believe constituted a gang of Rumaliza's slave-hunters.  So sudden had
been the attack that the whole party was completely overpowered.  His
German comrade was shot dead at his side, and he himself got a cut on
the head with a scimitar which nearly put an end to his days, together
with a spear thrust in the shoulder.  He had a distinct recollection of
shooting two of the assailants with his revolver as he broke through
them to run, and then for the whole day some of them had chased him.  He
had been wounded again by a spear, thrown by one who had out-distanced
the others, but he had managed to shoot the thrower.  Then he had lost
his revolver while extricating himself from a swamp into which he had
sunk waist-deep; and thus that most helpless object on earth, an unarmed
man, and badly wounded into the bargain, had taken refuge in the
deserted village to die.

"And precious hard dying you intended to make of it, old chap," had been
Haviland's comment.  "Why, it was the finest thing I ever saw in my
life, the way you were laying about you with those old shin-bones.  Make
a fine subject for one of those groups of sculpture.  The Berserk at
Bay, one might call it.  Eh?"

Well, it was no laughing matter at the time, they all agreed.  But the
worst of it was, Oakley had explained, that the ruffians who had
surprised his camp had, of course, seized everything, including the
whole of the specimens he had collected during this expedition, which
latter would, therefore, be so much time, trouble, and expense
absolutely thrown away.  As for his bearers, such of them as had not
been massacred had, of course, been seized as slaves, and his property
as loot; but it was just possible that the marauders, finding the
botanical specimens utterly valueless to themselves, might have left
them on the ground, in which event they could be recovered.

If, in their heart of hearts, Haviland and the doctor were not exultant
over this idea, it is hardly astonishing; for, at the rate they had
travelled while bearing the injured man in their midst, to return to the
scene of the tragedy would mean about a fortnight's march, and that not
merely of a retrograde nature, but one which would take them very near
an exceedingly dangerous belt of country.  But here was a brother
scientist, the fruits of his toil and risk, the reward of his
enterprise, thrown away, with just a chance remaining of saving them.
It was not in these two, at any rate, to let that chance go by, merely
at the cost of an extra fortnight's march and a certain amount of
potential danger.

Well, the march had been effected, and here they were at last on the
site of Oakley's ravaged camp.  A ghastly spectacle met their gaze.
Many of the bearers had been massacred, and the ground was literally
strewn with bones, either clean-picked by the ravenous carnivora of the
surrounding wilderness, or with mangled tatters of flesh and sinew still
depending.  Skulls, too; in many cases with the features yet remaining,
but all showing the same hideous distortion of the terror and agony
which had accompanied their deaths.  The remains of the ill-fated German
botanist were identified and reverently buried, but everything in the
shape of loot which the camp had contained had been borne away by the
rapacious marauders.

But to the delight of Oakley, to the delight of all of them, his
conjectures had proved correct.  Following on the broad track left by
the retreating raiders they came upon the lost specimens.  The cases had
been broken open, and, containing nothing but dried plants, had been
thrown away and left.  Some had suffered, but the bulk were entirely
uninjured, and in his exultation the tragical fate which had overwhelmed
his companion and followers was quite overlooked by this ardent
scientist.  The loot, too, of the camp was nothing.  His precious
specimens were recovered--that was everything.  The doctor and Haviland,
moved by vivid fellow feeling, rejoiced with him, and that exceedingly.
Yet, could they have foreseen what was before them, their exultation
might have been considerably dashed.  Their adventures had been many,
their lives had been largely made up of perilous and startling
surprises; but the greatest of these was yet to come, and that,
perchance, at no very distant date.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

DANGER SIGNALS.

The odd man joining a party of two is by no means necessarily an
acquisition, or invariably bound to preserve and promote the harmony
already existing.  In this case, however, the best happened.  No more
harmonious trio could be imagined than this one, as, having recovered
the lost treasure, the expedition resumed its way.  For Oakley proved to
be the best of good fellows, and though several years older than
Haviland, and with a great deal wider experience, he never for a moment
forgot that he was with them now solely in the capacity of a guest.  If
his advice was asked he gave it, if not, he never by any chance
volunteered it.  Ahern and Haviland were, of course, tried comrades; and
two years of sharing the same hardships, the same dangers, and the same
aims, had bound them together as no period of acquaintance within the
limits of conventional civilisation could ever have done.

The camp had been set for the day, whose full heat had already begun to
strike in through the shading trees.  The tired bearers were lying
around, for the moon was again bright, and the marches were effected
during the comparatively cool hours of the night.  Some were cooking
their root and grain diet, for game was exceedingly scarce, and they
seldom tasted meat--as to which, by the way, they expected soon to
strike a river, and all hands looked forward eagerly to a possible and
plenteous feed of sea-cow flesh.  Haviland and Oakley were seated
together, consulting maps, the doctor the while was busy at the other
end of the camp with a porter who had somewhat badly hurt his foot.

"By the way, Haviland," said Oakley, suddenly, "do you believe in the
existence of that curious tribe of the Spider?  I've known at least two
men who believe in it firmly.  One claims to have actually come into
contact with it.  If there is such a thing, we can't be far from its
reputed country."

"H'm!" answered Haviland, musingly.  "The more experience you gain of
the interior, the more disinclined you are to say straight out that you
disbelieve in anything.  Now, that Spider tribe, if it exists at all--
and, mind you, I don't say it doesn't--would be a good deal further to
the west than we are now.  I don't think we have much to fear from it.
But there's a far nastier crowd than that, and within tolerable striking
distance, too.  It's a Zulu-speaking tribe, not so very numerous, but
occupying difficult country, and the very deuce of a fighting mob.  Some
say it's of direct Zulu origin, others that it originated in a split
among the Wangoni down on the lakes.  But I don't want to rub against it
if I can help it.  Ho, Kumbelwa!" he called.

In response there came up a magnificent specimen of a man.  His skin was
of a dark rich copper colour, and save for a _mutya_ of cat's tails, he
wore no clothing whatever.  His finely shaped head was shaven, and
crowned with the Zulu head-ring.  In comparison with the inferior
natives who constituted the carrying staff--though some of these were of
powerful and muscular build--he looked like an emperor.

"_Nkose_!" he cried, saluting, with right hand uplifted.

Then Haviland, speaking in Zulu, questioned him at some length.  The man
professed but a scant knowledge with regard to the tribe under
discussion.  He could not even tell its name for certain.  It was
reputed to change its name with every new king, and he had heard that a
new king had succeeded rather lately.  He was said to be quite a young
man, but very stern and merciless in his rule.  It was said, too, that
towards white men he entertained a most extraordinary hatred.  Anyhow,
more than one who had entered his country had never been known to come
out again.  He had made himself troublesome, too, to more than one
exploring party.

"Well, we'd better keep our eyes open, so as to give them a warm
reception if they bother us," said Oakley, when this was translated.

"I know, and that's why I'm not over-keen on this hippo-shoot when we
strike the river," said Haviland.  "Far better go without meat a little
longer than get ourselves into a beastly unequal fight.  And the banging
of guns can be heard a deuce of a distance.  We'll call Somala, and get
his opinion."

But the Arab had not much to add to the Zulu's information.  Him,
however, Oakley understood, and needed no translation.

"Did you ever notice those two chaps; what an extraordinary family
likeness there is between them?" said Haviland, as the two departed.
"If you clapped a turban and long clothes on to Kumbelwa he'd pass for
Somala's brother, and if you rigged out Somala in a _mutya_ and
head-ring he'd pass for a Zulu.  The same type of face exactly."

"By Jove it is!  Think there's a lot of Arab in the Zulu, then?"

"Not a doubt about it.  You see, the Zulus didn't originally belong
where they now are.  They came down from the north, somewhere about
where we are now, I shouldn't wonder.  They had another custom, too,
which was Mohammedan, as most of the other tribes have at the present
day, but Tshaka stopped it among them.  And I have a theory that the
head-ring is a survival of the turban."

"That might be.  But, I say, Haviland, you seem to have got their lingo
all right.  Were you much in the country?"

"A good bit.  I haven't got it by any means all right, though I know a
great number of words, but my grammar's of the shakiest.  I often set
them roaring with laughter over some absurd mistake; and I don't even
know what it is myself.  By the way, there was a chap at school with
me--a Zulu from Zululand.  He conceived a sort, of attachment for me
because I smacked a fellow's head for bullying him when he first came,
and he was a useful chap too; first-rate at egg-hunting, and we got into
all sorts of rows together.  The other fellows used to call him
`Haviland's Chum,' to rag me, you know; but I didn't mind it.  Well, he
taught me some of his lingo, and made me want to see his country."

"I wonder they took a black chap in an English school," said Oakley.

"So did I.  So did most of us.  But he was put there by a missionary,
and old Bowen was nuts on the missionary business."

"Old Bowen?  Was that at Saint Kirwin's, then?"

"Yes.  Why, were you ever there?"

"No.  By the way, what sort of a chap was old Bowen?"

"A regular old Tartar.  I hated him like poison the last part of the
time I was there; but right at the end--at the time I lost my poor old
dad--he was awfully decent.  He's a good chap at bottom, is Nick--a real
good chap."

"It's extraordinary how small the world is," said Oakley.  "The old chap
happens to be an uncle of mine, on the maternal side, and I own I like
him better in that capacity than I should as a headmaster; but, as you
say, he's a real good chap at bottom."

"What a rum thing!" declared Haviland.  "Yes, as you say, the world is
small indeed.  Yet when I was in Zululand, I tried to find out about
Cetchy--we called him that at Saint Kirwin's, after Cetywayo of course,
his real name was Mpukuza--but could simply hear nothing whatever about
him.  The world wasn't small in that instance.  Hallo!  There's
something up over yonder."

There was.  Excitement had risen and spread among the bearers, causing
them to spring up and peer cautiously forth, notwithstanding that the
heat was sweltering, and the hour was that of rest.  The sentry on that
side had passed the word that people were approaching the camp.

The ground there was thinly timbered, and it was seen in a moment that
these new arrivals, whoever they might be, were fugitives.  They bore
the unmistakable look of men and women--for there were several women
among them--flying for their lives.  They were not even aware of the
proximity of the camp until right into it; and then, at the sight of
armed men confronting them, they fell on their faces with a howl for
mercy.

"Who are these, Somala?" said Haviland, not without a touch of anxiety;
foreseeing the possibility of the flight of these people drawing down
some formidable enemy upon his expedition.

And, indeed, their tidings confirmed his worst misgivings.  They were
natives of a small tribe, themselves of indifferent physique.  Their
village had been attacked the evening before, and burned, but they,
being outside, had escaped.  They had heard rumours of Mushad being out
with a strong force.  Without doubt, he it was who had assailed them.

The name of the dreaded slave-hunting chief caused Haviland, and indeed
others who heard it, to look grave.

"Well," he said, "give these people food, such as we have, and let them
go on their way."

But this dictum was greeted by the refugees with a howl of dismay.  If
they went on further, why, then they were already dead, they protested.
Would not the great white lords protect them?  They would be safe within
the shadow of their camp.  Even Mushad would not dare interfere with
them there.

"Wouldn't he?" said Haviland, in English.  "I'm pretty sure he would--
and will.  These wretched devils have just about brought a hornet's nest
about our ears, I more than expect.  What are we to do, doctor?"

"Why, get out into more open country and beat them off.  I figure out
that this is just the way Mushad would take, in any event; so, perhaps,
it's just as well these poor devils turned up to warn us."

"What do you say, Oakley?"

"I'm entirely with the doctor."

"Right.  A couple of miles ahead, by the lay of the ground, we ought to
find just the position we want."

Within ten minutes of the order being issued the camp was struck.  Every
man took up his load, and the whole line filed briskly forth through the
steaming, sweltering forenoon heat.  There was no hanging back.  The
excitement of impending battle lent a springiness to the step of some,
the instinct of self-preservation to that of others; the refugees the
while chanting the most fulsome praises in honour of their new
protectors.

