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´╗┐Title: By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
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 "By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War" ***

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BY SHEER PLUCK

A TALE OF THE ASHANTI WAR


By G. A. Henty



CHAPTER I: A FISHING EXCURSION


"Now, Hargate, what a fellow you are! I've been looking for you
everywhere. Don't you know it's the House against the Town boys. It's
lucky that the Town have got the first innings; they began a quarter of
an hour ago."

"How tiresome!" Frank Hargate said. "I was watching a most interesting
thing here. Don't you see this little chaffinch nest in the bush, with a
newly hatched brood. There was a small black snake threatening the nest,
and the mother was defending it with quivering wings and open beak. I
never saw a prettier thing. I sat quite still and neither of them seemed
to notice me. Of course I should have interfered if I had seen the snake
getting the best of it. When you came running up like a cart horse, the
snake glided away in the grass, and the bird flew off. Oh, dear! I am
sorry. I had forgotten all about the match."

"I never saw such a fellow as you are, Hargate. Here's the opening match
of the season, and you, who are one of our best bats, poking about after
birds and snakes. Come along; Thompson sent me and two or three other
fellows off in all directions to find you. We shall be half out before
you're back. Wilson took James's wicket the first ball."

Frank Hargate leaped to his feet, and, laying aside for the present all
thoughts of his favorite pursuit, started off at a run to the playing
field. His arrival there was greeted with a mingled chorus of welcome
and indignation. Frank Hargate was, next to Thompson the captain of the
Town eleven, the best bat among the home boarders. He played a steady
rather than a brilliant game, and was noted as a good sturdy sticker.
Had he been there, Thompson would have put him in at first, in order
to break the bowling of the House team. As it was, misfortunes had come
rapidly. Ruthven and Handcock were bowling splendidly, and none of the
Town boys were making any stand against them. Thompson himself had gone
in when the fourth wicket fell, and was still in, although two wickets
had since fallen, for only four runs, and the seventh wicket fell just
as Frank arrived, panting, on the ground.

"Confound you, Hargate!" Thompson shouted, "where have you been? And not
even in flannels yet."

"I'm very sorry," Frank shouted back cheerfully, "and never mind the
flannels, for once. Shall I come in now?"

"No," Thompson said. "You'd better get your wind first. Let Fenner come
in next."

Fenner stayed in four overs, adding two singles as his share, while
Thompson put on a three and a two. Then Fenner was caught. Thirty-one
runs for eight wickets! Then Frank took the bat, and walked to the
ground. Thompson came across to him.

"Look here, Hargate, you have made a nice mess of it, and the game looks
as bad as can be. Whatever you do, play carefully. Don't let out at
anything that comes straight. The great thing is to bother their bowling
a bit. They're so cocky now, that pretty near every ball is straight on
the wickets. Be content with blocking for a bit, and Handcock will soon
go off. He always gets savage if his bowling is collared."

Frank obeyed orders. In the next twenty minutes he only scored six runs,
all in singles, while Thompson, who was also playing very carefully, put
on thirteen. The game looked more hopeful for the Town boys. Then there
was a shout from the House, as Thompson's middle wicket was sent flying.
Childers, who was the last of the team, walked out.

"Now, Childers," Thompson said, "don't you hit at a ball. You're safe to
be bowled or caught if you do. Just lift your bat, and block them each
time. Now, Frank, it's your turn to score. Put them on as fast as you
can. It's no use playing carefully any longer."

Frank set to to hit in earnest. He had now got his eye well in, and the
stand which he and Thompson had made together, had taken the sting out
of the bowling. The ball which had taken Thompson's wicket was the last
of the over. Consequently the next came to him. It was a little wide,
and Frank, stepping out, drove it for four. A loud shout rose from
the Town boys. There had only been one four scored before, during the
innings. Off the next ball Frank scored a couple, blocked the next,
and drove the last of the over past long leg for four. The next over
Childers strictly obeyed orders, blocking each ball. Then it was Frank's
turn again, and seven more went up on the board. They remained together
for just fifteen minutes, but during that time thirty-one had been added
to the score. Frank was caught at cover point, having added twenty-eight
since Thompson left him, the other three being credited to Childers. The
total was eighty-one--not a bad score in a school match.

"Well, you've redeemed yourself," Thompson said, as Frank walked to the
tent. "You played splendidly, old fellow, when you did come. If we do as
well next innings we are safe. They're not likely to average eighty. Now
get on your wicket-keeping gloves. Green and I will bowl."

The House scored rapidly at first, and fifty runs were put on with the
loss of four wickets. Then misfortune fell upon them, and the remaining
six fell for nineteen. The next innings Frank went in first, but was
caught when the score stood at fifteen. Thompson made fourteen, but the
rest scored but badly, and the whole were out for forty-eight.

The House had sixty-one to get to win. Six wickets had fallen for
fifty-one runs, when Thompson put Childers on to bowl. The change was a
fortunate one. Ruthven's stumps were lowered at the first ball. Handcock
was caught off the second. The spirits of the Town boys rose. There were
but two wickets more, and still ten runs to get to win. The House played
cautiously now, and overs were sent down without a run. Then off a ball
from Childers a four was scored, but the next ball leveled the outside
stump. Then by singles the score mounted up until a tremendous shout
from the House announced that the game was saved, sixty runs being
marked by the scorers. The next ball, the Town boys replied even more
lustily, for Childers ball removed the bails, and the game ended in
a tie. Both parties were equally well satisfied, and declared that a
better game had never been played at Dr. Parker's. As soon as the game
was over Frank, without waiting to join in the general talk over the
game, put on his coat and waistcoat and started at a run for home.

Frank Hargate was an only son. His mother lived in a tiny cottage on the
outskirts of Deal. She was a widow, her husband, Captain Hargate, having
died a year before. She had only her pension as an officer's widow,
a pittance that scarce sufficed even for the modest wants of herself,
Frank, and her little daughter Lucy, now six years old.

"I hope I have not kept tea waiting, mother," Frank said as he ran in.
"It is not my beetles and butterflies this time. We have been playing a
cricket match, and a first rate one it was. Town boys against the House.
It ended in a tie."

"You are only a quarter of an hour late," his mother said, smiling,
"which is a great deal nearer being punctual than is usually the case
when you are out with your net. We were just going to begin, for I know
your habits too well to give you more than a quarter of an hour's law."

"I'm afraid I am horridly unpunctual," Frank said, "and yet, mother, I
never go out without making up my mind that I will be in sharp to time.
But somehow there is always something which draws me away."

"It makes no matter, Frank. If you are happy and amused I am content,
and if the tea is cold it is your loss, not ours. Now, my boy, as soon
as you have washed your hands we will have tea."

It was a simple meal, thick slices of bread and butter and tea, for Mrs.
Hargate could only afford to put meat upon the table once a day, and
even for that several times in the week fish was substituted, when the
weather was fine and the fishing boats returned, when well laden. Frank
fortunately cared very little what he ate, and what was good enough for
his mother was good enough for him. In his father's lifetime things had
been different, but Captain Hargate had fallen in battle in New Zealand.
He had nothing besides his pay, and his wife and children had lived with
him in barracks until his regiment was ordered out to New Zealand, when
he had placed his wife in the little cottage she now occupied. He had
fallen in an attack on a Maori pah, a fortnight after landing in New
Zealand. He had always intended Frank to enter the military profession,
and had himself directed his education so long as he was at home.

The loss of his father had been a terrible blow for the boy, who had
been his constant companion when off duty. Captain Hargate had been
devoted to field sports and was an excellent naturalist. The latter
taste Frank had inherited from him. His father had brought home from
India--where the regiment had been stationed until it returned for its
turn of home service four years before he left New Zealand--a very large
quantity of skins of birds which he had shot there. These he had
stuffed and mounted, and so dexterous was he at the work, so natural
and artistic were the groups of birds, that he was enabled to add
considerably to his income by sending these up to the shop of a London
naturalist. He had instructed Frank in his methods, and had given him
one of the long blowguns used by some of the hill tribes in India. The
boy had attained such dexterity in its use that he was able with his
clay pellets to bring down sitting birds, however small, with almost
unerring accuracy.

These he stuffed and mounted, arranging them with a taste and skill
which delighted the few visitors at his mother's cottage.

Frank was ready to join in a game of football or cricket when wanted,
and could hold his own in either. But he vastly preferred to go out for
long walks with his blowgun, his net, and his collecting boxes. At home
every moment not required for the preparation of his lessons was spent
in mounting and arranging his captures. He was quite ready to follow
the course his father proposed for him, and to enter the army. Captain
Hargate had been a very gallant officer, and the despatches had spoken
most highly of the bravery with which he led his company into action in
the fight in which he lost his life. Therefore Mrs. Hargate hoped that
Frank would have little difficulty in obtaining a commission without
purchase when the time for his entering the army arrived.

Frank's desire for a military life was based chiefly upon the fact that
it would enable him to travel to many parts of the world, and to indulge
his taste for natural history to the fullest. He was but ten years
old when he left India with the regiment, but he had still a vivid
recollection of the lovely butterflies and bright birds of that country.

His father had been at pains to teach him that a student of natural
history must be more than a mere collector, and that like other sciences
it must be methodically studied. He possessed an excellent library of
books upon the subject, and although Frank might be ignorant of the name
of any bird or insect shown to him he could at once name the family and
species.

In the year which Frank had been at school at Dr. Parker's he had made
few intimate friends. His habits of solitary wandering and studious
indoor work had hindered his becoming the chum of any of his
schoolfellows, and this absence of intimacy had been increased by the
fact that the straitness of his mother's means prevented his inviting
any of his schoolfellows to his home. He had, indeed, brought one or two
of the boys, whose tastes lay in the direction of his own, to the house,
to show them his collections of birds and insects. But he declined their
invitations to visit them, as he was unable to return their hospitality,
and was too proud to eat and drink at other fellows' houses when he
could not ask them to do the same at his own. It was understood at Dr.
Parker's that Frank Hargate's people were poor, but it was known that
his father had been killed in battle. There are writers who depict
boys as worshipers of wealth, and many pictures have been drawn of the
slights and indignities to which boys, whose means are inferior to those
of their schoolfellows, are subject. I am happy to believe that this is
a libel. There are, it is true, toadies and tuft hunters among boys as
among men. That odious creature, the parasite of the Greek and Latin
plays, exists still, but I do not believe that a boy is one whit the
less liked, or is ever taunted with his poverty, provided he is a good
fellow. Most of the miseries endured by boys whose pocket money is less
abundant than that of their fellows are purely self inflicted. Boys and
men who are always on the lookout for slights will, of course, find what
they seek. But the lad who is not ashamed of what is no fault of his
own, who frankly and manfully says, "I can't afford it," will not find
that he is in any way looked down upon by those of his schoolfellows
whose good opinion is in the smallest degree worth having.

Certainly this was so in the case of Frank Hargate. He was never in the
slightest degree ashamed of saying, "I can't afford it;" and the fact
that he was the son of an officer killed in battle gave him a standing
among the best in the school in spite of his want of pocket money.

Frank was friends with many of the fishermen, and these would often
bring him strange fish and sea creatures brought up in their nets,
instead of throwing them back into the sea.

During the holidays he would sometimes go out with them for twenty-four
hours in their fishing-boats. His mother made no objection to this, as
she thought that the exercise and sea air were good for his health, and
that the change did him good. Frank himself was so fond of the sea that
he was half disposed to adopt it instead of the army as a profession.
But his mother was strongly opposed to the idea, and won him to her way
of thinking by pointing out that although a sailor visits many ports he
stays long at none of them, and that in the few hours' leave he might
occasionally obtain he would be unable to carry out his favorite
pursuits.

"Hargate," Ruthven, who was one of the oldest of the House boys, and
was about Frank's age, that is about fifteen years old, said a few days
after the match, "the Doctor has given Handcock and Jones and myself
leave to take a boat and go out this afternoon. We mean to start soon
after dinner, and shall take some lines and bait with us. We have got
leave till lockup, so we shall have a long afternoon of it. Will you
come with us?"

"Thank you, Ruthven," Frank said; "I should like it very much, but you
know I'm short of pocket money, and I can't pay my share of the boat, so
I would rather leave it alone."

"Oh, nonsense, Hargate!" Ruthven answered; "we know money is not your
strong point, but we really want you to go with us. You can manage a
boat better than any of us, and you will really oblige us if you will go
with us."

"Oh, if you put it in that way," Frank said, "I shall be glad to go
with you; but I do not think," he went on, looking at the sky, "that the
weather looks very settled. However, if you do not mind the chance of a
ducking, I don't."

"That's agreed then," Ruthven said; "will you meet us near the pier at
three o'clock?"

"All right. I'll be punctual."

At the appointed hour the four lads met on the beach. Ruthven and his
companions wanted to choose a light rowing boat, but Frank strongly
urged them to take a much larger and heavier one. "In the first place,"
he said, "the wind is blowing off shore, and although it's calm here
it will be rougher farther out; and, unless I'm mistaken, the wind is
getting up fast. Besides this it will be much more comfortable to fish
from a good sized boat."

His comrades grumbled at the extra labor which the large boat would
entail in rowing. However, they finally gave in and the boat was
launched.

"Look out, Master Hargate," the boatman said as they started; "you'd
best not go out too far, for the wind is freshening fast, and we shall
have, I think, a nasty night."

The boys thought little of the warning, for the sky was bright and
blue, broken only by a few gauzy white clouds which streaked it here
and there. They rowed out about a mile, and then laying in their oars,
lowered their grapnel and began to fish. The sport was good. The fish
bit freely and were rapidly hauled on board. Even Frank was so absorbed
in the pursuit that he paid no attention to the changing aspect of the
sky, the increasing roughness of the sea, or the rapidly rising wind.

Suddenly a heavy drop or two of rain fell in the boat. All looked up.

"We are in for a squall," Frank exclaimed, "and no mistake. I told you
you would get a ducking, Ruthven."

He had scarcely spoken when the squall was upon them. A deluge of rain
swept down, driven by a strong squall of wind.

"Sit in the bottom of the boat," Frank said; "this is a snorter."

Not a word was said for ten minutes, long before which all were drenched
to the skin. With the rain a sudden darkness had fallen, and the land
was entirely invisible. Frank looked anxiously towards the shore. The
sea was getting up fast, and the boat tugging and straining at the
cord of the grapnel. He shook his head. "It looks very bad," he said to
himself. "If this squall does not abate we are going to have a bad time
of it."

A quarter of an hour after it commenced the heavy downpour of rain
ceased, or rather changed into a driving sleet. It was still extremely
dark, a thick lead colored cloud overspread the sky. Already the white
horses showed how fast the sea was rising, and the wind showed no signs
of falling with the cessation of the rain storm. The boat was laboring
at her head rope and dipping her nose heavily into the waves.

"Look here, you fellows," Frank shouted, "we must take to the oars. If
the rope were a long one we might ride here, but you know it little more
than reached the ground when we threw it out. I believe she's dragging
already, and even if she isn't she would pull her head under water with
so short a rope when the sea gets up. We'd better get out the oars and
row to shore, if we can, before the sea gets worse."

The lads got up and looked round, and their faces grew pale and somewhat
anxious as they saw how threatening was the aspect of the sea. They had
four oars on board, and these were soon in the water and the grapnel
hauled up. A few strokes sufficed to show them that with all four rowing
the boat's head could not be kept towards the shore, the wind taking it
and turning the boat broadside on.

"This will never do," Frank said. "I will steer and you row, two oars on
one side and one on the other. I will take a spell presently.

"Row steadily, Ruthven," he shouted; "don't spurt. We have a long row
before us and must not knock ourselves up at the beginning."

For half an hour not a word was spoken beyond an occasional cheery
exhortation from Frank. The shore could be dimly seen at times through
the driving mist, and Frank's heart sank as he recognized the fact that
it was further off than it had been when they first began to row. The
wind was blowing a gale now, and, although but two miles from shore, the
sea was already rough for an open boat.

"Here, Ruthven, you take a spell now," he said.

Although the rowers had from time to time glanced over their shoulders,
they could not, through the mist, form any idea of their position. When
Ruthven took the helm he exclaimed, "Good gracious, Frank! the shore is
hardly visible. We are being blown out to sea."

"I am afraid we are," Frank said; "but there is nothing to do but to
keep on rowing. The wind may lull or it may shift and give us a chance
of making for Ramsgate. The boat is a good sea boat, and may keep afloat
even if we are driven out to sea. Or if we are missed from shore they
may send the lifeboat out after us. That is our best chance."

In another quarter of an hour Ruthven was ready to take another spell
at the oar. "I fear," Frank shouted to him as he climbed over the seat,
"there is no chance whatever of making shore. All we've got to do is to
row steadily and keep her head dead to wind. Two of us will do for that.
You and I will row now, and let Handcock and Jones steer and rest by
turns. Then when we are done up they can take our places."

In another hour it was quite dark, save for the gray light from the
foaming water around. The wind was blowing stronger than ever, and it
required the greatest care on the part of the steersman to keep her dead
in the eye of the wind. Handcock was steering now, and Jones lying at
the bottom of the boat, where he was sheltered, at least from the
wind. All the lads were plucky fellows and kept up a semblance of
good spirits, but all in their hearts knew that their position was a
desperate one.



CHAPTER II: A MAD DOG


"Don't you think, Hargate," Ruthven shouted in his ear, "we had
better run before it? It's as much as Handcock can do to keep her head
straight."

"Yes," Frank shouted back, "if it were not for the Goodwins. They lie
right across ahead of us."

Ruthven said no more, and for another hour he and Frank rowed their
hardest. Then Handcock and Jones took the oars. Ruthven lay down in
the bottom of the boat and Frank steered. After rowing for another hour
Frank found that he could no longer keep the boat head to wind. Indeed,
he could not have done so for so long had he not shipped the rudder and
steered the boat with an oar, through a notch cut in the stern for the
purpose. Already the boat shipped several heavy seas, and Ruthven was
kept hard at work baling with a tin can in which they had brought out
bait.

"Ruthven, we must let her run. Put out the other oar, we must watch our
time. Row hard when I give the word."

The maneuver was safely accomplished, and in a minute the boat was
flying before the gale.

"Keep on rowing," Frank said, "but take it easily. We must try and make
for the tail of the sands. I can see the lightship."

Frank soon found that the wind was blowing too directly upon the long
line of sands to enable him to make the lightship. Already, far ahead,
a gray light seemed to gleam up, marking where the sea was breaking over
the dreaded shoal.

"I am afraid it is no use," he said. "Now, boys, we had best, each of
us, say our prayers to God, and prepare to die bravely, for I fear that
there is no hope for us."

There was silence in the boat for the next five minutes, as the boys sat
with their heads bent down. More than one choking sob might have been
heard, had the wind lulled, as they thought of the dear ones at home.
Suddenly there was a flash of light ahead, and the boom of a gun
directly afterwards came upon their ears. Then a rocket soared up into
the air.

"There is a vessel on the sands," Frank exclaimed. "Let us make for her.
If we can get on board we shall have a better chance than here."

The boys again bent to their oars, and Frank tried to steer exactly for
the spot whence the rocket had gone up. Presently another gun flashed
out.

"There she is," he said. "I can see her now against the line of
breakers. Take the oar again, Ruthven. We must bring up under shelter of
her lee."

In another minute or two they were within a hundred yards of the ship.
She was a large vessel, and lay just at the edge of the broken water.
The waves, as they struck her, flew high above her deck. As the boat
neared her a bright light suddenly sprang up. The ship was burning a
blue light. Then a faint cheer was heard.

"They see us," Frank said. "They must think we are the lifeboat. What
a disappointment for them! Now, steady, lads, and prepare to pull her
round the instant we are under her stern. I will go as near as I dare."

Frank could see the people on deck watching the boat. They must have
seen now that she was not the lifeboat; but even in their own danger
they must have watched with intense interest the efforts of the tiny
boat, adrift in the raging sea, to reach them. Frank steered the boat
within a few yards of the stern. Then Jones and Ruthven, who were both
rowing the same side, exerted themselves to the utmost, while
Frank pushed with the steering oar. A minute later, and they lay in
comparatively still water, under the lee of the ship. Two or three ropes
were thrown them, and they speedily climbed on board.

"We thought you were the lifeboat at first," the captain said, as they
reached the deck; "but, of course, they cannot be here for a couple of
hours yet."

"We were blown off shore, sir," Frank said, "and have been rowing
against the wind for hours."

"Well, my lads," the captain said, "you have only prolonged your lives
for a few minutes, for she will not hold together long."

The ship, indeed, presented a pitiable appearance. The masts had already
gone, the bulwark to windward had been carried away, and the hull lay
heeled over at a sharp angle, her deck to leeward being level with
the water. The crew were huddled down near the lee bulwarks, sheltered
somewhat by the sharp slope of the deck from the force of the wind. As
each wave broke over the ship, tons of water rushed down upon them. No
more guns were fired, for the lashing had broken and the gun run down to
leeward. Already there were signs that the ship would break up ere long,
and no hope existed that rescue could arrive in time.

Suddenly there was a great crash, and the vessel parted amidships.

"A few minutes will settle it now," the captain said. "God help us all."

At this moment there was a shout to leeward, which was answered by a
scream of joy from those on board the wreck, for there, close alongside,
lay the lifeboat, whose approach had been entirely unseen. In a few
minutes the fifteen men who remained of the twenty-two, who had formed
the crew of the wreck, and the four boys, were on board her. A tiny sail
was set and the boat's head laid towards Ramsgate.

"I am glad to see you, Master Hargate," the sailor who rowed one of the
stroke oars shouted. He was the man who had lent them the boat. "I was
up in the town looking after my wife, who is sick, and clean forgot you
till it was dark. Then I ran down and found the boat hadn't returned, so
I got the crew together and we came out to look for you, though we had
little hope of finding you. It was lucky for you we did, and for the
rest of them too, for so it chanced that we were but half a mile away
when the ship fired her first gun, just as we had given you up and
determined to go back; so on we came straight here. Another ten minutes
and we should have been too late. We are making for Ramsgate now. We
could never beat back to Deal in this wind. I don't know as I ever saw
it blow much harder."

These sentences were not spoken consecutively, but were shouted out in
the intervals between gusts of wind. It took them two hours to beat back
to Ramsgate, a signal having been made as soon as they left the wreck to
inform the lifeboat there and at Broadstairs that they need not put out,
as the rescue had been already effected. The lads were soon put to bed
at the sailors' home, a man being at once despatched on horseback to
Deal, to inform those there of the arrival of the lifeboat, and of the
rescue of the four boys who had been blown to sea.

Early next morning Frank and Handcock returned to Deal, the other two
lads being so exhausted by their fatigue and exposure that the doctor
said they had better remain in bed for another twenty-four hours.

It is impossible to describe the thankfulness and relief which Mrs.
Hargate experienced, when, about two in the morning, Dr. Parker himself
brought her news of the safety of her boy. She had long given up all
hope, for when the evening came on and Frank had not returned, she had
gone down to the shore. She learned from the fishermen there that it was
deemed impossible that the boys could reach shore in face of the gale,
and that although the lifeboat had just put out in search of them, the
chances of their being found were, as she herself saw, faint indeed.
She had passed the hours which had intervened, in prayer, and was still
kneeling by her bedside, where little Lucy was unconsciously sleeping,
when Dr. Parker's knock was heard at the door. Fervent, indeed, was her
gratitude to God for the almost miraculous preservation of her son's
life, and then, overcome by the emotions she had experienced, she sought
her couch, and was still asleep when, by the earliest train in the
morning, Frank returned.

For some time the four boys were the heroes of the school. A
subscription was got up to pay for the lost boat, and close as were Mrs.
Hargate's means, she enabled Frank to subscribe his share towards the
fund. The incident raised Frank to a pinnacle of popularity among his
schoolfellows, for the three others were unanimous in saying that it was
his coolness and skill in the management of the boat, which alone kept
up their spirits, and enabled them to keep her afloat during the gale,
and to make the wreck in safety.

In the general enthusiasm excited by the event, Frank's pursuits,
which had hitherto found few followers, now became quite popular in the
school. A field club was formed, of which he was elected president,
and long rambles in the country in search of insects and plants were
frequently organized. Frank himself was obliged, in the interests of the
school, to moderate the zeal of the naturalists, and to point out
that cricket must not be given up, as, if so large a number withdrew
themselves from the game, the school would suffer disaster in its
various engagements with other schools in the neighborhood. Consequently
the rule was made that members of the club were bound to be in the
cricket field on at least three days in the week, including one half
holiday, while they were free to ramble in the country on other days.
This wise regulation prevented the "naturalists" from becoming unpopular
in the school, which would assuredly have been the case had they
entirely absented themselves from cricket.

One Saturday afternoon Frank started with a smaller boy, who was one of
his most devoted followers, for a long country walk. Frank carried his
blowgun, and a butterfly net, Charlie Goodall a net of about a foot in
depth, made of canvas, mounted on a stout brass rim, and strong stick,
for the capture of water beetles. Their pockets bulged with bottles and
tin boxes for the carriage of their captured prey.

They had passed through Eastry, a village four miles from Deal, when
Frank exclaimed, "There is a green hairstreak. The first I've seen this
year. I have never caught one before."

Cautiously approaching the butterfly, who was sunning himself on the
top of a thistle, Frank prepared to strike, when it suddenly mounted and
flitted over a hedge. In a moment the boys had scrambled through the
gap and were in full pursuit. The butterfly flitted here and there,
sometimes allowing the boys to approach within a few feet and then
flitting away again for fifty yards without stopping. Heedless where
they were going, the boys pursued, till they were startled by a sudden
shout close to them.

"You young rascals, how dare you run over my wheat?"

The boys stopped, and Frank saw what, in his excitement, he had not
hitherto heeded, that he was now running in a field of wheat, which
reached to his knee.

"I am very sorry, sir," he said. "I was so excited than I really did not
see where I was going."

"Not see!" shouted the angry farmer. "You young rascal, I'll break every
bone in your body," and he flourished a heavy stick as he spoke.

Charlie Goodall began to cry.

"I have no right to trespass on your wheat, sir," Frank said firmly;
"but you have no right to strike us. My name is Frank Hargate. I belong
to Dr. Parker's school at Deal, and if you will say what damage I have
caused, I will pay for it."

"You shall pay for it now," shouted the farmer, as he advanced with
uplifted stick.

Frank slipped three or four of his clay bullets into his mouth.

"Leave us alone or it will be worse for you," he said as he raised the
blowgun to his mouth.

The farmer advanced, and Frank sent a bullet with all his force, and
with so true an aim that he struck the farmer on the knuckles. It was a
sharp blow, and the farmer, with a cry of pain and surprise, dropped the
stick.

"Don't come a step nearer," Frank shouted. "If you do, I will aim at
your eye next time," and he pointed the threatening tube at the enraged
farmer's face.

"I'll have the law of you, you young villain. I'll make you smart for
this."

"You can do as you like about that," Frank said. "I have only struck you
in self defense, and have let you off easily. Come along, Charlie, let's
get out of this."

In a few minutes they were again on the road, the farmer making no
attempt to follow them, but determined in his mind to drive over the
next morning to Deal to take out a summons against them for trespass and
assault. The lads proceeded silently along the road. Frank was greatly
vexed with himself at his carelessness in running over half grown wheat,
and was meditating how he could pay the fine without having to ask his
mother. He determined upon his return to carry some of his cases of
stuffed birds down to a shop in the town, and he felt sure that he
could get enough for these to pay for any damage which could have been
inflicted, with a fine for trespassing, for he had seen stuffed birds
exposed in the windows for sale, which were, he was sure, very inferior
to his own both in execution and lifelike interest.

After proceeding a few hundred yards along the road they met a pretty
little girl of seven or eight years old walking along alone. Frank
scarcely glanced at her, for at the moment he heard a shouting in
the distance and saw some men running along the road. For a moment he
thought that the farmer had despatched some of his men to stop him,
but instantly dismissed the idea, as they were coming from the opposite
direction and could by no possibility have heard what had happened. They
were lost sight of by a dip in the road, and as they disappeared, an
object was seen on the road on the near side of the dip.

"It is a dog," Frank said. "What can they be shouting at?"

The dog was within fifty yards of them when the men again appeared from
the dip and recommenced shouting. Frank could now hear what they said.

"Mad dog! mad dog!"

"Get through the hedge, Charlie, quick," Frank cried. "Here, I will help
you over, never mind the thorns."

The hedge was low and closely kept, and Frank, bundling his comrade over
it, threw himself across and looked round. The dog was within ten yards
of them, and Frank saw that the alarm was well founded. The dog was a
large crossbred animal, between a mastiff and a bulldog. Its hair was
rough and bristling. It came along with its head down and foam churning
from its mouth. Frank looked the other way and gave a cry. Yet twenty
yards off, in the middle of the road, stood the child. She, too, had
heard the shouts, and had paused to see what was the matter. She had
not taken the alarm, but stood unsuspicious of danger, watching, not the
dog, but the men in the distance.

Frank placed the blowgun to his mouth, and in a moment his pellet struck
the animal smartly on the side of the head. It gave a short yelp and
paused. Another shot struck it, and then Frank, snatching the water net
from Charlie, threw himself over the hedge, and placed himself between
the child and the dog just as the latter, with a savage growl, rushed at
him.

Frank stood perfectly cool, and as the animal rushed forward, thrust the
net over its head; the ring was but just large enough to allow its head
to enter. Frank at once sprang forward, and placing himself behind the
dog kept a strain upon the stick, so retaining the mouth of the net
tightly on his neck. The animal at first rushed forward dragging Frank
after him. Then he stopped, backed, and tried to withdraw his head from
the encumbrance which blinded him. Frank, however, had no difficulty
in retaining the canvas net in its place, until the men, who were armed
with pitchforks, ran up and speedily despatched the unfortunate animal.

"That's bravely done, young master," one of them said; "and you have
saved missy's life surely. The savage brute rushed into the yard and bit
a young colt and a heifer, and then, as we came running out with forks,
he took to the road again. We chased 'um along, not knowing who we
might meet, and it gived us a rare turn when we saw the master's Bessy
standing alone in the road, wi' nout between her and the dog. Where have
you been, Miss Bessy?"

"I've been to aunt's," she said, "and she gave me some strawberries and
cream, and it's wicked of you to kill the poor dog."

"Her aunt's farm lies next to master's," the man explained; "and little
miss often goes over there.

"The dog was mad, missy, and if it hadn't been for young master here, it
would have killed you as safe as eggs. Won't you come back to the farm,
sir? Master and mistress would be main glad to thank you for having
saved missy's life."

"No, thank you," Frank said; "we are late now and must be going on our
way. I am very glad I happened to be here at the time;" so saying Frank
and Charlie proceeded on their way to Deal.

On reaching home he at once picked out four of his best cases of
stuffed birds. The cases he had constructed himself, for his father had
encouraged him to depend upon himself for his amusements. He had asked
Charlie to come round to help him to carry the cases, and with these he
proceeded to a shop where he had seen such things offered for sale.

"And you really did these yourself?" the man said in surprise. "They are
beautifully done. Quite pictures, I call them. It is a pity that they
are homely birds. There is no great sale for such things here. I cannot
give you more than five shillings each, but if you had them in London
they would be worth a great deal more."

Frank gladly accepted the offer, and feeling sure that the pound would
cover the damage done and the fine, which might be five shillings apiece
for trespassing, went home in good spirits. The next morning the
doctor was called out in the middle of school, and presently returned
accompanied by the farmer with whom they had had the altercation on the
previous day. Frank felt his cheeks flush as he anticipated a severe
reprimand before the whole school.

"Mr. Gregson," the doctor said, "tells me that two of my boys were out
near his place at Eastry yesterday. One of them gave him his name, which
he has forgotten."

"It was I, sir," Frank said rising in his place; "I was there with
Goodall. We ran on Mr. Gregson's ground after a butterfly. It was my
fault, sir, for, of course, Goodall went where I did. We ran among his
wheat, and I really did not notice where we were going till he called
to us. I was wrong, of course, and am ready to pay for any damage we may
have caused."

"You are welcome," the farmer said, "to trample on my wheat for the rest
of your born days. I haven't come over here to talk about the wheat,
though I tell you fairly I'd minded to do so. I've come over here, Dr.
Parker, me and my missus who's outside, to thank this young gentleman
for having saved the life of my little daughter Bessy. She was walking
along the road when a mad dog, a big brute of a mastiff, who came, I
hear, from somewhere about Canterbury, and who has bit two boys on the
road, to say nothing of other dogs and horses and such like; he came
along the road, he were close to my Bess, and she stood there all alone.
Some of my men with pitchforks were two hundred yards or so behind; but
law, they could have done nothing! when this young gentleman here jumped
all of a sudden over a hedge and put himself between the dog and my
Bess. The dog, he rushed at him; but what does he do but claps a bag
he'd got at the end of a stick over the brute's head, and there he holds
him tight till the men comes up and kills him with their forks.

"Young gentleman," he said, stepping up to Frank and holding out his
hand, "I owe my child's life to you. There are not many men who would
have thrown themselves in the way of a mad dog, for the sake of a child
they knew nothing of. I thank you for it with all my heart. God bless
you, sir. Now, boys, you give three cheers with me for your schoolmate,
for you've got a right to be proud of him."

Three such thundering cheers as those which arose had never been heard
within the limits of Dr. Parker's school from the day of its foundation.
Seeing that farther work could not be expected from them after this
excitement, Dr. Parker gave the boys a holiday for the rest of the day,
and they poured out from the schoolroom, shouting and delighted, while
Frank was taken off to the parlor to be thanked by Mrs. Gregson.
The farmer closed his visit by inviting Frank, with as many of his
schoolfellows as he liked--the whole school if they would come, the more
the better--to come over to tea on the following Saturday afternoon, and
he promised them as much strawberries and cream as they could eat. The
invitation was largely accepted, and the boys all agreed that a jollier
meal they never sat down to than that which was spread on tables in
the farmer's garden. The meal was called tea, but it might have been a
dinner, for the tables were laden with huge pies, cold chicken and duck,
hams, and piles of cakes and tarts of all sorts. Before they started for
home, late in the evening, syllabub and cake were handed round, and the
boys tramped back to Deal in the highest of glee at the entertainment
they had received from the hospitable farmer and his wife.

Great fun had been caused after tea by the farmer giving a humorous
relation of the battle with which his acquaintance with Frank had
commenced, and especially at the threat of Frank to send a bullet
into his eye if he interfered with him. When they left, a most cordial
invitation was given to Frank to come over, with any friend he liked to
bring with him, and have tea at the Oaks Farm whenever he chose to do
so.



CHAPTER III: A TOUGH YARN


"You had a close shave the other night," one of the boatmen remarked to
Frank, as a few days after the adventure he strolled down with Ruthven
and Handcock to talk to the boatman whose boat had been lost, "a very
narrow shave. I had one out there myself when I was just about your
age, nigh forty years ago. I went out for a sail with my father in his
fishing boat, and I didn't come back for three years. That was the only
long voyage I ever went. I've been sticking to fishing ever since."

"How was it you were away three years?" Handcock asked, "and what was
the adventure? Tell us about it."

"Well, it's rather a long yarn," the boatman said.

"Well, your best plan, Jack," Ruthven said, putting his hand in his
pocket and bringing out sixpence, "will be for you to go across the road
and wet your whistle before you begin."

"Thank ye, young gentleman. I will take three o' grog and an ounce of
'bacca."

He went across to the public house, and soon returned with a long clay
in his hand. Then he sat down on the shingle with his back against a
boat, and the boys threw themselves down close to him.

"Now," he began, when he had filled his pipe with great deliberation and
got it fairly alight, "this here yarn as I'm going to tell you ain't no
gammon. Most of the tales which gets told on the beach to visitors as
comes down here and wants to hear of sea adventures is just lies from
beginning to end. Now, I ain't that sort, leastways, I shouldn't go to
impose upon young gents like you as ha' had a real adventure of your
own, and showed oncommon good pluck and coolness too. I don't say, mind
ye, that every word is just gospel. My mates as ha' known me from a boy
tells me that I've 'bellished the yarn since I first told it, and that
all sorts of things have crept in which wasn't there first. That may
be so. When a man tells a story a great many times, naturally he can't
always tell it just the same, and he gets so mixed up atween what he
told last and what he told first that he don't rightly know which
was which when he wants to tell it just as it really happened. So if
sometimes it appears to you that I'm steering rather wild, just you put
a stopper on and bring me up all standing with a question."

There was a quiet humor about the boatman's face, and the boys winked
at each other as much as to say that after such an exordium they must
expect something rather staggering. The boatman took two or three hard
whiffs at his pipe and then began.

"It was towards the end of September in 1832, that's just forty years
ago now, that I went out with my father and three hands in the smack,
the Flying Dolphin. I'd been at sea with father off and on ever since
I was about nine years old, and a smarter boy wasn't to be found on the
beach. The Dolphin was a good sea boat, but she wasn't, so to say, fast,
and I dunno' as she was much to look at, for the old man wasn't the sort
of chap to chuck away his money in paint or in new sails as long as the
old ones could be pieced and patched so as to hold the wind. We sailed
out pretty nigh over to the French coast, and good sport we had. We'd
been out two days when we turned her head homewards. The wind was
blowing pretty strong, and the old man remarked, he thought we was in
for a gale. There was some talk of our running in to Calais and waiting
till it had blown itself out, but the fish might have spoil before the
Wind dropped, so we made up our minds to run straight into Dover and
send the fish up from there. The night came on wild and squally, and as
dark as pitch. It might be about eight bells, and I and one of the other
hands had turned in, when father gave a sudden shout down the hatch,
'All hands on deck.' I was next to the steps and sprang up 'em. Just as
I got to the top something grazed my face. I caught at it, not knowing
what it was, and the next moment there was a crash, and the Dolphin went
away from under my feet. I clung for bare life, scarce awake yet nor
knowing what had happened. The next moment I was under water. I still
held on to the rope and was soon out again. By this time I was pretty
well awake to what had happened. A ship running down channel had walked
clean over the poor old Dolphin, and I had got hold of the bobstay. It
took me some time to climb up on to the bowsprit, for every time she
pitched I went under water. However, I got up at last and swarmed along
the bowsprit and got on board. There was a chap sitting down fast asleep
there. I walked aft to the helmsman. Two men were pacing up and down in
front of him. 'You're a nice lot, you are,' I said, 'to go running down
Channel at ten knots an hour without any watch, a-walking over ships and
a-drowning of seamen. I'll have the law of ye, see if I don't.'

"'Jeerusalem!' said one, 'who have we here?'

"'My name is Jack Perkins,' says I, 'and I'm the sole survivor, as far
as I knows, of the smack, the Flying Dolphin, as has been run down by
this craft and lost with all hands.'

"'Darn the Flying Dolphin, and you too,' says the man, and he begins
to walk up and down the deck a-puffn' of a long cigar as if nothing had
happened.

"'Oh, come,' says I, 'this won't do. Here you've been and run down a
smack, drowned father and the other three hands, and your lookout fast
asleep, and you does nothing.'

"'I suppose,' said the captain, sarcastic, 'you want me to jump over
to look for 'em. You want me to heave the ship to in this gale and
to invite yer father perlitely to come on board. P'raps you'd like a
grapnel put out to see if I couldn't hook the smack and bring her up
again. Perhaps you'd like to be chucked overboard yourself. Nobody asked
you to come on board, nobody wanted your company. I reckon the wisest
thing you can do is to go for'ard and turn in.' There didn't seem much
for me to do else, so I went forward to the forecastle. There most of
the hands were asleep, but two or three were sitting up yarning. I told
'em my story and what this captain had said.

"'He's a queer hand is the skipper,' one of 'em said, 'and hasn't got a
soft place about him. Well, my lad, I'm sorry for what's happened, but
talking won't do it any good. You've got a long voyage before you, and
you'd best turn in and make yourself comfortable for it.'

"'I ain't going a long voyage,' says I, beginning to wipe my eye, 'I
wants to be put ashore at the first port.'

"'Well, my lad, I daresay the skipper will do that, but as we're bound
for the coast of Chili from Hamburg, and ain't likely to be there for
about five months, you've got, as I said, a long voyage before you. If
the weather had been fine the skipper might have spoken some ship in the
Channel, and put you on board, but before the gale's blown out we shall
be hundreds of miles at sea. Even if it had been fine I don't suppose
the skipper would have parted with you, especially if you told him the
watch was asleep. He would not care next time he entered an English port
to have a claim fixed on his ship for the vally of the smack.'

"I saw what the sailor said was like enough, and blamed myself for
having let out about the watch. However, there was no help for it, and I
turned into an empty bunk and cried myself to sleep. What a voyage that
was, to be sure! The ship was a Yankee and so was the master and mates.
The crew were of all sorts, Dutch, and Swedes, and English, a Yank or
two, and a sprinklin' of niggers. It was one of those ships they call
a hell on earth, and cussing and kicking and driving went on all day. I
hadn't no regular place give me, but helped the black cook, and pulled
at ropes, and swabbed the decks, and got kicked and cuffed all round.
The skipper did not often speak to me, but when his eye lighted on me he
gave an ugly sort of look, as seemed to say, 'You'd better ha' gone down
with the others. You think you're going to report the loss of the smack,
and to get damages against the Potomac, do you? we shall see.' The
crew were a rough lot, but the spirit seemed taken out of 'em by the
treatment they met with. It was a word and a blow with the mates, and
they would think no more of catching up a handspike and stretching a man
senseless on the deck than I should of killing a fly. There was two or
three among 'em of a better sort than the others. The best of 'em was
the carpenter, an old Dutchman. 'Leetle boy,' he used to say to me,
'you keep yourself out of the sight of de skipper. Bad man dat. Me much
surprise if you get to de end of dis voyage all right. You best work
vera hard and give him no excuse to hit you. If he do, by gosh, he kill
you, and put down in de log, Boy killed by accident.'

"I felt that this was so myself, and I did my work as well as I could.
One day, however, when we were near the line I happened to upset a
bucket with some tar. The captain was standing close by.

"'You young dog,' he said, 'you've done that a purpose,' and before I
could speak he caught up the bucket by the handle and brought it down on
my head with all his might. The next thing I remember was, I was lying
in a bunk in the forecastle. Everything looked strange to me, and I
couldn't raise my head. After a time I made shift to turn it round, and
saw old Jans sitting on a chest mending a jacket. I called him, but my
voice was so low I hardly seemed to hear it myself.

"'Ah, my leetle boy!' he said, 'I am glad to hear you speak again. Two
whole weeks you say nothing except talk nonsense.'

"'Have I been ill?' I asked.

"'You haf been vera bad,' he said. 'De captain meant to kill you, I haf
no doubt, and he pretty near do it. After he knock you down he said you
dead. He sorry for accident, not mean to hit you so hard, but you dead
and better be tossed overboard at once. De mates they come up and take
your hands and feet. Den I insist dat I feel your wrist. Two or three of
us dey stood by me. Captain he vera angry, say we mutinous dogs. I say
not mutinous, but wasn't going to see a boy who was only stunned thrown
overboard. We say if he did dat we make complaint before consul when we
get to port. De skipper he cuss and swear awful. Howebber we haf our way
and carry you here. You haf fever and near die. Tree days after we
bring you here de captain he swear you shamming and comed to look at you
hisself, but he see that it true and tink you going to die. He go away
wid smile on his face. Every day he ask if you alive, and give grunt
when I say yes. Now you best keep vera quiet. You no talk 'cept when no
one else here but me. Other times lie wid your face to the side and your
eyes shut. Best keep you here as long as we can, de longer de better. He
make you come on deck and work as soon as he think you strong enough to
stand. Best get pretty strong before you go out.'

"For another three weeks I lay in my bunk. I only ate a little gruel
when others were there, but when the skipper was at dinner Jans would
bring me strong soup and meat from the caboose. The captain came several
times and shook me and swore I was shamming, but I only answered in a
whisper and seemed as faint as a girl. All this time the Potomac was
making good way, and was running fast down the coast of South America.
The air was getting cool and fresh.

"'I tink,' Jans said one evening to me, 'dat dis not go on much much
longer. De crew getting desperate. Dey talk and mutter among demselves.
Me thinks we have trouble before long.'

"The next day one of the mates came in with a bucket of water. 'There!
you skulking young hound,' he said as he threw it over me; 'you'd best
get out, or the skipper will come and rouse you up himself.'

"I staggered on to the floor. I had made up my mind to sham weak, but
I did not need to pretend at first, for having been six weeks in bed, I
felt strange and giddy when I got up. I slipped on my clothes and went
out on deck, staggered to the bulwarks and held on. The fresh air soon
set me straight, and I felt that I was pretty strong again. However, I
pretended to be able to scarce stand, and, holding on by the bulwark,
made my way aft.

"'You young dog,' the skipper said, 'you've been shamming for the last
six weeks. I reckon I'll sharpen you up now,' and he hit me a heavy blow
with a rattan he held in his hand. There was a cry of 'Shame!' from some
of the men. As quick as thought the skipper pulled a pistol from his
pocket.

"'Who cried "Shame"?'" he asked looking round.

"No one answered. Still holding the pistol in his hand he gave me
several more cuts, and then told me to swab the deck. I did it,
pretending all the time I was scarce strong enough to keep my feet. Then
I made my way forward and sat down against the bulwark, as if nigh done
up, till night came. That night as I lay in my bunk I heard the men
talking in whispers together. I judged from what they said that they
intended to wait for another week, when they expected to enter Magellan
Straits, and then to attack and throw the officers overboard. Nothing
seemed settled as to what they would do afterwards. Some were in favor
of continuing the voyage to port, and there giving out that the captain
and officers had been washed overboard in a storm; when, if all stood
true to each other, the truth could never be known, although suspicions
might arise. The others, however, insisted that you never could be sure
of every one, and that some one would be sure to peach. They argued
in favor of sailing west and beaching the ship on one of the Pacific
islands, where they could live comfortably and take wives among the
native women. If they were ever found they could then say that the ship
was blown out of her course and wrecked there, and that the captain and
officers had been drowned or killed by the natives. It seemed to me
that this party were the strongest. For the next week I was thrashed and
kicked every day and had I been as weak as I pretended to be, I'm sure
they would have killed me. However, thanks to the food Jans brought
me, for I was put on bread and water, I held on. At last we entered the
straits. The men were very quiet that day, and the captain in a worse
temper than usual. I did not go to sleep, and turned out at the midnight
watch, for I was made to keep watch although I was on duty all day.
As the watch came in I heard them say to the others, 'In ten minutes'
time.' Presently I saw them come out, and joining the watch on deck they
went aft quietly in a body. They had all got handspikes in their hands.
Then there was a rush. Two pistol shots were fired, and then there was
a splash, and I knew that the officer on watch was done for. Then they
burst into the aft cabins. There were pistol shots and shouts, and for
three or four minutes the fight went on. Then all was quiet. Then they
came up on deck again and I heard three splashes, that accounted for
the captain and the two other mates. I thought it safe now to go aft. I
found that six of the men had been killed. These were thrown overboard,
and then the crew got at the spirit stores and began to drink. I looked
about for Jans, and found him presently sitting on the deck by the
bulwark.

"'Ah, my leetle boy!' he said, 'you have just come in time. I have been
shot through the body. I was not in de fight, but was standing near when
dey rushed at de officer on watch. De first pistol he fire missed de man
he aim at and hit me. Well, it was shust as well. I am too old to care
for living among de black peoples, and I did not want a black wife at
all. So matters haf not turned out so vera bad. Get me some water.'

"I got him some, but in five minutes the poor old Dutchman was dead.
There was no one on deck. All were shouting and singing in the captain's
cabin, so I went and turned in forward. Morning was just breaking when
I suddenly woke. There was a great light, and running on deck I saw
the fire pouring out from the cabin aft. I suppose they had all drunk
themselves stupid and had upset a light, and the fire had spread and
suffocated them all. Anyhow, there were none of them to be seen. I got
hold of a water keg and placed it in a boat which luckily hung out on
its davits, as Jans had, the day before, been calking a seam in her side
just above the water's edge. I made a shift to lower it, threw off the
falls, and getting out the oars, rowed off. I lay by for some little
time, but did not see a soul on deck. Then, as I had nowhere particular
to go, I lay down and slept. On getting up I found that I had drifted
two or three miles from the ship, which was now a mere smoking shell,
the greater part being burnt to the Water's edge. Two miles to the
north lay the land, and getting out an oar at the stern I sculled her
to shore. I suppose I had been seen, or that the flames of the ship had
called down the people, for there they were in the bay, and such a lot
of creatures I never set eyes on. Men and women alike was pretty nigh
naked, and dirt is no name for them. Though I was but a boy I was taller
than most. They came round me and jabbered and jabbered till I was nigh
deafened. Over and over again they pointed to the ship. I thought they
wanted to know whether I belonged to it, but it couldn't have been that,
because when I nodded a lot of 'em jumped into some canoes which was
lying ashore, and taking me with them paddled off to the ship. I suppose
they really wanted to know if they could have what they could find. That
wasn't much, but it seemed a treasure to them. There was a lot of burned
beams floating about alongside, and all of these which had iron or
copper bolts or fastenings they took in tow and rowed ashore. We hadn't
been gone many hundred yards from the vessel when she sunk. Well, young
gentlemen, for upwards of two years I lived with them critturs. My
clothes soon wore out, and I got to be as naked and dirty as the rest
of 'em. They were good hands at fishing, and could spear a fish by the
light of a torch wonderful. In other respects they didn't seem to have
much sense. They lived, when I first went there, in holes scratched in
the side of a hill, but I taught 'em to make huts, making a sort of
ax out of the iron saved. In summer they used to live in these, but
in winter, when it was awful cold, we lived in the holes, which were a
sight warmer than the huts. Law, what a time that was! I had no end
of adventures with wild beasts. The way the lions used to roar and the
elephants--"

"I think, Jack," Ruthven interrupted, "that this must be one of the
embellishments which have crept in since you first began telling the
tale. I don't think I should keep it in if I were you, because the fact
that there are neither lions or elephants in South America throws a
doubt upon the accuracy of this portion of your story."

"It may be, sir," the sailor said, with a twinkle of his eyes, "that the
elephants and lions may not have been in the first story. Now I think
of it, I can't recall that they were; but, you see, people wants to
know all about it. They ain't satisfied when I tell 'em that I lived two
years among these chaps. They wants to know how I passed my time, and
whether there were any wild beasts, and a lot of such like questions,
and, in course, I must answer them. So then, you see, naturally,
'bellishments creeps in; but I did live there for two years, that's
gospel truth, and I did go pretty nigh naked, and in winter was pretty
near starved to death over and over again. When the ground was too hard
to dig up roots, and the sea was too rough for the canoes to put out, it
went hard with us, and very often we looked more like living skelingtons
than human beings. Every time a ship came in sight they used to hurry me
away into the woods. I suppose they found me useful, and didn't want to
part with me. At last I got desperate, and made up my mind I'd make a
bolt whatever came of it. They didn't watch me when there were no ships
near. I suppose they thought there was nowhere for me to run to, so one
night I steals down to the shore, gets into a canoe, puts in a lot of
roots which I had dug up and hidden away in readiness, and so makes
off. I rowed hard all night, for I knew they would be after me when they
found I had gone. Them straits is sometimes miles and miles across;
at other times not much more than a ship's length, and the tide runs
through 'em like a mill race. I had chosen a time when I had the tide
with me, and soon after morning I came to one of them narrow places. I
should like to have stopped here, because it would have been handy for
any ship as passed; but the tide run so strong, and the rocks were
so steep on both sides, that I couldn't make a landing. Howsomdever,
directly it widened out, I managed to paddle into the back water and
landed there. Well, gents, would you believe me, if there wasn't two
big allygaters sitting there with their mouths open ready to swallow me,
canoe and all, when I came to shore."

"No, Jack, I'm afraid we can't believe that. We would if we could, you
know, but alligators are not fond of such cold weather as you'd been
having, nor do they frequent the seashore."

"Ah, but this, you see, was a straits, Master Ruthven, just a narrow
straits, and I expect the creatures took it for a river."

"No, no, Jack, we can't swallow the alligators, any more than they could
swallow you and your canoe."

"Well," the sailor said with a sigh, "I won't say no more about the
allygaters. I can't rightly recall when they came into the story.
Howsomdever, I landed, you can believe that, you know."

