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Title: The Boy Fortune Hunters in the South Seas
Author: Baum, L. Frank (Lyman Frank)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University

                  [Illustration: Among the Islanders]



                                The Boy
                            Fortune Hunters
                                 in the
                               South Seas


                                   By
                              FLOYD AKERS

                               Author of
                   The Boy Fortune Hunters in Alaska,
                   The Boy Fortune Hunters in Panama,
                   The Boy Fortune Hunters in Egypt,
                   The Boy Fortune Hunters in China,
                 and The Boy Fortune Hunters in Yucatan

                     [Illustration: Publisher logo]

                               PUBLISHERS
                        THE REILLY & BRITTON CO.
                                CHICAGO

                            Copyright, 1911
                                   By
                        The Reilly & Britton Co.



                                CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
  I Senor De Jiminez                                                  11
  II I Advance a Proposition                                          29
  III We Meet Some Queer People                                       40
  IV Nux and Bryonia                                                  55
  V A South Pacific Typhoon                                           75
  VI A Freakish Shipwreck                                             88
  VII The Pearl People                                                98
  VIII The Reef Patrol                                               115
  IX Alfonso’s Antoinette                                            131
  X The Pearl City                                                   147
  XI A King, A Priest, and A Boy                                     162
  XII The “Crooked One”                                              173
  XIII Living Shields                                                189
  XIV A Desperate Attempt                                            202
  XV My Execution                                                    212
  XVI The Way It Happened                                            221
  XVII The Consequences                                              230
  XVIII A Run for Life                                               236
  XIX A Capricious Earthquake                                        246
  XX King Bryonia                                                    255



                                  The
                          Boy Fortune Hunters
                           In The South Seas



                               CHAPTER I
                            SENOR DE JIMINEZ


“There’s one thing certain,” said my uncle, Naboth Perkins, banging his
fist on the table for emphasis. “If we don’t manage get a cargo in ten
days we’ll up anchor an’ quit this bloomin’ island.”

My father the skipper, leaning back in his easy-chair with his legs—one
of them cork—stretched upon the table and his pipe in his mouth, nodded
assent as he replied:

“Very good.”

“Here it is five weeks since we finished unloadin’ that machinery,” went
on Uncle Naboth, “an’ since then the _Seagull’s_ been floatin’ like a
swan in the waters o’ Port Phillip an’ lettin’ the barnacles nip her.
There ain’t a shipper in Melbourne as’ll give us an ounce o’ cargo; an’
why? Jest because we’re American an’ float the Stars an’ Stripes—that’s
why. There’s a deep-seated conspiracy agin American shipping in
Australia, an’ what little truck they’ve got to send to America goes in
British ships or it don’t go at all.”

Again Captain Steele nodded.

“S’pose we try Adelaide,” suggested big Ned Britton, our first mate.

“That’s jest as bad,” declared Uncle Naboth. “It’s an off season, they
say; but the fact is, Australia sends mighty little to the United
States, an’ those that ship anything prefer English bottoms to ours.
Everything’s been contracted for months ahead, and the only chance the
_Seagull_ has of going home freighted is to grab some emergency
deal—where time counts—an’ load an’ skip before any Britisher comes into
port.”

“Well?” said my father, inquiringly.

“Well, that’s what we’ve been waitin’ for, an’ I’m gettin’ desprit tired
o’ the job. So now I’ll give these folks jest ten days to rustle up a
cargo for us, an’ if they don’t do it, away we goes in ballast.”

I laughed at his earnestness.

“Why, Uncle Naboth, it won’t hurt us to go home without freight,” said
I. “In fact, we’ll make better time, and for my part I see no use in
waiting ten days longer for such a ghostly chance.”

“Don’t be foolish, Sam,” returned my uncle, impatiently. “Boys never
have any business instincts, anyhow. It’s our business to carry cargoes,
so to make the long voyage back home light-waisted is a howlin’
shame—that’s what it is!”

“We were paid so much for the cargo we brought that we can well afford
to run home in ballast,” I remarked.

“There you go—jest like a boy. You’ve got a fat bank account, Sam
Steele; an’ so hev I; an’ so’s the Cap’n, your father. An’ we three own
the _Seagull_ an’ can do as we blame please with her. But business is
business, as Shylock says to the lawyers. We’re runnin’ this schooner to
make money—not one way, but both ways—an’ our business is to see that
every league she travels counts in dollars an’ cents. Nice merchantmen
we’d be to float off home in ballast, jest ’cause we got a big lump fer
bringin’ a load of farm machinery here; wouldn’t we, now?”

“Oh, I don’t object to your trying for a cargo, Uncle Naboth. That’s
your part of the business, and if any man could make a contract you can
do so; but I see no use in getting annoyed or worried in case we find it
impossible to secure a consignment of freight.”

Uncle Naboth smiled grimly.

“I ain’t worried, Sam,” he said more mildly. “I’m only tellin’ you an’
the Cap’n what my sentiments is.”

We were seated in our pleasant sitting-room at the Radley Arms, one of
the cosiest inns I ever stopped at. It was a place much patronized by
mariners of the better class and Mrs. Wimp, our landlady, was certainly
a wonderful cook. Joe Herring, my chum and a lad who, although only
about my own age, served as second mate of the _Seagull_, had aroused my
uncle to speech by remarking that as far as he was concerned he wouldn’t
mind boarding all winter at the Radley Arms. But Joe was a silent
fellow, as was my father Captain Steele, and having evoked the above
tirade he said nothing further. Uncle Naboth had a perfect right to
issue his ultimatum concerning our freight, being supercargo and part
owner, and as our recent voyages had been fairly prosperous and we were
already amply paid for our present trip to Australia we were all in a
mood to take things philosophically.

I think Ned Britton, the mate, was the most uneasy of our party, but
that was because he disliked the land and was only comfortable when
afloat. Ned even now lived on shipboard and kept everything taut and in
running order, while my father, Uncle Naboth and I had rooms at Mrs.
Wimp’s admirable inn. I am free to confess that I like a bit of land
loafing now and then, while poor Ned is never happy unless he knows the
water is sliding under the keel.

Joe and I had ransacked sleepy old Melbourne pretty well by this time
and had enjoyed every day of the five weeks we had been ashore. There
wasn’t a great deal of excitement in town, but we managed to have a good
time and to keep amused. Our little group had sat in silent meditation
for a few moments following my uncle’s last remark, when Mrs. Wimp stuck
her head in the door and said:

“’Ow’d yer loike to see a gent as wants to see yer?”

We looked at one another inquiringly.

“Who is it?” demanded Uncle Naboth.

“’E didn’t say.”

“Didn’t say what, Mrs. Wimp?”

“Didn’t say ’oo ’e were.”

“Did he say who he wanted to see?”

“No sir.”

“Then never mind. Tell him to call again, Mrs. Wimp,” I ventured to say,
amused at the landlady’s noncommittal manner.

“No, no!” exclaimed my uncle. “It may be somethin’ about a cargo. Who
did he ask for, Mrs. Wimp?”

“’E jus’ dropped in an’ said: ‘Is the _Seagull_ people stoppin’ ’ere?’
‘They is,’ says I. ‘Then I wants to see ’em,’ says ’e. So I comes up to
see if it’s agreeable.”

“It is, Mrs. Wimp,” asserted Uncle Naboth. “Be kind enough to show the
gentleman up.”

Thereat Mrs. Wimp withdrew her head and closed the door. My father
filled his pipe anew and relighted it. Joe looked thoughtfully out of
the window into the alley below. I turned over a newspaper that lay upon
the table, while Ned and my uncle indulged in a few remarks about the
repairs recently made to the ship’s engines. Not one of us realized that
the next few minutes were destined to alter the trend of all our lives.

Then came the visitor. He silently opened the door, closed it swiftly
behind him and stood with his back to it shrewdly eyeing us each one in
turn.

The man’s stature was quite short and he was of slight build. His hair,
coarse in texture, sprinkled with gray and cropped close, stood straight
up on his forehead like a scrubbing brush. His eyes were black and
piercing in expression; his nose rather too fat; his chin square and
firm; his face long and lean, and his skin of the dusky olive hue
peculiar to natives of southern climes. His apparel was magnificent. The
velvet coat had gold buttons; he sported a loud checked vest of purple
and orange, and his cravat was a broad bow of soft white ribbon with
gold fringe at the edges.

At once I began speculating whether he was a vaudeville actor or a
circus barker; but either idea was dispelled when I noticed his
diamonds. These were enormous, and had a luster that defied imitation.
His shirt buttons were diamonds as big around as my little finger nail;
he had another monster in the center of his bow tie and his fingers
fairly glittered with gems of the same character. Every link of a huge
watch guard was set with diamonds, and his cuff buttons were evidently
worth a small fortune.

The appearance of this small but gorgeous individual in our dingy
sitting-room produced an incongruous effect. The air was fogged with
tobacco smoke; my father still lazily rested his legs across the
table-top; the rest of us lounged in unconventional attitudes. However,
being Americans we were more astonished than impressed by the vision
that burst upon us and did not rise nor alter our positions in any way.

“Which it is the gentleman who the ship _Seagull_ owns?” demanded the
stranger, mixing his English in his agitation, although he spoke it very
clearly for a foreigner.

Uncle Naboth became our spokesman.

“There are three owners,” said he.

“Ah! where they are?”

“All in this room,” replied my uncle.

“Excellent!” exclaimed our visitor, evidently pleased. He glanced around
him, drew a chair to the table and sat down. My father moved his wooden
leg a bit to give the stranger more room.

“What is price?” he inquired, looking at Mr. Perkins, whom he faced.

“Price for what, sir?”

“Ship,” said the man.

“Oh, you want to buy the ship?” gasped my uncle, fairly staggered by the
suggestion.

“If you please, if you like; if it is rais—rais—raison—_a_—ble.”

Uncle Naboth stared at him. My father coolly filled his pipe again. The
man’s quick eye caught Joe and I exchanging smiling glances, and he
frowned slightly.

“At what price you hold your ship?” he persisted, turning again to my
uncle.

“My dear sir,” was the perplexed reply, “we’ve never figured on selling
the _Seagull_. We built it to keep—to have for our own use. We’re
seamen, and it’s our home. If you’d ask us offhand what we’d sell our
ears for, we’d know just as well what to answer.”

The man nodded, looking thoughtful.

“What the ship cost?” he asked.

“Something over two hundred thousand dollars.”

“United State America dollars?”

“Of course.”

Our visitor drew an envelope from his pocket; laid it on the table and
scribbled some figures upon the back.

“Ver’ well,” he said, presently; “I take him at two hunder thousan’
dollar, American.”

“But—”

“It is bargain. What your terms?”

“Cash!” snapped Uncle Naboth, laughing at the man’s obstinacy.

The diamond-bedecked man leaned his elbow on the table and his head on
his hand in a reflective pose. Then he straightened up and nodded his
head vigorously.

“Why not?” he exclaimed. “Of course it must the cash be. You will know,
sir, that a gentleman does not carry two hunder’ thousan’ dollar about
his person, and although I have had more than that sum on deposit in
Bank of Melbourne, it have been expend in recent purchases. However,
nevertheless, in spite of, I may say, I have ample fund in Bogota. I
will make you draft on my bank there, and you may sail with me in my
ship and collect the money in gold when we arrive. That is cash payment,
Señor; is not?”

“Bogota!” remarked my uncle, by this time thoroughly bewildered. “That
is a long way off.”

“Merely across Pacific,” said the other easily. “There is direct route
to it through the South Seas.”

My father nodded in confirmation of this statement. He knew his charts
by heart.

“Sir,” said Uncle Naboth, sitting up and heaving a deep sigh, “I have
not the honor of knowing who the blazes you are.”

The stranger cast a stealthy glance around the room. Then he leaned
forward and said in a low voice:

“I am Jiminez.”

This impressive statement failed to enlighten my uncle.

“Jiminez who?” he inquired.

For an instant the man seemed offended. Then he smiled condescendingly.

“To be sure!” he replied. “You are of United State and have no interest
in South American affairs. It is natural you have ignorance regarding
our politics. In Bogota the name of De Jiminez stands for reform; and
reform stands for—” He hesitated.

“What?” asked my uncle.

“Revolution!”

“That’s only nat’ral,” observed Mr. Perkins complacently. “I hear
revolutions are your reg’lar diet down in South America. If there didn’t
happen to be a revolution on tap your people wouldn’t know what to do
with themselves.”

Señor de Jiminez frowned at this.

“We will not politic discuss, if you please,” he rejoined stiffly. “We
will discuss ship.”

“We don’t want to sell,” said my uncle positively.

De Jiminez looked at him speculatively.

“I tell you with frankness, I must have ship,” said he.

“What for?”

“I will tell you that—but in more privacy,” with a wave of his hand
toward our interested group.

“Oh, these are all _Seagull_ men,” announced Uncle Naboth. “I’ll
introduce you, Mr. Yim—Him—Jim—”

“Jiminez.” He pronounced it “He-ma-noth” now, in Spanish fashion.

“This is Captain Steele, our skipper and part owner,” continued my
uncle. “This young man is Sam Steele, his son, and also part owner. Sam
is purser and assistant supercargo of the _Seagull_. I’m supercargo, the
third owner, and uncle to Sam an’ brother-in-law to the Cap’n. Is that
all clear to you?”

De Jiminez bowed.

“Here is Ned Britton, our first mate; and also Joe Herring, our second
mate. Both are trusted comrades and always know as much as we know. So
what you say, stranger, is as private before these people as if you
spoke to but one of us. Therefore, fire ahead.”

The man considered a moment; then he said slowly:

“You must know there are spies upon me here in Melbourne, as there are
everywhere, whichever I go; so I cannot too careful be. You ask me why I
want ship. I answer: to carry supplies of war to Colombia—arms and
ammunition for the Cause—all of which I have successful purchase here in
Australia.”

“Oh; you’re going to start something, are you?” inquired Uncle Naboth.