"There's the very place we want!" cried Haviland, when they had thus
advanced a couple of miles.  "Looks as if it had been made on purpose."

The ground had been growing more and more open, and now the spot to
which he referred was a ring of trees surmounting a rise.  This would
afford an excellent defensive position if they were called upon to
fight, and ample concealment in any case.  In an inconceivably short
space of time the whole expedition was safely within it.

Nor had they been long there before the instinct of their leaders
realised that they had gained the place none too soon.  Something like a
flash and gleam in the far distance caught their glance, to disappear
immediately, then reappearing again.  The three white men, with their
powerful glasses, soon read the meaning of this.  It was the gleam of
arms.  A very large force indeed was advancing, taking a line which
should bring it very near their position.  Would they be discovered and
attacked; or would the enemy, for such he undoubtedly was, fail to
detect their presence and pass on?  Well, the next hour would decide.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

MUSHAD THE SLAVER.

In an incredibly short space of time the position was placed in a very
effective state of defence.  Even as Haviland had remarked, it might
have been made on purpose for them: for it was neither too large nor too
small, but just of a size to contain the whole outfit comfortably and
without crowding.  Just inside the ring of trees, a sort of breastwork
had been constructed with the loads--those containing the stores and
barter-truck that is, for the precious cases of specimens had been
placed in the centre, and buried flush with their lids, so as to be out
of the way of damage from flying bullets.  As far as possible, too, this
breastwork had been supplemented by earth and stones, hastily dug up and
piled.

The demeanour of those awaiting battle was varied and characteristic.
Of the bearers, those of the more timid races were subdued and scared.
The temerity of their white leaders in thinking to resist Mushad and his
terrible band was simply incomprehensible.  Why did they not pay him the
usual blackmail and be suffered to pass on?  Some of the bearers--the
braver ones, to the number of about a score--though not usually
entrusted with firearms, were now supplied with rifles, in the use of
which they had already been drilled, and had even experienced some
practice in the shape of a petty skirmish or two.  These were now
turning on swagger.  The ten Arabs, Somala's clansmen, who were always
armed, were simply impassive, as though a bloody fight against
overwhelming odds were a matter of every-day occurrence, which could
have but one result--victory to themselves.  Yet there was a gleam in
their keen sunken eyes, and a nervous handling of their weapons, as they
trained and sighted their rifles experimentally, and fingered the blades
of their ataghans, that betrayed the martial eagerness that bubbled
beneath the concealing mask.  But the most striking figure of all was
that of the Zulu, Kumbelwa.  From a private bundle of his own he had
fished out a real Zulu war-shield of black and white bull-hide, with a
jackal tail tuft, and a short-handled, broad-bladed assegai--the
terrible conquering weapon of his race.  He had also brought forth a
great head-dress of towering black ostrich feathers, and sundry tufts of
white cow-hair, which he proceeded to tie round his arms and legs, and
thus accoutred, he stood forth, a magnificent specimen of the most
magnificent race of fighting savages in the world.

"By Jove, that's a grand chap!" exclaimed Oakley, as he gazed with
interest upon this martial figure.  "Do they grow many like that in the
Zulu country, Haviland?"

"A good few, yes.  Mind you, I'd sooner have Kumbelwa with me in a rough
and tumble than any dozen ordinary men."

"How did you pick him up?  Save his life, or anything of that sort?"

"No.  A sort of mutual attraction.  We took to each other, and he wanted
to come away with me, that's all.  D'you see that string of wooden beads
hung round his neck?  That represents enemies killed, and I strongly
suspect most of them wore red coats, for, like every man-jack of his
nation, he fought against us in the war of '79.  But wild horses
wouldn't drag from him that he had killed any of our people, and it's
the same with all of them.  They're too polite.  If you were to ask them
the question, they'd tell you they didn't know--there was too much
racket and confusion to be sure of anything.  But--look at him now."

The Zulu, half squatted on his haunches, was going through a strange
performance.  His rifle lay on the ground beside him, but his left hand
grasped his great war-shield, while with the right he was alternately
beating time with his assegai to his song, or making short, quick lunges
at empty air.  For he was singing in a low, melodious, deep-voiced
chant.  At him the whole crowd of bearers was gaping, in undisguised
admiration and awe.

"He's singing his war-song," explained Haviland.  "I've never seen him
do this before any other row we've been in.  Evidently he thinks this is
going to be a big thing."

"And he's right," said the doctor.  "Look there?"

He pointed in the direction of their late halting-place.  From their
present one, the ground fell away almost open, save for a few scattered
shrubs or a little heap of stones, to the thin timber line.  Within this
forms could now be seen moving--more and more were coming on, until the
place was alive with them--and the gleam of arms, the light falling on
the blades of long spears and shining gun-barrels, scintillated above
and among the approaching force.  And this was coming straight for their
position.  Decidedly, our party had gained the latter none too soon.

As the new arrivals debouched from the timber, the three white men
scanned them anxiously through their field-glasses.  The leaders, and a
goodly proportion, seemed to be pure blood Arabs, but the bulk consisted
of negroids and the undiluted negro--these latter naked savages of
ferocious aspect, incorporated probably from the fierce cannibal tribes
along the Upper Congo.  The Arabs, in their turbans and long-flowing
garments, wore a more dignified and civilised aspect, yet were hardly
less ruthless.

This formidable force, once clear of the timber, halted, drawn up in a
kind of battle line, possibly expecting to strike terror by reason of
its numerical strength and sinister aspect, and those watching reckoned
it to consist of not less than five hundred men.  Above bristled a
forest of long spears, the sun flashing back from their shining tips.
But higher still, reared above these, there floated a flag.  In banner
shape, so as to display, independently of any breeze, its ominous
device, it was turned full towards them.  Upon a green ground a red
scimitar, dripping red drops.

"That is the standard of Mushad," whispered Somala, touching Haviland's
elbow.

A vivid interest kindled the features of the three white men, also those
of the Zulu.  Here, then, was the renowned slaver, the man whose name
was a byword from Zanzibar to Morocco.  They were about to behold him
face to face.  Upon the bulk of the native bearers the effect produced
was different.  The ruthlessness of the terrible slaver chief, his
remorseless cruelties--ah! of such they had heard more than enough.  And
then a man was seen to leave the opposing ranks and walk towards them.
Halfway, he halted and cried in a loud voice:

"Who are ye--and what do ye here?  Are ye friends or foes?"

Somala, instructed by Haviland, replied:

"We are no man's foes.  Our mission here is a peaceful one--to collect
the strange rare plants and insects of the land.  That is all.  Who are
ye, and who is your chief?"

The herald broke into a loud, harsh, derisive laugh.

"Who is our chief?" he echoed.  "You who gaze upon our standard, and ask
`Who is our chief?'  Ye must be a _kafila_ of madmen."

"Is it the great Mushad?  If so, we would fain see him, and talk.
Yonder, where the stones rise upon the plain," went on Somala, prompted
by Haviland, and indicating a spot about a third of the distance between
their position and the hostile line.  "If he will advance, with three
others--unarmed--we will do likewise, pledging our oath on the blessed
Koran and on the holy _Kaba_ that we meet only in peace."

"I will inquire," replied the emissary, and turning, he went back.

"Supposing he accepts--which of us shall go?" said Oakley.

"I and Somala, and Kumbelwa," answered Haviland.  "And I think Murad
Ali," designating a dark sinewy Arab, a blood brother of Somala's.

"I claim to go instead of him," said Dr Ahern, quietly, but firmly.
"Oakley can remain in command."

"Very well," said Haviland.  "Will they really be without arms, Somala?"

"They will perhaps have small arms concealed, Sidi.  But they will not
break faith."

"Then we will do the same, and on the same terms.  Look!  Here they
come!"

Four men were seen to detach themselves from the group, and advance, one
bearing the chief's terrible standard.  When they were near the
appointed spot, Haviland and the doctor, followed by Somala and
Kumbelwa, also stepped forth.

"_Whou_!" growled the tall Zulu to himself.  "A warrior without arms is
like a little child, or an old woman."

For all that, he had taken the precaution of secreting a formidable
knife beneath his _mutya_.  He also carried his great war-shield.

The Arabs stood, coldly impassive, awaiting them.  They were stern,
grim-looking, middle-aged men--their keen eyes glowing like coals
beneath their bushy brows as they exchanged curt salutations.  The chief
differed not at all from the others in outward aspect: the same spare,
muscular frame; the same grim and hawk-like countenance, haughty,
impassive; the same turbaned head and flowing white garments.  For all
the solemn pledge of peace they had exchanged, it was evident that
neither party trusted the other overmuch.  They had halted a dozen paces
apart, and were silently scanning each other.  But what seemed to
impress the Arabs most, as could be seen by their quick eager glances,
was the aspect of Kumbelwa.  They gazed upon the towering Zulu with
undisguised admiration.

Haviland opened the talk with a few civilities in the current dialect,
just to let them see he was no novice at interior travel, then he left
the negotiations to Somala.  They were peaceful travellers, and desired
to quarrel with no man, but were well armed, and feared no man.  They
would send a present of cloth and brass wire for Mushad and some of his
more distinguished followers, then they would go their different ways in
peace and amity.

The ghost of a contemptuous smile flickered across the features of the
Arabs at this prospect.  Then Mushad said:

"And my slaves?  They will be sent too?"

"Slaves?"

"My slaves.  Those who have fled to your camp, O travellers.  They must
be sent back."

"But they have taken refuge with us.  They have eaten our salt, O chief.
We cannot yield them up.  Take presents from us instead."

"You are young, and therefore foolish," replied Mushad, staring Haviland
in the eye with haughty contempt.  "My slaves must be given up.  I have
said it."

"And if we refuse?"

"Look yonder.  Have you as many fighters as these?"

"Not quite as many.  But we are well armed, and, fighting in a good
cause, we fear no man."

For a few moments neither party addressed the other.  Meanwhile the
doctor said hurriedly in English:

"What do you think, Haviland?  Is it worth while risking all the
expedition, and throwing away the fruits of these two years--and all
their gain to science, mind--for the sake of a few miserable niggers?
If we send them back, they'll only make slaves of them, and indeed
that's all they're fit for."

"Let's see."  And, turning to the chief, he resumed: "If we send back
those who have sought refuge with us, will the chief solemnly promise
that they shall not be harmed--that beyond the labour required of them
they shall not be killed, or tortured, or ill-treated?"

A low growling chuckle escaped the Arab's deep chest, and his eyes
flashed in haughty contempt.

"_La Illah il Allah_!" he blazed forth.  "I will promise this much.
They shall groan beneath heavy loads, and shall eat stick in plenty.
But first, six of them shall hang by the heels till they are dead, with
their eyes scooped out, and a live coal inserted in each socket.
Further I promise--that this last shall be the fate of every one in your
camp who shall fall into our hands alive, if you hesitate further to
send back my slaves.  On the holy _Kaba_ I swear it.  Now, make your
choice.  Will you return them, or will you not?"

Haviland looked at Ahern, who nodded his head.

"That settles it," he said in a cold, decisive tone, turning again to
the slaver chief.  "Big words, big threats do not frighten us.  We send
not back to you these people who have sought our protection, to be put
to your devilish tortures."

For a moment, the two parties stood staring at each other in silence.
Then Mushad and his followers withdrew, feeing the others for a little
distance, after which they turned, and stalked back to their awaiting
forces, the green banner with its sinister symbol seeming to wave
defiance and menace as it receded.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

BATTLE.

On regaining the shelter Haviland at once made it known to his followers
that they had got to fight, and fight hard.  They were already in
position; that had been arranged during the parley.

"Can you trust these Arabs of yours, Haviland?" asked Oakley in a low
tone.  "Will they fight against their own countrymen?"

