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Title: Wednesday the Tenth, A Tale of the South Pacific
Author: Allen, Grant, 1848-1899
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wednesday the Tenth, A Tale of the South Pacific" ***

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[Illustration: _Frontis._ THERE WAS A TERRIBLE SCENE OF NOISE AND
CONFUSION. Page 124]



                          Wednesday the Tenth

                               A TALE OF
                           THE SOUTH PACIFIC


                                   BY
                              GRANT ALLEN

                               Author of
                          Common Sense Science
                               and others


                                 BOSTON
                           D LOTHROP COMPANY
                  WASHINGTON STREET OPPOSITE BROMFIELD



                            COPYRIGHT, 1890,
                                   BY
                          D. LOTHROP COMPANY.



                               CONTENTS.


                               CHAPTER I.
    WE SIGHT A BOAT                                                9

                              CHAPTER II.
    THE BOAT'S CREW                                               27

                              CHAPTER III.
    THE MYSTERY SOLVED                                            41

                              CHAPTER IV.
    MARTIN LUTHER'S STORY                                         56

                               CHAPTER V.
    A BREAK-DOWN                                                  72

                              CHAPTER VI.
    ON THE ISLAND                                                 86

                              CHAPTER VII.
    ERRORS EXCEPTED                                              100

                             CHAPTER VIII.
    HOT WORK                                                     113



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


    There was a terrible scene of noise and confusion       _Front._

    Where the Frenchmen landed                                    19

    Natives of the Island of Tanaki                               58

    The savages fell back and listened with eagerness             70



                          WEDNESDAY THE TENTH.

                     _A Tale of the South Pacific._


                               CHAPTER I.

                            WE SIGHT A BOAT.


On the eighteenth day out from Sydney, we were cruising under the lee of
Erromanga--of course you know Erromanga, an isolated island between the
New Hebrides and the Loyalty group--when suddenly our dusky Polynesian
boy, Nassaline, who was at the masthead on the lookout, gave a surprised
cry of "Boat ahoy!" and pointed with his skinny black finger to a dark
dot away southward on the horizon, in the direction of Fiji.

I strained my eyes and saw--well, a barrel or something. For myself, I
should never have made out it was a boat at all, being somewhat slow of
vision at great distances; but, bless your heart! these Kanaka lads have
eyes like hawks for pouncing down upon a canoe or a sail no bigger than
a speck afar off; so when Nassaline called out confidently, "Boat ahoy!"
in his broken English, I took out my binocular, and focused it full on
the spot towards which the skinny black finger pointed. Probably,
thought I to myself, a party of natives, painted red, on the war-trail
against their enemies in some neighboring island; or perhaps a "labor
vessel," doing a veiled slave-trade in "indentured apprentices" for New
Caledonia or the Queensland planters.

To my great surprise, however, I found out, when I got my glasses fixed
full upon it, it was neither of these, but an open English row-boat,
apparently, making signs of distress, and alone in the midst of the wide
Pacific.

Now, mind you, one doesn't expect to find open English row-boats many
miles from land, drifting about casually in those far-eastern waters.
There's very little European shipping there of any sort, I can tell you;
a man may sometimes sail for days together across that trackless sea
without so much as speaking a single vessel, and the few he does come
across are mostly engaged in what they euphoniously call "the
labor-trade"--in plain English, kidnaping blacks or browns, who are
induced to sign indentures for so many years' service (generally "three
yams," that is to say, for three yam crops), and are then carried off by
force or fraud to some other island, to be used as laborers in the
cane-fields or cocoa-nut groves. So I rubbed my eyes when I saw an open
boat, of European build, tossing about on the open, and sang out to the
man at the wheel:

"Hard a starboard, Tom! Put her head about for the dark spot to the
sou'-by-southeast there!"

"Starboard it is!" Tom Blake answered cheerily, setting the rudder
about; and we headed straight for that mysterious little craft away off
on the horizon.

But there! I see I've got ahead of my story, to start with, as the way
is always with us salt-water sailors. We seafaring men can never spin a
yarn, turned straight off the reel all right from the beginning, like
some of those book-making chaps can do. We have always to luff round
again, and start anew on a fresh tack half a dozen times over, before we
can get well under way for the port we're aiming at. So I shall have to
go back myself to Sydney once more, to explain who we were, and how we
happened to be cruising about on the loose that morning off Erromanga.

My name, if I may venture to introduce myself formally, is Julian
Braithwaite. I am the owner and commander of the steam-yacht
_Albatross_, thirty-nine tons burden, as neat a little craft as any on
the Pacific, though it's me that says it as oughtn't to say it; and I've
spent the last five years of my life in cruising in and out among those
beautiful archipelagos in search of health, which nature denies me in
more northern latitudes. The oddest part of it is, though I'm what the
doctors call consumptive in England--only fit to lie on a sofa and read
good books--the moment I get clear away into the Tropics I'm a strong
man again, prepared to fight any fellow of my own age and weight, and as
fit for seamanship as the best Jack Tar in my whole equipment. The
_Albatross_ numbers eighteen in crew, all told; and as I am not a rich
enough or selfish enough a man to keep up a vessel all for my own
amusement, my brother Jim and I combine business and pleasure by doing a
mixed trade in copra or dried cocoa-nut with the natives from time to
time, or by running across between Sydney and San Francisco with a light
cargo of goods for the Australian market.

Our habit was therefore to cruise in and out among the islands, with no
very definite aim except that of picking up a stray trade whenever we
could make one, and keeping as much within sight of land, for the sake
of company, as circumstances permitted us. And that is just why, though
bound for Fiji, we had gone so far out of our way that particular voyage
as to be under the lee of Erromanga.

As for our black Polynesian boy, Nassaline, to tell you the truth, I am
proud of that lad, for he's a trophy of war; we got him at the point of
the sword off a slaver. She was a fast French sloop, "recruiting" for
New Caledonia, as they call it, on one of the New Hebrides, when the
_Albatross_ happened to come to anchor, by good luck or good management,
in the same harbor. From the moment we arrived I had my eye on that
smart French sloop, for I more than half suspected the means she was
employing to beat up recruits. Early next morning, as I lay in my bunk,
I heard a fearful row going on in boats not far from our moorings; and
when I rushed up on deck, half-dressed, to find out what the noise was
about, blessed if I didn't see whole gangs of angry natives in canoes,
naked of course as the day they were born, or only dressed, like the
Ancient Britons, in a neat coat of paint, pursuing the French sloop's
jolly-boat, which was being rowed at high pressure by all its crew
toward its own vessel. "Great guns!" said I, "what's up?" So, looking
closer, I could make out four strapping young black boys lying manacled
in the bottom, kicking and screaming as hard as their legs and throats
could go, while the Frenchmen rowed away for dear life, and the Kanakas
in the canoes paddled wildly after them, taking cock-shots at them with
very bad aim from time to time with arrows and fire-arms. Such a
splutter and noise you never heard in all your life. Ducks fighting in a
pond were a mere circumstance to it.

"Tom Blake!" I sang out, "is the gig afloat there?"

"Aye, aye, sir," says Tom, jumping up. "She's ready at the starn. Shall
we off and at 'em?"

"Right you are, Tom!" says I; "all hands to the gig here!"

Well, in less than three minutes I'd got that boat under way, and was
rowing ahead between the Frenchmen and their sloop, with our Remingtons
ready, and everything in order for a good stand-up fight of it.

When the Frenchmen saw we meant to intercept them, and found themselves
cut off between the savages on one side and an English crew well-armed
with rifles of precision on the other, they thought it was about time to
open negotiations with the opposing party. So the skipper stopped, as
airy as a gentleman walking down the Boulevards, and called out to me in
French, "What do you want ahoy, there?"

"Ahoy there yourself," says I, in my very best Ollandorff. "We want to
know what you're doing with those youngsters?"

"Oh! it's that, is it?" says the Frenchman, as cool as a cucumber,
coming nearer a bit, and talking as though we'd merely stopped him with
polite inquiries about the time of day or the price of spring chickens;
while the savages, seeing from our manner we were friendly to their
side, left off firing for a while for fear of hitting us. "Why, these
are apprentices of ours--indentured apprentices. We've bought them from
their parents by honest trade--paid for 'em with Sniders, ammunition,
calico and tobacco; and if you want to see our papers and theirs,
Monsieur, here they are, look you, all perfectly _en règle_," and he
held up the bundle for us to inspect in full--with a telescope, I
suppose--at a hundred yards' distance.

"Row nearer, boys," I said, "and we'll talk a bit with this polite
gentleman. He seems to have views of his own, I fancy, about the proper
method of engaging servants."

But when we tried to row up the Frenchman stopped and called out at the
top of his voice, in a very different tone, all bustle and bluster,
"Look out ahead there! If you come a yard closer we open fire. We want
no interference from any of you Methodistical missionary fellows."

"We ain't missionaries," I answered quietly, cocking my revolver in the
friendliest possible fashion right in front of him; "we're traders and
yachtsmen. Show 'em your Remingtons, boys, and let 'em see we mean
business! That's right. Ready! present!--and fire when I tell you! Now
then, Monsieur, you bought these boys, you say. So far, good. Next then,
if you please, who did you buy them from?"

The Frenchman turned pale when he saw we were well-armed and meant
inquiry; but he tried to carry off still with a little face and bluster.
"Why, their parents, of course," he answered, with a signal to his
friends in the ship to cover us with their fire-arms.

"From their parents? O, yes! Well, how did you know the sellers were
their parents?" I asked, still pointing my revolver towards him. "And
why are the boys so unwilling to go? And what are the natives making
such a noise over this little transaction in indentured labor for? If
it's all as you say, what's this fuss and row about? Keep your rifles
steady, lads."

"They want to back out of their bargain, I suppose, now they've drunk
our rum and smoked our tobacco," the Frenchman said.

"No true, no true," one of the natives shouted out from beyond in his
broken English. "Man a _oui-oui_!"--that's what they call the French,
you know, all through the South Pacific--"man a _oui-oui_, bad--no
believe man, a _oui-oui_--him make us drunk, so try to cheat us."

[Illustration: WHERE THE FRENCHMEN LANDED. Page 19]

"Now, you look here, Monsieur," I said severely, turning to the skipper,
"I know what you've been doing. I've seen this little game tried on
before. You landed here last night with your peaceable equipment for
recruiting labor--we know what that means--a Winchester sixteen-shooter
and half a dozen pairs of English handcuffs. You brought on shore your
'trade'--a common clay pipe or two, some cheap red cloth, and a lot of
bad French Government tobacco; and you treated the natives all round to
free drinks of your square gin. When they'd reached that state of
convenient conviviality that they didn't know who they were or what they
were doing, you took advantage of their guileless condition. You picked
out the likeliest young men and lads, selected any particularly drunken
native lying about loose to represent their fathers, made 'em put their
marks to a formal paper of indentures, and handed over twenty dollars, a
bottle of rum, and a quid of tobacco, as a consolation for the wounded
feelings of their distressed relations. You've been carrying them off
all night at your devil's game; and now in the morning the natives are
beginning to wake up sober, miss their friends, and put a summary stop
to your little proceedings. Well, sir, I give you one minute to make up
your mind; if you don't hand us over these four lads to set on shore
again, we'll open fire upon you; and as we're stronger than you, with
the natives at our back, we'll make a prize of you, and tow you into
Fiji on a charge of slave-trading."

Before the words were well out of my mouth the French skipper had given
the word "Fire!" and the bullets came whizzing past, and riddling the
gunwale of the gig beside us. One of them grazed my arm below the
shoulder and drew blood. Now there's nothing to put a man's temper up
like getting shot in the arm. I lost mine, I confess, and I shouted
aloud, "Fire, boys, and row on at them!" Our fellows fired, and the very
same moment the natives closed in and went at them with their canoes,
all alive with Sniders, lances and hatchets. It was a lively time, I can
tell you, for the next five minutes, with those lithe, long black
fellows swarming over them like ants; and poor Tom Blake got a bullet
from a French rifle in his thigh, that lodges there still in very
comfortable quarters. But one of the Frenchmen fell back in the
jolly-boat shot through the breast, and the skipper, who turned out to
be a fellow with one sound leg and a substitute, was severely wounded.
So we'd soon closed in upon them, the natives and ourselves, and
overpowered their crew, which was only ten, all told, besides the
fellows on the big vessel in the harbor.