"Oh yes, we can quite believe, Jack, that, if you were there, in that
canoe, in that back water, with the land close ahead, you did land."

The sailor looked searchingly at Ruthven and then continued:

"I hauled the canoe up and hid it in some bushes, and it were well I
did, for a short time afterwards a great--" and he paused. "Does the
hippypotybus live in them ere waters, young gents?"

"He does not, Jack," Ruthven said.

"Then it's clear," the sailor said, "that it wasn't a hippypotybus. It
must have been a seal."

"Yes, it might have been a seal," Ruthven said. "What did he do?"

"Well he just took a look at me, gents, winked with one eye, as much as
to say, 'I see you,' and went down again. There warn't nothing else as
he could do, was there?"

"It was the best thing he could do anyhow," Ruthven said.

"Well, gents, I lived there for about three weeks, and then a ship
comes along, homeward bound, and I goes out and hails her. At first they
thought as I was a native as had learned to speak English, and it wasn't
till they'd boiled me for three hours in the ship's copper as they got
at the color of my skin, and could believe as I was English. So I came
back here and found the old woman still alive, and took to fishing
again; but it was weeks and weeks before I could get her or any one else
to believe as I was Jack Perkins. And that's all the story, young gents.
Generally I tells it a sight longer to the gents as come down from
London in summer; but, you see, I can't make much out of it when ye
won't let me have 'bellishments."

"And how much of it is true altogether, Jack?" Frank asked. "Really how
much?"

"It's all true as I have told you, young masters," the boatman said. "It
were every bit true about the running down of the smack, and me being
nearly killed by the skipper, and the mutiny, and the burning of the
vessel, and my living for a long time--no, I won't stick to the two
years, but it might have been three weeks, with the natives before a
ship picked me up. And that's good enough for a yarn, ain't it?"

"Quite good enough, Jack, and we're much obliged to you; but I should
advise you to drop the embellishments in future."

"It ain't no use, Master Hargate, they will have 'bellishments, and if
they will have 'em, Jack Perkins isn't the man to disappint 'em; and,
Lord bless you, sir, the stiffer I pitches it in the more liberal they
is with their tips. Thank ye kindly all round, gentlemen. Yes, I do feel
dry after the yarn."



CHAPTER IV: A RISING TIDE


The half year was drawing to its close, and it was generally agreed
at Dr. Parker's that it had been the jolliest ever known. The boating
episode and that of the tea at Oak Farm had been events which had given
a fillip to existence. The school had been successful in the greater
part of its cricket matches, and generally every one was well satisfied
with himself. On the Saturday preceding the breaking up Frank, with
Ruthven, Charlie Goodall and two of the other naturalists, started along
the seashore to look for anemones and other marine creatures among the
rocks and pools at the foot of the South Foreland. Between Ruthven and
Frank a strong feeling of affection had grown up since the date of their
boating adventure. They were constantly together now; and as Ruthven
was also intended for the army, and would probably obtain his commission
about the same time as Frank, they often talked over their future,
and indulged in hopes that they might often meet, and that in their
campaigns, they might go through adventures together.

Tide was low when they started. They had nearly three miles to walk.
The pools in front of Deal and Walmer had often been searched, but
they hoped that once round the Foreland they might light upon specimens
differing from any which they had hitherto found. For some hours they
searched the pools, retiring as the tide advanced. Then they went up to
the foot of the cliffs, and sat down to open their cans and compare
the treasures they had collected. The spot which they had unwittingly
selected was a little bay. For a long time they sat comparing their
specimens. Then Frank said, "Come along, it is time to be moving."

As he rose to his feet he uttered an exclamation of dismay. Although
the tide was still at some little distance from the spot where they were
sitting, it had already reached the cliffs extending out at either
end of the bay. A brisk wind was blowing on shore, and the waves were
already splashing against the foot of the rocks.

The whole party leaped to their feet, and seizing their cans ran off at
the top of their speed to the end of the bay.

"I will see how deep the water is," Frank exclaimed; "we may yet be able
to wade round."

The water soon reached Frank's waist. He waded on until it was up to
his shoulders, and he had to leap as each wave approached him. Then he
returned to his friends.

"I could see round," he said, "and I think I could have got round
without getting into deeper water. The worst of it is the bottom is all
rocky, and I stumbled several times, and should have gone under water
if I could not have swam. You can't swim, Ruthven, I know; can you other
fellows?"

Goodall could swim, as could one of the others.

"Now, Ruthven," Frank said, "if you will put your hand on my shoulder
and keep quiet, I think I could carry you around. Goodall and Jackson
can take Childers."

But neither of the other boys had much confidence in their swimming.
They could get thirty or forty yards, but felt sure that they would be
able to render but little assistance to Childers, and in fact scarcely
liked to round the point alone. For some time they debated the question,
the sea every minute rising and pushing them farther and farther from
the point. "Look here, Frank," Ruthven said at last; "you are not sure
you can carry me. The others are quite certain that they cannot take
Childers. We must give up that idea. The best thing, old boy, is for you
three who can swim to start together. Then if either of the others fail
you can help them a bit. Childers and I must take our chance here. When
you get round you must send a boat as soon as possible."

"I certainly shall not desert you, Ruthven," Frank said. "You know as
well as I do that I'm not likely to find a boat on the shore till I get
pretty near Walmer Castle, and long before we could get back it would be
settled here. No, no, old fellow, we will see the matter out together.
Jackson and Goodall can swim round if they like."

These lads, however, would not venture to take the risk alone, but said
they would go if Frank would go with them.

"Chuck off your boots and coats and waistcoats," Frank said suddenly,
proceeding to strip rapidly to the skin. "I will take them round,
Ruthven, and come back to you. Run round the bay you and Childers, and
see if you can find any sort of ledge or projection that we can take
refuge upon. Now, then, come on you two as quick as you can."

The sea had already reached within a few feet of the foot of the cliff
all round the bay.

"Now, mind," Frank said sharply, "no struggling and nonsense, you
fellows. I will keep quite close to you and stick to you, so you needn't
be afraid. If you get tired just put one hand on my back and swim with
the other and your legs; and above all things keep your heads as low as
possible in the water so as just to be able to breathe."

The three lads soon waded out as far as they could go and then struck
out. Jackson and Goodall were both poor swimmers and would have fared
very badly alone. The confidence, however, which they entertained in
Frank gave them courage, and they were well abreast of the point when
first Jackson and then Goodall put their hands on his shoulders. Thanks
to the instructions he had given them, and to their confidence in him,
they placed no great weight upon him. But every ounce tells heavily on a
swimmer, and Frank gave a gasp of relief as at last his feet touched the
ground. Bidding his companions at once set off at a run he sat down for
two or three minutes to recover his breath.

"It is lucky," he said to himself, "that I did not try with Ruthven.
It's a very different thing carrying fellows who can swim and fellows
who can't. What fools we've been to let ourselves he caught here! I had
no idea the tide came so high, or that it was so dangerous, and none of
us have ever been round here before. Now I must go back to Ruthven."

Frank found it even harder work to get back than it had been to come out
from the bay, for the tide was against him now. At last he stood beside
Ruthven and Childers.

"We can only find one place, Frank, where there is any projection a
fellow could stand upon, and that is only large enough for one. See!" he
said, pointing to a projecting block of chalk, whose upper surface, some
eight inches wide, was tolerably flat. "There is a cave here, too, which
may go beyond the tide. It is not deep but it slopes up a bit."

"That will never do," Frank said; "as the waves come in they will rush
up and fill it to the top. Don't you see it is all rounded by the water?
Now, Childers, we will put you on that stone. You will be perfectly safe
there, for you see it is two feet above this greenish line, which shows
where the water generally comes to. The tides are not at spring at
present, so though you may get a splashing there is no fear of your
being washed off."

The water was already knee deep at the foot of the rocks, and the waves
took them nearly up to the shoulders. Ruthven did not attempt to dispute
Frank's allotment of the one place of safety to Childers. Frank and he
placed themselves below the block of chalk, which was somewhat over six
feet from the ground. Then Childers scrambled up on to their shoulders,
and from these stepped onto the ledge.

"I am all right," he said; "I wish to Heaven that you were too."

"We shall do," Frank said. "Mind you hold tight, Childers! You had
better turn round with your face to the cliff, so as to be able to grip
hold and steady yourself in case the waves come up high. The tide will
turn in three quarters of an hour at the outside. Now, then, Ruthven,
let's make a fight for it, old man."

"What are you going to do, Frank?"

"We will wade along here as far as we can towards the corner, and than
we must swim for it."

"Don't you think it's possible to stay here," Ruthven said, "if the tide
will turn so soon?"

"Quite impossible!" Frank said. "I have been nearly taken off my feet
twice already, and the water will rise a yard yet, at least. We should
be smashed against the rocks, even if we weren't drowned. It must be
tried, Ruthven. There is no other way for it. The distance is a good
deal farther than it would have been if we had started at first; but it
isn't the distance that makes much matter. We've only got to go out a
little way, and the tide will soon take us around the point. Everything
depends on you. I can take you round the point, and land you safely
enough, if you will lie quiet. If you don't, you will drown both of us.
So it's entirely in your hands.

"Look out!"

At this moment a larger wave than usual took both boys off their legs,
and dashed them with considerable force against the cliff. Frank seized
Ruthven, and assisted him to regain his feet.

"Now, old fellow, let me put you on your back. I will lie on mine and
tow you along. Don't struggle; don't move; above all, don't try and lift
your head, and don't mind if a little water gets in your mouth. Now!"

For a moment Ruthven felt himself under water, and had to make a great
effort to restrain himself from struggling to come to the surface. Then
he felt himself lying on his back in the water, supported by Frank. The
motion was not unpleasant as he rose and fell on the waves, although now
and then a splash of water came over his face, and made him cough and
splutter for breath. He could see nothing but the blue sky overhead,
could feel nothing except that occasionally he received a blow from
one or other of Frank's knees, as the latter swam beneath him, with
Ruthven's head on his chest. It was a dreamy sensation, and looking
back upon it afterwards Ruthven could never recall anything that he
had thought of. It seemed simply a drowsy pleasant time, except when
occasionally a wave covered his face. His first sensation was that of
surprise when he felt the motion change, and Frank lifted his head
from the water and said, "Stand up, old fellow. Thank God, here we are,
safe!"

Frank had indeed found the journey easier than that which he had before
undertaken with the others. He had scarcely tried to progress, but had,
after getting sufficiently far out to allow the tide to take him round
the point, drifted quietly.

"I owe my life to you, Frank. I shall never forget it, old fellow."

"It's been a close thing," Frank answered; "but you owe your life as
much to your own coolness as to me, and above all, Ruthven, don't let us
forget that we both owe our lives to God."

"I sha'n't forget it," Ruthven said quietly, and they stood for a few
minutes without speaking. "Now, what had we better do? Shall we start to
run home?"

"I can't," Frank laughed, for he had nothing on but his trousers. These
he had slipped on after the return from his first trip, pushing the rest
of his things into a crevice in the rocks as high up as he could reach.

"You had better take off your things, Ruthven, and lay them out to dry
in the sun. The boat will be here in half an hour. I wonder how Childers
is getting on!"

"I think he will be safe," Ruthven said. "The tide will not rise high
enough for there to be much danger of his being washed off."

"I don't think so either," Frank agreed, "or I would try and swim back
again; but I really don't think I could get round the point against the
tide again."

In half an hour a boat rowing four oars was seen approaching.

"They are laying out well," Ruthven said. "They couldn't row harder if
they were rowing a race. But had it not been for you, old fellow, they
would have been too late, as far as I am concerned."

As the boat approached, the coxswain waved his hat to the boys. Frank
motioned with his arm for them to row on round the point. The boat
swept along at a short distance from the shore. The boys watched them
breathlessly. Presently as it reached the point they saw the coxswain
stand up and say something to the men, who glanced over their shoulders
as they rowed. Then the coxswain gave a loud shout. "Hold on! We'll be
with you directly."

"Thank God!" Frank exclaimed, "Childers is all right."

It was well, however, that the boat arrived when it did, for Childers
was utterly exhausted when it reached him. The sea had risen so high
that the waves broke against his feet, throwing the spray far above his
head, and often nearly washing him from the ledge on which he stood.
Had it not been, indeed, for the hold which he obtained of the cliff, it
would several times have swept him away. About eighteen inches above
his head he had found a ledge sufficiently wide to give a grip for his
hands, and hanging by these he managed to retain his place when three
times his feet were swept off the rock by the rush of water. The tide
was just on the turn when the boat arrived, and so exhausted was he that
he certainly would not have been able to hold out for the half hour's
buffeting to which he would have been exposed before the water fell
sufficiently to leave him. After helping him into the boat the men
gathered the clothes jammed in fissures of the cliffs. These were, of
course, drenched with water, but had for the most part remained firm in
their places. They now pulled round to the spot where Frank and Ruthven
were awaiting them.

"Childers must have been pretty nearly done," Frank said. "He must be
lying in the bottom of the boat."

Childers gave a smile of pleasure as his schoolfellows jumped on board.
He had, glancing over his shoulder, seen them drift out of sight round
the point, and had felt certain that they had reached shore. It was,
however, a great pleasure to be assured of the fact.

"You have made quite a stir upon the beach, young gentlemen," the
coxswain of the boat said. "When they two came running up without their
shoes or coats and said there were three of you cut off in the bay under
the Foreland, there didn't seem much chance for you. It didn't take us
two minutes to launch the boat, for there were a score of hands helping
to run her down; and my mates bent to it well, I can tell you, though we
didn't think it would be of any use. We were glad when we made you two
out on this side of the point. Look, there's half Deal and Walmer coming
along the shore."

It was as the boatman said. Numbers of persons were streaming along the
beach, and loud were the cheers which rose as the coxswain stood up and
shouted in a stentorian voice, "All saved!"

Frank put on his things as they approached Walmer. His shoes were lost,
as were those of Ruthven, and he had difficulty in getting his arms into
his wet and shrunken jacket. Quite a crowd were gathered near the castle
as the boat rowed to shore, and a hearty cheer arose as it was run up
on the shingle and the boys were helped out. Frank and Ruthven, indeed,
required no assistance. They were in no way the worse for the adventure,
but Childers was so weak that he was unable to stand. He was carried up
and laid on a fly, the others sitting opposite, the driver having first
taken the precaution of removing the cushions.

There were among the crowd most of the boys from Dr. Parker's. Goodall
and Jackson had arrived nearly an hour and a half before, and the news
had spread like wildfire. Bats and balls had been thrown down and every
one had hurried to the beach. Goodall and his companion had already
related the circumstance of their being cut off by the water and taken
round the point by Frank; and as Ruthven on jumping out had explained
to his comrades who flocked round to shake his hand, "I owe my life to
Hargate," the enthusiasm reached boiling point, and Frank had difficulty
in taking his place in the fly, so anxious were all to shake his hand
and pat him on the shoulder. Had it not been for his anxiety to get home
as soon as possible, and his urgent entreaties, they would have carried
him on their shoulders in triumph through the town. They drove first to
the school, where Childers was at once carried up to a bed, which had
been prepared with warm blankets in readiness; Ruthven needed only to
change his clothes.

The moment they had left the fly Frank drove straight home, and was
delighted at finding, from his mother's exclamation of surprise as he
alighted from the cab, that she had not been suffering any anxiety, no
one, in the general excitement, having thought of taking the news to
her. In answer to her anxious inquiries he made light of the affair,
saying only that they had stupidly allowed themselves to be cut off
by the sea and had got a ducking. It was not, indeed, till the next
morning, when the other four boys came around to tell Mrs. Hargate that
they were indebted to Frank for their lives, that she had any notion
that he had been in danger.

Frank was quite oppressed by what he called the fuss which was made over
the affair. A thrilling description of it appeared in the local papers.
A subscription was got up in the school, and a gold watch with an
inscription was presented to him; and he received letters of heart
felt thanks from the parents of his four schoolfellows, for Childers
maintained that it was entirely to Frank's coolness and thoughtfulness
that his preservation was also due.

On the following Wednesday the school broke up. Frank had several
invitations from the boys to spend his holidays with them; but he knew
how lonely his mother would feel in his absence, and he declined all the
invitations. Mrs. Hargate was far from strong, and had had several fits
of fainting. These, however, had taken place at times when Frank was at
school, and she had strictly charged her little servant to say nothing
about it.

One day on returning from a long walk he saw the doctor's carriage
standing at the door. Just as he arrived the door opened and the doctor
came out. Upon seeing Frank he turned.

"Come in here, my boy," he said.

Frank followed him, and seeing that the blinds were down, went to draw
them up. The doctor laid his hand on his arm.

"Never mind that," he said gently.

"My boy," he said, "do you know that your mother has been for some time
ailing?"

"No, indeed," Frank said with a gasp of pain and surprise.

"It is so, my boy. I have been attending her for some time. She has
been suffering from fainting fits brought on by weakness of the heart's
action. Two hours since I was sent for and found her unconscious. My
poor boy, you must compose yourself. God is good and merciful, though
his decrees are hard to bear. Your mother passed away quietly half an
hour since, without recovering consciousness."

Frank gave a short cry, and then sat stunned by the suddenness of the
blow. The doctor drew out a small case from his pocket and poured a
few drops from the phial into a glass, added some water, and held it to
Frank's lips.

"Drink this, my boy," he said.

Frank turned his head from the offered glass. He could not speak.

"Drink this, my boy," the doctor said again; "it will do you good. Try
and be strong for the sake of your little sister, who has only you in
the world now."

The thought of Lucy touched the right chord in the boy's heart, and he
burst into a passionate fit of crying. The doctor allowed his tears to
flow unchecked.

"You will be better now," he said presently. "Now drink this, then lie
down on the sofa. We must not be having you ill, you know."

Frank gulped down the contents of the glass, and, passive as a child,
allowed the doctor to place him upon the sofa.

"God help and strengthen you, my poor boy," he said; "ask help from
Him."

For an hour Frank lay sobbing on the sofa, and then, remembering the
doctor's last words, he knelt beside it and prayed for strength.

A week had passed. The blinds were up again. Mrs. Hargate had been laid
in her last home, and Frank was sitting alone again in the little parlor
thinking over what had best be done. The outlook was a dark one, enough
to shake the courage of one much older than Frank. His mother's pension,
he knew, died with her. He had, on the doctor's advice, written to
the War Office on the day following his mother's death, to inform the
authorities of the circumstances, and to ask if any pension could
be granted to his sister. The reply had arrived that morning and had
relieved him of the greatest of his cares. It stated that as he was
now just fifteen years old he was not eligible for a pension, but that
twenty-five pounds a year would be paid to his sister until she married
or attained the age of twenty-one.

He had spoken to the doctor that morning, and the latter said that he
knew a lady who kept a small school, and who would, he doubted not, be
willing to receive Lucy and to board and clothe her for that sum. She
was a very kind and motherly person, and he was sure that Lucy would be
most kindly treated and cared for by her. It was then of his own future
only that Frank had to think. There were but a few pounds in the house,
but the letter from the War Office inclosed a check for twenty pounds,
as his mother's quarterly pension was just due. The furniture of the
little house would fetch but a small sum, not more, Frank thought, than
thirty or forty pounds. There were a few debts to pay, and after all was
settled up there would remain about fifty pounds. Of this he determined
to place half in the doctor's hands for the use of Lucy.

"She will want," he said to himself, "a little pocket money. It is hard
on a girl having no money to spend of her own. Then, as she gets on, she
may need lessons in something or other. Besides, half the money rightly
belongs to her, The question is, What am I to do?"



CHAPTER V: ALONE IN THE WORLD


"What am I to do?"

A difficult question indeed, for a boy of fifteen, with but twenty-five
pounds, and without a friend in the world. Was he, indeed, without a
friend? he asked himself. There was Dr. Parker. Should he apply to him?
But the doctor had started for a trip on the Continent the day after
the school had broken up, and would not return for six weeks. It was
possible that, had he been at home, he might have offered to keep Frank
for a while; but the boys seldom stayed at his school past the age
of fifteen, going elsewhere to have their education completed. What
possible claim had he to quarter himself upon the doctor for the next
four years, even were the offer made? No, Frank felt; he could not live
upon the doctor's charity. Then there were the parents of the boys he
had saved from drowning. But even as he sat alone Frank's face flushed
at the thought of trading upon services so rendered. The boy's chief
fault was pride. It was no petty feeling, and he had felt no shame at
being poorer than the rest of his schoolfellows. It was rather a pride
which led him unduly to rely upon himself, and to shrink from accepting
favors from any one. Frank might well, without any derogation, have
written to his friends, telling them of the loss he had suffered and the
necessity there was for him to earn his living, and asking them to beg
their fathers to use their interest to procure him a situation as a boy
clerk, or any other position in which he could earn his livelihood.

Frank, however, shrunk from making any such appeal, and determined
to fight his battle without asking for help. He knew nothing of his
parents' relations. His father was an only son, who had been left early
an orphan. His mother, too, had, he was aware, lost both her parents,
and he had never heard her speak of other relations. There was no one,
therefore, so far as he knew, to whom he could appeal on the ground of
ties of blood. It must be said for him that he had no idea how hard was
the task which he was undertaking. It seemed to him that it must be easy
for a strong, active lad to find employment of some sort in London. What
the employment might be he cared little for. He had no pride of that
kind, and so that he could earn his bread he cared not much in what
capacity he might do it.

Already preparations had been made for the sale of the furniture,
which was to take place next day. Everything was to be sold except the
scientific books which had belonged to his father. These had been packed
in a great box until the time when he might place them in a library of
his own, and the doctor kindly offered to keep it for him until such
time should arrive. Frank wrote a long letter to Ruthven, telling him of
his loss, and his reasons for leaving Deal, and promising to write some
day and tell him how he was getting on in London. This letter he did
not intend to post until the last thing before leaving Deal. Lucy had
already gone to her new home, and Frank felt confident that she would be
happy there. His friend, the doctor, who had tried strongly, but without
avail, to dissuade Frank from going up to London to seek his fortune
there, had promised that if the lad referred any inquiries to him he
would answer for his character.

He went down to the beach the last evening and said goodbye to his
friends among the fishermen, and he walked over in the afternoon and
took his last meal with Farmer Gregson.

"Look ye here, my lad," the farmer said as they parted. "I tell ye, from
what I've heerd, this London be a hard nut to crack. There be plenty of
kernel, no doubt, when you can get at it, but it be hard work to open
the shell. Now, if so be as at any time you run short of money, just
drop me a line, and there's ten pound at your service whenever you like.
Don't you think it's an obligation. Quite the other way. It would be a
real pleasure to me to lend you a helping hand."

Two days after the sale Frank started for London. On getting out of the
train he felt strange and lonely amid the bustle and confusion which was
going on on the platform. The doctor had advised him to ask one of
the porters, or a policeman, if he could recommend him to a quiet and
respectable lodging, as expenses at an hotel would soon make a deep
hole in his money. He, therefore, as soon as the crowd cleared away,
addressed himself to one of the porters.

"What sort of lodgings do you want, sir?" the man said, looking at him
rather suspiciously, with, as Frank saw, a strong idea in his mind that
he was a runaway schoolboy.

"I only want one room," he said, "and I don't care how small it is, so
that it is clean and quiet. I shall be out all day, and should not give
much trouble."

The porter went away and spoke to some of his mates, and presently
returned with one of them.

"You're wanting a room I hear, sir," the man said. "I have a little
house down the Old Kent Road, and my missus lets a room or two. It's
quiet and clean, I'll warrant you. We have one room vacant at present."

"I'm sure that would suit me very well," Frank said. "How much do you
charge a week?"

"Three and sixpence, sir, if you don't want any cooking done."

Frank took the address, and leaving his portmanteau in charge of the
porter, who promised, unless he heard to the contrary, that he would
bring it home with him when he had done his work, he set off from the
station.

Deal is one of the quietest and most dreary places on the coast of
England, and Frank was perfectly astounded at the crowd and bustle which
filled the street, when he issued from the railway approach, at the foot
of London Bridge. The porter had told him that he was to turn to
his left, and keep straight along until he reached the "Elephant and
Castle." He had, therefore, no trouble about his road, and was able to
give his whole attention to the sights which met his eye. For a time
the stream of omnibuses, cabs, heavy wagons, and light carts, completely
bewildered him, as did the throng of people who hastened along the
footway. He was depressed rather than exhilarated at the sight of this
busy multitude. He seemed such a solitary atom in the midst of this
great moving crowd. Presently, however, the thought that where so
many millions gained their living there must be room for one boy more,
somewhat cheered him. He was a long time making his way to his place of
destination, for he stared into every shop window, and being, although
he was perfectly ignorant of the fact, on the wrong side of the
pavement, he was bumped and bustled continually, and was not long
in arriving at the conclusion that the people of London must be the
roughest and rudest in the world. It was not until he ran against a
gentleman, and was greeted with the angry, "now then, boy. Where are you
going? Why the deuce don't you keep on your own side of the pavement?"
that he perceived that the moving throng was divided into two currents,
that on the inside meeting him, while the outside stream was proceeding
in the same direction as himself. After this he got on better, and
arrived without adventure at the house of the porter, in the Old Kent
Road.

It was a small house, but was clean and respectable, and Frank found
that the room would suit him well.

"I do not wait upon the lodgers," the landlady said, "except to make the
beds and tidy the rooms in the morning. So if you want breakfast and tea
at home you will have to get them yourself. There is a separate place
downstairs for your coals. There are some tea things, plates and
dishes, in this cupboard. You will want to buy a small tea kettle, and a
gridiron, and a frying pan, in case you want a chop or a rasher. Do you
think you can cook them yourself?"

"Frank, amused at the thought of cooking and catering for himself, said
boldly that he should soon learn.

"You are a very young gentleman," the landlady said, eyeing him
doubtfully, "to be setting up on your own hook. I mean," she said,
seeing Frank look puzzled, "setting up housekeeping on your own account.
You will have to be particular careful with the frying pan, because
if you were to upset the fat in the fire you might have the house in a
blaze in a jiffey."

Frank said that he would certainly be careful with the frying pan.

"Well," she went on, "as you're a stranger to the place I don't know
as you could do better than get your tea, and sugar, and things at the
grocer's at the next corner. I deals there myself, and he gives every
satisfaction. My baker will be round in a few minutes, and, if you
likes, I can take in your bread for you. The same with milk."

These matters being arranged, and Frank agreeing at once to the
proposition that as he was a stranger it would make things more
comfortable were he to pay his rent in advance, found himself alone in
his new apartment. It was a room about ten feet square. The bed occupied
one corner, with the washstand at its foot. There was a small table in
front of the fireplace, and two chairs; a piece of carpet half covered
the floor, and these with the addition of the articles in the cupboard
constituted the furniture of the room. Feeling hungry after his journey
Frank resolved to go out at once and get something to eat, and then
to lay in a stock of provisions. After some hesitation regarding the
character of the meal he decided upon two Bath buns, determining to make
a substantial tea. He laid in a supply of tea, sugar, butter, and salt,
bought a little kettle, a frying pan, and a gridiron. Then he hesitated
as to whether he should venture upon a mutton chop or some bacon,
deciding finally in favor of the latter, upon the reflection that any
fellow could see whether bacon were properly frizzled up, while as to
a chop there was no seeing anything about it till one cut it. He,
therefore, invested in a pound of prime streaky Wiltshire bacon,
the very best, as the shopman informed him, that could be bought. He
returned carrying all his purchases, with the exception of the hardware.
Then he inquired of his landlady where he could get coal.

"The green grocer's round the corner," the landlady said. "Tell him to
send in a hundredweight of the best, that's a shilling, and you'll want
some firewood too."

The coal arrived in the course of the afternoon, and at half past six
the porter came in with Frank's trunk. He had by this time lit a fire,
and while the water was boiling got some of his things out of the box,
and by hanging some clothes on the pegs on the back of the door, and by
putting the two or three favorite books he had brought with him on to
the mantelpiece, he gave the room a more homelike appearance. He enjoyed
his tea all the more from the novelty of having to prepare it himself,
and succeeded very fairly for a first attempt with his bacon.

When tea was over he first washed up the things and then started for a
ramble. He followed the broad straight road to Waterloo Bridge, stood
for a long time looking at the river, and then crossed into the Strand.
The lamps were now alight and the brightness and bustle of the scene
greatly interested him. At nine o'clock he returned to his lodgings, but
was again obliged to sally out, as he found he had forgotten candles.

After breakfast next morning he went out and bought a newspaper, and set
himself to work to study the advertisements. He was dismayed to find how
many more applicants there were for places than places requiring to be
filled. All the persons advertising were older than himself, and seemed
to possess various accomplishments in the way of languages; many too
could be strongly recommended from their last situation. The prospect
did not look hopeful. In the first place he had looked to see if any
required boy clerks, but this species of assistant appeared little in
demand; and then, although he hoped that it would not come to that, he
ran his eye down the columns to see if any required errand boys or lads
in manufacturing businesses. He found, however, no such advertisements.
However, as he said to himself, it could not be expected that he should
find a place waiting for him on the very day after his arrival, and that
he ought to be able to live for a year on his five and twenty pounds; at
this reflection his spirits rose and he went out again for a walk.

For the first week, indeed, of his arrival in London Frank did not set
himself very earnestly to work to look for a situation. In his walks
about the streets he several times observed cards in the window
indicating that an errand boy was wanted. He resolved, however, that
this should be the last resource which he would adopt, as he would much
prefer to go to work as a common lad in a factory to serving in a shop.
After the first week he answered many advertisements, but in no case
received a reply. In one case, in which it was stated that a lad who
could write a good fast hand was required in an office, wages to begin
with eight shillings a week, he called two days after writing. It was
a small office with a solitary clerk sitting in it. The latter, upon
learning Frank's business, replied with some exasperation that his mind
was being worried out by boys.

"We have had four hundred and thirty letters," he said; "and I should
think that a hundred boys must have called. We took the first who
applied, and all the other letters were chucked into the fire as soon as
we saw what they were about."

Frank returned to the street greatly disheartened.

"Four hundred and thirty letters!" he said. "Four hundred and thirty
other fellows on the lookout, just as I am, for a place as a boy clerk,
and lots of them, no doubt, with friends and relations to recommend
them! The lookout seems to be a bad one."

Two days later, when Frank was walking along the strand he noticed the
placards in front of a theater.

"Gallery one shilling!" he said to himself; "I will go. I have never
seen a theater yet."

The play was The Merchant of Venice, and Frank sat in rapt attention
and interest through it. When the performance was over he walked briskly
homewards. When he had proceeded some distance he saw a glare in the sky
ahead, and presently a steam engine dashed past him at full speed.

"That must be a house on fire," he said. "I have never seen a fire;" and
he broke into a run.

Others were running in the same direction, and as he passed the
"Elephant and Castle" the crowd became thicker, and when within fifty
yards of the house he could no longer advance. He could see the flames
now rising high in the air. A horrible fear seized him.

"It must be," he exclaimed to himself, "either our house or the one next
door."

It was in vain that he pressed forward to see more nearly. A line of
policemen was drawn up across the road to keep a large space clear for
the firemen. Behind the policemen the crowd were thickly packed. Frank
inquired of many who stood near him if they could tell him the number of
the house which was on fire; but none could inform him.

Presently the flames began to die away, and the crowd to disperse. At
length Frank reached the first line of spectators.

"Can you tell me the number of the houses which are burned?" Frank said
to a policeman.

"There are two of them," the policeman said "a hundred and four and a
hundred and five. A hundred and four caught first, and they say that a
woman and two children have been burned to death."

"That is where I live!" Frank cried. "Oh, please let me pass!"

"I'll pass you in," the policeman said good naturedly, and he led him
forward to the spot where the engines were playing upon the burning
houses. "Is it true, mate," he asked a fireman, "that a woman and two
children have been burned?"

"It's true enough," the fireman said. "The landlady and her children.
Her husband was a porter at the railway station, and had been detained
on overtime. He only came back a quarter of an hour ago, and he's been
going on like a madman;" and he pointed to the porter, who was sitting
down on the doorsteps of a house facing his own, with his face hidden in
his hands.

Frank went and sat down beside him.

"My poor fellow," he said, "I am sorry for you."

Frank had had many chats with his landlord of an evening, and had become
quite friendly with him and his wife.

"I can't believe it," the man said huskily. "Just to think! When I went
out this morning there was Jane and the kids, as well and as happy as
ever, and there, where are they now?"

"Happier still," Frank said gently. "I lost my mother just as suddenly
only five weeks ago. I went out for a walk, leaving her as well as
usual, and when I came back she was dead; so I can feel for you with all
my heart."

"I would have given my life for them," the man said, wiping his eyes,
"willing."

"I'm sure you would," Frank answered.

"There's the home gone," the man said, "with all the things that it took
ten years' savings of Jane and me to buy; not that that matters one way
or the other now. And your traps are gone, too, I suppose, sir."

"Yes," Frank replied quietly, "I have lost my clothes and twenty-three
pounds in money; every penny I've got in the world except half a crown
in my pocket."

"And you don't say nothing about it!" the man said, roused into
animation. "But, there, perhaps you've friends as will make it up to
you."

"I have no one in the world," Frank answered, "whom I could ask to give
me a helping hand."

"Well, you are a plucky chap," the man said. "That would be a knock down
blow to a man, let alone a boy like you. What are you going to do now?"
he asked, forgetting for the moment his own loss, in his interest in his
companion.

"I don't know," Frank replied. "Perhaps," he added, seeing that the
interest in his condition roused the poor fellow from the thought of
his own deep sorrow, "you might give me some advice. I was thinking of
getting a place in an office, but of course I must give that up now, and
should be thankful to get anything by which I can earn my bread."

"You come along with me," the man said rising. "You've done me a heap of
good. It's no use sitting here. I shall go back to the station, and turn
in on some sacks. If you've nothing better to do, and nowhere to go to,
you come along with me. We will talk it all over."

Pleased to have some one to talk to, and glad that he should not have to
look for a place to sleep, Frank accompanied the porter to the station.
With a word or two to the nightmen on duty, the porter led the way to a
shed near the station, where a number of sacks were heaped in a corner.

"Now," the man said, "I will light a pipe. It's against the regulations,
but that's neither here nor there now. Now, if you're not sleepy, would
you mind talking to me? Tell me something about yourself, and how you
come to be alone here in London. It does me good to talk. It prevents me
from thinking."

"There is very little to tell," Frank said; and he related to him the
circumstances of the deaths of his father and mother, and how it came
that he was alone in London in search of a place.

"You're in a fix," the porter said.

"Yes, I can see that."

"You see you're young for most work, and you never had no practice
with horses, or you might have got a place to drive a light cart. Then,
again, your knowing nothing of London is against you as an errand boy;
and what's worse than all this, anyone can see with half an eye that
you're a gentleman, and not accustomed to hard work. However, we will
think it over. The daylight's breaking now, and I has to be at work at
six. But look ye here, young fellow, tomorrow I've got to look for a
room, and when I gets it there's half of it for you, if you're not too
proud to accept it. It will be doing me a real kindness, I can tell you,
for what I am to do alone of an evening without Jane and the kids, God
knows. I can't believe they're gone yet."

Then the man threw himself down upon the sacks, and broke into sobs.
Frank listened for half an hour till these gradually died away, and he
knew by the regular breathing that his companion was asleep. It was long
after this before he himself closed his eyes. The position did, indeed,
appear a dark one. Thanks to the offer of his companion, which he at
once resolved to accept for a time, he would have a roof to sleep under.
But this could not last; and what was he to do? Perhaps he had been
wrong in not writing at once to Ruthven and his schoolfellows. He even
felt sure he had been wrong; but it would be ten times as hard to write
now. He would rather starve than do this. How was he to earn his living?
He would, he determined, at any rate try for a few days to procure a
place as an errand boy. If that failed, he would sell his clothes, and
get a rough working suit. He was sure that he should have more chance of
obtaining work in such a dress than in his present attire.

Musing thus, Frank at last dropped off to sleep. When he woke he found
himself alone, his companion having left without disturbing him. From
the noises around him of trains coming in and out, Frank judged that the
hour was late.

"I have done one wise thing," he said, "anyhow, and as far as I can
see it's the only one, in leaving my watch with the doctor to keep. He
pointed out that I might have it stolen if I carried it, and that there
was no use in keeping it shut up in a box. Very possibly it might be
stolen by the dishonesty of a servant. That's safe anyhow, and it is my
only worldly possession, except the books, and I would rather go into
the workhouse than part with either of them."

Rising, he made his way into the station, where he found the porter at
his usual work.

"I would not wake you," the man said; "you were sleeping so quiet, and I
knew 'twas no use your getting up early. I shall go out and settle for
a room at dinner time. If you will come here at six o'clock we'll go
off together. The mates have all been very kind, and have been making a
collection to bury my poor girl and the kids. They've found 'em, and the
inquest is tomorrow, so I shall be off work. The governor has offered
me a week; but there, I'd rather be here where there's no time for
thinking, than hanging about with nothing to do but to drink."



CHAPTER VI: THE FIRST STEP


All that day Frank tramped the streets. He went into many shops where
he saw notices that an errand boy was required, but everywhere without
success. He perceived at once that his appearance was against him, and
he either received the abrupt answer of, "You're not the sort of chap
for my place," or an equally decided refusal upon the grounds that
he did not know the neighborhood, or that they preferred one who had
parents who lived close by and could speak for him.

At six o'clock he rejoined the porter. He brought with him some bread
and butter and a piece of bacon. When, on arriving at the lodging of
his new friend, a neat room with two small beds in it, he produced and
opened his parcel, the porter said angrily, "Don't you do that again,
young fellow, or we shall have words. You're just coming to stop with
me for a bit till you see your way, and I'm not going to have you bring
things in here. My money is good for two months, and your living here
with me won't cost three shillings a week. So don't you hurt my feelings
by bringing things home again. There, don't say no more about it."

Frank, seeing that his companion was really in earnest, said no more,
and was the less reluctant to accept the other's kindness as he saw that
his society was really a great relief to him in his trouble. After the
meal they sallied out to a second hand clothes shop. Here Frank disposed
of his things, and received in return a good suit of clothes fit for a
working lad.

"I don't know how it is," the porter said as they sat together
afterwards, "but a gentleman looks like a gentleman put him in what
clothes you will. I could have sworn to your being that if I'd never
seen you before. I can't make it out, I don't know what it is, but
there's certainly something in gentle blood, whatever you may say
about it. Some of my mates are forever saying that one man's as good as
another. Now I don't mean to say they ain't as good; but what I say is,
as they ain't the same. One man ain't the same as another any more than
a race horse is the same as a cart horse. They both sprang from the same
stock, at least so they says; but breeding and feeding and care has made
one into a slim boned creature as can run like the wind, while the other
has got big bones and weight and can drag his two ton after him without
turning a hair. Now, I take it, it's the same thing with gentlefolks and
working men. It isn't that one's bigger than the other, for I don't see
much difference that way; but a gentleman's lighter in the bone, and
his hands and his feet are smaller, and he carries himself altogether
different. His voice gets a different tone. Why, Lord bless you, when I
hears two men coming along the platform at night, even when I can't see
'em, and can't hear what they says, only the tone of their voices, I
knows just as well whether it's a first class or a third door as I've
got to open as if I saw 'em in the daylight. Rum, ain't it?"

Frank had never thought the matter out, and could only give his general
assent to his companion's proposition.

"Now," the porter went on, "if you go into a factory or workshop, I'll
bet a crown to a penny that before you've been there a week you'll get
called Gentleman Jack, or some such name. You see if you ain't."

"I don't care what they call me," Frank laughed, "so that they'll take
me into the factory."

"All in good time," the porter said; "don't you hurry yourself. As
long as you can stay here you'll be heartily welcome. Just look what
a comfort it is to have you sitting here sociable and comfortable. You
don't suppose I could have sat here alone in this room if you hadn't
been here? I should have been in a public house making a beast of
myself, and spending as much money as would keep the pair of us."

Day after day Frank went out in search of work. In his tramps he visited
scores of workshops and factories, but without success. Either they
did not want boys, or they declined altogether to take one who had no
experience in work, and had no references in the neighborhood. Frank
took his breakfast and tea with the porter, and was glad that the latter
had his dinner at the station, as a penny loaf served his purposes. One
day in his walks Frank entered Covent Garden and stood looking on at the
bustle and flow of business, for it happened to be market day. He leaned
against one of the columns of the piazza, eating the bread he had just
bought. Presently a sharp faced lad, a year or two younger than himself,
came up to him.

"Give us a hit," he said, "I ain't tasted nothing today."

Frank broke the bread in half and gave a portion to him.

"What a lot there is going on here!" Frank said.

"Law!" the boy answered, "that ain't nothing to what it is of a morning.
That's the time, 'special on the mornings of the flower market. It's
hard lines if a chap can't pick up a tanner or even a bob then."

"How?" Frank asked eagerly.

"Why, by holding horses, helping to carry out plants, and such like. You
seems a green 'un, you do. Up from the country, eh? Don't seem like one
of our sort."

"Yes," Frank said, "I'm just up from the country. I thought it would be
easy to get a place in London, but I don't find it so."

"A place!" the boy repeated scornfully. "I should like any one to see me
in a place. It's better a hundred times to be your own master."

"Even if you do want a piece of bread sometimes?" Frank put in.

"Yes," the boy said. "When it ain't market day and ye haven't saved
enough to buy a few papers or boxes of matches it does come hard. In
winter the times is bad, but in summer we gets on fairish, and there
ain't nothing to grumble about. Are you out of work yourself?"

"Yes," Frank answered, "I'm on the lookout for a job."

"You'd have a chance here in the morning," said the boy, looking at him.
"You look decent, and might get a job unloading. They won't have us at
no price, if they can help it."

"I will come and try anyhow," Frank said.

That evening Frank told his friend, the porter, that he thought of going
out early next morning to try and pick up odd jobs at Covent Garden.

"Don't you think of it," the porter said. "There's nothing worse for a
lad than taking to odd jobs. It gets him into bad ways and bad company.
Don't you hurry. I have spoken to lots of my mates, and they're all on
the lookout for you. We on the platform can't do much. It ain't in our
line, you see; but in the goods department, where they are constant
with vans and wagons and such like, they are likely enough to hear of
something before long."

That night, thinking matters over in bed, Frank determined to go down to
the docks and see if he could get a place as cabin boy. He had had this
idea in his mind ever since he lost his money, and had only put it aside
in order that he might, if possible, get some berth on shore which might
seem likely in the end to afford him a means of making his way up again.
It was not that he was afraid of the roughness of a cabin boy's life; it
was only because he knew that it would be so very long before, working
his way up from boy to able bodied seaman, he could obtain a mate's
certificate, and so make a first step up the ladder. However, he thought
that even this would be better than going as a wagoner's boy, and he
accordingly crossed London Bridge, turned down Eastcheap, and presently
found himself in Ratcliff Highway. He was amused here at the nautical
character of the shops, and presently found himself staring into a
window full of foreign birds, for the most part alive in cages, among
which, however, were a few cases of stuffed birds.

"How stupid I have been!" he thought to himself. "I wonder I never
thought of it before! I can stuff birds and beasts at any rate a deal
better than those wooden looking things. I might have a chance of
getting work at some naturalist's shop. I will get a directory and take
down all the addresses in London, and then go around."

He now became conscious of a conversation going on between a little old
man with a pair of thick horn rimmed spectacles and a sailor who had a
dead parrot and a cat in his hand.

"I really cannot undertake them," the old man said. "Since the death of
my daughter I have had but little time to attend to that branch. What
with buying and selling, and feeding and attending to the live ones, I
have no time for stuffing. Besides, if the things were poisoned, they
would not be worth stuffing."

"It isn't the question of worth, skipper," the sailor said; "and I don't
say, mind ye, that these here critturs was pisoned, only if you looks
at it that this was the noisiest bird and the worst tempered thievingest
cat in the neighborhood--though, Lord bless you, my missus wouldn't
allow it for worlds--why, you know, when they were both found stiff and
cold this morning people does have a sort of a suspicion as how they've
been pisoned;" and he winked one eye in a portentous manner, and grinned
hugely. "The missus she's in a nice taking, screeching, and yelling as
you might hear her two cables' length away, and she turns round on me
and will have it as I'd a hand in the matter. Well, just to show my
innocence, I offers to get a glass case for 'em and have 'em stuffed,
if it cost me a couple of pounds. I wouldn't care if they fell all to
pieces a week afterwards, so that it pacified the old woman just at
present. If I can't get 'em done I shall ship at once, for the place
will be too hot to hold me. So you can't do it nohow?"

The old man shook his head, and the sailor was just turning off when
Frank went up to him:

"Will you please wait a moment? Can I speak to you, sir, a minute?" he
asked the old man.

The naturalist went into his shop, and Frank followed him.

"I can stuff birds and animals, sir," he said. "I think I really stuff
them well, for some which I did for amusement were sold at ten shillings
a case, and the man who bought them of me told me they would be worth
four times as much in London. I am out of work, sir, and very very
anxious to get my living. You will find me hard working and honest. Do
give me a chance. Let me stuff that cat and parrot for the sailor. If
you are not satisfied then, I will go away and charge nothing for it."

The man looked at him keenly.

"I will at any rate give you a trial," he said. Then he went to the door
and called in the sailor. "This lad tells me he can stuff birds. I know
nothing about him, but I believe he is speaking truthfully. If you like
to intrust them to him he will do his best. If you're not satisfied he
will make no charge."

Much pleased at seeing a way out of his dilemma, the sailor placed the
dead animals on the counter.

"Now," the old man said to Frank, "you can take these out into the back
yard and skin them. Then you can go to work in that back room. You will
find arsenical soap, cotton wool, wires, and everything else you require
there. This has been a fine cat," he said, looking at the animal.

"Yes, it has been a splendid creature," Frank answered. "It is a
magnificent macaw also."

"Ah! you know it is a macaw!" the old man said.

"Of course," Frank said simply; "it has a tail."

The old man then furnished Frank with two or three sharp knives and
scissors. Taking the bird and cat, he went out into the yard and in the
course of an hour had skinned them both. Then he returned to the shop
and set to work in the room behind.

"May I make a group of them?" he asked.

"Do them just as you like," the old man said.

After settling upon his subject, Frank set to work, and, except that
he went out for five minutes to buy and eat a penny loaf, continued his
work till nightfall. The old man came in several times to look at him,
but each time went out again without making a remark. At six o'clock
Frank laid down his tools.

"I will come again tomorrow, sir," he said.

The old man nodded, and Frank went home in high spirits. There was a
prospect at last of getting something to do, and that in a line most
congenial to his own tastes.

The old man looked up when he entered next morning.

"I shall not come in today," he remarked. "I will wait to see them
finished."

Working without interruption till the evening, Frank finished them to
his satisfaction, and enveloped them with many wrappings of thread to
keep them in precisely the attitudes in which he had placed them.

"They are ready for drying now, sir," he said. "If I might place them in
an oven they would be dried by morning."

The old man led the way to the kitchen, where a small fire was burning.

"I shall put no more coals on the fire," he said, "and it will be out in
a quarter of an hour. Put them in there and leave the door open. I will
close it in an hour when the oven cools."

The next day Frank was again at work. It took him all day to get fur and
feather to lie exactly as he wished them. In the afternoon he asked the
naturalist for a piece of flat board, three feet long, and a perch, but
said that instead of the piece of board he should prefer mounting them
in a case at once. The old man had not one in the shop large enough,
and therefore Frank arranged his group temporarily on the table. On the
board lay the cat. At first sight she seemed asleep, but it was clearly
only seeming. Her eyes were half open, the upper lip was curled up, and
the sharp teeth showed. The hind feet were drawn somewhat under her as
in readiness for an instant spring. Her front paws were before her, the
talons were somewhat stretched, and one paw was curved. Her ears lay
slightly back. She was evidently on the point of springing. The macaw
perch, which had been cut down to a height of two feet, stood behind
her. The bird hung by its feet, and, head downwards, stretched with open
beak towards the tip of the cat's tail, which was slightly uplifted. On
a piece of paper Frank wrote, "Dangerous Play."

It was evening before he had finished perfectly to his satisfaction.
Then he called the naturalist in. The old man stopped at the door,
surveying the group. Then he entered and examined it carefully.

"Wonderful!" he said. "Wonderful! I should have thought them alive.
There is not a shop in the West End where it could have been turned out
better, if so well.

"Lad, you are a wonder! Tell me now who and what are you? I saw when you
first addressed me that you were not what you seemed to be, a working
lad."

"I have been well educated," Frank said, "and was taught to preserve
and stuff by my father, who was a great naturalist. My parents died
suddenly, and I was left on my own resources, which," he said, smiling
faintly, "have hitherto proved of very small avail. I am glad you are
pleased. If you will take me into your service I will work hard and make
myself useful in every way. If you require references I can refer you
to the doctor who attended us in the country; but I have not a single
friend in London except a railway porter, who has most kindly and
generously taken me in and sheltered me for the last two months."

"I need no references," the old man said; "your work speaks for itself
as to your skill, and your face for your character. But I can offer
you nothing fit for you. With such a genius as you have for setting up
animals, you ought to be able to earn a good income. Not one man in a
thousand can make a dead animal look like a live one. You have the knack
or the art."

"I shall be very content with anything you can give me," Frank said;
"for the present I only ask to earn my living. If later on I can, as you
say, do more, all the better."

The old man stood for some time thinking, and presently said, "I do but
little except in live stock. When I had my daughter with me I did a
good deal of stuffing, for there is a considerable trade hereabout. The
sailors bring home skins of foreign birds, and want them stuffed and put
in cases, as presents for their wives and sweethearts. You work fast as
well as skillfully. I have known men who would take a fortnight to do
such a group as that, and then it would be a failure. It will be quite a
new branch for my trade. I do not know how it will act yet, but to begin
with I will give you twelve shillings a week, and a room upstairs. If
it succeeds we will make other arrangements. I am an old man, and a very
lonely one. I shall be glad to have such a companion."

Frank joyfully embraced the offer, and ran all the way home to tell his
friend, the porter, of the engagement.

"I am very glad," the man said; "heartily glad. I shall miss you sorely.
I do not know what I should have done without you when I first lost poor
Jane and the kids. But now I can go back to my old ways again."

"Perhaps," Frank suggested, "you might arrange to have a room also in
the house. It would not be a very long walk, not above twenty or five
and twenty minutes, and I should be so glad to have you with me."

The man sat silent for a time. "No," he said at last, "I thank you all
the same. I should like it too, but I don't think it would be best in
the end. Here all my mates live near, and I shall get on in time. The
Christmas holiday season will soon be coming on and we shall be up
working late. If you were always going to stop at the place you are
going to, it would be different; but you will rise, never fear. I shall
be seeing you in gentleman's clothes again some of these days. I've
heard you say you were longing to get your books and to be studying
again, and you'll soon fall into your own ways; but if you will let me,
I'll come over sometimes and have a cup of tea and a chat with you. Now,
look here, I'm going out with you now, and I'm going to buy you a suit
of clothes, something like what you had on when I first saw you. They
won't be altogether unsuitable in a shop. This is a loan, mind, and you
may pay me off as you get flush."

Frank saw he should hurt the good fellow's feelings by refusing, and
accordingly went out with him, and next morning presented himself at the
shop in a quiet suit of dark gray tweed, and with his other clothes in a
bundle.

"Aha!" said the old man; "you look more as you ought to do now, though
you're a cut above an assistant in a naturalist's shop in Ratcliff
Highway. Now, let me tell you the names of some of these birds. They
are, every one of them, foreigners; some of them I don't know myself."

"I can tell all the family names," Frank said quietly, "and the species,
but I do not know the varieties."

"Can you!" the old man said in surprise. "What is this now?"

"That is a mockingbird, the great black capped mockingbird, I think. The
one next to it is a golden lory."

So Frank went round all the cages and perches in the shop.

"Right in every case," the old man said enthusiastically; "I shall have
nothing to teach you. The sailor has been here this morning. I offered
him two pounds for the cat and bird to put in my front window, but he
would not take it, and has paid me that sum for your work. Here it is.
This is yours, you know. You were not in my employment then, and you
will want some things to start with, no doubt. Now come upstairs, I will
show you your room. I had intended at first to give you the one at the
back, but I have decided now on giving you my daughter's. I think you
will like it."