"Trust them?  Rather.  Besides, these are not their own countrymen.
Another tribe altogether.  And they are always fighting among
themselves.  They enjoy it."

Kumbelwa, who had been placed in command of the armed bearers, was
squatted on the ground, his snuff horn and spoon in his hand, and was
taking copious quantities of snuff in the most unperturbed manner.
There was no excitement about him now.  That was to come.

"They know our strength, or rather our weakness," said Haviland.  "They
can judge to a man by our tracks how many real fighters we have got.
Somala says they will try rushing us."

Hardly had the words left his mouth when the rattle of a sudden volley,
and a line of smoke from the enemy's front solved all doubts as to the
intentions of the latter.  Bullets came singing through the trees, and a
shower of twigs fell about their ears in all directions.  One, which had
fallen just short, ricochetted and struck one of the armed bearers,
killing him instantly.  But the defenders reserved their fire.

Then it was seen that a crowd of blacks was stealing up from another
side, taking advantage of every unevenness in the ground--of shrubs,
stones, everything.  At the same time the Arabs from their position
poured in another volley.  It was rather better aimed than the first,
but, beyond slightly wounding two men, took no effect.  But with a wild,
blood-curdling scream, the dark horde which threatened their rear
charged forward, and gained a position yet nearer.  Then the shooting
began.  Haviland and Oakley, leaving the other side to the doctor and
Somala, had sprung to confront this new peril.  Their rifles spoke, and
two of the advancing savages pitched forward on their faces.  Then
Kumbelwa's turn came, and Kumbelwa was one of the few Zulus who could
shoot.  Lying full length behind the breastwork, he had got his rifle
sighted on to a black head which kept appearing and disappearing behind
a shrub.  Up it came again, and this time Kumbelwa loosed _off_.  The
black head sprang into the air and a huge body beneath it, which last
turned a complete somersault, and lay in a huddled still heap beyond.
The Zulu's exultation took the form of a deep humming hiss.

"Well done, Kumbelwa!" cried Oakley in glee.  "Three shots, three
birds."

It was no part of our friends' plan to waste ammunition; besides, they
were aware of the effect a sparing fire, and nearly every shot telling,
would have, as distinct from a general bout of wild and wide blazing.
The black horde which had drawn so near them was evidently impressed,
for it lay as though not daring to move.

Then from a new quarter fire was opened upon them.  Two porters were
struck and killed, and another badly wounded.  This one began to screech
lustily.  In the tumult, unseen by the white leaders, one of the Arabs,
at a sign from Somala, stepped behind him and promptly knocked him
senseless with a clubbed rifle.  They did not want any unnecessary signs
of distress to reach the enemy.

And now, taking advantage of this new diversion, the horde of blacks
leaped from their cover, and, uttering wild yells, charged forwards.
There must have been over a couple of hundred of them, tall,
ferocious-looking villains, armed with long spears and heavy axes.
Leaping, zigzagging to avoid the bullets aimed at them, they came on in
the most determined manner.  Haviland and Oakley could not load fast
enough, and the armed porters were blazing away in the wildest fashion,
and simply doing no damage whatever.  Kumbelwa had sent two more down,
but still the remnant charged on.  The while, on the other side, the
doctor and Somala's party had their hands full in repelling an advance
on the part of the Arab section of the attacking force, and that under a
hot cross fire.

"Heavens, Oakley, they'll be on us in a minute!" exclaimed Haviland in a
quick whisper, as he jammed fresh cartridges into the hot and smoking
breech of his Express.  And, indeed, it seemed so.  They could not fire
fast enough, and in a great mass the savages were already against the
breastwork, lunging over it with their long spears.  But then came the
defenders' chance.  Fools as they were with firearms, even the bearers
could not miss point blank, and they poured their fire right into the
faces of their swarming assailants.  These dropped as though mown down,
but with loud yells those behind pressed the foremost on, to be mown
down in their turn.  The striving, struggling mass would fain have taken
flight, but simply could not.  And then Kumbelwa, seeing it was time to
effect a diversion, concluded to adopt the offensive.

Leaping over the breastwork, covered by his great war-shield, he made
for a tall ruffian, whose head was streaming with long black feathers,
and who seemed to be directing the charge.  Like lightning he was upon
him, and beneath the shearing flash of the great assegai, down went the
man, his trunk wellnigh ripped in twain.

"_Usutu!  'Sutu_!" roared the Zulu, as, whirling round, he struck
another to the heart with his reeking spear, at the same time bringing
another to the earth with a mighty slap of his great shield.  Like
lightning he moved.  Never still for a second, he avoided the lunges
made at him, always to strike fatally in his turn, and soon a ring of
assailants round him was a ring of ripped and struggling corpses
deluging the earth in torrents of blood.  Whirling here, darting there,
and ever roaring the war-cry of his late king, the towering Zulu was to
these dismayed savages the very embodiment of irresistible destruction.
With yells of dismay they fled before him in a broken, demoralised
crowd, and into their front the fire of those behind the breastwork
played upon their thickest masses.

"Come back, Kumbelwa," commanded Haviland, in Zulu.

Like magic the trained and disciplined warrior halted at the word of his
chief.  In a second he was within the breastwork again.

"Thou wert being led on too far, my friend," said Haviland, all aglow
with admiration.  "In a moment yon dogs would have turned upon thee, and
even a lion cannot stand against a hundred dogs."

"_Nkose_!  Yet had I but half the Umbonambi regiment here with me, we
would eat the whole of these jackals at one bite!" exclaimed Kumbelwa,
his great chest heaving with excitement and his recent exertions.

"By Jove!  I never saw such a sight as that!  Magnificent!" cried
Oakley, who was taking advantage of the lull to light his pipe.

On the other side, too, hostilities seemed to have slackened, but here,
whatever damage had been inflicted by the defenders they were unable to
estimate with any certainty.  It was evident that Mushad had chosen that
the least esteemed of his followers--the black savages, to wit--should
bear the brunt of the first attack, not from any lack of courage, but
from sheer cold calculating economy.  Their lives were worth the least
to him, therefore let them bear the lion's share of the risk.  And this
they had assuredly done, if the black bodies which strewed the earth on
their side of the breastwork were any criterion.  Within, one of
Somala's clansmen had been shot dead; while another, whose hand hung
limp and useless, was setting his teeth as Dr Ahern was hastily
bandaging the shattered wrist.

"What think you, Somala?" said the doctor, looking up from this
operation.  "Will they leave us alone now?"

"Not yet, Sidi.  The best of Mushad's fighters are yonder.  They have
not done much fighting as yet."

"If they take it into their heads to invest us, we are done for," said
Haviland, "unless we can break through in the dark.  Why, we have hardly
enough water to last till then."

"The battle will be finished before to-night," said the Arab, decidedly.

"Well, when we have given Mushad as much fighting as he wants, then I
suppose he'll draw off," said Oakley.  "So the sooner he comes on again
the better."

"You cannot know much about Mushad, Sidi.  He never leaves an enemy once
blows have been exchanged," replied the Arab, darkly.  "The battle will
be decided before night.  But Mushad will be slain--or--"

"Or we shall.  So be it, Somala.  We'll do our best."

There followed a lull; ominous, oppressive.  Hostilities seemed entirely
to have ceased, but they had implicit belief in Somala's sagacity, and
his forecast was not exactly encouraging.  They were striving against
enormous odds, and, although thus far they had triumphed, the pick of
the hostile force had not yet been used against them, even as the Arab
had said.  The enforced stillness was not good for their nerves.  A
reaction had set in.  The dead and dying within their circle--for three
more of the porters had been killed and several of the refugees badly
wounded--were groaning in pain; the acrid stench of blood arising on the
steamy tropical heat had a tendency to throw a gloom over, at any rate,
the white members of the expedition.  It was as well, perhaps, that a
diversion should occur, and this was supplied by Kumbelwa.  A vast and
cavernous snore fell upon their ears, then another and another.  His
great frame stretched at full length upon the ground, his broad blade
still sticky with half-dried blood, together with his rifle lying upon
his war-shield beside him, the Zulu warrior was fast asleep, slumbering
as peacefully and as unconcernedly as though in his own kraal at home,
in that crater-like hollow beneath the towering round-topped cone of
Ibabanango.  Oakley and Haviland burst out laughing.

"Well, he is a cool customer, and no mistake!" cried the former.  "I've
a jolly good mind to follow his example, though.  It's tiring work this
holding the fort, with nothing to drink, either."

"Better have some skoff first," said Haviland, "such as it is.  That
hippo-shoot we were going to have to-morrow won't come off now, however
things go."

But little appetite had any of them for their wretched grain diet.  A
long hot hour dragged its weary length, then another.  The three white
men were dozing.  The Arabs, their squares of praying carpets spread,
and with shoes off, were salaaming in the direction of Mecca, as
devoutly as their brethren in the faith and foes in arms were, or should
have been doing, out yonder in the opposing lines.  Then suddenly the
alarm was given.  A peril, imminent and wholly unlooked-for, had risen
up to confront them.  In a moment every man was at his station, wide
awake now, alert, expectant.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

THE LAST SHOT.

Alarm quickly gave way to amazement.  What did this mean?  Approaching
in a half-circle came a great crowd of natives--miserable, woe
begone-looking objects, and entirely unarmed.  There were women and
children among them too, and as they drew nearer, they uttered the most
doleful lamentations, in several different dialects, beseeching pity
both by word and gesture.

"What on earth's the meaning of this?" cried Haviland, fairly puzzled.
"Somala, tell them to go away.  Tell them we don't want them.  We've no
use for them."

Somala's tone was quick and fierce as he ordered them to halt.  But
without avail.  On they came, howling piteously.  Immediately the Arab
raised his rifle, and shot down one of the foremost, wounding another.

"Stop that, Somala," commanded the doctor, who, with the other two white
men, was under the brief impression that for some reason or another
Mushad had abandoned his slaves and retired.  "The poor devils are not
fighting."

In no wise deterred by what had happened, the miserable crowd ran
forward, yelling more piteously than ever.  They were within a hundred
yards of the defences, then seventy.

"But Mushad is," retorted Somala in a growl.  "Stand back all of you, or
we will kill you all," he roared, again firing into the densely packed
mass of wretched humanity.

The shouts and screams which followed upon the discharge were appalling,
but what happened next was more so.  Like mown grass the whole crowd of
the imaginary refugees fell prone on their faces--thus revealing the
bulk and flower of the enemy's fighting line.  With one mighty roar of
savage triumph the ferocious Arabs, hitherto concealed behind the
advancing slaves, surged over the prostrate heaps, and were up to the
breastwork in a moment.  The stratagem of Mushad had been a complete
success.  The defenders, thus surprised, were simply allowed no time.
Several of the Arabs fell before their hurried fire, but not for a
second did it delay the fierce, rapid, overwhelming rush.  With whirling
scimitars the savage Arabs were upon them, hacking, hewing, yelling.
The native bearers, in wild panic, threw down their arms and fled out at
the other side of the defences, only to be met by the spears of the
black auxiliaries waiting there for just such a move, and cut to pieces
to a man.  The improvised fort was choked with corpses, the frenzied
slayers hewing still at the quivering frames, and screaming aloud in a
very transport of blood-intoxication.

Back to back in a ring, the three white men and Somala, with his two
remaining clansmen, stood.  But where was Kumbelwa?  Not with them, but
yet not far away.  And around him, like hounds around a buffalo bull at
bay, his swarming enemies, leaping, snarling, yet not able to reach him
for the terrific sweeps with that dread weapon, shearing a clear space
on every hand.

"Yield thee, thou great fighter!" cried Mushad, in a dialect very much
akin to his own.  "Yield thee.  Thou at any rate shalt taste our mercy,
and shalt fight with us."

"_Au_!  I yield not.  Come, fight with me, O chief! we two alone.  Thou
wilt not?  See, I come to seek thee--_Usutu 'Sutu_!"