Well, we took out the four boys, when the mill was over, and transferred
them to our gig; and then we escorted the Frenchmen, ironed in their own
handcuffs, to the deck of their sloop, with the natives on either side
in their canoes rowing along abreast of us like a guard of honor. The
crew of the sloop didn't attempt to interfere with us as we brought
their comrades handcuffed aboard; if they had, why, then, with the help
of the savages, we should have been more than a match for them. So we
prowled around the ship on a voyage of discovery, and found ample
evidence in her get-up of her character as an honest and single-hearted
recruiter of labor. A rack in the cabin held eight Snider rifles, loaded
for use, above which hung eight revolvers, employed doubtless in
self-defense against the lawless character of the Kanakas, as the
skipper (with his hands in irons and his eyes in tears) most solemnly
assured us. The sloop was prepared throughout, with loopholes and
battening-hatches, to stand a siege, and could have made short work of
the natives alone had they tried to attack her, for she carried a small
howitzer, not so big as our own; but she never suspected interference
from a European vessel. We went down into her hold, and there we found
about forty natives, men, women and children--free agents all, the
skipper had declared--packed as tight as herrings in a barrel, and with
stench intolerable to the European nostril. Such a sight you never saw
in your life. There they lay athwart ship, side by side, the unhappy
black cattle, some handcuffed and manacled, others dead-drunk and too
careless to complain, while the women and children were crying and
screaming, and the men were shouting as loud as they could shout in
their own lingo.

Fortunately, we had a sailor aboard the _Albatross_ who had been a
beach-comber (or degraded white man who lives like a native) for three
years on the island of Ambrymon, and had a Kanaka girl for a sweetheart;
so he could talk their palaver almost as easy as you can English, and he
acted as interpreter for us with the poor people in the hold. We knocked
their handcuffs off, and explained the situation to them. About a dozen
of the wretchedest and most squalid-looking of the lot were prepared,
even when we offered them freedom, to stand by their last night's
bargain, and go on to New Caledonia; but the remainder were only too
delighted to learn that they might go ashore again; and they gave us
three ringing British cheers as soon as they understood we had really
liberated them.

As for the four boys we'd got in the gig, three of them elected at once
to go home to their own people on the island; but the fourth was our
present black servant, Nassaline. He, poor boy, was an orphan; and his
nearest relations, having held a consultation the day before whether
they should bake him and eat him, or sell him to the Frenchman, had
decided that after all he would be worth more if paid for in tobacco and
rum than if roasted in plantain-leaves. So, as soon as he found we were
going to put him on shore again, the poor creature was afraid after all
he was being returned for the oven; and flinging himself on his face in
the gig, groveling and cringing, he took hold of our knees and besought
us most piteously (as our sailor translated his words for us) to take
him with us. Of course, when we entered into the spirit of the
situation, we felt it was impossible to send the poor fellow back to be
made "long pig" of; so, to his immense delight, we took him along, and a
more faithful servant no man ever had than poor Nassaline proved from
that day forth to me.

I've gone out of my way so far, as I said before, to tell you this
little episode of life in the South Pacific, partly in order to let you
know who Nassaline was and how we came by him; but partly also to give
you a side glimpse of the sort of gentry, both European and native, one
may chance to knock up against in those remote regions. It'll help you
to understand the rest of my yarn. And now, if you please, I'll tack
back again once more into my proper course, to the spot where I broke
off in sight of Erromanga.



                              CHAPTER II.

                            THE BOAT'S CREW.


Presently, as we headed towards the black object on the horizon,
Nassaline stretched out that skinny finger of his once more (no amount
of feeding ever seemed to make Nassaline one ounce fatter), and cried
out in his shrill little piping voice, "Two man on the boat! him makey
signs for call us!"

I'd give anything to have eyes as sharp as those Polynesians. I looked
across the sea, and the loppy waves in the foreground, and could just
make out with the naked eye that the row-boat had something that looked
like a red handkerchief tied to her bare mast, and a white signal
flapping in the wind below it; but not a living soul could I distinguish
in her without my binocular. So I put up my glasses and looked again.
Sure enough, there they were, two miserable objects, clinging as it
seemed half-dead to the mast, and making most piteous signs with their
hands to attract our attention. As soon as they saw that we had really
sighted them, and were altering our course to pick them up, their joy
and delight knew no bounds, as we judged. They flung up their arms
ecstatically into the air, and then sank back, exhausted, as I guessed,
on to the thwarts where they had long ceased sitting or rowing.

They were wearied out, I imagined, with long buffeting against that
angry and immeasurable sea, and must soon have succumbed to fatigue if
we hadn't caught sight of them.

We put on all steam, as in duty bound, and made towards them hastily. By
and by, my brother Jim, who had been off watch, came up from below and
joined me on deck to see what was going forward. At the same moment
Nassaline cried out once more, "Him no two man! Him two boy! Two English
boy! Him hungry like a dying!" And as he spoke, he held his own skinny
bare arm up to his mouth dramatically, and took a good bite at it, as if
to indicate in dumb show that the crew of the boat were now almost ready
to eat one another.

Jim looked through the glasses, and handed them over to me in turn. "By
George, Julian," he said, "Nassaline's right. It's a couple of boys, and
to judge by the look of them, they're not far off starving!"

I seized the glasses and fixed them upon the boat. We were getting
nearer now, and could make out the features of its occupants quite
distinctly. A more pitiable sight never met my eyes. Her whole crew
consisted of two white-faced lads, apparently about twelve or thirteen
years old, dressed in loose blue cotton shirts and European trousers,
but horribly pinched with hunger and thirst, and evidently so weak as to
be almost incapable of clinging to the bare mast whence they were trying
to signal us.

Now, you land-loving folk can hardly realize, I dare say, what such an
incident means at sea; but to Jim and me, who had sailed the lonely
Pacific together for five years at a stretch, that pathetic sight was
full both of horror and unspeakable mystery. For anybody, even grown men
long used to the ocean, to be navigating that awful expanse of water
alone in an empty boat is little short of ghastly. Just think what it
means! A stormy sheet that stretches from the north pole to the south
without one streak of continuous land to break it; a stormy sheet on
which the winds and waves may buffet you about in almost any direction
for five thousand miles, with only the stray chance of some remote
oceanic isle to drift upon, or some coral reef to swallow you up with
its gigantic breakers. But a couple of boys!--mere children
almost!--alone, and starving, on that immense desert of almost
untraveled water! On the Atlantic itself your chance of being picked up
from open boats by a passing vessel is slight enough, heaven knows! but
on the Pacific, where ships are few and routes are far apart, your only
alternative to starvation or foundering is to find yourself cast on the
tender mercies of the cannibal Kanaka. No wonder I looked at Jim, and
Jim looked at me, and each of us saw unaccustomed tears standing half
ashamed in the eyes of the other.

"Stop her!" I cried. "Lower the gig, Tom Blake! Jim, we must go
ourselves and fetch these poor fellows."

At the sound of my bell the engineer pulled up the _Albatross_ short and
sharp, with admirable precision, and we lowered our boat to go out and
meet them. As we drew nearer and nearer with each stroke of our oars, I
could see still more plainly to what a terrible pitch of destitution and
distress these poor lads had been subjected during their awful journey.
Their cheeks were sunken, and their eyes seemed to stand back far in the
hollow sockets. Their pallid white hands hardly clung to the mast by
convulsive efforts with hooked fingers. They had used up their last
reserve of strength in their wild efforts to attract our attention.

I thanked heaven it was Nassaline who kept watch at the mast-head when
they first hove in sight. No European eye could ever have discovered the
meaning of that faint black speck upon the horizon. If it hadn't been
for the sharp vision of our keen Polynesian friend, these two helpless
children might have drifted on in their frail craft for ever, till they
wasted away with hunger and thirst under the broiling eye of the hot
Pacific noontide.

We pulled alongside, and lifted them into the gig. As we reached them,
both boys fell back faint with fatigue and with the sudden joy of their
unexpected deliverance. "Quick, quick, Jim! your flask!" I cried, for we
had brought out a little weak brandy and water on purpose. "Pour it
slowly down their throats--not too fast at first--just a drop at a time,
for fear of choking them."

Jim held the youngest boy's head on his lap, and opened those parched
lips of his that looked as dry as a piece of battered old shoe-leather.
The tongue lolled out between the open teeth like a thirsty dog's at
midsummer, and was hard and rough as a rasp with long weary watching. We
judged the lad at sight to be twelve years old or thereabouts. Jim put
the flask to his lips, and let a few drops trickle slowly down his burnt
throat. At touch of the soft liquid the boy's lips closed over the mouth
of the flask with a wild movement of delight, and he sucked in eagerly,
as you may see a child in arms suck at the mouthpiece of its empty
feeding-bottle. "That's well," I said. "He's all right, at any rate. As
long as he has strength enough to pull at the flask like that, we shall
bring him round in the end somehow."

We took away the flask as soon as we thought he'd had as much as was
good for him at the time, and let his head fall back once more upon
Jim's kindly shoulder. Now that the first wild flush of delight at their
rescue was fairly over, a reaction had set in; their nerves and muscles
gave way simultaneously, and the poor lad fell back, half-fainting,
half-sleeping, just where Jim with his fatherly solicitude chose to lay
him.

Tom Blake and I turned to the elder lad. His was a harder and more
desperate case. Perhaps he had tried more eagerly to save his helpless
brother; perhaps the sense of responsibility for another's life had
weighed heavier upon him at his age--for he looked fourteen; but at any
rate he was well-nigh dead with exposure and exhaustion. The first few
drops we poured down his throat he was clearly quite unable to swallow.
They gurgled back insensibly. Tom Blake took out his handkerchief, and
tearing off a strip, soaked it in brandy and water in the cup end of the
flask; then he gently moistened the inside of the poor lad's mouth and
throat with it, till at last a faint swallowing motion was set up in the
gullet. At that, we poured down some five drops cautiously. To our
delight and relief they were slowly gulped down, and the poor white
mouth stood agape like a young bird's in mute appeal for more
water--more water.

We gave him as much as we dared in his existing state, and then turned
to the boat for some clue to the mystery.

She was an English-built row-boat, smart and taut, fit for facing rough
seas, and carrying a short, stout mast amidships. On her stern we found
her name in somewhat rudely-painted letters, _Messenger of Peace:
Makilolo in Tanaki_. Clearly she had been designed for mission service
among the islands, and the last words which followed her title must be
meant to designate her port, or the mission station. But what that place
was I hadn't a notion.

"Where's Tanaki, Tom Blake?" I asked, turning round, for Tom had been
navigating the South Seas any time this twenty years, and knew almost
every nook and corner of the wide Pacific, from Yokohama to Valparaiso.

Tom shifted his quid from one cheek to the other and answered, after a
pause, "Dunno, sir, I'm sure. Never heerd tell of Tanaki in all my born
days; an' yet I sorter fancied, too, I knowed the islands."

"There are no signs of blood or fighting in the boat," I said, examining
it close. "They can't have escaped from a massacre, anyhow." For I
remembered at once to what perils the missionaries are often exposed in
these remote islands--how good Bishop Patteson had been murdered at
Santa Cruz, and how the natives had broken the heads of Mason and Wood
at Erromanga not so many months back, in cold blood, out of pure lust of
slaughter.

"But they must have run away in an awful hurry," Tom Blake added,
overhauling the locker of the boat, "for, see, she ain't found; there
ain't no signs of food or anything to hold it nowheres, sir; and this
ere little can must 'a' been the o'ny thing they had with 'em for
water."

He was quite right. The boat had clearly put to sea unprovisioned. It
deepened our horror at the poor lads' plight to think of this further
aggravation of their incredible sufferings. For days they must have
tossed in hunger and thirst on the great deep. But we could only wait to
have the mystery cleared up when the lads were well enough to explain to
us what had happened. Meanwhile we could but look and wonder in silence;
and indeed we had quite enough to do for the present in endeavoring to
restore them to a state of consciousness.

"Any marks on their clothes?" my brother Jim suggested, with practical
good sense, looking up from his charge as we rowed back toward the
_Albatross_, with the _Messenger of Peace_ in tow behind us. "That might
help us to guess who they are, and where they hail from."

I looked close at the belt of the lads' blue shirts. On the elder's I
read in a woman's handwriting, "Martin Luther Macglashin, 6, '87." The
younger boy's bore in the same hand the corresponding inscription, "John
Knox Macglashin, 6, '86." It somehow deepened the tragedy of the
situation to come upon those simple domestic reminiscences at such a
moment.