Frank did like it greatly. It was the front room on the second
floor. The old man's daughter had evidently been a woman of taste and
refinement. The room was prettily papered, a quiet carpet covered the
floor, and the furniture was neat and in good keeping. Two pairs of
spotless muslin curtains hung across the windows.

"I put them up this morning," the old man said, nodding. "I have got the
sheets and bedding airing in the kitchen. They have not been out of the
press for the last three years. You can cook in the kitchen. There is
always a fire there.

"Now, the first thing to do," he went on when they returned to the shop,
"will be for you to mount a dozen cases for the windows. These drawers
are full of skins of birds and small animals. I get them for next
to nothing from the sailors, and sell them to furriers and feather
preparers, who supply ladies' hat and bonnet makers. In future, I
propose that you shall mount them and sell them direct. We shall get far
higher prices than we do now. I seem to be putting most of the work on
your shoulders, but do not want you to help me in the shop. I will look
after the birds and buy and sell as I used to do; you will have the back
room private to yourself for stuffing and mounting."

Frank was delighted at this allotment of labor, and was soon at work
rummaging the drawers and picking out specimens for mounting, and made
a selection sufficient to keep him employed for weeks. That evening he
sallied out and expended his two pounds in underlinen, of which he was
sorely in need. As he required them his employer ordered showcases for
the window, of various sizes, getting the backgrounds painted and fitted
up as Frank suggested.

Frank did not get on so fast with his work as he had hoped, for the fame
of the sailor's cat and macaw spread rapidly in the neighborhood, and
there was a perfect rush of sailors and their wives anxious to have
birds and skins, which had been brought from abroad, mounted. The sailor
himself looked in one day.

"If you like another two pounds for that 'ere cat, governor, I'm game
to pay you. It's the best thing that ever happened to me. Every one's
wanting to see 'em, and there's the old woman dressed up in her Sunday
clothes a-sitting in the parlor as proud as a peacock a showing of 'em
off. The house ain't been so quiet since I married. Them animals would
be cheap to me at a ten pound note. They'll get you no end of orders, I
can tell you."

The orders, indeed, came in much faster than Frank could fulfill them,
although he worked twelve hours a day; laying aside all other work,
however, for three hours in order to devote himself to the shop cases,
which were to be chef d'oeuvres.



CHAPTER VII: AN OLD FRIEND


For three months Frank passed a quiet and not unpleasant life with the
old naturalist in Ratcliff Highway. The latter took a great liking to
him, and treated him like a son rather than an assistant. The two took
their meals together now, and Frank's salary had been raised from twelve
to eighteen shillings a week. So attractive had the cases in the windows
proved that quite a little crowd was generally collected round them, and
the business had greatly augmented. The old naturalist was less pleased
at this change than most men would have been in his position. He had got
into a groove and did not care to get out of it. He had no relatives or
any one dependent on him, and he had been well content to go on in a jog
trot way, just paying his expenses of shop and living. The extra bustle
and push worried rather than pleased him.

"I am an old man," he said to Frank one day, as after the shop was
closed they sat over their tea. "I have no motive in laying by money,
and had enough for my wants. I was influenced more by my liking for
your face and my appreciation of your talent, than by any desire of
increasing my business. I am taking now three times as much as I did
before. Now I should not mind, indeed, I should be glad, if I thought
that you would succeed me here as a son would do. I would gladly take
you into partnership with me, and you would have the whole business
after my death. But I know, my boy, that it wouldn't do. I know that the
time will come when you will not be content with so dull a life here.
You will either get an offer from some West End house which would open
higher prospects to you, or you will be wandering away as a collector.
In any case you would not stop here, of that I am quite sure, and
therefore do not care, as I should have done, had you been my son, for
the increase of the business. As it is, lad, I could not even wish to
see you waste your life here."

Frank, after he was once fairly settled at his new work, had written
to his friend the doctor, at Deal, telling him of the position he had
taken, and that he was in a fair way to make at least a comfortable
living, and that at a pursuit of which he was passionately fond. He
asked him, however, while writing to him from time to time to give him
news of his sister, not to tell any one his address, as although he was
not ashamed of his berth, still he would rather that, until he had made
another step up in life, his old schoolfellows should not know of his
whereabouts. He had also written to his friend Ruthven a bright chatty
letter, telling him somewhat of his adventures in London and the loss of
his money, and saying that he had now got employment at a naturalist's,
with every chance of making his way.

"When I mount a bit higher," he concluded, "I shall be awfully glad to
see you again, and will let you know what my address may then be.
For the present I had rather keep it dark. If you will write to me,
addressed to the General Post Office, telling me all about yourself and
the fellows at school, I shall be very, very glad to get your letter. I
suppose you will be breaking up for Christmas in a few days."

Christmas came and went. It was signalized to Frank only by the despatch
of a pretty present to Lucy, and the receipt of a letter from her
written in a round childish hand. A week afterwards he heard somebody
come into the shop. His employer was out, and he therefore went into the
shop.

"I knew it was!" shouted a voice. "My dear old Frank, how are you?" and
his hand was warmly clasped in that of Ruthven.

"My dear Ruthven," was all Frank could say.

"I had intended," Ruthven exclaimed, "to punch your head directly I
found you; but I am too glad to do it, though you deserve it fifty times
over. What a fellow you are! I wouldn't have believed it of you, running
away in that secret sort of way and letting none of us know anything
about you. Wasn't I angry, and sorry too, when I got the letter you
wrote me from Deal! When I went back to school and found that not even
Dr. Parker, not even your sister, knew where you were, I was mad. So
were all the other fellows. However, I said I would find you wherever
you had hidden yourself."

"But how did you find me?" Frank asked greatly moved at the warmth of
his schoolfellow's greeting.

"Oh! it wasn't so very difficult to find you when once I got your letter
saying what you were doing. The very day I came up to town I began
to hunt about. I found from the Directory there were not such a great
number of shops where they stuffed birds and that sort of thing. I tried
the places in Bond Street, and Piccadilly, and Wigmore Street, and so on
to begin with. Then I began to work east, and directly I saw the things
in the window here I felt sure I had found you at last. You tiresome
fellow! Here I have wasted nearly half my holidays looking for you."

"I am so sorry, Ruthven."

"Sorry! you ought to be more than sorry. You ought to be ashamed of
yourself, downright ashamed. But, there, I won't say any more now. Now,
can't you come out with me?"

"No, I can't come out now, Ruthven; but come into this room with me."

There for the next hour they chatted, Frank giving a full account of all
he had gone through since he came up to town, while Ruthven gave him the
gossip of the half year at school.

"Well," Ruthven said at last, "this old Horton of yours must be a brick.
Still, you know, you can't stop here all your life. You must come and
talk it over with my governor."

"Oh, no, indeed, Ruthven! I am getting on very well here, and am very
contented with my lot, and I could not think of troubling your father in
the matter."

"Well, you will trouble him a great deal," Ruthven said, "if you don't
come, for you will trouble him to come all the way down here. He was
quite worried when he first heard of your disappearance, and has been
almost as excited as I have over the search for you.

"You are really a foolish fellow, Frank," he went on more seriously; "I
really didn't think it of you. Here you save the lives of four or five
fellows and put all their friends under a tremendous obligation, and
then you run away and hide yourself as if you were ashamed. I tell you
you can't do it. A fellow has no more right to get rid of obligations
than he has to run away without paying his debts. It would be a burden
on your mind if you had a heavy debt you couldn't pay, and you would
have a right to be angry if, when you were perfectly able to pay, your
creditor refused to take the money. That's just the position in which
you've placed my father. Well, anyhow, you've got to come and see him,
or he's got to come and see you. I know he has something in his mind's
eye which will just suit you, though he did not tell me what it was. For
the last day or two he has been particularly anxious about finding you.
Only yesterday when I came back and reported that I had been to half a
dozen places without success, he said, 'Confound the young rascal, where
can he be hiding? Here are the days slipping by and it will be too late.
If you don't find him in a day or two, Dick, I will set the police after
him--say he has committed a murder or broken into a bank and offer a
reward for his apprehension.' So you must either come home with me this
afternoon, or you will be having my father down here tonight."

"Of course, Ruthven," Frank said, "I would not put your father to such
trouble. He is very kind to have taken so much interest in me, only I
hate--"

"Oh, nonsense! I hate to see such beastly stuck up pride, putting your
own dignity above the affection of your friends; for that's really what
it comes to, old boy, if you look it fairly in the face."

Frank flushed a little and was silent for a minute or two.

"I suppose you are right, Ruthven; but it is a little hard for a
fellow--"

"Oh, no, it isn't," Ruthven said. "If you'd got into a scrape from some
fault of your own one could understand it, although even then there
would be no reason for you to cut your old friends till they cut you.
Young Goodall, who lives over at Bayswater, has been over four or five
times to ask me if I have succeeded in finding you, and I have had
letters from Handcock, and Childers, and Jackson. Just as if a fellow
had got nothing to do but to write letters. How long will you be before
you can come out?"

"There is Mr. Horton just come in," Frank said. "I have no doubt he will
let me go at once."

The old naturalist at once assented upon Frank's telling him that a
friend had come who wished him to go out.

"Certainly, my dear boy. Why, working the hours and hours of overtime
that you do, of course you can take a holiday whenever you're disposed."

"He will not be back till late," Ruthven said as they went out. "I shall
keep him all the evening."

"Oh, indeed, Ruthven, I have no clothes!"

"Clothes be bothered," Ruthven said. "I certainly shall end by punching
your head, Frank, before the day's out."

Frank remonstrated no more, but committed himself entirely to his
friend's guidance. At the Mansion House they mounted on the roof of an
omnibus going west, and at Knightsbridge got off and walked to Eaton
Square, where Ruthven's father resided. The latter was out, so Frank
accompanied his friend to what he called his sanctum, a small room
littered up with books, bats, insect boxes, and a great variety of
rubbish of all kinds. Here they chatted until the servant came up and
said that Sir James had returned.

"Come on, Frank," Ruthven said, running downstairs. "There's nothing of
the ogre about the governor."

They entered the study, and Ruthven introduced his friend.

"I've caught him, father, at last. This is the culprit."

Sir James Ruthven was a pleasant looking man, with a kindly face.

"Well, you troublesome boy," he said, holding out his hand, "where have
you been hiding all this time?"

"I don't know that I've been hiding, sir," Frank said.

"Not exactly hiding," Sir James smiled, "only keeping away from those
who wanted to find you. Well, and how are you getting on?"

"I am getting on very well, sir. I am earning eighteen shillings a week
and my board and lodging, and my employer says he will take me into
partnership as soon as I come of age."

"Ah, indeed!" Sir James said. "I am glad to hear that, as it shows you
must be clever and industrious."

"Yes, father, and the place was full of the most lovely cases of things
Frank had stuffed. There was quite a crowd looking in at the window."

"That is very satisfactory. Now, Frank, do you sit down and write a
note to your employer, asking him to send down half a dozen of the best
cases. I want to show them to a gentleman who will dine with me here
today, and who is greatly interested in such matters. When you have
written the note I will send a servant off at once in a cab to fetch
them."

"And, father," Dick continued, "if you don't mind, might Frank and I
have our dinner quietly together in my room? You've got a dinner party
on, and Frank won't enjoy it half as much as he would dining quietly
with me."

"By all means," Sir James said. "But mind he is not to run away without
seeing me.

"You are a foolish lad," he went on in a kind voice to Frank; "and it
was wrong as well as foolish to hide yourself from your friends. However
independent we may be in this world, all must, to a certain extent, rely
upon others. There is scarcely a man who can stand aloof from the rest
and say, 'I want nothing of you.' I can understand your feeling in
shrinking from asking a favor of me, or of the fathers of the other boys
who are, like myself, deeply indebted to you for the great service you
have rendered their sons. I can admire the feeling if not carried too
far; but you should have let your schoolfellows know exactly how you
were placed, and so have given us the opportunity of repaying the
obligation if we were disposed, not to have run away and hidden yourself
from us."

"I am sorry, sir," Frank said simply. "I did not like to seem to trade
upon the slight service I rendered some of my schoolfellows. Dr. Bateman
told me I was wrong, but I did not see it then. Now I think, perhaps he
was right, although I am afraid that if it happened again I should do
the same."

Sir James smiled.

"I fear you are a stiff necked one, Master Frank. However, I will not
scold you any further. Now, what will you do with yourselves till dinner
time?"

"Oh, we'll just sit and chat, father. We have got lots more things to
tell each other."

The afternoon passed in pleasant talk. Frank learned that Ruthven had
now left Dr. Parker's for good, and that he was going down after the
holidays to a clergyman who prepared six or eight boys for the army.
Before dinner the footman returned with half a dozen of the best cases
from the shop, which were brought up to Dick's room, and the latter was
delighted with them. They greatly enjoyed their dinner together. At nine
o'clock a servant came up and took down the cases. Five minutes later he
returned again with a message, saying that Sir James wished Mr. Richard
and his friend to go down into the dining room. Frank was not shy, but
he felt it rather a trial when he entered the room, where seven or
eight gentlemen were sitting round the table, the ladies having already
withdrawn. The gentlemen were engaged in examining and admiring the
cases of stuffed birds and animals.

"This is my young friend," Sir James said, "of whom I have been speaking
to you, and whose work you are all admiring. This, Frank, is Mr.
Goodenough, the traveler and naturalist, of whom you may have heard."

"Yes, indeed," Frank said, looking at the gentleman indicated. "I have
Mr. Goodenough's book on The Passerine Family at home."

"It is rather an expensive book too," the gentleman said.

"Yes, sir. My father bought it, not I. He was very fond of natural
history and taught me all I know. He had a capital library of books on
the subject, which Dr. Bateman is keeping for me, at Deal, till I have
some place where I can put them. I was thinking of getting them up
soon."

Mr. Goodenough asked him a few questions as to the books in the library,
and then put him through what Frank felt was a sort of examination, as
to his knowledge of their contents.

"Very good indeed!" Mr. Goodenough said. "I can see from your work here
that you are not only a very clever preparer, but a close student of
the habits and ways of wild creatures. But I was hardly prepared to
find your scientific knowledge so accurate and extensive. I was at first
rather inclined to hesitate when Sir James Ruthven made me a proposal
just now. I do so no longer. I am on the point of starting on an
expedition into the center of Africa in search of specimens of natural
history. He has proposed that you should accompany me, and has offered
to defray the cost of your outfit, and of your passage out and home. I
may be away for two years. Of course you would act as my assistant, and
have every opportunity of acquiring such knowledge as I possess. It
will be no pleasure trip, you know, but hard work, with all sorts of
hardships and, perhaps, some dangers. At the same time it would be a
fine opening in a career as a naturalist. Well, what do you say?"

"Oh, sir!" Frank exclaimed, clasping his hands, "it is of all things in
the world what I should like most. How can I thank you enough? And you,
Sir James, it is indeed kind and thoughtful of you."

"We are not quits yet by any means, Frank," Sir James said kindly. "I
am glad indeed to be able to forward your wishes; and now you must go
upstairs and be introduced to my wife. She is most anxious to see you.
She only returned home just before dinner."

Frank was taken upstairs, where he and his cases of birds were made
much of by Lady Ruthven and the ladies assembled in the drawing room.
He himself was so filled with delight at the prospect opened to him that
all thought of his dark tweed suit being out of place among the evening
dresses of the ladies and gentlemen, which had troubled him while he was
awaiting the summons to the dining room, quite passed out of his mind,
and he was able to do the honors of his cases naturally and without
embarrassment. At eleven o'clock he took his leave, promising to call
upon Mr. Goodenough, who was in lodgings in Jermyn Street, upon
the following morning, that gentleman having at Sir James' request
undertaken to procure all the necessary outfit.

"I feel really obliged to you, Sir James," Mr. Goodenough said when
Frank had left. "The lad has a genius for natural history, and he is
modest and self possessed. From what you tell me he has done rather
than apply for assistance to anyone, he must have plenty of pluck and
resolution, and will make a capital traveling companion. I feel quite
relieved, for it is so difficult to procure a companion who will exactly
suit. Clever naturalists are rare, and one can never tell how one will
get on with a man when you are thrown together. He may want to have his
own way, may be irritable and bad tempered, may in many respects be a
disagreeable companion. With that lad I feel sure of my ground. We shall
get on capitally together."

On his return to the shop Frank told his employer, whom he found sitting
up for him, the change which had taken place in his life, and the
opening which presented itself.

Mr. Horton expressed himself as sincerely glad.

"I shall miss you sadly," he said, "shall feel very dull for a time in
my solitary house here; but it is better for you that you should go, and
I never expected to keep you long. You were made for better things than
this shop, and I have no doubt that a brilliant career will be open
before you. You may not become a rich man, for natural history is
scarcely a lucrative profession, but you may become a famous one. Now,
my lad, go off to bed and dream of your future."

The next morning Frank went over, the first thing after breakfast, to
see his friend the porter. He, too, was very pleased to hear of Frank's
good fortune, but he was too busy to talk much to him, and promised that
he would come over that evening and hear all about it. Then Frank took
his way to Jermyn Street, and went with Mr. Goodenough to Silver's,
where an outfit suited for the climate of Central Africa was
ordered. The clothes were simple. Shirts made of thin soft flannel,
knickerbockers and Norfolk jackets of tough New Zealand flax, with
gaiters of the same material.

"There is nothing like it," Mr. Goodenough said; "it is the only stuff
which has a chance with the thorns of an African forest. Now you will
want a revolver, a Winchester repeating carbine, and a shotgun. My
outfit of boxes and cases is ready, so beyond two or three extra nets
and collecting boxes there is nothing farther to do in that way. For
your head you'd better have a very soft felt hat with a wide brim; with
a leaf or two inside they are as cool as anything, and are far lighter
and more comfortable than the helmets which many people use in the
tropics."

"As far as shooting goes," Frank said, "I think that I shall do much
better with my blowgun than with a regular one. I can hit a small bird
sitting nineteen times out of twenty."

"That is a good thing," Mr. Goodenough answered. "For shooting sitting
there is nothing better than a blowgun in skillful hands. They have
the advantage too of not breaking the skin; but for flying a shotgun is
infinitely more accurate. You will have little difficulty in learning to
shoot well, as your eye is already trained by the use of your blowpipe.
Will you want any knives for skinning?"

"No, sir. I have a plentiful stock of them."

"Are you going back to Eaton Square? I heard Sir James ask you to stop
there until we start."

"No," Frank replied; "I asked his permission to stay where I am till
tomorrow. I did not like to seem in a hurry to run away from Mr. Horton,
who has been extremely kind to me."

"Mind, you must come here in three days to have your things tried on,"
Mr. Goodenough said. "I particularly ordered that they are to be made
easy and comfortable, larger, indeed, than you absolutely require, but
we must allow for growing, and two years may make a difference of some
inches to you. Now, we have only to go to a bootmaker's and then we have
done."

When the orders were completed they separated, as Mr. Goodenough was
going down that afternoon to the country, and was not to return until
the day preceding that on which they were to sail. That evening Frank
had a long chat with his two friends, and was much pleased when the old
naturalist, who had taken a great fancy to the honest porter, offered
him the use of a room at his house, saying that he should be more
than paid by the pleasure of his company of an evening. The offer was
accepted, and Frank was glad to think that his two friends would be
sitting smoking their pipes together of an evening instead of being in
their solitary rooms. The next day he took up his residence in Eaton
square.



CHAPTER VIII: TO THE DARK CONTINENT


After spending two or three days going about London and enjoying himself
with his friend Dick, Frank started for Deal, where he was pleased to
find his sister well and happy. He bade goodbye to her, to the doctor,
and such of his schoolfellows as lived in Deal, to whom his start for
Central Africa was quite an event. Dr. Bateman handed over to him his
watch and chain and his blowgun, which he had taken care of for him,
also his skinning knives and instruments. The same evening he returned
to town, and spent the days very pleasantly until the afternoon came
when he was to depart. Then he bade farewell to his kind friends Sir
James and Lady Ruthven. Dick accompanied him in the cab to Euston
station, where a minute or two later Mr. Goodenough arrived. The luggage
was placed in a carriage, and Frank stood chatting with Dick at the
door, until the guard's cry, "Take your places!" caused him to jump into
the carriage. There was one more hearty handshake with his friend, and
then the train steamed out of the station.

It was midnight when they arrived at Liverpool, and at once went to bed
at the Station Hotel. On coming down in the morning Frank was astonished
at the huge heap of baggage piled up in the hall, but he was told that
this was of daily occurrence, as six or eight large steamers went
out from Liverpool every week for America alone, and that the great
proportion of the passengers came down, as they had done, on the
previous night, and slept at the Station hotel. Their own share of
the baggage was not large, consisting only of a portmanteau each, Mr.
Goodenough having sent down all his boxes two days previously. At
twelve o'clock they went on board the Niger, bound for the west coast
of Africa. This would carry them as far as Sierra Leone, whence Mr.
Goodenough intended to take passage in a sailing ship to his starting
point for the interior.

Frank enjoyed the voyage out intensely, and three days after sailing
they had left winter behind; four days later they were lying in the
harbor of Funchal.

"What a glorious place that would be to ramble about!" he said to Mr.
Goodenough.

"Yes, indeed. It would be difficult to imagine a greater contrast than
between this mountainous island of Madeira and the country which we are
about to penetrate. This is one of the most delightful climates in
the world, the west coast of Africa one of the worst. Once well in
the interior, the swamp fevers, which are the curse of the shores,
disappear, but African travelers are seldom long free from attacks of
fever of one kind or the other. However, quinine does wonders, and we
shall be far in the interior before the bad season comes on."

"You have been there before, you said, Mr. Goodenough?"

"Yes, I have been there twice, and have made excursions for short
distances from the coast. But this time we are going into a country
which may be said to be altogether unknown. One or two explorers have
made their way there, but these have done little towards examining
the natural productions of the country, and have been rather led by
inducements of sport than by those of research."

"Did you have fever, sir?"

"Two or three little attacks. A touch of African fever, during what is
called the good season, is of little more importance than a feverish
cold at home. It lasts two or three days, and then there is an end
of it. In the bad season the attacks are extremely violent, sometimes
carrying men off in a few hours. I consider, however, that dysentery is
a more formidable enemy than fever. However, even that, when properly
treated, should be combated successfully."

"Do you mean to hire the men to go with you at Sierra Leone?"

"Certainly not, Frank. The negroes of Sierra Leone are the most
indolent, the most worthless, and the most insolent in all Africa. It is
the last place in the world at which to hire followers. We must get them
at the Gaboon itself, and at each place we arrive at afterwards we take
on others, merely retaining one of the old lot to act as interpreter.
The natives, although they may allow white men to pass safely, are
exceedingly jealous of men of other tribes. I shall, however, take with
me, if possible, a body of, say six Houssas, who are the best fighting
negroes on the coast. These I shall take as a bodyguard; the carriers we
shall obtain from the different tribes we visit. The Kroomen, whom you
will see at Cape Palmas, are a magnificent set of men. They furnish
sailors and boatmen to all the ships trading on these shores. They are
strong, willing, and faithful, but they do not like going up into the
interior. Now we will land here and get a few hours' run on shore. There
are one or two peculiarities about Madeira which distinguish it from
other places. To begin with we will go for a ride in a bullock cart
without wheels."

"But surely it must jolt about terribly," Frank said.

"Not at all. The roads are paved with round, knubbly stones, such as
you see sometimes in narrow lanes and courts in seaside places at home.
These would not make smooth roads for wheeled vehicles; but here, as you
will see, the carts are placed on long runners like those of sledges.
These are greased, and the driver always has a pound of candles or so
hanging to the cart. When he thinks that the runners want greasing he
takes a candle, lays it down on the road in front of one of the runners,
and lets this pass over it. This greases it sufficiently, and it glides
along over the stones almost as smoothly as if passing over ice."

Frank thoroughly enjoyed his run on shore, but was surprised at the air
of listlessness which pervaded the inhabitants. Every one moved about in
the most dawdling fashion. The shopkeepers looked out from their doors
as if it were a matter of perfect indifference to them whether customers
called or not. The few soldiers in Portuguese uniform looked as if they
had never done a day's drill since they left home. Groups sat in chairs
under the trees and sipped cooling drinks or coffee. The very bullocks
which drew the gliding wagons seemed to move more slowly than bullocks
in other places. Frank and his friend drove in a wagon to the monastery,
high up on the mountain, and then took their places on a little hand
sledge, which was drawn by two men with ropes, who took them down the
sharp descent at a run, dashing round corners at a pace which made Frank
hold his breath. It took them but a quarter of an hour to regain the
town, while an hour and a half had been occupied in the journey out.

"I shall buy a couple of hammocks here," Mr. Goodenough said. "They are
made of knotted string, and are lighter and more comfortable than those
to be met with on the coast. I will get a couple of their cane chairs,
too, they are very light and comfortable."

In the afternoon they again embarked, and then steamed away for Sierra
Leone. After several days' passage, they arrived there at daylight, and
Frank was soon on deck.

"What a beautiful place!" he exclaimed. "It is not a bit what I
expected."

"No," Mr. Goodenough said; "no one looking at it could suppose that
bright pretty town had earned for itself the name of the white man's
grave."

Sierra Leone is built on a somewhat steep ascent about a mile up the
river. Freetown, as the capital is properly called, stands some fifty
feet or so above the sea, and the barracks upon a green hill three
hundred feet above it, a quarter of a mile back. The town, as seen
from the sea, consists entirely of the houses of the merchants and
shopkeepers, the government buildings, churches, and other public and
European buildings. The houses are all large and bright with yellow
tinged whitewash, and the place is completely embowered in palms and
other tropical trees. The native town lies hidden from sight among trees
on low ground to the left of the town. Everywhere around the town the
hills rise steep and high, wooded to the summit. Altogether there are
few more prettily situated towns than the capital of Sierra Leone.

"It is wonderful," Mr. Goodenough said, "that generations and
generations of Europeans have been content to live and die in that
wretchedly unhealthy place, when they might have established themselves
on those lofty hills but a mile away. There they would be far above the
malarious mists which rise from the low ground. The walk up and down to
their warehouses and offices here would be good for them, and there
is no reason why Sierra Leone should be an unhealthy residence.
Unfortunately the European in Africa speedily loses his vigor and
enterprise. When he first lands he exclaims, 'I certainly shall have a
bungalow built upon those hills;' but in a short time his energy leaves
him. He falls into the ways of the place, drinks a great deal more
spirits than is good for him, stops down near the water, and at the end
of a year or so, if he lives so long, is obliged to go back to Europe to
recruit.

"Look at the boats coming out."

A score of boats, each containing from ten to twelve men, approached the
ship. They remained at a short distance until the harbor master came on
board and pronounced the ship free from quarantine. Then the boats made
a rush to the side, and with shouts, yells, and screams of laughter
scrambled on board. Frank was at once astonished and amused at the noise
and confusion.

"What on earth do they all want?" he asked Mr. Goodenough.

"The great proportion of them don't want anything at all," Mr.
Goodenough answered, "but have merely come off for amusement. Some of
them come to be hired, some to carry luggage, others to tout for the
boatmen below. Look at those respectable negresses coming up the gangway
now. They are washerwomen, and will take our clothes ashore and bring
them on board again this afternoon before we start."

"It seems running rather a risk," Frank said.

"No, you will see they all have testimonials, and I believe it is
perfectly safe to intrust things to them."

Mr. Goodenough and Frank now prepared to go on shore, but this was not
easily accomplished, for there was a battle royal among the boatmen
whose craft thronged at the foot of the ladder. Each boat had about four
hands, three of whom remained on board her, while the fourth stood
upon the ladder and hauled at the painter to keep the boat to which he
belonged alongside. As out of the twenty boats lying there not more
than two could be at the foot of the ladder together, the conflict was a
desperate one. All the boatmen shouted, "Here, sar. This good boat, sar.
You come wid me, sar," at the top of their voices, while at the same
time they were hard at work pulling each other's boats back and pushing
their own forward. So great was the struggle as Frank and Mr. Goodenough
approached the gangway, so great the crowd upon the ladder, that one
side of the iron bar from which the ladder chains depend broke in two,
causing the ladder to drop some inches and giving a ducking to those
on the lower step, causing shouts of laughter and confusion. These rose
into perfect yells of amusement when one of the sailors suddenly loosed
the ladder rope, letting five or six of the negroes into the water up to
their necks. So intense was the appreciation by the sable mind of this
joke that the boatmen rolled about with laughter, and even the victims,
when they had once scrambled into their boats, yelled like people
possessed.

"They are just like children," Mr. Goodenough said. "They are always
either laughing or quarreling. They are good natured and passionate,
indolent, but will work hard for a time; clever up to a certain point,
densely stupid beyond. The intelligence of an average negro is about
equal to that of a European child of ten years old. A few, a very few,
go beyond this, but these are exceptions, just as Shakespeare was an
exception to the ordinary intellect of an Englishman. They are fluent
talkers, but their ideas are borrowed. They are absolutely without
originality, absolutely without inventive power. Living among white men,
their imitative faculties enable them to attain a considerable amount
of civilization. Left alone to their own devices they retrograde into a
state little above their native savagery."

This was said as, after having fixed upon a boat and literally fought
their way into it, they were rowed towards the shore. On landing Frank
was delighted with the greenness of everything. The trees were heavy
with luxuriant foliage, the streets were green with grass as long and
bright as that in a country lane in England. The hill on which the
barracks stand was as bright a green as you would see on English slopes
after a wet April, while down the streets clear streams were running.
The town was alive with a chattering, laughing, good natured, excitable
population, all black, but with some slight variation in the dinginess
of the hue.

Never was there such a place for fun as Sierra Leone. Every one was
brimful of it. Every one laughed when he or she spoke, and every one
standing near joined freely in the conversation and laughed too. Frank
was delighted with the display of fruit in the market, which is probably
unequaled in the world. Great piles there were of delicious big oranges,
green but perfectly sweet, and of equally refreshing little green limes;
pineapples and bananas, green, yellow, and red, guava, and custard
apples, alligator pears, melons, and sour sops, and many other native
fruits.

Mr. Goodenough purchased a large basket of fruit, which they took with
them on board the ship. The next morning they started down the coast.
They passed Liberia, the republic formed of liberated slaves, and of
negroes from America, and brought up a mile or two off Monrovia, its
capital. The next day they anchored off Cape Palmas, the headquarters of
the Kroomen. A number of these men came off in their canoes, and caused
great amusement to Frank and the other passengers by their fun and
dexterity in the management of their little craft. These boats
are extremely light, being hollowed out until little thicker than
pasteboard, and even with two Kroomen paddling it is difficult for a
European to sit in them, so extremely crank are they. Light as they are
the Krooboy can stand up and dive from his boat without upsetting it
if he take time; but in the hurry and excitement of diving for coppers,
when half a dozen men would leap overboard together, the canoes were
frequently capsized. The divers, however, thought nothing of these
mishaps, righting the boats and getting in again without difficulty.
Splendidly muscular fellows they were. Indeed, except among the Turkish
hamals it is doubtful whether such powerful figures could be found
elsewhere.

"They would be grand fellows to take with us, Mr. Goodenough," Frank
said.

"Yes, if they were as plucky as they are strong, one could wish for
nothing better; but they are notorious cowards, and no offer would tempt
them to penetrate into such a country as that into which we are going."

Stopping a few hours at Cape Coast Castle, Accra, and other ports they
at last arrived at Bonny.

"It is not tempting in appearance," Frank said, "certainly."

"No," Mr. Goodenough replied, "this is one of the most horribly
unhealthy spots in Africa. As you see, the white traders do not dare to
live on shore, but take up their residence in those old floating hulks
which are thatched over, and serve as residences and storehouses. I have
a letter from one of the African merchants in London, and we shall take
up our abode on board his hulk until we get one of the coasting steamers
to carry us down. I hope it will not be many days."

The very bulky luggage was soon transferred to the hulk, where Frank
and Mr. Goodenough took up their residence. The agent in charge was very
glad to receive them, as any break in the terrible monotony of such a
life is eagerly welcomed. He was a pale, unhealthy looking man, and had
just recovered from an unusually bad attack of fever. Like most of the
traders on the coast he had an immense faith in the power of spirits.

"It is the ruin of them," Mr. Goodenough said to Frank when they were
alone. "Five out of six of the men here ruin their constitutions with
spirits, and then fall an easy prey to the fever."

"But you have brought spirits with you, Mr. Goodenough. I saw some of
the cases were labeled Brandy.'"

"Brandy is useful when taken as a medicine, and in moderation. A little
mixed with water at the end of a long day of exhausting work acts as a
restorative, and frequently enables a worn out man to sleep. But I have
brought the brandy you see for the use of others rather than myself.
One case is of the very best spirits for our own use. The rest is
common stuff and is intended as presents. Our main drink will be tea and
chocolate. These are invaluable for the traveler. I have, besides, large
quantities of calico, brass stair rods, beads, and powder. These are the
money of Africa, and pass current everywhere. With these we shall pay
our carriers and boatmen, with these purchase the right of way through
the various tribes we shall meet. Moreover it is almost necessary in
Africa to pass as traders. The people perfectly understand that white
men come here to trade; but if we said that our object was to shoot
birds and beasts, and to catch butterflies and insects, they would not
believe us in the slightest degree, but would suspect us of all sorts of
hidden designs. Now we will go ashore and pay our respects to the king."

"Do you mean to say that there is a king in that wretched looking
village?" Frank asked in surprise.

"Kings are as plentiful as peas in Africa," Mr. Goodenough said, "but
you will not see much royal state."

Frank was disappointed indeed upon landing. Sierra Leone had given him
an exalted idea of African civilization, but this was at once dispelled
by the appearance of Bonny. The houses were constructed entirely of
black mud, and the streets were narrow and filthy beyond description.
The palace was composed of two or three hovels, surrounded by a mud
wall. In one of these huts the king was seated. Mr. Goodenough and Frank
were introduced by the agent, who had gone ashore with them, and His
Majesty, who was an almost naked negro, at once invited them to join
him in the meal of which he was partaking. As a matter of courtesy
they consented, and plates were placed before them, heaped with a stew
consisting of meat, vegetables, and hot peppers. While the meal went on
the king asked Mr. Goodenough what he had come to the coast for, and
was disappointed to find that he was not going to set up as a trader at
Bonny, as it was the custom for each newcomer to make a handsome present
to him. When the meal was over they took their leave.

"Do you know what you have been eating?" the agent asked Frank.

"Not in the least," Frank said. "It was not bad; what was it?"

"It was dog flesh," the agent answered.

"Not really!" Frank exclaimed with an uncomfortable sensation of
sickness.

"Yes, indeed," the agent replied. "Dog's meat is considered a luxury in
Bonny, and dogs are bred specially for the table."

"You'll eat stranger things than that before you've done, Frank," Mr.
Goodenough continued, "and will find them just as good, and in many
cases better, than those to which you are accustomed. It is a strange
thing why in Europe certain animals should be considered fit to eat
and certain animals altogether rejected, and this without the slightest
reason. Horses and donkeys are as clean feeders as oxen and sheep. Dogs,
cats, and rats are far cleaner than pigs and ducks. The flesh of the
one set is every bit as good as that of the other, and yet the poorest
peasant would turn up his nose at them. Here sheep and oxen, horses and
donkeys, will not live, and the natives very wisely make the most of the
animals which can do so."

Frank was soon tired of Bonny, and was glad to hear that they would
start the next day for Fernando Po in a little steamer called the
Retriever. The island of Fernando Po is a very beautiful one, the peak
rising ten thousand feet above the sea, and wooded to the very summit.
Were the trees to some extent cleared away the island might be very
healthy. As it is, it is little better than the mainland.

There was not much to see in the town of Clarence, whose population
consists entirely of traders from Sierra Leone, Kroomen, etc. The
natives, whose tribal name is Adiza, live in little villages in the
interior. They are an extremely primitive people, and for the most part
dispense altogether with clothing. The island belongs to Spain, and is
used as a prison, the convicts being kept in guard ships in the harbor.
After a stay of three days there Mr. Goodenough and Frank took passage
in a sailing ship for the Gaboon.



CHAPTER IX: THE START INLAND


After the comforts of a fine steamer the accommodation on board the
little trader was poor indeed. The vessel smelt horribly of palm oil
and was alive with cockroaches. These, however, Mr. Goodenough and Frank
cared little for, as they brought up their mattresses and slept on deck.
Upon their voyage out from England Frank, as well as several of the
other passengers, had amused himself by practicing with his rifle at
empty bottles thrown overboard, and other objects, and having nothing
else to do now, he resumed the practice, accustoming himself also to the
use of his revolver, the mark being a small log of wood swung from the
end of a yard.

"I told you," Mr. Goodenough said, "that your skill with the blowgun
would prove useful to you in shooting. You are as good a shot as I
am, and I am considered a fair one. I have no doubt that with a little
practice you will succeed as well with your double barrel. The shooting
of birds on the wing is a knack which seems to come naturally to some
people, while others, practice as they will, never become good shots."

The ship touched twice upon its way down to the Gaboon. Once at
the Malimba river, the second time at Botauga, the latter being the
principal ivory port in equatorial Africa.

"Shall we meet with any elephants, do you think?" Frank asked his
friend.

"In all probability," Mr. Goodenough said. "Elephant shooting, of
course, does not come within our line of action, and I should not go at
all out of my way for them. Still, if we meet them we will shoot them.
The ivory is valuable and will help to pay our expenses, while the
meat is much prized by the natives, who will gladly assist us in
consideration of the flesh."

On the sixteenth day after leaving Fernando Po they entered the Gaboon.
On the right hand bank were the fort and dwellings of the French. A
little farther up stood the English factories; and upon a green hill
behind, the church, school, and houses of an American mission. On the
left bank was the wattle town of King William, the sable monarch of the
Gaboon. Mr. Goodenough at once landed and made inquiries for a house. He
succeeded in finding one, consisting of three rooms, built on piles, an
important point in a country in which disease rises from the soil. At
Bonny Mr. Goodenough had, with the assistance of the agent, enlisted six
Houssas. These people live much higher up on the coast, but they wander
a good deal and may be met with in most of the ports. The men had formed
a guard in one of the hulks, but trade having been bad the agent had
gone home, and they were glad to take service with Mr. Goodenough. They
spoke a few words of English, and, like the Kroomen, rejoiced in names
which had been given them by sailors. They were called Moses, Firewater,
Ugly Tom, Bacon, Tatters, and King John. They were now for the first
time set to work, and the goods were soon transported from the brig to
the house.

"Is anything the matter with you, Frank?" Mr. Goodenough asked that
evening.

"I don't know, sir. My head feels heavy, somehow, and I am giddy."

Mr. Goodenough felt his pulse.

"You have got your first touch of fever," he said. "I wonder you've been
so long without it. You had better lie down at once."

A quarter of an hour afterwards Frank was seized with an overpowering
heat, every vein appearing to be filled with liquid fire; but his skin,
instead of being, as usual, in a state of perspiration, was dry and
hard.

"Now, Frank, sit up and drink this. It's only some mustard and salt and
water. I have immense faith in an emetic."

The draught soon took its effect. Frank was violently sick, and the
perspiration broke in streams from him.

"Here is a cup of tea," Mr. Goodenough said; "drink that and you will
find that there will be little the matter with you in the morning."

Frank awoke feeling weak, but otherwise perfectly well. Mr. Goodenough
administered a strong dose of quinine, and after he had had his
breakfast he felt quite himself again.

"Now," Mr. Goodenough said, "we will go up to the factories and mission
and try and find a really good servant. Everything depends upon that."

In a short time an engagement was made with a negro of the name of
Ostik. He was a Mpongwe man, that being the name of the tribe on the
coast. He spoke English fairly, as well as two or three of the native
languages. He had before made a journey some distance into the interior
with a white traveler. He was a tall and powerfully built negro, very
ugly, but with a pleasant and honest face. Frank felt at once that he
should like him.

"You quite understand," Mr. Goodenough explained, "we are going through
the Fan country, far into the interior. We may be away from the coast
for many months."

"Me ready, sar," the man answered with a grin. "Mak no odds to Ostik. He
got no wife, no piccanniny. Ostik very good cook. Master find good grub;
he catch plenty of beasts."

"You're not afraid, Ostik, because it is possible we may have trouble on
the way?"

"Me not very much afraid, massa. You good massa to Ostik he no run away
if fightee come; but no good fight whole tribe."

"I hope not to have any fighting at all, Ostik; but as I have got six
Houssas with me who will all carry breech loading guns, I think we
should be a match for a good sized tribe, if necessary."

Ostik looked thoughtful. "More easy, massa, go without Houssas," he
said. "Black man not often touch white traveler."

"No, Ostik, that is true; but I must take with me trade goods for paying
my way and hiring carriers, and if alone I should be at the mercy of
every petty chief who chose to plunder and delay me. I am going as a
peaceful traveler, ready to pay my way, and to make presents to the
different kings through whose territories I may pass. But I do not
choose to put myself at the mercy of any of them. I do not say that
eight men armed with breech loaders could defeat a whole tribe; but they
would be so formidable, that any of these negro kings would probably
prefer taking presents and letting us pass peacefully to trying to rob
us. The first thing to do, will be to hire one large canoe, or two if
necessary. The men must agree to take us up into the Fan country, as far
as the rapids on the Gaboon. Then we shall take carriers there, and the
boat can return by itself. These are the things which will have to go."

The baggage consisted of ten large tin cases, each weighing about eighty
pounds. These contained cotton cloths, powder, beads, tea, chocolate,
sugar, and biscuits. There were in addition three bundles of stair rods,
each about the same weight as the boxes. These were done up in canvas.
There was also a tent made of double canvas weighing fifty pounds, and
two light folding tressel beds weighing fifteen pounds apiece. Thus
fourteen men would be required as carriers, besides some for plantains
and other provisions, together with the portmanteaus, rugs, and
waterproof sheets of the travelers. There were besides six great chests
made of light iron. Four of these were fitted with trays with cork
bottoms, for insects. The other two were for the skins of birds. All the
boxes and cases had strips of India rubber where the lids fitted down,
in order to keep out both damp and the tiny ants which are the plague of
naturalists in Africa.

Four or five days were occupied in getting together a crew, for the
natives had an abject fear of entering the country of the cannibal
Fans. Mr. Goodenough promised that they should not be obliged to proceed
unless a safe conduct for their return was obtained from the King of the
Fans. A large canoe was procured, sufficient to convey the whole party.
Twelve paddlers were hired, and the goods taken down and arranged in the
boat. The Houssas had been, on landing, furnished with their guns,
which were Snider rifles, had been instructed in the breech loading
arrangement, and had been set to work to practice at a mark at a hundred
and fifty yards distance--the stump of an old tree, some five feet
in height, serving for the purpose. The men were delighted with the
accuracy of their pieces and the rapidity at which they could be
fired. Mr. Goodenough impressed upon them that unless attacked at close
quarters, and specially ordered to fire fast, they must aim just as
slowly and deliberately as if using their old guns, for that in so
long a journey ammunition would be precious, and must, therefore, on no
account whatever, be wasted. In the boxes were six thousand rounds of
ammunition, a thousand for each gun, besides the ammunition for the
rifles and fowling pieces of Mr. Goodenough and Frank.

In order to render the appearance of his followers as imposing as
possible, Mr. Goodenough furnished each of the Houssas with a pair of
trousers made of New Zealand flax, reaching to their knees. These he had
brought from England with him. They were all found to be too large, but
the men soon set to work with rough needles and thread and took them in.
In addition to these, each man was furnished with a red sash, which went
several times round the waist, and served to keep the trousers up and to
give a gay aspect to the dress. The Houssas were much pleased with their
appearance. All of them carried swords in addition to the guns, as in
their own country they are accustomed to fight with these weapons.

They started early in the morning, and after four hours' paddling passed
Konig Island, an abandoned Dutch settlement. Here they stopped for an
hour or two, and then the sea breeze sprang up, a sail was hoisted, and
late at night they passed a French guardship placed to mark the boundary
of that settlement at a point where a large tributary called the Boqui
runs into it. Here is a little island called Nenge Nenge, formerly a
missionary station, where the natives are still Christians. At this
place the canoe was hauled ashore. The Houssas had already been
instructed in the method of pitching the tent, and in a very few minutes
this was erected. It was a double poled tent, some ten feet square,
and there was a waterproof sheet large enough to cover the whole of the
interior, thus preventing the miasma from arising from the ground within
it. The beds were soon opened and fixed, two of the large cases formed
a table and two smaller ones did service as chairs. A lamp was lit, and
Frank was charmed with the comfort and snugness of the abode.

The men's weapons were fastened round one of the poles to keep them from
the damp night air. Ostik had at once set to work on landing, leaving
the Houssas to pitch the tent. A fire was soon blazing and a kettle and
saucepans suspended over it. Rice was served out to the men, with the
addition of some salt meat, of which sufficient had been purchased from
the captain of the brig to last throughout the journey in the canoe. The
men were all in high spirits at this addition to their fare, which was
more than had been bargained for, and their songs rose merrily round the
fire in the night air.

In the morning, after breakfast, they again took their places in the
canoe. For twelve miles they paddled, the tide at first assisting
them, but after this the water from the mountains ahead overpowered it.
Presently they arrived at the first Fan village, called Olenga, which
they reached six hours after starting. The natives crowded round as the
canoe approached, full of curiosity and excitement, for never but once
had a white man passed up the river. These Fans differed widely from
the coast negroes. Their hair was longer and thicker, their figures were
slight, their complexion coffee colored, and their projecting upper jaws
gave them a rabbit mouthed appearance. They wore coronets on their heads
adorned with the red tail feathers of the common gray parrot. Most of
the men had beards, which were divided in the middle, red and white
beads being strung up the tips. Some wore only a strip of goatskin
hanging from the waist, or the skin of a tigercat, while others had
short petticoats made of cloth woven from the inner bark of a tree. The
travelers were led to the hut of the chief, where they were surrounded
by a mob of the cannibals. The Houssas had been strictly enjoined to
leave their guns in the bottom of the canoe, as Mr. Goodenough desired
to avoid all appearance of armed force. The chief demanded of Ostik what
these two white men wanted here, and whether they had come to trade.
Ostik replied that the white men were going up the river into the
country beyond to shoot elephants and buy ivory, that they did not want
to trade for logwood or oil, but that they would give presents to the
chiefs of the Fan villages. A score of cheap Birmingham muskets had been
brought from England by Mr. Goodenough for this purpose. One of these
was now bestowed upon the chief, together with some powder and ball,
three bright cotton handkerchiefs, some gaudy glass beads, and
two looking glasses for his wives. This was considered perfectly
satisfactory.

The crowd was very great, and at Mr. Goodenough's dictation Ostik
informed the chief that if the white men were left quiet until the
evening they would show his people many strange things. On the receipt
of this information the crowd dispersed. But when at sunset the two
travelers took a turn through the village, the excitement was again very
great. The men stood their ground and stared at them, but the women and
children ran screaming away to hide themselves. The idea of the people
of Central Africa of the whites is that they are few in number, that
they live at the bottom of the sea, and are possessed of great wealth,
but that they have no palm oil or logwood, and are, therefore, compelled
to come to land to trade for these articles. They believe that the
strange clothes they wear are manufactured from the skins of sea beasts.

When night fell Mr. Goodenough fastened a sheet against the outside of
the chief's hut, and then placed a magic lantern in position ten paces
from it. The Fans were then invited to gather round and take their seats
upon the ground. A cry of astonishment greeted the appearance of the
bright disk. This was followed by a wilder yell when this was darkened,
and an elephant bearing some men sitting on his back was seen to cross
the house. The men leaped to their feet and seized their spears. The
women screamed, and Ostik, who was himself somewhat alarmed, had great
difficulty in calming their fears and persuading them to sit down
again, assuring them that they would see many wonderful things, but that
nothing would hurt them.

The next view was at first incomprehensible to many of them. It was a
ship tossing in a stormy sea; but some of those present had been down to
the mouth of the river, and these explained to the others the nature
of the phenomenon. In all there were twenty slides, all of which were
provided with movable figures; the last two being chromatropes, whose
dancing colors elicited screams of delight from the astonished natives.
This concluded the performance, but for hours after it was over the
village rang with a perfect Babel of shouts, screams, and chatter.
The whole thing was to the Fans absolutely incomprehensible, and their
astonishment was equalled by their awe at the powers of the white men.

The next two days they remained at Olenga, as word was sent up to
Itchongue, the next town, asking the chief there for leave to come
forward. The people had now begun to get over their first timidity,
and when Frank went out for a walk after breakfast he was somewhat
embarrassed by the women and girls crowding round him, feeling his
clothes and touching his hands and face to assure themselves that these
felt like those of human beings. He afforded them huge delight by taking
off his Norfolk jacket and pulling up the sleeves of his shirt to show
them that his arms were the same color as his hands, and so elated were
they with this exhibition that it was with great difficulty that he
withstood their entreaties that he would disrobe entirely. Indeed, Ostik
had at last to come to his rescue and carry him off from the laughing
crowd by which he was surrounded.

After dinner Mr. Goodenough invited the people to sit down in a vast
circle holding each other's hands. He then told them that he should at
a word make them all jump to their feet. Then taking out a small but
powerful galvanic battery, he arranged it and placed wires into the
hands of the two men nearest to him in the great circle.

"Now," he said, "when I clap my hands you will find that you are all
obliged to jump up."

He gave the signal. Frank turned on the battery, and in an instant the
two hundred men and women, with a wild shriek, either leapt to their
feet or rolled backward on the ground. In another minute not a native
was to be seen, with the exception of the chief, who had not been
included in the circle. The latter, at Mr. Goodenough's request, shouted
loudly to his subjects to return, for that the white men would do them
no harm; but it was a long time before, slowly and cautiously, they
crept back again. When they had reassembled Mr. Goodenough showed them
several simple but astonishing chemical experiments, which stupefied
them with wonder; and concluded with three or four conjuring tricks,
which completed their amazement. A long day's paddling took them to
Itchongue, where they were as well received as at Olenga. Here they
stopped for two days, and the magic lantern was again brought out, and
the other tricks repeated with a success equal to that which they had
before obtained. As another day's paddling would take them to the rapids
Mr. Goodenough now set up a negotiation for obtaining a sufficient
number of carriers. After great palaver, and the presentation of three
guns to the chief to obtain his assistance, thirty men were engaged.
These were each to receive a yard of calico or one brass stair rod a
day, and were to proceed with the party until such time as they could
procure carriers from another tribe.

The new recruits were taken up in another canoe. Several villages were
passed on the way. The river became a mere rapid, against which
the canoes with difficulty made their way. They had now entered the
mountains which rose steeply above them, embowered in wood. Two days
of severe work took them to the foot of the falls. Here the canoes were
unloaded. The men hired on the coast received their pay, and turned
the boat's head down stream. The other canoe accompanied it, and the
travelers remained with their bodyguard of Houssas and their carriers.

"Now," Mr. Goodenough said, "we are fairly embarked on our journey, and
we will commence operations at once. I have heard the cries of a great
many birds which are strange to me today, and I expect that we shall
have a good harvest. We may remain here for some time. The first thing
to do is to find food for our followers. We have got six sacks of rice,
but it will never do to let our men depend solely upon these. They would
soon come to an end."

"But how are we to feed forty people?" Frank asked in astonishment.

"I pointed out to you today," Mr. Goodenough said, "the tracks of
hippopotami in various places. One of these beasts will feed the men
for nearly a week. There were, too, numbers of alligators' eggs on the
banks, and these creatures make by no means bad eating. Your rifle will
be of no use against such animals as these. You had better take one of
the Sniders. I have some explosive shells which will fit them. My own
double barrelled rifle is of the same bore."

After dinner Mr. Goodenough told two of the Houssas to accompany them
with their rifles, together with three or four of the Fans. He made his
way down the stream to a point where the hills receded, and where he had
observed a great many marks of the river horses. As they approached
the spot they heard several loud snorts, and making their way along as
quietly as possible they saw two of the great beasts standing in the
stream. At this point it widened a good deal and was shallow and quite
near the bank. The Fans had been told to stay behind directly the
snorting was heard, and Mr. Goodenough and Frank, rifle in hand, crept
forward, with the Houssas as still and noiseless as cats close behind
them.



CHAPTER X: LOST IN THE FOREST


The hippopotami were playing together, floundering in the shallow water,
and the noise they made prevented their hearing the stealthy approach of
their enemies.

"You take the one nearest shore, Frank, I will take the other. Aim at
the forehead between the eyes. I will make a slight sound to attract
their attention."