And in lightning-like charge, the splendid warrior dashed through the
swarming crowd, straight for Mushad, clearing his way with his broad
blade and resistless rush, his great shield throwing off the blows aimed
at him, like the cutwater of a mighty ship ploughing through the waves.
The crowd closed behind him, and that was the last of him his white
leaders beheld.

As for these, their doom was inevitable.  Their enemies could shoot them
down with ease at any moment, but refrained.  It was clearly their
intention to take them alive.

"The last shot for ourselves, remember," said Haviland, in his voice the
hard, set tone of a brave man who has done with hope.  "Remember that
brute's promise if we are captured.  And he'll keep it too."

"I've got three left, and here goes one," said Oakley, discharging his
revolver at a prominent Arab.  The latter spun round and fell.  With a
roar of rage, several of his comrades, unable to contain themselves,
fired a volley, but with discrimination.  The remainder of Somala's
clansmen fell dead, leaving himself and the three white men alone.

"My last shot!" exclaimed the doctor, calmly.  "God forgive us if
there's sin in what we do!"  And placing the muzzle of his revolver
against his heart, he pressed the trigger.  His body, instantaneously
lifeless, sank heavily, but in doing so fell against Haviland's legs.
He, losing his balance, stumbled heavily against Oakley--upsetting him.
A wild stagger, then a fall.  Before they could rise, a dozen of their
enemies had flung themselves upon them with lightning-like swiftness,
pinning them to the earth.

Somala, who had expended his last shot, not on himself, was laying about
him vigorously with his ataghan.  But, wounded in several places,
weakened with loss of blood and exhaustion, he too was at last
overpowered.  The victory was complete.

And the scene of it had now become one or indescribable horror--a very
nightmare of blood, and hacked corpses in every conceivable attitude of
agony and repulsion.  And with it all came the convulsive shrieks and
groans of a few of the miserable bearers, who had been taken alive, and
whom the black contingent was amusing itself roasting to death in the
open ground outside the tree belt.  Within, the more civilised section
of the slave-hunters was looting the stores and property of the
expedition.  They tore open bales, and battered in boxes and cases.  But
the authority of Mushad was absolute, and his commands speedily infused
an element of method into the looting process.

Helpless, swathed in coils of thongs wound round them from head to foot,
to the accompaniment of many blows and kicks, the unhappy prisoners lay.

"Behold, ye dogs!" jeered one of those who guarded them.  "Behold!  Is
it not good to look upon the face of a friend once more?  Behold!"

He pointed to the head of the unfortunate doctor, which, ghastly and
dripping, was being borne about on the point of a spear.  Raising eyes
dull with despair and horror, they saw it and envied him.  He was at
peace now, or, at worst, was in more merciful hands than those of these
fiends; while they themselves--the horrible tortures which had been
decreed for them by the slaver chief, and to which end alone they had
been spared--why, the bare thought was enough to turn the brain.

"Is there no way, Oakley," said Haviland, "I don't mean of escape, but
of escape from what that devil intends to do with us?"

Oakley was silent for a moment.

"There is a way," he said at length.  "We might turn Mohammedan."

"What?"

"It has been done before to-day," went on Oakley.  "Men have saved their
lives that way, and ultimately have escaped."

It was Haviland's turn to be silent.

"No, hang it," he said at last.  "I'm not a religious chap, Oakley, I'm
sorry to say, but--I kick at that."

"Naturally one does, under ordinary circumstances; but under these it's
different.  And it needn't mean anything, you know."

"No; somehow I can't.  It seems cowardly," said Haviland.  "Perhaps,
too, I have an inspiration that it wouldn't help our case much if we
were to do such a thing.  But, Oakley, it doesn't follow that you're to
be bound by my opinion.  You're an older chap than me, and if you--"

"If I want to take the chance, I'd better, independently of you.  That's
what you were going to say, isn't it?  No--no, Haviland.  We are in this
together, and we get out of it together--or not, probably not--even
apart from the fact of your having saved my life--"

"Pooh!  There was no life-saving about it.  Only a chance finding of
another fellow in a bit of a difficulty.  In any case, there's not much
to be grateful for, but just the reverse."

"These dogs have long tongues," said one of the savage guards, striking
Haviland with the butt of his spear.  "Long tongues, but we will cut
them out soon.  So chatter, jackals, while ye may, for it will not be
long."

Not there, however, was their cruel martyrdom to take place, for the
word went forth to prepare at once to march.  The loot was gathered up
and disposed among its respective bearers, and soon the two captives
found themselves loaded up like bales of goods, and borne forth by those
very abjects who had crowded in, beseeching their pity--the miserable
slaves who had been used to bring them to this pass.

For some hours this cramped and painful locomotion continued, the
barbarous horde carrying severed heads on their spear-points, and taking
a delight in impressing upon their prisoners what lay in store for them.
At length, towards sundown, they halted, and the prisoners were flung
brutally to the ground in such heavy fashion as to knock all the breath
out of their bodies.  The pity was that this did not happen altogether,
they had bitter reason to think, for now they saw a fire being kindled
and blown up into a red, roaring flame.  The while, thongs had been
thrown over the limb of a tree.  Their time had come.

Mushad, with two or three others, now approached them.

"What was my promise to you, ye swine?" he began.  "Was it not that ye
should hang by the heels, that your eyes should be scooped out, and live
coals placed in the sockets?  Behold.  The preparations are even now
being made.  How like ye them?"

"We like them not at all, O chief," answered Haviland, desperate.  "See,
now, you are a brave man, and we have fought you fair and you have
conquered.  We expect death, but we English are not accustomed to
torture.  Put us therefore to a swift death."

"Ha!  Now ye cry for mercy, but before you laughed!  It is well,"
answered Mushad.  "Yet ye shall not obtain it.  What of all my fighting
men ye have slain, also many of my slaves?"  And, turning, he beckoned
to four savage-looking negroes.  "Him first," pointing to Haviland.

He was as powerless to move as a log.  They seized him by the neck and
dragged him towards one of the trees whereon a noose dangled.  Their
knives were drawn, and as they dragged him along he could see another
ruffian kneeling by the fire, extracting a great glowing ember with a
pair of rude tongs.  Utterly powerless to struggle in his bonds, he felt
the noose tightened round his ankles; then he was hauled up, swinging
head downwards from the bough.  His head was bursting with the rush of
blood to it, and yet with his starting eyes he could see the fiend-like
forms of his black torturers standing by him with the knife, and the red
glowing embers.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

THE INSWANI.

The hot night air brooded steamy and close upon the slumbering camp of
the slavers, but to these it mattered nothing.  Ferocious Arab and
bloodthirsty negro alike were plunged in calm and peaceful slumber.

Not so the unhappy captives.  To the tortures of their cramping bonds
and the bites of innumerable insects from which they were entirely
powerless to protect themselves, were added those of anticipation.  With
a refinement of cruelty which was thoroughly Oriental, the slaver chief
had decreed a respite.  He had caused his victims to undergo in
imagination the horrible torments he intended should be their lot on the
morrow, and, to this end, he had ordered them to be taken down from the
tree and put back as they were before, so that they might have the whole
night through to meditate upon what awaited them on the following day.

Haviland had fallen asleep through sheer exhaustion, but his slumbers
were fitful, and ever haunted by frightful visions, which would start
him wide awake and quaking: for his nerves were unstrung with the awful
ordeal he had undergone; and further, the recollection of the sickening
massacre, the heat and excitement of battle over, was one to haunt.  In
his broken, unrestful sleep he was back at Saint Kirwin's, and, instead
of the Headmaster, it was Mushad, duly arrayed in academicals--which did
not seem a bit strange or out of the way in the _bizarre_ reality of his
dream--who was about to pass sentence upon him.  And then appeared
Cetchy, not as he used to be, but as a big, powerful, full-grown man,
and started to punch the spurious Doctor's head, and they fought long
and hard, and he watched them in powerless and agonising apprehension,
for upon the issue of the contest depended whether he should undergo the
hideous fate in store for him or not.  And then he awoke.

To the first sense of relief succeeded a quick realisation that the
actuality of their position was worse than the make-believe of any
dream.  Involuntarily a groan escaped him.  The savage face of one of
his guards shot up noiselessly, with a sleepily malignant grin.  But
Haviland realised that it was growing almost imperceptibly lighter.  The
day would soon be here.

It was the hour before dawn, and sleep lay heavy upon the slave-hunters'
camp.  Even their sentinels scarcely took the trouble to keep awake.
Why should they?  Did they not belong to the great Mushad, whose name
was a terror to half a continent, whose deeds a sweeping scourge?  Who
would dare to assail or molest such a power as this?  So, in the faint
lightening of the darkness which preceded the first dawn of day, they
slumbered on, heavily, peacefully, unsuspectingly.  And then came the
awakening.  The awakening of death.

The vibrant barking slogan seems to shatter the world, as the
destroyers, apparently starting up from nowhere, pour over the silent
camp, and each affrighted sleeper leaps up, only to meet the slash of
the broad shearing blade which rends his vitals, and hurls him back to
the earth, a deluging corpse.  Huge figures, fell and dark, hundreds and
hundreds of them, and yet more and more, with streaming adornments and
mighty shields and short-handled, broad-bladed spears--this is what the
captives behold in that terrible hour of lightening dawn.  Their former
enemies, overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers, entirely taken by
surprise, have not even time to rise and defend themselves.  They are
struck down, ripped, before they can gain their feet and lay hand upon a
weapon.  And they themselves?  They, too, will be butchered in the
helplessness of their bonds, but it will be a swift and sudden death.

But somehow the tide of slaughter seems to surge round them, not over
them, to pass them by.  What does it mean?  That in the confusion and
uncertain light they are counted already dead as they lie there, but
even in that case these savages would inevitably rip them with their
spears?  Something like a glimmer of hope seems to light up the despair
at their hearts, as it occurs to them that the surprise and massacre of
their enemies may mean ultimate rescue for themselves.

Yet who and what are these savages?  They are for the most part men of
splendid physique, tall and straight, and of a red-brown colour, and
their features are of the negroid type.  They carry great shields akin
to the Zulu, only more oval in shape, and more massive, and the latter
is also the case with regard to their short-handled stabbing spears, and
their battle-shout is a loud, harsh, inarticulate bark, indescribably
terrible when uttered simultaneously by many throats.  Here, as uttered
by over a thousand, words can hardly express the blood-curdling menace
it conveys.  But, while thus pondering, the attention of these new
arrivals is turned to themselves.  Ha! now their time has come.  With
ready spear two of the savages bend over them.  The dark faces are grim
and pitiless, and the spears descend, but not to be sheathed in their
bodies.  The tense thongs, severed in more places than one, fly from
them.  Their limbs are free.

They could hardly realise it.  They stared stupidly upward at the ring
of faces gazing down upon them.  What did it mean?  Then their glance
fell upon one among that vast increasing group of towering men.  If that
was not the ghost of Kumbelwa, why it was Kumbelwa himself.  And then a
string of the most extravagant _sibonga_, bursting from the warrior in
question, convinced them that this was indeed so.

"In truth, _Amakosi_," he concluded, "well was it for you that Mushad
preferred to take his revenge cool, else had these been too late."

"But--who are these, Kumbelwa?" said Haviland.  "Not the People of the
Spider?" gazing at them with renewed interest.

"The Ba-gcatya?  No.  These are the Inswani; they of whom we were
talking just lately."

"What of Mushad, Kumbelwa?  Have they killed him?"

"He is unhurt.  But I think the death he intended for yourselves,
_Amakosi_, is sweet sleep by the side of that which the father of this
people is keeping for him.  Yonder he sits."

Rising, though with difficulty, in the cramped condition of their limbs,
the two, together with Somala, looked around for their enemy.  The Arab
had accepted their rescue with the same philosophy as that wherewith he
had met his bonds.  "It was written so.  God is great," had been his
sole comment.