"Sons of a Scotch missionary, apparently," I said, as I read them out.
"If only we could find where their father was at work, we might manage
to get some clue to this mystery."

"We can look him up," Jim answered, "when we get to Fiji."

We rowed back in silence the rest of the way to the _Albatross_, lifted
the poor boys tenderly on board, and laid them down to rest on our own
bunks in the cabin. Serang-Palo, our Malay cook, made haste at the
galleys to dress them a little arrowroot with condensed milk; and before
half an hour the younger boy was sitting up in Jim's arms with his eyes
and mouth wide open, craving eagerly for the nice warm mess we were
obliged to dole out to his enfeebled stomach in sparing spoonfuls, and
with a trifle of color already returning to his pale cheeks. He was too
ill to speak yet--his brother indeed lay even now insensible on the bunk
in the corner--but as soon as he had finished the small pittance of
arrowroot which alone we thought it prudent to let him swallow at
present, he mustered up just strength enough to gasp out a few words of
solemn importance in a very hollow voice. We bent over him to listen.
They were broken words we caught, half rambling as in delirium, but we
heard them distinctly--

"Steer for Makilolo ... Island of Tanaki ... Wednesday the tenth ...
Natives will murder them ... My mother--my father--Calvin--and Miriam."

Then it was evident he could not say another word. He sank back on the
pillow breathless and exhausted. The color faded from his cheek once
more as he fell into his place. I poured another spoonful of brandy down
his parched throat. In three minutes more he was sleeping peacefully,
with long even breath, like one who hadn't slept for nights before on
the tossing ocean.

I looked at Jim and bit my lips hard. "This is indeed a fix," I cried,
utterly nonplussed. "Where on earth, I should like to know, is this
island of Tanaki!"

"Don't know," said Jim. "But wherever it is, we've got to get there."



                              CHAPTER III.

                          THE MYSTERY SOLVED.


We paused for a while, and looked at one another's faces blankly.

"Suppose," Jim suggested at last, "we get out the charts and see if such
a place as Tanaki is marked upon them anywhere."

"Right you are," says I. "Overhaul your maps, and when found, make a
note of."

Well, we did overhaul them for an hour at a stretch, and searched them
thoroughly, inch by inch, Jim taking one sheet of the Admiralty chart
for the South Pacific, and I the other; but never a name could we find
remotely resembling the sound or look of Tanaki. Tom Blake, too, was
positive, as he put it himself, that "there weren't no such name, not in
the whole thunderin' Pacific, nowheres." So after long and patient
search we gave up the quest, and determined to wait for further
particulars till the boys had recovered enough to tell us their strange
story.

Meanwhile, it was clear we must steer somewhere. We couldn't go beating
wildly up and down the Pacific, on the hunt for a possibly non-existent
Tanaki, allowing the _Albatross_ to drift at her own sweet will wherever
she liked, pending the boys' restoration to speech and health. So the
question arose what direction we should steer in. Jim solved that
problem as easy as if it had come out of the first book of Euclid (he
was always a mathematician, Jim was, while for my part, when I was a
little chap at school, the asses' bridge at an early stage effectually
blocked my further progress. I could never get over it, even with the
persuasive aid of what Dr. Slasher used politely to call his _vis a
tergo_.)

"They're too weak to row far, these lads," Jim said in his didactic
way--ought to have been a schoolmaster or a public demonstrator, Jim:
such a head for proving things! "Therefore they must mostly have been
drifting before the wind ever since they started. Now, wind for the last
fortnight's been steadily nor'east"--the anti-trade was blowing.
"Therefore, they must have come from the nor'east, I take it; and if we
steer clean in the face of the wind, we're bound sooner or later to
arrive at Tanaki."

"Jim," said I, admiring him, like, "you're really a wonderful chap. You
do put your finger down so pat on things! Steer to the nor'-east it is,
of course. But I wonder how far off Tanaki lies, and what chance we've
got of reaching there by Wednesday the tenth?" For though we didn't even
know yet who the people were who were threatened with massacre at this
supposed Tanaki, we couldn't let them have their throats cut in cold
blood without at least an attempt to arrive there in time to prevent it.

Of course, we knew with our one brass gun we should be more than a match
for any Melanesian islanders we were likely to meet with, if once we
could get there; but the trouble was, should we reach in time to
forestall the massacre?

By Wednesday the tenth we must reach Tanaki--wherever that might be.

Jim took out a piece of paper and totted up a few figures carelessly on
the back. "We've plenty of coal," he said, "and I reckon we can make
nine knots an hour, if it comes to a push, even against this head wind.
To-day's the sixth; that gives us four clear days still to the good. At
nine knots, we can do a run of two hundred and thirty-six knots a day.
Four two-hundred-and-thirty-sixes is nine hundred and forty-four, isn't
it? Let me see; four sixes is twenty-four; put down four and carry two:
four three's is twelve, and two's fourteen: four two's--yes, that's all
right: nine hundred and forty-four, you see, ex-actly. Well, then, look
here, Julian: unless Tanaki's further off than nine hundred and
forty-four nautical miles--which isn't likely--we ought to get there by
twelve o'clock on Wednesday at latest. Nine hundred and forty-four miles
is an awful long stretch for two boys to come in an open boat. I don't
expect these boys can have done as much as that or anything like it."

"Wind and current were with them," I objected, "and she was drifting
like one o'clock when we first sighted her. I shouldn't be surprised if
she was making five or six knots an hour before half a gale all through
that hard blow. And the poor boys look as if they might have been out a
week or more. Still, it isn't likely they would have come nine hundred
knots, as you say, or anything like it. If we put on all steam, we ought
to arrive in time to save their father and mother. Anyhow we'll try it."
And I shouted down the speaking tube, "Hi, you there, engineer!--pile on
the coal hard and make her travel. We want all the speed we can get out
of the _Albatross_ for the next three days."

"All square, sir," says Jenkins; and he piled on, accordingly.

So we steamed ahead as hard as we could go, in the direction where we
expected to find Tanaki.

Half an hour later, Nassaline, who had been down below with the Malay
cook and one of the men, looking after the patients, came up on deck
once more, with a broad grin on his jet-black face from ear to ear, and
exclaimed in his very best Kanaka-English, "Boy come round again. Eat
plenty arrowroot. Eat allee samee like as if starvee. Call very hard for
see Massa Captain."

"What do you think's the matter with them, Nassaline?" I asked, as I
walked along by his side towards the companion-ladder.

Nassaline's ideas were exclusively confined to a certain fixed and
narrow Polynesian circle. "Tink him fader go sell him for laborer to a
man _oui-oui_, or make oven hot for him," he answered, grinning; "so him
run away, and come put himself aboard Massa Captain ship; so eat
plenty--no beat, no starvee."

It was his own personal history put in brief, and he fitted it at once
as the only possible explanation to these other poor fugitives.

"Nonsense!" I said, with a compassionate smile at his innocence. "White
people don't sell or eat their children, stupid! It's my belief,
Nassaline, we'll never make a civilized Christian creature of you, in a
tall hat, and with a glass in your eye. You ain't cut out for it,
somehow. How many times have I explained to you, boy, that Christians
never cook and eat their enemies?... They only love them, and blow them
up with Gatlings or Armstrongs--a purely fraternal method of expressing
slight differences of international opinion.... Now, come along down and
let's see these lads. It's some of your heathen relations, I expect, the
poor fellows are flying from."

But I omitted to have remarked to him (as I might have done) that I
hadn't seen such a painful sight before, since I saw the inhabitants of
a French village in Lorraine--old men, young girls, and mothers with
babies pressed against their breasts--flying, pell-mell, before the
sudden onslaught of a hundred and fifty Christian Prussian Uhlans. These
little peculiarities of our advanced civilization are best not mentioned
to the heathen Polynesian.

In the cabin we found both boys now fairly on the high-road to recovery,
though still, of course, much too weak to talk; but bursting over, for
all that, with eagerness to tell us their whole eventful history. For my
own part, I, too, was all eagerness to hear it; but anxiety for their
safety made me restrain my impatience. The elder boy, now leaning on his
elbow and staring wildly before him with horror--a mere skeleton to look
at, with his sunken cheeks and great hollow eyes--began to break forth
upon me with his long tale in full; but I soon put a stop to that, you
may be pretty sure, with most uncompromising promptitude. "My dear Mr.
Martin Luther Macglashin," I said severely, giving him the full benefit
of all his own various high-sounding names for greater impressiveness,
"if you don't lean back this moment upon your pillow, quiet your rolling
eye down to everyday proportions, and answer only in the shortest
possible words nothing but the plain questions I put to you, hang me,
sir, if I don't turn you and John Knox adrift again upon the wild waves,
and continue on my course for Levuka in Fiji."

"Why, how did you come to know our names?" he exclaimed, astonished.
"You must be as sharp as a lynx, Captain."

"That's not an answer to my question I asked you," I replied with as
much sternness as I could put into my voice, looking at the poor
fellow's starved white face. "But as a special favor to a deserving
fellow-creature, I don't mind telling you. I'm as sharp as a lynx, as
you say, and a trifle sharper: for no lynx would have looked for your
names on the flap of your shirts--There, that'll do now; don't try to
talk; just answer me quietly. Where do you come from, and where do you
want us to go to?"

Martin lifted up his face and answered with becoming brevity, "Tanaki."

"That's better!" I said. "That's the sort of way a fellow ought to
answer, when he's more than half-starved with a week at sea. But the
next thing is, where's Tanaki?"

"It's one of the group that used to be called the Duke of Cumberland's
Islands," the boy answered faintly, yet overflowing with eagerness.
"They lie just beyond the Ellice Archipelago, nearly on the line of a
hundred and eighty, as you go towards the Union Group along the
parallel of"....

"Now, my dear boy," I said, "if you run on like that, as I said before,
I shall have to turn you adrift again in your open boat at the mercy of
the ocean. Do be quiet, won't you, and let me look up your island?"

"We can't be quiet," Master John Knox put in eagerly, "when we know
they're going to murder our father and mother and Calvin and Miriam, on
Wednesday morning."

"Just you hold your tongue, sir," I said, pushing him down again on his
bunk, "and wait till you're spoken to. Now, not another word, either of
you, till I've consulted my chart. Jim, hand down the Admiralty sheets
again, there's a good fellow, will you?"

Jim handed them down, and we commenced our scrutiny at once. We soon
found the Duke of Cumberland's Islands, and as good luck would have it,
found we were steering as straight as an arrow for them. The direction
of the wind had not misled us. But no such place as Tanaki could we
still find anywhere.

"It used to be called 'The Long Reef,'" Martin said, looking up; "but
now we call it by the native name, Tanaki."

"Oh! The Long Reef," I said; "why didn't you say so at first? I know
that well enough by sight on the chart; but I never heard it called
Tanaki before. That accounts, of course, for the milk in the cocoa-nut.
Jim, hand along the calipers here, and let's measure out the course.
Two--four--six--eight," I went on, looping along line of sailing with
the calipers. "A trifle short of eight hundred miles. Say seven hundred
and eighty. And we have till Wednesday morning. Well, we ought to do
it."

"You'll be in time to save them, then!" the elder boy cried, jumping up
once more like a Jack-in-the-box. "You'll be in time to save them!"

"Will you be quiet, if you please?" I said, poking him down again flat,
and holding my hand on his mouth. "O, yes! I expect we'll be in time to
save them. If only you'll let us alone, and not make such a noise. We
can do nine knots an hour easy, under all steam; and that ought to bring
us up to Tanaki, as you call it, by Wednesday morning in the very small
hours. Let's see, we've got four clear days to do it in."

"Five," the boy answered. "Five. To-day's Friday."

"No, no," I replied curtly. "Will you please shut up? Especially when
you only darken counsel with many words. You're out of your reckoning.
To-day's Saturday, I tell you."

And in point of fact, indeed, it really was Saturday.

"No, it's Friday," Martin went on with extraordinary persistence.

"Saturday," I repeated. "Knife; scissors: knife; scissors."

"But we got away from Tanaki eight days ago," the boy declared strongly
with a very earnest face; "and it was Thursday when we left. I kept
count of the days and nights all that awful time we were tossing about
on the ocean alone, and I'm sure I'm right. To-day's Friday."