Frank knelt on one knee and took steady aim. Mr. Goodenough then gave
a shout, and the two animals turning their heads stood staring at
the foliage, scarce a dozen yards away, in which the travelers were
concealed. The guns flashed at the same moment, and as if struck by
lightning the hippopotami fell in the stream. The explosive balls had
both flown true to the mark, invariably a fatal one in the case of the
river horse. Frank as he fired had taken another rifle which the Houssas
held in readiness for him, but there was no occasion for its use.
The Fans came running up, and on seeing the great beasts lying in the
stream, gave a shout of joy.

"That will do for this evening," Mr. Goodenough said. "They are large
beasts, and will give food enough for a week or ten days."

They then returned to the camp which, at the news brought by one of the
Fans, had already been deserted. Before the natives retired to sleep
the hippopotami had been cut up and carried to the camp. Portions
were already frizzling over the fires, other parts set aside for the
consumption of the next two days, and the rest cut up in strips to be
dried in the sun. The tongue of one was cut up and fried as a great
luxury for the white men's supper by Ostik. It is not often that the
natives of equatorial Africa are able to indulge in meat, and the joy
of the Fans at this abundant supply, and the prospect afforded them of
further good eating, raised their spirits to the highest extent.

Next morning at daybreak Mr. Goodenough and Frank set out from the camp.
Each carried a double barreled gun, and was accompanied by one of the
Houssas carrying his rifle and a butterfly net, and when three hours
later they returned to the camp for breakfast and compared their spoils
they found that an excellent beginning had been made. Nearly a score of
birds, of which several were very rare, and five were pronounced by
Mr. Goodenough to be entirely new, had been shot, and many butterflies
captured. Frank had been most successful in this respect, as he had come
across a small clearing in which were several deserted huts. This was
just the place in which butterflies delight, for, although many kinds
prefer the deep shades of the forest, by far the greater portion love
the bright sunlight.

After breakfast they again set out, Frank this time keeping along the
edge of the stream, where he had observed many butterflies as he came
up, and where many birds of the kingfisher family had also been seen. He
had been very successful, and was walking along by the edge of the water
with his eyes fixed upon the trees above, where he had a minute before
heard the call of a bird, when he was startled by a shout from the
Houssa behind him. He involuntarily sprang back, and it was well he did
so; for on the instant something swept by within an inch or two of his
head. Looking round he saw, at the edge of the stream below him, a huge
alligator. This had struck at him with its tail--the usual manner in
which the alligator supplies itself with food--and had it not been for
the warning cry of the Houssa, would have knocked him into the stream.
Its mouth was open and Frank, as if by instinct, fired the contents of
both barrels into its throat. The animal rolled over on to its back
in the water and then turned as if to struggle to regain the bank. The
Houssa, however, had run up, and, placing the muzzle of his gun within a
foot of its eye, fired, and the creature rolled over dead, and was swept
away by the stream.

The Houssa gave a loud shout which was answered in the distance. He
then shouted two or three words, and turning to Frank said: "Men get
alligator," and proceeded on his way without concerning himself further
in the matter.

On his return to camp in the evening Frank found that the alligator had
been discovered and fished out, and that its steaks were by no means bad
eating. Frank told Mr. Goodenough of the narrow escape he had had, and
the latter pointed out to him the necessity of always keeping his eyes
on the watch.

"Alligators frequently carry off the native women when engaged in
washing," he said, "and almost invariably strike them, in the first
place, into the river with a blow of their tails. Once in the water they
are carried off, drowned, and eaten at leisure. Sometimes, indeed,
a woman may escape with the loss of a foot or arm, but this is the
exception."

"What is the best thing to do when so attacked?" Frank asked. "I don't
mean to be caught napping again, still it is as well to know what to do
if I am."

"Men when so attacked have been known frequently to escape by thrusting
their thumbs or fingers into the creature's eyes. If it can be done the
alligator is sure to lose his hold, but it demands quickness and great
presence of mind. When a reptile is tearing at one's leg, and hurrying
one along under water, you can see that the nerve required to keep
perfectly cool, to feel for the creature's eyes, and to thrust your
finger into them is very great. The best plan, Frank, distinctly is to
keep out of their reach altogether."

After remaining for a fortnight at their camp they prepared for a move.
Another hippopotamus was killed, cut up and dried, and the flesh added
to the burdens. Then the tent was struck and they proceeded farther into
the mountains. Two days later they halted again, the site being chosen
beside a little mountain rivulet. They were now very high up in
the hills, Mr. Goodenough expecting to meet with new varieties of
butterflies and insects at this elevation. They had scarcely pitched
their camp when Frank exclaimed:

"Surely, Mr. Goodenough, I can hear some dogs barking! I did not know
that the native dogs barked."

"Nor do they. They may yelp and howl, but they never bark like European
dogs. What you hear is the bark of some sort of monkey or baboon."

This opinion was at once confirmed by the Fans.

"We will sally out with our guns at once," Mr. Goodenough said.

"I don't like the thought of shooting monkeys," Frank muttered, as he
took up his Winchester carbine.

"They are very excellent eating," Mr. Goodenough continued, "superior in
my opinion, and, indeed, in that of most travelers, to any other meat.
We shall meet with no other kind of creature fit for food up here. The
birds, indeed, supply us amply, but for the men it is desirable that we
should obtain fresh meat when we have the chance. These baboons are very
mischievous creatures, and are not to be attacked with impunity. Let
four of the Houssas with their guns come with us."

Following the direction of the sounds they had heard, the travelers came
upon a troupe of great baboons. It was a curious sight. The males were
as big as large dogs, some were sitting sunning themselves on rocks,
others were being scratched by the females. Many of these had a baby
monkey clinging on their necks, while others were playing about in all
directions.

"I'd rather not shoot at them, Mr. Goodenough," Frank said.

"You will be glad enough to eat them," Mr. Goodenough answered, and
selecting a big male he fired. The creature fell dead. The others all
sprang to their feet. The females and little ones scampered off. The
males, with angry gestures, rushed upon their assailants, barking,
showing their teeth, and making menacing gestures. Mr. Goodenough fired
again, and Frank now, seeing that they were likely to be attacked, also
opened fire. Six of the baboons were killed before the others abstained
from the attack and went screaming after the females. The dead baboons
were brought down, skinned, and two were at once roasted, the others
hung up to trees. It required a great effort on Frank's part to overcome
his repugnance to tasting these creatures, but, when he did so, he
admitted that the meat was excellent.

That night they were disturbed by a cry of terror from the men. Seizing
their rifles they ran out.

"There are two leopards, sar," Ostik said; "they have smelt the
monkeys."

The shouts scared the creatures away, and the natives kept up a great
fire till morning.

"We must get the skins if we can," Mr. Goodenough said. "The skins of
the equatorial leopard are rare. If we can get them both they will make
a fine group for you to stuff when you get back, Frank."

"Are you thinking of following their trail?" Frank asked.

"That would be useless," Mr. Goodenough answered. "In soft swampy ground
we might do so, but up here it would be out of the question. We must set
a bait for them tonight, but be careful while you are out today. They
have probably not gone far from the camp, and they are very formidable
beasts. They not unfrequently attack and kill the natives."

The Fans were much alarmed at the neighborhood of the leopards, and none
would leave the camp during the day. Two of the Houssas were left on
guard, although Mr. Goodenough felt sure that the animals would
not attempt to carry off any meat in the daylight, and two Houssas
accompanied each of the travelers while out in search of butterflies.

Nothing was heard of the leopards during the day. At nightfall a portion
of one of the monkeys was roasted and hung up, so as to swing within
four feet of the ground from the arm of a tree, a hundred yards from the
camp. Mr. Goodenough and Frank took their seats in another tree a short
distance off. The night was fine and the stars clear and bright. The
tree on which the meat hung stood somewhat alone, so that sufficient
light penetrated from above to enable any creatures approaching the
bait to be seen. Instead of his little Winchester, Frank had one of the
Sniders with explosive bullets. The Houssas were told to keep a sharp
watch in camp, in case the leopards, approaching from the other side,
might be attracted by the smell of meat there, rather than by the bait.
The Fans needed no telling to induce them to keep up great fires all
night.

Soon after dark the watchers heard a roaring in the forest. It came from
the other side of the camp.

"That is unlucky," Mr. Goodenough said. "We have pitched on the
wrong side. However, they will probably be deterred by the fire from
approaching the camp, and will wander round and round: so we may hope to
hear of them before long."

In answer to the roar of the leopards the natives kept up a continued
shouting. For some hours the roaring continued at intervals, sometimes
close at hand, sometimes at a considerable distance. Frank had some
difficulty in keeping awake, and was beginning to wish that the leopards
would move off altogether. Two or three times he had nearly dozed off,
and his rifle had almost slipped from his hold. All at once he was
aroused by a sharp nudge from his companion. Fixing his eyes on the bait
he made out something immediately below it. Directly afterwards
another creature stole forward. They were far less distinct than he had
expected.

"You take the one to the left," Mr. Goodenough whispered; "Now!"

They fired together. Two tremendous roars were heard. One of the
leopards immediately bounded away. The other rolled over and over, and
then, recovering its feet, followed its companion, Mr. Goodenough firing
his second barrel after him.

"I'm afraid you missed altogether, Frank," he said.

"I don't think so, sir. I fancied I saw the flash of the shell as it
struck him, but where, I have not the remotest idea. I could not make
him out clear enough. It was merely a dim shape, and I fired as well as
I could at the middle of it.

"Shall we go back to the camp now?" Frank asked.

"Yes, we can safely do so. You can tell by the sound of the roars that
they are already some distance away. There is little chance of their
returning tonight. In the morning we will follow them. There is sure to
be blood, and the natives will have no difficulty in tracking them."

The rest of the night passed quietly, although roars and howling could
be heard from time to time in the distance.

Early in the morning they started with the Houssas.

"We must be careful today," Mr. Goodenough said, "for a wounded leopard
is a really formidable beast."

There was no difficulty in taking up the traces.

"One of them at least must be hard hit," Mr. Goodenough remarked; "there
are traces of blood every yard."

They had gone but a short distance when one of the Houssas gave a sudden
exclamation, and pointed to something lying at the edge of a clump of
bushes.

"Leopard," he said.

"Yes, there is one of them, sure enough. I think it's dead, but we
cannot be too cautious. Advance very carefully, Frank, keeping ready to
fire instantly."

They moved forward slowly in a body, but their precaution was
unnecessary. There was no movement in the spotted, tawny skin as they
advanced, and when they came close they could see that the leopard was
really dead. He had been hit by two bullets. The first had struck his
shoulder and exploded there, inflicting so terrible a wound that it was
wonderful he had been able to move afterwards. The other had struck him
on the back, near the tail, and had burst inside him. Frank on seeing
the nature of the wounds was astonished at the tenacity of life shown by
the animal.

"I wonder whether I hit the other," he said.

"I have no doubt at all about it," Mr. Goodenough answered, "although I
did not think so before. It seemed to me that I only heard the howls of
one animal in the night, and thought it was the one I had hit. But as
this fellow must have died at once, it is clear that the cries were made
by the other."

A sharp search was now set up for the tracks of the other leopard, the
Houssas going back to the tree and taking it up anew. They soon found
traces of blood in a line diverging from that followed by the other
animal. For an hour they followed this, great care being required, as
at times no spots of blood could be seen for a considerable distance. At
last they seemed to lose it altogether. Mr. Goodenough and Frank stood
together, while the Houssas, scattered round, were hunting like well
trained dogs for a sign. Suddenly there was a sharp roar, and from
the bough of a tree close by a great body sprang through the air and
alighted within a yard of Frank. The latter, in his surprise, sprang
back, stumbled and fell, but in an instant the report of the two barrels
of Mr. Goodenough's rifle rang out. In a moment Frank was on his feet
again ready to fire. The leopard, however, lay dead, its skull almost
blown off.

"You have had another narrow escape," Mr. Goodenough said. "I see that
your ball last night broke one of his hind legs. That spoilt his spring.
Had it not been for that he would undoubtedly have reached you, and a
blow with his paw, given with all his weight and impetus, would probably
have killed you on the spot. We ought not to have stood near a tree
strong enough to bear him when in pursuit of a wounded leopard. They
will always take to trees if they can, and you see this was a very
suitable one for him. This bough on which he was lying starts from the
trunk only about four feet from the ground, so that even with his broken
leg he was able to get upon it without difficulty. Well, thank God,
you've not been hurt, my boy. It will teach us both to be more careful
in future."

That afternoon Frank was down with his second attack of fever, a much
more severe one than the first had been. Mr. Goodenough's favorite
remedy had its effect of producing profuse perspiration, but two or
three hours afterwards the hot fit again came on, and for the next four
days Frank lay half delirious, at one time consumed with heat, and the
next shivering as if plunged into ice water. Copious doses of quinine,
however, gradually overcame the fever, and on the fifth day he
was convalescent. It was, nevertheless, another week before he was
sufficiently recovered to be able to resume his hunting expeditions.
They again shifted their camp, and this time traveled for three weeks,
making short journeys, and halting early so as to give half a day from
each camping place for their work.

Frank was one day out as usual with one of the Houssas. He had killed
several birds when he saw a butterfly, of a species which he had not
before met with, flitting across a gleam of sunshine which streamed in
through a rift in the trees. He told his Houssa to wait where he was
in charge of the two guns and birds, and started off with his net in
pursuit of the butterfly. The creature fluttered away with Frank in
full pursuit. Hither and thither it flitted, seemingly taking an impish
delight in tantalizing Frank, settling on a spot where a gleam of
sunlight streamed upon the bark of a tree, till Frank had stolen up
within a couple of paces of it, and then darting away again at a pace
which defied Frank's best attempts to keep up with it until it chose to
play with him again. Intent only upon his chase Frank thought of nothing
else. At last, with a shout of triumph, he inclosed the creature in his
net, shook it into the wide pickle bottle, containing a sponge soaked
with chloroform, and then, after tightly fitting in the stopper, he
looked around. He uttered an exclamation of dismay as he did so. He saw
by the bands of light the sun was already setting, and knew that he must
have been for upwards of an hour in chase of the butterfly. He had not
the slightest idea of the direction in which he had come. He had, he
knew, run up hill and down, but whether he had been traveling in a
circle or going straight in one direction, he had not the least idea.
He might be within a hundred yards of the spot where he had left the
Houssa. He might be three or four miles away.

He at once drew out his revolver, which he always carried strapped to
his belt, and discharged the six chambers, waiting for half a minute
between each shot, and listening intently for an answer to his signal.
None came. The stillness of the wood was unbroken, and Frank felt that
he must have wandered far indeed from his starting place, and that he
was completely lost. His first impulse was to start off instantly at the
top of his speed, but a moment's thought convinced him that this would
be useless. He had not an idea of the direction which he should pursue.
Besides the sun was sinking, twilight is short in the tropics, and in
half an hour it would be as dark as midnight in the forest. Remembering
his adventure with the leopard he determined to climb into a tree and
pass the night there. He knew that an active search would be set on
foot by his friends next morning, and that, as every step he took was as
likely to lead him from as towards the camp, it was better to stay where
he was.

He soon found a tree with a branch which would suit his purpose, and,
climbing up into it, lit his pipe and prepared for an uncomfortable
night. Frank had never smoked until he reached Africa, but he had then
taken to it on the advice of Mr. Goodenough, who told him that smoking
was certainly a preventive, to some extent, of fever in malarious
countries, and, although he had not liked it at first, he had now taken
kindly to his pipe, and smoked from the time when the evening mists
began to rise until he went to bed.

The time passed very slowly. The cries of wild creatures could be heard
in the woods, and although Frank did not expect to be attacked, it was
impossible to sleep with these calls of leopards, with which the forest
seemed to abound, in his ears. He had reloaded his revolver immediately
after discharging it, and had replaced it in his pouch, and felt
confident that nothing could climb the tree. Besides, he had heard that
leopards seldom attack men unless themselves attacked. Sleep, however,
was out of the question, for when he slept he might have fallen from
his seat in the crotch of the tree. Occasionally, however, he dozed off,
waking up always with an uncomfortable start, and a feeling that he
had just saved himself from falling. With the earliest dawn of morn he
descended, stiff and weary, from the tree. Directly the sun rose he set
off walking. He knew at least that he was to the south of the camp, and
that by keeping the sun on his right hand till it reached the zenith
he must get in time to the little stream on which it was pitched. As
he walked he listened intently for the sound of guns. Once or twice
he fancied that he heard them, but he was quite unable to judge of the
direction. He had been out with the Houssa about six hours before he
strayed from him in the pursuit of the butterfly, and they had for some
time been walking towards the camp, in order to reach it by nightfall.
Thus he thought, that at that time, he could only have been some three
or four miles distant from it. Supposing that he had run due south, he
could still be but eight miles from the stream, and he thought that
in three hours' walking he might arrive there. In point of fact, after
leaving the Houssa the butterfly had led him towards the southeast, and
as the stream took a sharp bend to the north a little distance above the
camp, he was many miles farther from it than he expected. This stream
was one of the upper tributaries of the Gaboon.

After walking for two hours the character of the forest changed. The
high trees were farther apart, and a thick undergrowth began to make its
appearance, frequently causing him to make long detours and preventing
his following the line he had marked out for himself. This caused him
much uneasiness, for he knew that he had passed across no such country
on his way from the camp, and the thought that he might experience great
difficulties in recovering it, now began to press upon him.



CHAPTER XI: A HOSTILE TRIBE


Every step that he went the ground grew softer and more swampy, and
he at length determined to push on no farther in this direction, but
turning to his left to try and gain higher ground, and then to continue
on the line he had marked out for himself.

His progress was now very slow. The bush was thick and close, thorny
plants and innumerable creepers continually barred his way, and the
necessity for constantly looking up through the trees to catch a glimpse
of the sun, which was his only guide, added to his difficulty. At
length, when his watch told him it was eleven o'clock, he came to a
standstill, the sun being too high overhead to serve him as a reliable
guide. He had now been walking for nearly six hours, and he was utterly
worn out and exhausted, having had no food since his midday meal on
the previous day. He was devoured with thirst, having merely rinsed his
mouth in the black and poisonous water of the swamps he had crossed. His
sleepless night, too, had told on him. He was bathed in perspiration,
and for the last hour had scarcely been able to drag his feet along.

He now lay down at the foot of a great tree, and for three or four hours
slept heavily. When he awoke he pursued his journey, the sun serving
as a guide again. In two hours' time he had got upon higher ground. The
brushwood was less dense, and he again turned his face to the north, and
stepped forward with renewed hopes.

It was late in the afternoon when he came upon a native path. Here he
sat down to think. He did not remember having crossed such a path on
the day before. Probably it crossed the stream at some point above the
encampment. Therefore it would serve as a guide, and he might, too, come
upon some native village where he could procure food. By following it
far enough he must arrive somewhere. He sat for a quarter of an hour to
rest himself, and then proceeded along the path, whose direction seemed
to be the northwest.

For an hour he proceeded and then paused, hearing a sudden outcry ahead.
Scampering along the path came a number of great baboons, and Frank at
once stepped aside into the bush to avoid them, as these are formidable
creatures when disturbed. They were of a very large species, and several
of the females had little ones clinging around their necks. In the
distance Frank could hear the shouts of some natives, and supposed that
the monkeys had been plundering their plantations, and that they were
driving them away. The baboons passed without paying any attention to
him, but Frank observed that the last of the troop was carrying a little
one in one of its forearms.

Frank glanced at the baby monkey and saw that it had round its waist a
string of blue beads. As a string of beads is the only attire which a
negro child wears until it reaches the age of ten or eleven years old,
the truth at once flashed upon Frank that the baboons were carrying off
a native baby, which had probably been set down by its mother while she
worked in the plantation. Instantly he drew his pistol, leaped into the
road, and fired at the retreating ape. It gave a cry, dropped the baby
and turned to attack its aggressor.

Frank waited till it was within six feet, and then shot it through the
head. He sprang forward and seized the baby, but in a moment he was
attacked by the whole party of baboons, who, barking like dogs, and
uttering angry cries, rushed at him. Frank stood his ground, and
discharged the four remaining barrels of his revolver at the foremost
animals. Two of these dropped, but the others who were only wounded
sprang upon him. Frank struck out with the butt end of his pistol, but
in a minute he was overpowered.

One monkey seized him by the leg with his teeth, while another bit his
arm. Others struck and scratched at him, and he was at once thrown down.
He tried to defend his face with his arms, kicking and struggling to
the best of his power. With one hand he drew the long knife for skinning
animals, which he wore at his belt, and struck out fiercely, but a
baboon seized his wrist in its teeth, and Frank felt that all was over,
when suddenly his assailants left him, and the instant afterwards he was
lifted to his feet by some negroes.

He had, when attacked by the apes, thrown the baby into a clump of ferns
close by, in order to have the use of both his hands, and when he looked
round he found that a negress had already picked it up, and was crying
and fondling it. The negroes appeared intensely astonished at Frank's
color, and he judged by their exclamations of surprise that, not only
had they not seen a white man before, but that they had not heard of one
being in the neighborhood.

Frank had been too severely bitten and mauled by the baboons to be able
to walk, and the negroes, seeing this, raised him, and four of them
carried him to their village, which was but a quarter of a mile distant.
Here he was taken to the principal hut, and laid on a bed. His wounds
were dressed with poultices formed of bruised leaves of some plant, the
natives evincing the utmost astonishment as Frank removed his clothes to
enable these operations to be performed.

By pointing to his lips he indicated that he was hungry and thirsty.
Water was brought to him, and cakes made from pounded yams pressed and
baked. Having eaten and drank he closed his eyes and lay back, and the
natives, who had before been all noisily chattering together, now became
suddenly silent, and stealing away left the strange white visitor to
sleep.

When Frank woke he could see by the light that it was early morning. A
woman with a child in her lap, whom Frank recognized as the negress
who had picked up the baby, was sitting on a low stool by his side. On
seeing him open his eyes she came to the bed, took his hand and put it
to her lips, and then raised the baby triumphantly and turned it round
and round to show that it had escaped without damage. Then when Frank
pointed again to his lips she brought him a pineapple, roughly cut off
the skin, and sliced it. Frank ate the juicy fruit, and felt immensely
refreshed, for the West Coast pineapple is even more delicious than
that found in the West Indies. Then the woman removed the bandages and
applied fresh poultices to his wounds, talking in low soft tones, and,
as Frank had no doubt, expressing sorrow at their cause.

Frank now endeavored to explain to her that he had a white companion
in the woods, but the woman, not understanding, brought in two or three
other natives, who stood round the couch and endeavored to gather what
he wished to say.

Frank held up two fingers. Then he pointed to himself and shut down one
finger, keeping the other erect, and then pointed all round to signify
that he had a friend somewhere in the wood. A grin of comprehension
stole over the faces of the negroes, and Frank saw that he was
understood.

Then he again held up his two fingers, and taking the hands of the
negress raised all her fingers by the side of the white ones to signify
that there were many natives with them. Then he took aim, with an
imaginary gun, up at the roof of the hut, and said "Bang" very loud,
and a chorus of approving laughter from the negroes showed that he was
understood. Then one of them pointed towards the various points of the
compass, and looked interrogatively at Frank. The sun was streaming in
through the doorway, and he was thus able to judge of the direction
in which the camp must lie. He made a sweep with his hand towards the
northwest, signifying that they were somewhere in that direction.

That afternoon fever set in, and for the two next days Frank was
delirious. When he recovered consciousness he found Mr. Goodenough
sitting beside him. The latter would not suffer him to talk, but gave
him a strong dose of quinine and told him to lie quiet and go to sleep.

It was not till the next day that Frank learned what had happened in
his absence. The Houssa had not returned until long after nightfall. He
reported that Frank had told him to wait with the guns, and that he had
waited until it grew nearly dark. Then he had fired several times and
had walked about, firing his gun at intervals. Obtaining no responses he
had made his way back to the camp, where his arrival alone caused great
consternation.

It was impossible to do anything that night, and the next morning Mr.
Goodenough, accompanied by five of the Houssas, one only remaining to
keep guard over the camp, had gone to the place where Frank had last
been seen. Then they scattered in various directions, shouting and
firing their guns. The search had been continued all day without
success, and at nightfall, disheartened and worn out, they had returned
to the camp. The next day the search had been continued with an equal
want of success, and the fears that a leopard had attacked and killed
Frank became stronger and stronger. On the third day the whole of the
carriers were sent out with instructions to search the woods for native
paths, to follow these to villages, and to enlist the natives in the
search. One of these men had met one of the villagers on the search for
the party of the white man.

It was another ten days before Frank was sufficiently recovered from his
fever and wounds to march back to the camp. After a stay there of two
or three more days, to enable him completely to regain his strength, the
party started again on their journey.

In another three weeks they had descended the hills, and the Fans
announced their unwillingness to travel farther. Mr. Goodenough,
however, told them quietly that they had promised to go on until he
could obtain other carriers, and that if they deserted him he should pay
them nothing. They might now expect every day to meet people of another
tribe, and as soon as they should do so they would be allowed to depart.
Finding that he was firm, and having no desire to forfeit the wages they
had earned, the Fans agreed to go forward, although they were now in a
country entirely unknown to them, where the people would presumably be
hostile. They had, however, such faith in the arms carried by the white
men and Houssas, that they felt comparatively easy as to the result of
any attack which might be made upon them.

The very day after this little mutiny, smoke was seen curling up from
the woods. Mr. Goodenough deemed it inexpedient to show himself at once
with so large a number of men. He, therefore, sent forward Ostik with
two of the Fans, each of whom could speak several native dialects, to
announce his coming. They returned in an hour saying that the village
was a very large one, and that the news of the coming of two white men
had created great excitement. The people spoke of sending at once to
their king, whom they called Malembe, whose place, it seemed, was a
day's march off.

They now prepared to enter the village. Ostik went first carrying
himself with the dignity of a beadle at the head of a school procession.
Two of the Houssas walked next. Mr. Goodenough and Frank followed, their
guns being carried by two Fans behind them. Then came the long line of
bearers, two of the Houssas walking on each side as a baggage guard.
The villagers assembled in great numbers as they entered. The head man
conducted the whites to his hut. No women or children were to be seen,
and the expression of the men was that of fear rather than curiosity.

"They are afraid of the Fans," Mr. Goodenough said. "The other tribes
all have a species of terror of these cannibals. We must reassure them
as soon as possible."

A long palaver then took place with the chief, with whose language one
of the Fans was sufficiently acquainted to make himself understood.
It was rather a tedious business, as each speech had to be translated
twice, through Ostik and the Fan.

Mr. Goodenough informed the chief that the white men were friends of his
people, that they had come to see the country and give presents to the
chiefs, that they only wished to pass quietly through and to journey
unmolested, and that they would pay handsomely for food and all that
they required. They wished to obtain bearers for their baggage, and
these they would pay in cloth and brass rods, and as soon as they
procured carriers the Fans would return to their own country.

The chief answered expressing his gratification at seeing white men in
his village, saying that the king would, no doubt, carry out all their
wishes. One of the boxes was opened and he was presented with five yards
of bright colored calico, a gaudy silk handkerchief, and several strings
of bright beads. In return a large number of plantains were presented to
the white men. These were soon distributed among the Fans.

"Me no like dat nigger," Ostik said. "Me think we hab trouble. You see
all women and children gone, dat bad. Wait till see what do when king
come."

That day and the next passed quietly. The baggage had been piled in a
circle, as usual, in an open space outside the village; the tent being
pitched in the center, and Ostik advised Mr. Goodenough to sleep here
instead of in the village. The day after their arrival passed but
heavily. The natives showed but little curiosity as to the newcomers,
although these must have been far more strange to them than to
the people nearer the coast. Still no women or children made their
appearance. Towards evening a great drumming was heard in the distance.

"Here is his majesty at last," Mr. Goodenough said, "we shall soon see
what is his disposition."

In a short time the village was filled with a crowd of men all carrying
spears and bows and arrows. The drumming came nearer and nearer, and
then, carried in a chair on the shoulders of four strong negroes,
while ten others armed with guns marched beside him, the king made his
appearance.

Mr. Goodenough and Frank advanced to meet him. The king was a tall man
with a savage expression of countenance. Behind Mr. Goodenough, Ostik
and the Fan who spoke the language advanced. The king's chair was
lowered under the shade of a tree, and two attendants with palm leaf
fans at once began to fan his majesty.

"Tell the king," Mr. Goodenough said, "that we are white men who have
come to see his country, and to pass through to the countries beyond. We
have many presents for him, and wish to buy food and to hire carriers in
place of those who have brought our things thus far."

The king listened in silence.

"Why do the white men bring our enemies into our land?" he asked
angrily.

"We have come up from the coast," Mr. Goodenough said; "and as we passed
through the Fan country we hired men there to carry our goods, just as
we wish to hire men here to go on into the country beyond. There were
none of the king's men in that country or we would have hired them."

"Let me see the white men's presents," the king said.

A box was opened, a bright scarlet shirt and a smoking cap of the same
color, worked with beads, a blue silk handkerchief and twenty yards of
bright calico, were taken out. To these were added twelve stair rods,
five pounds of powder, and two pounds of shot.

The king's eye sparkled greedily as he looked at the treasures.

"The white men must be very rich," he said, pointing to the pile of
baggage.

"Most of the boxes are empty," Mr. Goodenough said. "We have brought
them to take home the things of the country and show them to the white
men beyond the sea;" and to prove the truth of his words, Mr. Goodenough
had two of the empty cases opened, as also one already half filled with
bird skins, and another with trays of butterflies and beetles.

The king looked at them with surprise.

"And the others?" he asked, pointing to them.

"The others," Mr. Goodenough said, "contain, some of them, food such
as white men are accustomed to eat in their own country, the others,
presents for the other kings and chiefs I shall meet when we have passed
on.

"The fellow is not satisfied," he said to Ostik, "give him two of the
trade guns and a bottle of brandy."

The king appeared mollified by these additional presents, and saying
that he would talk to the white men in the morning, he retired into the
village.

"I don't like the looks of things," Mr. Goodenough said. "I fear that
the presents we have given the king will only stimulate his desire for
more. However, we shall see in the morning."

When night fell, two of the Houssas were placed on guard. The Fans slept
inside the circle formed by the baggage. Several times in the night the
Houssas challenged bodies of men whom they heard approaching, but these
at once retired.

In the morning a messenger presented himself from the king, saying that
he required many more presents, that the things which had been given
were only fit for the chief of a village, and not for a great king.
Mr. Goodenough answered, that he had given the best he had, that the
presents were fit for a great king, and that he should give no more.

"If we are to have trouble," he said to Frank, "it is far better to have
it at once while the Fans are with us, than when we are alone with no
one but the Houssas and the subjects of this man. The Fans will fight,
and we could hold this encampment against any number of savages."

A quarter of an hour later the drums began beating furiously again. Loud
shouts and yells arose in the village, and the natives could be seen
moving excitedly about. Presently these all disappeared.

"Fight come now," Ostik said.

"You'd better lower the tent at once, Ostik. It will only be in our
way."

The tent was speedily lowered. The Fans grasped their spears and lay
down behind the circle of boxes and bales, and the six Houssas, the two
white men and Ostik, to whom a trade musket had been entrusted, took
their places at regular intervals round the circle, which was some
eight yards in diameter. Presently the beat of the drums again broke the
silence, and a shower of arrows, coming apparently from all points of
the compass, fell in and around the circle.

"Open fire steadily and quietly," Mr. Goodenough said, "among the
bushes, but don't fire fast. We must tempt them to show themselves."

A dropping fire commenced against the invisible foe, the fire being no
more frequent than it would have been had they been armed with muzzle
loading weapons. Presently musketry was heard on the enemy's side, the
king's bodyguard having opened fire. This was disastrous to them, for,
whereas the arrows had afforded but slight index as to the position of
those who shot them, the puffs of smoke from the muskets at once showed
the lurking places of those who used them, and Mr. Goodenough and Frank
replied so truly that in a very short time the musketry fire of the
enemy ceased altogether. The rain of arrows continued, the yells of the
natives rose louder and louder, and the drums beat more furiously.

"They will be out directly," Mr. Goodenough said. "Fire as quickly as
you can when they show, but be sure and take good aim."

Presently the sound of a war horn was heard, and from the wood all round
a crowd of dark figures dashed forward, uttering appalling yells. On
the instant the dropping fire of the defenders changed into an almost
continuous fusillade, as the Sniders of the Houssas, the breech loading
rifle of Mr. Goodenough, and the repeating Winchester of Frank were
brought into play at their full speed. Yells of astonishment broke
from the natives, and a minute later, leaving nearly a score of their
comrades on the ground, the rest dashed back into the forest.

There was silence for a time and then the war drums began again.

"Dey try again hard dis time, massa," Ostik said. "King tell 'em he cut
off deir heads dey not win battle."

This time the natives rushed forward with reckless bravery, in spite of
the execution made among them by the rapid fire of the defenders, and
rushed up to the circle of boxes. Then the Fans leaped to their feet,
and, spear in hand, dashed over the defenses and fell upon the enemy.

The attack was decisive. Uttering yells of terror the natives fled, and
two minutes later not a sound was to be heard in the forest.

"I tink dey run away for good dis time, sar," Ostik said. "Dey hav'
'nuf of him. Dey fight very brave, much more brave than people down near
coast. Dere in great battle only three, four men killed. Here as many
men killed as we got altogether."

This was so, nearly fifty of the natives having fallen between the trees
and the encampment. When an hour passed and all was still, it became
nearly certain that the enemy had retreated, and the Houssas, who are
splendid scouts, divested themselves of their clothing and crawled away
into the wood to reconnoiter. They returned in half an hour in high
glee, bearing the king's chair.

"Dey all run away, sar, ebery one, de king an' all, and leab his chair
behind. Dat great disgrace for him."

A council was now held. The Fans were so delighted with the victory they
had won, that they expressed their readiness to remain with their white
companions as long as they chose, providing these would guarantee that
they should be sent home on the expiration of their service. This Mr.
Goodenough readily promised. After discussing the question with Frank,
he determined to abstain from pushing farther into the interior, but to
keep along northward, and then turning west with the sweep of the coast
to travel slowly along, keeping at about the same distance as at present
from the sea, and finally to come down either upon Cape Coast or Sierra
Leone.

This journey would occupy a considerable time. They would cross
countries but little known, and would have an ample opportunity for the
collection of specimens, which they might, from time to time, send down
by the various rivers they would cross, to the trading stations at their
mouths.

It was felt that after this encounter with the natives it would be
imprudent in the extreme to push further into the interior. They would
have continual battles to fight, large numbers of the natives would
be killed, and their collecting operations would be greatly interfered
with. As a lesson to the natives the village was burnt to the ground;
the presents, which the king in the hurry of his flight had left behind
him, being recovered.

A liberal allowance of tobacco was served out as a "dash" or present to
the Fans, and a bright silk handkerchief given to each. Then they
turned off at right angles to the line they had before been pursuing and
continued their journey.

Two days later Mr. Goodenough was prostrated by fever, and for several
days lay between life and death. When he became convalescent he
recovered strength very slowly. The heat was prodigious and the
mosquitos rendered sleep almost impossible at night. The country at this
place was low and swampy, and, weak as he was, Mr. Goodenough determined
to push forward. He was, however, unable to walk, and, for the first
time, a hammock was got out and mounted.

There is no more comfortable conveyance in the world than a hammock in
Africa. It is slung from a long bamboo pole, overhead a thick awning
keeps the sun from the hammock. Across the ends of the pole boards of
some three feet long are fastened. The natives wrap a piece of cloth
into the shape of a muffin and place it on their heads, and then take
their places, two at each end of the pole, with the ends of the board on
their heads. They can trot along at the rate of six miles an hour, for
great distances, often keeping up a monotonous song. Their action is
perfectly smooth and easy, and the traveler in the hammock, by shutting
his eyes, might imagine himself swinging in a cot on board ship on an
almost waveless sea.

After two days traveling they got on to higher ground, and here they
camped for some time, Mr. Goodenough slowly recovering strength, and
Frank busy in adding to their collections. In this he was in no slight
degree assisted by the Fans, who, having nothing else to do, had now
come to enter into the occupation of their employers. A good supply of
muslin had been brought, and nets having been made, the Fans captured
large quantities of butterflies, the great difficulty being in
convincing them that only a few of each species were required. They were
still more valuable in grubbing about in the decaying trunks of fallen
trees, under loose bark, and in broken ground, for beetles and larvae,
a task which suited them better than running about after butterflies,
which, moreover, they often spoilt irreparably by their rough handling.
Thus Frank was able to devote himself entirely to the pursuit of birds,
and although all the varieties more usually met with had been obtained,
the collection steadily increased in size.

Frank himself had severe attacks of fever, but none of these were so
severe as that which he had had on the day of the death of the leopards.

At the end of a month Mr. Goodenough had recovered his strength, and
they again moved forward.



CHAPTER XII: A NEGRO'S STORY


On arriving at a large village one day, they were struck as they
approached by the far greater appearance of comfort and neatness than
generally distinguish African villages. The plots of plantations were
neatly fenced, the street was clean and well kept. As they entered the
village they were met by the principal people, headed by an old white
haired negro.

"Me berry glad to see you, white men," he said. "Long time me no see
white men."

"And it is a long time," said Mr. Goodenough, shaking hands with him,
"since I have heard the sound of my own tongue outside my party."

"Me berry glad to see you," repeated the negro. "Me chief of dis
village. Make you berry comfortable, sar. Great honor for dis village
dat you come here. Plenty eberyting for you, fowl, and eggs, and
plantain, and sometime a sheep."

"We have, indeed, fallen into the lap of luxury," Mr. Goodenough said
to Frank; and they followed the negro to his hut. "I suppose the old man
has been employed in one of the factories upon the coast."

The interior of the hut was comfortably furnished and very clean. A sort
of divan covered with neatly woven mats extended round three sides. In
the center was an attempt at a table. A doubled barreled gun and a rifle
hung over the hearth. A small looking glass and several colored prints
in cheap frames were suspended from the walls. A great chest stood at
one end of the room, while on a shelf were a number of plates and dishes
of English manufacture.

The negro begged his guests to be seated, and presently a girl entered,
bringing in a large calabash full of water for them to wash their hands
and faces. In the meantime the old negro had gone to his chest, and,
to the immense surprise of the travelers, brought out a snow white
tablecloth, which he proceeded to lay on the table, and then to place
knives, forks, and plates upon it.

"You must 'scuse deficiencies, sar," he said. "We berry long way from
coast, and dese stupid niggers dey break tings most ebery day."

"Don't talk about deficiencies," Mr. Goodenough answered smiling. "All
this is, indeed, astonishing to us here."

"You berry good to say dat, sar, but dis chile know how tings ought to
be done. Me libed in good Melican family. He know berry well how tings
ought to be done."

"Ah, you have traveled a good deal!" Mr. Goodenough said.

"Yes, sar, me trabel great deal. Me lib in Cuba long time. Den me lib
slave states, what you call Confederate. Den me lib Northern state, also
Canada under Queen Victoria. Me trabel bery much. Now, sar, dinner come.
Time to eat not to talk. After dinner white gentlemen tell me what they
came here for. Me tell dem if they like about my trabels, but dat berry
long story."

The dinner consisted of two fowls cut in half and grilled over a fire,
fried plantains, and, to the astonishment of the travelers, green peas,
followed by cold boiled rice over which honey had been poured. Their
host had placed plates only for two, but they would not sit down until
he had consented to join them.

Two girls waited, both neatly dressed in cotton, in a fashion which was
a compromise between European and negro notions.

After dinner the negro presented them with two large and excellent
cigars, made, as he said, from tobacco grown in his own garden, and the
astonishment of the travelers was heightened by the reappearance of one
of the girls bearing a tray with three small cups of excellent black
coffee.

Their host now asked them for the story of their journey from the coast,
and the object with which they had penetrated Africa. Mr. Goodenough
related their adventures, and said that they were naturalists in search
of objects of natural history. When he had finished Ostik, in obedience
to a whisper from him, brought in a bottle of brandy, at the sight of
which the negro broke into a chuckle.

"Me tree months widout taste dat. Once ebery year me send down to coast,
get coffee, tea, sugar, calico, beads, and rum. Dis time de rum am
finish too soon. One of de cases get broke and half de bottles smash.
Dat berry bad job. Dis chile calculate dat six dozen last for a year,
dat give him one bottle each week and twenty bottles for presents to
oder chiefs. Eighteen bottles go smash, and as de oder chiefs expec'
deir present all de same, Sam hab ta go widout. De men start three weeks
ago for coast. Me hope dey come back in six weeks more."

"Well," Mr. Goodenough said, "you need not go without it till they
come back, for I can give you eight bottles which will last you for two
months. I have got a good supply, and as I never use it for trade unless
a chief particularly wants it, I can very well spare it."

The old negro was greatly pleased, and when he had drank his glass of
brandy and water he responded to Mr. Goodenough's request, and, lighting
a fresh cigar, he began the story of his adventures.

"I was born in dis berry village somewhere about seventy years ago. I
not know for sure widin two or three year, for when I young man I no
keep account. My fader was de chief of dis village, just as I am now,
but de village was not like dis. It was not so big, and was berry dirty
and berry poor, just like the oder nigger villages. Well, sar, dere am
nothing perticlar to tell about de first years of my life. I jus' dirty
little naked nigger like de rest. Dose were berry bad times. Ebery one
fight against ebery one else. Ebery one take slabes and send dem down de
river, and sell to white men dere to carry ober sea. When I grow up
to seventeen, I s'pose, I take spear and go out wid de people of dis
village and de oder villages of dis part ob country under king, and
fight against oder villages and carry the people away as slabes. All
berry bad business dat. But Sam he tink nothing, and just do the same as
oder people. Sometimes oder tribes come and fight against our villages
and carry our people away. So it happened to Sam.

"Jus' when he about twenty years old we had come back from a long
'spedition. Dis village got its share ob slabes, and we drink and sing
and make merry wid de palm tree wine and tink ourselves berry grand
fellows. Well, sar, dat night great hullyballoo in de village. De dogs
bark, de men shout and seize deir arms and run out to fight, but it no
good. Anoder tribe fall on us ten times as many as we. We fight hard but
no use. All de ole men and de ole women and de little babies dat no good
to sell dey killed, and de rest of us, de men and de women and de boys
and girls, we tied together and march away wid de people dat had taken
us.

"Berry bad time dat, sar. De season was dry and de water scarce. We
make long march ebery day, and berry little food given. Dey beat us wid
sticks and prod us wid spear to make us go. A good many ob de weak ones
dey die, but de most ob us arribe at mouth ob riber; me neber know what
riber dat was, but we were berry nigh two months in getting dere. By
dis time Sam arribe at the conclusion berry strong, dat de burning ob
villages and carrying off ob slabes berry bad affair altogether. Sam hab
changed his mind about a great many things, but about dat he am fixed
right up to dis time.

"Well, at de mouth ob dat riber Sam saw de white man for de first time;
and me tell you fair, sar, Sam not like him no way. Dey were Spanish
men, and de way dey treat us poor niggers was someting awful. We huddle
up night and day in a big shed dey call a barracoon. Dey gabe us berry
little food, berry little water. Dey flog us if we grumble. Dese men
belong to ships, and had bought us from dose who brought us down from
up country. Deir ship not come yet, and for a long time we wait in the
barracoon wishing dat we could die. At last de ship came, and we were
taken on board and huddled down below. Law, what a place dat was to be
sure! Not more than tree feet high, just high enough to sit up, and dere
we chained to deck. De heat, sar, was someting terrible. Some ob us yell
out and scream for air, but dey only come down and beat us wid whips.

"De day after we got on board de ship set sail. Tree hours after dat we
hear a great running about on deck, and a shouting by the white men. Den
we hear big gun fire ober head, almost make us jump out of skin wid de
noise. Den more guns. Den dere was a crash, and before we knew what was
de matter dere was a big hole in de side, and six niggers was killed
dead. Ebery one yelled berry loud. We tink for sure that de last day
come. For a long time de guns keep firing, and den everyting quiet
again. At de time no one could tink what de matter, but I s'pose dat
British cruiser chase us and dat de slaber sail away.

"Dat was an awful voyage, sar. At first de sea smoove, and de ship go
along straight. Den de ship begin to toss about jus' as nigger does when
he has taken too much palm wine, and we all feel berry bad. Ebery one
groan and cry and tink dat dey must have been poisoned. For tree days it
was a terrible time. De hatches were shut down and no air could come to
us, and dere we was all alone in de dark, and no one could make out why
de great house on de water roll and tumble so much. We cry and shout
till all breaff gone, and den lie quiet and moan, till jus' when ebery
one tink he dead, dey take off de hatch and come down and undo de
padlocks and tell us to go up on deck. Dat berry easy to say, not at all
easy to do. Most of us too weak to walk, and say dat we dead and cannot
move. Den dey whip all about, and it was astonishing, sar, to see what
life dat whip put into dead nigger. Somehow people feel dat dey could
crawl after all, and when dey get up on deck and see de blessed sun
again and de blue sky dey feel better. But not all. In spite ob de whip
many hab to be carried up on deck, and dere de sailor men lay 'em down
and trow cold water ober dem till dey open dere eyes and come to life.
Some neber come to life. Dere were about six hundred when we start, and
ob dese pretty nigh a hundred die in dose tree days.

"After dat tings not so bad. De weather was fine and no more English
cruisers seen, so dey let half ob us up on deck at once for tree or four
hours ebery day. Dey give us more food, too, and fatten us up. We talk
dis ober among ourselves, and s'pose dat dey going to eat us when we
get to land again. Some propose not to eat food, but when dey try dat
on they get de whip, and conclude dat if dey must be eaten dey might as
well be eaten fat as lean.

"At last we come in sight of land. Den we all sent below and stay dere
till night. Den we brought on deck, and find de vessel lying in a little
creek. Den we all land in boats, and march up country all night. In de
morning we halt. Tree or four white men come on horses and look at us.
Dey separate us into parties, and each march away into country again.
Den we separate again, till at last me and twenty oders arribe at a
plantation up in de hills. Here we range along in line before a white
man. He speak in berry fierce tones, and a nigger by his side tell us
dat dis man our master, dat he say if we work well he gib us plenty of
food and treat us well, but dat if we not work wid all our might he whip
us to death. After dis it was ebident that de best ting to do was to
work hard.

"I was young and berry strong, sar, and soon got de name of a willing
hard working nigger. De massa he keep his word. Dose who work well not
bad treated, plenty ob food and a piece of ground to plant vegetables
and to raise fowls for ourselves. So we passed two or tree year, plenty
ob hard work, but not berry much to grumble at. Den me and a gal of my
own village, who had been bought in de same batch wid me, we go to massa
and say we want to marry. Massa say, berry well. I fine strong nigger
and work well, so he gib de gal four yards ob bright cotton for wedding
dress, and a bottle ob rum to me, and we married.

"Two or tree years pass, and my wife hab two piccanninies. Den de massa
go home to Spain, and leab overseer in plantation. Berry bad man dat.
Before, if nigger work well he not beaten. Now he beaten wheder he work
or not. For two or tree months we 'tand it, but tings get worse and
worse. De oberseer he always drunk and go on like wild beast. One day he
passed by my wife hoeing de sugarcane and he gib her cut wid whip, jus'
out of 'musement. She turn round and ask, 'What dat for?' He get mad,
cut her wid whip, knock her down wid de handle, and den seizing de chile
dat she had fastened to her back, he catch him by de leg and smash him
skull against a tree. Den, sar, I seize my hoe, I rush at him, and I
chop him down wid all my strength, cut his skull clean in sunder, and he
drop down dead.

"Den I knew dat dat was no place for Sam, so I take my hoe and I run
away as fast as I could. No one try to stop me. De oder niggers dance
and sing when dey saw de oberseer fall dead. I ran all dat day up among
de hills, skirting round de different plantations till I get quite into
de wild part. Wheneber I came to stream I walk a long way in him till
I get to tree hanging ober. Den pull myself up into de branches, climb
along and drop at de farthest end, and den run again, for I knew dat dey
would set de bloodhounds after me.

"At last I tink dat it am quite safe, and when de night came on lie down
to sleep for a few hours. Before morning me off again, and by night get
to de center of de wild country. Here I light a fire, and sit down, and,
just as I 'spected, in two or tree hours five or six men come down to
me. Dose were niggers who had run away from plantations. I tell dem my
story, dey agree dat I did berry right in killing oberseer. Dey take me
away to place where dey hab little huts and patches of yams. Two or tree
days pass and no one come, so, we s'pose dat dey hab lost de scent.
Me waited a month and den determined to go down and see about wife. I
journey at night, and reach plantation in two days. Dere I hide till I
see nigger come along close to bush. I call him and he come. I tell him
to tell my wife to steal away when night come, and to meet me dere. He
nod and go away. Dat night my wife come wid de oder chile. We not talk
much but start away for mountains. Me berry much afraid now because
my wife not berry strong, she hurt by de blow and fretting after me.
Howeber, we follow the way I had gone before. I make shift to help her
up into trees from the streams, and dis time after tree days' travel we
got back to hut in the mountain.

"Dere we lib berry happy for a year. Sometimes some ob us go down to
plantation and take down baskets and oder tings dat we had made and chop
dem for cotton. We had tobacco of our own, and some fowls which we got
from the plantations in de fust place. Altogether we did berry well.
Sometimes band of soldiers come and march trough the country, but we hab
plenty hiding places and dey never find us. More and more runway slabes
come, and at last we hear dat great 'spedition going to start to search
all de mountains. Dey come, two tree thousand ob dem. Dey form long
skirmishing line, five or six mile long, and dey go ober mountain. Ebery
nigger dey find who not surrender when dey call to him dey shoot. When
I heard ob deir coming I had long talk wid wife. We agree that it better
to leave de mountains altogether and go down and live in the bushes
close to the old plantation. Nobody look for us dere. So we make our way
down and lib there quiet. We get the yams out ob de plantations and lib
very comfortable. When we tink all ober in the mountain we go back.

"Well, sar, when we tink it all safe, and we get widin a mile ob de huts
whar we had libed, all at once we came upon a lot of soldiers in camp.
Dey see us and make shout. I call to my wife to run, when dey fire. A
bullet hit de baby, which she hab at her back, and pass through both
deir bodies. I did not run any more, but jus' stood looking at my wife
and chile as if my senses had gone. Dere I stood till the soldiers came
up. Dey put a cord round my arms and led me away. After a time I was
taken down the country. Dere I was claimed, and when it was known I had
killed a white oberseer I was tried. But de new oberseer did not want me
to be hung, for I was a strong slave and worth money, so he told a story
about how it happen, and after dey had flogged me very hard dey sent me
back to plantation. Dere I work for a long time wid a great log of wood
chained to my ankle to prevent me from running away again.

"For a time I not care whether I lib or die, but at last I made up my
mind to 'scape again. After six months dey took off de log, tinking dat
I had had enuf of de mountains and would not try to 'scape, and de log
prevented my doing so much work. De bery next night I ran away again but
dis time I determined to make for de town in hopes ob getting on board
an English ship, for I had heard from de oder slabes dat de English did
not keep black men as slabes, but dat, on de contry, dey did what
dey could to stop de Spanish from getting dem away from Africa, and I
understood now dat de dreful noise we had heard on de first day we were
on board ship was an attack upon our vessel by an English cruiser.

"It was four days' journey down to de town by de sea. Dere was no
difficulty in finding de way, for de road was good, and I s'pose dat dey
only looked for me towards de hills. Anyhow I got dar safe, walking at
night and sleeping in the bushes by day. I got as near de town as I dar,
and could see seberal vessels lying near de shore. I could see dat some
ob dem had de Spanish flag--I knew dat flag--de oders had flags which
I did not know. When it was dark I walked boldly into the town; no one
asked me any question, and I make my way through de streets down to de
shore. Dere I get into a boat and lay quiet till all de town was asleep.
Den I get into water and swim off to a ship--one dat I had noticed had
a flag which was not Spanish. Dere was a boat alongside. I climb into it
and pull myself up by the rope on deck. Den some white men seize me and
say someting in language which I not understand. Den dey take me into
cabin and say someting to captain; me not know what it was, but de
captain laugh, and me not like his laugh at all. Howeber, dey give me
someting to eat, and den take me down into hold of ship and tell me to
go to sleep on some sacks of sugar, and throw some empty sacks ober me
to cover me. Den dey close up hatch and leab me alone.