In the centre of the erewhile camp they found the man they sought.  The
terrible slaver chief lay as securely bound as they themselves had so
lately been.  With him, too, and equally helpless, were about three
score of his clansmen.  They were the sole survivors of the massacre,
and the site of the camp was literally piled with hacked and mangled
corpses.  Barbarous as had been their own treatment at the hands of this
ruthless desperado, the three Englishmen could not but shudder over the
fate in store for him and those who had been taken alive with him.  To
that end alone had they been spared, for such had been the orders of the
King.

"_Ya Allah_!" exclaimed Mushad, his keen eyes seeming to burn, as he
glared up at his late captives.  "Fate is strange, yet be not in a hurry
to triumph, ye dogs, for it may change again."

"We have no desire to triumph over you, Mushad," said Haviland.  "That
would be the part of a coward, and I hardly think that even you would
name us that."

The Arab scowled savagely and relapsed into silence, and they left him.
When Kumbelwa asked them about the doctor they felt almost ashamed of
how the elation, attendant upon their own unexpected deliverance, had
sent their friend's memory into the background.  Yet were they destined
to miss him at every hour of the day.

"He died like a brave man, Kumbelwa," had answered Haviland.  "And now,
what of ourselves; and how did you escape and come so opportunely to our
aid?"

Then Kumbelwa sat down, and began to take snuff.

"We had a right good fight up there, _Nkose_, was it not so?  But I knew
what would be the end of it, for did not you yourself say, `What can one
buffalo bull do against a hundred dogs?'  So I cut my way through
Mushad's people and made for the open, and well I knew that none there
could outrun me, nor indeed could their bullets even strike me, so wild
were these men with excitement and victory.  The while I thought that
one man outside and free was better than all within and bound, wherefore
I put much space between me and the battle so that I might think out
some plan.  And then, _Nkose_, I know not how, whether it was my snake
that whispered it to me, or what it was, but I looked up--and lo! afar
off there rose a smoke.  `Now,' thought I, `whoever is making that
smoke, it is no friend to Mushad.  Further, it is no weak ones of the
tribes left in the path of Mushad, else had they not dared signify their
presence so soon after he had passed.'  And I thought `Nothing can be
worse for those in the hand of Mushad, and it may be better.  As things
are, they are already dead; but as things may be, who knoweth?'  So
straight to that smoke I went, and lo! by a fire lay four times ten
men--warriors, in full array of battle.  I walked into their midst
before they seized their spears and came for me.  Then I said, `Who are
ye?'  And they told me--I standing there and uttering the name of our
King.  They had heard it, far, far as they dwelt from the land of Zulu;
but, where has not the name of Zulu sounded?

"Then I said `Ye seek Mushad?  Good.  I can deliver him into your
hands--lead me to the _impi_.'  Then one man said--not speaking very
well in the tongue of the Zulu, `How knowest thou whom we seek, O
stranger; and how knowest thou that there be an _impi_ with us?'  And I
said, `Look at me.  I am not a boy.  I am a _kehla_, and have I not
fought the battles of the Great Great One--he of the House of
Senzangakona?'  And they said, `It is well, O stranger.  Show us
Mushad.'  And now, _Amakosi_, I would ask you--`Have I not done so?'"

The cordial assent of Haviland was drowned in the chorus of emphatic
applause thundered forth from those who heard, for the few who had
gathered round to listen had swelled into a mighty crowd, as, seated
there, the Zulu warrior poured forth his tale.

"And what of ourselves, Kumbelwa?" asked Haviland.  "How are we to
return, for we have no bearers left, and all that is valuable to us,
though valuable to no one else, lies up yonder, where we fought?"

The Zulu's countenance seemed ever so slightly to fall.

"For that, _Nkose_, you must go with these.  The Father of this people
desires to see you."

"That is so, O strangers," broke in a deep voice.  Both turned.  The
words had proceeded from a very tall man, taller even than Kumbelwa, who
stood forth a little from the rest.  He was a magnificent savage as he
stood there, clad in his war costume, his head thrown haughtily back,
his hand resting on his great shield.  But the glance wherewith he
favoured them was one of supercilious command, almost of hostility.
Both Haviland and Oakley felt an instinctive dislike and distrust for
the man as they returned his glance.

"Who is the warrior I see before me?" asked Haviland, courteously,
realising that this man was chief in command of the _impi_.

"I am Dumaliso," was the reply.  "You must go with us."

And somehow both our friends realised that their troubles were by no
means over.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

WERE THEY PRISONERS?

The first elation of their most timely rescue cooled, Haviland and
Oakley realised that they had no very bright outlook before them, under
the changed condition of things.  Instead of their return to
civilisation and the outside world after their long exile--a return,
too, bearing with them the results of a highly successful enterprise,
and which every day had been bringing nearer and nearer--here they were
virtually captives once more, in process of being marched back further
and further from the goal to which they had looked; back, indeed, into
unknown wilds, and at the mercy of a barbarian despot whose raids and
massacres had set up a reputation for cruelty which surpassed that of
Mushad himself.

The conditions of the march, too, were exhausting even to themselves.
Twenty-five, even thirty miles a day, were as nothing to these sinewy
savages.  They did not, however, take a straight line, but diverged
considerably every now and then to fall upon some unhappy village.
Contrary, however, to custom, they perpetrated no massacres on these
occasions.  What they did do was to show off Mushad and his principal
followers, with slave-yokes on their necks, and under every possible
circumstance of ignominy, in order that all might see that the terrible
and redoubted slaver chief was a mere dog beside the power of the Great
King.  This revolted the two Englishmen, and however little reason they
had to commiserate their late enemies, at any rate these were brave men,
and they had expected that a brave race like the Inswani would have
recognised this.  At last they said as much.

It happened that Dumaliso had compelled several of the meanest of the
villagers to lash Mushad.  The infliction was not severe.  It was merely
the indignity that was aimed at.  The haughty Arab, however, might have
been made of wood for all the sign he gave of either pain or
humiliation.  But the two white men were thoroughly disgusted, and it is
absolutely certain that, had the means been at hand, they would, at all
risks, have aided their late enemy to escape.

"Why degrade a brave man thus, leader of the Great Great One's impi?"
Haviland had expostulated.  "If he is to die, even in torment, it may be
that he has deserved that.  But to degrade him at the hands of these
vile dogs, who just now trembled at the mere sound of his name--is that
well?"

"Is it well?" echoed Dumaliso, with a brutal laugh.  "See there, white
man," pointing with his great assegai at Mushad.  "If yonder dog had
fifty lives, every one of them should be taken from him in the torment
of many days.  For him nothing is too bad.  It is the word of the Great
Great One."

"What has he done, that your King should hate him so?"

"_Au_!  He has seized and made slaves of some of our people.  Inswani
slaves!  Think of it, _Umlungu_!  That for one thing.  For another, he
has sworn to seize the Great Great One, and turn him into the meanest of
slaves, to heap indignities upon him far worse than any we have heaped
upon his vile carrion carcase, indignities which are not to be named.
This hath he done, O insect-hunter!  Is it not enough?"

Haviland realised the futility of further remonstrance, but the
unpleasant conviction seemed to be growing upon them more and more that
they had perchance only fallen out of the frying-pan into the fire--that
they were themselves virtually prisoners, and that in the hands of a
race of ferocious savages without one spark of humanity or ruth--in
short, for sheer devilish, bloodthirsty cruelty not one whit behind
those from whom they had been delivered.  Not a day but furnished forth
instances of this.  The captive slave-hunters had been forced to act as
carriers, and enormous bundles containing the loot of both camps had
been placed upon them to bear.  Did they falter, they were unmercifully
beaten and goaded on with spear-points, while several, who from sheer
exhaustion gave up, were savagely tortured and mutilated and left to
die.  To our two friends it was simply horrible.  It was as though the
dark places of the earth were indeed given over to devils in human
shape--to work their utmost in deeds of sickening barbarity and
bloodshed.  And further and further into these "dark places" were they
themselves being forced.

They had induced their rescuers--or captors--to revisit the scene of the
battle, by holding out to them the possibility of finding more loot,
over looked or not thought worth bringing away by Mushad, their own
object being twofold--to bury their unfortunate friend, and to recover
if possible the precious specimens.  As to the first, disappointment
befell them, for such high revel had been held by the carrion birds and
beasts that the remains of the doctor were undistinguishable from those
of any other victim of the hideous massacre.  In the second matter they
were more fortunate.  Most of the treasured collections had escaped
damage, and the Inswani warriors had stood round, some amused, some
jeering, at the spectacle of the two white men--who they had it from
Kumbelwa _could_ fight--eagerly repacking dried and pressed plants, or
striving to repair the broken wings of tiny beetles.

Haviland, with his knowledge of their language, had laid himself out to
try and gain their friendship, but they were not particularly
responsive; and here he was surprised, for, whereas some--Dumaliso
included--spoke pure Zulu, others only talked a kind of dialect of it,
introducing a great many words that were strange to him.  Yet somehow
none of these men quite resembled the straight, clean-limbed,
aristocratic savage he had become familiar with in the realm of
Cetywayo.  In physique many of them excelled him, but there was a hard,
brutal, aggressive look in their otherwise intelligent faces.  Those of
them, too, who wore the head-ring wore it very large and thick, and, as
we have said, their shields and assegais were heavier and of a different
finish.  He wondered whether these were an evolution of the original
Zulu, or if the Zulu up to date had receded from this type.

Day after day their weary march continued, and they began to estimate
they had covered close on four hundred miles.  Four hundred weary miles
to be re-traversed, if they ever did return.  But during the last few
days the face of the country had been improving.  The climate was
cooler, and, as they had been gradually ascending, it was evident that
the home of these people lay amid healthy uplands.  Great valleys opened
out, dotted with mimosa patches and baobab, and half a hundred varieties
of shrubbery.  Game, too, was plentiful; but when our friends would have
varied the monotony of the march by a little sport they were promptly
repressed, for this was one of the king's preserves, and woe betide him
who should violate, it.  And then at last one morning a halt was called,
and weapons and shields were furbished up, and full war-gear, laid aside
for the march, was donned.  Away in the distance, far up the valley, but
just discernible from their elevation on the hill slope, a light veil of
smoke hung upon the morning air.  It was the King's town.

And now, as the march was resumed, our two friends saw, for the first
time, something of the people of the country into which they had been
brought; for those inhabiting the outlying villages, both men and women,
came swarming down to meet the returning impi.  Most of the women, they
noticed to their surprise, were inclined to be rather short and squat,
though there were some of good height among them.  But these stared at
the two Englishmen in wild surprise, uttering remarks which, to
Haviland, at any rate, who understood them, were not calculated to
enhance self-esteem.  The main centre of attention, however, was the
presence of the captive slave-hunters, and here the fury of the
undisciplined savage nature broke forth, and the air rang with wild
howls and threats of impending vengeance.  And this awful tumult
gathered volume as it rolled along the valley, for, drawn by it, others
came down in every direction to swell the tide of dark, infuriated
humanity; and, lo! the returning impi seemed a mere handful in the midst
of the crowd that poured round it on every hand, roaring like beasts,
clamouring for the blood and anguish of their hated foes; and the dust
swirled heavenward in a mighty cloud, while the earth shivered to the
thunder of thousands and thousands of feet.

In the midst of all this horrible tumult, our two friends were straining
their eyes through the blinding dust-clouds to catch a first glimpse of
the town, and it was not until they were right upon it that they did so.
Contrary to their expectation, however, it bore no resemblance what
ever to a Zulu kraal, for it was square in shape and fenced in with a
formidable stockade.  Some twenty yards back from it was another and a
similar stockade, and they reckoned that the space enclosed by this was
fully a mile each way.  The huts, or houses, were also square, except in
some instances where they were oblong, and many of them were of some
size.  From these dark forms could be seen pouring, until all the open
spaces within the town were even as a disturbed ants' nest.  Then, as
they drew near the principal gate, Haviland noticed that the stakes on
either side of it were thickly studded with heads, a very un-Zulu
practice.