"Jim," I said, turning to my brother, "what day of the week do you make
it?"

"Why, Saturday, of course," Jim answered with confidence.

I went to the bottom of the companion-ladder and called out aloud where
the boy could hear me, "Tom Blake, what day of the week and month is
it?"

"Saturday the sixth, sir," Tom called out.

"There, my boy," I said, turning to him, "you see you're mistaken.
You've lost count of the time in this awful journey of yours. I expect
you were half unconscious the last day and night. But, good heavens,
Jim, just to think of what they've done! They've been out nine days and
nights in an open boat, almost without food or drink, and they've come
all that incredible distance before the high wind. Except with a ripping
good breeze behind them they could never have done it."

"For my part," said Jim, looking up from his chart, "I can hardly
understand how they ever did it at all. I declare, I call it nothing
short of a miracle!"

And so indeed it was: for it seemed as though the wind had drifted them
straight ahead from the moment they started in the exact direction where
the _Albatross_ was to meet them.

I'm an old seafaring hand by this time, and I may be superstitious, but
I see the finger of fate in such a coincidence as that one.



                              CHAPTER IV.

                         MARTIN LUTHER'S STORY.


For the next two days we went steaming ahead as hard as we could go in a
bee-line to the northeastward, in the direction of the Duke of
Cumberland's Islands; and it was two days clear before those unfortunate
boys, Jack and Martin--for that was what they called one another for
short, in spite of their severely theological second names--were in a
condition to tell us exactly what had happened, without danger to their
shattered nerves and impaired digestions.

When they did manage to speak--both at once, for choice, in their
eagerness to get their story out--here's about what their history came
to, as we pieced it together, bit by bit, from the things they told us
at different times. If I were one of those writing chaps, now, that know
how to tell a whole ten years' history, end on end, exactly as it
happened, without missing a detail, I'd get it all out for you just as
Martin told us; or better still, I'd give it to you in a single
connected piece, between inverted commas, as his own words, beginning,
"I was born," said he, "in the city of Edinburgh," and so forth, after
the regular high-and-dry literary fashion. But how on earth those clever
book-making fellows can ever remember a whole long speech, word for
word, from beginning to end, I never could make out and never shall,
neither. What memories they must have to do it, to be sure! It's my own
belief they make it up more than half out of their own heads as they go
along, and are perfectly happy if it only just sounds plausible. But
anyhow, Martin Luther Macglashin didn't tell us all his story at a
single time, or in a connected way; he gave us a bit now and a bit
again, with additions from Jack, according as he was able. So being, as
I say, no more than a free-and-easy master mariner myself, without skill
in literature, I'm not going to try to repeat it all, word for word, to
you precisely as it came, but shall just take the liberty of spinning my
yarn my own way and letting you have in short the gist and substance of
what we gradually got out of our two fugitives.

Well, it seems that Jack and Martin's father was, just as I suspected, a
Scotch missionary on the Island of Tanaki. He lived there with another
family of missionaries of the same sect, in peace and quiet, as well as
with an English merchant of the name of Williams, who traded with the
natives for calico, knives, glass beads and tobacco. For a long time
things had gone on pretty comfortably in the little settlement; though
to be sure the natives did sometimes steal Mr. Macglashin's fowls or
threaten to tie Mr. Williams to a cocoa-nut palm and take cock-shots at
him with a Snider, out of pure lightness of heart, unless he gave them
rum, square gin or brandy. Still, in spite of these playful little
eccentricities of the good-humored Kanakas, who will have their joke,
murder or no murder, all went as merrily as a wedding bell (as they say
in novels) till suddenly one morning a French labor-vessel--I suspect
the very one we had intercepted in the act of trying to carry off
Nassaline--put into the harbor in search of "apprentices."

She was a very bad lot, from what the boys told us; a genuine slaver of
the worst type; and she stirred up a deal of mischief at Makilolo.

[Illustration: NATIVES OF THE ISLAND OF TANAKI. Page 58]

On the shore the Chief of Tanaki was drawn up to receive them with all
his warriors, tastefully but inexpensively rigged out in a string of
blue beads round the neck, an anklet of shells and a head-dress of a
single large yellow feather.

"Who are you?" shouts the chief at the top of his voice. "You man a
_oui-oui_?"

"Yes," the Frenchman shouts back in his pigeon-English. "Me de commander
of dis French ship. Want to buy boys. Must sell them to us. Tanaki
French island. Discovered by Bougainville."

"No, no," says the Chief in pigeon-English again. "Tanaki no belong a
man a _oui-oui_. Tanaki belong a Queenie England. Capitaney Cook find
him long time back. My father little fellow then; him see Capitaney, him
tell me often. Capitaney Cook no man a _oui-oui_; him fellow English."

The other natives joined in at once with their loud cry, "Chief speak
true. Tanaki belong a Queenie England. Tanaki no belong a man a
_oui-oui_. If man a _oui-oui_ want to take Tanaki, man a Tanaki come out
and fight him." And they threw themselves at once into a threatening
attitude.

"Have you got any Englishmen here?" the French skipper called out, to
make sure of his ground.

"Yes," says the missionary--our boys' father--standing out from the
crowd. "Three English families here. Settled on the island. And we deny
that this group belongs to the French Republic."

At that the Frenchman pulled back a bit. When he saw there was likely to
be opposition, and that his proceedings were watched by three English
families, he drew in his horns a little. He knew if he interfered too
openly with the missionaries' proceedings, an English gunboat might come
along, sooner or later, and overhaul him for fomenting discord on an
island known to be under the British protectorate. So he only answered
in French, "Well, we're peaceable traders, Monsieur. We don't want to
interfere with the British Government. Consider us friends. All we
desire is to hire laborers." And he landed his boat's crew before the
very face of Macglashin and the Tanaki warriors.

At first, as often happens in these islands, the natives were very
little disposed to trade with the strangers in boys or women, for they
were afraid of the Frenchmen; and Macglashin and the other missionary
did all they knew to prevent the new comers from carrying off any of the
islanders into practical slavery. But after awhile the Frenchmen
produced their regulation bottles of square gin (that's what they call
Hollands in the South Pacific), and began to treat the Chief and the
other savages to drinks all round, as much as you liked, with nothing to
pay for it. In a very short time the Chief had got so much liquor aboard
that his legs wouldn't answer the rudder any longer, and he began to
reel about like a perfect madman. Most of the other full-grown men
natives followed suit before long, and lay down on the beach half dead
with drunkenness. Perhaps the liquor was drugged; perhaps it wasn't; but
anyhow, in spite of all the missionaries could do, the shore before
nightfall was in a condition of the wildest and most bestial orgies. The
men, in what the newspapers call "a high state of vinous exhilaration,"
were ready to sell their boys and girls, or anything else on earth for a
little more gin; and as the missionaries were naturally helpless to
prevent it, the Frenchman was soon driving a roaring trade in flesh and
blood against the drunken savages.

The business-like way they went to work, Jack and Martin told us, was
horribly disgusting. The women, indeed, they tried to wheedle and
cajole--"You like go along a New Caledonia along a me? Only three yam
times; then ship bring you back again. Very good feed; plenty nyam-nyam.
Pay very good. Pay money. Lots of shop. You buy what you like: you buy
red dress, red handkerchief, beads like-a-chiefie. No fight; no beat; no
swear at you. You good girl; I good fellow master." But if they couldn't
induce them, by fair words and promises and little presents of cheap
French finery, to put their mark to their sham indentures, then they
just knocked them down with a blow on the head, dragged them by their
hair to the boats hard by, and got their fathers or husbands to put
their marks, and receive a few dollars and some red cloth in payment.

As for the boys, they handled them like so many animals in a market.
"Turn round, _cochon_! Show me your faces! _Mille tonnerres_, let me see
how you can run, you dirty young blackguard!" They examined them as a
veterinary would examine a horse. "Why, there was our little fellow,
Nangaree," Jack said to us with deep concern--"Nangaree, that used to
clean up things for mother at the mission-house: his father sold him for
twenty dollars. The captain looked at his legs, and at the glands in his
throat, to see if he'd had the chicken-pox and the measles. Then he said
to his mate, 'This lot's cheap enough. He's a first-rate lad, and can
speak English. He'll do for the hold. Bundle him along!' And the mate
caught him up by the scruff of his neck and hauled him to the boats,
kicking and screaming; and that was the last we saw of poor Nangaree!"

For three days and nights, it seems, this horrible inhuman market or
slave-fair went on upon the beach, the Frenchmen taking care to keep the
natives well primed with spirits all the time, till they'd got their
hold full, and were prepared to sail away again with their living cargo.
Then at last they upped anchor, and out of the harbor. But before they
went, the skipper, it appears, who was angry at the missionaries for
having interfered with him, and was afraid they might report his
proceedings to the British Government when next the mission ship came
that way on her provisioning rounds, took aside the Chief in a
confidential chat, and tried to inflame his mind, all mad drunk that he
was, against the English residents. Apparently he had made so good a
three days' work of it with his horrible trade, and found it so
convenient to draw his supplies from this remote and almost unvisited
island, that he thought it would be nice if before his next visit he
could get rid altogether of these meddlesome strangers. He didn't want
European witnesses to crop up against him in future; so he told the
Chief, with a great show of confidence, that Macglashin and his friends
were not English at all, but Scotch; and he pointed out that it was
uncomfortable for the natives to be interfered with in their trading
operations by a set of white-livered curs who objected to the selling of
boys and girls into temporary slavery. Surely a Chief had a right to do
as he would with his own subjects! What else he said, Heaven knows, but
this is what happened as soon as the French, with their horrid cargo,
had got well clear of the unhappy island.

That very afternoon, the Chief, beginning to get sober again, but
quarrelsome from headache and the other after-effects of a long debauch,
came round to the mission-house in a towering rage, and asked the
unsuspecting missionary, "Say, white man, are you a Scotchman?"

"Yes," says Macglashin, not knowing what was coming. "I'm a Scotchman,
Chief, certainly. I was born in Scotland."

The Chief laughed loud. "Ha, ha," he said, "then Queenie England no take
care a you. No send gunboat to shoot us all dead, if man a Tanaki come
up and kill you."

At that Macglashin grew alarmed, and answered, "O, yes! The Queen of
England would certainly avenge us." And he tried to explain the exact
relation in which Scotchmen stood to the British crown--that they were
just as much British subjects as Englishmen, entitled to precisely the
same amount of protection. But the Chief couldn't be made to understand.
The French skipper had evidently poisoned his mind against them. "Man a
Tanaki don't want no Scotchman interfere with Chief when him go to sell
him boy and him woman," the savage said angrily. "Tanaki belong a
Queenie England. Queenie England no want Scotchman interfere with people
in Tanaki. Scotchman better keep quiet in him house. Queenie England no
mind Scotchman."

And no amount of reasoning produced any effect upon him.

The missionaries went to bed that evening with many misgivings. They
felt that for the first time, so far as the natives were concerned, the
powerful protection of the British flag was now practically withdrawn.
They were alone, as strangers, among those excited black fellows.

At dead of night, while the two boys slept, a horrible din outside the
mission-house awoke them. They looked out, and saw the red glare of
torches outside. A frightful horde of Kanakas, naked save for their
war-paint, drunk with the Frenchman's rum and armed with his Sniders,
surrounded the frail building in a hideous mob of savagery. As Martin
put his head out of the lattice a bullet came whizzing past. He withdrew
it for a moment, terrified, and then looked out again. As he did so the
other Scotch missionary appeared upon the veranda, half-dressed, and
holding up his hand in dignified remonstrance, began in Kanaka with his
gentle mild voice, "My friends, my dear friends, ..." Before he could
get any further, the Chief stepped forward, and aiming a blow at his
gray locks with a sacred native tomahawk, felled the peaceful old
teacher senseless to the ground. Martin shuddered with horror. The old
man lay weltering in a pool of his red gushing gore, while the savages
danced in triumph over his prostrate body, or smeared themselves with
great lines and circles of his warm heart-blood.

"Come on!" the Chief cried in Kanaka. "Kill all! Kill every one! They're
taboo to our gods. Don't fear their gunboats. Queenie England won't
trouble to protect a Scotchman!"