"When I come on deck de land was gone and de vessel sailing along. I
speak to no one, for I only understand little Spanish, and dese people
not speak dat. We sail along for some time, and at last we come in sight
of land again. Den dey hoist flag and I see dat it a flag wid lots of
red stars and stripes upon him. I know now dat it was a 'Merican ship.
Den I know noting. We get to port and I want to land, but dey shake deir
heads.

"De next day de captain he make sign to me to come wid him. I go
along to shore and he take me to a open space in town, where a man was
standing on a raised platform. He had a black woman by de side ob him.
Seberal men come up and look at her. De man he shout bery loud. Oder men
say something short. At last he knock on de table; a man tell de woman
to come after him and she walk away. Den a boy was put up, and den two
more women, and ebery time just de same ting was done. Den de man call
out, and de captain push his way through the crowd wid me, and tell
me to climb up on platform. I get up and look round quite surprised.
Eberybody laugh. Den de man began to holloa again. Den seberal men come
up and feel my arms and my legs. Dey point to de marks which de whip had
left on my back, and dey laugh again. Presently de man who was shouting
bang his hand on the table again, and a white man in the crowd, who had
seberal times called out loud, come up to me, take me by the arm, and
sign to me to go wid him.

"I begin to understand now; dat rascally captain had sold me for a
slabe, and dat flag I had seen was not de English flag. However, it was
no use to say anyting, and I went along wid my new massa. He was a nice
looking man, and I thought it might not be so bery bad after all. He
took me to a high carriage wid two wheels and a fine horse. A negro, who
was dressed up like a white man, was holding de horse. He showed me to
climb up behind, de oders climb up in front, and we dribe away."



CHAPTER XIII: A FUGITIVE SLAVE


"Well, sar, work bery much de same on plantation in Virginia and Cuba,
but de slabe much merrier in 'Merica, when de master am good. My new
massa bery good man. Slabes all treat bery kind, work not too hard. At
night dance and sing bery much. Den I marry again, dis time to one ob
de girls in de house. She favorite ob missy, and so when we marry, missy
hab me taken off de fields and put to garden. Bery fine garden dat was.
Tree, four of us work dar, Sam jus' as happy as man could be. Sometime,
when der am party, Sam come into the house to help at de table, dat how
Sam know how to do tings proper. De little massas dey bery fond ob me,
and when dey want to go out hunting de coon or fishing in de riber, dey
always cry for Sam.

"So fifteen years passed by, bery happy years, sar, den do ole massa
die; missy, too, soon after. De young massa not like him father. Me tink
de ole gentleman make mistake wid him when him chile, let him hab too
much his own way. I bery fond ob him because I had been wid him so much,
but I often shake my head when I tink de time come dat he be massa ob de
plantation. It was not dat his nature was bad; he get in rage sometime,
but dat all ober in no time, but he lub pleasure too much; go to de
races and 'top at de town weeks together, and play too much wid de
cards. Dere were two boys and two girls; de second boy, he go to West
Point and become officer in de army.

"After de death ob de ole people de house change bery much. Before dat
time we keep good company, gib sometimes grand balls, and all de fust
families ob Virginia in dat part visit dar. After dat always people
in de house. De young massa, when he go to Richmond, bring back six or
eight young men wid him, and dey laugh and drink and play cards half de
night. I tink de young missys speak to him about his ways. Anyhow, one
day dere great row, and dey off to lib wid an aunt in de city. After dat
tings get worse. One day missy come back from town and she gib my wife
her papers of freedom. You see, my wife was giben by de ole man to missy
when her war a little girl, and fortunate it was dat he had made out de
papers all right and presented dem to her. When missy gib her de papers
ob freedom, she cry bery much. 'Me 'fraid bad time coming, Sally,' she
said. 'Me tink dat it better for a time dat you clar out ob dis. Now you
got de paper you free woman, but you wife ob slabe; might be difficulty
about it. Me fear dat broder Dick ruined--de plantation and slabes to be
sole;' and wid dat she bu'st out crying wus dan eber. Ob course my wife
she cry too.

"'Better you go norf, Sally,' missy say presently. 'I gib you letter
to friends dar, and tell dem you bery good nurse. Den if Sam get good
master you can come back to him again. If not, as you tell me dat when
he slabe before he run away, it jus' possible he do de same again.'

"'Don't you tink, missy,' de wife said, 'dat de young massa gib freedom
to Sam too. Sam wait on him a great many years, sabe him life when he
tumbled into water.'

"'I bery much afraid,' missy said, shaking her head, 'dat my broder
not able to do so if he wish. He borrow money on de plantation and de
slabes, and dat prevent him from making any ob dem free. De sale soon
come now. You go tell Sam; tell him not to say word to nobody. Den you
pack up and come right away wid me to de city. It bery much better you
clar out ob dis before dey come down and seize eberybody.'

"Well, sar, you guess when Sam heard dis he in fine taking. He often
grieve bery much dat he and Sally hab no children. Now he tank de Lord
wid all his heart dat dere no piccanniny, for dey would hab been sold,
one one way and one another, and we should neber hab seen dem again.
Hows'ever, I make great effort, and tell Sally she do jus' what missy
say. I tell her to go norf while she can, and promise dat some day or
oder Sam join her dar. 'Better for to be parted for ten year, Sally, dan
to hab de risk ob you being seize and sold to one master, me to anoder.
You trus' Sam to break out some day. He do bery well here for a time.
He bery good strong nigger, good gardner, good at de horses, good
carpenter. Sam sure to get good place, but, howeber good, when he see a
chance he run away. If no chance, he sabe up his money, and you sabe up
your money, Sally, and buy him freedom.'

"Well, sar, we bofe cry bery much, and den Sally go away wid de young
missy. A week after dat de bust up come. De officers dey come down and
seize de place, and a little while after dey sell all de slabes. Dat
was a terrible affair, to see de husbands and de wives and de children
separated and sold to different masters. De young massa he not dere
at sale. Dey say he pretty nigh break him heart, but he ought to hab
thought ob dat before. Me sure dat de ole gentleman and de ole missy
pretty nigh turn in deir grabe at de thought ob all de hands they was so
kind to sold away.

"Dat de curse of slabery, sar. Me trabel a good deal, and me tink dat
no working people in de world are so merry and happy as de slabe in a
plantation wid a good massa and missy. Dey not work so hard as de white
man. Dey have plenty to eat and drink, dey hab deir gardens and deir
fowls. When dey are sick dey are taken care ob, when dey are ole they
are looked after and hab nothing to do. I have heard people talk a lot
of nonsense about de hard life of de plantation slabe. Dat not true,
sar, wid a good massa. De slabe hab no care and he bery happy. If all
massas were good, and dere were a law dat if a plantation were broken up
de slabes must be sold in families together, me tell you dat de life on
a plantation a thousand times happier dan de life ob a black man in
his own country. But all masters are not good. Some neber look after de
slabes, and leabe all to overseers, and dese bery often bad, cruel men.
But worst of all is when a sale comes. Dat terrible, sar. De husban'
sold to Alabama, de wife to Carolina, de children scattered trough de
States. Dis too bad, sar, dis make ob slabery a curse to de black men.

"Well, sar, we all sold. Me fetch high price and sold to a planter in
Missouri. Sam no like dat. Dat a long way from the frontier. Tree years
Sam work dar in plantation. Den he sold again to a man who hab boats on
de riber at New Orleans. Dar Sam work discharging de ships and working
de barges. Dar he come to learn for sure which de British flag. De times
were slack, and my massa hire me out to be waiter in a saloon. Dat place
dey hab dinners, and after dinner dey gamble. Dat war a bad place, mos'
ebery night quarrels, and sometimes de pistols drawn, and de bullets
flying about. Sam 'top dar six months; de place near de riber, and de
captains ob de ships often come to dine.

"One young fellow come bery often, and one day Sam saw tree or four men
he knew to be Texas horse dealers talking wid him. Now dis young captain
had been bery friendly wid Sam; always speak cibil and gib him quarter
for himself, and Sam sorry to see dose chaps get hold ob him. Dis went
on for two or tree days, till one ebening de captain, instead of going
away after dinner, stopped talking to dese follows. De play begin at de
table, and dey persuade him to join. He hab de debil's luck. Dey thought
they going to cheat him, and if dey had got him by demselves dey would
have cleaned him out sure. But dere were oder people playing and dey not
able to cheat.

"Well, sar, he won all de money. Drinks had been flying about, and when
at last de man dat kep' de table said, 'De bank will close for tonight,'
de young fellow could scarce walk steady on his feet. His pockets were
full ob notes. I went up to him and said, 'Will you hab a bed here, sar,
bery good bed?' but he laugh and say, 'No, Sam, I may be a little fresh
in de wind, but I tink I can make de boat.' I saw dose fellows scowl
when I speak to him, and I make up my mind dey after no good. Well, sar,
dey go out fust. Den he go out wid some oder people and stand laughing
and talking at de door. Sam run up to him room, slip on his money belt,
for he had had a good deal giben him while he was dar, and was sabing up
to buy his freedom, and he didn't know what was going to happen. Den Sam
look into de kitchen and caught up a heavy poker and a long knife, den
he run down and turn out de lights ob de saloon and lock de door after
him.

"He was jus' in time, for he saw at de corner, where de street go down
on to the wharves, de young captain separate from de men who had gone
out wid him and walk away by hisself. Sam kicked off his shoes and ran
as fast as he could to de end ob de street. De wharf was bery badly
lighted, jus' a lamp here and dere. Sam ran along till he got widin
about thirty yards ob de sailor, and den stole quiet along in de shadow
ob de houses. Sudden he see five men run out. Den Sam he leap forward
like tiger and gibs a shout to warn de captain. He turn round jus' in
time. Sam saw an arm lifted and de captain fall, and den at de same
moment almost him poker come down wid a crunch upon de top ob one of
deir head. Den they turn on Sam, but, law bless you, sar! what was de
good ob dat? Bery strong negro wid heavy poker in one hand and long
knife in de oder more dan match for four men. He knock dem ober like
nine pin. Tree of dem, he tink he kill straight, the poker fall on de
top ob deir heads, de oder man give a dig in Sam's left shoulder wid his
knife, and de sudden pain shake Sam's aim a little and de blow fall
on him neck. He gib a shout and tumble down. None ob do oder four
had shouted or made any remark when Sam hit dem. Den Sam caught up de
captain and ran along de wharf. Presently he heard a hail. 'All right,'
Sam said.

"'Am dat you, captain?' some one say.

"'Me got a captain here,' Sam say; 'you come and see wheder he yours.'

"De men came up and look in de captain's face.

"'Hullo,' dey say; 'de captain am dead.'

"'Me no tink him dead,' I say. 'He had a fight, and Sam come to him aid
and beat de rascals off. You had better take him straight on board de
ship.'

"Dey put him in boat and Sam go wid him to ship. Dey examine de wound
and find it not bery serious. De captain was turning round when dey
struck, and de blow had glanced off, but it had made a ugly gash; and
what wid de surprise, and de loss ob blood, and knocking him head on
de wharf, and de liquor, de captain had lost his consciousness. He soon
come round, and Sam tell all about it. De captain shake Sam's hand bery
much and call him his preserver, and ask what he do for him.

"'You take me out ob dis country,' me said, 'and Sam be grateful.'

"'Sartain, I will,' he said; 'and now what am de best ting to do?'

"'Me not stop on board now. Dey come and search de vessel for sure in
de morning. When de four white men found, me hope five, den dere great
rumpus. If five dead no suspicion fall on Sam, but you're sure to be
asked questions. It would be known dat dey were gambling in de saloon,
and it would be known dat you had broken de bank and had gone away wid
your pockets stuffed full ob notes. People would suspec' dat likely
enuff dey had made an attack on you. Dis you couldn't deny, for you will
be bandaged up in de morning, and if you had killed dem no one would
blame you. But it a different ting wid Sam. All dose rascals friends
together, and you be bery sure dat some ob dem pay him off for it. If
five men dead, all well and good. Den you say you knocked down and know
nufing furder. You s'pose some people came up and take your side, and
kill dose men, and carry you to de boat, and gib you ober to de sailors,
and den go away; but dat you know nufing at all about it. If only four
men killed den do oder, who will be sure to go away and say nufing ob
his share in de business, will tell all his mates dat dis nigger intrude
himself into de affair, and dat bad for Sam. So, sar, propose dat I go
ashore, and dat I go down de bank five or six mile, and dere hide in de
bush. When your ship come down you hoist little white flag, so Sam sure
ob de right ship. If Sam tink de coast am clear he swim off. If you no
see Sam when you get fifteen mile down de riber, den you anchor, and at
night send a boat ashore. Sam come down to it for sure.'

"So de matter was arranged. De captain say he tree more days fill up his
ship, but dat no do for me come on board by daylight because dere would
be a pilot on board. Also he says little white flag no do, pilot tink
him strange, but would tell one ob de men to hang a red shirt, as if to
dry, up in de rigging. At night would show two lights ober de bow for me
to know which was de ship.

"Fust dey bind up de wound on my shoulder, den dey gib me food for four
days and a bottle of rum, and den row me ashore. Den Sam start, and
before morning he hid in de swampy bush ten miles down de riber. He wait
dere two days, den make him way down anoder four miles and dere stop.
Late dat afternoon he see a ship come down de riber wid a red shirt in
de rigging. He go on and on, and jus' as it got dark he anchor two miles
furder down. Sam make his way along through de bush and at last get
facing de ship. At twelve o'clock boat come along bery quiet. Sam
go down and get in. De men say, 'Hush, make no noise. De pilot am as
watchful as a cat. Dey had tied tings round de oars dat dey should make
no noise, and when dey get to de side ob de ship dey lay dem in very
quiet, hook on de tackle and hoist her up. De hatchway were off, and
de men beckon to Sam, and two ob dem go down wid him, and de hatchways
closed down again.

"'I tink we hab tricked him,' one ob de sailors said. 'Dere great row at
New Orleans about de four men found dead dar. Dey come off and inquire
ob de captain ober and ober again. Dey know you missing, and dey find de
kitchen poker lying by de men, and tink you must have had a hand in it.
A thousand dollars reward have been offered, and dey searched de ship
high and low, and turn ober all de cargo. A guard stop on board till de
last ting to see no one come off. When de captain say he anchor de pilot
say no, but de captain say he in no hurry and not going to risk his ship
by sailing at night. Me tink pilot smell a rat, for ebery time he hear
a noise on deck he come out of his cabin and look round. We greased de
falls to make dem run quiet, and took off our shoes so as to make no
noise while we were lowering it. De men on deck was told to get de
hatchway open when dey saw us coming, and so we hoped dat de pilot heard
nufing. Now we must head you up in a cask. We hab bored some holes in
it for de air. Den we shall pile oder casks on de top and leabe you.
Dey are as likely as not to search de ship again when she goes past de
forts, for de pilot will suspect dat it am possible dat you have come on
board tonight.'

"Me take my place in a big sugar cask. Dey give me some water and some
food, and den shut in de head ober me. Dere I remain two days. I heard
some men come below and make a great noise, moving de cargo about near
de hatchway, and dey hammered in all de casks ob de top tier to see if
any ob dem was empty. I felt bery glad when it was all ober, and de hold
was quiet again. I slept a great deal and did not know anything about
time; but at last I heard a noise again, and de moving of casks, and den
de head of de hogshead was taken out, and dere were de sailors and de
captain. Dey shook Sam very hearty by de hand, and told him dat de ship
was safe out at sea, and dat he was a free man.

"All through dat voyage dey bery kind to Sam. He libed de life ob a
gentleman; ate, and drank, and smoke plenty, and nufing at all to do. At
last we got to Liberpool, and dar de captain take Sam to a vessel bound
to New York, pay him passage across, and gib Sam a present ob fifty
pound. Dis chile had saved fifty beside, so he felt dat he was a rich
man. Nufing happen on passage, except great storm, and Sam thought dat
de steamer go to de bottom, but she got through all right, and Sam land
at New York. Den he journey to Philadelphia, dat the place where missy
give Sam a card wid a name and address written on it, for him to go to
ask where Sally was living. Well, sar, you could have knocked me down
when I find a great bill in de window, saying dat de house were to let.
Sam almost go out ob his mind. He ask a great many people, de servants
at de doors, and de people in de shops and at last find dat de family am
gone to trabel in Europe, and dat dey might be away for years.

"For two months Sam searched about Philadelphia, and looked at ebery
black woman he saw in de streets. He could see no signs whatsomeber ob
Sally. Den he took a place as waiter at an hotel, and he wrote to missy
at Richmond, to ask if she know Sally's address, but he neber got no
answer to dat letter, and s'posed that missy was either dead or gone
away. After he work dere for some months de idea came to Sam dat first
class hotel wasn't de best place in de world to look for black woman.
Den Sam went to warehouse and bought a lot of books and started to
peddle them trough de country. He walked thousands ob miles, and
altogether saw thousands ob black men, but nothing like Sally. Ebery
black woman he could he spoke to, and asked dem if dey knew her. It was
a curious ting dat no one did. Me did not find Sally, but me made a good
deal of money, and tree more years pass away at dis work. By dis time
me was nigh forty-five years old, as well as me could tell. Ebery few
months me go back to Philadelphia and search dere again.

"One day a woman, dressed bery plain, came up to me and said, 'I hab
been tole by my nurse dat you have been asking her if she had seen your
wife.' I s'pose I looked hopeful like for she said at once, 'Me know
nothing ob her, but I was interested about you. You are an escaped
slabe, are you not?'

"'Yes, ma'am,' me said. 'Dere is no law against me here.'

"'None at all,' she said. 'But I thought that you might, like me, be
interested in freeing slabes.'

"'Dat I am,' I said, 'dough I had neber thought much about it.'

"'You hab heard, p'raps,' she said, 'ob de underground railway.'

"'Yes, ma'am,' said I. 'Dat is de blessed 'stitution which smuggles
slaves across the frontier.'

"'Dat is it,' she said, 'and I belongs to it.'

"'Does you, missy?' me says. 'De Lord bless you.'

"'Now,' she said, 'we want two or three more earnest men, men not afraid
to risk deir libes, or what is worse deir freedom, to help deir follow
creatures. I thought that you, habing suffered so much yourself, might
be inclined to devote yourself to freeing oders from de horrors of
slabery.'

"'Sam is ready, ma'am,' me says, 'It may be dat de Lord neber intends me
see my Sally again, but if I can be de means ob helping to get oder men
to join deir wives I shall be content.'

"'Very well,' she said. 'Come into my house now and we will talk about
it.'

"Den she 'splained the whole business to me. Dere were, principally in
lonely places, in swamps and woods, but sometimes libing in villages and
towns in de south, people who had devoted deir libes to de carrying
out of de purposes ob de underground railway. For de most part dese led
libes differing no way from deir neighbors; dey tilled de land, or kept
stores like oders, and none of dose around dem suspected in de slightest
degree deir mission in de south. To deir houses at night fugitive slabes
would come, guided by dose from de next post. De fugitives would be
concealed for twenty-four hours or more, and den passed on at night
again to de next station. Dose formed the larger portion ob de body.

"Dere were oders who lived a life in de swamps, scattered trough the
country. Deir place of residence would be known to de slabes ob de
neighborhood, but de masters had no suspicion dat de emissaries ob de
association were so near. To dese any negro, driben to desperation
by harsh treatment, would resort, and from dem instructions would be
received as to de route to be taken, and de places where aid could be
obtained. Dose people held deir life in deir hands. Had any suspicion
fallen upon dem ob belonging to de 'stitution dey would be lynched for
sartin. De lady set before me all de dangers ob de venture. She said it
war a case whar dere were no money to be earned, and only de chances
of martyrdom. My mind quite made up. Me ready to undertake any work dey
like to give me. My life ob no value to no one. De next day me saw some
ob de oder people connected wid de affair, and tree days afterwards I
started for de south."



CHAPTER XIV: A CHRISTIAN TOWN


"My share ob de business was to make my way down south and settle in de
swamps ob Carolina. I war to be taken down by trading schooner, to be
landed on de coast, and to make my way to a place in de center ob a big
swamp whar an ole nigger, named Joe, had been carrying on de work for
four years. He had sent to say dat he war bery ill wid de swamp fever
and like to die, dat he should not leabe de work as long as he libed,
but hoped dat dey would send anoder man out to take on his work after
his death.

"Well, sar, I was landed, and I made my way to de place. It war no easy
matter. De niggers all say dey know no such person, but I found de next
post, and dere de man guided me to de path which led into de swamp. Dey
told me dey thought de ole man dead, for dat no one had come along to
dem from him for nigh two month. Well, sar, as I 'spected I found him
dead, and I buried him, and took up my place in de hut. Soon it became
known through de plantations round dat de hut was occupied again, and
dey began to come to me to ask for assistance. My 'structions war dat
only to enable a husband to join his wife, or a wife her husband, or in
cases where de masters were uncommon cruel, dat I was to send 'em along
by de underground railway. De risks was too great to be run often. If
we had tried to help ebery one to 'scape we should mighty soon hab been
hunted down.

"Well, sar, I libed dere for three year. It was a lonesome life. I
planted a few yams round de hut, and de plantation hands would bring me
tings dat dey got hold of. It was my duty when I found dat a case was ob
de proper description to arrange for de flight, de man or de woman would
come to my hut, and I would guide dem through de swamps, twenty-five
mile away, to de house ob a clergyman, which was de next station. I
would jus' knock in a 'ticular way at de door, and when dis was open
leab de party dere and go straight away back to de swamp. More dan once
de planters got up hunts and searched de swamp through and through for
me wid dogs, and my hut was twice burnt to de ground, but de slabes
always brought me notice in time, and I went away into de tickest part
ob de swamp and lay dar till dey had gone away.

"Well, sar, one time come, I bery busy, passed tree men away in two
week. One night me hear barking of dogs, and jump up jus' in time to see
party ob men coming out from de little path towards de hut. I ran for de
swamp. Dey fire at me and one ball hit me. Den I ran in to de swamp,
de dogs dey follow, but I get farder and farder away, and de swamp get
deeper, and me tink dey lose me altogether. I sit quiet on 'tump when I
hear someting splashing in swamp, and all of a sudden a big hound sprang
on me, and fix him teeth in my shoulder. I had no arms, for in de hurry
I had not time to catch dem up. De beast he growl and bite, and hold
on like death. I saw dere only one ting to do. I tumble forward into de
swamp wid de dog underneath me, and dere I lay, wid my mouf sometimes
above de water sometimes below, till de dog was drowned.

"Den I start for de next station. I was hit in de hip, and it took me
tree days to crawl dat twenty-five miles. On de tird ebening I knock at
de door ob de house, and when it was open I tumble down in faint inside.
It war a long time before I come to myself, two weeks dey tell me,
and den I tink I dream, for sitting by de side of de bed war dat woman
Sally. Till she spoke, me couldn't believe dat it war true, but she told
me dat it war her, sure enuf, and dat I war to ask no questions but to
go off to sleep.

"Next day she told me all about it. She had stopped a year at
Philadelphy. Den she heard ob de underground railway, and was tole dat
a clergyman, who war just going down south to work a station, wanted
a black nurse for his children, who would help in de work. Sally she
volunteer, and dar she had been libing eber since, hoping all de
time eider dat I should pass through dere or dat she should hear from
Philadelphy dat I had got dere. She used to act as de guide ob de
runaways to de next station, and ebery man who came along she asked
if they knew me; but, law bless you, sar, de poor woman knew nufing ob
places, or she would hab known dat she war hundreds ob miles south of
Virginia, and though she allowed she had heard I had gone to Missouri,
she s'posed dat de way from der might be by de sea coast. I hab
observed, sar, dat de gography ob women am bery defective.

"I stopped thar till I was cured. The clergyman knew someting of
surgery, and he managed to substract the ball from my hip. When I war
quite well Sally and me started for the norf, whar we had helped so many
oders to go, and, bress de Lord, we arribed dere safe. Den I told Sally
dat I should like to libe under de British flag, so we went up to Canada
and dere we libed bery comfortable for ten years together. Sally washed
and I kep' a barber's shop, and we made plenty ob money. Den she die,
sar, de tought come into my mind dat I would come back to Africa and
teach dose poor niggers here de ways ob de white men, and sar," and he
pointed to a Bible standing on the chest, "de ways ob de Lord. So I came
across the Atlantic, and stopped a little while on de coast, for I had
pretty nigh forgotten de language ob de country. When I got it back
again I started up for dis place, wid plenty ob goods and presents.

"I had hard work at fust to get de people to know me. It war nigh forty
year since I had gone away, but at last some ob de ole people remember
me, dat I was de son ob de chief. As I had plenty goods, and dey did not
like de man dat was here, dey made me chief in my fader's place. I told
dem dat I no accept de place unless dey promise to behave bery well, to
mind what I said to dem, and to listen to my words; but dat if they do
dat I gibe dem plenty goods, I make dem comfortable and happy, and I
teach dem de way ob de Lord. Dey agree to all dis.

"I find de slave trade now all at an end, and dat de people not fight
often now. Still, de twenty muskets dat I bring make de people of oder
villages respec' us very much. Dey come ober to see de village. Dey see
dat de houses are comfortable, dat de gardens are bery well cultivated,
dat de people are well dressed, not like common nigger, dat dey are
happy and contented. Dey see dat dey no believe in fetish any more, but
dat ebery ebening when de work is ober, dey gadder under de big tree and
listen for half an hour while I read to dem and den sing a hymn. Once
a year I send down to de coast and get up plenty cloth, and hoes for
de gardens, and eberyting dey want. When I land here ten year ago I hab
eight hundred pound. I got five hundred ob him left here still. Dat more
dan enuf to last Sam if he libe to be bery, bery ole man. Dar are some
good men in de village who, when I am gone, will carry on de work ob de
Lord and dat's all, sar, dat I hab to tell you about Sam, and I am sure
dat you must be very tired and want to go to bed."

The hour was, indeed, for Africa, extremely late, but the time had
passed unheeded, so interested were the listeners in the narrative of
the fine old negro. They remained at the village for a week, and were
greatly pleased with the industrious habits and happy appearance of the
people, and with the earnestness and fervor in which every evening, and
twice on Sunday, they joined in devotions under the great tree. At the
end of that time they said goodbye to their kind host, giving him a
large amount of cloth for distribution among his people. He was unable
to furnish them with bearers, as a considerable tract of uninhabited
country extended beyond his village, and the people on the other side
were on bad terms with his villagers, on account of an outstanding feud
which had existed long before his return from America, and which he
had in vain attempted to settle since he assumed the headship of the
village.

On approaching the Niger they again came upon an inhabited country, but
the tribes here being accustomed to trade with the coast were
friendly, and at the first large village they came to no difficulty was
experienced in obtaining a fresh relay of bearers. This was a matter of
great satisfaction, for the Fans were regarded with extreme antipathy by
the natives. As soon as arrangements had been made to supply their place
the Fans were paid the four months' wages which they had earned. A large
"dash" of beads and other presents were bestowed upon them, three of the
remaining sacks of rice were given to them, and, greatly rejoicing, they
started for their own country, which, by making long marches, they would
regain in a fortnight's time. Although it was not probable that they
would meet with any enemies, six trade muskets, with a supply of powder
and ball, were given to them, as, although they would not be able to
do much execution with these weapons, their possession would exercise a
powerful influence over any natives they might meet.

In crossing the country to the Niger the white men were the objects of
lively curiosity, and the exhibition of the magic lantern, the chemical
experiments, and conjuring tricks created an effect equal to that which
they had produced among the Fans. On reaching the Niger a canoe was
hired with a crew of rowers. In this all the cases, filled with the
objects they had collected, were placed, the whole being put in charge
of the Houssas, Moses and King John, who had been seized with a fit
of homesickness. These were to deliver the cases to the charge of an
English agent at Lagos or Bonny, to both of whom Mr. Goodenough wrote
requesting him to pay the sum agreed to the boatmen on the safe arrival
of the cases, and also to pay the Houssas, who preferred taking their
wages there, as it was not considered advisable to tempt the cupidity of
any of the native princes along the river. Should they be overhauled
the Houssas were told to open the cases and show that these contained
nothing but birds' skins and insects, which would be absolutely
valueless in the eyes of a native.

When the precious freight had fairly started, the party crossed the
Niger in a canoe, arrangements having already been made with the
potentate of a village on the opposite side for a fresh relay of
carriers, twenty men being now sufficient, owing to the gaps which had
been made in the provisions in the goods, by the payment of the carriers
and presents, and, in the cases, by the despatch of eight of the largest
of these to the coast. They had still, however, ample space for the
collections they might still make. The cases of goods and provisions
were utilized for this purpose as they were emptied.

For another two months they journeyed on, halting frequently and adding
continually to their stores. The country was fairly populated, and there
was no difficulty in buying plantains and fruit and in obtaining fresh
sets of carriers through the territories of each petty chief. They were
now approaching the Volta, when one day a native, covered with dust and
bathed in perspiration, came up to their camp, and throwing himself on
the ground before Mr. Goodenough poured out a stream of words.

"What does he say, Ostik?"

"Me not know, sar. P'r'aps Ugly Tom know. He been down near Volta
country."

Ugly Tom was called, and after a conversation with the native, told Mr.
Goodenough that he was a messenger from Abeokuta, that the people there
were threatened by an attack by the King of Dahomey, and that they
implored the white men, who they heard were in the neighborhood, to come
to their aid.

"What do you say, Frank?" Mr. Goodenough asked.

"I don't know anything about it, sir," Frank said. "I have heard of
Dahomey, of course, and its horrible customs, but I don't know anything
about Abeokuta."

"Abeokuta is a very singular town," Mr. Goodenough said. "Its people
were christianized many years ago, and have faithfully retained the
religion. The town lies not very far from Dahomey, and this power, which
has conquered and enslaved all its other neighbors, has been unable to
conquer Abeokuta, although it has several times besieged it. The Dahomey
people have every advantage, being supplied with firearms, and even
cannon, by the rascally white traders at Whydah, the port of Dahomey.
Nevertheless, the Abeokuta people have opposed an heroic resistance, and
so far successfully. Of course they know that every soul would be put to
death did they fall into the hands of the King of Dahomey; but negroes
do not always fight well, even under such circumstances, and every
credit must be given to the people of Abeokuta. What do you say? It
will be a perilous business, mind, for if Abeokuta is taken we shall
assuredly be put to death with the rest of the defenders."

"I think we ought to help them, sir," Frank said. "They must be a noble
people, and with our guns and the four Houssas we might really be of
material assistance. Of course there is a risk in it, but we have risked
our lives from fever, and in other ways, every day since we've been in
the country."

"Very well, my lad. I am glad that is your decision. Tell him, Ugly Tom,
that we will at once move towards Abeokuta with all speed, and that they
had better send out a party of carriers to meet us, as you may be sure
that these men will not go far when they hear that the Dahomey people
are on the warpath. Learn from him exactly the road we must move by, as
if our carriers desert us we shall be detained till his people come up.
How far is it to Abeokuta?"

Ugly Tom learned from the native that it was about forty-five miles.

"Very well," Mr. Goodenough said, "we shall march twenty this afternoon.
Where we halt they will most likely have heard the rumors of the war,
and I expect the carriers will go no farther, so they must send out to
that point."

The Houssa translated the message, and the native, saying, "I shall be
at Abeokuta tonight," kissed the hands of the white men and started at a
trot.

"Wonderful stamina some of these men have," Mr. Goodenough said. "That
man has come forty-five miles at full speed, and is now going off again
as fresh as when he started."

"What speed will he go at?" Frank asked.

"About six miles an hour. Of course he goes faster when he is running,
but he will sometimes break into a walk. Five miles an hour may be
taken as the ordinary pace of a native runner, but in cases which they
consider of importance, like the present, you may calculate on six."

The camp was at once broken up, the carriers loaded, and they started on
their way. It was late in the evening when they reached a village about
twenty miles from their starting place. They found the inhabitants in a
great state of alarm. The news had come that a great army was marching
to attack Abeokuta, and that the King of Dahomey had sworn on his
father's skull that this time the place should be captured, and not a
house or a wall left remaining. As Abeokuta was certain to make a strong
resistance, and to hold out for some time, the villagers feared that the
Dahomey people would be sending out parties to plunder and carry away
captives all over the surrounding country. The panic at once extended
to the bearers, who declared that they would not go a foot farther. As
their fears were natural, and Mr. Goodenough was expecting a fresh relay
from Abeokuta on the following evening, he consented to their demand
to be allowed to leave immediately, and paying them their wages due, he
allowed them to depart at once on the return journey. The tent was
soon pitched and supper prepared, of fried plantains, rice, a tin of
sardines, and tea. Later on they had a cup of chocolate, and turned in
for the night.

In the morning they were awakened just at daybreak by great talking.

"Men come for baggage, sar," Ugly Tom said, putting his head in the tent
door.

"They have lost no time about it, Frank," Mr. Goodenough exclaimed. "It
was midday yesterday when the messenger left us. He had forty-five miles
to run, and could not have been in till pretty nearly eight o'clock, and
these men must have started at once."

There was no time lost. While the Houssas were pulling down and packing
up the tent Ostik prepared two bowls of chocolate with biscuit soaked
in it. By the time that this was eaten the carriers had taken up their
loads, and two minutes later the whole party started almost at a trot.
Ugly Tom soon explained the cause of the haste. The army of Dahomey was,
the evening before, but eight miles from Abeokuta, and was expected
to appear before the town by midday, although, of course, it might be
later, for the movements of savage troops are uncertain in the extreme,
depending entirely upon the whims of their leader. So anxious were the
bearers to get back to the town in time, that they frequently went at a
trot. They were the better able to keep up the speed as a larger number
than were required had been sent. Many of the cases, too, were light,
consequently the men were able to shift the heavy burdens from time to
time. So great was the speed, that after an hour both Mr. Goodenough and
Frank, weakened by the effect of fever and climate, could no longer keep
up. The various effects carried in the hammocks were hastily taken out
and lifted by men unprovided with loads. The white men entered and were
soon carried along at a brisk trot by the side of the baggage. When they
recovered from their exhaustion sufficiently to observe what was going
on, they could not help admiring the manner in which the negroes,
with perspiration streaming from every pore, hurried along with their
burdens. So fast did they go, that in less than six hours they emerged
from the forest into the clearing, and a shout proclaimed that Abeokuta
was close at hand.

Ten minutes later the white men were carried through the gate, their
arrival being hailed with shouts of joy by the inhabitants. They were
carried in triumph to the principal building of the town, a large hut
where the general councils of the people were held. Here they were
received by the king and the leading inhabitants, who thanked them
warmly for coming to their assistance in the time of their peril. The
travelers were both struck with the appearance of the people. They were
clad with far more decency and decorum than was usual among the negro
tribes. Their bearing was quiet and dignified. An air of neatness and
order pervaded everything, and it was clear that they were greatly
superior to the people around.

Mr. Goodenough expressed to the king the willingness with which his
friend and himself took part in the struggle of a brave people against
a cruel and bloodthirsty foe, and he said, that as the four Houssas were
also armed with fast firing guns he hoped that their assistance would be
of avail. He said that he would at once examine the defences of the town
and see if anything could be done to strengthen them.

Accompanied by the king, Mr. Goodenough and Frank made a detour of the
walls. These were about a mile in circumference, were built of clay, and
were of considerable height and thickness, but they were not calculated
to resist an attack by artillery. As, however, it was not probable
that the Dahomey people possessed much skill in the management of their
cannon, Mr. Goodenough had hopes that they should succeed in repelling
the assault. They learnt that a large store of provisions had been
brought into the town, and that many of the women and children had been
sent far away.

The spies presently came in and reported that there was no movement
on the part of the enemy, and that it was improbable that they would
advance before the next day. Mr. Goodenough was unable to offer any
suggestions for fresh defenses until they knew upon which side the enemy
would attack. He advised, however, that the whole population should be
set to work throwing up an earthwork just outside each gate, in order
to shelter these as far as possible from the effect of the enemy's
cannonballs. Orders were at once given to this effect, and in an hour
the whole population were at work carrying earth in baskets and piling
it in front of the gates. In order to economize labor, and to make the
sides of the mounds as steep as possible, Mr. Goodenough directed with
brushwood, forming a sort of rough wattle work. Not even when night set
in did the people desist from their labor, and by the following morning
the gates were protected from the effect of cannon shot, by mounds of
earth twenty feet high, which rose before them. The king had, when Mr.
Goodenough first suggested these defenses, pointed out that much less
earth would be required were it piled directly against the gates.
Mr. Goodenough replied, that certainly this was so, but that it was
essential to be able to open the gates to make a sortie if necessary
against the enemy, and although the king shook his head, as if doubting
the ability of his people to take such a desperate step as that of
attacking the enemy outside their walls, he yielded to Mr. Goodenough's
opinion.



CHAPTER XV: THE AMAZONS OF DAHOMET


A spacious and comfortable hut was placed at the disposal of the white
men, with a small one adjoining for the Houssas. That evening Frank
asked Mr. Goodenough to tell him what he knew concerning the people of
Dahomey.

"The word Dahomey, or more properly Da-omi, means Da's belly. Da was,
two hundred and fifty years ago, the king of the city of Abomey. It was
attacked by Tacudona the chief of the Fois. It resisted bravely, and
Tacudona made a vow that if he took it he would sacrifice the king to
the gods. When he captured the town he carried out his vow by ripping
open the king, and then called the place Daomi. Gradually the conquerors
extended their power until the kingdom reached to the very foot of the
Atlas range, obtaining a port by the conquest of Whydah. The King of
Dahomey is a despot, and even his nobility crawl on the ground in his
presence. The taxes are heavy, every article sold in the market paying
about one eighteenth to the royal exchequer. There are besides many
other taxes. Every slave is taxed, every article that enters the
kingdom. If a cock crow it is forfeited, and, as it is the nature of
cocks to crow, every bird in the kingdom is muzzled. The property of
every one who dies goes to the king; and at the Annual Custom, a grand
religious festival, every man has to bring a present in proportion to
his rank and wealth. The royal pomp is kept up by receiving strangers
who visit the country with much state, and by regaling the populace with
spectacles of human sacrifices. The women stand high in Dahomey.
Among other negro nations they till the soil. In Dahomey they fight as
soldiers, and perform all the offices of men. Dahomey is principally
celebrated for its army of women, and its human sacrifices. These last
take place annually, or even more often. Sometimes as many as a thousand
captives are slain on these occasions. In almost all the pagan nations
of Africa human sacrifices are perpetrated, just as they were by the
Druids and Egyptians of old. Nowhere, however, are they carried to such
a terrible extent as in Dahomey. Even Ashanti, where matters are bad
enough, is inferior in this respect. The victims are mostly captives
taken in war, and it is to keep up the supply necessary for these
wholesale sacrifices that Dahomey is constantly at war with her
neighbors."

"But are we going to fight against women, then?" Frank asked horrified.

"Assuredly we are," Mr. Goodenough answered. "The Amazons, as white men
have christened the force, are the flower of the Dahomey army, and fight
with extraordinary bravery and ferocity."

"But it will seem dreadful to fire at women!" Frank said.

"That is merely an idea of civilization, Frank. In countries where women
are dependent upon men, leaving to them the work of providing for the
family and home, while they employ themselves in domestic duties and in
brightening the lives of the men, they are treated with respect. But as
their work becomes rougher, so does the position which they occupy in
men's esteem fall. Among the middle and upper classes throughout Europe
a man is considered a brute and a coward who lifts his hand against a
woman. Among the lower classes wife and woman beating is by no means
uncommon, nor is such an assault regarded with much more reprobation
than an attack upon a man. When women leave their proper sphere and put
themselves forward to do man's work they must expect man's treatment;
and the foolish women at home who clamor for women's rights, that is
to say, for an equality of work, would, if they had their way, inflict
enormous damage upon their sex."

"Still," Frank said, "I shan't like having to fire at women."

"You won't see much difference between women and men when the fight
begins, Frank. These female furies will slay all who fall into their
hands, and therefore in self defense you will have to assist in slaying
them."

The following day the sound of beating of drums and firing of guns was
heard, and soon afterwards the head of the army of Dahomey was seen
approaching. It moved with considerable order and regularity.

"Those must be the Amazons," Mr. Goodenough said. "They are proud of
their drill and discipline. I do not think that any other African troops
could march so regularly and solidly."

The main body of the army now came in view, marching as a loose and
scattered mob. Then twelve objects were seen dragged by oxen. These were
the cannon of the besiegers.

"How many do you think there are?" Frank asked.

"It is very difficult to judge accurately," Mr. Goodenough said. "But
Dahomey is said to be able to put fifty thousand fighting men and women
in the field, that is to say her whole adult population, except
those too old to bear arms. I should think that there are twenty or
twenty-five thousand now in sight."

The enemy approached within musket shot of the walls, and numbers of
them running up, discharged their muskets. The Abeokuta people fired
back; but Mr. Goodenough ordered the Houssas on no account to fire, as
he did not wish the enemy to know the power of their rifles.

The first step of the besiegers was to cut down all the plantations
round the town and to erect great numbers of little huts. A large
central hut with several smaller ones surrounding it was erected for the
king and his principal nobles. The Dahomans spread round the town and
by the gesticulation and pointing at the gates it was clear that the
defenses raised to cover these excited great surprise.

The wall was thick enough for men to walk along on the top, but being
built of clay it would withstand but little battering. Mr. Goodenough
set a large number of people to work, making sacks from the rough cloth,
of which there was an abundance in the place. These were filled with
earth and piled in the center of the town ready for conveyance to
any point threatened. He likewise had a number of beams, used in
construction of houses, sharpened at one end; stakes of five or six feet
long were also prepared and sharpened at both ends. That day the enemy
attempted nothing against the town. The next morning the twelve cannon
were planted at a distance of about five hundred yards and opened fire
on the walls. The shooting was wild in the extreme; many of the balls
went over the place altogether; others topped the wall and fell in the
town; some hit the wall and buried themselves in the clay.

"We will give them a lesson," Mr. Goodenough said, "in the modern rifle.
Frank, you take my double barrel rifle and I will take the heavy, large
bored one. Your Winchester will scarcely make accurate firing at five
hundred yards."

The Houssas were already on the wall, anxious to open fire. Mr.
Goodenough saw that their rifles were sighted to five hundred yards.
The cannon offered an easy mark. They were ranged along side by side,
surrounded by a crowd of negroes, who yelled and danced each time a shot
struck the wall.

"Now," Mr. Goodenough said to the Houssas, "fire steadily, and, above
all, fire straight. I want every shot to tell."

Mr. Goodenough gave the signal, and at once Frank and the Houssas
opened fire. The triumphant yells of the Dahomans at once changed their
character, and a cry of wrath and astonishment broke from them. Steadily
Mr. Goodenough and his party kept up their fire. They could see that
great execution was being done, a large proportion of the shots telling.
Many wounded were carried to the rear, and black forms could be seen
stretched everywhere on the ground. Still the enemy's fire continued
with unabated vigor.

"They fight very pluckily," Frank said.

"They are plucky," Mr. Goodenough answered; "and as cowardice is
punished with death, and human life has scarcely any value among them,
they will be killed where they stand rather than retreat."

For three or four hours the fight continued. Several officers, evidently
of authority, surrounded by groups of attendants, came down to the guns;
but as Frank and Mr. Goodenough always selected these for their mark,
and--firing with their guns resting on the parapet--were able to make
very accurate shooting, most of them were killed within a few minutes of
their arriving on the spot.

At the end of four hours the firing ceased, and the Dahomans retired
from their guns. The Abeokuta people raised a cry of triumph.

"I imagine they have only fallen back," Mr. Goodenough said, "to give
the guns time to cool."

While the cannonade had been going on a brisk attack had been kept up on
several other points of the wall, the enemy advancing within fifty yards
of this and firing their muskets, loaded with heavy charges of slugs, at
the defenders, who replied vigorously to them. Their cannonade was
not resumed that afternoon, the Dahomans contenting themselves with
skirmishing round the walls.

"They are disappointed with the result of their fire," Mr. Goodenough
said. "No doubt they anticipated they should knock the wall down without
difficulty. You will see some change in their tactics tomorrow."

That night Mr. Goodenough had a number of barrels of palm oil carried on
to the wall, with some of the great iron pots used for boiling down the
oil, and a supply of fuel.

"If they try to storm," he said, "it will most likely be at the point
which they have been firing at. The parapet is knocked down in several
places, and the defenders there would be more exposed to their fire."

It was at this point, therefore, that the provision of oil was placed.
Mr. Goodenough ordered fires to be lighted under the boilers an hour
before daybreak, in order that all should be in readiness in case an
attack should be made the first thing in the morning. The Abeokutans
were in high spirits at the effect of the fire of their white allies,
and at the comparative failure of the cannon, at whose power they had
before been greatly alarmed. Soon after daylight the Dahomans were seen
gathering near the guns. Their drums beat furiously, and presently they
advanced in a solid mass against the wall.

"They have got ladders," Mr. Goodenough said. "I can see numbers of them
carrying something."

The Houssas at once opened fire, and as the enemy approached closer,
first the Abeokutans who had muskets, then the great mass with bows and
arrows, began to fire upon the enemy, while these answered with their
musketry. The central body, however, advanced without firing a shot,
moving like the rest at a quick run.

Mr. Goodenough and Frank were not firing now, as they were devoting
themselves to superintending the defence. Ostik kept close to them,
carrying Frank's Winchester carbine and a double barreled shotgun.

"This is hot," Mr. Goodenough said, as the enemy's slugs and bullets
whizzed in a storm over the edge of the parapet, killing many of the
defenders, and rendering it difficult for the others to take accurate
aim. This, however, the Abeokutans did not try to do. Stooping below
the parapet, they fitted their arrows to the string, or loaded their
muskets, and then, standing up, fired hastily at the approaching throng.

The walls were about twenty-five feet high inside, but the parapet gave
an additional height of some four feet outside. They were about three
feet thick at the top, and but a limited number of men could take post
there to oppose the storming party. Strong bodies were placed farther
along on the wall to make a rush to sweep the enemy off should they gain
a footing. Others were posted below to attack them should they leap down
into the town, while men with muskets were on the roofs of the houses
near the walls, in readiness to open fire should the enemy get a footing
on the wall. The din was prodigious.

The Dahomans, having access to the sea coast, were armed entirely with
muskets, these being either cheap Birmingham trade guns or old converted
muskets, bought by traders for a song at the sale of disused government
stores. It is much to be regretted that the various governments of
Europe do not insist that their old guns shall be used only as old iron.
The price obtained for them is so trifling as to be immaterial, and
the great proportion of them find their way to Africa to be used in
the constant wars that are waged there, and to enable rich and powerful
tribes to enslave and destroy their weaker neighbors. The Africans use
very much heavier charges of powder than those in used in civilized
nations, ramming down a handful of slugs, of half a dozen small bullets,
upon the powder. This does not conduce to good shooting, but the noise
made is prodigious. The Abeokutans, on the other hand, were principally
armed with bows and arrows, as, having no direct access to the sea
coast, it was difficult for them to procure guns.

The Dahomans poured up in a mass to the foot of the wall, and then a
score of rough ladders, constructed of bamboo, and each four feet wide,
were placed against the walls. Directly the point to be attacked was
indicated, Mr. Goodenough had distributed his cauldrons of boiling oil
along the walls, and had set men to work to pierce holes through the
parapet at distances of a couple of feet apart, and at a height of six
inches from the ground. A line of men with long spears wore told to lie
down upon the ground, and to thrust through the holes at those climbing
the ladders. Another line of holes was pierced two feet higher, through
which those armed with muskets and bows were to fire, for when the
enemy reached the foot of the walls their fire was so heavy that it was
impossible to return it over the top of the parapet.

Immediately the ladders were placed, men with ladles began to throw
the boiling oil over the parapet. Shrieks and yells from below at once
testified to its effect, but it was only just where the cauldrons were
placed that the besiegers were prevented by this means from mounting
the ladders, and even here many, in spite of the agony of their burns,
climbed desperately upward.

When they neared the top the fight began in earnest. Those without were
now obliged to cease firing, and the besieged were able to stand up and
with sword and spear defend their position. The breech loaders of Mr.
Goodenough and the Houssas and Frank's repeating carbine now came into
play. The Dahomans fought with extraordinary bravery, hundreds fell shot
or cut down from above or pierced by the spears and arrows through the
holes in the parapet. Fresh swarms of assailants took their places on
the ladders. The drums kept up a ceaseless rattle, and the yells of
the mass of negroes standing inactive were deafening. Their efforts,
however, were in vain. Never did the Amazons fight with more reckless
bravery; but the position was too strong for them, and at last, after
upwards of a thousand of the assailants had fallen, the attack was given
up, and the Dahomans retired from the wall followed by the exulting
shouts of the men of Abeokuta.

The loss of the defenders was small. Some ten or twelve had been killed
with slugs. Three or four times that number were more or less severely
wounded about the head or shoulders with the same missiles. Frank had a
nasty cut on the cheek, and Firewater and Bacon were both streaming with
blood.

There was no chance of a renewal of the attack that day. Sentries were
placed on the walls, and a grand thanksgiving service was held in the
open space in the center of the town which the whole populace attended.

"What will be their next move, do you think?" Frank asked Mr.
Goodenough.

"I cannot say," Mr. Goodenough said; "but these people know something
of warfare, and finding that they cannot carry the place by assault,
I think you will find that they will try some more cautious move next
time."

For two days there was no renewal of the attack. At Mr. Goodenough's
suggestion the Abeokutans on the wall shouted out that the Dahomans
might come and carry off their dead, as he feared that a pestilence
might arise from so great a number of decomposing bodies at the foot
of the wall. The Dahomans paid no attention to the request, and, at Mr.
Goodenough's suggestion, on the second day the whole populace set to
work carrying earth in baskets to the top of the wall, and throwing this
over so as to cover the mass of bodies at its foot. As to those lying
farther off nothing could be done. On the third morning it was seen that
during the night a large number of sacks had been piled in a line upon
the ground, two hundred yards away from the wall. The pile was eight
feet in height and some fifty yards long.

"I thought they were up to something," Mr. Goodenough said. "They have
been sending back to Dahomey for sacks."

In a short time the enemy brought up their cannon, behind the shelter
of the sacks, regardless of the execution done by the rifles of Mr.
Goodenough's party during the movement. The place chosen was two or
three hundred yards to the left of that on which the former attack had
been made. Then a swarm of men set to work removing some of the sacks,
and in a short time twelve rough embrasures were made just wide enough
for the muzzles of the guns, the sacks removed being piled on the
others, raising them to the height of ten feet and sheltering the men
behind completely from the fire from the walls.

"They will make a breach now," Mr. Goodenough said. "We must prepare to
receive them inside."

The populace were at once set to work digging holes and securely
planting the beams already prepared in a semicircle a hundred feet
across, behind the wall facing the battery. The beams when fixed
projected eight feet above the ground, the spaces between being filled
with bamboos twisted in and out between them. Earth was thrown up behind
to the height of four foot for the defenders to stand upon. The space
between the stockade and the wall was filled with sharp pointed bamboos
and stakes stuck firmly in the ground with their points projecting
outwards. All day the townspeople labored at these defenses, while the
wall crumbled fast under the fire of the Dahomey artillery, every shot
of which, at so short a distance, struck it heavily. By five in the
afternoon a great gap, fifty feet wide, was made in the walls, and the
army of Dahomey again gathered for the assault. Mr. Goodenough with two
of the Houssas took his place on the wall on one side of the gap, Frank
with the other two faced him across the chasm. A large number of the
Abeokuta warriors also lined the walls, while the rest gathered on the
stockade.

With the usual tumult of drumming and yells the Dahomans rushed to
the assault. The fire from the walls did not check the onset in the
slightest, and with yells of anticipated victory they swarmed over the
breach. A cry of astonishment broke from them as they saw the formidable
defense within, the fire of whose defenders was concentrated upon them.
Then, with scarce a pause, they leaped down and strove to remove the
obstructions. Regardless of the fire poured upon them they hewed away
at the sharp stakes, or strove to pull them up with their hands. The
riflemen on the walls directed their fire now exclusively upon the
leaders of the column, the breech loaders doing immense execution, and
soon the Dahomans in their efforts to advance had to climb over lines of
dead in their front. For half an hour the struggle continued, and then
the Dahomans lost heart and retired, leaving fifteen hundred of their
number piled deep in the space between the breach and the stockade.