“It is already start, sir,” was the dignified response. “I am to
complete the revolution. As you do not understan’ ver’ well, I will the
explanation make that my country is rule by a bad president—a
dictator—an autocrat! We call ourselves republic, Señor Americaine; but
see! we are not now a republic; we are under despotism. My belove people
are all slave to tyrant, who heeds no law but his own evil desire. Is it
not my duty to break his power—to free my country?”

“Perhaps,” answered Mr. Perkins, his calmness in sharp contrast to the
other’s agitation. “But I can’t see as it’s any of _our_
bread-and-butter. It’s your country, sir, but you must remember it’s not
ours; and to tell you the cold fact, we don’t propose to sell the
_Seagull_.”

At this Señor de Jiminez looked a bit worried. But the little Spaniard
was game, and did not give up easily.

“I must have ship!” he asserted. “I am rich—have much money entrusted to
me for the Cause—my estate is ver’ large. The best families of Colombia
are all with me; now and always, whatever I do. See, Señor; it was my
ancestor who discover South America! who discover the River Orinoco! who
was first governor of my country under the Queen of Spain! Yes, yes. I
am descend direct from the great navigator Gonzalo Quesada de Jiminez,
of whom you read in history.”

“I congratulate you,” said Uncle Naboth dryly.

“I have here in Melbourne congregate the means to carry on the war,
which is now languish for want of arms and ammunition. It is all ready
to send to Bogota. Therefore, you see, I must really have ship.”

“But why buy one?” asked my uncle. “Why not send your stuff as freight?”

“Impossible!” exclaimed the other. “You are United State. Well, United
State forbid any merchant ship to carry arms to friendly state for
starting revolution. If I hire you to do so I get you in trouble, and
myself in trouble. I want no quarrel with United State, for when I am
myself President of Colombia I must stand well with other powers. So it
is same with every nation. I cannot hire a ship. I must buy one and take
responsibility myself.”

This frank and friendly explanation led me to regard the flashy little
man more kindly than before. I had been busy thinking, knowing that
Uncle Naboth had set his heart on making some money on the return
voyage. So, during the pause that followed the speech of Señor de
Jiminez, I turned the matter over in my mind and said:

“Tell me, sir, what you propose doing with the ship after you get to
Colombia with it?”

He stared at me a moment.

“It is of little use then,” said he, “unless I could put some cannon on
board and use him for gunboat.”

“Have you ever been aboard the _Seagull_?” I continued.

He shook his head.

“I have inquire about every ship now in Port Phillip,” he said. “Not one
is available but yours that is big enough to carry my cargo—all others
are owned in foreign lands and cannot be bought. But I see your ship,
and it look like a good ship; I inquire and am told by my friends here
it is famous for speed and safety.”

“It is all that,” agreed my uncle heartily.

“We have a couple of guns on board already,” I continued; “for sometimes
we sail in seas where it is necessary for us to protect ourselves. But
as a matter of fact the _Seagull_ would make a poor gunboat, because she
has no protective armor. So it seems all you could use her for would be
to carry your revolutionary supplies to Colombia and land them
secretly.”

“That is all that I require!” he said quickly, giving me a keen look.

“Sam,” said my uncle, “you’re goin’ to make a durn fool of yourself; I
kin see it in your eye!”



                               CHAPTER II
                        I ADVANCE A PROPOSITION


By this time all eyes were upon my face, and realizing that I was about
to suggest a bold undertaking I was a little embarrassed how to
continue.

“For our part, sir,” said I, addressing Señor de Jiminez and keeping my
gaze averted from the others, “it is our intention to sail for America
presently, and we would like to carry a good paying cargo with us. So it
strikes me we ought to find a way to get together. Have you spent all
your funds here in purchases, or have you some left?”

He figured on the envelope again—eagerly now, for his quick brain had
already grasped my forthcoming proposition.

“I have still in bank here equal to nine thousan’ dollar United State
money,” said he.

“Very well,” I rejoined. “Now suppose you purchase from us the _Seagull_
for two hundred thousand dollars, and pay down nine thousand in cash,
agreeing to resell the ship to us as soon as we are free of the cargo
for the sum of one hundred and ninety-one thousand dollars, accepting
your own draft, which you are to give us, in full payment. In that way
the thing might be arranged.”

He had brightened up wonderfully during my speech and was about to reply
when Uncle Naboth, who had been shaking his head discontentedly, broke
in with:

“No, Sam, it won’t do. It ain’t enough by half. Your scheme is jest a
makeshift an’ I kin see where we might get into a peck o’ trouble aidin’
an’ abettin’ a rebellion agin a friendly country. Moreover, you don’t
take into account the fact that we’ve got to operate the ship across the
South Seas, an’ the salaries an’ wages fer such a long voyage amounts to
considerable.”

I have respect for Uncle Naboth’s judgment, so was rather crestfallen at
his disapproval. But Señor de Jiminez, who was alert to every phase of
the argument, said quickly:

“It is true. Nine thousan’ dollar is too much for an ordinary voyage,
and too little for such voyage as I propose. I will pay fifteen thousan’
dollar.”

“You haven’t the cash,” remarked my uncle, “and revolutions are
uncertain things.”

Jiminez took time to muse over the problem, evidently considering his
dilemma from every viewpoint. Then he began to shed his diamonds. He
took out his jeweled cuff buttons, his studs, pin and watch guard, and
laid them on the table.

“Here,” said he, “are twenty thousan’ dollar worth of jewels—the finest
and purest diamonds in all the world. I offer them as security. You take
my nine thousan’ dollar in gold, and my personal note for six thousan’,
which I pay as soon as in Colombia we land. If I do not, you keep the
diamonds, which bring you much more in your own country. You see,
gentlemen, I trust you. You are honest, but you make a hard bargain—hard
for the man who must use you in spite of difficulty. But I have no
complaint. I am in emergency; I must pay liberally to accomplish my
great purpose. So then, what is result? Do I purchase the ship as Señor
Sam Steele he describe?”

Uncle Naboth hesitated and looked at my father, who had listened with
his usual composure to all this but said not a word. Now he removed his
pipe, cleared his throat and said:

“I’m agree’ble. Colombia ain’t so blame much out’n our way, Naboth. An’
the pay’s lib’ral enough.”

“What do you think, Ned?” asked my uncle.

“The Cap’n’s said it,” answered the mate, briefly.

“Joe?”

Joe started and looked around at being thus appealed to. He was only a
boy; but Uncle Naboth knew from experience that Joe never spoke without
thinking and that his thoughts were fairly logical ones.

“The deal looks all right on the face of it, sir,” said he. “But before
you sign a contract I’d know something more of this gentleman and his
prospects of landing his arms in safety, so we can get away from
Colombia without a fight. Let Sam find out all he can about this
revolution and its justice, and get posted thoroughly. Then, if it still
seems a safe proposition, go ahead, for the terms are fair enough.”

“Of course,” answered Uncle Naboth, “we don’t mean to jump before we
look. Other things bein’ equal an’ satisfaction guaranteed, I’ll say to
you, Mr. Jim—Yim—Jiminez, that I b’lieve we can strike a bargain.”

The little man’s face had seemed careworn as he listened intently to
this exchange of ideas. Evidently he was desperately anxious to get the
_Seagull_ to deliver his contraband goods. But he offered no objection
to Joe’s cautious suggestion. Instead he turned to me, after a little
thought, and said:

“Time is with me very precious. I must get to Bogota as soon as
possible—to the patriots awaiting me. So to satisfy your doubts I will
quickly try. It is my request, Señor Sam, that you accompany me to my
hotel, and the evening spend in my society—you and your friend Señor
Joe. Then to-morrow morning we will sign the papers and begin to load at
once the ship. Do you then accept my hospitality?”

I turned to Uncle Naboth.

“Do you think you can trust Joe and me?” I asked.

“Guess so,” he responded. “Your jedgment’s as good as mine in this deal,
which is a gamble anyway you put it. Go with Mr. Jiminez, if you like,
and find out all he’ll let you. Mostly about him, though; nobody knows
anything about a revolution.”

“Very well, Uncle,” I answered. Then I turned to the Colombian. “Sir,”
said I, “we cordially accept your invitation. You seem fair and just in
your dealings and for the present, at least, I’m glad to have formed
your acquaintance. Keep your diamonds until we ask for the security. As
you sail in our company you may as well wear them until circumstances
require us to demand them of you.”

He bowed and restored the gems to their former places. Then he rose and
took his hat.

“You will return with me to my apartments?”

“If you desire it,” said I.

“Then, Señors, I am at your service.”

Joe quietly left his seat, saying: “I’ll be ready in a jiffy, Sam,” and
started for his room—a room we shared together. After a moment’s
hesitation I followed him.

“What are you going to do?” I asked.

“Slick up a bit and pack my toothbrush. Didn’t you hear De Jiminez speak
of his ‘apartments’ at the hotel? And we’re to stay all night it seems.”

“True enough,” I exclaimed. “We must look decent, old man,” and I
quickly changed my clothing and threw into a small grip such articles as
I thought might be needed. Joe was ready before me, and I saw him
quietly slip a revolver into his hip pocket; so I did the same, smiling
at the incongruity of going armed to make a semisocial visit.

We found Señor de Jiminez slightly impatient when we returned to the
sitting-room, so we merely said good-bye to our friends and followed him
out to the street. The Radley Arms was situated in a retired and very
quiet district, and our exit seemed entirely unobserved except by our
curious landlady. A sleepy beggar was sitting on the corner, and before
him the Colombian paused and said in a calm tone:

“What will your report be, then? That I have visited the Radley Arms?
Well, let me give you help. I had friends there—these young
gentlemen—who are returning with me to my hotel. You will find us there
this evening and until morning. Will such information assist you, my
good spy?”

The beggar grinned and replied:

“You’re a rare one, De Jiminez. But don’t blame me; I’m only earnin’ my
grub.”

“I know,” said the other, gravely. “You do the dirty work for my
countryman, the chief spy. But I do not care; you are both powerless to
injure me, or to interfere with my plans.”

Then he walked on, and a short distance down the street hailed a cab
that was rolling by. We three entered the vehicle and were driven
directly into the busiest section of the city.

“The driver of this cab,” remarked De Jiminez, “is also a spy; and if
you could behind us see you would find the beggar riding with us.”

“They seem to keep good track of you, Señor,” said Joe.

“I do not mind,” answered the man. “If my arrangement with you succeeds
I shall be able to get away from here before my enemies can interfere.”

It was already growing late in the day and the streets were lighted as
we entered the main thoroughfares. Our host seemed lost in thought and
few remarks were exchanged between us during the long ride.

Finally we drew up before an imposing looking edifice which I quickly
recognized as the Hotel Markham, quite the swellest public house in all
Melbourne. It cost one a lot to stop at such a place I well knew, but
reflected that Señor de Jiminez, if important enough to conduct a
revolution, might be expected to live in decent style—especially if the
“patriots” paid his expenses.

I suppose it would be becomingly modest to admit right here that Joe and
I were rather young to be sent on such an errand. Perhaps Señor de
Jiminez recognized this fact even more fully than we did. But in justice
to ourselves I must add that we were boys of more than ordinary
experience, our adventures on many voyages having taught us to think
quickly, act coolly and carefully consider every motive presented to us.
Predisposed as I was in favor of this queer Colombian, who interested me
because he was playing a desperate game and had the nerve to play it
well, I had no intention of deceiving myself or allowing him to deceive
me in regard to his standing and responsibility. It was my business to
find out all I could about the man, and I fully intended to keep my eyes
and ears wide open.

The first thing I noticed as we entered the hotel was the respectful
deference paid our conductor by the servants, who seemed eager to wait
upon him. The manager came from his little booth with a smile and bow
for Señor de Jiminez and promptly assigned Joe and me to a large room
which he said was connected with the “suite” of our host. De Jiminez
himself conducted us to this room, a very luxurious chamber, and then
excused himself, saying:

“You will wish to prepare for dinner and I must the same do also. When
you are ready, be kind to come into my apartments, Number 18, which is
the first door at your left. Have you necessaries in everything?”

We assured him we were amply provided for and he left us with a
courteous bow. There wasn’t much for us to do, except to wash and brush
ourselves and examine the rich furnishings of the place. Neither Joe nor
I was an utter stranger to luxurious living, although our ordinary
quarters were commonplace enough and our mode of life extremely simple.
We have seen palaces of great magnificence, and therefore the handsome
room assigned us did not impress us as much as it interested us.

We whiled away half or three-quarters of an hour in order not to crowd
our host too closely, and then we knocked at the door of room Number 18.



                              CHAPTER III
                       WE MEET SOME QUEER PEOPLE


A servant in private livery admitted us to a spacious drawing-room and
Señor de Jiminez, arrayed in a regulation dress suit, in which he
appeared far more imposing than in the flashy attire he had before worn,
advanced quickly to greet us. At a center table sat an aged, pleasant
faced lady and crouching in a chair by the fireplace was a youth of
about my own age, who bore so strong a facial resemblance to De Jiminez
that it needed no shrewdness to guess he was his son.

Our host led us first to the lady.

“Young gentlemen,” said he, as with profound deference he bowed before
her, “I have the honor to present my mother, Señora de Jiminez.”

She smiled graciously and extended her hands to us.

“It is unfortune,” he added, “that she is not with your English language
familiar.”

“Oh, but I speak Spanish—a little,” said I; for I had learned it during
a sojourn in Panama. Then I told the lady I was glad to meet her,
speaking in her own tongue, and she bade me welcome.

De Jiminez seemed pleased. He next led me to the young fellow by the
fire, who had not risen nor even glanced toward us, but seemed
tremendously interested in his own thoughts. These could not have been
very pleasant, judging from the somber expression of his face.

“My son Alfonso,” said our host, introducing us. “Alfonso, I present Mr.
Steele and Mr. Herring, two young American gentlemen I have recently
met.”

The boy looked up quickly.

“Not of the _Seagull_!” he exclaimed in English.

“Yes.”

“Then—” he began eagerly; but his father stopped him with a gesture.

“I am making consideration of a proposition they have made to me,” he
observed with dignity.