Then began a hideous orgy of wild lust and slaughter. The savages rushed
on, drunk with blood and rum, and dragged out the wife and children of
the other missionary, whom they brained upon the spot, before the
terrified eyes of the trembling Macglashins. The trader Williams ran up
just then, with his revolver in his hand, followed by two faithful black
servants from a neighboring island; but the French skipper had been
cunning enough there too. "Him a Welshman!" the savages cried. "Queenie
England no care for him!" For indeed he happened to be born in Wales.
And they shot him down as he came, before he could open fire upon them.
Then they turned to massacre the Macglashins, the only remaining
Europeans on the island.

But just at that moment a sudden idea seemed to strike the Chief. He
cried out, "Stop!" The savages fell back and listened with eagerness to
what was coming. Then the Chief shouted out again in Kanaka--"I have a
thought. The gods have sent it to me. This is my thought. We have killed
enough for tonight. Let us catch them alive and bind them. Next moon is
the great feast of my father Taranaka. I have an idea--a divine idea.
Let us keep them till that day, and then, in honor of the gods, let us
roast them and eat them."

[Illustration: THE SAVAGES FELL BACK. Page 70]

The whole assembly answered with a wild shout of delighted
assent--"Taranaka! Taranaka! Our great dead Chief! In honor of Taranaka,
let us roast them and eat them."

So they rushed wildly on upon the defenseless white family, bound them
in rude cords of native make, and carried them off in triumph to
Taranaka's temple tomb in the palm-grove.

And that was as much as we could allow the boys to tell us at a time, of
their strange adventures. We were afraid of overtaxing their strength at
first, and tried to confine their attention as much as possible to
tinned meats and sea-biscuit soaked in condensed milk; though I'm bound
to admit that as soon as they began to recover appetite a bit, they
addressed themselves steadily and seriously to their food, with true
British pluck and perseverance. In spite of the terrors from which they
had just escaped, they did the fullest justice to Serang-Palo's cookery.



                               CHAPTER V.

                             A BREAK-DOWN.


Time went on, and the boys began to grow visibly fatter. It was Tuesday
evening, and we hoped, putting on all steam as we were doing, to reach
Tanaki by the small hours of Wednesday morning, in good season to
relieve the four unhappy souls still, as we believed, detained there in
captivity. We were strained on the very rack of excitement, indeed, with
our efforts to arrive before the savages could take any further step;
and the boys' anxiety for their parents' and their sister's safety had
naturally communicated itself to us, as we listened to their story. Why,
it was that very evening that Martin had told us the rest of his strange
tale--how his father and mother, with his younger brother Calvin and his
sister Miriam, had been confined by the savages in the grass-hut temple,
while he and Jack were put to lie in an open out-house hard by, guarded
only by a single half-intoxicated Kanaka. Well, in the middle of the
night, those two brave boys had silently gnawed their ropes asunder, and
creeping past their guard had stolen away to the beach in the desperate
effort to escape in search of assistance. There, they luckily found the
mission boat hauled down on the shore; and waiting only to take a can of
water from the spring close by, and a bunch of half-ripe bananas from a
garden on the harbor, they had put forth alone on their wild and
adventurous voyage across the lone Pacific. I can tell you, it brought
the tears to our eyes more than once, rough sailors as we were, to hear
the strange story of their hopeless sail, and it made our blood boil to
learn how these ungrateful savages had repaid the earnest and devoted
life-labor of the unhappy missionaries.

"No wonder him hungry," that young monkey Nassaline said, with profound
condolence, "if him don't hab nuffin to eat for ten day long but unripe
banana." Anything that concerned the human stomach always touched a most
tender and responsive chord in Nassaline's sympathies.

At eight bells when my watch was up, I went off for a quiet snooze to my
cabin. I knew I should be wanted for hot work about three in the
morning, for I didn't expect to effect the rescue without a hard fight
for it; so I thought it best to get what sleep I could before arriving
at the islands. So I lay in my berth, with my eyes shut, and a thin
sheet spread over me (for it was broiling hot tropical weather), and I
was just beginning to doze off in comfort, when suddenly I felt
something move under me like a young earthquake. Next minute I was
jolted clean out of my bed, with such a jerk that I thought at first we
were all going to sleep on the bed of the ocean.

"Halloo," I cried out to Jim up atop, rushing out of my cabin. "What's
up? Anything wrong? What's happened?"

"Grazed a reef, I guess," Jim shouted back, calmly. "No land in sight,
but shoal water and breakers ahead. We seem to be in danger."

Cool chap, Jim, under no matter what circumstances. But this looked
serious. In a second I was up, and peering out over the bows into the
dark black water. The _Albatross_ had slowed, and was reversing engines.
All round us we could see great heaving breakers.

"No land hereabouts," Jim sung out, consulting the chart once more. "We
ought to be at least five miles to suth'ard of the Great Caycos Band
Reef."

As he spoke, I saw Martin's white face appearing suddenly at the top of
the companion-ladder. He flung up his hands in an agony of despair. "Oh,
how terrible!" the poor lad blurted out in his misery. "I ought to have
remembered! I ought to have told you! Father says the charts hereabouts
are all many miles wrong in their bearings. The Caycos Reef lies six or
seven knots south by west of the point it's marked at!"

In a ferment of anxiety I turned up our other Sydney charts at once to
test his statement. Sure enough there was a discrepancy, a considerable
discrepancy, both in latitude and longitude, between the two maps. At
the margin of one I read this vague and uncomfortable note--"These
islands are reported by certain navigators to lie further south and west
than here laid down, and have never been accurately surveyed by good
authorities. Careful navigation by day alone is recommended to master
mariners."

Jim looked at me, and I looked at Jim. What on earth could we do in such
a fix as this? To go on in the dark, with unknown reefs before us, was
to imperil the _Albatross_ and all on board; to cast anchor where we
stood and hold back till daylight was to risk not arriving in time to
rescue the unfortunate missionary with his wife and family. I glanced at
the boy's white face as he stood by the companion-ladder, and made up my
mind at once. Come what might, I must push forward and save them.

"Slow engines," I called down the pipe, "and proceed half-speed till
further orders. Jim, go for'ard, and keep a sharp eye on the breakers.
As soon as we're clear, we'll steam ahead full pelt again, and risk
going ashore sooner than leave these poor folks on the island to be
cruelly massacred."

"Thank you," the boy said, with an ashy face, and lay down upon the
deck, unmanned and trembling. His lips were as white, I give you my
word, as this sheet of paper I'm this moment writing upon.

For a hundred yards or so we slowed, and went ahead without coming to
any further stop; then suddenly, a sharp thud--a dull sound of
grating--a thrill through the ship; and Jim, looking up from in front,
with a cool face as usual, called out at the top of his voice, but with
considerable annoyance, "By Jove, we're aground again!"

And so we were, this time with a vengeance.

"Back her," I called out, "back her hard, Jenkins!" and they backed her
as hard as the engines could spurt; but nothing came of it. We were
jammed on the reef about as tight as a ship could stick, and no power on
earth could ever have got us off till the tide rose again.

Well, we tried our very hardest, reversing engines first, and then
putting them forward again to see if we could run through it by main
force; but it was all in vain. Aground we were, and aground we must
remain till there was depth of water enough on the reef to float us.

Fortunately the tide was rising fast, and three hours more would see us
out of our difficulties. Three hours was a very serious delay; but I
calculated if we got off the reef by two in the morning, we should still
have time to reach Tanaki pretty comfortably before seven. We must enter
the harbor by daylight, no doubt, which would perhaps be dangerous;
because when the savages saw us arrive, they might make haste to cut the
white people's throats before we could get up to rescue them. But I
thought it more likely they would try to save them, to prevent our
opening fire upon them by way of punishment; so with what comfort we
could, we stuck on upon the reef, and waited for the inevitable tide to
come and float us.

Waiting for the tide is always slow business.

At about half-past one, however, the water began to deepen under the
ship, and we could feel her rise and fall--bump, bump, bump--with each
onslaught of the breakers. Now bumping on a reef isn't exactly wholesome
for a ship's bottom, so I gave the word to Jenkins for the engines to go
to work again; and presently, after two or three unsuccessful attempts,
we got her safe off, by energetic reversing, and found to our great
delight that the _Albatross_, like a tight little craft that she was,
had sprung no leak, and was making no water. Her sound old timbers had
just grazed the surface of that flat-topped reef without suffering any
serious internal injury.

As soon as we were free, and had examined our hold, I shouted down once
more, "Now forward, boys, as hard as you can go, and mind, Jenkins, you
make her travel!"

To my immense surprise, instead of obeying my orders, the _Albatross_
suddenly stood stock-still in the trough of a wave, drifting helplessly
about like a log on the ocean.

"Now then," I shouted down again, half angry and half alarmed. "What are
you doing there, Jenkins? Didn't you hear what I said? Stir your stumps,
my friend! Double time, and forward!"

Imagine my horror when the engineer shouted back in a voice of blank
dismay, "I can't, sir. She won't work. Don't answer to the valve. We've
injured something in backing her off the reef there."

This was an awkward job. And at such a crisis, too! In a minute I was
down in the engine-room myself, inspecting all the valves and bearings
with lamp in hand, and with the closest scrutiny. Before long we had
ascertained the extent of the injury. A piece of the engine was broken
that would certainly take us six or eight hours to repair. And it was
already two o'clock on the Wednesday morning!

But that wasn't all, either. Another serious difficulty beset us in our
work. We were beating about in the angry sea off the Caycos Reef, with
the breakers dashing in, and the surf running high. If we tried to mend
the broken engine where we stood, we should infallibly be dashed to
pieces on the dangerous shallows. You can't go to work like that on a
lee shore, with no engine to fall back upon, and the wind blowing half a
gale. The only thing possible for us was to hoist sail and make for the
open sea to southward under all canvas. That was taking us further away
from Tanaki, of course; but it was our one chance of getting our engine
repaired in peace and quiet.

So we hoisted sail and stood out to sea once more, leaving the dim long
line of surf gradually behind us on the lee, and beating by constant
tacks against the wind, which had now veered to the southeast, and was
blowing us straight on to the Caycos shallows.

By four o'clock we'd got so far out that we thought we might lie to a
bit and take a few hands off navigating duty to assist the engineer in
repairing his engine.

But it proved a much more difficult and lengthy task to retrieve the
mischief than we had at first sight at all anticipated. The minutes went
by with appalling rapidity. Five o'clock came, and the smith was only
just getting his iron well hammered into shape. Six o'clock, and the
engineer was still fitting the place it came from. Seven
o'clock--something wrong, surely, with the ship's time! Before this hour
I had hoped to be anchored off the harbor of Tanaki.

Seven o'clock on Wednesday morning; and by twelve at noon, so the boys
assured us, the ovens would be made hot at Taranaka's tomb for those
unfortunate prisoners on the remote island!

Oh, how frantically we worked for the next two hours! and how
remorselessly everything seemed to turn against us! How is it that
whenever one's in the greatest hurry all nature seems to conspire to
defeat one's purpose? I won't attempt to explain to you all the petty
mishaps and unfortunate failures that attended our efforts. It seemed as
if iron, wood, and coal--all inanimate matter itself--was banded
together to make our further approach to Tanaki impossible. By nine
o'clock I knew the worst myself. The breakdown to the engine was far
more serious than we had at first imagined. I felt sure that before noon
at earliest, with all our skill and toil, we couldn't possibly repair
it.

But I shrank from telling those two poor trembling lads that there was
no hope now left of saving their parents.

Gradually, however, as the day wore on, they discovered it
themselves--they saw that the golden opportunity had been lost for us.
As each hour passed by they told us with ever redoubled horror what they
knew must at that moment be passing on the island. Now the savages would
be bringing their father out before the prison hut, and sacrificing him
with their tomahawks by the hideous blood-stained altar of their great
dead chieftain. Now their poor mother would be crouching on the ground,
trying in vain to protect their helpless little brother. Now Miriam
herself, little golden-haired, three-year-old, innocent Miriam--but at
that last horror they broke down in tears, and could say no more. They
could only sob and hide their faces in their hands with speechless agony
at that unspeakable picture.

By noon we knew the worst must be over. They were at rest now, poor
souls, from their month-long misery. The afternoon dragged on and we
still worked hard on the mere chance of some respite which might enable
us to rescue them. But we felt sure the end had come for all that. We
worked away by the mere force of pure aimless energy. It distracted us
from thinking of the awful events which we nevertheless in our hearts
felt certain must have happened.