"This is horrible work," Frank said when he rejoined Mr. Goodenough.

"Horrible, Frank; but there is at least the consolation that by this
fearful slaughter of their bravest warriors we are crippling the
power of Dahomey as a curse and a scourge to its neighbors. After this
crushing repulse the Abeokutans may hope that many years will elapse
before they are again attacked by their savage neighbors, and the
lessons which they have now learned in defense will enable them to make
as good a stand on another occasion as they have done now."

"Do you think the attack will be renewed?"

"I should hardly think so. The flower of their army must have fallen,
and the Amazon guard must have almost ceased to exist. I told you,
Frank, you would soon get over your repugnance to firing at women."

"I did not think anything about women," Frank said. "We seemed to be
fighting a body of demons with their wild screams and yells. Indeed, I
could scarce distinguish the men from the women."

A strong guard was placed at night at the stockade, and Mr. Goodenough
and Frank lay down close at hand in case the assault should be renewed.
At daybreak the sound of a cannon caused them to start to their feet.

"They are not satisfied yet," Mr. Goodenough exclaimed, hurrying to the
wall. In the night the Dahomans had either with sacks or earth raised
their cannon some six feet, so that they were able to fire over the
mound caused by the fallen wall at the stockade behind it, at which they
were now directing their fire.

"Now for the sacks," Mr. Goodenough said. Running down, he directed the
sacks laden with earth, to whose necks ropes had been attached, to
be brought up. Five hundred willing hands seized them, and they were
lowered in front of the center of the stockade, which was alone exposed
to the enemy's fire, until they hung two deep over the whole face.
As fast as one bag was injured by a shot it was drawn up and another
lowered to its place. In the meantime the rifles from the walls had
again opened fire, and as the gunners were now more exposed their shots
did considerable execution. Seeing the uselessness of their efforts the
Dahomans gradually slackened their fire.

When night came Mr. Goodenough gathered two hundred of the best troops
of Abeokuta. He caused plugs to be made corresponding to the size of
the various cannonballs which were picked up within the stockade, which
varied from six to eighteen pounders.

About midnight the gate nearest to the breach was thrown open, and the
party sallied out and made their way towards the enemy's battery.
The Dahomans had placed sentries in front facing the breach, but
anticipating no attack in any other direction had left the flanks
unguarded. Mr. Goodenough had enjoined the strictest silence on his
followers, and their approach was unobserved until they swept round
into the battery. Large numbers of the enemy were lying asleep here, but
these, taken by surprise, could offer no resistance, and were cut down
or driven away instantly by the assailants.

Mr. Goodenough and Frank, with a party who had been told off specially
for the purpose, at once set to work at the cannon. These were filled
nearly to the muzzle with powder, and the plugs were driven with mallets
tight into the muzzles. Slow matches, composed of strips of calico
dipped in saltpetre, were placed in the touch holes. Then the word was
given, and the whole party fell back to the gate just as the Dahomans in
great numbers came running up. In less than a minute after leaving the
battery twelve tremendous reports, following closely one upon another
were heard. The cannon were blown into fragments, killing numbers of the
Dahomey men who had just crowded into the battery.



CHAPTER XVI: CAPTIVES IN COOMASSIE


Upon the morning following the successful sortie not an enemy could be
seen from the walls. Swift runners were sent out, and these returned in
two hours with news that the enemy were in full retreat towards their
capital. The people of Abeokuta were half wild with exultation and joy,
and their gratitude to their white allies was unbounded. Mr. Goodenough
begged them not to lose an hour in burying their slain enemies, and
the entire population were engaged for the two following days upon this
necessary but revolting duty. The dead were counted as they were placed
in the great pits dug for their reception, and it was found that no
fewer than three thousand of the enemy had fallen.

Mr. Goodenough also advised the Abeokutans to erect flanking towers at
short intervals round their walls, to dig a moat twenty feet wide and
eight deep at a few yards from their foot, and to turn into it the water
from the river in order that any future attack might be more easily
repelled.

The inhabitants were poor, but they would willingly have presented all
their treasures to their white allies. Mr. Goodenough, however, would
accept nothing save a few specimens of native cloth exquisitely woven
from the inner barks of the trees, and some other specimens of choice
native workmanship. He also begged them to send down to the coast by the
first opportunity the cases of specimens which had been collected since
the departure of the Fans.

A violent attack of fever, brought on by their exertions in the sun,
prostrated both the white travelers a few days after the termination of
the siege, and it was some weeks before they were able to renew their
journey. Their intention was to ascend the river for some distance,
to move westward into upper Ashanti, and then to make their way to
Coomassie, whence they would journey down to Cape Coast and there take
ship for England. As soon as they were able to travel they took leave
of their friends at Abeokuta, who furnished them with carriers for their
cases and hammock bearers for their journey as far as the Volta. This
lasted for a fortnight through an open and fertile country. Then
they crossed the river and entered Ashanti, the great rival empire of
Dahomey. As Ashanti was at peace with England they had now no fear of
molestation on their journey.

Ashanti consisted of five or six kingdoms, all of which had been
conquered, and were tributary to it. The empire of Ashanti was separated
by the river Prah from the country of the Fantis, who lived under
British protection. The people drew their supplies from various points
on the coast, principally, however, through Elmina, a Dutch settlement,
five miles to the west of Cape Coast. The Ashantis could not be called
peaceable neighbors. They, like the Dahomans, delighted in human
sacrifices upon a grand scale, and to carry these out captives must be
taken. Consequently every four or five years, on some pretext or other,
they cross the Prah, destroyed the villages, dragged away the people to
slavery or death, and carried fire and sword up to the very walls of the
English fort at Cape Coast. Sometimes the English confined themselves
to remonstrance, sometimes fought, not always successfully, as upon one
occasion Sir Charles Macarthy, the governor, with a West Indian regiment
was utterly defeated, the governor himself and all his white officers,
except three, being killed.

In 1828 we aided the Fantis to defeat the Ashantis in a decisive battle,
the consequence of which was the signature of a treaty, by which the
King of Ashanti recognized the independence of all the Fanti tribes. In
1844, and again in 1852, a regular protectorate was arranged between
the British and the Fantis, the former undertaking to protect them from
enemies beyond the borders, and in turn exercising an authority over
the Fantis, forbidding them to make war with each other, and imposing a
nominal tribute upon them.

In 1853 the Ashantis again crossed the Prah, but, being met with
firmness, retired again. After ten years' quiet, in 1863 they again
invaded the country, burnt thirty villages, and slaughtered their
inhabitants. Governor Price then urged upon the home authorities the
necessity for the sending out from England of two thousand troops to aid
the native army in striking a heavy blow at the Ashantis, and so putting
a stop to this constant aggression. The English government, however,
refused to entertain the proposal. In order to encourage the natives
some companies of West Indian troops were marched up to the Prah. The
wet season set in, and, after suffering terribly from sickness, the
survivors returned five months later to Cape Coast.

Up to this period the Dutch trading ports and forts upon the coast were
interspersed with ours, and as the tribes in their neighborhood were
under Dutch protection constant troubles were arising between the Dutch
tribes and our own, and in 1867 an exchange was effected, the Dutch
ceding all their forts and territory east of the Sweet river, a small
stream which falls into the sea midway between Cape Coast and Elmina,
while we gave up all our forts to the west of this stream. Similarly
the protectorate of the tribes inland up to the boundary of the Ashanti
kingdom changed hands. The natives were not consulted as to this treaty,
and some of those formerly under British protection, especially the
natives of Commendah, refused to accept the transfer, and beat off
with loss the Dutch troops who attempted to land. The Dutch men of war
bombarded and destroyed Commendah.

This step was the commencement of fresh troubles between the Ashantis
and the English. The Commendah people were Fantis, and as such the
implacable enemies of the Elmina people, who had under Dutch protection
been always allies of the Ashantis, and had been mainly instrumental
in supplying them with arms and ammunition. The Fantis, regarding
the Elmina natives and the Dutch as one power, retaliated for the
destruction of Commendah by invading the territory of the Elmina tribe,
destroying their villages and blockading the Dutch in their port.
Another reason for this attack upon the Elminas was that an Ashanti
general, named Atjempon, had marched with several hundred men through
the Fanti country, burning, destroying, and slaying as usual, and had
taken refuge with his men in Elmina. From this time the desultory war
between the Elminas and their Ashanti allies, and the Fantis of the
neighborhood had never ceased. Our influence over our allies was
but small, for we in vain endeavored to persuade them to give up the
invasion of Elmina. We even cut off the supplies of powder and arms to
the Fantis, whose loyalty to our rule was thereby much shaken.

All these troubles induced the Dutch to come to the decision to
withdraw altogether, and they accordingly offered to transfer all their
possessions to us. The English government determined not to accept the
transfer if it should lead to troubles with the natives, and as a first
step required that the Ashanti force should leave Elmina. In 1870 the
King of Ashanti wrote to us claiming Elmina as his, and protesting
against its being handed over to us. According to native ideas the king
of Ashanti's claim was a just one. The land upon which all the forts,
English, Dutch, Danish, and French, were built had been originally
acquired from the native chiefs at a fixed annual tribute, or as we
regarded it as rent, or as an annual present in return for friendly
relations. By the native customs he who conquers a chief entitled to
such a payment becomes the heir of that payment, and one time the King
of Ashanti upon the strength of his conquest of the Fantis set up a
claim of proprietorship over Cape Coast and the other British forts.

Of a similar nature was the claim of the Ashantis upon Elmina. The Dutch
had paid eighty pounds a year, as they asserted, as a present, and they
proved conclusively that they had never regarded the King of Ashanti as
having sovereignty over their forts, and that he had never advanced such
a claim. They now arrested Atjempon, and refused to pay a further sum
to the King of Ashanti until he withdrew his claim. In order to settle
matters amicably they sent an envoy to Coomassie with presents for the
king, and obtained from him a repudiation of his former letter, and a
solemn acknowledgment that the money was not paid as a tribute. The
king sent down two ambassadors to Elmina, who solemnly ratified this
declaration.

The transfer was then effected. We purchased from the Dutch their forts
and stores, but the people of Elmina were told that we should not take
possession of the place except with their consent; but it was pointed
out to them that if they refused to accept our protection they would be
exposed as before to the hostility of the Fantis. They agreed to accept
our offer, and on the 4th of April, 1872, a grand council was hold, the
king and chiefs of Elmina announced the agreement of their people to the
transfer, and we took possession of Elmina, Atjempon and the Ashantis
returning to their own country.

Upon the transfer taking place, Mr. Pope Hennessey, the governor of
the colony, sent to the King of Ashanti saying that the English desired
peace and friendship with the natives, and would give an annual present,
double that which he had received from the Dutch. At the same time
negotiations were going on with the king for the free passage of Ashanti
traders to the coast, and for the release of four Germans who had been
carried off ten years before by Aboo Boffoo, one of the king's generals,
from their mission station on British territory near the Volta. The king
wrote saying that Aboo Boffoo would not give them up without a ransom
of eighteen hundred ounces of gold, and protracted negotiations went on
concerning the payments of these sums.

At the time when Mr. Goodenough and Frank had landed on the Gaboon,
early in 1872, nothing was known of any anticipated troubles with
Ashanti. The negotiations between the English and the Dutch were in
progress, but they had heard that the English would not take over Elmina
without the consent of the inhabitants, and that they would be willing
to increase the payment made by the Dutch to the king of Ashanti. It was
known too that efforts would be made to settle all points of difference
with the king; and as at Abeokuta they received news that the
negotiations were going on satisfactorily, and that there was no
prospect whatever of trouble, they did not hesitate to carry out the
plans they had formed.

Before crossing the Volta, they sent across to inquire of the chief of
the town there whether two English travelers would be allowed to pass
through Ashanti, and were delayed for a fortnight until a messenger was
sent to Coomassie and returned with a letter, saying that the king
would be glad to see white men at his capital. With this assurance they
crossed the stream. They were received in state by the chief, who at
once provided them with the necessary carriers, and with them a guard,
which he said would prevent any trouble on their way. On the following
day they started, and after arriving, at the end of a day's journey, at
a village, prepared to stop as usual for a day or two to add to their
collection. The officer of the guard, however, explained to them through
Bacon, who spoke the Ashanti language, that his instructions were, that
they were to go straight through to Coomassie. In vain Mr. Goodenough
protested that this would entirely defeat the object of his journey. The
officer was firm. His orders were that they were to travel straight
to Coomassie, and if he failed in carrying these out, his head would
assuredly be forfeited.

"This is serious, Frank," Mr. Goodenough said. "If this fellow has not
blundered about his orders, it is clear that we are prisoners. However,
it may be that the king merely gave a direction that we should be
escorted to the capital, having no idea that we should want to loiter
upon the way."

They now proceeded steadily forward, making long day's marches. The
officer in command of the guard was most civil, obtaining for them an
abundance of provisions at the villages at which they stopped, and
as Frank and his companion were both weakened by fever he enlisted
sufficient hammock bearers for them, taking fresh relays from each
village. He would not hear of their paying either for provisions or
bearers, saying that they were the king's guests, and it would be an
insult to him were they to pay for anything.

Ten days after starting from the Volta they entered Coomassie. This
town lay on rising ground, surrounded by a deep marsh of from forty to
a hundred yards wide. A messenger had been sent on in front to announce
their coming, and after crossing the marsh they passed under a great
fetish, or spell, consisting of a dead sheep wrapped up in red silk and
suspended from two poles.

Mr. Goodenough and Frank took their places at the head of the little
procession. On entering the town they were met by a crowd of at least
five thousand people, for the most part warriors, who fired their guns,
shouted, and yelled. Horns, drums, rattles, and gongs added to the
appalling noise. Men with flags performed wild dances, in which the
warriors joined. The dress of the captains consisted of war caps with
gilded rams' horns projecting in front, and immense plumes of eagles'
feathers on each side. Their vest was of red cloth, covered with
fetishes and charms in cases of gold, silver, and embroidery. These were
interspersed with the horns and tails of animals, small brass bells, and
shells. They wore loose cotton trousers, with great boots of dull red
leather coming halfway up to the thigh, and fastened by small chains to
their waist belts, also ornamented with bells, horse tails, strings of
amulets, and strips of colored leather. Long leopards' tails hung down
their backs.

Through this crowd the party moved forward slowly, the throng thickening
at every step. They were escorted to a house which they were told was
set aside for their use, and that they would be allowed to see the king
on the following day. The houses differed entirely from anything which
they had before seen in Africa. They were built of red clay, plastered
perfectly smooth. There were no windows or openings on the exterior, but
the door led into an open courtyard of some twelve feet in diameter. On
each side of this was a sort of alcove, built up of clay, about three
feet from the ground. This formed a couch or seat, some eight feet long
by three feet high, with a thatched roof projecting so as to prevent the
rain beating into the alcove. Beyond were one or more similar courts
in proportion to the size of the house. A sheep and a quantity of
vegetables and fruits were sent in in the course of the day, but they
were told not to show themselves in the streets until they had seen the
king.

"We shall be expected to make his majesty a handsome present," Mr.
Goodenough said, "and, unfortunately, our stores were not intended for
so great a potentate. I will give him my double barreled rifle and your
Winchester, Frank. I do not suppose he has seen such an arm. We had
better get them cleaned up and polished so as to look as handsome as
possible."

In the morning one of the captains came and said that the king was in
readiness to receive them, and they made their way through a vast crowd
to the marketplace, an open area, nearly half a mile in extent. The sun
was shining brightly, and the scene was a brilliant one. The king, his
Caboceers or great tributaries, his captains, and officers were seated
under a vast number of huge umbrellas, some of them fifteen feet across.
These were of scarlet, yellow, and other showy colors in silks and
cloths, with fantastically scalloped and fringed valences. They were
surmounted with crescents, birds, elephants, barrels, and swords of
gold, and on some were couched stuffed animals. Innumerable smaller
umbrellas of striped stuff were borne by the crowd, and all these
were waved up and down, while a vast number of flutes, horns and other
musical instruments sounded in the air. All the principal people wore
robes woven of foreign silk, which had been unraveled for working into
native patterns. All had golden necklaces and bracelets, in many cases
so heavy that the arms of the bearers were supported on boys' heads.
The whole crowd, many thousands in number, shone with gold, silver, and
bright colors.

The king received them with dignity, and expressed his satisfaction at
seeing them, his speech being interpreted by one of his attendants, who
spoke English. Mr. Goodenough replied that they had very great pleasure
in visiting the court of his majesty, that they had already been
traveling for many months in Africa, having started from the Gaboon and
traveled through many tribes, but had they had any idea of visiting so
great a king they would have provided themselves with presents fit for
his acceptance. But they were simple travelers, catching the birds,
beasts, and insects of the country, to take home with them to show to
the people in England. The only things which they could offer him were
a double barreled breech loading rifle of the best English construction,
and a little gun, which would fire sixteen times without loading.

The king examined the pieces with great attention, and, at his request,
Mr. Goodenough fired off the whole contents of the magazine of the
repeating rifle, whose action caused the greatest astonishment to
the assembled chiefs. The king then intimated his acceptance of the
presents, and said that he would speak farther with them on a future
occasion. He informed them that they were free to move about in the town
where they wished, and that the greatest respect would be shown to them
by the people. There was a fresh outburst of wild music, and they were
then conducted back to their house.

After the assembly had dispersed the two Englishmen walked about through
the town. It was not of great extent, but the streets were broad and
well kept. Many of the houses were much larger than that allotted to
them, but all were built on the same plan. It was evident that the great
mass of the population they saw about must live in villages scattered
around, the town being wholly insufficient to contain them.

Three days afterwards they were told that the king wished to see them in
his palace. This was a large building situated at the extremity of the
town. It was constructed of stone, and was evidently built from European
designs. It was square, with a flat roof and embattled parapet. They
were conducted through the gateway into a large courtyard, and then into
a hall where the king sat upon a raised throne. Attendants stood round
fanning him.

"Why," he asked abruptly as they took their places before him, "do the
English take my town of Elmina?"

Mr. Goodenough explained that he had been nine months absent from the
coast, and that having come straight out from England he was altogether
unaware of what had happened at Elmina.

"Elmina is mine," the king said. "The Dutch, who were my tributaries,
had no right to hand it over to the English."

"But I understood, your majesty, that the English were ready to pay an
annual sum, even larger than that which the Dutch have contributed."

"I do not want money," the king said. "I have gold in plenty. There
are places in my dominions where ten men in a day can wash a thousand
ounces. I want Elmina, I want to trade with the coast."

"But the English will give your majesty every facility for trade."

"But suppose we quarrel," the king said, "they can stop powder and guns
from coming up. If Elmina were mine I could bring up guns and powder at
all times."

"Your majesty would be no better off," Mr. Goodenough said; "for the
English in case of war could stop supplies from entering."

"My people will drive them into the sea," the king said. "We have been
troubled with them too long. They can make guns, but they cannot fight.
My people will eat them up. We fought them before; and see," he said
pointing to a great drum, from the edge of which hung a dozen human
skulls, "the heads of the White men serve to make a fetish for me."

He then waved his hand to signify that the audience was terminated.

"Things look bad, Frank," Mr. Goodenough said as they walked towards
their home. "I fear that the king is determined upon war, and if so our
lives are not worth a month's purchase."

"It can't be helped," Frank said as cheerfully as he could. "We
must make the best of it. Perhaps something may occur to improve our
position."

The next day the four German missionaries, who had so long been kept
captive, called upon them, and they obtained a full insight into the
position. This seemed more hopeful than the king's words had given them
to expect. The missionaries said that negotiations were going on for
their release, and that they expected very shortly to be sent down to
Cape Coast. So far as they knew everything was being done by the English
to satisfy the king, and they looked upon the establishment of peace as
certain. They described the horrible rites and sacrifices which they had
been compelled to witness, and said that at least three thousand persons
were slaughtered annually in Coomassie.

"You noticed," one of them said, "the great tree in the marketplace
under which the king sat. That is the great fetish tree. A great
many victims are sacrificed in the palace itself, but the wholesale
slaughters take place there. The high brushwood comes up to within
twenty yards of it, and if you turn in there you will see thousands of
dead bodies or their remains putrefying together."

"I thought I felt a horribly offensive smell as I was talking to the
king," Frank said shuddering. "What monsters these people must be! Who
would have thought that all that show of gold and silver and silks and
bright colors covered such horrible barbarism!"

After chatting for some time longer, and offering to do anything in
their power to assist the captives, the Germans took their leave.



CHAPTER XVII: THE INVASION OF FANTI LAND


The following morning Mr. Goodenough and Frank were called to the door
by the noise of a passing crowd, and to their horror saw a man being
taken to sacrifice. He was preceded by men beating drums, his hands were
pinioned behind him. A sharp thin knife was passed through his cheeks,
to which his lips were noozed like the figure 8. One ear was cut off and
carried before him, the other hung to his head by a small piece of skin.
There were several gashes in his back, and a knife was thrust under each
shoulder blade. He was led by a cord passed through a hole bored in his
nose. Frank ran horror stricken back into the house, and sat for a while
with his hand over his eyes as if to shut out the ghastly spectacle.

"Mr. Goodenough," he said presently, "if we are to be killed, at least
let us die fighting to the last, and blow out our own brains with the
last shots we have left. I don't think I'm afraid of being killed, but
to be tortured like that would be horrible."

The next day a message was brought them that their retaining private
guards was an insult to the king, and that the Houssas must remove
to another part of the town. Resistance was evidently useless. Mr.
Goodenough called his four men together and told them what had happened.

"I am sorry I have brought you into this plight, my poor fellows,"
he said. "There are now but two things open to you. You can either
volunteer to join the king's army and then try to make your escape as an
opportunity may offer, or slip away at once. You are accustomed to the
woods, and in native costume might pass without notice. You can all
swim, and it matters not where you strike the Prah. If you travel at
night and lie in the woods by day you should be able to get through. At
any rate you know that if you try to escape and are caught you will be
killed. If you stop here it is possible that no harm may happen to you,
but on the other hand you may at any moment be led out to sacrifice. Do
not tell me your decision; I shall be questioned, and would rather be
able to say that I was ignorant that you intended to escape. There is
one other thing to settle. There is a long arrear of pay due to you for
your good and faithful service. It would be useless for me to pay you
now, as the money might be found on you and taken away, and if you
should be killed it would be lost to your friends. I have written here
four orders on my banker in England, which the agents down at Cape Coast
will readily cash for you. Each order is for twice the sum due to you.
As you have come into such great danger in my service, and have behaved
so faithfully, it is right that you should be well rewarded. Give me the
names of your wives or relatives whom you wish to have the money. Should
any of you fall and escape, I will, on my arrival at Cape Coast, send
money, double the amount I have written here, to them."

The men expressed themselves warmly grateful for Mr. Goodenough's
kindness, gave him the names and addresses of their wives, and then,
with tears in their eyes, took their leave.

"Now, Ostik, what do you say?" Mr. Goodenough asked, turning to him.

"I stay here, sar," Ostik said. "Houssas fighting men, creep through
wood, crawl on stomach. Dey get through sure enough. Ostik stay with
massa. If dey kill massa dey kill Ostik. Ostik take chance."

"Very well, Ostik, if we get through safe together you shall not have
reason to regret your fidelity. Now, Frank, I think it would be a good
thing if you were to spend some hours every day in trying to pick up as
much of the language here as you can. You are quick at it, and were able
to make yourself understood by our bearers far better than I could do.
You already know a great many words in four or five of these dialects.
They are all related to each other, and with what you know you would in
a couple of months be able to get along very well in Ashanti. It
will help to pass your time and to occupy your mind. There will be no
difficulty in finding men here who have worked down on the coast and
know a little English. If we get away safely you will not regret that
your time has been employed. If we have trouble your knowledge of the
language may in some way or other be of real use to you. We can go round
to the Germans, who will, no doubt, be able to put you in the way of
getting a man."

The next day they were again sent for to the king, who was in a high
state of anger at having heard that the Houssas had escaped.

"I know nothing about it," Mr. Goodenough said. "They were contented
when they were with me, and had no wish to go. Your soldiers took them
away yesterday afternoon, and I suppose they were frightened. It was
foolish of them. They should have known that a great king does not
injure travelers who come peacefully into his country. They should have
known better. They were poor, ignorant men, who did not know that the
hospitality of a king is sacred, and that when a king invites travelers
to enter his country they are his guests, and under his protection."

When the interpreter translated this speech the king was silent for two
or three minutes. Then he said, "My white friend is right, They were
foolish men. They could not know these things. If my warriors overtake
them no harm shall come to them."

Pleased with the impression that his words had evidently made Mr.
Goodenough returned to Frank, who had not been ordered to accompany him
to the palace. In the afternoon the king sent a sheep and a present
of five ounces of gold, and a message that he did not wish his white
friends to remain always in the town, but that they might walk to any
of the villages within a circle of three or four miles, and that four
of his guards would always accompany them to see that no one interfered
with or insulted them. They were much pleased with this permission, as
they were now enabled to renew their work of collecting. It took them,
too, away from the sight of the horrible human sacrifices which went
on daily. Through the German missionaries they obtained a man who had
worked for three years down at Cape Coast. He accompanied them on their
walks, and in the evening sat and talked with Frank, who, from the
knowledge of native words which he had picked up in his nine months'
residence in Africa, was able to make rapid progress in Ashanti. He
had one or two slight attacks of fever, but the constant use of quinine
enabled him to resist their effect, and he was now to some degree
acclimatized, and thought no more of the attacks of fever than he would
have done at home of a violent bilious attack.

This was not the case with Mr. Goodenough. Frank observed with concern
that he lost strength rapidly, and was soon unable to accompany him in
his walks. One morning he appeared very ill.

"Have you a touch of fever, sir?"

"No, Frank, it is worse than fever, it is dysentery. I had an attack
last time I was on the coast, and know what to do with it. Get the
medicine chest and bring me the bottle of ipecacuanha. Now, you must
give me doses of this just strong enough not to act as an emetic, every
three hours."

Frank nursed his friend assiduously, and for the next three days hoped
that he was obtaining a mastery over the illness. On the fourth day an
attack of fever set in.

"You must stop the ipecacuanha, now," Mr. Goodenough said, "and Frank,
send Ostik round to the Germans, and say I wish them to come here at
once."

When these arrived Mr. Goodenough asked Frank to leave him alone with
them. A quarter of an hour later they went out, and Frank, returning,
found two sealed envelopes on the table beside him.

"My boy," he said, "I have been making my will. I fear that it is all
over with me. Fever and dysentery together are in nine cases out of ten
fatal. Don't cry, Frank," he said, as the lad burst into tears. "I would
gladly have lived, but if it is God's will that it should be otherwise,
so be it. I have no wife or near relatives to regret my loss--none, my
poor boy, who will mourn for me as sincerely as I know that you will do.
In the year that we have been together I have come to look upon you as
my son, and you will find that I have not forgotten you in my will. I
have written it in duplicate. If you have an opportunity send one of
these letters down to the coast. Keep the other yourself, and I trust
that you will live to carry it to its destination. Should it not be so,
should the worst come to the worst, it will be a consolation to you to
know that I have not forgotten the little sister of whom you have spoken
to me so often, and that in case of your death she will be provided
for."

An hour later Mr. Goodenough was in a state of delirium, in which he
remained all night, falling towards morning into a dull coma, gradually
breathing his last, without any return of sensibility, at eight in the
morning.

Frank was utterly prostrated with grief, from which he roused himself to
send to the king to ask permission to bury his friend.

The king sent down to say how grieved he was to hear of the white man's
death. He had ordered many of his warriors to attend his funeral. Frank
had a grave dug on a rising spot of ground beyond the marsh. In the
evening a great number of the warriors gathered round the house, and
upon the shoulders of four of them Mr. Goodenough was conveyed to his
last resting place, Frank and the German missionaries following with
a great crowd of warriors. The missionaries read the service over the
grave, and Frank returned heart broken to his house, with Ostik, who
also felt terribly the loss of his master.

Two days later a wooden cross was erected over the grave. Upon this
Frank carved the name of his friend. Hearing a week afterwards that the
king was sending down a messenger to Cape Coast, Frank asked permission
to send Mr. Goodenough's letter by him. The king sent for him.

"I do not wish any more troubles," he said, "or that letters should be
sent to the governor. You are my guest. When the troubles are settled I
will send you down to the coast; but we have many things to write about,
and I do not want more subjects for talk."

Frank showed the letter and read the address, and told the king that it
was only a letter to the man of business of Mr. Goodenough in England,
giving directions for the disposal of his property there.

The king then consented that his messenger should take the letter.

At the end of December, when Frank had been nearly three months at
Coomassie, one of the Germans said to him:

"The king speaks fairly, and seems intent upon his negotiations; but he
is preparing secretly for war. An army is collecting on the Prah. I hear
that twelve thousand men are ordered to assemble there."

"I have noticed," Frank said, "that there have been fewer men about than
usual during the last few days. What will happen to us, do you think?"

The missionary shook his head.

"No one can say," he said. "It all depends upon the king's humor. I
think, however, that he is more likely to keep us as hostages, and to
obtain money for us at the end of the war, than to kill us. If all goes
well with his army we are probably safe; but if the news comes of any
defeat, he may in his rage order us to be executed."

"What do you think are the chances of defeat?" Frank asked.

"We know not," the missionary said; "but it seems probable that the
Ashantis will turn the English out of the coast. The Fantis are of
no use. They were a brave people once, and united might have made a
successful resistance to the Ashantis; but you English have made women
of them. You have forbidden them to fight among themselves, you have
discouraged them in any attempts to raise armies, you have reduced
the power of the chiefs, you have tried to turn them into a race of
cultivators and traders instead of warriors, and you can expect no
material aid from them now. They will melt away like snow before the
Ashantis. The king's spies tell him that there are only a hundred
and fifty black troops at Cape Coast. These are trained and led by
Englishmen, but, after all, they are only negroes, no braver than the
Ashantis. What chance have they of resisting an army nearly a hundred to
one stronger than themselves?"

"Is the fort at Cape Coast strong?" Frank asked.

"Yes, against savages without cannon. Besides, the guns of the ships of
war would cover it."

"Well," Frank said, "if we can hold that, they will send out troops from
England."

"They may do so," the missionary asserted; "but what could white troops
do in the fever haunted forests, which extend from Coomassie to the
coast?"

"They will manage somehow," Frank replied confidently. "Besides, after
all, as I hear that the great portion of Ashanti lying beyond this is
plain and open country, the Ashantis themselves cannot be all accustomed
to bush fighting, and will suffer from fever in the low, swamp land."

Three days later the king sent for Frank.

"The English are not true," he said angrily. "They promised the people
of Elmina that they should be allowed to retain all their customs as
under the Dutch. They have broken their word. They have forbidden the
customs. The people of Elmina have written to me to ask me to deliver
them. I am going to do so."

Frank afterwards learned that the king's words were true. Colonel
Harley, the military commandant, having, with almost incredible fatuity,
and in spite of the agreement which had been made with the Elminas,
summoned their king and chiefs to a council, and abruptly told them that
they would not be allowed henceforth to celebrate their customs,
which consisted of firing of guns, waving of flags, dancing, and other
harmless rites. The chiefs, greatly indignant at this breach of the
agreement, solemnly entered into with them, at once, on leaving the
council, wrote to the King of Ashanti, begging him to cross the Prah and
attack the English. Frank could only say that he knew nothing of what
was going on at the coast, and could only think that his majesty must
have been misinformed, as the English wished to be friendly with the
Ashantis.

"They do not wish it," the king said furiously; "they are liars."

A buzz of approval sounded among the cabooceers and captains standing
round. Frank thought that he was about to be ordered to instant
execution, and grasped a revolver, which he held in his pocket,
resolving to shoot the king first, and then to blow out his own brains,
rather than to be put to the horrible tortures which in Ashanti always
precede death.

Presently the king said suddenly to him:

"My people tell me that you can talk to them in their own tongue."

"I have learnt a little Ashanti," Frank said in that language. "I cannot
talk well, but I can make myself understood."

"Very well," the king said. "Then I shall send you down with my general.
You know the ways of English fighting, and will tell him what is best
to do against them. When the war is over and I have driven the English
away, I will send you away also. You are my guest, and I do not wish to
harm you. Tomorrow you will start. Your goods will be of no more use to
you. I have ordered my treasurer to count the cloth, and the powder, and
the other things which you have, and to pay you for them in gold. You
may go."

Frank retired, vowing in his heart that no information as to the best
way of attacking the English should be obtained from him. Upon the whole
he was much pleased at the order, for he thought that some way of making
his escape might present itself. Such was also the opinion of Ostik when
Frank told him what had taken place at the palace.

An hour later the king's treasurer arrived. The whole of the trade goods
were appraised at fair prices, and even the cases were paid for, as the
treasurer said that these would be good for keeping the king's state
robes. Frank only retained his own portmanteau with clothes, his bed and
rugs, and the journals of the expedition, a supply of ammunition for his
revolver, his medicine chest, tent, and a case with chocolate, preserved
milk, tea, biscuits, rice, and a couple of bottles of brandy.

In the morning there was a great beating of drums.

Four carriers had been told off for Frank's service, and these came in,
took up his baggage, and joined the line. Frank waited till the general,
Ammon Quatia, whom he had several times met at the palace, came along,
carried in a hammock, with a paraphernalia of attendants bearing chairs,
umbrellas, and flags. Frank fell in behind these accompanied by
Ostik. The whole population of Coomassie turned out and shouted their
farewells.

There was a pause in the marketplace while a hundred victims were
sacrificed to the success of the expedition. Frank kept in the thick of
the warriors so as to avoid witnessing the horrible spectacle.

As they passed the king he said to the general, "Bring me back the
head of the governor. I will place it on my drum by the side of that of
Macarthy."

Then the army passed the swamp knee deep in water, and started on their
way down to the Prah. Three miles further they crossed the river Dah at
Agogo, where the water was up to their necks. The road was little
more than a track through the forest, and many small streams had to be
crossed.

It was well that Frank had not had an attack of fever for some time,
for they marched without a stop to Fomanse, a distance of nearly thirty
miles. Fomanse was a large town. Many of the houses were built in the
same style as those at Coomassie, and the king's palace was a stone
building. That night Frank slept in a native house which the general
allotted to him close to the palace. The army slept on the ground.

The next morning they crossed a lofty hill, and then descending again
kept along through the forest until, late in the afternoon, they arrived
on the Prah. This river was about sixty yards wide, and here, in roughly
made huts of boughs, were encamped the main army, who had preceded them.
Here there was a pause for a week while large numbers of carriers came
down with provisions. Then on the 22d of January the army crossed the
Prah in great canoes of cottonwood tree, which the troops who first
arrived had prepared.

Had the Ashanti army now pushed forward at full speed, Cape Coast and
Elmina must have fallen into their hands, for there were no preparations
whatever for their defence. The Assims, whose territory was first
invaded, sent down for assistance, but Mr. Hennessey refused to believe
that there was any invasion at all, and when the King of Akim, the
most powerful of the Fanti potentates, sent down to ask for arms and
ammunition, Mr. Hennessey refused so curtly that the King of Akim was
grievously offended, and sent at once to the Ashantis to say that he
should remain neutral in the war.

About this time Mr. Hennessey, whose repeated blunders had in no slight
degree contributed to the invasion, was relieved by Mr. Keate, who at
once wholly alienated the Fantis by telling them that they must defend
themselves, as the English had nothing more to do with the affair
than to defend their forts. Considering that the English had taken the
natives under their protection, and that the war was caused entirely by
the taking over of Elmina by the English and by their breach of faith to
the natives there, this treatment of the Fantis was as unjust as it was
impolitic.

Ammon Quatia, however, seemed to be impressed with a spirit of prudence
as soon as he crossed the river. Parties were sent out, indeed, who
attacked and plundered the Assim villages near the Prah, but the main
body moved forward with the greatest caution, sometimes halting for
weeks.

The Ashanti general directed Frank always to pitch his tent next to the
hut occupied by himself. Four guards were appointed, nominally to do him
honor, but really, as Frank saw, to prevent him from making his escape.
These men kept guard, two at a time, night and day over the tent, and if
he moved out all followed him. He never attempted to leave the camp.
The forest was extremely dense with thick underwood and innumerable
creepers, through which it would be almost impossible to make a way.
The majority of the trees were of only moderate height, but above them
towered the cotton trees and other giants, rising with straight stems to
from two hundred and fifty to three hundred feet high. Many of the trees
had shed their foliage, and some of these were completely covered with
brilliant flowers of different colors. The woods resounded with the
cries of various birds, but butterflies, except in the clearings, were
scarce.

The army depended for food partly upon the cultivated patches around
the Assim villages, partly on supplies brought up from the rear. In the
forest, too, they found many edible roots and fruits. In spite of the
efforts to supply them with food, Frank saw ere many weeks had passed
that the Ashantis were suffering much from hunger. They fell away in
flesh. Many were shaking with fever, and the enthusiasm, which was
manifest at the passage of the Prah, had entirely evaporated.

The first morning after crossing the river Frank sent Ostik into the
hut of the general with a cup of hot chocolate, with which Ammon Quatia
expressed himself so much gratified that henceforth Frank sent in a
cup every morning, having still a large supply of tins of preserved
chocolate and milk, the very best food which a traveler can take with
him. In return the Ashanti general showed Frank many little kindnesses,
sending him in birds or animals when any were shot by his men, and
keeping him as well provided with food as was possible under the
circumstances.

It was not until the 8th of April that any absolute hostilities took
place. Then the Fantis, supported by fifty Houssas under Lieutenant
Hopkins, barred the road outside the village of Dunquah. The Ashantis
attacked, but the Fantis fought bravely, having great confidence in the
Houssa contingent. The battle was one of the native fashion, neither
side attempting any vigorous action, but contenting themselves with a
heavy fire at a distance of a hundred yards. All the combatants took
shelter behind trees, and the consequence was that at the end of the day
a great quantity of powder and slugs had been fired away, and a very few
men hit on either side. At nightfall both parties drew off.

"Is that the way your English soldiers fight?" the general asked Frank
that night.

"Yes," Frank said vaguely; "they fire away at each other."

"And then I suppose," the general said, "when one party has exhausted
its ammunition it retires."

"Certainly it would retire," Frank said. "It could not resist without
ammunition you know."

Frank carefully abstained from mentioning that one side or the other
would advance even before the ammunition of its opponents was expended,
for he did not wish the Ashantis to adopt tactics which, from their
greatly superior numbers, must at once give them a victory. The Ashantis
were not dissatisfied with the day's work, as they considered that they
had proved themselves equal to the English troops.



CHAPTER XVIII: THE ATTACK ON ELMINA


On the 14th the Fantis took the initiative, and attacked the Ashantis.
The fight was a mere repetition of that of a week before, and about
midday the Fantis, having used up all their ammunition, fell back again
to Cape Coast.

"Now," the general said to Frank, "that we have beaten the Fantis we
shall march down to Elmina."

Leaving the main road at Dunquah the army moved slowly through the bush
towards Elmina, thirty miles distant, halting in the woods some eight
miles from the town, and twelve from Cape Coast.

"I am going," the general said, "to look at the English forts. My white
friend will go with me."

With fifty of his warriors Ammon Quatia left the camp, and crossing a
stream came down upon the sea coast, a short distance west of Elmina.
With them were several of the Elmina tribe, who had come up to the camp
to welcome the Ashantis. They approached to within three or four hundred
yards of the fort, which was separated from them by a river.

The forts on the west coast of Africa, not being built to resist
artillery, are merely barracks surrounded by high walls sufficiently
thick to allow men to walk in single file along the top, to fire over
the parapet. The tops of the walls being castellated, the buildings have
an appearance of much strength. The fort of Elmina is of considerable
size, with a barrack and officers' quarters within it. One side faces
the river, and another the sea.

"It is a wonderful fort," the Ashanti general said, much impressed by
its appearance.

"Yes," Frank replied. "And there are cannon on the top, those great
black things you see sticking out. Those are guns, and each carries
balls enough to kill a hundred men with each shot."

The general looked for some time attentively. "But you have castles in
the white men's country, how do you take them?"

"We bring a great many cannon throwing balls of iron as big as my head,"
Frank answered, "and so knock a great hole in the wall and then rush
in."

"But if there are no cannon?" the general urged.

"We never attack a castle without cannon," Frank said. "But if we had
no cannon we might try to starve the people out; but you cannot do that
here, because they would land food from the sea."

The general looked puzzled. "Why do the white men come here?

"They come to trade," he said presently.

"Yes, they come to trade," Frank replied.

"And they have no other reason?"

"No," Frank said. "They do not want to take land, because the white man
cannot work in so hot a climate."

"Then if he could not trade he would go away?" the general asked.

"Yes," Frank agreed, "if he could do no trade it would be no use
remaining here."

"We will let him do no trade," the general said, brightening up. "If we
cannot take the forts we will surround them closely, and no trade can
come in and out. Then the white man will have to go away. As to the
Fantis we will destroy them, and the white men will have no one to fight
for them."

"But there are white troops," Frank said.

"White soldiers?" the Ashanti asked surprised. "I thought it was only
black soldiers that fought for the whites. The whites are few, they are
traders."

"The English are many," Frank said earnestly. "For every man that the
King of Ashanti could send to fight, England could send ten. There are
white soldiers, numbers of them, but they are not sent here. They are
kept at home to fight other white nations, the French and the Dutch and
the Danes, and many others, just as the kings of Africa fight against
each other. They are not sent here because the climate kills the whites,
so to guard the white traders here we hire black soldiers; but, when
it is known in England that the King of Ashanti is fighting against our
forts, they will send white troops."

Ammon Quatia was thoughtful for some time. "If they come," he said at
length, "the fevers will kill them, The white man cannot live in the
swamps. Your friend, the white guest of the king, died at Coomassie."

"Yes," Frank asserted, "but he had been nearly a year in the country
before he died. Three weeks will be enough for an English army to march
from Cape Coast to Coomassie. A few might die, but most of them would
get there."

"Coomassie!" the general exclaimed in surprise. "The white men would be
mad to think of marching against the city of the great king. We should
make great fetish, and they would all die when they had crossed the
river."

"I don't think, General," Frank said dryly, "that the fetishes of the
black man have any effect upon the white men. A fetish has power when it
is believed in. A man who knows that his enemy has made a fetish against
him is afraid. His blood becomes like water and he dies. But the whites
do not believe in fetishes. They laugh at them, and then the fetishes
cannot hurt them."

The general said no more, but turned thoughtfully and retired to his
camp. It was tantalizing to Frank to see the Union Jack waving within
sight, and to know that friends were so near and yet to be unable to
stretch out his hand to them.

He was now dressed in all respects like a native, the king having, soon
after his arrival at Coomassie, sent a present of clothes such as were
worn by his nobles, saying that the people would not notice them so much
if they were dressed like themselves. Consequently, had the party been
seen from the castle walls the appearance of an Englishman among them
would have been unobserved.

Three days later the general with a similar party crossed the Sweet
river at night, and proceeded along the sea coast to within a few
hundred yards of Cape Coast Castle, whose appearance pleased him no more
than that of Elmina had done.

The Ashantis were now better supplied with food, as they were able to
depend upon the Elmina tribes who cultivated a considerable extent of
ground, and to add to the stock, the Ashanti soldiers were set to work
to aid in planting a larger extent of ground than usual, a proof in
Frank's mind that the general contemplated making a long stay, and
blockading Elmina and Cape Coast into surrender if he could not carry
them by assault.

The natives of Africa are capable of great exertion for a time, but
their habitual attitude is that of extreme laziness. One week's work in
the year suffices to plant a sufficient amount of ground to supply the
wants of a family. The seed only requires casting into the earth, and
soon the ground will be covered with melons and pumpkins. Sweet potatoes
and yams demand no greater cultivation, and the bananas and plantains
require simply to be cut. For fifty-one weeks in the year the negro
simply sits down and watches his crops grow. To people like these time
is of absolutely no value. Their wants are few. Their garden furnishes
them with tobacco. They make drink from the palm or by fermenting the
juice of the cocoanut. The fowls that wander about in the clearings
suffice when carried down occasionally to the port, to pay for the few
yards of calico and strings of beads which are all that is necessary for
the clothing and decoration of a family.

Such people are never in a hurry. To wait means to do nothing. To
do nothing is their highest joy. Their tomorrow means a month hence,
directly, a week. If, then, the Ashanti army had been detained for one
year or five before the English settlements, it would have been a matter
of indifference to them, so long as they could obtain food. Their women
were with them, for the wife and daughters of each warrior had carried
on head, with the army, his household goods, a tiny stool, a few
calabashes for cooking, a mat to sleep on, and baskets high piled with
provisions. They were there to collect sticks, to cook food, draw water,
bring fire for his pipe, minister to his pleasures. He could have no
more if he were at home, and was contented to wait as long as the king
ordered, were that time years distant.

Frank was often filled with disgust at seeing these noble savages lying
indolently from morn till night while their wives went miles in the
forest searching for pineapples and fruits, bent down and prematurely
aged by toil and hardship. Many of the young girls among the negroes are
pretty, with their soft eyes and skin like velvet, their merry laugh and
graceful figures. But in a very few years all this disappears, and by
middle age they are bent, and wrinkled, and old. All loads are carried
by women, with the exception only of hammocks, which are exclusively
carried by men.

Thus, then, the Ashantis settled down to what appeared to Frank to be an
interminable business, and what rendered it more tantalizing was, that
the morning and evening guns at the English forts could be plainly
heard.

It was on the 7th of June that Ammon Quatia reconnoitered Elmina, and
the news came next day that a hundred and ten white men in red coats had
landed from a ship which had arrived that morning off the coast. Frank
judged from the description that these must be marines from a ship of
war. In this he was correct, as they consisted of marines and marine
artillerymen under Lieutenant Colonel Festing, who had just arrived from
England. Three days later the Ashanti general, with a portion of his
force, moved down close to Elmina; Frank was told to accompany them.
Shortly afterwards the news came that the Elminas were all ordered
to lay down their arms. They replied by going over in a body to the
Ashantis. Ammon Quatia determined at once to attack the town, but as he
was advancing, the guns of the ships of war opened fire upon the native
town of Elmina, which lay to the west of the European quarter.

The sound of such heavy cannon, differing widely from anything they had
ever heard before, caused the Ashantis to pause in astonishment. Then
came the howl of the shells, which exploded in rapid succession in
the village, from which flames began immediately to rise. After a
few minutes' hesitation the Ashantis and Elminas again advanced. The
general, who was carried in a chair upon the shoulders of four men, took
his post on rising ground near the burning village.

"There," he said, "the English soldiers are coming out of the fort. Now
you will see."

The little body of marines and the blue jackets of the Barraconta
deployed in line as they sallied from the fort. The Ashantis opened fire
upon them, but they were out of range of the slugs. As soon as the line
was formed the English opened fire, and the Ashantis were perfectly
astonished at the incessant rattle of musketry from so small a body of
men. But it was not all noise, for the Snider bullets swept among the
crowded body of blacks, mowing them down in considerable numbers. In two
minutes the Ashantis turned and ran. The general's bearers, in spite of
his shouts, hurried away with him with the others, and Frank would have
taken this opportunity to escape had not two of his guards seized him by
the arms and hauled him along, while the other two kept close behind.

As soon as they had passed over the crest of the rise, and the British
fire had ceased, Ammon Quatia leaped from his chair and threw himself
among his flying troops, striking them right and left with his staff,
and hurling imprecations upon them.

"If you do not stop and return against the whites," he said, "I will
send every one of you back to Coomassie, and there you will be put to
death as cowards."

The threat sufficed. The fugitives rallied, and in a few minutes were
ready to march back again. It was the surprise created by the wonderful
sustained fire of the breech loaders, rather than the actual loss they
inflicted, which caused the panic.

In the meantime, believing that the Ashantis had retired, the naval
contingent went back to their boats, when the Dutch vice consul, having
ascended a hill to look round, saw that Ammon Quatia had made a detour
with his troops, and was marching against the town from the east, where
he would not be exposed to the fire of the fort. He instantly ran back
with the news.

The marines and the thirty West Indian soldiers in the fort at once
marched out, and met the Ashantis just as they were entering the town.
The fight was a severe one, and for a time neither side appeared to have
the advantage, and Frank, who, under the care of his guards, was a few
hundred yards in the rear, was filled with dismay at observing that the
Ashantis, in spite of the heavy loss they were suffering, were gaining
ground and pressing forward bravely. Suddenly he gave a shout of joy,
for on a rise on the flank of the Ashantis appeared the sailors of the
Barraconta, who had been led round from the boats by Lieutenant Wells,
R. N., who was in command. The instant these took up their position they
opened a heavy fire upon the flank of the Ashantis, who, dismayed by
this attack by fresh foes, lost heart and at once fled hastily. In the
two engagements they had lost nearly four hundred men. Frank, of course,
retired with the beaten Ashantis, and that evening Ammon Quatia told
him that the arms of the white men were too good, and that he should not
attack them again in the open.

"Their guns shoot farther, as well as quicker, than ours," he said. "Our
slugs are no use against the heavy bullets, at a distance; but in the
woods, where you cannot see twenty feet among the trees, it will be
different. If I do not attack them they must attack me, or their trade
will be starved out. When they come into the woods you will see that we
shall eat them up."

Several weeks now passed quietly. There was news that there was
great sickness among the white soldiers, and, indeed, with scarce an
exception, the marines first sent out were invalided home; but a hundred
and fifty more arrived to take their place. Some detachments of the 2d
West Indian regiment came down to join their comrades from Sierra Leone,
and the situation remained unchanged.

One night towards the end of August a messenger arrived and there was an
immediate stir.

"Now," the general said to Frank, "you are going to see us fight the
white men. Some of the big ships have gone to the mouth of the Prah,
and we believe that they are going to land in boats. You will see. The
Elmina tribes are going to attack, but I shall take some of my men to
help."

Taking fifty picked warriors Ammon Quatia started at once. They marched
all night towards the west, and at daybreak joined the Elminas. These
took post in the brushwood lining the river. The general with a dozen
men, taking Frank, went down near the mouth of the river to reconnoiter.
The ships lay more than a mile off the shore. Presently a half dozen
boats were lowered, filled with men, and taken in tow by a steam launch.
It was seen that they were making for the mouth of the river.

"Now let us go back," Ammon Quatia said. "You will see what we shall
do."

Frank felt full of excitement. He saw the English running into an
ambuscade, and he determined, even if it should cost him his life, to
warn them. Presently they heard the sharp puffs of the steam launch. The
boats were within three hundred yards.

Frank stepped forward and was about to give a warning shout when Ammon
Quatia's eye fell upon him. The expression of his face revealed his
intention to the Ashanti, who in an instant sprang upon him and hurled
him to the ground. Instantly a dozen hands seized him, and, in obedience
to the general's order, fastened a bandage tightly across his mouth, and
then bound him, standing against a tree, where he could observe what was
going on. The incident had occupied but a minute, and Frank heard the
pant of the steam launch coming nearer and nearer. Presently through
the bushes he caught a glimpse of it, and then, as it came along, of the
boats towing behind. The Elminas and Ashantis were lying upon the ground
with their guns in front of them.

The boats were but fifteen yards from the bank. When they were abreast
Ammon Quatia shouted the word of command, and a stream of fire shot out
from the bushes. In the boats all was confusion. Several were killed and
many wounded by the deadly volley, among the latter Commodore Commerell
himself, and two or three of his officers. The launch now attempted
to turn round, and the marines in the boats opened fire upon their
invisible foes, who replied steadily. In five minutes from the first
shot being fired all was over, the launch was steaming down with the
boats in tow towards the mouth of the river, the exulting shouts of the
natives ringing in the ears of those on board.

The position of Frank had not been a pleasant one while the fight
had lasted, for the English rifle bullets sang close to him in quick
succession, one striking the tree only a few inches above his head. He
was doubtful, too, as to what his fate would be at the termination of
the fight.

Fortunately Ammon Quatia was in the highest spirits at his victory. He
ordered Frank to be at once unbound.

"There, you see," he said, "the whites are of no use. They cannot fight.
They run with their eyes shut into danger. So it will be if they attack
us on the land. You were foolish. Why did you wish to call out? Are you
not well treated? Are you not the king's guest? Am I not your friend?"