“Perhaps, Alfonso, we may sail back to Colombia in the _Seagull_.”

The boy’s eyes glistened. They were dark and restless eyes, very like
those of his parent. He rose from his chair and shook hands with us with
an appearance of cordiality. We now saw he was remarkably short of
stature. Although he was sixteen the crown of his head scarcely reached
to my shoulder. But he assumed the airs and dress of a man and I noticed
he possessed his father’s inordinate love for jewelry.

“Would you prefer in the hotel restaurant to dine, or in our private
salon?” inquired the elder De Jiminez.

“It is unimportant to us, sir,” I returned. “Do not alter your usual
custom on our account, I beg of you.”

“Then,” said he, “I will order service in the salon.” He seemed relieved
and went to consult his servant.

Meantime young Alfonso looked at us curiously.

“You do not own the _Seagull_, I suppose,” he remarked.

“Why not?” I asked with a smile.

“It’s a fine ship. I’ve been over to look at it this afternoon—”

“Oh; you have!”

“Yes. They would not let me go aboard, but I saw all I wished to. It is
swift and trim—what is called ‘yacht built.’ It can sail or go by steam.
Your crew looks like a good one.”

“That is all true, sir,” I agreed, amused at his observations.

“And you young fellows own it?”

“I don’t,” said Joe. “I’m second mate, that’s all. But Mr. Steele here
is one-third owner, with his father and uncle owning the other
two-thirds.”

Alfonso looked at me intently.

“Have you sold it to my father?” he asked in a low voice.

“Not yet,” said I, laughing. “But, as Señor de Jiminez told you, we are
considering the matter.”

“You know why we want it?”

“‘We’?” I repeated. “Are you also a conspirator—pardon me, a
patriot—then?”

“I am a De Jiminez,” he returned proudly. “After my father I am entitled
to rule over Colombia.”

“To rule? That savors of monarchy. I thought Colombia is a republic.”

“You are quite right. It _is_ a republic—as Mexico is; as Venezuela and
Costa Rica are. But the president has great power. Is not Diaz equal to
a king?”

“I am not very well posted on South American or Mexican politics,” I
replied evasively. “But from what your father said I imagine there is
already a president in Colombia.”

He gave a frown at this, amusingly like his father’s frown. Then his
face cleared and he said:

“Permit me to explain. The family of De Jiminez has controlled Colombian
politics ever since my great ancestor discovered the country and called
it New Grenada. But a few years ago, while my father was traveling in
Europe, the opposition obtained control and still has the presidency.
The important and wealthy class, however, resented the usurpation, and
even before my father alarmed at the situation hurried back home, a
revolution had begun. I say a revolution, because the opposition had
firmly established themselves. We are really attempting a restoration of
the rightful party to its former power.”

“In our own republic,” I said thoughtfully, “the votes of the majority
rule. Why do you not resort to the ballot instead of to arms?”

“I have visited your country,” he said. “The conditions there are
different. In Colombia we have a small class of wealthy and influential
people and a horde of vulgar laborers who are little more than slaves.
They have small intelligence, no education, and work for a bare living.
My father tried to establish a school system that would enable them to
rise above such conditions. They would not send their children to the
schools. Then he tried to force them by law—compulsory education you
know, copied from your own and other countries—but they rebelled at this
and the opposition made capital out of their resentment. The result was
the overthrow of the De Jiminez party as I have stated.”

This seemed to put a new aspect on the revolution. I began to approve
the action of the De Jiminez party and to sympathize with their “cause.”

“Has your father many followers in Colombia?” I asked.

“The intelligent class is of course with him; small in numbers but
controlling the wealth of the country. We ourselves are coffee planters
and bankers, and we employ several hundred laborers who will do whatever
we may direct—and do it willingly. Many of the families in sympathy with
us can also control their servants; but we have found great difficulty
in securing arms and ammunition for them. We have organized and drilled
several regiments—I have drilled our own men myself—but they cannot
fight without weapons. That is why we are so eager to ship our cargo of
arms to Colombia.”

The elder De Jiminez had returned in time to hear the conclusion of this
speech, and he nodded approval. It seemed to me that the little fellow
really talked remarkably well. He spoke better English than his father
and expressed himself in well chosen language. It at once occurred to me
why Joe and I had been invited here. The young De Jiminez was a rabid
partisan of “the Cause” and his clever father imagined that an
enthusiastic boy would be more apt to impress boys of his own age than
his senior might impress men. The thought put me somewhat on my guard
and made me inquire into things more carefully.

“Australia seems a queer place to obtain a cargo of arms,” I remarked.
“There are no factories here I believe.”

“No,” said our host, “the arms I purchased came from England consigned
to a local firm. We could not purchase direct for it would result in
international complications; but we have many friends here in Australia.
It is a favorite resort for exiles from my country, and that is why I
arranged the purchase here. But come; dinner is served and I hope you
have good appetites.”

He gave his arm to his old mother, who was remarkably active for her
years, and led the way to a connecting room where the dinner was served.
It was a fine spread, and Joe and I did full justice to the many
courses.

Afterward we returned to the drawing-room, where the old lady read a
Spanish periodical while we chatted in English concerning Colombian
affairs and the revolution.

I learned that the De Jiminez family was considered among the wealthiest
of the republic. Our host conducted an important banking business in
Bogota and had extensive coffee plantations in the foothills. He was not
directly known as the leader of the revolutionists, but would be chosen
the new president by the insurgents if they succeeded in overturning the
present government. Yet De Jiminez was scarcely safe in his own country
just at present and intended to land in a secret cove on the coast and
transport his cargo of arms inland to one of the rendezvous of the
revolutionists.

Young Alfonso was as ardent a partisan as his father. He was
tremendously ambitious and it seemed his father encouraged this, telling
his son many times that the future of his country would some day be
dependent upon the boy’s ability and courage and that he must uphold the
honorable name of De Jiminez.

Their assumed importance was of course amusing to me, who looked upon
their seven by nine country with tolerant disdain; but to them Colombia
and the revolution were the most tremendous things in the world. And,
after all they were simple, kindly people, honestly inclined and
desirous of improving the conditions in their native land if this
“tempest in a teapot” resulted in their favor. I had already decided
that we would be justified in concluding the deal with Señor de Jiminez
when a diversion was created by the arrival of visitors.

The servant ushered two ladies into the room. One was a beautiful woman
of middle age and the other a tall, slim girl who was evidently her
daughter. Both were exquisitely dressed and impressed me as persons of
importance even before I noticed the extreme courtesy with which our
host greeted them.

Introductions followed. The elder lady was Señora de Alcantara of
Bogota, and the younger her daughter Lucia. At once Madam inquired in an
eager tone:

“Well, De Jiminez, have you succeeded in getting a ship?”

“I think so,” he replied, glancing at me a bit doubtfully. “The only
thing still to be settled is the matter of terms. I have not much money
left to satisfy the owners, who have no confidence in their being able
to collect when we arrive at Colombia. But I hope it can yet be arranged
in a satisfactory manner.”

“I also hope so,” she returned, “for I am anxious to travel home in your
company.”

“You!” he exclaimed in unfeigned astonishment.

“Yes. I have just received letters of absolute pardon from the
government. I am free to return to my home in Bogota whenever I please.”

“You surprise me, Señora,” he said, evidently disturbed by the news.
Then he took the lady aside, and while they were conversing privately
Alfonso said to us:

“De Alcantara, her husband, was the first leader of the revolution, and
was killed in battle two years ago. His wife and daughter fled to
Australia and their estates were confiscated. This is indeed surprising
news; but I think the government wishes to placate the wealthy classes
by this lenient action.”

Señor de Jiminez returned to our group smiling and content. I overheard
Madam de Alcantara say in Spanish to Madam de Jiminez. “Never, under any
circumstances, will I abandon the Cause. I shall return to my estates,
because here I am an exile and dependent upon our friends for
maintenance. There I may intrigue to advance the revolution, although I
am warned against mixing in politics if I accept the government’s
amnesty.”

“The Cause is sacred to us all,” was the calm reply.

Lucia de Alcantara was at once monopolized by Alfonso, who deserted us
to pay the young girl marked attention. She did not appear to resent
this; neither did she respond with much enthusiasm. She was really a
beautiful girl, not more than fifteen or sixteen years of age, and her
slender, willowy form towered so far above the undersized Alfonso that I
remarked to Joe, aside: “That certainly is the long and short of it old
man, isn’t it?”

“I suppose there will be accommodations in the _Seagull_ for the
ladies?” inquired Señor de Jiminez.

“Yes,” said I; “they might be made fairly comfortable.”

He said no more then, but presently sat down to a quiet game of bezique
with Madam de Alcantara, leaving Alfonso to entertain us as well as
Lucia. We found that the girl spoke English, and she became so
interested in our accounts of the United States that she fairly ignored
the youthful Colombian to question us about our country, our ship, and
the chances of our sailing together across the South Seas.

It was quite late when they left, Alfonso and his father both escorting
their guests to the carriage, and on their return Joe and I pleaded
fatigue and retired to our rooms.

“Well, Joe,” I said, when we were alone, “what do you think now?”

“Mighty pretty girl,” he returned musingly.

“But about the business deal?”

“Oh, that,” he responded, waking up, “I’m in favor of it, taking it all
around. We get well paid and run no especial chances except when we land
the goods. We’ve done harder things than that, Sam, for less money; so
it needn’t bother us much. You see the Alcantaras can have the for’ard
cabin and—”

“Bother the Alcantaras!” I exclaimed impatiently. “You’re usually
opposed to passengers, Joe.”

“I know; but they’re anxious to get home and Lucia said—”

“‘Lucia!’”

“Isn’t that her name?” he demanded.

“I believe it is.”

“She’s a clever sort of a girl. Usually, Sam, girls are dubs; but this
Spanish creature has lots of ‘go’ to her and won’t make bad company on
the voyage.”

I let him alone, then, and went to bed. Joe Herring was a silent fellow
at ordinary times, but if I had let him ramble on about this girl I am
sure he’d have kept me awake half the night. It didn’t strike me there
was anything remarkable about her either.



                               CHAPTER IV
                            NUX AND BRYONIA


Our report seemed to satisfy my uncle and my father when we returned to
the Radley Arms at ten o’clock the next morning. At twelve Señor de
Jiminez appeared in his checked vest and diamonds and signed the
contract, paying us nine thousand dollars in gold and giving us a draft
on his own bank in Bogota for six thousand. We also secured papers
granting us the right to repurchase the _Seagull_ by returning the notes
we accepted for the sale price, which notes we believed not worth the
paper they were written on. Then, all business details being completed
and the ship formally turned over to its new owner, the early afternoon
saw us all aboard the _Seagull_ engaged in stowing the cases of arms and
ammunition which had already begun to arrive. De Jiminez did not intend
to waste any time, that was certain, and one dray after another brought
our freight to the lighter, which transferred it to the ship.

The boxes were of all sizes and shapes, being labeled in big black
letters “Machinery.” They were consigned to the coffee plantation of De
Jiminez. There were a lot of them and they were tremendously heavy
things; but we stowed them in the hold as rapidly as they arrived and
two days sufficed to get the entire cargo aboard.

On the evening of the second day our passengers boarded us. There were
five of them including the elder De Jiminez, his mother and son, and
Madam de Alcantara and her daughter. They were accompanied by trunks and
bandboxes galore; enough to make my father grunt disdainfully and Uncle
Naboth look glum. I think none of us—except perhaps our erratic second
mate, Joe—was greatly delighted at the prospect of female passengers on
a long voyage; but we had made our bargain and must abide by it.

De Jiminez had bustled around all day getting the ship’s papers in shape
and preparing for the voyage, while young Alfonso, whom Uncle Naboth had
promptly dubbed “Little Jim,” attended to the loading of the boxes with
the coolness and care of a veteran. They couldn’t wait a moment after
the last case of arms was aboard. Bill Brace, the engineer, had steam up
long ahead of time; so at dusk we hoisted anchor and slowly steamed out
of Port Phillip into the calm blue waters of the South Pacific. If any
government spies watched De Jiminez depart he was indifferent to them,
and they were now powerless to interfere with his plans.

The comfort of our passengers depended wholly upon two men of our crew
whom I have not yet had the opportunity of introducing to you. Our own
personal comfort had depended upon them for years, so I am justified in
making the above statement. They were gigantic blacks; not negroes of
the African type, but straight-haired ebony fellows who were natives of
some island in these very seas where we were now sailing. Their names
were Nux and Bryonia, and one was our steward and the other our
cook—fairly entitled, indeed, to be called our “chef.”

Concerning these curious names there is a serio-comic story which I will
briefly relate.

A number of years ago, while Uncle Naboth Perkins was sailing an old tub
he and my father jointly owned on a voyage from New Zealand to San
Francisco, he encountered somewhere in the South Seas a native canoe
drifting upon the waves. It seemed at first to be vacant, but as it
passed close to the lee of the slow-going sailing vessel the seamen
noticed something lying flat in the bottom of the dugout. They threw a
grappling hook and drew the little boat alongside, when they discovered
two black men lying bound hand and foot and senseless from lack of food
and water. How many days they had drifted about in that condition no one
could tell, least of all the poor victims. Being hoisted aboard the
bodies were laid side by side upon the deck and Uncle Naboth, who was
the only excuse for a physician there was aboard, examined them and
found that both were still alive. But the condition of the poor fellows
was exceedingly precarious. Had they not possessed such stalwart frames
and splendid constitutions they would have been dead long before.

So Uncle Naboth brought out the ship’s medicine chest and found it
rather shy of restoratives. Aside from calomel and quinine, neither of
which seemed appropriate for the case, the only remedies the chest
contained were two bottles of homeopathic pills—one of nux vomica and
the other of bryonia.