It was eight at night before we got the _Albatross_ fairly under way
again; and even then she lumbered slowly, slowly on, the engine being
only somehow repaired, in the most clumsy fashion, till we could reach
harbor once more, and quietly overhaul her.

So we steamed ahead, feebly and cautiously, all night long, keeping a
sharp lookout for land across our bows, and with Martin on deck almost
all the time, to aid us by his close personal knowledge of the island
approaches.

Wednesday the tenth was over now. The terrible day had come and gone. We
didn't doubt that the massacre was completed long before the clock
struck one on Thursday morning.



                              CHAPTER VI.

                             ON THE ISLAND.


At Tanaki meanwhile, as we afterwards learned by inquiry among the
islanders, things had been going on with the unhappy missionary very
much as our worst fears had led us to expect. Though I wasn't there at
the time to see for myself, I got to know what happened a little later
almost as well as if I'd been on the spot; so I shall take the liberty
once more--not being one of these book-making chaps--of telling my story
my own way, and explaining how matters went in rough sailor fashion,
without trying to let you know in detail how we found it all out till I
come to explain the upshot of our present adventures.

Well, on the night when Martin and Jack stole away from the hut and got
clear off on their venturesome journey in the mission boat, their father
and mother, with little Calvin, who was eight years old, and Miriam, who
was a pretty wee lassie of three, were heavily guarded by half a dozen
desperate and drunken savages in the temple-tomb of the deceased
Taranaka. It was a thatched native grass-house, with a bare mud floor,
and a rough altar-slab raised high on the threshold, which covered the
remains of the blood-thirsty old chieftain--the man who in his early
youth had seen "Capitaney Cook" when he discovered the islands. The
Melanesian natives, I ought to tell you, regard their dead ancestors as
a sort of gods or guardian spirits, and frequently offer up food and
drink at their graves as presents to appease them. Every morning gifts
of taro, bread-fruit, and plantain were laid on the altar by Taranaka's
tomb; and once every ten days a little square gin, mixed with
cocoa-milk, was poured out upon the rude slab of unsculptured stone,
that the dead chief's ghost might come to drink of it and be satisfied.
Wednesday the tenth was the anniversary of Taranaka's death (he had been
killed in a fight with some neighboring islanders, who fell out with him
over the wreck of an American whaling vessel), and it was on that
festival day that the chief proposed offering up the blood of our
fellow-countrymen as an expiation to the shades of his departed
relative.

Macglashin and his wife never even knew that the boys had escaped. If
they had, those long days of suspense might have been even worse for
them. They might have been looking forward with mad hope to some miracle
of rescue such as that which the _Albatross_ had so boldly planned, and
which had been so cruelly interfered with by the breakdown of our
machinery. As it was, the savages carefully kept from them all knowledge
of their boys' escape. They never even breathed a hint of that desperate
voyage. Every day, on the contrary, when they brought the unhappy
missionary and his wife their daily rations of yam and banana, they
taunted them with threats of what tortures the Chief had still in store
for Jack and Martin. They were fatting them up, they said, for Taranaka
to feed upon. On Taranaka's day they would be offered up as victims on
the cannibal altar.

But the most terrible part of all the poor father and mother's
sufferings was the fact that they couldn't keep the knowledge of that
awful fate in store for them even from Calvin and pretty little Miriam.
Macglashin's diary, which I read later on, was just heartrending about
the children. Those helpless mites cowered all day long on the bare mud
floor of that hideous temple, awaiting the horrible doom that the
savages held out before them with the painful resignation of innocent
childhood. They were too frightened to cry over it; too frightened to
talk of it; they only crouched pale and terrified by their mother's
side, and dragged out the long day in horrible apprehensions. They knew
they must die, and they sat there watching for that inevitable sentence
to be carried out with the stoical fortitude of utter childish
helplessness. Well, there--I'm an old hand on the sea, you know, and I
don't mind the dangers of the wind and waves for grown men and boys that
can look after themselves, any more than most of you land-folks mind
dodging about in the Strand at Charing Cross on a crowded afternoon in
the London season; but I can't bear to talk or even to think of what
those poor children suffered all those terrible days in the heathen
tomb-house. There are things that make a man's blood run cold to speak
about. That makes mine run cold: I can't dwell on it any longer; it's
too ghastly to realize.

So there--the days went by, one after another; and Monday the eighth
came, and Tuesday the ninth, and still no chance of escape or rescue. Up
to the last moment, Macglashin hoped (as he says in the diary) that some
miracle might occur to set them free, some interposition of Providence
on their behalf to prevent the last misfortune from overtaking his poor
pallid little Miriam. Perhaps the mission ship, that went her rounds
twice a year, might happen to put in, out of due season, with some
special message or under stress of weather; or perhaps some whaling
vessel or some English gunboat might arrive in the nick of time in the
little harbor of Tanaki. But when Tuesday evening came, and no help had
arrived, the unhappy man's heart sank within him. He gave up that last
wild hope of a rescue at the eleventh hour, and addressed himself to die
with what courage he could muster.

Ah yes, to die one's self is all easy enough; nobody worth his salt
minds that; but to see one's wife and children murdered before one's
eyes--there, I'm a rough sort of sailor-body, as I said before, but you
must excuse my breaking off. I haven't got the strength to hold my pen
and write about it. Why, I've a boy of my own at school at Sydney, and
my Mary's in England, bless her little heart! at a lady's college they
call it nowadays; and I know what it means; I know what it means,
gentlemen. I'd no more expose those two dear children in the places I've
been among the islands myself, than--well, than I'd send them to sea
alone in a cock-boat. And my heart just bleeds for that poor father at
Tanaki, when I read his diary over again, though I haven't got the skill
to put it all down in words at full length as one of those fellows would
do that write for the newspapers.

However, on Tuesday night, neither Macglashin himself nor Mrs.
Macglashin could get a wink of sleep, as you may easily imagine. They
sat up in the temple, with their backs against the wall, and relays of
black fellows, armed with Sniders, and smeared with red paint, watching
them closely all the while, to see they didn't escape or try to do away
with themselves. But Calvin fell asleep out of pure fatigue on his
mother's lap, and Miriam, poor little soul, lay against her father's
shoulder, dozing as peacefully as ever she dozed in her own small cot at
the mission-house, where she was born. Once the thought came into her
father's mind, oughtn't he to twist his handkerchief round her soft
little throat, as she lay there all unconscious in his circling arms, to
save her from the tender mercies of those cruel black savages? How could
he tell what torments they might inflict upon her? Wasn't it better she
should be spared all that horror of fear? Wasn't it better she should
just sleep away her dear little life without ever knowing it, till she
woke next morning in a happier and a brighter country? But in another
minute his heart recoiled from the terrible thought. While there was
still one chance of safety he must let things take their course. Perhaps
even those black monsters might have pity at the last on that one ewe
lamb. Perhaps they might spare his Miriam's life, and make her over to
the mission-ship when it next arrived on its rounds at the island.

All that night long the savages, for their part, were holding a
_sing-sing_, as they call it, close by, and the hideous noise of their
heathenish revels could be distinctly heard by the watchers in the
temple. They danced to the music of their hollow drums, while the shells
upon their ankles resounded in unison. At times the echo of horrible
laughter fell harsh upon the ear. The natives, covered with red feathers
and smeared with blood, were keeping high festival, as is their horrid
custom. And as the long hours wore away, the din of their revelry became
more wild in their orgies each moment.

Morning dawned at last--the morning of Wednesday the tenth, when that
awful deed of bloodshed was to be done before the open eye of heaven;
and with the first streak of light the poor children awoke and gazed
around them blankly at their temple prison. The black watchers brought
them yam and mammee-apples once more, but they couldn't eat; they sat
bewildered and mute, with their hands clasped in their parents' palms,
waiting for the end, and too dazed and terrified almost to know what was
passing.

About six o'clock the Chief came down to the temple, with bloodshot eyes
and tottering feet, attended by half a dozen naked black followers. They
had all been drinking the greater part of the night at the _sing-sing_,
for the Frenchmen had left plenty of square gin behind; and they
rollicked in the cruel good-humor of the born savage.

"How do, Macglashin?" the Chief inquired with a hateful leer. "How do,
white woman? Taranaka day come at last. How you like him this morning?
What for you no tell man a Tanaki sooner you don't know Englishman? Ha!
ha! dat true; so him see. Queenie England no care for Scotchman."

"If you dare to touch a hair of our heads," Macglashin cried in his
despair, rising up and facing the savage angrily, "sooner or later, I
tell you, the Queen of England will hear of it, and she'll send a
gunboat to punish you for our death, and her sailors'll shoot you all
down for your part in this murder."

The Chief laughed--a wild, horrible, barbaric laugh. "Ha! ha!" he
answered. "Dat all very fine for try frighten me. But man a _oui-oui_
tell me you no true Englishman. You speakee English, but you Scotchman
born. All samee American. Queenie England no care for American, no care
for Scotch; no send her gunboat for look after Scotchman. Man a Tanaki
go for eat you to-day, for do honor to ghost a Taranaka."

Macglashin saw that words would produce no effect upon the tipsy and
excited wretch; he must make up his mind for the worst. There was no
help for it.

"At least," he cried, "Chief, you'll let us say good-by to our boys
before we die? You'll bring them in for their mother and me to take our
last farewell of them?"

The Chief shook his head and made a hideous grimace. "No say good-by to
boys," he said, with horrible glee. "Man a Tanaki kill pig all night;
kill Scotchman in morning. Kill baby first; then boy; then mother. Last
of all, kill you yourself, Macglashin. Taranaka very much love white
man's blood. Great day to-day for feast for Taranaka." And he went off
again, grinning in hideous buffoonery, while Macglashin's soul seethed
in speechless indignation.

For half an hour more they were left undisturbed. Then the Chief
appeared at the door once more, and beckoning with his long black
forefinger, called to the missionary--

"Come out, Macglashin!"

The unhappy man strode out with little Miriam half-fainting in his arms.

"Come out, white woman!" the savage cried once more.

The pale mother, almost unable to totter with terror, made her way to
the door, with Calvin's fingers intertwined in her own.

"Now, white people, we going to shoot you," the savage continued,
unabashed. "You make too much trouble for man a Tanaki. Interfere too
much with man who sell him boy or him woman. Me don't going to kill you
with axe, like Taranaka kill first missionary that come a Tanaki. Man a
_oui-oui_ sell me plenty Snider. Man a Tanaki want to try him
shooting-irons. Set you up to run, and then go fire at you."

At the word he nodded, and four stalwart savages caught Macglashin in
their arms and held him to a line drawn lightly in the dust by the
Chief's stick. At the same moment four others caught his unhappy wife,
and dragged her, half senseless, to the self-same line. The two children
were ranged by their sides, pale and white with terror. Then the Chief
walked forward, and drew another line some forty yards in front of them
with his stick again. "When Chief call 'go,'" he called out, "man a
Tanaki let go missionary, and boy, and white woman. Missionary run till
him reach dis line. Man a Tanaki no shoot till missionary pass dis line.
Den man a Tanaki fire; missionary run; man a Tanaki run after missionary
to kill him. Whoever shoot missionary or white woman first, give him
body up in temple to Taranaka."

As he spoke, the savages ranged themselves behind, Sniders in hand. The
Chief placed himself in order at their head on the right. Then he called
out in Kanaka, "When I give the word--'one, two, three'--loose them!
When I give the word Fire! off with your rifles at them."

There was a deadly pause. All was still as death. Then the Chief cried
aloud, "One--two--three--loose them!" and the savages loosed the poor
terrified Europeans.

Even in that supreme moment of agony and doubt, however, one thought
kept rising ever in the father's and mother's heart. What had become of
Jack and Martin?



                              CHAPTER VII.

                            ERRORS EXCEPTED.


It was Thursday the eleventh, in the small hours of the morning. The
_Albatross_ was lumbering along as best she might with her broken
engine, and we were nearing the line of 180°. We weren't making much
way, however, for the speed was low; and we hadn't so much reason for
hurrying now, for we felt almost hopeless of being in time to prevent
the threatened massacre. Our people, we feared, had long since fallen
victims to the superstition and bloodthirstiness of the ungrateful
savages.

I was asleep in my berth after the fatigues of the day, and was dreaming
of my dear little girl in England; when suddenly I felt a clammy cold
hand laid upon my own outside the coverlet, and waking with a start, I
saw Martin Luther standing pale and white in his blue shirt and trousers
before me. I knew at once by his face something fresh had turned up.