The whole impi defiled through this, followed by its accompanying crowd,
and to such grim accompaniment our two friends entered the head town of
the terrible King of the Inswani.  But they were rather silent, for the
same thought was in both their minds.  How would they leave it?

Up to the principal open space they marched, the impi with its prisoners
in its midst, distinguishable from the unorganised crowd by its
well-ordered ranks and towering head-gear.  Before an oblong hut of
large size it halted.  Down went shield and weapon.  Every right hand
shot into the air, and from the thousand and odd throats there roared
forth one word:

"_Umnovu_!"

"Drop your weapons, _Amakosi_!" whispered a warning voice.

Haviland obeyed, telling Oakley to do the same, for the speaker was
Kumbelwa.

The whole vast crowd continued its vociferations.  It was evident, too,
to the two white spectators that the word was a royal title, or form of
salute.  Still the roar continued, but nobody appeared.  Then the impi
struck up a kind of swaying dance.  Faster and faster this grew,
stimulated by a wild whirling chant.  The whole body would prostrate
itself, rising as one man, and taking extravagant leaps into the air.
At last, when the frenzy had reached its height, and throats were hoarse
with bawling, and dusky bodies were streaming with perspiration, the
uproar ceased--ceased so suddenly that the dead silence which succeeded
was even more startling than the tumult of a second before.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

THE KING.

"Down, _Amakosi_," whispered Kumbelwa again.  "Down."

The whole assembly had fallen flat, but our two friends drew the line at
that.  However, they compromised by dropping into a kind of squatting
attitude, and at once the King's gaze rested upon them.

It was a sufficiently terror-striking glance.  They saw before them a
magnificent specimen of a savage, very tall and broad, and of a rich red
copper colour.  He was clad in a _mutya_ of leopard skin, and wore a
short cloak of the same, dangling from one shoulder.  His head was
shaven, but it and the large thick ring were partly concealed by a
towering head-dress of black ostrich plumes, a continuation of which
fell on either side so as to cover his shoulders.  But the face would
have commanded attention anywhere, such an impression did it convey of
relentless ferocity, of absolute pitilessness, and, at the same time, of
indomitable courage.  Yet it was the countenance of quite a young man.

For some time the King's eyes rested on the two white men with a fierce
and penetrating stare.  Then, pointing at them with the broad-bladed
assegai in his hand, he said:

"Who are these?"

A confused murmur arose among the crowd, a sort of deprecatory wail.
Then the chiefs of the impi crawled to the King's feet and began to make
their report, a mere matter of ceremony, for of course swift runners had
already been sent on ahead to tell what had happened.  He listened in
silence, gazing down upon them with a haughty stare.

"It is well," he said at last.  "Bring these people now before me."

He strode forth, proceeding along the edge of the prostrate crowd.
Three or four old indunas were with him, keeping just a pace in the
rear.  When he had passed, the whole impi sprang to its feet--and broke
into shouts of praise:

"Fire-maker!"

"Mighty tree that crackleth into sparks!"

"Burner up of the sun at noon!"

"Thou, whose glance scorches up men!"

"Heat of two suns!"

"Scorcher up of the world!"

These and other extravagant attributes were thundered forth from the
excited and adoring multitude, and Haviland, who understood a little
about that sort of thing, was quick to observe that these attributes
mostly referred to fire.  A few others were uttered, such as "Swallower
up of Rumaliza!"  "Thou who makest dust of Mushad!" and so forth, but
the _sibonga_ was always brought back again to the attribute of fire.
It interested him, and he made up his mind to ask Kumbelwa about it by
and by.

But now the King had reached his chair of state and was seated thereon.
It was a genuine throne, of very old and quaint workmanship, beautifully
carved, with couchant lions on the arms, and guarding the steps, and had
probably been obtained from some slaver who traded in the north.  This
chair was placed on a kind of raised verandah with a wide grass roof,
and was well sheltered from the sun.  The indunas squatted on the floor
of the verandah on either side of the throne.

"Come forward, ye white men," said the King, and they noticed that his
voice was extraordinarily full and deep.

Our two friends advanced to the throne, and as they did so it was not
reassuring to notice ten or a dozen men standing rather conspicuously at
hand, armed with wicked-looking scimitars, also thongs and raw-hide
whips--all most uncomfortably suggestive of their grim vocation.

"You who speak with our tongue," said the King, pointing at Haviland,
"how know you it?"

"In the land of Cetywayo, Great Great One."

"Now thou liest, for Cetywayo is there no more.  Your people have upset
his throne long since."

Haviland wondered how on earth that news should have travelled to this
remote, hardly heard-of tribe, but he answered:

"That is true, Ndabezita [A term of honour addressed to royalty].  But
his people still exist."

"Ha!  How came ye here, ye two?"

Then, beginning, Haviland narrated all that had befallen them up to
their battle with and capture by Mushad.  The King and all within
earshot listened attentively.

"Somala?  Where is he?" said the King.

The Arab was pushed forward and stood before the throne.  A fell and
menacing scowl overclouded the royal countenance.

"Another of these dogs of Rumaliza's," said the King.  "Take him, ye
Black Ones."

The executioners sprang forward to seize the Arab.  But, before they
could reach him, Haviland had stepped between.

"Spare him, Burner of the Sun," he said.  "He is not of Rumaliza's
tribe.  He is no enemy to the people of Inswani."

A great groan went up from the assembly.  Men held their breath.  Had
such a thing ever before been known, that a man should stand before
another that the King had doomed to die?  As for the despot himself, he
had risen from his seat.  His towering form seemed to dilate, and the
scowl on his enraged countenance was terrible to behold.

"Thou hast thy head in the lion's mouth," he said, "and dost still dare
to tickle the lion's jaws.  Are all white men mad?"

"He is my tried and faithful servant, Ndabezita," pleaded Haviland.  "He
is not the enemy of this people--indeed, very much the reverse, for who
delivered him--delivered all of us--out of the hand of Mushad?"

"Ha!  Mushad!" exclaimed the King, whom an idea seemed to strike--
perhaps also a little impressed by the absolute fearlessness evinced by
Haviland, and which decided him to spare Somala for the present.  "Bring
forward Mushad and his other dogs."

A ferocious murmur of delight hummed through the whole assembly.  The
hated slavers were about to suffer.  Many willing hands dragged them
forward into the presence of the King.

His iron frame wasted with exhaustion and ill-treatment, Mushad's spirit
was still unbent.

He met the fierce scowl of the despot with a scowl every whit as savage
and defiant.

"Ho!  Mushad!" cried the King, mockingly.  "But a short while since thou
didst swear to seize me and make a slave of me.  How now?  I think thou
didst swear thine oath upside down."

"God is God, and Mohammed is the Prophet of God.  He shall turn the foul
unbeliever into worse than a dog.  It matters not who is his instrument
in doing so," answered the Arab, defiantly.

"_Whau_!" cried the King.  "If Mohammed comes near the land of Inswani
he shall taste what you are about to taste.  But you--you have made
slaves of certain of my people.  Slaves of the people of Inswani!  Hear
you it, my children?"

Even our two friends, tried, intrepid adventurers as they were, could
not help a sense of heart-failing as they heard the terrific roar of
hate and vengeance which was hurled from every throat as these words of
the King fell upon their ears: "Warriors of Inswani, slaves beneath the
lash of this Arab dog!"  Well, he was at their mercy at last.

"Let him taste the lash!" they roared.

The King nodded to the executioners.  Mushad was seized and the clothing
rent from his back, revealing the weals of former scourgings.  But no
cry for mercy escaped him as the cruel whips of raw-hide fell upon his
emaciated form, striping it until the blood spurted.  The two white men
felt perfectly sick, but to display signs of any such weakness would be
as impolitic as any display of weakness in the presence of these fierce
and truculent savages.  Even the effort made to remind themselves of
Mushad's own barbarities was not sufficient to reconcile them to the
horrid sight.  But with every cruel whistling blow, the Inswani roared
with delight.

"Hold!" cried the King at last.  "He has had enough.  Take him away and
give him plenty of food.  He must be made quite strong for what he has
to undergo.  We have only begun upon thee as yet, Mushad.  And now,
bring forward yon other dogs, and let them taste of what they have dared
to inflict upon my children--the warriors of the Inswani.  For them,
too, it is only a foretaste of what is to come."

The other slave-hunters, to the number of nearly three score, were then
dragged forth.  There were not enough of the regular lictors, but
willing hands were only too ready to take their place, so intense and
rancorous was the hatred borne towards them, and soon the whole ground
in front of the King was converted into a hideous and writhing
torture-chamber.  Yet it was not that the Inswani held these people's
trade in especial abhorrence; far from it, for they took a hand at it
themselves upon occasion.  But what they could not pardon was the fact
of the Arab raiders seizing and enslaving their own men, and towards
Mushad and his followers their vengeful hatred was now kindled to white
heat, and they gloated over the anguish of these whose power had
hitherto been able to rival their own.

"Hold!" cried the King at last.  "They, too, have had enough.  Take
yonder ten," designating those who looked the lowest in standing of the
party, "and impale them on the stockade.  The rest will follow in due
time."

A roar of delight greeted these words.  The miserable wretches were
seized and dragged off, and presently were writhing each on a hard
stake, pointing outward from the stockade, crowds of the savages dancing
round and taunting them.  Indeed, it seemed as though the whole nation
had gone mad in its lust for blood.  The expression of even the King's
countenance had grown indescribably cruel and ferocious, and beholding
it, our two friends felt that their peril was hardly less than it had
been when they were in the hands of Mushad.

"Go ye," he said, pointing at them.  "Go, lest my mind changes.  Let
them be given a house for the present.  Hold!  Who is this?"

He had for the first time remembered the presence of Kumbelwa, who
sufficiently resembled the Inswani to escape notice.

"_Inkose!  Nkulu'nkulu, Inyoka 'mninimandhla_!" began the Zulu,
crouching low, and breaking forth into the _sibonga_ of his race.  "The
servant of the Royal House of Inswani is a Zulu of the tribe of
Umtetwa."

"Of Umtetwa!" echoed the King.  "That which the House of Senzangakona
swallowed.  Thou shouldst be a great fighter," running his eyes
appreciatively over Kumbelwa's fine stature.

"I wielded a spear in the ranks of the Umbonambi, father, when we fought
the English, although now we are friends."

"Good," said the King.  "Thou hast the look of a warrior indeed, and
thou shalt wield thy spear in the ranks of my army now.  See now,
Kumbelwa.  Take charge of these two white men, whose servant thou
wouldst seem to be.  I will talk with thee later.  Go."

Thus dismissed, Haviland and Oakley breathed more freely.  It was a
respite at any rate.  Yet with the scenes of horror and vengeance
weighing heavy upon them, their minds were full of foreboding as to what
was to come, as they took up their quarters in the large square hut
assigned to them.  And even yet, the stakes with their writhing victims
seemed to haunt them, and in the mind of each was the unspoken thought
that they themselves might be the next.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

THE END OF MUSHAD.

After this they saw nothing of the King.  The days went by, growing into
weeks, and still there seemed no prospect of their perilous and irksome
captivity drawing to its end.  Though outwardly treated as guests, there
were not wanting downright intimations that they could not come and go
as they pleased, and they received a significant hint that the country
was very unhealthy did they venture out of sight of the stockade.  At
first they strove to take an interest in the novelty of their position,
and in the conditions of life of this strange race; but the people were
very reserved, and seemed afraid to say much; so that except through
Kumbelwa they could learn but little about them--and not a great deal
through him.  The King's name, they gathered, was Umnovunovu; and yet it
was in reality only a title, like that of the Pharaohs of Egypt, for the
kings of the Inswani had no name, and their former one became very much
_hlonipa_, i.e. not to be uttered.