My uncle pondered a time between these unknown medicines and decided to
give one black the nux and the other the bryonia, hoping thus to save at
least one of the disabled castaways. So a course of treatment began.
Both were liberally fed brandy and water and one was given six pills of
nux vomica and the other six pills of bryonia, the doses being
administered every hour. Mr. Perkins became intensely interested in the
results, and that no mistake might be made he labeled one black boy
“Nux” and the other “Bryonia.” “Nux” regained consciousness first, and
while the amateur physician was regretting that he had not fed them both
the same dope “Bryonia” opened his eyes to the world again.

I have always suspected the brandy and water really did the job, but
Uncle Naboth was so proud of his medical skill that he will never admit
that possibility.

“It’s a doctor’s duty to guess,” he has said more than once referring to
this occasion, “an’ I managed to guess right because I only had two
medicines an’ both of ’em was recommended to kill or cure. The dog-gone
little sugar pills must ’a’ had extract o’ magic in ’em; that’s what I
think.”

Anyhow, Nux and Bryonia got well and regained their strength, and more
grateful fellows never lived. Neither could understand a word of
English, while their own language was a puzzle to all the crew; but they
were quick to observe and ready to undertake any work that lay at hand.

Not knowing where to drop the castaways, nor wishing to delay the voyage
because of two black men, my uncle decided to carry them along with him,
and their intelligence and devotion so won him that before the voyage
ended he prized Nux and Bryonia more than all the rest of the crew put
together. They gradually picked up a word of English here and there
until they were able to make themselves understood, and in time they
learned to speak it fluently. But they had never a word to say of their
experiences or past life and we really knew little about their
antecedents.

The following year we had another ship in which I sailed my first voyage
with Uncle Naboth, and Nux and Bryonia watched over me so
faithfully—saving my life on one important occasion—that I learned to
regard them both very highly and a friendship was formed between us that
time has only strengthened. So of course when we built our fine new ship
the _Seagull_, Nux and Bry became fixtures in it as much as we were
ourselves, and I must admit that no owners ever had more faithful or
capable servants.

Bryonia was the taller of the two, although both were stalwart fellows,
and perhaps he was a bit more shrewd and active than Nux. He became our
cook, learning the art with amazing rapidity, and I am positive that no
ship’s cook ever lived who was his superior. Nux, a jolly good-natured
fellow who was strong as an ox, was our steward and cared for the after
cabin perfectly. They did other tasks when occasion required, and the
two have accompanied me in more than one hair-raising adventure, proving
themselves plucky, intelligent and true to the bone. Somehow we had all
come to depend greatly upon our black South Sea Islanders, and they in
turn were very fond of us—especially of Uncle Naboth and myself.

It so happened that this was the first voyage since they were picked up
that had taken us to the South Seas. We had been to Alaska, to Panama,
to Egypt, China and Yucatan, but the fortune of commerce now led us for
the first time into the South Pacific. When first we headed for
Australia I had said to them:

“Well, boys, you’re going somewhere near your native land on this
voyage.”

They exchanged a quick glance but said nothing in reply. They seemed
neither overjoyed nor sorry, but accepted this journey with the same
calm philosophy they had the others. In mentioning the incident to Uncle
Naboth he said:

“I don’t see why our going through the South Seas should make any
difference to them. Why, Sam, the South Pacific has a million little
islands in it, none of which amounts to a row of pins. Nux and Bry were
natives of one of these dinky islands an’ I guess they had a hard, wild
life of it judging from the condition they was in when I found ’em. My
pickin’ ’em up was great luck for the pair an’ no mistake. They’re
civilized Injuns, now, an’ their life on shipboard is luxury compared to
what they used to have. Besides we’ve treated ’em well an’ they’ve grown
fond of us; I doubt if we landed plump on their native island they’d
ever leave the ship an’ go back to their old life.”

“I should hope not!” I exclaimed. “How old do you think they are, Uncle
Naboth? Whenever I ask them they shake their heads and say they do not
know.”

“Perhaps they don’t; many of the savage races never keep track of their
age; they think it’s bad luck to count the years. But I should judge
these fellows are about twenty-five years old. Nux may be a little
older, but not much.”

Perhaps it was natural that these native islanders should be a source of
much curiosity to Alfonso de Jiminez and Lucia de Alcantara. They were
accustomed to seeing dark-skinned races, and in Australia one meets
Borneans, Samoans, the East India and native Malay tribes, Philippinos,
Japs and Chinese; but such handsome and dignified blacks as Nux and
Bryonia were different, indeed, and I have often thought the desert
Moors the nearest approach to them of any people I have ever seen.

Our islanders wore neat uniforms of gray and gold, which rendered their
appearance the more striking. They would never accept money for their
service, saying they owed their lives and happiness to us and could
never repay us. Moreover they declared they had no use for money. But
they delighted in their uniforms, so we kept them well supplied and they
wore them at all times.

The addition of five passengers to our complement did not phase Bry in
the least. On the contrary it gave him a chance to cook some of the
delicious dishes for which he was famous among ourselves, and so to
extend his reputation. Nux had more extra work than his comrade, looking
after the cabins and serving the meals; but he had a great capacity for
work and made no complaint whatever.

Captain Steele had been a mariner all his life and was no stranger to
the South Seas; but this course from Melbourne to the coast of Colombia,
while not unknown to the charts, was strange to him and he had to put in
a lot of study before he got his lines properly marked and knew exactly
where to travel.

“Ye see, Sam,” he said to me one evening as I sat in his cabin watching
him figure, “it would be all plain sailin’ if it warn’t fer them measley
little islands—hundreds of ’em the chart shows, an’ there’s indycations
of hundreds more that ain’t been located. If we get a hair’s breadth off
our course we’ll have to do a good bit of dodgin’. The spots on the
chart marked islands means a lot of rocks in plain English, an’ rocks
won’t do the _Seagull_ any good if we happen to bump agin ’em.”

“Isn’t there a way to avoid most of the islands?” I asked.

“Not that anyone knows of. The South Seas is spotted with ’em most
everywheres an’ it’s better to keep in your reg’lar course, where you
know your soundin’s, than to try findin’ a clearer track over to
Colombia.”

“Let’s see,” I said, tracing the chart with my finger; “our course lies
directly through the Low Archipelago. What a lot of islands there are!
But there seems to be plenty of room between them.”

“Certainly,” agreed my father. “Give us weather like this an’ we’ll
dodge every rock in our way.”

I understood what he meant. The weather is treacherous in these seas
near the equator, and it would be bad for us to encounter a storm among
the rocky shoals of the islands. Just now the weather was magnificent
and the sea as smooth as glass. Our engines were in fine working order
and we made sufficient speed to satisfy even the restless new “owner,”
Señor de Jiminez.

A piano was in the main cabin and Lucia played and sang very agreeably.
Her songs were mostly those dreamy Spanish things with melody enough to
haunt you long afterward, and Joe especially listened with eagerness to
every note, although “Little Jim” was always on hand to turn the music.
Joe couldn’t do that, not being able to read a note and he was often on
duty besides; but Lucia knew he appreciated her music and whether our
boy mate was in the cabin or tramping the deck overhead she played to
please him more than she did Alfonso.

Now that all the hurly-burly of stowing the cargo and getting under way
was over, our passengers settled down to enjoy the voyage, and it was
then that the peculiar traits in their various characters became
noticeable. I admit that we are all peculiar in one way or another, as
some clever student of human nature has observed and recorded before my
time. Perhaps, therefore, our new acquaintances were no more odd in
their ways than the ordinary run of humanity.

Madam de Jiminez was as placid and contented as the day was long. She
required little amusement and was no bother at all. Madam de Alcantara,
on the contrary, proved fussy and exacting. She led poor Nux a dog’s
life, waiting on her whims, and her daughter had no easy time of it
either. Lucia was very dutiful and obedient and ran at once when
summoned by her mother—which was every fifteen minutes on a fair
average. Yet the Señora was quite gracious to all about her and never
lost her temper or said unkind things. Being as beautiful as she was
gracious we had not the heart to blame her. I believe her fussiness was
a nervous affliction and that the lady really had a kindly nature. Lucia
was devoted to her and tenderly loved her.

This girl, the third of our female passengers, was always bright and
cheery and the life of the party. She accepted Alfonso’s marked
attentions with absolute indifference. Being accustomed to them she
evidently considered them characteristic of the boy and to be borne with
patience while in his society. Joe pleased her better; but she was not
the least bit a flirt and had no thought as yet of falling in love with
anyone. Her feeling for Joe was one of good comradeship.

Little Jim would have been a very decent fellow could he have modified
his airs of importance and curbed his excessive vanity. He was really a
bright, clever boy, and the son of a man somewhat distinguished in his
own country. But the youth’s patronizing manner was intolerable, and one
evening when he had joined Joe and me and we were leaning over the rail
together I was obliged to “call him down” in no gentle manner.

“I don’t mind associating with you here where there is no formality, you
know,” he said; “but if you ever come to Bogota you must not expect me
to be quite so free with you.”

“If ever we come to Bogota,” I remarked, “we are liable to find you in
jail or in hiding among the mountains. These petty South American
revolutions take queer turns sometimes and are liable to become
dangerous.”

“Petty!” he exclaimed. “Petty revolutions!”

“That is certainly what they are,” I returned. “Your country is so small
and insignificant that we seldom hear of it in the big world; and your
revolution is so absurdly unimportant that we never hear of it at all.”

“But you will!” he cried. “When we have won and my father is made
president the world will ring with our victory.”

“Nonsense,” said I. “The newspapers in the United States will give it
about an inch of space, and the people who read that inch will wonder
where on earth Colombia is.”

He seemed nettled at this, and a little crestfallen.

“That inch of publicity,” I continued, “you will perhaps get in case you
win. But if you lose you remain unnoticed. There are lots of Central and
South American republics, and plenty of revolutions in them at all
times. To be frank with you, Alfonso, the people of more important
nations are weary of reading about them.”

He hardly knew what to reply, but his humiliation was of short duration.
After strutting up and down the deck a few turns he rejoined us and
said:

“You may sneer at Colombia—and at her great revolution—but you cannot
sneer at the family of De Jiminez. We are very ancient.”

“You are, indeed,” I assented. “You have had a great many ancestors; but
they are mostly dead, are they not?”

“How far back can you trace _your_ descent?” he asked.

“As far as my father. Those before him we’ve lost track of. They are
also dead, and therefore of no importance to us just now.”

“The family of De Jiminez,” he stated proudly, “is very wealthy.”

“Why mention so common a thing?” I responded. “There are thousands of
big fortunes in the world. Joe Herring, who stands there beside you and
is our second mate, is a millionaire; yet he lacks distinction on that
account because there happen to be so many other millionaires in the
world.”

He turned and stared at Joe by the light of the swinging lantern.

“You a millionaire!” he exclaimed.

“Perhaps a little better than that,” admitted Joe, quietly. “I’m a
seaman and pretty nearly a man.”

“But you have money—a million?”

“My agent says it’s getting to be nearly twice that; it grows so
tremendously while I’m away.”

“Then why do you sail in a ship as second mate?”

“Mainly because I love the life, and secondly because I love Sam, here,”
returned Joe gravely. “The adventure and companionship give me more
pleasure than to pose in a big city as a rich young kid. As a matter of
fact the money is a nuisance to me.”

“Why don’t you buy a ship of your own and hire Sam to sail with you?”
asked Little Jim.

“Hire Sam! Why Sam is worth more of that dreadful money than I am. I’m
sure he could buy the De Jiminez estates with the bank thrown in and
still be rich.”

The statement dazed Alfonso.

“Is it true? Is it possible?” he asked. “Or are you joking?”

“It is true,” said Joe. “The surprising thing is that you have not heard
of the _Seagull_ and its adventures before this. The ship has made
several fortunes for its owners, and in the United States and Europe it
is famous. But I suppose that inasmuch as we hear little of the
Colombians they hear little of us.”

Alfonso did not try to patronize us so extensively after this
conversation, but he patronized others and I was sorry he could not
remedy so great a defect in his character. His father was just as
important in his way, but not so officious. A passion for display in
dress and jewelry possessed the elder De Jiminez and he spent most of
his spare time in changing his clothes, appearing before us in a
succession of dazzling costumes that made us fairly gasp for breath. He
had other jewels beside the diamonds. Sometimes he wore rubies, and
sometimes emeralds; but he was never as proud as when sporting his
glittering assortment of diamonds. I think he imagined their sparkle
rendered him personally admirable and the envy of all beholders, and the
poor man never knew we callous Americans were laughing at him.

Señor de Jiminez was very happy to have succeeded at last in
accomplishing his great mission. The arms and munitions of war had been
secured with great difficulty and after many disappointments. Best of
all, a ship had been chartered to carry the stores to Colombia. With
such reinforcements the languishing revolution would receive new
impetus—sufficient, he fondly hoped, to render it successful.



                               CHAPTER V
                        A SOUTH PACIFIC TYPHOON


Our fine weather held for five days. Then, just as we were approaching
the dangerous district Captain Steele had spoken of to me, the sky
lowered, a stiff breeze came out of the northwest and the waves began to
pile up as only the waves of the South Pacific can.

By night it was blowing a gale; but our passengers, with the exception
of Lucia and Alfonso, had taken to their berths long before this. The
_Seagull_ behaves beautifully in a storm. An ordinary gale does not
disturb her coolness in the least. She merely tosses her head, takes the
bit in her teeth, so to speak, and prances a trifle instead of gliding.

But this was no ordinary storm. We who had experienced all sorts of
weather in our voyages were soon forced to admit that fact. The wind
veered every hour or so; it blew steadily for a time and then came in
gusts—“pushes,” Uncle Naboth called them—that were exceedingly trying to
both the ship and crew. We would no sooner find our sea legs on one
slant of the deck when over she flopped and we had to seek a new angle
to cling to. The waves were tremendous and the wind seized their curling
edges and scattered them in foamy spray over the ship. The sky became
black as ink; the gale roared and shrieked with maddening intensity; yet
we bore it all stolidly enough for a time, confident of the staunchness
of our bark and the skill of her captain.

My father had put on his pea-jacket and helmet at the beginning of the
storm and kept his station on deck sturdily. He assured us he knew
exactly where we were and that we had a clear sea ahead of us; but when
the _Seagull_ began to swerve here and there, driven by the irresistible
power of the gale, even he became bewildered and uncertain of his
bearings.