"Goodness gracious, boy," I exclaimed, "what on earth's the matter now?"

"Captain Braithwaite," he answered with very solemn seriousness, "I've
been counting the days over and over again, and I'm quite sure there's a
mistake somewhere. We've got a day wrong in our reckoning, I'm certain.
I've counted up each day and night a hundred times over since we left
Tanaki in the boat--Jack and I--and I feel confident you're twenty-four
hours out in your reckoning. Yesterday wasn't Wednesday the tenth at
all. It was Tuesday the ninth, and we may yet reach Tanaki in time to
save them."

"No, no, my boy," I answered, "you're wrong; you're wrong. Your natural
anxiety about your father's fate has upset your calculations. To-day's
the eleventh; yesterday was the tenth. Till we get to the meridian of
180°"--and then, with a start, I broke off suddenly.

"What's the matter?" Martin cried, for he saw at once I was faltering
and hesitating. "Ah, you see I was right now. You see this morning's the
tenth, don't you?"

In a moment the truth flashed across me with a burst. I saw it all; the
only wonder was how on earth I had failed so long to perceive it. I
seized the poor lad's hand in a fervor of delight, relief and
exultation.

"Martin," I cried, overjoyed, "we are both of us right in our own way of
reckoning. This morning's the eleventh on board the _Albatross_ here,
but it's the tenth, I don't doubt, in your island at Tanaki!"

"What do you mean?" he cried, astonished, and gazing at me as if he
thought me rather more than half-mad. "How on earth can it be Thursday
here, while it's Wednesday at Tanaki?"

"Hold on a bit, youngster," said I, jumping out of my cabin, "till I've
consulted the chart and made quite sure about it. Let me see. Here we
are. Duke of Cumberland's Islands, 179° west. Hooray! Hooray!" I waved
the chart round my head in triumph. "Jim, Jim!" I shouted out, rushing
up the companion-ladder in my night-shirt as I stood; "here's a hope
indeed! Here's splendid news. Put on all steam at once and we may save
them yet. Tanaki's the other side of 180!"

Jim looked at me in astonishment.

"Why, what on earth do you mean, Julian?" he asked. "What on earth has
that to do with our chance of saving them?"

"Jim," I cried once more, hardly knowing how to contain myself with
excitement and reaction; "was there ever such a precious pair of fools
in the world before as you and me, my good fellow? It's Wednesday
morning in Tanaki, man! It's Wednesday in Tanaki! Tanaki's the other
side of 180!"

As I said the words, Jim jumped at me like a wild creature and grasped
my hand hard. Then he caught Martin in his arms and hugged him as tight
as if he'd been his own father. After that he threw his cap up in the
air and shouted aloud with delight. And when he'd quite finished all
those remarkable performances, he looked hard into my face and burst out
laughing.

"Well, upon my soul, Julian," he said, "for a couple of seasoned old
Pacific travelers, I do agree with you that a pair of bigger fools and
stupider dolts than you and I never sailed the ocean!"

"If it had been our first voyage across now," I said to Jim, feeling
thoroughly ashamed of myself for my silly mistake, "there might have
been some excuse for us!"

"Or if the boy hadn't told us there was a discrepancy in the accounts
the very first day he ever came aboard," he added solemnly.

"But as it is," I went on, "such a scholar's mate, such a beginner's
blunder as this is for two seafaring men--why, it's absolutely
inexcusable!"

"Absolutely inexcusable!" Jim repeated, penitently.

"But if we clap on all steam we may get there yet on Wednesday morning,"
I continued, consulting my watch.

"By three or four o'clock on Wednesday morning," Jim echoed, examining
the chart once more, and carefully noting the ship's position. "Why,
it's Wednesday now, Julian. We've crossed 180°."

"But what day was yesterday?" Martin asked, all trembling.

"Why, yesterday," I answered, "was Wednesday the tenth, my boy; but
to-day is Wednesday the tenth also. It comes twice over at this
longitude. We've gained a day; that's the long and the short of it. We
ought to have known it, my brother and I, who are such old hands at
cruising in and out of the islands; but our anxiety and distress made us
clean forget it."

"How does that come about?" Martin asked bewildered, his lips white as
death.

"Just like this," said I. "Sailing one way, you see, from England, you
sail with the sun; and sailing the other way, you sail against it. In
one direction you keep gaining time, and in the other you lose it."

"The meridian of 180° is the particular place where the two modes of
reckoning reach their climax," I hastened to add. "So, when you get to
180°, sailing west, you lose a day, and Saturday's followed right off by
Monday. But sailing east, you gain a day, and have two Sundays running,
or whatever else the day may be when you happen to get there. Now, we're
going in the right direction for gaining a day; and so, though yesterday
was Wednesday the tenth the other side of 180°, to-day's Wednesday the
tenth, don't you see, this side of it? And as Tanaki's this side, your
people must always have reckoned by the American day, so to speak, while
we've reckoned all along by the Australian one. It's this morning those
savages threatened to kill your father and mother, and if we make a good
run, we shall still perhaps be in time to save them."

As I spoke, the boy's knees trembled under him with excitement. He
staggered so that he caught at a rope for support. He was too much in
earnest to cry, but the tears stood still in his eyes without falling.

"Oh! I hope to Heaven we'll be in time," he answered. "We may save them!
We may save them!"

I went below and turned in once more for a little sleep, for I knew I
should be wanted later in the morning; and having fortunately the true
sailor's habit in that matter of dozing off whenever occasion occurred,
I was soon snoring away again most comfortably on my pillow. At
half-past three, Tom Blake came down once more to wake me.

"Land in sight, sir," he said, "on our starboard bow, and this young
fellow Martin says he makes it out to be the north point of Tanaki."

In a minute I was on deck again, and peering at the dim land through the
gray mist of morning--the same gray mist through which, as we afterwards
learned, the poor creatures in the heathen temple saw the dawn break of
the day that was to end their earthly troubles. It was Tanaki, no doubt,
for Martin was quite sure he could recognize the headlands and the
barrier reef. Our only question now was how next to proceed. We held a
brief little council of war on deck, with Martin as our chief adviser on
the local situation.

From what he told us, I came rapidly to the conclusion that it would be
useless to attempt an open entrance into the little harbor of Makilolo,
where the Chief had his hut, and where the mission-people, as we
believed, were still confined in the temple. To do so would only be to
arouse the anger of the savages beforehand; and unless we could get them
well between a cross fire, and so effectually prevent any further
outrage, we feared they might massacre the unhappy people in their hands
the moment we hove in sight to enter the harbor. But here our friend
Martin's local knowledge of the archipelago helped us out of our
difficulty. He could pilot us, he said, to a retired bay at the back of
the island, by the east side, where we could land a small party in
boats, well armed with Sniders and our Winchester repeater; and Jack,
who had slept all night, and was therefore the fresher of the two, would
show us a path through the thick tropical underbrush by which we could
approach the village from the rear, while the _Albatross_ ran round
again with the remainder of the crew, and brought our brass
thirty-pounder to bear upon the savages from the open harbor.

This plan was at once received with universal approbation, and we
proceeded forthwith to put it into execution.

Steering cautiously round the island, under cover of the mist, and
fortunately unperceived by the assembled natives, who were too much
occupied with their _sing-sing_ to be engaged in scanning the offing, we
reached at last the little retired bay of which Martin had spoken, and
got ready our boat to land our military party. It was ticklish work, for
we could afford to land only ten, all told, with Jack for our guide; but
each man was armed with a good rifle and ammunition, and the habit of
discipline made our little band, we believed, more than a match for
those untutored savages. Nassaline, also, joined the military party,
while seven men were left as a naval reserve. Silently and cautiously we
landed on the white sandy beach, and turned with Jack into the thick
tangled brake of tropical brushwood.

Meanwhile, my brother Jim, with Martin to guide him, undertook to take
the _Albatross_ round to the regular harbor; for Martin fortunately knew
every twist and turn of those tortuous reef-channels, having been
accustomed to navigate them from his childhood upwards, both in the
mission-boat and in the native canoes which frequently put to sea for
the _bêche-de-mer_ fishery.

Our plan of action, as arranged beforehand, was for the military party
to wait about in the woods at the back of the village till the
_Albatross_ hove in sight off the mouth of the harbor. Then, the moment
she appeared, she was to fire a blank shot towards the Chief's hut with
her thirty-pounder; and at the same moment, we of the surprise party
were to fall upon the savages, and before they could recover from their
first surprise, demand the instant restitution of the missionary and his
family.

Everything depended now upon the two boys. If Jack failed to show us the
path aright--if Martin drove the _Albatross_ upon reef or rock--all
would be up with us, and the savages would massacre our whole party in
cold blood, as they proposed to do with Macglashin and his little ones.
I trembled to think on how slender a thread those four precious human
lives depended. After all, they were but lads, mere children almost, and
the rash confidence of youth might easily deceive them. But I decided,
none the less, to trust to their instincts and their keen affection for
their friends to see us through in our need. If that wouldn't lead us
right, I felt sure in my own soul no human aid could possibly save the
unhappy prisoners.



                             CHAPTER VIII.

                               HOT WORK.


Jack led us from the beach over the white coral sand straight up to the
wood, and after looking about for a while to make sure of his bearings
among the huge fallen logs, hit at last upon a faint trail that led
straggling through the forest--a trail scarcely worn into the semblance
of a path by the bare feet of naked savages. Following his guidance, we
plunged at once, with some doubtful misgivings, into the deep gloom of
the woodland, and found ourselves immediately in a genuine equatorial
thicket, where mouldering trunks of palms encumbered the vague path, and
great rope-like lianas hung down in loops from the trees overhead, to
block our way at every second step through that fatiguing underbrush.
The day was warm, even as we travelers who know the world judge warmth
in the tropical South Pacific; and the moist heat of that basking,
swampy lowland, all laden with miasma from the decaying leaves, seemed
to oppress us with its deadly effluvia and its enervating softness at
every yard we went through the jungle. Moreover, we had to carry our
arms and ammunition among that tangled brake; and as our rifles kept
catching continually in the creepers that drooped in festoons from the
branches, while our feet got simultaneously entangled in the roots and
trailing stems that straggled underfoot, you can easily imagine for
yourself that ours was indeed no pleasant journey. However, we
persevered with dogged English perseverance; the sailors tramped on and
wiped their foreheads with their sleeves from time to time; while poor
Jack marched bravely at our head with an indomitable pluck which
reflected the highest credit on Mr. Macglashin's training.

The only one who seemed to make light of the toil was our black boy,
Nassaline.

We went single file, of course, along the narrow trail, which every here
and there divided to right or left in the midst of the brake with most
puzzling complexity. At every such division or fork in the track, Jack
halted for a moment and cast his eye dubiously to one side and the
other, at last selecting the trail that seemed best to him. Nassaline,
too, helped us not a little by his savage instinct for finding his way
through trackless jungle. For my own part, I could never have believed
any road on earth could possibly be so tortuous; and at last, at the end
of the twenty-fifth turn or thereabouts, I ventured to say in a very low
voice (for we were stealing along in dead silence), "Why, Jack, I
believe you're leading us round and round in a circle, and you'll bring
us out again in the end at the very same bay where we first landed!"

"Hush!" Jack answered, with one finger on his lip. "We're drawing near
the outskirts of the village now. You must be very quiet. I can just see
the grass roof of Taranaka's temple peeping above the brushwood to the
right. In three minutes more we shall be out in the open."

And sure enough he told the truth. Almost as he ceased speaking, the
noise of savage voices fell full upon my ear from the village in front,
and I could hear the natives, in their hideous corroboree, beating hard
upon their hollow drums of stretched skin, and shouting in the dance to
their drunken comrades.

It was a ghastly noise, but it did our hearts good just then to hear it.

I could almost have clapped my hand upon Jack's back and given him three
cheers for his gallant guidance when we saw the village plot opening up
in front of us, and the naked savages, in their war-paint and feathers,
guarding the door of Taranaka's temple. But the necessity for caution
compelled me to preserve a solemn silence. So we crouched as still as
mice behind a clumpy thicket of close-leaved tiro bushes, and peeped out
from our ambush through the dense foliage to keep an eye upon the scene
till the _Albatross_ hove into sight in the harbor.