"I am well treated, and you are my friend," Frank said, "but the English
are my countrymen. I am sure that were you in the hands of the English,
and you saw a party of your countrymen marching into danger, you would
call out and warn them, even if you knew that you would be killed for
doing so."

"I do not know," the Ashanti said candidly. "I cannot say what I should
do, but you were brave to run the risk, and I'm not angry with you.
Only, in future when we go to attack the English, I must gag you to
prevent your giving the alarm."

"That is fair enough," Frank said, pleased that the matter had passed
off so well, "only another time do not stick me upright against a tree
where I may be killed by English bullets. I had a narrow escape of it
this time, you see," and he pointed to the hole in the trunk of the
tree.

"I am sorry," the Ashanti general said, with an air of real concern. "I
did not think of your being in danger, I only wished you to have a good
sight of the battle; next time I will put you in a safer place."

They then returned to the camp.

The next day a distant cannonade was heard, and at nightfall the news
came that the English fleet had bombarded and burnt several Elmina
villages at the mouth of the Prah.

"Ah," the general said, "the English have great ships and great guns.
They can fight on the seaside and round their forts, but they cannot
drag their guns through the forests and swamps."

"No," Frank agreed. "It would not be possible to drag heavy artillery."

"No," Ammon Quatia repeated exultingly. "When they are beyond the
shelter of their ships they are no good whatever. We will kill them
all."

The wet season had now set in, in earnest, and the suffering of the
Ashantis were very great. Accustomed as many of them were to high lying
lands free of trees, the miasma from the swamps was well nigh as fatal
to them as it would be to Europeans. Thousands died, and many of the
rest were worn by fever to mere shadows.

"Do you think," Ammon Quatia said to Frank one day, "that it is possible
to blow up a whole town with powder?"

"It would be possible if there were powder enough," Frank said,
wondering what could be the motive of the question.

"They say that the English have put powder in holes all over Cape Coast,
and my people are afraid to go. The guns of the fort could not shoot
over the whole town, and there are few white soldiers there; but my men
fear to be blown up in the air."

"Yes," Frank said gravely. "The danger might be great. It is better that
the Ashantis should keep away from the town. But if the fever goes on as
at present the army will melt away."

"Ten thousand more men are coming down when the rains are over. The king
says that something must be done. There is talk in the English forts
that more white troops are coming out from England. If this is so I
shall not attack the towns, but shall wait for them to come into the
woods for me. Then you will see."

"Do they say there are many troops?" Frank asked anxiously.

"No; they say only some white officers, but this is foolishness. What
could white officers do without soldiers? As for the Fantis they are
cowards, they are only good to carry burdens and to hoe the ground. They
are women and not men."

During this time, when the damp rose so thick and steaming that
everything was saturated with it, Frank had a very sharp attack of
fever, and was for a fortnight, just after the repulse of the attack on
Elmina, completely prostrated. Such an attack would at his first landing
have carried him off, but he was now getting acclimatized, and his
supply of quinine was abundant. With its aid he saved a great many lives
among the Ashantis, and many little presents in the way of fruit and
birds did he receive from his patients.

"I wish I could let you go," the general said to him one day. "You are
a good white man, and my soldiers love you for the pains you take going
amongst them when they are sick, and giving them the medicine of the
whites. But I dare not do it. As you know when the king is wroth the
greatest tremble, and I dare not tell the king that I have let you
go. Were it otherwise I would gladly do so. I have written to the king
telling him that you have saved the lives of many here. It may be that
he will order you to be released."



CHAPTER XIX: THE TIDE TURNED


From many of the points in the forest held by the Ashantis the sea could
be seen, and on the morning of the 2d of October a steamer which had not
been there on the previous evening was perceived lying off the town. The
Ashantis were soon informed by spies in Elmina and Cape Coast that the
ship had brought an English general with about thirty officers. The news
that thirty men had come out to help to drive back twenty thousand was
received with derision by the Ashantis.

"They will do more than you think," Frank said when Ammon Quatia was
scoffing over the new arrival. "You will see a change in the tactics of
the whites. Hitherto they have done nothing. They have simply waited.
Now you will see they will begin to move. The officers will drill the
natives, and even a Fanti, drilled and commanded by white officers, will
learn how to fight. You acknowledge that the black troops in red coats
can fight. What are these? Some of them are Fantis, some of them
are black men from the West Indian Islands, where they are even more
peaceful than the Fantis, for they have no enemies. Perhaps alone the
Fantis would not fight, but they will have the soldiers and sailors from
on board ship with them, and you saw at Elmina how they can fight."

The ship was the Ambriz, one of the African company's steamers, bringing
with it thirty-five officers, of whom ten belonged to the Commissariat
and Medical staff. Among the fighting men were Sir Garnet Wolseley,
Colonel M'Neil, chief of his staff, Major T. D. Baker, 18th Regiment,
Captain Huyshe, Rifle Brigade, Captain Buller, 60th Rifles, all of the
staff; Captain Brackenbury, military secretary, and Lieutenant Maurice,
R. A., private secretary, Major Home, R. E., Lieutenant Saunders, R.
A., and Lieutenant Wilmot, R. A.. Lieutenant Colonel Evelyn Wood, 90th
Regiment, and Major B. C. Russell, 13th Hussars, were each to form and
command a native regiment, having the remainder of the officers as their
assistants.

The Ambriz had left England on the 12th of September, and had touched
at Madeira and at the various towns on the coast on her way down, and
at the former place had received the news of the disaster to the naval
expedition up the Prah.

The English government had been loath to embark upon such an expedition,
but a petition which had been sent home by the English and native
traders at Sierra Leone and Elmina had shown how great was the peril
which threatened the colony, and it had been felt that unless an effort
was made the British would be driven altogether from their hold of the
coast. When the expedition was at last determined upon, the military
authorities were flooded with recommendations and warnings of all kinds
from persons who knew the coast. Unfortunately these gentlemen differed
so widely from each other, that but little good was gained from their
counsels. Some pronounced the climate to be deadly. Others said that
it was really not bad. Some warmly advocated a moderate use of spirits.
Others declared that stimulants were poison. One advised that all
exercise should be taken between five and seven in the morning. Another
insisted that on no account should anyone stir out until the sun had
been up for an hour, which meant that no one should go out till half
past seven. One said take exercise and excite perspiration. Another
urged that any bodily exercise should be avoided. One consistent
gentleman, after having written some letters to the papers strongly
advocating the use of white troops upon the coast instead of West Indian
regiments, when written to by Sir Garnet Wolseley for his advice as
to articles of outfit, replied that the only article which he could
strongly commend would be that each officer should take out his coffin.

Ten days passed after the landing. It was known in the Ashanti camp that
the Fanti kings had been ordered to raise contingents, and that a
white officer had been alloted to each to assist him in this work.
The Ashantis, however, had no fear whatever on this score. The twenty
thousand natives who occupied the country south of the Prah had all been
driven from their homes by the invaders, and had scattered among the
towns and villages on the seacoast, where vast numbers had died from the
ravages of smallpox. The kings had little or no authority over them,
and it was certain that no native force, capable in any way of competing
with the army of the assailants, could be raised.

The small number of men of the 2d West Indian regiment at Elmina had
been reinforced by a hundred and twenty Houssas brought down the coast.
The Ashanti advanced parties remained close up to Elmina.

On the 13th of October Frank accompanied the Ashanti general to the
neighborhood of this town. The Ashanti force here was not a large one,
the main body being nearly twenty miles away in the neighborhood of
Dunquah, which was held by a small body of Houssas and natives under
Captain Gordon. At six in the morning a messenger ran in with the news
that two of the English war steamers from Cape Coast were lying off
Elmina, and that a number of troops had been landed in boats. The
Ashanti general was furious, and poured out threats against his spies in
Cape Coast for not having warned him of the movement, but in fact these
were not to blame. So quietly had the arrangements been made that, until
late in the previous afternoon, no one, with the exception of three or
four of the principal officers, knew that an expedition was intended.
Even then it was given out that the expedition was going down the coast,
and it was not until the ships anchored off Elmina at three in the
morning that the officers and troops were aware of their destination.
All the West Indian troops at Cape Coast had been taken, Captain Peel of
the Simoon landing fifty sailors to hold the fort in case the Ashantis
should attack it in their absence. The expedition consisted of the
Houssas, two hundred men of the 2d West India regiment, fifty sailors,
and two companies of marines and marine artillery, each fifty strong,
and a large number of natives carrying a small Armstrong gun, two rocket
tubes, rockets, spare ammunition, and hammocks for wounded.

The few Ashantis in the village next to Elmina retired at once when the
column was seen marching from the castle. Ammon Quatia had taken up his
quarters at the village of Essarman, and now advanced with his troops
and took post in the bush behind a small village about three miles from
the town. The Houssas were skirmishing in front of the column. These
entered the village which had been deserted by the Ashantis, and set it
on fire, blowing up several kegs of powder which had been left there
in the hurry of the flight. Then as they advanced farther the Ashantis
opened fire. To their surprise the British, instead of falling
back, opened fire in return, the Houssas, West Indians, and natives
discharging their rifles at random in all directions. Captain Freemantle
with the sailors, the gun, and rockets made for the upper corner of the
wood facing them to their left. Captain Crease with a company of marine
artillery took the wood on the right. The Houssas and a company of West
Indians moved along the path in the center. The remainder of the force
remained with the baggage in reserve. The Ashantis kept up a tremendous
fire, but the marines and sailors pushed their way steadily through the
wood on either side. Captain Freemantle at length gained a point where
his gun and rockets could play on Essarman, which lay in the heart of
the wood, and opened fire, but not until he had been struck by a slug
which passed through his arm. Colonel M'Neil, who was with the Houssas,
also received a severe wound in the arm, and thirty-two marines and
Houssas were wounded. The Ashantis were gradually driven out of the
village and wood, a great many being killed by the English fire.

Having accomplished this, the British force rested for an hour and
then moved on, first setting fire to Essarman, which was a very large
village. A great quantity of the Ashanti powder was stored there, and
each explosion excited yells of rage among the Ashantis. Their general
was especially angry that two large war drums had been lost. So great
was the effect produced upon the Ashantis by the tremendous fire which
the British had poured into every bush and thicket as they advanced,
that their general thought it expedient to draw them off in the
direction of his main body instead of further disputing the way.

The English now turned off towards the coast, marching part of the
way through open country, part through a bush so dense that it was
impossible to make a flank attack upon them here. In such cases as this,
when the Ashantis know that an enemy is going to approach through a
dense and impassable forest, they cut paths through it parallel to that
by which he must advance and at a few yards' distance. Then, lying in
ambush there, they suddenly open fire upon him as he comes along. As
no idea of the coming of the English had been entertained they passed
through the dense thickets in single file unmolested. These native paths
are very difficult and unpleasant walking. The natives always walk in
single file, and the action of their feet, aided by that of the rain,
often wears the paths into a deep V-shaped rut, two feet in depth.
Burning two or three villages by the way the column reached the coast at
a spot five miles from Elmina, having marched nine miles.

As the Ashantis were known to be in force at the villages of Akimfoo and
Ampene, four miles farther, a party was taken on to this point. Akimfoo
was occupied without resistance, but the Ashantis fought hard in Ampene,
but were driven out of the town into the bush, from which the British
force was too small to drive them, and therefore returned to Elmina,
having marched twenty-two miles, a prodigious journey in such a climate
for heavily armed Europeans. The effect produced among the Ashantis by
the day's fighting was immense. All their theories that the white men
could not fight in the bush were roughly upset, and they found that his
superiority was as great there as it had been in the open. His heavy
bullets, even at the distance of some hundred yards, crashed through the
brush wood with deadly effect, while the slugs of the Ashantis would not
penetrate at a distance much exceeding fifty yards.

Ammon Quatia was profoundly depressed in spirits that evening.

"The white men who come to fight us," he said, "are not like those who
come to trade. Who ever heard of their making long marches? Why, if they
go the shortest distances they are carried in hammocks. These men march
as well as my warriors. They have guns which shoot ten times as far
as ours, and never stop firing. They carry cannon with them, and have
things which fly through the air and scream, and set villages on fire
and kill men. I have never heard of such things before. What do you call
them?"

"They are called rockets," Frank said.

"What are they made of?"

"They are made of coarse powder mixed with other things, and rammed into
an iron case."

"Could we not make some too?" the Ashanti general asked.

"No," Frank replied. "At least, not without a knowledge of the things
you should mix with the powder, and of that I am ignorant. Besides, the
rockets require great skill in firing, otherwise they will sometimes
come back and kill the men who fire them."

"Why did you not tell me that the white men could fight in the bush?"

"I told you that there would be a change when the new general came, and
that they would not any longer remain in their forts, but would come out
and attack you."

A few days after this fight the Ashantis broke up their camp at Mampon,
twelve miles from Elmina, and moved eastward to join the body who were
encamped in the forest near Dunquah.

"I am going," Ammon Quatia said to Frank, "to eat up Dunquah and Abra
Crampa. We shall do better this time. We know what the English guns can
do and shall not be surprised."

With ten thousand men Ammon Quatia halted at the little village of
Asianchi, where there was a large clearing, which was speedily covered
with the little leafy bowers which the Ashantis run up at each halting
place.

Two days later Sir Garnet Wolseley with a strong force marched out from
Cape Coast to Abra Crampa, halting on the way for a night at Assaiboo,
ten miles from the town. On the same day the general sent orders to
Colonel Festing of the Marine Artillery, who commanded at Dunquah, to
make a reconnaissance into the forest from that place. In accordance
with this order Colonel Festing marched out with a gun and rocket
apparatus under Captain Rait, the Annamaboe contingent of a hundred and
twenty men under their king, directed by Captain Godwin, four hundred
other Fantis under Captain Broomhead, and a hundred men of the 2d West
India regiment. After a three mile march in perfect silence they came
upon an Ashanti cutting wood, and compelled him to act as guide. The
path divided into three, and the Annamaboes, who led the advance, when
within a few yards of the camp, gave a sudden cheer and rushed in.

The Ashantis, panic stricken at the sudden attack, fled instantly from
the camp into the bush. Sudden as was the scare Frank's guards did not
forget their duty, but seizing him dragged him off with them in their
flight, by the side of Ammon Quatia. The latter ordered the war drums to
begin to beat, and Frank was surprised at the quickness with which the
Ashantis recovered from their panic. In five minutes a tremendous fire
was opened from the whole circle of bush upon the camp. This stood
on rising ground, and the British force returned the fire with great
rapidity and effect. The Annamaboe men stood their ground gallantly, and
the West Indians fought with great coolness, keeping up a constant and
heavy fire with their Sniders. The Houssas, who had been trained as
artillerymen, worked their gun and rocket tube with great energy,
yelling and whooping as each round of grape or canister was fired into
the bush, or each rocket whizzed out.

Notwithstanding the heavy loss which they were suffering, the Ashantis
stood their ground most bravely. Their wild yells and the beating of
their drums never ceased, and only rose the louder as each volley of
grape was poured into them. They did not, however, advance beyond the
shelter of their bush, and, as the British were not strong enough to
attack them there, the duel of artillery and musketry was continued
without cessation for an hour and a half, and then Colonel Festing fell
back unmolested to Dunquah.

The Ashantis were delighted at the result of the fighting, heavy as
their loss had been. They had held their ground, and the British had not
ventured to attack them in the bush.

"You see," Ammon Quatia said exultingly to Frank, "what I told you was
true. The white men cannot fight us in the bush. At Essarman the wood
was thin and gave but a poor cover. Here, you see, they dared not follow
us."

On the British side five officers and the King of Annamaboe were
wounded, and fifty-two of the men. None were killed, the distance from
the bush to the ground held by the English being too far for the Ashanti
slugs to inflict mortal wounds.

Ammon Quatia now began to meditate falling back upon the Prah--the sick
and wounded were already sent back--but he determined before retiring to
attack Abra Crampa, whose king had sided with us, and where an English
garrison had been posted.

On the 2d of November, however, Colonel Festing again marched out from
Dunquah with a hundred men of the 2d West India regiment, nine hundred
native allies, and some Houssas with rockets, under Lieutenant Wilmot,
towards the Ashanti camp. This time Ammon Quatia was not taken by
surprise. His scouts informed him of the approach of the column, and
moving out to meet them, he attacked them in the bush before they
reached the camp. Crouching among the trees the Ashantis opened a
tremendous fire. All the native allies, with the exception of a hundred,
bolted at once, but the remainder, with the Houssas and West Indians,
behaved with great steadiness and gallantry, and for two hours kept up a
heavy Snider fire upon their invisible foes.

Early in the fight Lieutenant Wilmot, while directing the rocket tube,
received a severe wound in the shoulder. He, however, continued at his
work till, just as the fight was ended, he was shot through the heart
with a bullet. Four officers were wounded as were thirteen men of the
2d West India regiment. One of the natives was killed, fifty severely
wounded, and a great many slightly. After two hours' fighting Colonel
Festing found the Ashantis were working round to cut off his retreat,
and therefore fell back again on Dunquah. The conduct of the native
levies here and in two or three smaller reconnaisances was so bad that
it was found that no further dependence could be placed upon them, and,
with the exception of the two partly disciplined regiments under Colonel
Wood and Major Russell, they were in future treated as merely fit to act
as carriers for the provisions.

Although the second reconnaissance from Dunquah had, like the first,
been unsuccessful, its effect upon the Ashantis was very great. They
had themselves suffered great loss, while they could not see that any
of their enemies had been killed, for Lieutenant Wilmot's body had been
carried off. The rockets especially appalled them, one rocket having
killed six, four of whom were chiefs who were talking together. It was
true that the English had not succeeded in forcing their way through the
bush, but if every time they came out they were to kill large numbers
without suffering any loss themselves, they must clearly in the long run
be victorious.

What the Ashantis did not see, and what Frank carefully abstained from
hinting to Ammon Quatia, was that if, instead of stopping and firing at
a distance beyond that which at their slugs were effective, they were
to charge down upon the English and fire their pieces when they reached
within a few yards of them, they would overpower them at once by their
enormous superiority of numbers. At ten paces distant a volley of slugs
is as effective as a Snider bullet, and the whole of the native troops
would have bolted the instant such a charge was made. In the open such
tactics might not be possible, as the Sniders could be discharged twenty
times before the English line was reached, but in the woods, where the
two lines were not more than forty or fifty yards apart, the Sniders
could be fired but once or at the utmost twice, while the assailants
rushed across the short intervening space.

Had the Ashantis adopted these tactics they could have crushed with
ease the little bands with which the English attacked them. But it is
characteristic of all savages that they can never be got to rush down
upon a foe who is prepared and well armed. A half dozen white men have
been known to keep a whole tribe of Red Indians at a distance on the
prairie. This, however, can be accounted for by the fact that the power
of the chiefs is limited, and that each Indian values his own life
highly and does not care to throw it away on a desperate enterprise.
Among the Ashantis, however, where the power of the chiefs is very great
and where human life is held of little account, it is singular that such
tactics should not have been adopted.

The Ashantis were now becoming thoroughly dispirited. Their sufferings
had been immense. Fever and hunger had made great ravages among them,
and, although now the wet season was over a large quantity of food could
be obtained in the forest, the losses which the white men's bullets,
rockets, and guns had inflicted upon them had broken their courage. The
longing for home became greater than ever, and had it not been that they
knew that troops stationed at the Prah would prevent any fugitives from
crossing, they would have deserted in large numbers. Already one of the
divisions had fallen back.

Ammon Quatia spent hours sitting at the door of his hut smoking and
talking to the other chiefs. Frank was often called into council, as
Ammon Quatia had conceived a high opinion of his judgment, which had
proved invariably correct so far.

"We are going," he said one day, "to take Abra Crampa and to kill its
king, and then to fall back across the Prah."

"I think you had better fall back at once," Frank answered. "When
you took me with you to the edge of the clearing yesterday I saw that
preparations had been made for the defense, and that there were white
troops there. You will never carry the village. The English have thrown
up breastworks of earth, and they will lie behind these and shoot down
your men as they come out of the forest."

"I must have one victory to report to the king if I can," Ammon Quatia
said. "Then he can make peace if he chooses. The white men will not wish
to go on fighting. The Fantis are eager for peace and to return to their
villages. What do you think?"

"If it be true that white troops are coming out from England, as the
Fanti prisoners say," Frank answered, "you will see that the English
will not make peace till they have crossed the Prah and marched to
Coomassie. Your king is always making trouble. You will see that this
time the English will not be content with your retiring, but will in
turn invade Ashanti."

Ammon Quatia and the chiefs laughed incredulously.

"They will not dare to cross the Prah," Ammon Quatia said. "If they
enter Ashanti they will be eaten up."

"They are not so easy to eat up," Frank answered. "You have seen how a
hundred or two can fight against your whole army. What will it be when
they are in thousands? Your king has not been wise. It would be better
for him to send down at once and to make peace at any price."



CHAPTER XX: THE WHITE TROOPS


Two days later Frank was awoke by a sudden yell. He leaped from his
bed of boughs, seized his revolver, and rushing to the door, saw that
a party of some twenty men were attacking Ammon Quatia's hut. The two
guards stationed there had already been cut down. Frank shouted to
his four guards and Ostik to follow him. The guards had been standing
irresolute, not knowing what side to take, but the example of the young
Englishman decided them. They fired their muskets into the knot of
natives, and then charged sword in hand. Ostik drew the sword which he
always carried and followed close to his master's heels. Frank did not
fire until within two yards of the Ashantis. Then his revolver spoke out
and six shots were discharged, each with deadly effect. Then, catching
up a musket which had fallen from the hands of one of the men he had
shot, he clubbed it and fell upon the surprised and already hesitating
conspirators.

These, fortunately for Frank, had not loaded their muskets. They had
intended to kill Ammon Quatia and then to disperse instantly before aid
could arrive, believing that with his death the order for retreat across
the Prah would at once be given. Several of them had been killed by the
slugs from the muskets of Frank's guard, and his pistol had completed
their confusion. The reports of the guns called up other troops, and
these came rushing in on all sides. Scarcely did Frank and his followers
fall upon the conspirators than they took to their heels and fled into
the wood.

Ammon Quatia himself, sword in hand, had just sprung to the door of
the hut prepared to sell his life dearly, when Frank's guard fired.
The affair was so momentary that he had hardly time to realize what had
happened before his assailants were in full flight.

"You have saved my life," he said to Frank. "Had it not been for you
I must have been killed. You shall not find me ungrateful. When I have
taken Abra Crampa I will manage that you shall return to your friends.
I dare not let you go openly, for the king would not forgive me, and I
shall have enough to do already to pacify him when he hears how great
have been our losses. But rest content. I will manage it somehow."

An hour afterwards Ammon Quatia gave orders that the army should move to
the attack of Abra Crampa. The place was held by a body of marines and
sailors, a hundred West Indians, and the native troops of the king.
Major Russell was in command. The village stood on rising ground,
and was surrounded for a distance of a hundred and fifty yards by a
clearing. Part of this consisted of patches of cultivated ground, the
rest had been hastily cleared by the defenders. At the upper end stood a
church, and this was converted into a stronghold. The windows were high
up in the walls, and a platform had been erected inside for the sailors
to fire from the windows, which were partially blocked with sandbags.
The houses on the outside of the village had all been loopholed, and had
been connected by breastworks of earth. Other defenses had been thrown
up further back in case the outworks should be carried. The mission
house in the main street and the huts which surrounded it formed, with
the church, the last strongholds. For two or three days the bush round
the town had swarmed with Ashantis, whose tomtoms could be heard by the
garrison night and day.

Frank accompanied Ammon Quatia, and was therefore in the front, and had
an opportunity of seeing how the Ashantis commence an attack. The war
drums gave the signal, and when they ceased, ten thousand voices raised
the war song in measured cadence. The effect was very fine, rising as
it did from all parts of the forest. By this time the Ashantis had lined
the whole circle of wood round the clearing. Then three regular volleys
were fired, making, from the heavy charges used, a tremendous roar.

Scarcely had these ceased when the King of Abra, a splendid looking
negro standing nearly six feet four in height, stepped out from behind
the breastwork and shouted a taunting challenge to the Ashantis to come
on. They replied with a loud yell, and with the opening of a continuous
fire round the edge of the wood. On wall and roof of the village the
slugs pattered thickly; but the defenders were all in shelter, and in
reply, from breastwork and loophole, from the windows and roof of the
church, the answering Snider bullets flew out straight and deadly.
Several times Ammon Quatia tried to get his men to make a rush. The war
drums beat, the great horns sounded, and the men shouted, but each time
the English bullets flew so thick and deadly into the wood wherever the
sound rose loudest that the Ashantis' heart failed them, and they could
not be got to make the rush across the hundred yards of cleared ground.

At five o'clock the fire slackened, but shortly after dark the attack
recommenced. The moon was up and full. Frank feared that the Ashantis
would try and crawl a part of the distance across the clearing and
then make a sudden rush; but they appeared to have no idea of a silent
attack. Several times, indeed, they gathered and rushed forward in
large bodies, but each time their shouting and drums gave warning to
the besieged, and so tremendous a fire was opened upon them when they
emerged from the shadow of the trees into the moonlight, that each time
they fell back leaving the ground strewn with dead. Till midnight the
attack was continued, then the Ashantis fell back to their camp.

At Accroful, a village on the main road some four miles distant, the
attack had been heard, and a messenger sent off to Cape Coast to inform
Sir Garnet Wolseley.

In the morning fifty men of the 2d West India regiment marched from
Accroful into Abra Crampa without molestation. Later on some Abra scouts
approached the Ashanti camp and shouted tauntingly to know when the
Ashantis were coming into Abra Crampa.

They shouted in return, "After breakfast," and soon afterwards, a rocket
fired from the roof of the church falling into the camp, they again
sallied out and attacked. It was a repetition of the fight of the day
before. Several times Major Russell withheld his fire altogether, but
the Ashantis could not be tempted to show in force beyond the edge of
the wood. So inspirited were the defenders that they now made several
sorties and penetrated some distance into the wood.

At eight in the morning Sir Garnet Wolseley had marched from Cape
Coast with three hundred marines and blue jackets to the relief of the
position, but so tremendous was the heat that nearly half the men fell
exhausted by the way, and were ordered when they recovered to march back
to Cape Coast. The remainder, when they arrived at Assaibo, five
miles from Abra Crampa, were so utterly exhausted that a long halt was
necessary, although a faint but continuous fire could be heard from the
besieged place.

Chocolate and cold preserved meat were served out to the men, and in the
course of another three hours a large number of the stragglers came in.
At three o'clock, a hundred of the most exhausted men being left to hold
the village, the rest of the force with the fifty West Indians stationed
there marched forward to Buteana, where they were jointed by fifty more
men from Accroful. Just as they started from this place they met the
King of Abra, who had come out with a small body of warriors; from him
Sir Garnet learned that this road, which wound round and came in at the
back of Abra Crampa, was still open.

The Ashantis were too busy with their own operations to watch the path,
and the relieving force entered the place without firing a shot. The
firing round the town continued, but Ammon Quatia, when he saw the
reinforcements enter, at once began to fall back with the main body
of his troops, and although the firing was kept up all night, when the
besieged in the morning advanced to attack the Ashanti camp they found
it altogether deserted.

"It is of no use," the Ashanti general said to Frank. "My men cannot
fight in the open against the English guns. Besides, they do not know
what they are fighting for here; but if your general should ever cross
the Prah you will find it different. There are forests all the way to
Coomassie, as you know, and the men will be fighting in defense of their
own country, you will see what we shall do then. And now I will keep
my promise to you. Tonight your guards will go to sleep. I shall have
medicine given them which will make them sleep hard. One of the Fanti
prisoners will come to your hut and will guide you through the woods to
Assaiboo. Goodbye, my friend. Ammon Quatia has learnt that some of the
white men are good and honest, and he will never forget that he owes his
life to you. Take this in remembrance of Ammon Quatia."

And he presented Frank with a necklace composed of nuggets of gold as
big as walnuts and weighing nearly twenty pounds.

Frank in return gave the general the only article of value which he now
possessed, his revolver and tin box of cartridges, telling him that he
hoped he would never use it against the English, but that it might be of
value to him should he ever again have trouble with his own men. Frank
made a parcel of the necklace and of the gold he had received from the
king for his goods, and warned Ostik to hold himself in readiness for
flight. The camp was silent although the roar of musketry a few hundred
yards off round Abra Crampa continued unbroken. For some time Frank
heard his guards pacing outside, and occasionally speaking to each
other. Then these sounds ceased and all was quiet. Presently the front
of the tent was opened and a voice said, "Come, all is ready."

Frank came out and looked round. The Ashanti camp was deserted. Ammon
Quatia had moved away with the main body of his troops, although the
musketry fire round the village was kept up. A Fanti stood at the
door of the hut with Ostik. The four guards were sleeping quietly.
Noiselessly the little party stole away. A quarter of an hour later they
struck the path, and an hour's walking brought them to Assaiboo. Not an
Ashanti was met with along the path, but Frank hardly felt that he was
safe until he heard the challenge of "Who goes there?" from an English
sentry. A few minutes later he was taken before Captain Bradshaw, R.
N., who commanded the sailors and marines who had been left there. Very
hearty was the greeting which the young Englishman received from the
genial sailor, and a bowl of soup and a glass of grog were soon set
before him.

His arrival created quite a sensation, and for some hours he sat talking
with the officers, while Ostik was an equal subject of curiosity among
the sailors. The news that the Ashanti army was in full retreat relieved
the garrison of the place from all further fear of attack, and Frank
went to sleep before morning, and was only roused at noon when a
messenger arrived with the news that the Ashanti camp had been found
deserted, and that the road in its rear was found to be strewn
with chairs, clothes, pillows, muskets, and odds and ends of every
description. Few Ashanti prisoners had been taken, but a considerable
number of Fantis, who had been prisoners among them, had come in, having
escaped in the confusion of the retreat. Among these were many women,
several of whom had been captured when the Ashantis had first crossed
the Prah ten months before. In the afternoon Sir Garnet Wolseley, with
the greater portion of the force from Abra Crampa, marched in, and Frank
was introduced by Captain Bradshaw to the general. As the latter was
anxious to press on at once to Cape Coast, in order that the sailors
and marines might sleep on board ship that night, he asked Frank to
accompany him, and on the road heard the story of his adventures. He
invited him to sleep for the night at Government House, an invitation
which Frank accepted; but he slept worse than he had done for a long
time. It was now nearly two years since he had landed in Africa, and
during all that time he had slept, covered with a rug, on the canvas of
his little camp bed. The complete change, the stillness and security,
and, above all, the novelty of a bed with sheets, completely banished
sleep, and it was not until morning was dawning that, wrapping himself
in a rug, and lying on the ground, he was able to get a sleep. In the
morning at breakfast Sir Garnet asked him what he intended to do, and
said that if he were in no extreme hurry to return to England he could
render great services as guide to the expedition, which would start for
Coomassie as soon as the white troops arrived. Frank had already thought
the matter over. He had had more than enough of Africa, but two or three
months longer would make no difference, and he felt that his knowledge
of the Ashanti methods of war, of the country to be traversed, the
streams to be crossed, and the points at which the Ashantis would
probably make a stand, would enable him to tender really valuable
assistance to the army. He therefore told Sir Garnet Wolseley that he
had no particular business which called him urgently back, and that he
was willing to guide the army to Coomassie. He at once had quarters as
an officer assigned to him in the town, with rations for himself and
servant.

His first step was to procure English garments, for although he had
before starting laid aside his Ashanti costume, and put on that he
had before worn, his clothes were now so travel worn as to be scarce
wearable. He had no difficulty in doing this. Many of the officers were
already invalided home, and one who was just sailing was glad to dispose
of his uniform, which consisted of a light brown Norfolk shooting
jacket, knickerbockers, and helmet, as these would be of no use to him
in England.

Frank's next step was to go to the agent of Messrs. Swanzy, the
principal African merchants of the coast. This gentleman readily cashed
one of the orders on the African bank which Mr. Goodenough had, before
his death, handed over to Frank, and the latter proceeded to discharge
the long arrears of wages owing to Ostik, adding, besides, a handsome
present. He offered to allow his faithful servant to depart to join
his family on the Gaboon at once, should he wish to do so, but Ostik
declared that he would remain with him as long as he stopped in Africa.
On Frank's advice, however, he deposited his money, for safe keeping,
with Messrs. Swanzy's agent, with orders to transmit it to his family
should anything happen to him during the expedition.

Three days later Frank was attacked by fever, the result of the reaction
after so many dangers. He was at once sent on board the Simoon, which
had been established as a hospital ship; but the attack was a mild one,
and in a few days, thanks to the sea air, and the attention and nursing
which he received, he was convalescent. As soon as the fever passed
away, and he was able to sit on deck and enjoy the sea breezes, he had
many visits from the officers of the ships of war. Among these was the
captain of the Decoy gunboat.

After chatting with Frank for some time the officer said: "I am going
down the coast as far as the mouth of the Volta, where Captain Glover is
organizing another expedition. You will not be wanted on shore just at
present, and a week's rest will do you good; what do you say to coming
down with me--it will give you a little change and variety?"

Frank accepted the invitation with pleasure. An hour later the Decoy's
boat came alongside, and Frank took his place on board it, Ostik
following with his clothes. An hour later the Decoy got up her anchor
and steamed down the coast. It was delightful to Frank, sitting in a
large wicker work chair in the shade of the awning, watching the distant
shore and chatting with the officers. He had much to hear of what
had taken place in England since he left, and they on their part were
equally eager to learn about the road along which they would have to
march--at least those of them who were fortunate enough to be appointed
to the naval brigade--and the wonders of the barbarian capital. The
Decoy was not fast, about six knots being her average pace of steaming;
however, no one was in a hurry; there would be nothing to do until the
troops arrived from England; and to all, a trip down the coast was a
pleasant change after the long monotony of rolling at anchor. For some
distance from Cape Coast the shore was flat, but further on the country
became hilly. Some of the undulations reached a considerable height, the
highest, Mamquady, being over two thousand feet.

"That ought to be a very healthy place," Frank said. "I should think
that a sanatorium established there would be an immense boon to the
whites all along the coasts."

"One would think so," an officer replied "but I'm told that those hills
are particularly unhealthy. That fellow you see jutting out is said to
be extremely rich in gold. Over and over again parties have been formed
to dig there, but they have always suffered so terribly from fever that
they have had to relinquish the attempt. The natives suffer as well
as the whites. I believe that the formation is granite, the surface of
which is much decomposed; and it is always found here that the turning
up of ground that has not been disturbed for many years is extremely
unhealthy, and decomposing granite possesses some element particularly
obnoxious to health. The natives, of course, look upon the mountain as
a fetish, and believe that an evil spirit guards it. The superstition
of the negroes is wonderful, and at Accra they are, if possible, more
superstitious than anywhere else. Every one believes that every malady
under the sun is produced by fetish, and that some enemy is casting
spells upon them."

"There is more in it than you think," the doctor joined in; "although it
is not spells, but poison, which they use against each other. The use of
poison is carried to an incredible extent here. I have not been much on
shore; but the medical men, both civilian and military, who have been
here any time are convinced that a vast number of the deaths that take
place are due to poison. The fetish men and women who are the vendors of
these drugs keep as a profound secret their origin and nature, but it is
certain that many of them are in point of secrecy and celerity equal to
those of the middle ages."

"I wonder that the doctors have never discovered what plants they get
them from," Frank said.

"Some of them have tried to do so," the doctor replied; "but have
invariably died shortly after commencing their experiments; it is
believed they have been poisoned by the fetish men in order to prevent
their secrets being discovered."

The hours passed pleasurably. The beautiful neatness and order
prevailing on board a man of war were specially delightful to Frank
after the rough life he had so long led, and the silence and discipline
of the men presented an equally strong contrast to the incessant
chattering and noise kept up by the niggers.

The next morning the ship was off Accra. Here the scenery had entirely
changed. The hills had receded, and a wide and slightly undulating plain
extended to their feet, some twelve miles back. The captain was going to
land, as he had some despatches for the colony, and he invited Frank to
accompany him. They did not, as Frank expected, land in a man of war's
boat, but in a surf boat, which, upon their hoisting a signal, came out
to them. These surf boats are large and very wide and flat. They are
paddled by ten or twelve negroes, who sit upon the gunwale. These men
work vigorously, and the boats travel at a considerable pace. Each boat
has a stroke peculiar to itself. Some paddle hard for six strokes and
then easy for an equal number. Some will take two or three hard and then
one easy. The steersman stands in the stern and steers with an oar. He
or one of the crew keeps up a monotonous song, to which the crew reply
in chorus, always in time with their paddling.

The surf is heavy at Accra and Frank held his breath, as, after waiting
for a favorable moment, the steersman gave the sign and the boat darted
in at lightning speed on the top of a great wave, and ran up on the
beach in the midst of a whirl of white foam.

While the captain went up to Government House, Frank, accompanied by one
of the young officers who had also come ashore, took a stroll through
the town. The first thing that struck him was the extraordinary number
of pigs. These animals pervaded the whole place. They fed in threes and
fours in the middle of the streets. They lay everywhere in the road,
across the doors, and against the walls. They quarreled energetically
inside lanes and courtyards, and when worsted in their disputes galloped
away grunting, careless whom they might upset. The principal street of
Accra was an amusing sight. Some effort had been made to keep it free
of the filth and rubbish which everywhere else abounded. Both sides were
lined by salesmen and women sitting on little mats upon the low wooden
stools used as seats in Africa. The goods were contained in wooden
trays. Here were dozens of women offering beads for sale of an unlimited
variety of form and hue. They varied from the tiny opaque beads of all
colors used by English children for their dolls, to great cylindrical
beads of variegated hues as long and as thick as the joint of a finger.
The love of the Africans for beads is surprising. The women wear them
round the wrists, the neck, and the ankles. The occupation of threading
the little beads is one of their greatest pleasures. The threads used
are narrow fibers of palm leaves, which are very strong. The beads,
however, are of unequal sizes, and no African girl who has any respect
for her personal appearance will put on a string of beads until she has,
with great pains and a good deal of skill, rubbed them with sand and
water until all the projecting beads are ground down, and the whole are
perfectly smooth and even.

Next in number to the dealers in beads were those who sold calico, or,
as it is called in Africa, cloth, and gaudily colored kerchiefs for
the head. These three articles--beads, cotton cloth, and colored
handkerchiefs--complete the list of articles required for the attire and
adornment of males and females in Africa. Besides these goods, tobacco,
in dried leaves, short clay pipes, knives, small looking glasses, and
matches were offered for sale. The majority of the saleswomen, however,
were dealers in eatables, dried fish, smoked fish, canki--which is a
preparation of ground corn wrapped up in palm leaves in the shape of
paste--eggs, fowls, kids, cooked meats in various forms, stews, boiled
pork, fried knobs of meat, and other native delicacies, besides an
abundance of seeds, nuts, and other vegetable productions.

After walking for some time through the streets Frank and his companions
returned to the boat, where, half an hour later, the captain joined
them, and, putting off to the Decoy, they continued the voyage down the
coast.

The next morning they weighed anchor off Addah, a village at the mouth
of the Volta. They whistled for a surf boat, but it was some time before
one put out. When she was launched it was doubtful whether she would
be able to make her way through the breaking water. The surf was much
heavier here than it had been at Accra, and each wave threw the boat
almost perpendicularly into the air, so that only a few feet of the end
of the keel touched the water. Still she struggled on, although so long
was she in getting through the surf that those on board the ship thought
several times that she must give it up as impracticable. At last,
however, she got through; the paddlers waited for a minute to recover
from their exertions, and then made out to the Decoy. None of the
officers had ever landed here, and several of them obtained leave to
accompany the captain on shore. Frank was one of the party. After what
they had seen of the difficulty which the boat had in getting out, all
looked somewhat anxiously at the surf as they approached the line where
the great smooth waves rolled over and broke into boiling foam. The
steersman stood upon the seat in the stern, in one hand holding his oar,
in the other his cap. For some time he stood half turned round, looking
attentively seaward, while the boat lay at rest just outside the line of
breakers. Suddenly he waved his cap and gave a shout. It was answered by
the crew. Every man dashed his paddle into the water. Desperately they
rowed, the steersman encouraging them by wild yells. A gigantic wave
rolled in behind the boat, and looked for a moment as if she would break
into it, but she rose on it just as it turned over, and for an instant
was swept along amidst a cataract of white foam, with the speed of an
arrow. The next wave was a small one, and ere a third reached it the
boat grounded on the sand. A dozen men rushed out into the water. The
passengers threw themselves anyhow on to their backs, and in a minute
were standing perfectly dry upon the beach.

They learned that Captain Glover's camp was half a mile distant, and at
once set out for it. Upon the way up to the camp they passed hundreds of
negroes, who had arrived in the last day or two, and had just received
their arms. Some were squatted on the ground cooking and resting
themselves. Others were examining their new weapons, oiling and removing
every spot of rust, and occasionally loading and firing them off. The
balls whizzed through the air in all directions. The most stringent
orders had been given forbidding this dangerous nuisance; but nothing
can repress the love of negroes for firing off guns. There were large
numbers of women among them; these had acted as carriers on their
journey to the camp; for among the coast tribes, as among the Ashantis,
it is the proper thing when the warriors go out on the warpath, that the
women should not permit them to carry anything except their guns until
they approach the neighborhood of the enemy.

The party soon arrived at the camp, which consisted of some bell tents
and the little huts of a few hundred natives. This, indeed, was only the
place where the latter were first received and armed, and they were then
sent up the river in the steamboat belonging to the expedition, to the
great camp some thirty miles higher.

The expedition consisted only of some seven or eight English officers.
Captain Glover of the royal navy was in command, with Mr. Goldsworthy
and Captain Sartorius as his assistants. There were four other officers,
two doctors, and an officer of commissariat. This little body had the
whole work of drilling and keeping in order some eight or ten
thousand men. They were generals, colonels, sergeants, quartermasters,
storekeepers, and diplomatists, all at once, and from daybreak until
late at night were incessantly at work. There were at least a dozen
petty kings in camp, all of whom had to be kept in a good temper, and
this was by no means the smallest of Captain Glover's difficulties, as
upon the slightest ground for discontent each of these was ready at once
to march away with his followers. The most reliable portion of Captain
Glover's force were some 250 Houssas, and as many Yorabas. In addition
to all their work with the native allies, the officers of the expedition
had succeeded in drilling both these bodies until they had obtained a
very fair amount of discipline.

After strolling through the camp the visitors went to look on at the
distribution of arms and accouterments to a hundred freshly arrived
natives. They were served out with blue smocks, made of serge, and blue
nightcaps, which had the result of transforming a fine looking body of
natives, upright in carriage, and graceful in their toga-like attire,
into a set of awkward looking, clumsy negroes. A haversack, water
bottle, belts, cap pouch, and ammunition pouch, were also handed to each
to their utter bewilderment, and it was easy to foresee that at the end
of the first day's march the whole of these, to them utterly useless
articles, would be thrown aside. They brightened up, however, when the
guns were delivered to them. The first impulse of each was to examine
his piece carefully, to try its balance by taking aim at distant
objects, then to carefully rub off any little spot of rust that could be
detected, lastly to take out the ramrod and let it fall into the barrel,
to judge by the ring whether it was clean inside.

Thence the visitors strolled away to watch a number of Houssas in hot
pursuit of some bullocks, which were to be put on board the steamers
and taken up the river to the great camp. These had broken loose in the
night, and the chase was an exciting one. Although some fifty or sixty
men were engaged in the hunt it took no less than four hours to capture
the requisite number, and seven Houssas were more or less injured by
the charges of the desperate little animals, which possessed wonderful
strength and endurance, although no larger than moderate sized donkeys.
They were only captured at last by hoops being thrown over their horns,
and even when thrown down required the efforts of five or six men to tie
them. They were finally got to the wharf by two men each: one went ahead
with the rope attached to the animal's horn, the other kept behind,
holding a rope fastened to one of the hind legs. Every bull made the
most determined efforts to get at the man in front, who kept on at a
run, the animal being checked when it got too close by the man behind
pulling at its hind leg. When it turned to attack him the man in front
again pulled at his rope. So most of them were brought down to the
landing place, and there with great difficulty again thrown down, tied,
and carried bodily on board. Some of them were so unmanageable that
they had to be carried all the way down to the landing place. If
English cattle possessed the strength and obstinate fury of these little
animals, Copenhagen Fields would have to be removed farther from London,
or the entrance swept by machine guns, for a charge of the cattle would
clear the streets of London.

After spending an amusing day on shore, the party returned on board
ship. Captain Glover's expedition, although composed of only seven or
eight English officers and costing the country comparatively nothing,
accomplished great things, but its doings were almost ignored by
England. Crossing the river they completely defeated the native tribes
there, who were in alliance with the Ashantis, after some hard fighting,
and thus prevented an invasion of our territory on that side. In
addition to this they pushed forward into the interior and absolutely
arrived at Coomassie two days after Sir Garnet Wolseley.

It is true that the attention of the Ashantis was so much occupied by
the advance of the white force that they paid but little attention to
that advancing from the Volta; but none the less is the credit due to
the indomitable perseverance and the immensity of the work accomplished
by Captain Glover and his officers. Alone and single handed, they
overcame all the enormous difficulties raised by the apathy, indolence,
and self importance of the numerous petty chiefs whose followers
constituted the army, infused something of their own spirit among their
followers, and persuaded them to march without white allies against the
hitherto invincible army of the Ashantis. Not a tithe of the credit due
to them has been given to the officers of this little force.

Captain Glover invited his visitors to pass the night on shore, offering
to place a tent at their disposal; but the mosquitoes are so numerous
and troublesome along the swampy shore of the Volta that the invitations
were declined, and the whole party returned on board the Decoy. Next day
the anchor was hove and the ship's head turned to the west; and two days
later, after a pleasant and uneventful voyage, she was again off Cape
Coast, and Frank, taking leave of his kind entertainers, returned on
shore and reported himself as ready to perform any duty that might be
assigned to him.

Until the force advanced, he had nothing to do, and spent a good deal
of his time watching the carriers starting with provisions for the Prah,
and the doings of the negroes.

The order had now been passed by the chiefs at a meeting called by Sir
Garnet, that every able bodied man should work as a carrier, and while
parties of men were sent to the villages round to fetch in people
thence, hunts took place in Cape Coast itself. Every negro found in
the streets was seized by the police; protestation, indignation, and
resistance, were equally in vain. An arm or the loin cloth was firmly
griped, and the victim was run into the castle yard, amid the laughter
of the lookers on, who consisted, after the first quarter of an hour, of
women only. Then the search began in the houses, the chiefs indicating
the localities in which men were likely to be found. Some police were
set to watch outside while others went in to search. The women would at
once deny that anyone was there, but a door was pretty sure to be found
locked, and upon this being broken open the fugitive would be found
hiding under a pile of clothes or mats. Sometimes he would leap through
the windows, sometimes take to the flat roof, and as the houses join
together in the most confused way the roofs offered immense facilities
for escape, and most lively chases took place.

No excuses or pretences availed. A man seen limping painfully along the
street would, after a brief examination of his leg to see if there was
any external mark which would account for the lameness, be sent at a
round trot down the road, amid peals of laughter from the women and
girls looking on.

The indignation of some of the men thus seized, loaded and sent up
country under a strong escort, was very funny, and their astonishment
in some cases altogether unfeigned. Small shopkeepers who had never
supposed that they would be called upon to labor for the defense of
their freedom and country, found themselves with a barrel of pork
upon their heads and a policeman with a loaded musket by their side
proceeding up country for an indefinite period. A school teacher was
missing, and was found to have gone up with a case of ammunition. Casual
visitors from down the coast had their stay prolonged.

Lazy Sierra Leone men, discharged by their masters for incurable
idleness, and living doing nothing, earning nothing, kept by the
kindness of friends and the aid of an occasional petty theft, found
themselves, in spite of the European cut of their clothes, groaning
under the weight of cases of preserved provisions.

Everywhere the town was busy and animated, but it was in the castle
courtyard Frank found most amusement. Here of a morning a thousand
negroes would be gathered, most of them men sent down from Dunquah,
forming part of our native allied army. Their costumes were various but
scant, their colors all shades of brown up to the deepest black. Their
faces were all in a grin of amusement. The noise of talking and laughing
was immense. All were squatted upon the ground, in front of each was a
large keg labelled "pork." Among them moved two or three commissariat
officers in gray uniforms. At the order, "Now then, off with you," the
negroes would rise, take off their cloths, wrap them into pads, lift
the barrels on to their heads, and go off at a brisk pace; the officer
perhaps smartening up the last to leave with a cut with his stick, which
would call forth a scream of laughter from all the others.

When all the men had gone, the turn of the women came, and of these two
or three hundred, who had been seated chattering and laughing against
the walls, would now come forward and stoop to pick up the bags of
biscuit laid out for them. Their appearance was most comical when they
stooped to their work, their prodigious bustles forming an apex. At
least two out of every three had babies seated on these bustles, kept
firm against their backs by the cloth tightly wrapped round the mother's
body. But from the attitudes of the mothers the position was now
reversed, the little black heads hanging downwards upon the dark brown
backs of the women. These were always in the highest state of good
temper, often indulging when not at work in a general dance, and
continually singing, and clapping their hands.

After the women had been got off three or four hundred boys and girls,
of from eleven to fourteen years old, would start with small kegs of
rice or meat weighing from twenty-five to thirty-five pounds.
These small kegs had upon their first arrival been a cause of great
bewilderment and annoyance to the commissariat officers, for no man or
woman, unless by profession a juggler, could balance two long narrow
barrels on the head. At last the happy idea struck an officer of the
department that the children of the place might be utilized for the
purpose. No sooner was it known that boys and girls could get half men's
wages for carrying up light loads, than there was a perfect rush of
the juvenile population. Three hundred applied the first morning, four
hundred the next. The glee of the youngsters was quite exuberant.
All were accustomed to carry weights, such as great jars of water and
baskets of yams, far heavier than those they were now called to take up
the country; and the novel pleasure of earning money and of enjoying an
expedition up the country delighted them immensely.

Bullocks were now arriving from other parts of the coast, and although
these would not live for any time at Cape Coast, it was thought they
would do so long enough to afford the expedition a certain quantity of
fresh meat; Australian meat, and salt pork, though valuable in their
way, being poor food to men whose appetites are enfeebled by heat and
exhaustion.

It was not till upwards of six weeks after the fight at Abra Crampa that
the last of the Ashanti army crossed the Prah. When arriving within a
short distance of that river they had been met by seven thousand fresh
troops, who had been sent by the king with orders that they were not to
return until they had driven the English into the sea. Ammon Quatia's
army, however, although still, from the many reinforcements it had
received, nearly twenty thousand strong, positively refused to do any
more fighting until they had been home and rested, and their tales
of the prowess of the white troops so checked the enthusiasm of the
newcomers, that these decided to return with the rest.



CHAPTER XXI: THE ADVANCE TO THE PRAH


A large body of natives were now kept at work on the road up to the
Prah. The swamps were made passable by bundles of brushwood thrown into
them, the streams were bridged and huts erected for the reception of the
white troops. These huts were constructed of bamboo, the beds being made
of lattice work of the same material, and were light and cool.

On the 9th of December the Himalaya and Tamar arrived, having on
board the 23d Regiment, a battalion of the Rifle Brigade, a battery
of artillery, and a company of engineers. On the 18th, the Surmatian
arrived with the 42d. All these ships were sent off for a cruise, with
orders to return on the 1st of January, when the troops were to be
landed. A large number of officers arrived a few days later to assist in
the organization of the transport corps.

Colonel Wood and Major Russell were by this time on the Prah with their
native regiments. These were formed principally of Houssas, Cossoos,
and men of other fighting Mahomedan tribes who had been brought down the
coast, together with companies from Bonny and some of the best of
the Fantis. The rest of the Fanti forces had been disbanded, as
being utterly useless for fighting purposes, and had been turned into
carriers.

On the 26th of December Frank started with the General's staff for the
front. The journey to the Prah was a pleasant one. The stations had been
arranged at easy marches from each other. At each of these, six huts
for the troops, each capable of holding seventy men, had been built,
together with some smaller huts for officers. Great filters formed
of iron tanks with sand and charcoal at the bottom, the invention of
Captain Crease, R.M.A., stood before the huts, with tubs at which the
native bearers could quench their thirst. Along by the side of the road
a single telegraph wire was supported on bamboos fifteen feet long.