All that night the ship fought bravely. It kept up the fight throughout
the long succeeding day. Perhaps it was because all hands were weary
that the ship seemed to head into the storm of the second night with
less than her usual energy and spirit.

Drenched to the skin I crept along the deck to where my father stood. I
am no seaman and have no business on deck at such a time, but I will own
that for the first time in my experience at sea I had become nervous,
and I wanted the captain to reassure me.

I found him near the bow, clinging to the rail and trying to peer into
the night. He was dripping with spray and had to wipe his eyes every few
moments to enable him to see at all.

“How’s everything, father?” I asked, my mouth to his ear.

He shook his head.

“All right if we don’t bump something,” he managed to say when a brief
lull came. “We’ve veered an’ sliced an’ slipped around so much that I
don’t just know where we’re at; ’cept we’re way off our course.”

That was bad; very bad. We hadn’t sighted an island since the storm
began, but that was no evidence we were not near a group of them. There
was a fairly good searchlight aboard the ship, and it was now being
worked every minute from the lookout; but it couldn’t do more on a night
like this than warn us of any near by danger.

“Go back!” roared my father in my ear. “Go to bed an’ save your
strength. You may need it afore long.”

That was the most fearful speech I ever heard him utter. Nothing had
ever disturbed his supreme confidence before. I crept away heartsick and
awed, and managed to get safely below, where I found Uncle Naboth
smoking his pipe in the main cabin.

“Where yer been, Sam?” he inquired.

“Talking to father.”

“What does he say?”

“We’ve lost our bearings and the sea is full of islands. The ship is all
right, you know. It’s only the water that’s dangerous.”

He gave a grunt and looked thoughtful.

“I’ve seen gales, ’n’ gales,” he remarked presently. “Usually they’re
respectable critters an’ you know what to expect of ’em. But this sort
of a jugglin’ wind beats all figgerin’. Fer me, Sam, I fall back on our
luck. It’s stayed by us so far, an’ I don’t see no reason fer it to
change front. Eh?”

“I agree with you, Uncle,” I replied, and was about to add another
optimistic remark when in rushed—or tumbled, rather—Señor de Jiminez,
his face white and his teeth chattering. He had shed his gorgeous
raiment and was attired merely in a dark brown bath robe.

“Tell me,” he said, steadying himself by the table as the ship lurched
to leeward, “is there—can there be—any danger?”

“Danger of what?” I asked, not knowing just how to reply to him.

“To the cargo—to the arms!” he gasped in choking tones. Then I saw he
was not frightened about the safety of the people, or even the ship, but
was exercised solely on account of those precious arms.

“Why, if we go down, the cargo goes with us,” I returned, smiling in
spite of the gravity of the situation. “But I imagine we’ll all float
long enough to—”

The _Seagull_ lurched the other way as a great wave caught her, and
while we clung to the furniture for support there came a sharp crack and
the ship staggered and keeled well over.

She lay there a long time, trembling slightly. I could hear the waves
dash against her with the force of a trip hammer. The door of the
stateroom opposite flew open and Madam de Alcantara came rolling into
the cabin and landed at my feet. I managed to seize her and drag her to
a chair beside me; but she clung round my neck sobbing and crying out:

“What is it? Oh, what is it? Are we sinking? Is all lost?” This in
Spanish was quite impressive.

“Be calm, Madam,” I replied, noticing that she was robed in a charming
dressing gown and had not been injured by her dash across the cabin
floor. “There’s nothing serious the matter, you may be sure.”

I was not really confident of this. Never had I known the _Seagull_ to
behave in such a manner before. She rolled terribly, and the waves were
dealing her sides thundering blows, one after another.

Uncle Naboth was endeavoring to gain the door to get on deck when Joe
came in, water running from his slicker in floods and his face covered
with grease and grime.

“What’s up, old man?” I demanded.

“Screw snapped and tore away the rudder,” said Joe. “I was in the
engine-room when it happened. It sent the wheels whirling, I can tell
you, before we could shut down.”

“Then we’re now drifting?”

He nodded.

“If there was any chance at all we could ship a new rudder. That would
serve to keep us straight, anyhow, and we could use the sails as soon as
the wind moderates. But the gale’s as crazy as a bedbug, and I can’t see
that anything can be done just now.”

“Nothing but wait,” said I. “Where’s father?”

“Trying to lash a rudder to the stern; but it’s hopeless.”

“And Ned?”

“Ned’s with him, of course. I wanted to help but they ordered me below.”

By this time all of our passengers had gathered in the cabin listening
to Joe’s dismal report. Nux was there, too, tying Madam de Jiminez fast
in a big chair so she would not fall out and then tendering his services
wherever they were needed.

For a wonder the ship became a bit steadier now that she was absolutely
helpless. She got into the trough of the sea where the wind did not
buffet her so badly, and although the waves washed over her constantly
she was so tight and staunch that she shed the water like a duck. I do
not remember ever to have passed a more uneasy hour than the one that
followed the cracking of the screw and the loss of our rudder. Had it
not been for the women it is likely I would have regarded our
predicament in the light of an adventure, and been excited and elated
over the danger. But the presence of our female passengers altered the
case entirely and rendered it far more serious.

We were a glum lot, if I may except Uncle Naboth, who still strove to
smoke his pipe and remain philosophic. Alfonso was calm and endeavored
to comfort his father by saying that as long as we floated the arms were
safe. Lucia devoted herself to her mother with a coolness that was
admirable, and Madam de Jiminez was as quiet and contented as ever, not
making any sort of a fuss and proving her courage in a way that quite
won us all. I do not know just what hysterics are; but if they’re a sort
of a wild fit that induces one to run amuck, then Madam de Alcantara had
them—and had them badly. She screeched, and kicked and howled and wailed
that she was too young to die; although for that matter she hadn’t the
advantage of many of us, and I don’t see that youth has any special show
in a South Sea gale, anyhow.

At the end of an hour my father came stumping in on his wooden leg,
looking haggard and weary.

“Brandy, Sam!” he said, tumbling into a chair.

I brought him the bottle and a glass and he took a good swig.

“Bry can’t make coffee. The galley’s washed out,” continued the captain.
And then he drew his hand across his forehead with a gesture that I well
knew, and that always betokened perturbation of an unusual sort.

“Did you fail to ship the rudder?” I asked.

“’Tain’t that, Sam. There wasn’t much chance, anyhow. But Billy Burke
an’ Dick Leavenworth is washed away—gone—done for!”

My heart gave a thump of dismay. Two of our finest seamen lost; fellows
I had earnestly respected and admired. It was the first fatality our
crew had ever experienced, so no wonder my father was broken-hearted
over it. I remembered that Leavenworth had a family, and the thought
made me shudder.

“The ship will the storm stand, and be all good—will it not?” asked De
Jiminez, by this time thoroughly unstrung and despairing. There was
something almost pitiful in the question—hoping against hope—and of
course Captain Steele lied to reassure him.

“The _Seagull’s_ all right,” he asserted. “She’ll stand a much worse
knockin’ around than this, an’ be none the worse for it. You’d better
all go to bed an’ try to sleep. If only we had a clear sea I’d turn in
myself.”

“But it is said we are drifting, Captain! A propeller we have not; a
rudder we have not! We have no defense against the sea—we are
impotent—helpless!” wailed De Jiminez.

“Why, yes; that’s a fact,” admitted the captain. “We’re jest like a
chip, floatin’ whichever way the wind blows. But you never heard of a
chip sinkin’, did you?”

“N—no,” was the doubting reply.

“What do you mean by saying there’s not a clear sea?” asked young
Alfonso.

“Study yer jogerfy,” said my father gruffly. “You’ll find the South Seas
specked with islands everywheres. I don’t jest know where we are at this
minute, but I’ll gamble there’s islands not far away.”

“Oh. Then if the ship happens to break up we can easily get to land, and
perhaps save the cargo,” remarked Little Jim complacently.

My father stared at him, muttered some inaudible remark and rose to
return to the deck.

“Must you go?” I asked.

“It’s my place, Sam,” said he.

“But you’ll be careful?” I never said such a thing to him before, but I
had poor Dick and Billy Burke in my mind—cautious fellows, both of
them—and my father had a wooden leg.

“I’ll lash myself to the riggin’ when I get to it,” he returned, and
disappeared up the companionway.

We sat in dismal silence for a time. The wind seemed to be abating, but
the waves continued their mad rolling as vigorously as ever. Finally
Madam de Jiminez expressed a wish to return to her stateroom. Nux
understood Spanish, for our blacks were marvels at acquiring languages
and could speak half a dozen tongues; so the steward assisted the old
lady to her berth and made her as comfortable as possible. After a long
argument Lucia prevailed upon her mother to go to bed, and the moaning,
despairing woman was led to her room. Perhaps inspired by this example
Uncle Naboth decided to “turn in,” but the two De Jiminez stuck it out
and remained all night in the cabin, deploring their hard luck in
choicest Spanish. As much to escape their moody companionship as
anything else I went to my own room and lay down upon the bunk without
removing my clothing. It was then about three o’clock, and although the
motion of the vessel had greatly moderated I found it no easy task to
stay in my berth. Being at the mercy of the waves the _Seagull_
performed some queer antics, and once or twice I wondered if she
wouldn’t “turn turtle,” so far over did the waves keel her. But, queerly
enough, we get used to anything in time, and as I was much exhausted I
finally fell into a doze, and then into a deep slumber.



                               CHAPTER VI
                          A FREAKISH SHIPWRECK


Joe wakened me at early dawn, laying a wet, clammy hand in mine and
jerking me to a sitting position.

“Get up, Sam!” he said. “Something’s going to happen pretty quick.”

“Are we leaking?” I asked as I tumbled from the berth.

“Yes; but that isn’t it. Come on deck; and step lively while you’ve got
the chance.”

He rushed away with the words and I followed him closely.

The sky was gray and overcast, and although it was so early there was
light enough to observe distinctly our surroundings. The waves were
simply gigantic and the disabled _Seagull_ was like a fisherman’s bob in
their grasp. The cargo had not shifted, fortunately, owing to its being
so heavy and so carefully stowed, so we kept on our keel as well as the
sea would allow us. I found nothing terrifying in the view from the deck
until my eye caught sight of a dark object looming ahead, which I
instantly recognized as the rocky shore of an island. The waves were
bearing us rapidly toward it, and we were helpless to resist.

“See there! and there!” cried Joe, pointing to right and left.

I saw. Rocks were everywhere, on all sides of us. We were right in the
heart of a group of South Sea islands—what group, we had no idea. My
father’s stern, set face showed from the poop; the sailors stood
motionless at the rail. The two De Jiminez, father and son, clung
together and stared with blanched faces at the threatening coast.

There was scarcely any wind, as we were partially sheltered in this
location. A wind might possibly have saved us; but as it was, and in our
crippled condition, there was absolutely no hope.

Uncle Naboth stumbled toward us and said to Joe:

“Call the passengers. Get ’em all on deck an’ see that there are plenty
of life preservers. Ned’s getting the boats ready to launch.”

I went with Joe, for there was nothing I could do on deck. Madam de
Alcantara began to scream again, but she was not slow in grabbing her
jewels and gaining the deck, where she collapsed at once and sobbed like
a baby. We got the old lady up easily, and she was as cheerful as anyone
could be under such trying circumstances. I had Lucia search for all the
cloaks and warm clothing she could lay hands on and Joe and I brought up
a lot of blankets; for the air was chilly, even in this tropical clime,
and I knew we would all be soaked if we managed to get ashore in the
boats.

Bryonia provided a lot of food for us—tinned meats, biscuits and various
edibles that might be eaten uncooked—and had the forethought to add some
utensils for cooking, as well. A keg of fresh water was deposited in
each of the boats. By this time the grim island ahead was very near, and
Captain Steele shouted his orders to have the boats lowered.

We put the women into the first, while it still swung at the davits, and
Ned Britton, cool as a cucumber, picked a crew to man it. He watched his
chance and dropped the longboat neatly on the crest of a high wave,
casting loose as the ship rolled heavily in the opposite direction. A
little cheer arose from our men as they saw Ned’s boat floating safely,
and at once Joe began loading the gig. The two De Jiminez and Uncle
Naboth were with this lot; but Joe was not so fortunate as Ned had been.
He dropped the boat all right into the gulf between two big waves, but a
line got tangled, somehow, and in a jiffy the gig was over and her
occupants struggling frantically in the water. The boatswain dropped the
third boat quick as a flash, got free from the ship and began picking up
the swimmers. Ned also came to the rescue, at the peril of capsizing his
own frail craft, and he drew Little Jim aboard as the boy was sinking
for the third time. His father was hauled in by a boat hook wielded by
the sturdy boatswain, and fortunately Uncle Naboth was spilled so close
to the side that he was able to seize a rope and hold fast until
rescued. Not a life was lost and the third boat, the cutter, carried its
double load easily.

There remained to us but one more boat to launch, and I went to my
father and said:

“Come, sir; there’s nothing to be gained by waiting.”

He shook his head.

“Get aboard, Sam,” said he, “and take all the men that’s left with you.
I’m goin’ to stay here.”

“But that is folly!” I cried. “It’s a useless sacrifice, father. You
can’t help the poor _Seagull_ by staying.”

“It’s my ship—part o’ her, anyhow—an’ I’ll stay by her like she’s always
stayed by me,” he returned obstinately.

I was in despair and for a moment knew not what to do. Turning half
around I found the two big blacks, Nux and Bryonia, standing just behind
me. The remaining sailors were already in the boat, looking anxiously
towards us.

I caught Bry’s eye and there was an inquiring look in it that could not
be misunderstood.

“Take him, boys!” I exclaimed, and at the word the two promptly caught
my father up and bore him kicking and struggling to the boat, where they
dumped him on the bottom and then sat upon him.