"My father and my mother must still be there," Jack whispered under his
breath, but in a deep tone of relief. "The Tanaki men are guarding them
exactly as they did when Martin and I left the island. I almost think I
can see Miriam's head through the open door. We shall be in time still
to deliver them from these bloodthirsty wretches."

"In what direction must we look for the _Albatross_?" I whispered back.
"Will she come in from the south there?"

"O, no!" Jack answered in a very low voice. "That's an island to the
right--a little rocky island that guards the harbor. There's deep water
close in by the shore that side. Martin 'll try to bring her in the
northern way, so that the natives mayn't see her till she's close upon
the village. It's a difficult channel to the north, all full of reefs
and sunken rocks; but I think he understands it, he's swam in it so
often. We won't see her at all till she's right in the harbor and just
opposite the temple."

We were dying of thirst now, and longing for drink, but could get
nothing to quench our drought. "What I would give," I muttered to Tom
Blake, "for a drink of water!"

"If Captain want water," Nassaline answered, "me soon get him some." And
he made a gash with his knife in the stem of a sort of gourd that
climbed over the bushes, from which there slowly oozed and trickled out
a sort of gummy juice that relieved to some degree our oppressive
sensations. All the men began at once cutting and chewing it, with
considerable satisfaction. It wasn't as good as a glass of British beer,
I will freely admit; but still, it was better than nothing, any way.

By this time it was nearly half-past six, and we watched eagerly to see
what action the natives would take as soon as they finished their
night-long _sing-sing_. Lying flat on the ground, with our rifles ready
at hand, and our heads just raised to look out among the foliage, we
kept observing their movements cautiously through the thick brushwood.

At a quarter to seven we saw some bustle and commotion setting in on a
sudden in front of the temple; and presently a tall and sinister-looking
native, who, Jack whispered to me, was the Chief of Tanaki, came up from
the village, where the _sing-sing_ had taken place, and stood by the
door of the thatched grass-house. We could distinctly hear him call the
missionary to come out in pigeon English; and next moment our
unfortunate countryman staggered forth, with his little daughter half
fainting in his arms, and stood out in the bare space between the tomb
of Taranaka and the spot where we were lying.

Oh! how I longed to take a shot at that miscreant black fellow.

At sight of his father, worn with fatigue and pale with the terror of
that agonizing moment, Jack almost cried aloud in his mingled joy and
apprehension; but I clapped my hand on his mouth and kept him still for
the moment. "Not a sound, my boy, not a sound," I whispered low, "till
the time comes for firing!"

"Shall we give it them hot now?" Tom Blake inquired low at my ear next
moment. But I waved him aside cautiously.

"Not yet," I answered, "unless the worst comes to the worst, and we see
our people in pressing and immediate danger; we'd better do nothing till
the _Albatross_ heaves in sight. Her gun will frighten them. To fire now
would be to expose ourselves and our friends there to unnecessary
danger."

"All right, sir," Tom murmured low in reply. "You know best, of course.
But I must say, it'd do my 'eart good to up an' pepper 'em!"

"Come out, white woman!" we heard the Chief say next with insolent
familiarity; and Mrs. Macglashin stepped out, a deplorable figure, with
her boy's hand twined in hers, and her white lips twitching with horror
for her little ones. It made one's blood boil so to see it that we could
hardly resist the temptation as we looked to fire at all hazards, and
let them know good friends were even now close at hand to help and
deliver them.

"Whether the _Albatross_ heaves in sight or not," I whispered to Tom
Blake, "we must fire at them soon--within five minutes--and sell our
lives as dearly as we can. I can't stand this much longer. It's too
terrible a strain. Come what may, I must give the word and at them!"

"Quite right, sir," says Tom. "What's the use of delaying?"

And, indeed, I began to be terribly afraid by this time there was
something very wrong indeed somewhere. Could Martin have missed his way
among those difficult shoals, and run our trusty vessel helplessly on
the rocks and reefs? It looked very like it. They were certainly
overdue; for even at the present crippled rate of speed, the good old
_Albatross_ had had plenty of time, I judged, to round the point and get
back safe again into the deep water of the harbor. If she failed in this
our hour of need, the natives would surround us and cut us to pieces in
a mass, for our best reliance was in our solid brass thirty-pounder. I
began to tremble in my shoes for some time for the possible upshot. Over
and over again I glanced eagerly towards the point for that longed-for
white nose of hers to appear round the corner.

At last, unable to restrain my curiosity any longer, I rose to my feet
and peered across the bushes. As I did so, I saw the savages seize
Macglashin in their arms, and range the four poor fugitives in a line
together. My blood curdled. The Chief and the ten savages with the
Sniders stood in a row, half fronting us where we lay. Macglashin and
his wife were fortunately out of line of fire for our rifles. "Now, we
can delay no longer," I cried. "He means murder. The moment the black
fellow gives the word of command, fire at once upon him and his men,
boys. Take steady aim. No matter what comes. Let the poor souls have a
run for their lives, any way."

As I spoke, the Chief uttered in Kanaka the native words for "One, two,
three," with loud drunken laughter.

At the sound of the Chief's voice, the savages loosed the four wretched
Europeans. At the very same sound we all fired simultaneously--and six
of the black monsters fell writhing on the ground, while the Chief and
the four others, taken completely by surprise, dropped their rifles in
their supreme astonishment.

"Forward, boys, and secure them!" I cried, dashing out into the open,
and waving my hat to the astounded missionary. "Here we are, sir. Run
this way! We're friends. We've come to your rescue. Catch the Chief at
once, lads; and hooray for the _Albatross!_"

For just as I spoke, to my joy and relief, her good white nose showed at
last round the point; and next instant, the boom! boom! of her jolly
brass thirty-pounder, fired in the very nick of time, completed the
discomfiture of the astonished savages.

Before they knew where they were, they found themselves hemmed in
between a raking cross-fire from our Sniders on one side, and the heavy
gun of the _Albatross_ on the other. The tables were now completely
turned. We charged at them, running. Macglashin, seizing the situation
at a glance, caught up one of the rifles belonging to the wounded men,
which had been flung upon the ground, and, hardly yet realizing his
miraculous escape, joined our little party as an armed recruit with
surprising alacrity. For the next ten minutes there was a terrible scene
of noise and confusion. The blacks advanced upon us, swarming up from
the village like bees or wasps, and it was only by a hand-to-hand fight
with our bayonets--for we had fortunately brought them in case of close
quarters--that we kept our dusky enemy at bay. At last, however, after a
smart hand-to-hand contest, we secured the Chief, and tied him safely
with the rope he had loosed from Macglashin. Then we seized the
remaining Sniders that lay upon the ground, while the men of the
village, drunk and stupefied, began to fall back a little and molest us
from a distance.

"Now, put the lady and children in the center, boys," I cried, at the
top of my voice, "and let the Chief march along with us as a hostage.
Down to the shore, while the _Albatross_ boat puts out to save us!" Then
I turned to the savages, and called out in English, "If any one of you
dares to fire at us, I give you fair warning, we shoot your Chief! Hold
off there, all of you!"

To my great delight, Nassaline, standing forward as I spoke, translated
my words to them into their own tongue, and waving them back with his
hands made a little alley for us through the midst to regain the shore
by. Smart boy, Nassaline!

After a moment, however, the natives once more began to crowd round us,
as we started to march, in very threatening attitudes, with their
Sniders and hatchets. At one time I almost thought they would overpower
us; but just then Jim, who was watching the proceedings with his glass
from the deck of the _Albatross_, and saw exactly how matters stood,
created a judicious diversion at the exact right moment by firing a
little grape-shot plump into the heart of the grass huts of the village,
and bowling over a roof or two before the very eyes of the astonished
savages. They fell back at once, and began to make signs of desiring a
parley. So we halted on the spot, with the lady and children still
carefully guarded, and held up our handkerchiefs in sign of truce. Then
Nassaline, aided by our sailor who understood the Kanaka language, began
to palaver with them. He told them in plain and simple terms we must
first be allowed to take the lady and children in safety to the
_Albatross_, and that we would afterwards come back to treat at greater
length with their head men as to the Chief's safety. To this, after some
demur, the black fellows assented; and we beckoned to Jim accordingly by
a preconcerted sign to send the boat ashore to us, to fetch off the
fugitives. At the same time we retreated in military order, in a small
hollow square, to the beach, still taking good care to protect in the
midst our terrified non-combatants.

As for the Chief, he marched before us, with his hands tied, and his
feet free, led by a rope, the ends of which I held myself, with the aid
of two of my sailors. A more ridiculously crestfallen or disappointed
creature than that drunken and conquered savage at that particular
moment it has never yet been my fate to light upon.

We reached the beach in safety, and sent Mrs. Macglashin and the
children aboard, with Jack to accompany them. Then we turned to parley
with the discomfited savages. Jim kept the thirty-pounder well pointed
in their direction, with ostentatious precision, and we made them hold
off along the beach at a convenient distance, where he could rake them
in security, while we ourselves retained the Chief in our hands, with a
pistol at his head, as a gentle reminder that we meant to stand no
nonsense.

After a few minutes' parley, conducted chiefly by our
Kanaka-speaking sailor, with an occasional explanation put in by our
assistant-interpreter, Nassaline, we arrived at an understanding, in
accordance with which we were to return them their Chief for the time
being, on consideration of their bringing us down to the beach all the
Macglashins' goods, and making restitution for the sack of the
mission-house in dried cocoa-nut, the sole wealth of the island. Those
were the terms for the immediate present, as a mere personal matter: for
the rest, we gave the Chief clearly to understand that we intended to
sail straight away with all our guests for Fiji, there to lay our
complaint of his conduct before the British High Commissioner in the
South Pacific. We would then charge him with murder and attempted
cannibalism, and with stirring up his people to massacre the other
missionary, and the trader Freeman. We would endeavor to get a gunboat
sent to the spot, to make official inquiry into the nature of the
disturbances, and to demand satisfaction on the part of the relations of
the murdered men. Finally, we would also lay before the Commissioner the
conduct of the French labor-vessel, and her kidnaping skipper, who had
instigated the savages to their dastardly attack, and whom I was
strongly inclined to identify with the captain from whose grip we had
rescued our friend Nassaline. We gave the Chief to understand,
therefore, that he must by no means consider himself as scot free,
merely because we let him go unhurt till trial could be instituted by
the proper authorities. He must answer hereafter for his high crimes and
misdemeanors to the Queen's representative.

To all of which the penitent savage merely answered with a sigh:

"Me make mistake. Kill missionary by accident. Man a _oui-oui_ tell me
Queenie England no care for Scotchman, an' me too much believe him. Now
Captain tell me Queenie send gunboat for eat me up, and kill all my
people. No listen any more to man a _oui-oui_."

And then we put off in triumph to the _Albatross_. The family meeting
that ensued on board when Macglashin stood once more upon a British deck
with his wife and children, I won't attempt--rough sailor as I am--to
describe: I don't believe even the special correspondent of a morning
paper could do full justice to it. To see those two lads, too, catch
their pretty little sister once more in their arms, and cover her with
kisses, while she clung to their necks and cried and laughed
alternately, was a sight to do a man's heart good for another
twelvemonth. And as we sat that same evening round the cabin-table
(where our Malay cook had performed wonders of culinary art for the
occasion), and drank healths all round to everybody concerned in this
remarkable rescue, the toast that was received with the profoundest
acclamations from every soul on board, was that of the two brave boys
whose courage and skill had guided us at last, as if by a miracle, to
the recovery of all that was nearest and dearest to them.

Indeed, if Martin and Jack don't get the Victoria Cross when we return
to England, I shall have even a lower opinion than ever before of her
Majesty's confidential political advisers of all creeds or parties.



                           Transcriber Notes:

Passages in italics were indicated by _underscores_.

Small caps were replaced with ALL CAPS.

Throughout the dialogues, there were words used to mimic accents of
the speakers. Those words were retained as-is.

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up
paragraphs and so that they are next to the text they illustrate. Thus
the page number of the illustration might not match the page number in
the List of Illustrations, and the order of illustrations may not be the
same in the List of Illustrations and in the book.

Errors in punctuation and inconsistent hyphenation were not corrected
unless otherwise noted.

On page 32, "to" was replaced with "too".

On page 35, "aud" was replaced with "and".

On page 39, "inportance" was replaced with "importance".

On page 82, "reparing" was replaced with "repairing".

On page 97, "Macglasin's" was replaced with "Macglashin's".





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