Passing through Assaiboo they entered the thick bush. The giant cotton
trees had now shed their light feathery foliage, resembling that of an
acacia, and the straight, round, even trunks looked like the skeletons
of some giant or primeval vegetation rising above the sea of foliage
below. White lilies, pink flowers of a bulbous plant, clusters of yellow
acacia blossoms, occasionally brightened the roadside, and some of the
old village clearings were covered with a low bush bearing a yellow
blossom, and convolvuli white, buff, and pink. The second night the
party slept at Accroful, and the next day marched through Dunquah. This
was a great store station, but the white troops were not to halt there.
It had been a large town, but the Ashantis had entirely destroyed it, as
well as every other village between the Prah and the coast. Every fruit
tree in the clearing had also been destroyed, and at Dunquah they had
even cut down a great cotton tree which was looked upon as a fetish by
the Fantis. It had taken them seven days' incessant work to overthrow
this giant of the forest.

The next halting place was Yancoomassie. When approaching Mansue the
character of the forest changed. The undergrowth disappeared and the
high trees grew thick and close. The plantain, which furnishes an
abundant supply of fruit to the natives and had sustained the Ashanti
army during its stay south of the Prah, before abundant, extended no
further. Mansue stood, like other native villages, on rising ground, but
the heavy rains which still fell every day and the deep swamps around
rendered it a most unhealthy station.

Beyond Mansue the forest was thick and gloomy. There was little
undergrowth, but a perfect wilderness of climbers clustered round the
trees, twisting in a thousand fantastic windings, and finally running
down to the ground, where they took fresh root and formed props to the
dead tree their embrace had killed. Not a flower was to be seen, but
ferns grew by the roadside in luxuriance. Butterflies were scarce, but
dragonflies darted along like sparks of fire. The road had the advantage
of being shady and cool, but the heavy rain and traffic had made it
everywhere slippery, and in many places inches deep in mud, while all
the efforts of the engineers and working parties had failed to overcome
the swamps.

It was a relief to the party when they emerged from the forests into the
little clearings where villages had once stood, for the gloom and quiet
of the great forest weighed upon the spirits. The monotonous too too of
the doves--not a slow dreamy cooing like that of the English variety,
but a sharp quick note repeated in endless succession--alone broke the
hush. The silence, the apparently never ending forest, the monotony of
rank vegetation, the absence of a breath of wind to rustle a leaf, were
most oppressive, and the feeling was not lessened by the dampness and
heaviness of the air, and the malarious exhalation and smell of decaying
vegetation arising from the swamps.

Sootah was the station beyond Mansue, beyond this Assin and Barracoo.
Beyond Sootah the odors of the forest became much more unpleasant, for
at Fazoo they passed the scene of the conflict between Colonel Wood's
regiment and the retiring Ashantis. In the forest beyond this were the
remains of a great camp of the enemy's, which extended for miles, and
hence to the Prah large numbers of Ashantis had dropped by the way or
had crawled into the forest to die, smitten by disease or rifle balls.

There was a general feeling of pleasure as the party emerged from the
forest into the large open camp at Prahsue. This clearing was twenty
acres in extent, and occupied an isthmus formed by a loop of the river.
The 2d West Indians were encamped here, and huts had been erected under
the shade of some lofty trees for the naval brigade. In the center was a
great square. On one side were the range of huts for the general and
his staff. Two sides of the square were formed by the huts for the white
troops. On the fourth was the hospital, the huts for the brigadier and
his staff, and the post office. Upon the river bank beyond the square
were the tents of the engineers and Rait's battery of artillery, and the
camps of Wood's and Russell's regiments. The river, some seventy yards
wide, ran round three sides of the camp thirty feet below its level.

The work which the engineers had accomplished was little less than
marvelous. Eighty miles of road had been cut and cleared, every stream,
however insignificant, had been bridged, and attempts made to corduroy
every swamp. This would have been no great feat through a soft wood
forest with the aid of good workmen. Here, however, the trees were for
the most part of extremely hard wood, teak and mahogany forming the
majority. The natives had no idea of using an axe. Their only notion of
felling a tree was to squat down beside it and give it little hacking
chops with a large knife or a sabre.

With such means and such men as these the mere work of cutting and
making the roads and bridging the streams was enormous. But not only was
this done but the stations were all stockaded, and huts erected for
the reception of four hundred and fifty men and officers, and immense
quantities of stores, at each post. Major Home, commanding the
engineers, was the life and soul of the work, and to him more than any
other man was the expedition indebted for its success. He was nobly
seconded by Buckle, Bell, Mann, Cotton, Skinner, Bates and Jeykyll,
officers of his own corps, and by Hearle of the marines, and Hare of the
22d, attached to them. Long before daylight his men were off to their
work, long after nightfall they returned utterly exhausted to camp.

Upon the 1st of January, 1874, Sir Garnet Wolseley, with his staff,
among whom Frank was now reckoned, reached the Prah. During the eight
days which elapsed before the white troops came up Frank found much to
amuse him. The engineers were at work, aided by the sailors of the naval
brigade, which arrived two days after the general, in erecting a bridge
across the Prah. The sailors worked, stripped to the waist, in the muddy
water of the river, which was about seven feet deep in the middle. When
tired of watching these he would wander into the camp of the native
regiments, and chat with the men, whose astonishment at finding a young
Englishman able to converse in their language, for the Fanti and Ashanti
dialects differ but little, was unbounded. Sometimes he would be sent
for to headquarters to translate to Captain Buller, the head of the
intelligence department, the statements of prisoners brought in by the
scouts, who, under Lord Gifford, had penetrated many miles beyond the
Prah.

Everywhere these found dead bodies by the side of the road, showing
the state to which the Ashanti army was reduced in its retreat. The
prisoners brought in were unanimous in saying that great uneasiness had
been produced at Coomassie by the news of the advance of the British to
the Prah. The king had written to Ammon Quatia, severely blaming him for
his conduct of the campaign, and for the great loss of life among his
army.

All sorts of portents were happening at Coomassie, to the great
disturbance of the mind of the people. Some of those related singularly
resembled those said to have occurred before the capture of Rome by
the Goths. An aerolite had fallen in the marketplace of Coomassie, and,
still more strange, a child was born which was at once able to converse
fluently. This youthful prodigy was placed in a room by itself, with
guards around it to prevent anyone having converse with the supernatural
visitant. In the morning, however, it was gone, and in its place was
found a bundle of dead leaves. The fetish men having been consulted
declared that this signified that Coomassie itself would disappear,
and would become nothing but a bundle of dead leaves. This had greatly
exercised the credulous there.

Two days after his arrival Frank went down at sunset to bathe in the
river. He had just reached the bank when he heard a cry among some white
soldiers bathing there, and was just in time to see one of them pulled
under water by an alligator, which had seized him by the leg. Frank had
so often heard what was the best thing to do that he at once threw off
his Norfolk jacket, plunged into the stream, and swam to the spot where
the eddy on the surface showed that a struggle was going on beneath. The
water was too muddy to see far through it, but Frank speedily came upon
the alligator, and finding its eyes, shoved his thumbs into them. In
an instant the creature relaxed his hold of his prey and made off, and
Frank, seizing the wounded man, swam with him to shore amid the loud
cheers of the sailors. The soldier, who proved to be a marine, was
insensible, and his leg was nearly severed above the ankle. He soon
recovered consciousness, and, being carried to the camp, his leg was
amputated below the knee, and he was soon afterwards taken down to the
coast.

It had been known that there were alligators in the river, a young one
about a yard long having been captured and tied up like a dog in the
camp, with a string round its neck. But it was thought that the noise
of building the bridge, and the movement on the banks, would have driven
them away. After this incident bathing was for the most part abandoned.

The affair made Frank a great favorite in the naval brigade, and of a
night he would, after dinner, generally repair there, and sit by
the great bonfires, which the tars kept up, and listen to the jovial
choruses which they raised around them.

Two days after the arrival of Sir Garnet, an ambassador came down
from the king with a letter, inquiring indignantly why the English had
attacked the Ashanti troops, and why they had advanced to the Prah.
An opportunity was taken to impress him with the nature of the English
arms. A Gatling gun was placed on the river bank, and its fire directed
upon the surface, and the fountain of water which rose as the steady
stream of bullets struck its surface astonished, and evidently filled
with awe, the Ashanti ambassador. On the following day this emissary
took his departure for Coomassie with a letter to the king.

On the 12th the messengers returned with an unsatisfactory answer to
Sir Garnet's letter; they brought with them Mr. Kuhne, one of the German
missionaries. He said that it was reported in Coomassie that twenty
thousand out of the forty thousand Ashantis who had crossed the Prah
had died. It is probable that this was exaggerated, but Mr. Kuhne had
counted two hundred and seventy-six men carrying boxes containing the
bones of chiefs and leading men. As these would have fared better than
the common herd they would have suffered less from famine and dysentery.
The army had for the most part broken up into small parties and gone to
their villages. The wrath of the king was great, and all the chiefs who
accompanied the army had been fined and otherwise punished. Mr. Kuhne
said that when Sir Garnet's letter arrived, the question of peace or war
had been hotly contested at a council. The chiefs who had been in the
late expedition were unanimous in deprecating any further attempt to
contend with the white man. Those who had remained at home, and who
knew nothing of the white man's arms, or white man's valor, were for war
rather than surrender.

Mr. Kuhne was unable to form any opinion what the final determination
would be. The German missionary had no doubt been restored as a sort of
peace offering. He was in a bad state of health, and as his brother
and his brother's wife were among the captives, the Ashanti monarch
calculated that anxiety for the fate of his relatives would induce him
to argue as strongly as possible in favor of peace.

Frank left the camp on the Prah some days before the arrival of the
white troops, having moved forward with the scouts under Lord Gifford,
to whom his knowledge of the country and language proved very valuable.
The scouts did their work well. The Ashantis were in considerable
numbers, but fell back gradually without fighting. Russell's regiment
were in support, and they pressed forward until they neared the foot of
the Adansee Hills. On the 16th Rait's artillery and Wood's regiment
were to advance with two hundred men of the 2d West Indians. The Naval
Brigade, the Rifle Brigade, the 42d, and a hundred men of the 23d would
be up on the Prah on the 17th.

News came down that fresh portents had happened at Coomassie. The word
signifies the town under the tree, the town being so called because its
founder sat under a broad tree, surrounded by his warriors, while he
laid out the plan of the future town. The marketplace was situated round
the tree, which became the great fetish tree of the town, under which
human sacrifices were offered. On the 6th, the day upon which Sir Garnet
sent his ultimatum to the king, a bird of ill omen was seen to perch
upon it, and half an hour afterwards a tornado sprang up and the fetish
tree was levelled to the ground. This caused an immense sensation in
Coomassie, which was heightened when Sir Garnet's letter arrived, and
proved to be dated upon the day upon which the fetish tree had fallen.

The Adansee Hills are very steep and covered with trees, but without
undergrowth. It had been supposed that the Ashantis would make their
first stand here. Lord Gifford led the way up with the scouts, Russell's
regiment following behind. Frank accompanied Major Russell. When Gifford
neared the crest a priest came forward with five or six supporters and
shouted to him to go back, for that five thousand men were waiting there
to destroy them. Gifford paused for a moment to allow Russell with his
regiment to come within supporting distance, and then made a rush with
his scouts for the crest. It was found deserted, the priest and his
followers having fled hastily, when they found that neither curses nor
the imaginary force availed to prevent the British from advancing.

The Adansee Hills are about six hundred feet high. Between them and the
Prah the country was once thick with towns and villages inhabited by
the Assins. These people, however, were so harassed by the Ashantis
that they were forced to abandon their country and settle in the British
protectorate south of the Prah.

Had the Adansee Hills been held by European troops the position would
have been extremely strong. A hill if clear of trees is of immense
advantage to men armed with rifles and supported by artillery, but to
men armed only with guns carrying slugs a distance of fifty yards,
the advantage is not marked, especially when, as is the case with the
Ashantis, they always fire high. The crest of the hill was very narrow,
indeed a mere saddle, with some eight or ten yards only of level ground
between the steep descents on either side. From this point the scouts
perceived the first town in the territory of the King of Adansee, one
of the five great kings of Ashanti. The scouts and Russell's regiment
halted on the top of the hill, and the next morning the scouts went out
skirmishing towards Queesa. The war drum could be heard beating in the
town, but no opposition was offered. It was not, however, considered
prudent to push beyond the foot of the hill until more troops came up.
The scouts therefore contented themselves with keeping guard, while for
the next four days Russell's men and the engineers labored incessantly,
as they had done all the way from the Prah, in making the road over the
hill practicable.

During this time the scouts often pushed up close to Queesa, and
reported that the soldiers and population were fast deserting the town.
On the fifth day it was found to be totally deserted, and Major Russell
moved the headquarters of his regiment down into it. The white officers
were much surprised with the structure of the huts of this place, which
was exactly similar to that of those of Coomassie, with their red clay,
their alcoved bed places, and their little courts one behind the other.
Major Russell established himself in the chief's palace, which was
exactly like the other houses except that the alcoves were very lofty,
and their roofs supported by pillars. These, with their red paint, their
arabesque adornments, and their quaint character, gave the courtyard the
precise appearance of an Egyptian temple.

The question whether the Ashantis would or would not fight was still
eagerly debated. Upon the one hand it was urged that if the Ashantis had
meant to attack us they would have disputed every foot of the passage
through the woods after we had once crossed the Prah. Had they done
so it may be confidently affirmed that we could never have got to
Coomassie. Their policy should have been to avoid any pitched battle,
but to throng the woods on either side, continually harassing the troops
on their march, preventing the men working on the roads, and rendering
it impossible for the carriers to go along unless protected on either
side by lines of troops. Even when unopposed it was difficult enough
to keep the carriers, who were constantly deserting, but had they been
exposed to continuous attacks there would have been no possibility of
keeping them together.

It was then a strong argument in favor of peace that we had been
permitted to advance thirty miles into their country without a shot
being fired. Upon the other hand no messengers had been sent down to
meet us, no ambassadors had brought messages from the king. This silence
was ominous; nor were other signs wanting. At one place a fetish,
consisting of a wooden gun and several wooden daggers all pointing
towards us, was placed in the middle of the road. Several kids had been
found buried in calabashes in the path pierced through and through with
stakes; while a short distance outside Queesa the dead body of a slave
killed and mutilated but a few hours before we entered it was hanging
from a tree. Other fetishes of a more common sort were to be met at
every step, lines of worsted and cotton stretched across the road, rags
hung upon bushes, and other negro trumperies of the same kind.

Five days later the Naval Brigade, with Wood's regiment and Rait's
battery, marched into Queesa, and the same afternoon the whole marched
forward to Fomana, the capital of Adansee, situated half a mile only
from Queesa. This was a large town capable of containing some seven
or eight thousand inhabitants. The architecture was similar to that
of Queesa, but the king's palace was a large structure covering a
considerable extent of ground. Here were the apartments of the king
himself, of his wives, the fetish room, and the room for execution,
still smelling horribly of the blood with which the floor and walls
were sprinkled. The first and largest court of the palace had really
an imposing effect. It was some thirty feet square with an apartment
or alcove on each side. The roofs of these alcoves were supported by
columns about twenty-five feet high. As in all the buildings the lower
parts were of red clay, the upper of white, all being covered with deep
arabesque patterns.

Fomana was one of the most pleasant stations which the troops had
reached since leaving the coast. It lay high above the sea, and the
temperature was considerably lower than that of the stations south of
the hills. A nice breeze sprung up each day about noon. The nights
were comparatively free from fog, and the town itself stood upon rising
ground resembling in form an inverted saucer. The streets were very
wide, with large trees at intervals every twenty or thirty yards along
the middle of the road.



CHAPTER XXII: THE BATTLE OF AMOAFUL


Two days after the arrival at Fomana the remaining members of the German
mission, two males, a female, and two children, were sent in by the king
with a letter containing many assurances of his desire for peace, but
making no mention of the stipulations which Sir Garnet Wolseley had laid
down. The advance was therefore to continue. The rest of the troops came
up, and on the 25th Russell's regiment advanced to Dompiassee, Wood's
regiment and Rait's battery joining him the next day. That afternoon the
first blood north of the Prah was shed. It being known that a body of
the enemy were collecting at a village a little off the road the force
moved against them. Lord Gifford led the way, as usual, with his scouts.
The enemy opened fire as soon as the scouts appeared; but these, with
the Houssa company of Russell's regiment, rushed impetuously into the
village, and the Ashantis at once bolted. Two of them were killed and
five taken prisoners.

The next halting places of the advance troops were Kiang Bossu and
Ditchiassie. It was known now that Ammon Quatia was lying with the
Ashanti army at Amoaful, but five miles away, and ambassadors arrived
from the king finally declining to accept the terms of peace. Russell's
and Wood's regiments marched forward to Quarman, within half a mile of
the enemy's outposts. The white troops came on to Insafoo, three miles
behind. Quarman was stockaded to resist an attack. Gordon with the
Houssa company lay a quarter of a mile in advance of the village,
Gifford with his scouts close to the edge of the wood. Major Home with
the engineers cut a wide path for the advance of the troops to within a
hundred yards of the village which the enemy held.

Every one knew that the great battle of the war would be fought next
morning. About half past seven on the morning of the 81st of January the
42d Regiment entered the village of Quarman, and marched through without
a halt. Then came Rait's artillery, followed by the company of the 23d
and by the Naval Brigade. The plan of operations was as follows. The
42d Regiment would form the main attacking force. They were to drive the
enemy's scouts out of Agamassie, the village in front, and were then
to move straight on, extending to the right and left, and, if possible,
advance in a skirmishing line through the bush. Rait's two little
guns were to be in their center moving upon the road itself. The right
column, consisting of half the Naval Brigade, with Wood's regiment, now
reduced by leaving garrisons at various posts along the road to three
companies, was to cut a path out to the right and then to turn parallel
with the main road, so that the head of the column should touch the
right of the skirmishing line of the 42d. The left column, consisting of
the other half of the Naval Brigade with the four companies of Russell's
regiment, was to proceed in similar fashion on the left. These columns
would therefore form two sides of a hollow square, protecting the 42d
from any of those flanking movements of which the Ashantis are so fond.
The company of the 23d was to proceed with the headquarter staff. The
Rifle Brigade were held in reserve.

Early in the morning Major Home cut the road to within thirty yards of
the village of Agamassie, and ascertained by listening to the voices
that there were not more than a score or so of men in the village.
Gifford had made a circuit in the woods, and had ascertained that the
Ashanti army was encamped on rising ground across a stream behind the
village.

Frank had been requested by Sir Garnet Wolseley to accompany the 42d, as
his knowledge of Ashanti tactics might be of value, and he might be able
by the shouts of the Ashantis to understand the orders issued to them.
The head of the 42d Regiment experienced no opposition whatever until
they issued from the bush into the little clearing surrounding the
village, which consisted only of four or five houses. The Ashantis
discharged their muskets hastily as the first white men showed
themselves, but the fire of the leading files of the column quickly
cleared them away. The 42d pushed on through the village, and then
forming in skirmishing line, advanced. For the first two or three
hundred yards they encountered no serious opposition, and they were
then received by a tremendous fire from an unseen foe in front. The left
column had not gone a hundred yards before they too came under fire.
Captain Buckle of the Engineers, who was with the Engineer laborers
occupied in cutting the path ahead of the advancing column, was shot
through the heart. A similar opposition was experienced by the right.

The roar of the fire was tremendous, so heavy indeed that all sound of
individual reports was lost, and the noise was one hoarse hissing roar.
Even the crack of Rait's guns was lost in the general uproar, but the
occasional rush of a rocket, of which two troughs with parties of Rait's
men accompanied each wing, was distinctly audible.

The 42d could for a time make scarcely any way, and the flanking columns
were also brought to a stand. Owing to the extreme thickness of the
wood and their ignorance of the nature of the ground these columns were
unable to keep in their proper position, and diverged considerably. The
Ashantis, however, made no effort to penetrate between them and the
42d. For an hour this state of things continued. The company of the
23d advanced along the main road to help to clear the bush, where the
Ashantis still fought stubbornly not two hundred yards from the village,
while two companies of the Rifle Brigade were sent up the left hand road
to keep touch with the rear of Russell's regiment.

When the fight commenced in earnest, and the 42d were brought to a stand
by the enemy, Frank lay down with the soldiers. Not a foe could be seen,
but the fire of the enemy broke out incessantly from the bushes some
twenty yards ahead. The air above was literally alive with slugs and
a perfect shower of leaves continued to fall upon the path. So
bewilderingly dense was the bush that the men soon lost all idea of the
points of the compass, and fired in any direction from which the enemy's
shots came. Thus it happened that the sailors sent in complaints to the
general that the 23d and 42d were firing at them, while the 42d and 23d
made the same complaint against the Naval Brigade. Sir Garnet, who had
taken up his headquarters at the village, sent out repeated instructions
to the commanding officers to warn their men to avoid this error.

For two hours the fight went on. Then the column to the left found
that the Ashantis in front of them had fallen back; they had, however,
altogether lost touch of the 42d. They were accordingly ordered to cut a
road to the northeast until they came in contact with them. In doing
so they came upon a partial clearing, where a sharp opposition was
experienced. The Houssas carried the open ground at a rush, but the
enemy, as usual, opened a heavy fire from the edge of the bush. The
Houssas were recalled, and fire was opened with the rockets, which soon
drove the Ashantis back, and the cutting of the path was proceeded with.

In the meantime the 42d was having a hard time of it. They had fought
their way to the edge of the swamp, beyond which lay an immense Ashanti
camp, and here the fire was so tremendously heavy that the advance was
again completely arrested. Not an enemy was to be seen, but from every
bush of the opposite side puffs of smoke came thick and fast, and a
perfect rain of slugs swept over the ground on which they were lying.
Here Rait's gun, for he was only able from the narrowness of the path to
bring one into position, did splendid service. Advancing boldly in front
of the line of the 42d, ably assisted by Lieutenant Saunders, he poured
round after round of grape into the enemy until their fire slackened a
little, and the 42d, leaping to their feet, struggled across the swamp,
which was over knee deep. Step by step they won their way through
the camp and up the hill. Everywhere the dead Ashantis lay in heaps,
attesting the terrible effect of the Snider fire and the determination
with which they had fought.

Beyond the camp, upon the hills the bush was thicker than ever, and
here, where it was impossible for the white soldiers to skirmish through
the bush, the Ashantis made a last desperate stand. The narrow lane up
which alone the troops could pass was torn as if by hail with the shower
of slugs, while a large tree which stood nearly in the center of the
path and caused it slightly to swerve, afforded some shelter to them
from the storm of bullets which the 42d sent back in return. Here Rait
brought his gun up again to the front and cleared the lane. The bush was
too thick even for the Ashantis. The gun stopped firing and with a rush
the regiment went up the narrow path and out into the open clearing
beyond. For a short time the Ashantis kept up a fire from the houses,
but the 42d soon drove them out, and a single shot from the gun down the
wide street which divided the town into two portions, bursting in the
midst of a group at the further end, killed eight and drove all further
idea of resistance in that direction from their minds.

It was now about twelve o'clock; but although the Ashantis had lost
their camp and village, and had suffered terribly, they were not yet
finally beaten. They had moved the principal part of the forces which
had been engaged upon our left round to the right, were pressing hard
upon the column there and the 23d, and were cutting in between the
latter and the 42d, when a fortunate accident enabled us to meet this
attack more effectively. The left column had cut its path rather too
much to the east, and came into the road between the 42d and 23d,
forming a connecting link between them; while the right column, having
at last cut away the whole of the brush wood in which the Ashantis had
so long wedged themselves between them and the road, were now in direct
communication with the 23d. They had been reinforced by a company of the
Rifle Brigade. Our front, therefore, was now entirely changed, and faced
east instead of north. The Ashantis in vain tried to break the line, but
desisted from their efforts.

The firing died away, and it was thought that the battle was over, when
at about a quarter to one a tremendous fire broke out from the rear of
the column, showing that the Ashantis were making a last and desperate
effort to turn our flank, and to retake the village from which we had
driven them at eight in the morning. So near was the rear of the column
to the village that the slugs fell fast into the reserve who were
stationed there. Three companies of the Rifles were sent up to
strengthen the line, and for three quarters of an hour the roar of the
musketry was as heavy and continuous as it had been at any time during
the day. Then, as the enemy's fire slackened, Sir Garnet gave the word
for the line to advance, sweeping round from the rear so as to drive the
enemy northwards before them.

The movement was admirably executed. The Bonny men of Wood's regiment,
who had fought silently and steadily all the time that they had been
on the defensive, now raised their shrill war cry, and slinging their
rifles and drawing their swords--their favorite weapons--dashed forward
like so many panthers let loose. By their side, skirmishing as quietly
and steadily as if on parade, the men of the Rifle Brigade searched
every bush with their bullets, and in five minutes from the commencement
of the advance the Ashantis were in full and final retreat. The battle
ended at about half past one, having lasted five hours and a half.

The Ashantis were supposed to have had from fifteen to twenty
thousand men in the field. What their loss was could not accurately be
calculated, as they carry off their dead as fast as they fall; but where
rushes were made by our troops, as they had not time to do this, they
lay everywhere thick on the ground. By the most moderate computation
they must have lost over two thousand. Ammon Quatia himself was killed,
as well as Aboo, one of the six great tributary kings. The body of the
king's chief executioner was also pointed out by some of the prisoners.
They fought with extraordinary pluck and resolution, as was shown by
the fact that although wretchedly armed, for upwards of five hours they
resisted the attack of troops armed with breech loaders, and supported
by guns and rockets. Their position was a good one, and they had, no
doubt, calculated upon coming down upon us from the rising ground,
either on the flank or rear, with advantage, should we succeed in
pushing forward.

Upon our side the loss in killed was very slight, not exceeding eight or
ten. The 42d out of a total of four hundred and fifty had a hundred and
four wounded, of whom eight were officers. In the right hand column,
Colonel Wood, six naval officers, and twenty men of the Naval Brigade,
with many of the native regiment, were wounded. Of the sixty engineer
laborers twenty were wounded; while of their five officers Captain
Buckle was killed, Major Home and Lieutenant Hare wounded, together with
several of their white soldiers. Altogether our casualties exceeded two
hundred and fifty. Fortunately but a small proportion of the wounds were
serious.

While the battle was raging at one o'clock Quarman was attacked by a
strong body of Ashantis coming from the west, probably forming part of
Essarman Quatia's force. Captain Burnett, who was in command, having
under him Lieutenant Jones of the 2d West Indian regiment, and
thirty-five men of that corps and a few natives, conducted the defense,
and was well seconded by his men. Although the attacking force was very
greatly superior, and took the little garrison by surprise--for they did
not expect, while a great battle was raging within a distance of a mile,
that the Ashantis would be able to spare a force to attack a detached
party--the garrison defended itself with great gallantry and complete
success, not only beating off the enemy whenever they attacked, but
sallying out and assisting to bring in a convoy of stores which was
close at hand when the attack began.

Amoaful was a town capable of containing two or three thousand
inhabitants. Great quantities of grain and coarse flour were found here.
These were done up in bundles of dried plantain leaves, each bundle
weighing from five to fifteen pounds. This capture was of great service
to the commissariat, as it afforded an abundant supply of excellent food
for the carriers. The troops were in high spirits that night. They had
won a battle fought under extreme difficulty, and that with a minimum
of loss in killed. There were therefore no sad recollections to damp the
pleasure of victory.

Frank had been twice struck with slugs, but in neither case had these
penetrated deeply, and he was able to sit round the camp fire and to
enjoy his glass of rum and water. Two kegs of rum were the only stores
which that night came up from the rear, thanks to the consideration of
a commissariat officer, to whom the soldiers felt extremely grateful for
providing them with an invigorating drink after their long and fatiguing
labors of the day.

At about a mile and a quarter from Amoaful lay the town of Bequah,
the capital of one of the most powerful of the Ashanti kings. Here a
considerable force was known to be collected before the battle, and here
many of the fugitives were believed to have rallied. It would have been
impossible to advance and leave this hostile camp so close to a
station in our rear. Lord Gifford was therefore sent out at daybreak
to reconnoiter it. He approached it closely, when twenty men sprang out
from the bush and fired at him, fortunately without hitting him. When he
returned and made his report the general determined to attack and burn
the place, and orders were issued for a column, consisting of Russell's
regiment, Rait's battery, and the Naval Brigade, supported by the 42d
and commanded by Colonel M'Leod, to start at one o'clock.

The march was not opposed through the bush, but as the scouts entered
the clearing a heavy fire was opened upon them. Lord Gifford and almost
the whole of his party were more or less severely wounded when the
sailors rushed in to their support. For a short time the enemy kept up a
heavy fire from the houses, and then fled, leaving about forty of their
number dead on the ground. The town, which was about twice the size of
Fomana, was burned, and the column returned to the camp.

A great portion of the town was destroyed and the place stockaded, and
then all was in readiness for the advance upon Coomassie. Amoaful was to
be left in charge of the 2d West Indians, who had now come up. Each man
received four days' rations and each regiment was to take charge of its
own provision and baggage. The advance started at seven in the morning,
Russell's regiment, Rait's battery, and the Rifle Brigade. Then came the
headquarter staff followed by the 42d and Naval Brigade. The hammocks
and rations went on with the troops. The rest of the baggage remained
behind. The road differed in nothing from that which had so long
been followed. It bore everywhere marks of the retreating enemy, in
provisions and other articles scattered about, in occasional dark
stains, and in its plants and grass trampled into the ground, six feet
in breadth, showing that the usual negro way of walking in single file
had been abandoned. The rate of progression was slow, as the country had
to be thoroughly searched by the advance. There were, too, many streams
to be crossed, each causing a delay.

At one of the villages there was a large camp, where about a thousand
men were assembled to make a stand. The defense was, however, feeble in
the extreme, and it was evident that they were greatly demoralized by
their defeat on the 1st. Russell's regiment carried the place at a rush,
the enemy firing wildly altogether beyond the range of their weapons.
Several were killed and the rest took precipitately to the bush. A few
shots were fired at other places, but no real resistance took place.
On reaching the village of Agamemmu, after having taken six hours in
getting over as many miles, the column halted, and orders were sent for
the baggage to come on from Amoaful. The troops were set to work to cut
the bush round the village, which was a very small one, and a breastwork
was thrown up round it. The troops were in their little tentes d'abri
packed as closely together as possible outside the houses, but within
the stockade. The carriers slept in the street of the village, where so
thickly did they lie that it was impossible for anyone to make his way
along without treading upon them.

News came in that night that Captain Butler with the Western Akims
had arrived within two days' march of Amoaful, but that without the
slightest reason the king and the whole of his army had left Captain
Butler and retired suddenly to the Prah. At the same time they heard
that the army of the Wassaws under Captain Dalrymple had also broken
up without having come in contact with the enemy. From the rear also
unpleasant news came up. The attack upon Quarman had been no isolated
event. Fomana had also been attacked, but the garrison there had, after
some hours' fighting, repulsed the enemy. Several convoys had been
assaulted, and the whole road down to the Prah was unsafe. The next
morning, after waiting till a large convoy came safely in, the column
marched at nine o'clock, Gifford's scouts, Russell's regiment, and
Rait's battery being as usual in front. The resistance increased with
every step, and the head of the column was constantly engaged. Several
villages were taken by Russell's regiment, who, full of confidence
in themselves and their officers, carried them with a rush in capital
style. It was but six miles to the Dab, but the ground was swampy and
the road intersected by many streams. Consequently it was not until
after being eight hours on the road that the head of the column reached
the river, three hours later before the whole of the troops and their
baggage were encamped there.



CHAPTER XXIII: THE CAPTURE OF COOMASSIE


Upon the afternoon of the arrival of the English column upon the Dah the
king made another attempt to arrest their progress, with a view no doubt
of bringing up fresh reinforcements. A flag of truce came in with a
letter to the effect that our rapid advance had much disconcerted
him, which was no doubt true, and that he had not been able to make
arrangements for the payments claimed; that he would send in hostages,
but that most of those whom the general had asked for were away, and
that he could not agree to give the queen mother or the heir apparent.
These were, of course, the principal hostages, indeed the only ones who
would be of any real value. The answer was accordingly sent back, that
unless these personages arrived before daybreak the next morning we
should force our way into Coomassie.

The Dah is a river about fifteen yards wide and three feet deep at the
deepest place. The Engineers set to work to bridge it directly they
arrived, Russell's regiment at once crossing the river and bivouacking
on the opposite bank.

It was unfortunate that this, the first night upon which the troops had
been unprovided with tents, should have turned out tremendously wet.
The thunder roared, the lightning flashed, and the rain came down
incessantly. Tired as the troops were there were few who slept, and
there was a general feeling of satisfaction when the morning broke and
the last day of the march began.

The rain held up a little before daybreak, and the sky was clear when
at six o'clock Wood's Bonny men, who had come up by a forced march the
evening before, led the advance. Lieutenant Saunders with one of Rait's
guns came next. The Rifles followed in support.

Before the Bonny men had gone half a mile they were hotly engaged, and
the combat was for two hours a repetition of that of Amoaful. Saunders
advanced again and again to the front with his gun, and with a few
rounds of grape cleared the sides of the path of the enemy. At last,
however, the Bonny men would advance no farther, and Lieutenant Byre,
the adjutant of Wood's regiment, was mortally wounded.

Lieutenant Saunders sent back to say it was impossible for him to get
on farther unless supported by white troops. The Rifles were then sent
forward to take the Bonny men's place, and slowly, very slowly, the
advance was continued until the clearing round a village could be seen
fifty yards away. Then the Rifles gave a cheer and with a sudden rush
swept through to the open and carried the village without a check. In
the meantime the whole column had been following in the rear as the
Rifles advanced, and were hotly engaged in repelling a series of
flank attacks on the part of the enemy. These attacks were gallantly
persevered in by the Ashantis, who at times approached in such masses
that the whole bush swayed and moved as they pushed forward.

Their loss must have been extremely large, for our men lined the road
and kept up a tremendous Snider fire upon them at a short distance. Our
casualties were slight. The road, like almost all roads in the country,
was sunk two feet in the center below the level of the surrounding
ground, consequently the men were lying in shelter as behind a
breastwork, while they kept up their tremendous fire upon the foe.

The village once gained, the leading troops were thrown out in a circle
round it, and the order was given to pass the baggage from the rear to
the village. The operation was carried out in safety, the path being
protected by the troops lying in a line along it. The baggage once in,
the troops closed up to the village, the disappointed foe continuing a
series of desperate attacks upon their rear. These assaults were kept up
even after all had reached the cleared space of the village, the enemy's
war horn sounding and the men making the woods re-echo with their wild
war cry. The Naval Brigade at one time inflicted great slaughter upon
the enemy by remaining perfectly quiet until the Ashantis, thinking they
had retired, advanced full of confidence, cheering, when a tremendous
fire almost swept them away.

It was six hours from the time at which the advance began before the
rear guard entered the village, and as but a mile and a half had been
traversed and Coomassie was still six miles away, it was evident that
if the Ashantis continued to fight with the same desperation, and if the
baggage had to be carried on step by step from village to village, the
force would not get halfway on to Coomassie by nightfall.

The instant the baggage was all in, preparations were made for a fresh
advance. Rait's guns, as usual, opened to clear the way, and the 42d
this time led the advance. The enemy's fire was very heavy and the
Highlanders at first advanced but slowly, their wounded straggling
back in quick succession into the village. After twenty minutes' work,
however, they had pushed back the enemy beyond the brow of the hill, and
from this point they advanced with great rapidity, dashing forward at
times at the double, until the foe, scared by the sudden onslaught, gave
way altogether and literally fled at the top of their speed.

War drums and horns, chiefs' stools and umbrellas, littered the next
village and told how sudden and complete had been the stampede. As the
42d advanced troops were from time to time sent forward until a despatch
came in from Sir A. Alison saying that all the villages save the last
were taken, that opposition had ceased, and that the enemy were in
complete rout. Up to this time the attack of the enemy upon the rear
of the village had continued with unabated vigor, and shot and slug
continually fell in the place itself. The news from the front was soon
known and was hailed with a cheer which went right round the line of
defense, and, whether scared by its note of triumph or because they
too had received the news, the efforts of the enemy ceased at once, and
scarcely another shot was fired.

At half past three the baggage was sent forward and the headquarter
staff and Rifle Brigade followed it. There was no further check. The
42d and several companies of the Rifle Brigade entered Coomassie without
another shot being fired in its defense. Sir Garnet Wolseley soon after
arrived, and taking off his hat called for three cheers for the Queen,
which was responded to with a heartiness and vigor which must have
astonished the Ashantis. These were still in considerable numbers in the
town, having been told by the king that peace was or would be made.
They seemed in no way alarmed, but watched, as amused and interested
spectators, the proceedings of the white troops.

The first thing to be done was to disarm those who had guns, and this
seemed to scare the others, for in a short time the town was almost
entirely deserted. It was now fast getting dark, and the troops
bivouacked in the marketplace, which had so often been the scene of
human sacrifices on a large scale.

Their day's work had, indeed, been a heavy one. They had been twelve
hours on the road without rest or time to cook food. Water was very
scarce, no really drinkable water having been met with during the day.
In addition to this they had undergone the excitement of a long and
obstinate fight with an enemy concealed in the bush, after work of
almost equal severity upon the day before, and had passed a sleepless
night in a tropical rainstorm, yet with the exception of a few fever
stricken men not a single soldier fell out from his place in the ranks.

Nor was the first night in Coomassie destined to be a quiet one.
Soon after two o'clock a fire broke out in one of the largest of the
collections of huts, which was soon in a blaze from end to end. The
engineers pulled down the huts on either side and with great difficulty
prevented the flames from spreading. These fires were the result of
carriers and others plundering, and one man, a policeman, caught with
loot upon him, was forthwith hung from a tree. Several others were
flogged, and after some hours' excitement the place quieted down. Sir
Garnet was greatly vexed at the occurrence, as he had the evening before
sent a messenger to the king asking him to come in and make peace, and
promising to spare the town if he did so.

Although Coomassie was well known to Frank he was still ignorant of the
character of the interior of the chiefs' houses, and the next day he
wandered about with almost as much curiosity as the soldiers themselves.
The interiors even of the palaces of the chiefs showed that the Ashantis
can have no idea of what we call comfort. The houses were filled with
dust and litter, and this could not be accounted for solely by the
bustle and hurry of picking out the things worth carrying away prior
to the hurried evacuation of the place. From the roofs hung masses
of spiders' web, thick with dust, while sweeping a place out before
occupying it brought down an accumulation of dust which must have been
the result of years of neglect. The principal apartments were lumbered
up with drums, great umbrellas, and other paraphernalia of processions,
such as horns, state chairs, wooden maces, etc. Before the door of
each house stood a tree, at the foot of which were placed little idols,
calabashes, bits of china, bones, and an extraordinary jumble of strange
odds and ends of every kind, all of which were looked upon as fetish.
Over the doors and alcoves were suspended a variety of charms, old stone
axes and arrow tips, nuts, gourds, amulets, beads, and other trumpery
articles.

The palace was in all respects exactly as the king had left it. The
royal bed and couch were in their places, the royal chairs occupied
their usual raised position. Only, curiously enough, all had been turned
round and over. The storerooms upstairs were untouched, and here was
found an infinite variety of articles, for the most part mere rubbish,
but many interesting and valuable: silver plate, gold masks, gold cups,
clocks, glass, china, pillows, guns, cloth, caskets, and cabinets; an
olla podrida, which resembled the contents of a sale room.

In many of the native apartments of the palace were signs that human
sacrifice had been carried on to the last minute. Several stools were
found covered with thick coatings of recently shed blood, and a horrible
smell of gore pervaded the whole palace, and, indeed, the whole town.
The palace was full of fetish objects just as trumpery and meaningless
as those in the humblest cottages. The king's private sitting room was,
like the rest, an open court with a tree growing in it. This tree was
covered with fetish objects, and thickly hung with spiders' webs. At
each end was a small but deep alcove with a royal chair, so that the
monarch could always sit on the shady side.

Along each side of the little court ran a sort of verandah, beneath
which was an immense assortment of little idols and fetishes of all
kinds.

From one of the verandahs a door opened into the king's bedroom, which
was about ten feet by eight. It was very dark, being lighted only by a
small window about a foot square, opening into the women's apartments.
At one end was the royal couch, a raised bedstead with curtains, and
upon a ledge by the near side (that is to say the king had to step over
the ledge to get into bed) were a number of pistols and other weapons,
among them an English general's sword, bearing the inscription, "From
Queen Victoria to the King of Ashanti." This sword was presented to the
predecessor of King Coffee. Upon the floor at the end opposite the
bed was a couch upon which the king could sit and talk with his wives
through the little window.

In the women's apartments all sorts of stuffs, some of European, some of
native manufacture, were found scattered about in the wildest confusion.
The terror and horror of the four or five hundred ladies, when they
found that their husband was about to abandon his palace and that
they would have no time to remove their treasured finery, can be well
imagined.

In almost every apartment and yard of the palace were very slightly
raised mounds, some no larger than a plate, others two or even three
feet long. These were whitewashed and presented a strong contrast to
the general red of the ground and lower walls. These patches marked
the places of graves. The whole palace, in fact, appeared to be little
better than a cemetery and a slaughterhouse in one. A guard was placed
over the palace, and here, as elsewhere through the town, looting was
strictly forbidden.

All day the general expected the arrival of the king, who had sent
a messenger to say he would be in early. At two o'clock a tremendous
rainstorm broke over the town, lasting for three hours. In the evening
it became evident that he was again deceiving us, and orders were issued
that the troops, in the morning, should push on another three miles
to the tombs of the kings, where he was said to be staying. Later
on, however, the news came that the king had gone right away into the
interior, and as another storm was coming up it became evident that the
rainy season was setting in in earnest. The determination was therefore
come to, to burn the town and to start for the coast next morning.

All night Major Home with a party of Engineers was at work mining the
palace and preparing it for explosion, while a prize committee were
engaged in selecting and packing everything which they considered worth
taking down to the coast. The news of the change of plan, however, had
not got abroad, and the troops paraded next morning under the belief
that they were about to march still farther up the country. When it
became known that they were bound for the coast there was a general
brightening of faces, and a buzz of satisfaction ran down the ranks.
It was true that it was believed that a large amount of treasure was
collected at the kings' tombs, and the prize money would not have been
unwelcome, still the men felt that their powers were rapidly becoming
exhausted. The hope of a fight with the foe and of the capture of
Coomassie had kept them up upon the march, but now that this had been
done the usual collapse after great exertion followed. Every hour added
to the number of fever stricken men who would have to be carried down to
the coast, and each man, as he saw his comrades fall out from the ranks,
felt that his own turn might come next.

At six o'clock in the morning the advanced guard of the baggage began to
move out of the town. The main body was off by seven. The 42d remained
as rearguard to cover the Engineers and burning party.

Frank stayed behind to see the destruction of the town. A hundred
engineer laborers were supplied with palm leaf torches, and in spite of
the outer coats of thatch being saturated by the tremendous rains, the
flames soon spread. Volumes of black smoke poured up, and soon a huge
pile of smoke resting over the town told the Ashantis of the destruction
of their blood stained capital. The palace was blown up, and when the
Engineers and 42d marched out from the town scarce a house remained
untouched by the flames.

The troops had proceeded but a short distance before they had reason
to congratulate themselves on their retreat before the rains began in
earnest, and to rejoice over the fact that the thunderstorms did not
set in three days earlier than they did. The marsh round the town had
increased a foot in depth, while the next stream, before a rivulet two
feet and a half deep, had now swollen its banks for a hundred and fifty
yards on either side, with over five feet and a half of water in the old
channel.

Across this channel the Engineers had with much difficulty thrown a
tree, over which the white troops passed, while the native carriers had
to wade across. It was laughable to see only the eyes of the taller men
above the water, while the shorter disappeared altogether, nothing being
seen but the boxes they carried. Fortunately the deep part was only
three or four yards wide. Thus the carriers by taking a long breath
on arriving at the edge of the original channel were able to struggle
across.

This caused a terrible delay, and a still greater one occurred at the
Dah. Here the water was more than two feet above the bridge which the
Engineers had made on the passage up. The river was as deep as the
previous one had been, and the carriers therefore waded as before; but
the deep part was wider, so wide, indeed, that it was impossible for
the shorter men to keep under water long enough to carry their burdens
across. The tall men therefore crossed and recrossed with the burdens,
the short men swimming over.

The passage across the bridge too was slow and tedious in the extreme.
Some of the cross planks had been swept away, and each man had to feel
every step of his way over. So tedious was the work that at five in
the afternoon it became evident that it would be impossible for all the
white troops to get across--a process at once slow and dangerous--before
nightfall. The river was still rising, and it was a matter of importance
that none should be left upon the other side at night, as the Ashantis
might, for anything they could tell, be gathering in force in the rear.
Consequently Sir Archibald Alison gave the order for the white troops to
strip and to wade across taking only their helmets and guns. The clothes
were made up in bundles and carried over by natives swimming, while
others took their places below in case any of the men should be carried
off their feet by the stream. All passed over without any accident.

One result, however, was a laughable incident next morning, an incident
which, it may be safely asserted, never before occurred in the British
army. It was quite dark before the last party were over, and the natives
collecting the clothes did not notice those of one of the men who had
undressed at the foot of a tree. Consequently he had to pass the night,
a very wet one, in a blanket, and absolutely paraded with his regiment
in the morning in nothing but a helmet and rifle. The incident caused
immense laughter, and a native swimming across the river found and
brought back his clothes.

As the journeys were necessarily slow and tedious, owing to the quantity
of baggage and sick being carried down, Frank now determined to push
straight down to the coast, and, bidding goodbye to Sir Garnet and the
many friends he had made during the expedition, he took his place for
the first time in the hammock, which with its bearers had accompanied
him from Cape Coast, and started for the sea. There was some risk as far
as the Prah, for straggling bodies of the enemy frequently intercepted
the convoys. Frank, however, met with no obstacle, and in ten days after
leaving the army reached Cape Coast.

Ostik implored his master to take him with him across the sea; but Frank
pointed out to him that he would not be happy long in England, where
the customs were so different from his own, and where in winter he
would feel the cold terribly. Ostik yielded to the arguments, and having
earned enough to purchase for years the small comforts and luxuries dear
to the negro heart, he agreed to start for the Gaboon immediately Frank
left for England.

On his first arrival at Cape Coast he had to his great satisfaction
found that the Houssas who had escaped from Coomassie had succeeded in
reaching the coast in safety, and that having obtained their pay from
the agent they had sailed for their homes.

Three days after Frank's arrival at Cape Coast the mail steamer came
along, and he took passage for England. Very strange indeed did it feel
to him when he set foot in Liverpool. Nearly two years and a half
had elapsed since he had sailed, and he had gone through adventures
sufficient for a lifetime. He was but eighteen years old now, but he had
been so long accustomed to do man's work that he felt far older than
he was. The next day on arriving in town he put up at the Charing Cross
Hotel and then sallied out to see his friends.

He determined to go first of all to visit the porter who had been the
earliest friend he had made in London, and then to drive to Ruthven's,
where he was sure of a hearty welcome. He had written several times,
since it had been possible for him to send letters, to his various
friends, first of all to his sister, and the doctor, to Ruthven, to the
porter, and to the old naturalist. He drove to London Bridge Station,
and there learned that the porter had been for a week absent from duty,
having strained his back in lifting a heavy trunk. He therefore drove
to Ratcliff Highway. The shop was closed, but his knock brought the
naturalist to the door.

"What can I do for you, sir?" he asked civilly.

"Well, in the first place, you can shake me by the hand."

The old man started at the voice.

"Why, 'tis Frank!" he exclaimed, "grown and sunburnt out of all
recollection. My dear boy, I am glad indeed to see you. Come in, come
in; John is inside."

Frank received another hearty greeting, and sat for a couple of hours
chatting over his adventures. He found that had he arrived a fortnight
later he would not have found either of his friends. The porter was in a
week about to be married again to a widow who kept a small shop and was
in comfortable circumstances. The naturalist had sold the business, and
was going down into the country to live with a sister there.

After leaving them Frank drove to the residence of Sir James Ruthven
in Eaton Square. Frank sent in his name and was shown up to the
drawing room. A minute later the door opened with a crash and his old
schoolfellow rushed in.

"My dear, dear, old boy," he said wringing Frank's hand, "I am glad to
see you; but, bless me, how you have changed! How thin you are, and how
black! I should have passed you in the street without knowing you; and
you look years older than I do. But that is no wonder after all you've
gone through. Well, when did you arrive, and where are your things? Why
have you not brought them here?"

Frank said that he had left them at the hotel, as he was going down
early the next morning to Deal. He stayed, however, and dined with
his friend, whose father received him with the greatest cordiality and
kindness.

On leaving the hotel next morning he directed his portmanteau to be sent
in the course of the day to Sir James Ruthven's. He had bought a few
things at Cape Coast, and had obtained a couple of suits of clothes for
immediate use at Liverpool.

On arriving at Deal he found his sister much grown and very well and
happy. She was almost out of her mind with delight at seeing him. He
stayed two or three days with her and then returned to town and took up
his abode in Eaton Square.

"Well, my dear boy, what are you thinking of doing?" Sir James Ruthven
asked next morning at breakfast. "You have had almost enough of travel,
I should think."

"Quite enough, sir," Frank said. "I have made up my mind that I shall be
a doctor. The gold necklace which I showed you, which Ammon Quatia gave
me, weighs over twenty pounds, and as it is of the purest gold it is
worth about a thousand pounds, a sum amply sufficient to keep me and pay
my expenses till I have passed. Besides, Mr. Goodenough has, I believe,
left me something in his will. I sent home one copy to his lawyer and
have brought the other with me. I must call on the firm this morning.
I have also some thirty pounds' weight in gold which was paid me by
the king for the goods he took, but this, of course, belongs to Mr.
Goodenough's estate."

Upon calling upon the firm of lawyers, and sending in his name, he was
at once shown in to the principal.

"I congratulate you on your safe return, sir," the gentleman said.
"You have called, of course, in reference to the will of the late Mr.
Goodenough."

"Yes," Frank replied. "I sent home one copy from Coomassie and have
brought another with me."

"We received the first in due course," the gentleman said, taking the
document Frank held out to him. "You are, of course, acquainted with its
contents."

"No," Frank answered, "beyond the fact that Mr. Goodenough told me he
had left me a legacy."

"Then I have pleasant news to give you," the lawyer said. "Mr.
Goodenough died possessed of about sixty thousand pounds. He left
fifteen thousand each to his only surviving nephew and niece. Fifteen
thousand pounds he has divided among several charitable and scientific
institutions. Fifteen thousand pounds he has left to you."

Frank gave a little cry of surprise.

"The will is an eminently just and satisfactory one," the lawyer said,
"for Mr. Goodenough has had but little intercourse with his relations,
who live in Scotland, and they had no reason to expect to inherit
any portion of his property. They are, therefore, delighted with the
handsome legacy they have received. I may mention that Mr. Goodenough
ordered that in the event of your not living to return to England, five
thousand pounds of the portion which would have come to you was to be
paid to trustees for the use of your sister, the remaining ten thousand
to be added to the sum to be divided among the hospitals."

"This is indeed a surprise," Frank said; "and I shall be obliged, sir,
if you will at once draw out a paper for me to sign settling the five
thousand pounds upon my sister. Whatever may happen then she will be
provided for."

The accession of this snug and most unexpected fortune in no way altered
Frank's views as to his future profession. He worked hard and steadily
and passed with high honors. He spent another three years in hospital
work, and then purchased a partnership in an excellent West End
practice. He is now considered one of the most rising young physicians
of the day. His sister keeps house for him in Harley Street; but it is
doubtful whether she will long continue to do so. The last time Dick
Ruthven was at home on leave he persuaded her that it was her bounden
duty to endeavor to make civilian life bearable to him when he should
attain captain's rank, and, in accordance with his father's wish, retire
from the army, events which are expected to take place in a few months'
time.

Ruthven often laughs and tells Frank that he is a good soldier spoiled,
and that it is a pity a man should settle down as a doctor who had made
his way in life "by sheer pluck."

THE END





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