The lines were quickly cast off and we floated squarely upon the brow of
a wave. The men at the oars pulled lustily and we increased our distance
from the ship with steady strokes. They then lay to, merely trying to
keep a balance as we slid down the side of one wave and up the slope of
another.

I had my eyes fastened on the _Seagull_, and presently a huge mountain
of water came sweeping along, caught her full on its crest and rushed
with her upon the rocks of the island, now very near to us.

The ship went ashore stern foremost, upright as a die and riding the top
of the great wave like a swan. It tucked her into a cove between two
elevated points of rock and then receded and left her perched there.
There was no crash of splintering timbers—no sound at all. The foremast
swayed, cracked off and tumbled over the side; but the other masts stood
firmly and it seemed to our wondering eyes as if some monster had
grabbed the ship from the sea and set it high on the rocks to dry. Our
oarsmen had plenty to do just then to keep us from swamping, for
although we were not directly in the track of the monster wave we were
near enough to feel a portion of its resistless power and were nearly
sucked in upon the reefs ourselves. But I shouted as frantically as a
madman, and from the other boats, which were at the right of us, arose a
hearty cheer that made our seamen pause long enough to stare over their
shoulders at the marvelous sight. Then they cheered too, for we all
loved the dear old _Seagull_.

Instead of a wreck—the fatal smash-up that had seemed imminent and was
expected by all—the good ship was suddenly rendered safe from further
harm, for no other wave that followed was powerful enough to dislodge
her.

Nux and Bryonia allowed the captain to sit up to view the wonderful
sight, and my father stared until his eyes bulged from their sockets. He
said nothing, however, but turned his attention to our personal dilemma,
for there was no surety that we could manage to gain the shore alive. A
forbidding line of rocky reefs faced us and should we attempt to land
among them our frail boats would be instantly dashed to pieces. Bryonia,
who had stood up to look at the ship when he released my father,
remained for some time upright, shading his eyes with his hand and
peering attentively at the coast. Presently he gave a grunt and muttered
something to Nux in their native language. I caught the words, for long
ago they had taught me, merely as a pastime, their peculiar dialect.

“Faytan!” he said. “Look, Ketaha, is it not so?”

Ketaha was Nux’s original name, never used since Uncle Naboth had picked
him up. He too stared at the coast line steadily, and then nodded his
head.

“It may be Faytan, my Louiki. Perhaps we are wrong. But it surely looks
like Faytan.”

“Do you know this island, then?” I asked, speaking their own language.

“If it is Faytan, we have been very near to it; but we have never landed
upon the island,” replied Bry. “The Pearl People live in Faytan, and
they are the enemies of all the other islanders—of all the world. If it
is Faytan, we are risking our lives to land there.”

“It is risking our lives to try to keep afloat in this sea,” I replied.
“Our men cannot fight these waves for long, Bry.”

He turned away and whispered to Nux. After a brief confab the latter
said to us in English:

“Jus’ try to turn dat point o’ rock yonder, Cap’n Steele. Den I guess
you find a cove to land, where dere am no rocks.”

The English of the blacks was somewhat imperfect, although they spoke
their own language with excellent expression. But you must remember they
had acquired our language on shipboard, from all classes of people, and
seamen are not noted for grammatical precision.

Captain Steele at once took command of our boat and directed the men to
pull around the point of rock. They obeyed with a will and, although
they found it a desperately hard task in such a raging sea, finally
succeeded in breasting the waves and making the point. Immediately we
found ourselves sheltered from the force of the waves and, sure enough,
a strip of white sand lined the shore of a small cove just ahead.

“Faytan!” cried Bry, and covered his face with his hands.

“Faytan!” echoed Nux; but he frowned and said nothing more.

The other boats had followed our lead and, heavily laden though they
were, managed to round the point. Within half an hour we had run all
three boats upon the tiny beach, pulled them out of reach of the sea,
and stood wet and despondent in a dismal group upon this unknown isle.



                              CHAPTER VII
                            THE PEARL PEOPLE


“This is a terrible experience,” said De Jiminez in a gloomy voice. “A
nation’s fate has been decided by a South Sea typhoon!”

“All is not lost,” replied Little Jim, attempting to console him. “The
ship is high on the rocks yonder, and all the arms and ammunition may
yet be saved. Perhaps the natives of this island are civilized and
friendly, and will care for us until we can find another ship to take us
to Colombia.”

His father shook his head disconsolately.

“I doubt if any people at all live on these rocks,” he said. “The place
seems absolutely barren.”

“Why, there is a grove of big trees a quarter of a mile back,” declared
Alfonso, “and the island is surely big enough to support many
inhabitants. Wherever there are trees we are likely to find fields of
grain and fruits. Come; let us go inland and explore the place.”

During this conversation the three women had huddled under their wet
cloaks, terrified and trembling. To them this adventure was a dreadful
thing. To be shipwrecked upon a barren island is not wholly unknown to
mankind but may well be regarded at all times with foreboding and
horror.

“Come, then,” said the elder De Jiminez; “let us walk to the forest
yonder. We shall find better shelter there, if nothing more.”

“Wait a moment, please!” I exclaimed, for I had been watching Bryonia
and Nux, who stood apart eagerly conversing together.

“Why should we wait?” demanded Alfonso, annoyed at my interference.

“Because these blacks are natives of the South Seas,” I replied, “and
they think they recognize this island. Let us therefore counsel with
them before we act.”

“Bah! Any of these islands is safe enough,” persisted the boy.

“I am not sure of that,” I responded. “We are far from the usual path of
ships as we have been blown from our course by the gale. This island is
not marked upon any chart, I am sure, which means that there is no
record of a white man having ever visited it.”

This statement had its influence upon our passengers, for they cast
uneasy glances around and I am sure De Jiminez had no desire to risk the
safety of the women by acting recklessly.

Presently our blacks came toward us with grave faces. Bryonia approached
my father and said:

“We pretty sure this Faytan Island, the home of the cruel Pearl People.
If that is so, we no safe here, and better go away.”

“What, and leave the _Seagull_!” exclaimed my father.

“If no go away,” returned Bry in solemn tones, “we soon be dead.”

“Why?”

“Pearl People never let people come to their island. If people come,
they kill ’em quick. Nux and I, we once live on island near here. Twice
the young men of my people make a war party to conquer Pearl People. The
first time none ever came back. The second time Nux and I we go with
them. We have many hundred fighting men—warriors. We come to other side
of island, where is big city. Pearl People see us and send many hundred
boats to meet us on the water. We make brave fight. All our warriors
die. Nux and me, we bound and put in bottom of canoe. Pearl People king
say he take us to city and kill us with fire to honor his great Pearl
God, who win him the fight. But sudden storm come up; very bad storm;
our boat break away and drift out to sea; we nearly die from thirst and
pain when you pick us up and save us. That the story of the Pearl
People. They very bad, cruel blacks.”

Bry’s dramatic recital gave us all food for thought, as may well be
imagined. The sailors and passengers formed an eager group around him
and listened intently to the tale; but there was little of comfort in it
for anyone.

Uncle Naboth, my father and I, Joe and Ned Britton, went a little apart
from the others and held a council. After considering the situation we
favored Joe’s advice, which was to cut across the end of the island to
where the _Seagull_ was perched upon the rocks, enter the ship and take
possession of it before our enemies did. We could be more comfortable
there than elsewhere on this bleak shore. Our supplies were there,
probably uninjured; moreover, we could use it as a fort and defend it
successfully against a horde if attacked.

If Bry and Nux were correct about this being Faytan, then this was the
safest plan we could adopt. If our blacks were wrong we would soon
discover the fact and could later decide on a definite plan of action.

It would be impossible to launch the boats again and return around the
point to the ship, for the sea was yet in fearful turmoil; so we decided
to leave the boats where they were, and try to find our way across the
rocks.

Our passengers, when this was explained to them, readily agreed to the
plan, provided the ship proved to be in a safe position and we were able
to get aboard. Of course our crew, all old and tried men, were ready to
obey any orders they received, so we lost no time in making the start
and our promptness doubtless saved our lives.

There was a gloomy sky and the wind howled mournfully among the rocks.
We appointed two men to assist Madam de Jiminez and two others to aid
Madam de Alcantara who, since a real calamity had befallen us, had
ceased to wail and settled into a state of helpless stupor. Alfonso and
Joe walked with Lucia, but the girl was fully as active as they were and
could climb the rocks like a mountain goat.

There was a fairly level country between the forest and the cove, but in
order to reach the ship we had to clamber over a mass of jagged rocks
that proved exceedingly difficult. There were high peaks with deep
ravines between them, for the point we were crossing was of volcanic
formation and some eruption had tossed the huge stones helter-skelter in
a confused mass. At one time we were high enough to see the ocean—still
rolling wildly—and at its feet the dear old _Seagull_ perched like a
monument on the rocks. Then we got tangled up with the ravines again and
when next we emerged we were across the point, and only a hundred rods
or so from the jagged coast where the ship was.

It was a marvelous thing, this high beaching of the _Seagull_. The wave
that carried her ashore must have been a monster, for the ship stood at
least twenty feet above the water level and she had been gently placed
between two huge rocks in a cavity that seemed especially made to
receive her. She stood level as a die, stern to the island and bow to
the sea—the sea that she was likely never to sail again; for no human
agency could ever launch her from that altitude, with a double row of
sharp reefs between her and the deep water. As a seagoing vessel we
admitted that the career of the _Seagull_ was ended; but as a place of
refuge—a residence and a fort—the ship in its present location would
prove invaluable to us as long as we were obliged to remain upon the
island.

We found the rocks that supported her so steep and difficult to climb
that we sent Joe and Ned Britton ahead, they being as sure-footed as
cats. On reaching the ship they found only a loose rope hanging over the
side to enable them to get aboard; but Joe managed to mount by this
means and at once let down a ladder. A few minutes sufficed to gather
ropes enough for their purpose, which was to furnish something to assist
us in mounting to the ship. It was not easy to get the two ladies up,
but Lucia was as active as a boy and assisted her mother even better
than we could.

Soon we were all aboard, and to us who had always trod the decks when
the _Seagull_ lay upon the bosom of the water it was a peculiar
experience to find her stationary and wedged tight between two big
rocks. There was more or less disorder on board, as was natural when you
consider we had deserted the ship in a panic of fear; but there seemed
no especial damage of any port and the men set to work and quickly put
things to rights again.

The sea was falling rapidly. After we reached the ship there was no wave
of sufficient magnitude to dash the spray over her side, and few that
even wetted her. The passengers at once sought their staterooms and put
them in order for further occupancy. De Jiminez was delighted at the
thought that he had saved his precious cargo, although what good the
guns and truck could do the revolution in Colombia was a mystery to the
rest of us. Little Jim was in a sullen, silent mood and seemed to think
fate was playing him a sorry trick. Perhaps she was; but my opinion is
we were lucky to come out of the typhoon as well as we did. It was
assuredly the worst storm I have ever experienced.

So far we had seen no natives at all, and Uncle Naboth said to Bryonia:

“Perhaps you’re mistaken about this being the island of the Pearl
People. For if them natives you’ve described are as careful as you say
they are about guarding their coast, they would have been after us long
before this.”

“We quite sure we right,” answered Bry. “But you see, in such storm as
this they think no natives of other islands can come here to attack, so
they stay at home in their big city. To-morrow they come here, plenty of
them; and then we must fight hard.”

This set my father thinking. He turned to Ned Britton and said:

“Do you s’pose we could get the boats around to-night? The sea’s easier
now and if we wait till to-morrow we may have the natives on us. We
can’t very well afford to lose the boats, for without ’em we’d have no
way to leave this island.”

Ned cast a look over the water and then nodded.

“All right, Cap’n,” he said. “We’ll try it.”

He went away to pick his men, and Bry returned to the kitchen galley and
started dinner. Fortunately the _Seagull_ was well provisioned and we
had enough supplies to last our party for several months.

As Nux was laying the cabin table for the noonday meal I said to him:

“Why are the natives of Faytan called the Pearl People—and why should
your tribe make such a desperate effort to conquer them?”

“’Roun’ dis island, Mars Sam,” said he, “is de fines’ pearls in all de
world. Dey grow in a certain sort o’ clamshell what can’t be foun’
anywhere else. An’ de Faytan natives dey jus’ crazy ’bout dem pearls,
an’ fish fer ’em all de time. But dey won’t sell none nor give ’em away;
dey jus’ keeps ’em all heaped up in de Pearl City, an’ wears ’em on
deyre bodies fer orn’ments. Dey worship de pearls in de great temple an’
believes dey gives ’em strength an’ health an’ makes ’em defeat all
deyre enemies. If any boat comes here an’ sends anyone ashore dey kill
’em quick. Sometimes de tribes of other islands come in big numbers to
try to get de pearls; but Faytans always too strong for ’em an’ kill ’em
all.”

“Then how do you know about the pearls, and the Pearl City, and the
Pearl Temple, and all that?” I inquired.

“How we know?”

“Yes. If no one ever gets away alive, how did you find out about these
people?”

“I tell you,” said Nux. “Bry’s father he great chief of our people—what
you call king. One day when he go with many canoe to fight the Grinto
Islanders, a storm come up an’ drive him far away. All de canoe keep
together with lines, an’ lay still on de water all night, floatin’
wherever de wind drive ’em. When day break in mornin’ he find two canoe
from Faytan have drift in among ’em. When Faytan people see our canoe
dey go fast to escape; but our warriors go faster. Dey catch Faytan
canoe an’ de Pearl People fight us. Dey kill twenty-two of our warriors
an’ we kill six Faytan people an’ make two prisoners. The prisoners we
carry back home. Dey big fellows an’ don’t talk much; but dey brag of de
Pearl People an’ say they rich an’ strong, an’ nobody can ever conquer
dem an’ get de pearls. Sometimes dey tell us all about de Pearl City an’
de great temple, an’ all dat; an’ our chief ask ’em to show de way to
Faytan an’ he prove he can conquer de Pearl People. Dey tell chief dey
hate us so bad dey will show de way. So many young men of our tribe go
in canoe, an’ de two Faytan natives go an’ show dem de way. I guess
’bout four hundred went, but only seven came back. All de res’ was
murdered by de Pearl People. De prisoners try to escape in de fight an’
get to land; but our chief he kill ’em both an’ den escape himself an’
come home with six others.”