"You see, Oakley," Haviland said, "there's no end to the curious twists
and turns of native etiquette--and the unformulated, or what would be to
us the unwritten laws, are the strangest of all.  In Zululand, for
instance, white men who have had the country and people at their
fingers' ends all their lives have told me that the more certain they
were they knew everything, the more certain something was to occur to
show them they didn't."

"Well, this is a mighty ugly crowd, anyway," answered Oakley, "and, like
Pharaoh of old, Mr Umnovunovu doesn't intend to let us go in a hurry."

They were growing very dejected under their enforced detention.  The
climate was not bad, and a great improvement on the steamy heat of the
lower country; indeed, the nights were at times distinctly sharp.  But
everything tended to depress them.  They had nothing on earth to do,
and, as Oakley said, all their time to do it in.  For another thing, the
atmosphere of continuous slaughter and death got very much upon their
nerves.  Besides the slaver captives, who were done to death under
varying circumstances of barbarity, at the rate of several a day, and
whose tortured shrieks it was impossible to keep out of their ears,
several of the Inswani were taken out and put to death, as they were
informed, by order of the King.  This young savage seemed positively to
wallow in blood and torture; yet, so far from the feet undermining the
loyalty of his subjects, it seemed rather to cement their adherence.
But, though cruel and bloodthirsty, he was of unimpeachable courage, and
more than one tale of heroic valour did Kumbelwa narrate in which the
young King was the central figure.

At times, when they were taking their walks abroad, a sudden hubbub, and
a roaring crowd on the move, would denote that his Majesty was out, and
his faithful subjects were hailing his progress.  But they deemed it
expedient to keep out of the way of such demonstrations.

"Hallo!" cried Haviland, one hot morning, as they were lying in their
hut.  "Here, quick, give us that box!  Why, that's the most whacking big
scorpion I've ever seen, even here."

In a trice the great crawling venomous brute was, like themselves, a
prisoner, savagely walking round and round, and wondering what had
happened.

"It'll be a job to get him into the lethal jar, Oakley!  If we use the
tongs on him we're sure to damage his legs, like we did that mammoth
tarantula that was taking a stroll over you the other night.  Here, hold
the box a minute."

So for upwards of a quarter of an hour, these two enthusiastic
collectors were busily at work circumventing the ugly venomous insect.
They had forgotten their troubles; the Inswani, the king, Mushad,
everything.

"Well done!" cried Haviland.  "We've got him at last.  What a specimen!
Poor old Ahern, how he would have enjoyed this!  If only he hadn't been
in such a hurry--.  Get out of the way, Kumbelwa.  You're in our light,"
he added, without looking up, as a shadow darkened the door.  With a
smothered grunt this was removed.  Then, when at last they did look up,
the figure squatted on the ground was not that of Kumbelwa at all.  It
was Dumaliso.

They exchanged greetings, not very cordially on either side.  They were
not particularly fond of the chief, whom Oakley defined as "a cruel
brute, who'd cut our throats as soon as look at us, if he dared."
Moreover, they were vexed that he should appear on the scene when he
did, for they had received more than one hint from Kumbelwa that the
Inswani looked with considerable suspicion on their collecting
propensities.  None but _abatagati_, or evilly disposed sorcerers, went
about collecting insects and plants, it was argued--of course to work
witchcraft with--and they had deemed it wise to refrain.  Their position
was quite risky enough without doing anything to add to its
complications, and now here was one of the most influential men in the
nation--and toward themselves the most hostile--entering just in time to
find them capturing one of the ugliest and most vicious specimens of the
insect world.  What could they want with such save for purposes of
witchcraft?

"The King, the Great Great One, has a word unto ye two," began Dumaliso.

They nodded assent.

"With the firearms we have taken from the slave-hunting dogs many of the
King's warriors might be armed.  His `word' is that ye shall teach them
to shoot, beginning with myself."

"What do you think of the idea, Oakley?" said Haviland, when he had
translated this to his companion, who was himself picking up a moderate
knowledge of the tongue.

"Seems reasonable.  You see, it isn't like arming them against our own
countrymen, because they'll never see any of them, and to arm them
against the slave-hunters is all right.  We'd better agree."

"I think so too."  Whereupon, turning to the chief, they expressed their
willingness to organise a corps of sharpshooters among the more
promising of the Inswani.

"That is well," said Dumaliso, rising.  "And now, O strangers, if you
would see the end of this dog Mushad, the time is at hand."

"Tell him we don't want to see it, Haviland.  Brute as Mushad is, I
don't want to see him tortured.  It makes me sick."

Haviland at first made no reply.  He seemed to be thinking.

"We will go, Oakley," he said at last.  "I have got an idea or saving
the poor brute from torture, at any rate."

As they went forth with Dumaliso, a strange subdued roar was arising,
and from every part of the town people were hurrying towards the great
space at the head of which stood the King's throne.  In thousands and
thousands the densely packed mass of surging humanity blocked the way,
and it required all Dumaliso's authority to clear a passage.  A new
spectacle seemed to be anticipated, and the pitiless crowd thrilled with
delight as it speculated by what particular form of torment their
traditional enemy was to die.  It was horrible, and there, thickly
studding the outer stockade, were numerous fresh heads, grinning in
anguished distortion, being those of the slave-hunters, who had been put
to death in batches.  And now their leader, the famous and terrible
Mushad, was the last.

There was the usual roaring outburst of _sibonga_ as the King appeared
and took his seat.  There were the executioners, savage-looking and
eager, and then--the last of the slave captives was dragged forward.

Heavens! what was this?  The bowed and shrunken figure, palsied and
shaking, was that of an old, old man.  The snow-white hair and ragged
beard, the trembling claws and the blinking watery eyes--this could
never be Mushad, the keen-eyed, haughty, indomitable Arab of middle age
and iron sinewy frame, whom they had last seen, here on this very spot,
hurling defiance at his captors in general and at the King in
particular.  No--no, such a transformation was not possible.

But it was.  Ill-treatment, starvation, torture had reduced the once
haughty, keen-spirited Arab to this.  Where he had defied, now he
cringed.  Yet no spark of ruth or pity did his miserable plight call
forth in those who now beheld him.  Brutal jeers were hurled at him.
They had come to see him die in torments.  They had looked forward to it
from day to day.  They were not to be baulked now.

Of all this Haviland was aware, and an intense pity arose in his heart
as he gazed upon the miserable wreck.  He had thought he knew what
savages really were, but now realised that it was reserved for the
Inswani to teach him.

"Ho!  Mushad, my dog!" jeered the King, in his deep voice.  "Thou who
namedst thyself the scourge of the world.  Why, I think the meanest
slave thou hast ever sold would crack his whip over thee now."

"Look yonder," went on Umnovunovu.  "Thou seest those four poles?  Good.
Thou wilt be tied to those by an ankle and wrist to each, half a man's
height from the ground, with fire beneath thee, and for a whole day thou
shalt rest upon a warm blanket, I promise thee."

The two Englishmen shuddered with horror as they saw what was to happen.
The miserable slave-hunter was to be slowly roasted to death.  Then
Haviland spoke, as he admitted to himself, like a fool.

"Spare him, Great, Great One.  Spare him the torture.  See, he has
undergone enough.  Put him to the swift death of the sword."

The King's face was terrible to behold as he turned it upon the
interruptor; no less terrible as they beheld it was the roar of rage
that went up from the spectators.

"Wilt thou take his place upon yon glowing bed, thou fool white man?" he
said with a sneer that was more than half a menacing snarl.

"Haviland, go easy, man," warned Oakley.  "This won't do at all.  Why
should we sacrifice ourselves for that infernal villain?  Haviland,
you're an ass."

The sneer had gone out of the King's face.  For a moment he contemplated
the two white men in silence.

"What were his words?" he said, pointing to Oakley.  Haviland told him.

"Not so," said Umnovunovu, with an impatient stamp of the foot.  "Let
him say the words exactly as he said them.  Or--" The last was rolled
out in a roar of menace.

Oakley, greatly wondering, repeated his words.  The King, still
wondering, pointed with his spear at Mushad.  In a moment the
executioners were upon him, and he was dragged to the place of his
torment and death.

But to make him fast to the poles it was necessary to cut the thongs
which bound his wrists.  Mushad, apparently more helpless than a
new-born babe, saw his opportunity and characteristically seized it.
From one of the executioners he snatched a heavy two-edged dagger, and
with all the old determination reviving, in a twinkling he drove it
home--hard, strong, and straight--cleaving his own heart.

It took the spectators some moments to realise that they were cheated of
the glut of revenge for which they were there.  Then went up the most
awful ravening roar.  The two white men!  They had bewitched the Arab!
They it was who had saved him from their vengeance!  Let them take the
slaver's place!

For a few minutes the King listened to their frenzied bellowing.  Then,
slowly, he raised his spear and pointed at Haviland.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

A NEW WONDER.

At the fatal signal the executioners threw themselves upon Haviland, so
quickly that it became evident that no opportunity would be allowed him
of repeating Mushad's device.  His revolver and knife were taken from
him, and, firmly held in the iron grasp of these muscular savages, he
was forced to stand powerless, awaiting the will of the King.  No
chance, either, had Oakley of coming to his aid, separated as they were
by an infuriated and armed crowd.

"First of all," said the King, "those who allowed the Arab to escape
must go.  I have no use for such."

Two of the executioners were immediately seized by the rest.  No prayer
for mercy escaped them; perhaps they knew the futility of it.  The King
made a sign.  Both knelt down; there was a flash of two scimitars in the
air, and in a second two spouting, headless trunks were deluging the
earth.  An awed silence rested momentarily upon the multitude; then
broke forth into hideous clamour for the torture of the white wizards.

For such these were, they declared.  All the insects and herbs they were
collecting--what was all this for but for purposes of witchcraft?  Only
that morning they had captured a huge scorpion, and had been found
distilling evil _muti_ from its venomous carcase.  With this they had
enabled their enemy to escape them.  With this they had even bewitched
the Great Great One himself.  Death to the wizards!  Let them take the
Arab's place!

Haviland's shirt was rent from his back, revealing a curious jagged
scar, running from the left shoulder halfway to the elbow.

"Hold!" roared the King.

All eyes were raised, so startling was the tone.  The Great Great One
was indeed bewitched, was the one thought in the minds of the now silent
multitude.  And, indeed, there seemed some colour for the idea.
Umnovunovu had half risen from his seat, and, both hands gripping the
arms of the throne, he was staring wildly at the unfortunate prisoner.

"Loose him!" he cried.  Then, in excellent English, "Come here,
Haviland.  I know you now."

In after times Haviland used to say that he had met with some wild
surprises in the course of a somewhat adventurous career, but none
wilder, madder, more utterly dumb-striking than when the King of the
Inswani broke out into good English, hailing him by name.  He started,
stared, rubbed his eyes, gasped--then stared again.

"Great Scott!  Am I drunk or dreaming?" broke from him at last.  "Why,
it can't be--.  But it is--Cetchy--Anthony--Mpukuza?"

But with the last name a mighty groan broke forth from all who heard,
then another and another.  Even in the whirl of his amazement and
relief, Haviland recognised that he had blundered terribly.  He had
actually named the King by his veiled name, and that in the presence of
the whole nation.

"Not Mpukuza now, but Umnovunovu.  The Stump has spread into the
Fire-striking Tree," said the King in a loud voice, speaking in Zulu.
Then, dropping into English again:

"I have never forgotten you, Haviland, although you have forgotten me.
When your friend there called you Haviland, I made him repeat it, so as
to make sure.  Then I remembered that bad scratch you gave yourself one
day at Saint Kirwin's, when we were scrambling through a wire fence.  I
knew the scar would be there still, so I arranged to make sure of that
too."

No wonder his people deemed Umnovunovu bewitched.  Here he was, talking
easily, fluently, in the tongue of these strangers; nor was that all,
for his very countenance had changed, and the hardened savagery of the
ferocious despot had given way to an expression that was bright and
pleasing.