“That was hard luck,” I remarked.

“My father,” said Nux, “was kill in dat fight.”

“But you tried it again?”

“Many years after. Chief he old, den, an’ his son grow up an’ want to go
to Faytan. De chief’s son is Bry. He my cousin. We hear much talk about
Pearl People, an’ Bry—his right name Louiki—he beg chief to go. So we
get a thousan’ warriors with spear, ax an’ bow ’n’ arrow, and go in many
canoe to Faytan. Bry told you what happen. I think we two the only ones
that escape.”

I thought over this story with much care.

“Do you believe all that rubbish about the pearls, Nux?” I asked.

“Why not, Mars Sam? I see de Pearl People when I fight ’em. All have
their bodies covered wid strings of fine pearls. Big pearls. Some white,
some blue, some pink. I see de pearls. Why do I not believe?”

“Did you see the big city?”

“I see part of it from de sea. We couldn’t get on shore. It mighty fine
city, Mars Sam—over on de odder side dis island.”

“Then how did you happen to recognize the back end of the island where
we are now?”

“Before we fight we come close, in de night, to see if we can land here
an’ not be seen. We think if we can fight on land we beat de Faytans,
who fight best on water. But when we row up an’ down dis coast we find
we cannot land. We try de little cove; but dey on watch. Dey on watch
all aroun’ de island; so we go bold to de front an’ fight in sight of de
city.”

“Seems to me, Nux,” I observed, turning this over in my mind, “we’re
likely to have some lively times with these natives.”

The black nodded very soberly.

“Pearl People very big; very dang’rous,” he replied. “They thick as
leaves on the trees. If we go ’way alive, Mars Sam, it’s cause we have a
ship full o’ guns an’ ca’tridges, which shoot better than bow ’n’ arrow
can.”

“Yes, indeed,” I said, smiling; “it is certainly fortunate we have such
a cargo. And the ship, cast ashore in this place, is a splendid fort. We
won’t despair yet, Nux.”

The ladies did not appear at dinner, all three having gone to bed to
rest after their dreadful night. Nux carried coffee and toast to them,
and the rest of us dined at the cabin table in rather solemn fashion.
There was little in the situation to cheer any of us.

Toward evening Ned and his men left the ship and began their tedious
climb over the rocky point to the cove where we had left the boats. I
saw that all of them were well armed and warned them of the warlike
disposition of the natives. The sea was now smooth enough to render the
journey around by boat practical, and as we had seen no sign of any
inhabitants, so far, we hoped we were as yet unobserved. But that thick
forest ahead of us might be harboring a hundred watching eyes.

They failed to discover themselves, in that case, then or afterward. It
grew dark quickly and I feared our boys would not reach the boats until
long after nightfall. But the sky was clearing, in patches, and in
places we could see thousands of stars glittering dimly.

We had established a good watch on deck and drawn up all the ladders, so
that a surprise was well-nigh impossible. Joe and I paced up and down in
the dusk, for we were careful not to show any lights, and talked about
the queer stories we had heard of the Pearl People.

“If half these tales are true, Joe,” said I, “I mean to have a try at
some of those pearls before we leave here.”

“Of course,” he returned. “It would be foolish for us not to land such a
rare treasure when it’s right at hand—hunting for us, so to speak. But
what interests me most, Sam, is the Pearl City, with its palaces and
temples. That might be worth seeing.”

“Nux says the natives number many thousands, and they have decreed death
to all strangers. But who knows, Joe? We may see the city after all.”

As he was about to reply we heard the far-off crack of rifles—a regular
volley—and knew the sound came from the cove. After that there was deep
silence.

The struggle had begun.



                              CHAPTER VIII
                            THE REEF PATROL


Because no sound of any sort now came to our ears we were beginning to
worry about the fate of our men when Bry joined us on deck. He said the
Faytans did not shout when they fought. They uttered no war cry of any
sort, but went into battle silently and if slain died without a murmur.
Victory was accepted with the same stoicism, so it was impossible for us
to tell how the battle had gone. That Ned Britton’s party had met the
natives there was no doubt. The shots told us that. Only time could
disclose the result.

My father and Uncle Naboth had come on deck and soon young Alfonso
joined our anxious group.

“I hope your men didn’t provoke a battle with the islanders,” said the
latter. “My father and I depend on them for assistance in getting away
from here.”

“They’ll be glad to assist you to get to glory,” replied Uncle Naboth,
“for that’s their best stunt. Haven’t you been told these Faytans, or
Pearl People, as our blacks call ’em, decree death to any who land on
this island?”

“Oh, that’s Nux’s story; but I don’t believe it,” said the boy. “When we
tell them who we are they’ll be sure to treat us decently.”

“Do you suppose they’ve ever heard of Colombia?” I asked.

“Why not?” he retorted. “They must have some intercourse with the
outside world. Ships visit every known island, nowadays.”

“I doubt if a ship has ever been here before,” said I. “This isn’t a
known island; it’s not on any map or chart or other record. There are
plenty of such islands in the South Seas, I suppose. Bryonia and Nux
happen to know this place, for their own native island is only about a
hundred leagues away; but my father and uncle, who have sailed all the
traveled paths in the South Pacific, have never heard of Faytan before.”

Alfonso became silent at this; but he remained on deck, and it was after
midnight before our anxiety was satisfied.

Ned’s signal came as a joyful surprise to us, and we hastily threw down
the ladders and ropes to assist the fugitives in gaining the deck, in
case they were pursued. The mate leaped on board first of all, saying:

“Let down the davits; and lively, too, lads! We’ve got the boats; but
Lord only knows what else we’ve brought with us.”

In the hurry that followed no questions were asked. It was better to
work first and talk afterward. The davits were swung out and the ropes
lowered; but after that it was some time before we got the first signal
to haul away, for the men had to carry the heavy boats up the slanting
rocks before they could be attached. Pretty soon the longboat came
swinging up; then the gig, and finally the cutter. We had lost the
fourth boat, the whaler, in launching it in the storm, but all the boats
left on the shore of the cove, with their contents, were now secured. We
had to work by the light of the stars, which was dim enough; for until
the boats and all the men were under shelter we dared not show a light.

Finally three of our men were hoisted over the side moaning with pain.
These were tenderly received by their fellows and stowed below, while
Bry, the best surgeon on the ship, hurried after to see what could be
done for them. When we got Ned into the cabin to spin his yarn we found
his left hand covered with a bloodsoaked bandage torn from his shirt,
yet he had been working so industriously we had not suspected he was
wounded.

“We got to the cove, all right,” he said, “though it were a bitter climb
over them sharp rocks. We didn’t wait a minute after gett’n’ thar, but
run the boats down the beach into deep water an’ prepared to get away at
once. Part of us were still waist deep in the water an’ the others
gett’n’ the oars shipped, when without warnin’ a hail of arrers fell
among us. It was dark, a’most, but when I glanced at the shore I could
see the white sand covered with scores o’ black natives; so I knew our
first move was to dig out lively. Yaller Tom were bleedin’ beside me in
the water, an’ I had to pull an arrer out’n my own hand afore I could
help him; but in a jiffy we were aboard an’ rowin’ like mad. The arrers
kept fallin’ ’round us, but didn’t do any more damage, so afore we got
out o’ rifle range I let the boys drop oars an’ fire one round into that
black line o’ savages. Some of ’em must have dropped, but they never
give a whimper; so we rowed on agin an’ soon lost sight of ’em. The
waves rolled us ’round some, for the storm left a heavy swell, an’ to
keep from grindin’ on the reefs we had to pick our way mighty careful.
There ain’t no decent water anywhere near this ship, an’ at first I
thought we’d never get the boats to it; but a mile or so north we found
an openin’ in the first reef, an’ half a mile or so south o’ here we got
through the second reef. We had to keep quiet, for fear the savages had
followed us along the shore, so they could drop on us when we tried to
land; but they failed to connect. Seen anything of ’em?”

“No,” replied Uncle Naboth. “Who’s hurt, Ned, besides yourself?”

“I guess Yaller Tom is done fer. The arrer’s broke off in his chest an’
he wouldn’t let us pull it out. Nicodemus Brown’s got a splinter through
his shoulder, an’ young Dipps got an ugly gash in the leg. That’s the
worst o’ the story, although several of us’ll carry scars to remind us
of this night’s work.”

“I think,” said I, “you owe your escape to the fact that the natives had
no canoes on this end of the island. They must have discovered you while
you were climbing the point, but got to the cove just a little too late
to meet you.”

“Perhaps,” said Captain Steele, “it would have been a more even fight if
you could have faced them on land.”

“I’m satisfied as it was,” returned Ned, shaking his head doubtfully.
“They were thick as fleas, Cap’n, an’ if we hadn’t got away in the boats
when we did we could have shot ’em down till our cartridges give out,
an’ then there’d have been enough left to have murdered us neat an’
quiet. We must get ready for them folks, sir; they’re sure to be on us
in the mornin’, if they don’t arrive sooner. But I count myself lucky to
have got back with the boats with no worse calamities than we really
had.”

“So do I,” said my father. “I’m much obliged, Ned.”

I went to the forecastle to inquire about the wounded. Bry looked grave
over Yellow Tom’s case, but said the others would quickly recover. Our
islander knew all about arrow wounds, such as these, and could treat
them more successfully than a regular surgeon might have done.

“Do you suppose the arrows were poisoned?” I asked.

“No,” he replied; “South Sea natives do not poison arrows. We leave that
to the Negritos of the Philippines and inland tribes of Australia. We
islanders fight like men, not like cowards.”

“I fear we shall find plenty of fighting ahead of us,” I remarked,
rather gloomily.

The black nodded.

“If we stay here we must fight,” said he. “I think it better to take the
women away in the boats, and trust the sea. From here I am sure I can
find the way to my own island, where I am a chief.”

I made no comment on this suggestion and returned thoughtfully to the
deck. I knew Bryonia’s advice was sound enough; but I hated to leave
without an attempt to see the Pearl City and get some of the big pearls
I had heard of. The result proved, however, that we could not have taken
to the boats had we decided to.

We kept an alert watch that night, you may be sure, but not a sound did
we hear except the sullen roar of the breakers against the reefs. As
dawn broke the lookout made a discovery. About a quarter of a mile away,
between the first and second reefs, was a solid line of canoes, each
carrying from three to six native Faytans. This line extended from the
point to half a mile down the coast, and the patrol so established was
sufficient to render our escape in the boats impossible.

There was no sign of activity among the natives. They sat stolidly in
their canoes, their eyes bent upon the ship, perched high before them,
and these sentries were destined to remain at their posts for many days
to come.

Now that we were discovered we experienced a feeling of relief. Whatever
might happen from this time on we could accept calmly and with our eyes
wide open. It was no game of hide and seek, but open defiance.

“I suppose we must accept this as a declaration of war,” remarked Señor
de Jiminez at the breakfast table. The ladies had all risen early to go
on deck and examine the canoe patrol, so for once we were a complete
assemblage.

“It certainly is no peaceful demonstration,” I replied.

“Still, we may be able to treat with them and peace establish,”
continued the Colombian. “Let us offer to give them a few guns if they
will let us go.”

I noticed Nux grinning in a corner of the cabin and was at once reminded
of the humor of the suggestion advanced.

“Do they know about guns, Nux?” I asked.

“No, Mars Sam.”

“If they did,” I asserted, “they’d realize their ability to capture all
we have. But I understand these people never treat with intruders.”

“We did not mean to intrude!” exclaimed Madam de Alcantara in a
frightened voice.

“No; it was forced upon us,” I agreed. “I wonder if these fellows, to
whom a ship like ours is unknown, are not amazed to find the _Seagull_
set high upon the rocks of their coast.”

“All savage tribes,” remarked Señor de Jiminez, reverting to the former
subject, “are said to deal with foreigners as they are dealt with. These
people may be inimical to other native tribes, who sometimes come to
fight and rob them, but it seems to me if we treat them politely they
will become friendly in return.”

“You may try it, if you like,” said Uncle Naboth dryly. “They didn’t
wait to discover whether Ned Britton’s party were polite or not; they
jest shot ’em up an’ asked no questions.”

“Oh, dear!” wailed Madam de Alcantara. “I’m sure we shall all be
murdered by these heathen brutes. Why—oh, why—did I ever sail on your
ill-fated ship!” and the poor lady began to shed real tears.

Lucia’s mother had a weak character, in spite of her proud and haughty
airs when safe ashore in a civilized community. Any adverse fortune
floored her at once and I am sure she had already suffered agonies such
as ordinary death could not equal. Her daughter, attentive and
sympathetic in a charming, unobtrusive way, sought to console and
encourage her parent; but it was a hopeless task. The sight of the
natives had completely unnerved Madam de Alcantara, and she sobbed so
bitterly that Lucia had to lead her to her room.

Madam de Jiminez had nothing to say. She seldom asked a question, and
knowing she would be cared for as well as circumstances would permit,
showed us always a benign and cheerful face. She was never in the way,
and we all so admired the old lady’s courage that she suffered no lack
of attention. The one beautiful thing about her son and grandson was the
devotion they lavished upon her. Selfish they might be in all other
ways, but both were willing at all times to sacrifice their pleasure to
insure her comfort. Misadventures such as this are sure to bring out the
good and bad in one’s nature, and we learned to gauge one another quite
correctly during this period of mutual danger and suffering.