"No fear.  I didn't forget you, Cetchy," answered Haviland,
unconsciously reverting to the old nickname, which, however, didn't
matter, being English.  "Why I was quite a long while in the Zulu
country, and inquired for you everywhere.  Ask Kumbelwa if I didn't.  I
wanted no end to run against you again."

"Well, and now you have, and in a mighty queer sort of way.  And, do you
know, Haviland, if you had been any one else, I'd have let them do what
they liked with you.  I hate white people.  Nick and the others at Saint
Kirwin's taught me that.  I wish I'd got Nick here.  I'd put him through
what Mushad's dogs underwent.  Then I'd make him dance on that fire."

The recollection of his school experiences and discipline revived all
the savage in the young King.  His face hardened vengefully.

"Oh, bosh, Cetchy," replied Haviland, with a laugh.  "You surely don't
bear a grudge against Nick for giving you a licking now and then; it's
all in the ordinary course of things when a fellow's at school.
Supposing every fellow I'd ever given a licking to wanted to burn me.
Instead of that, we'd be shaking hands and talking over old times.
Jarnley, for instance."

Umnovunovu burst into a roar, his good humour quite restored.

"Jarnley!" he echoed, "I gave him such a licking before I left.  You
see, I was growing every day, and I felt strong enough to lick Jarnley.
So we fought, and I licked him."

It was a curious contrast, this easy and light-hearted school
reminiscence, proceeding from the mouth of a blood-stained barbarian
despot, clad in his savage panoply, and enthroned at the head of his
astounded subjects.  And on the ground, where they had fallen, the huge
gory trunks of the decapitated executioners.  Haviland saw the _bizarre_
incongruity of the situation, and said as much, adding with something of
a shudder as his glance fell upon the hideous corpses:--

"You're a cruel young beggar, Cetchy, you know.  Why are you?"

"Cruel?  Look here, Haviland.  When you did wrong, Nick gave you a
thousand lines, or a thrashing.  I can't give my people lines because
they can't write, and a thrashed man does wrong again, but a killed man,
never.  If I stopped killing, I should stop being King, for it would
mean that.  But--who is he?" pointing towards Oakley.

"A friend I rescued in rather a strange manner.  I'll call him."  And he
started towards Oakley, all making way before him now, so great was the
general amazement.  And he had a purpose in this move.

"Oakley," he said hurriedly, and in an undertone.  "For your very life,
don't let go you're related to Nick, or that you ever so much as heard
of him.  Be careful.  I'll tell you after."

Then to Oakley's astonishment the King began to converse with him in
fluent English, and he, listening, thought it was a lucky day for
Haviland the day he punched Jarnley's head for bullying the new boy at
Saint Kirwin's, whom the missionary's well-intentioned zeal had placed
at that seat of learning--a lucky day for himself, too.  But quick to
grasp Haviland's warning, he was nothing if not non-committal.

"Ha!" chuckled Umnovunovu, erewhile Anthony.  "They thought to make me
Umfundisi [Missionary], but it suits me better to be a King."

Later, he told Haviland of all his vicissitudes since the scheme for his
education and civilisation had failed, also how he came to be installed
on the Inswani throne in succession to his father, but it was a long and
intricate history, full of strange and startling plottings and
developments, and in no wise material to this narrative--later, we
repeat, this was revealed, but not then.  For then happened one of those
very occurrences which the young despot claimed to justify him in the
savage severities for which his white friend had been taking him to
task, and the prime mover therein was Dumaliso.

Whether it was that the chief had really resolved upon a _coup d'etat_
or was acting upon one of those irresponsible impulses to which savages
are so liable, he now rushed forward, waving his great assegai, and
shouting in stentorian tones that the King was bewitched by these white
people, and that it was time to make an end of them.  A frantic uproar
greeted his words, and blades flashed in ominous manner.  But Umnovunovu
hesitated not a moment.  Drawing his towering stature to its full
height, he gazed for one second with that terrible gaze of his upon the
excited multitude, then there was a rush and a spring and he was upon
Dumaliso, and the great spear was shearing through that ill-advised
leader's heart.

"Is the King bewitched?" he roared, flinging the great carcase from him,
and rolling his eyes around.  But the whole multitude cowered, shouting
aloud the _sibonga_.  Then he turned to the two white men, his
equanimity quite restored.

"There you are, Haviland.  Where would I be if I didn't kill?  Dumaliso
has been getting too big for his boots, as we used to say, for some time
past, so now I've killed him.  It's quite simple."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Well, Haviland, we've fallen into luck's way, it seems," was Oakley's
comment, as they found themselves alone again, now in one of the largest
and roomiest huts the town could show, and with plenty of attendance and
abundance of everything.  "And now, I suppose, we can be trotting home
again when we feel like it."

"Well, I feel like it now, Oakley.  It is, as you say, a piece of luck;
and, apart from that, I'm awfully glad to see Cetchy again.  But all
this sanguinary business has got upon my nerves rather--and I think a
change of climate will be good for us."

So, a few days later, having made known their wishes to the King, he
sent for them.

"You want to leave me, do you, Haviland?" he said.  "Well, you can.  But
I trust to you both to say and do nothing that might bring a crowd of
white people to my country.  I don't want them, I tell you, and if any
do come I shall kill them--and so I warn you.  You can leave whenever
you feel inclined--you and the Arab, Somala.  I am going to send an impi
to look after you till you are safe beyond the reach of Rumaliza's
bands.  I am also sending with you, as a parting present, fifty tusks of
ivory.  And, Haviland, if ever you feel like coming to see me again, you
will be welcome, only don't come with a number of people.  You,
Kumbelwa" relapsing into Zulu, "come hither."

"See.  Thou art a great fighting man," he went on, when the Zulu had
crept to his feet, "and I have need for such as thee.  Wilt thou stay
and wield a spear in my army?"

"_Nkose_!  _Baba_!  Great is the Lion of the Inswani!  But what of my
wives in my kraal beneath Babanango--father of the mighty?"

The King burst into a loud laugh.

"Thy wives!  _Au_!  I will give thee three new ones--six if thou wilt,
and thou shalt have abundant choice.  Say?"

The big Zulu thought a moment.  His own country had been conquered by
the English, and there was no more fighting.  What should he do with
himself for the rest of his life there?  Here there would be plenty.
And his wives?  Well, the King had promised him six new ones here, and
he had but two at home, and they were not new.  His mind was made up.

"Great Great One.  I will _konza_ to the Black Elephant of the Inswani,"
he replied.  "But may I not go as far with my white chief as the King's
impi goeth?  Then I return with the King's lions."

"That thou mayest do, Kumbelwa," said the King.

So it came about that a few days later our two friends took leave of the
King--and started on their return journey.  They had plenty of bearers
now, and a valuable load, and, moreover, travelled with a formidable
escort of five hundred shields.

"I tell you what it is, Haviland," Oakley observed, as they turned to
take a last look at the great stockade with its array of ghastly and
grinning heads, spiked on the stakes.  "That chum of yours is a
bloodthirsty young villain.  But he's jolly well worth being chummy with
on an occasion like this."

"Rather.  The fellows at Saint Kirwin's who used to call him `Haviland's
Chum' to rag me, would stare if they only knew how I had run against him
over here.  In fact, they wouldn't believe it."

"Why don't you put it into print?"

"Then they'd believe it still less."



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

CONCLUSION.

Saint Kirwin's was jubilant, and the reason for its jubilation lay in
the fact that it had just obtained an unexpected and unlooked-for whole
holiday, and that thanks to the request of a now famous
explorer-naturalist, who had been invited to revisit his old school and
to deliver a lecture in a scientific interest.  So interesting and
withal instructive, indeed, had he rendered this, that while cordially
thanking him in the name of the whole school, the headmaster--not our
old friend and sometime terror, Dr Bowen, otherwise Nick--had made him
promise to continue it the following week.  This he had agreed to do,
but only to ask a favour in his turn, and that was to grant the school a
whole holiday on the following day--and to an old Kirwinian who had
greatly distinguished himself the headmaster had felt that much was due.
So Haviland went to bed that night the most popular person within those
classic walls; and until late, in more than one dormitory, traditions of
his doughty deeds of a dozen years ago were repeated, and those in his
whilom dormitory felt themselves of immeasurable importance by virtue of
that purely fortuitous circumstance.

The while, in Mr Sefton's snug rooms Haviland and the master were
forgathering.

"Light your pipe, Haviland," said the latter.  "A wanderer like you
can't do without it, I expect.  Well! well!  I'm very glad to see you
again, very.  And you've done credit to the old place, too."

"Oh, as to that, sir, I have only my good fortune to thank in having
been able to take my own line.  Round peg in a round hole, you know."

Mr Sefton looked at the tall form and bronzed face of the young
explorer with unmeasured approval.  He himself had hardly changed at
all--turning a little grey, perhaps, that was all.

"I say, sir, what were they about that they didn't make you head when
the Doctor left?" broke forth Haviland.

"Ha!  That isn't a sore point with me.  I'm second now, and that's good
enough to go on with."  Then, leaning forward in his quaint way--"Other
man--interest by marriage--see?" with a chuckle.  "I say, though," he
went on, "fancy them making Nick a bishop, eh?"

"Yes, I'm glad he's got a good thing, though," said Haviland.  "He had a
`down' on me, but he was so awfully good to me afterwards that it didn't
count."

"I know he had, and I don't mind telling you now that I thought so at
the time, and, still more surprising, he came to recognise it himself.
It's the only time I've ever known Nick concede anything.  You ought to
go and see him one of these days.  He'd be delighted."

"I should like to.  But, I say, Mr Sefton, I should burst out laughing
in his face, because I should always be thinking of the day I marched up
solemnly behind him in chapel."

"We've often shouted over that.  Williams never could forget it.  By the
way, Williams has taken orders now.  Fancy, Williams a parson.  He's
gone in for a parish and matrimony.  He'd like to see you too.  Who's
that?" he broke off.  "Come in, can't you!  Oh, it's you, Clay?  Here.
Sit down."

"I thought I'd find Haviland here," said the other master, who though of
peppery habit in school could be genial enough outside.

And then they got on to all sorts of old reminiscences, of which the
episode of the ghost in Hangman's Wood was the one which caused the two
masters to laugh until their sides ached.

"Fancy Cetchy turning out a king!" said Mr Clay, at last.  "We ought to
have a sort of Zulu royal arms stuck up over the gate here."

"Tell him about how nearly Cetchy came to having your head chopped off,
Haviland," said Mr Sefton.

"He'd have done it, too, and worse, if I hadn't been who I am.  No,
really, that was the most extraordinary thing that could have happened.
We had given ourselves up, entirely, Oakley and I."

"I should think so," rapped out Mr Sefton.  "They didn't call Cetchy
`Haviland's Chum' here to no purpose.  Eh?"

"Well, you've had some rum experiences since you left us, Haviland,"
said Clay.  "And here I and Sefton have been planted, grinding the mill,
year in year out--same old grind--all that time.  What d'you suppose
will be the end of a fellow like Cetchy?"

"A violent one any way.  There are only two ends possible to a savage in
his position--to be killed in battle or by a conspiracy of his own
people.  He is a thorough savage, and the people he has to rule--the
Inswani--struck me as about as turbulent, ferocious, and bloodthirsty a
crowd as this world can produce.  There's the whole situation, and it's
simple.  Funny I should have tumbled in with Oakley, isn't it?  Nick's
nephew."

Thus they yarned on, and at last Clay took his departure, for it was
late.

"Well now, Haviland," said Mr Sefton, the last thing.  "What are your
plans for the future?  Going to start off again or settle down?  But I
suppose you're too confirmed a wanderer for that."

Haviland smiled.

"I shouldn't be surprised, sir."

Reader, no more should we.





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