On gaining the deck after breakfast we found that the idea of turning
the ship into a fort was being carried out in a practical manner. We
always carried a supply of rifles and cutlasses in the gun room, in case
of an emergency such as this. These had been brought out and distributed
lavishly along the deck, where one could conveniently seize them. We had
plenty of ammunition without having recourse to the revolutionary
supplies, and we judged that from the shelter of our bulwarks we could
repel any horde of savages attempting to clamber up the rocks. Even if
we allowed them to reach the summits of the twin peaks unmolested they
could not scale the ship’s side; so, with plenty of provisions and an
arsenal to fight with, we felt fairly safe for the present. In addition
to the small arms, we had two brass howitzers mounted at the bow and
stern of the _Seagull_. These were usually masked with canvas sacks,
designed to disguise them so the ordinary observer would not notice our
armament; but they were now uncovered and put in order for action, our
men training them so as to command the open space between us and the
edge of the dark forest.

We had ample time for these preparations. The canoes guarding the reef
passages lay motionless and no sign of life was observable on the land
side. We hardly knew how to account for this; whether they were tempting
us to leave the ship or were themselves preparing for an assault.
However, it was our business to “stand pat” and await results.

The day passed tediously. Lounging by the rail we looked down upon the
grim line of warriors, so silent and motionless, and they looked up at
us. Fortunately for them they were beyond the range of our rifles. I
brought up my glasses and focused them so the natives were distinctly
visible in every detail. They were handsome, stalwart fellows, averaging
fully six feet in height I judged, although now all were crouching in
the canoes. They were not black, as were Nux and Bryonia, but a dark
chocolate brown. Their hair seemed straight and fine of texture and was
allowed to grow long and be curled into a knot at the back of the head,
as women often wear it. Their only article of dress was a loin cloth,
made of a dark colored material on which were sewn curious designs in
pearls. All wore ornaments of pearls, such as necklaces, armlets and
anklets, the gems being of such size and color that I believe the
humblest native in the line carried the equivalent of a fortune upon his
person.

I watched the Pearl People for hours. Their marked characteristic seemed
to be patience. Their features seemed finely cut and intelligent, but
the members of the patrol were just now very apathetic, seldom changing
their positions or indulging in the interchange of remarks. Their
business was simply to wait, and they displayed marvelous resignation to
duty. If they were curious they did not show it; if they resented this
inactivity they gave the resentment no expression. Automatons could not
have been more docile. Yet the Faytans struck me as being dignified,
reserved and most admirably trained to obedience, while their stern
countenances marked them as cold and cruel.

In the afternoon, while a dismal silence pervaded the ship, I was
startled by hearing the clear tones of our piano. Some one began to play
a spirited march, and of course I knew it was Lucia. The brave girl was
trying to cheer us all with her music, and I am bound to admit it had an
animating effect. For an hour she played and sang, choosing the most
stirring tunes she knew, and when I finally went below I found all the
passengers had gathered in the cabin with Joe and Uncle Naboth, while
young Alfonso was joining in a Spanish madrigal that was popular in his
own country and all thoughts of our precarious position seemed thrust
into the background.

That evening De Jiminez played écarté with his mother while Madam de
Alcantara was led to forget her fears far enough to read a book. We
lighted the cabin brilliantly, making no further attempt to evade the
watching eyes of the natives, and enjoyed a few hours of solace if not
of pleasure.

Next day the waiting game was continued. South Sea natives seldom or
never attack at night, according to Nux; but these Faytans were so
unlike other savage tribes that we could not be sure this was one of
their customs. So we divided the watch and kept a sharp lookout night
and day.



                               CHAPTER IX
                          ALFONSO’S ANTOINETTE


Nothing happened this second day of our imprisonment. The Faytans
evidently had some plan of campaign mapped out, or they would not have
established the patrol of canoes. We began to consider what their
intentions could be.

“Let’s give ’em credit for a leetle intelligence,” said Uncle Naboth,
who had been studying the natives through his binoculars. “The chief
that runs this place must have some ability, and as soon as he
discovered us here he must ’a’ thought it all out. Mebbe he lay awake
doin’ it, for next mornin’ we found them canoes on guard. That was the
first trick in the game.”

“Not a bad one, either,” I remarked.

“Not from the chief’s standpoint. It kept us from escapin’ in the boats,
which is the one thing, it seems, he don’t intend to let happen. Now,
our boys here,” pointing to Bryonia and Nux, “have a notion that the
Pearl People don’t want any strangers around. They never let ’em land,
if they can help it, and drive ’em away or kill ’em. Accordin’ to that
theory the Faytans ought to be glad to have us go. But here they are,
keepin’ us fast prisoners. Why’s that, Bry?”

Bryonia had stood moodily silent. He now looked up and shook his head.

“Can’t say, Mars Nabot’,” he answered. But he spoke in a hesitating way
that led me to think he preferred not to speak frankly.

“It’s really a puzzler,” resumed Uncle Naboth. “If they mean to kill us,
why don’t they start in and fight it out?”

“Perhaps they realize our position is impregnable,” I suggested.

“It ain’t exactly that,” declared my uncle. “If they happen to think to
shoot some burnin’ arrers at us, they can easily set fire to the ship,
an’ then we’re done for.”

“Not knowin’ about ships, they may not think of that,” said my father,
uneasily.

“Well, what then?” asked De Jiminez.

“Then,” replied Joe, “the wily islanders expect to conquer us in one of
two ways. First to starve us out, and—”

“They can’t do that in a hurry,” muttered the Captain.

“And second to let us die of thirst,” continued Joe.

We all became thoughtful at this suggestion. I knew we had supplies of
fresh water sufficient for an ordinary voyage, and an aërator to doctor
it with if it became stagnant and unpalatable; but barreled water is not
the safest thing to depend upon, and thirst was a greater menace than
lack of food. Yet it seemed improbable that a savage chieftain would
have thought this all out and determined upon so tedious and unwarlike a
plan of conquest.

Afterward I found Bryonia alone and said to him:

“Why do you think the Faytans wish to keep us here?”

“Don’ know, Mars Sam.”

“Yes you do, Bry. Anyhow, you’ve some idea.”

“I may be wrong.”

“This is in confidence, Bry. You may trust me.”

He hesitated a moment.

“I wish, Mars Sam,” he said in a low voice, speaking his native tongue,
“that the lady passengers had not showed themselves.”

“Oh, that’s it!” I exclaimed. “Are the natives partial to white women,
Bry?”

“I know other chiefs,” he said, “and I know they like to take women of
other nations for wives. In my own island it is like that. I think if we
were only warriors the Faytans would drive us away, or let us take the
boats out. That is the only way I can explain the strange manner in
which they are acting.”

“You may be right,” I returned, and walked away to think it over.

The third day brought no more incident than the others that preceded it.
I had abandoned the idea that the Faytans intended to besiege us until
we succumbed to hunger or thirst, and told Joe so. Also I confided to my
chum Bry’s theory that they were concocting a plan to get our women.
This made Joe look grave and anxious.

When Alfonso joined us, presently, I thought it best to acquaint him
with our fears.

“If that is so,” said the boy, “we will see that the women never fall
into their hands alive. But I am confident there will be some way of
escape open to us before our condition gets desperate.”

“What is your father doing?” I asked, thinking I would like a conference
with Señor de Jiminez.

“He is writing a speech to deliver before the Colombian Congress when he
becomes president,” replied Alfonso with a smile. “Poor father! He
doesn’t know what despair means. I’m sure he has no real conception of
our present position.”

“I wish,” said Joe, musingly, as he stared out over the island, “that I
could see into that forest yonder. I wonder if it’s full of watching
natives, or if they’re all lying snug in the big Pearl City we’ve heard
about.”

Alfonso was thoughtful. For awhile he, too, stared at the forest. Then a
sudden idea occurred to him, for his face brightened and he laughed
aloud.

“Fellows,” said he, “I’ve a notion to go over to that city and see what
it looks like. Also, I’ll take a peep into the forest as I pass by.”

I looked at him in amazement, saying:

“Have you gone crazy, then?”

Again he laughed, quite gleefully.

“I don’t wonder you suspect my sanity,” he answered; “but the truth is
that I had forgotten all about a certain important shipment of mine that
is now in the hold of this ship and may be of great help to us in our
present emergency. However,” he added, more soberly, “the thing was
intended for a far different purpose.”

“A shipment? What is it?” I inquired.

“Why, nothing more nor less than one of those new fashioned biplanes. I
bought one of the latest improved _Antoinettes_ when I went over to
Paris, during the time father was purchasing the arms in Australia. He
sent me there on some banking business, you know, and I naturally took
in the aviation exhibition. It did not take me long to decide that a
biplane would be of great assistance to the revolution and I induced the
great Bleriot himself to teach me how to work it. Before I left Paris I
could manage the thing beautifully, and I’ve made a good many successful
flights. It is all packed in three cases, with bands of red paint around
them so they can be identified from the arms, and I have many extra
parts in separate cases. It must seem queer to you to realize I have a
flying machine in this out-of-the-way place—where we’re shipwrecked on a
savage island.”

“It is strange,” I admitted.

“The _Antoinette_ would make even you fellows stare, I guess,” continued
Alfonso.

“Oh, as for that,” said Joe, “both Sam and I have done some aërial
stunts in our time, and made some pretty long flights. But a biplane’s a
new invention to us.”

“It occurred to me that I could put the machine together here on deck,”
announced Alfonso, “and make a trip over the forest to the Pearl City. I
won’t land there, of course, but I’ll circle around and find out what we
want to know, and then come back again. What do you think?” he asked a
little anxiously.

“Seems like a brilliant idea,” I said approvingly.

“Will you fellows help me to get it together?”

“Of course,” said Joe. “And the sooner the better.”

“Then order your men to fetch up the boxes with the red bands. There are
three of them.”

I went to Uncle Naboth and my father and explained what Little Jim
wanted to do. They both considered the thing impracticable and
foolhardy, but said we could give the young Colombian whatever
assistance he needed.

So the boxes were sent for and presently hoisted from the hold by means
of the cranes provided for such purposes. Only one was at all heavy, and
that contained the motor and tools.

The carpenter unscrewed the covers and soon a confused mass of canvas
planes, braces, platforms and other odds and ends lay upon the deck.
Alfonso, with his coat off and sleeves rolled up, began to select the
pieces and connect them. He had written instructions for setting up the
machine, but did not need to refer to them often, being evidently quite
familiar with the details of its mechanism.

It did not seem to me that the thing was at all serviceable; it was very
frail and more like a toy than a flying machine; but the boy assured me
it was an exact duplicate of the one that held the world’s record for
altitude and speed.

“Aren’t you afraid to trust yourself to it?” asked Joe.

“Afraid! Of course not,” was the reply. “It is perfectly safe if
operated intelligently—barring unavoidable accidents.”

We both assisted, being guided by his directions, and all three of us
worked the remainder of that day. Lucia discovered us at about the time
we began assembling the airship, and was so fascinated by the
proposition that she remained constantly by our side, watching every
move we made. She made no remarks, but her dark eyes missed no detail,
and whenever Alfonso instructed us she listened as carefully as we did.
It seemed queer for a girl to take such an interest in a flying
machine—a thing that some men do not care to fool with. In addition to
the girl a curious group of the sailors surrounded us, for I have found
that those who sail the seas have a certain sympathy for those who sail
the air.

I had myself become enthusiastic over the machine, as I began to
understand the theory of its operation. The _Antoinette_ was as
scientifically constructed as it was delicate and graceful. I could see
possibilities in the thing, now, and that night was a sleepless one for
me, so eager was I to continue our work the next morning. We got the
frame complete the second day, and set the engines in position.

By evening the biplane seemed all ready to fly, but Alfonso asserted it
must be adjusted and tested with the utmost care, as all depended on the
tenseness and equalization of the planes. He told us, however, he hoped
to make the flight the following morning.

Our relations with the natives had remained unchanged. The only event of
each day was the arrival of food and supplies for the floating
besiegers. These were brought in canoes around the island and a share
distributed to each of the line of boats. Then the commissary department
silently withdrew and the excitement was over. As for the guard, their
patience seemed untiring. The warriors must have been more or less
cramped in their canoes. If some of them were relieved at times, it was
during the nights, for darkness fell upon the silent line and daybreak
found it still unbroken. Perhaps some slept, lying in the bottoms of the
canoes, while others watched. I have no means of knowing.

Finally our youthful and adventurous Colombian got his machine adjusted
to suit him, explaining to Joe and me, as he worked, all the details of
equilibrium and shifting the balance, and how to handle the wheel and
run the motors. The engines were not unlike those used on automobiles,
yet lighter in weight and made as delicately as a watch. The wheel
answered the slightest touch, and any change in direction required a
quick eye and quick thought. Indeed, to fly in a biplane is no dreamy
man’s job, for every nerve and muscle must be tense and responsive and
lend life to the inanimate thing he directs.

Alfonso was cool as a cucumber while making his tests and I could see
that his eager enthusiasm was due more to the delights of an
exhilarating flight through the air than a desire to see the Pearl City,
or discover what our enemies were doing. Doubtless he had for some time
been aching for an opportunity to use his novel machine, and his present
attempt was mainly due to this wish.

Being of a mechanical turn of mind and interested in all such
propositions, I followed intently every movement that Alfonso made in
putting the biplane together, adjusting it and preparing for the flight.

“I almost believe I could work it myself,” I remarked with a smile.

“That ‘almost’ qualifies your egotism,” replied Little Jim, with
assurance. “It is the flight itself—the management of the machine in the
air—that really requires knowledge and skill.”

“But that can only come with experience,” I said. “How many flights have
you made?”

“Several,” he declared proudly. “Once I remained in the air for
thirty-seven minutes. I can do better than that, now, for I have here an
improved machine and the condition of the atmosphere in these latitudes
is almost perfect, since the storm cleared.”

He took his seat in the machine. We had cleared a long run along the
deck, from stern to stem, for his use in starting.

“First,” said he, “I’ll take a turn among those boats over the reefs. I
may land here on my return, or I may keep on over the island; it will
depend upon circumstances.”

Every soul aboard had gathered to watch this interesting attempt, and I
noticed that Lucia’s eyes were big and sparkling with excitement.
Alfonso was quite the hero of the hour and it filled him with pride and
elation to be the observed of all observers. His father, who had always
vigorously opposed his son’s experiments with airships, but realized the
fact that the biplane might be of much service to the revolution, was a
curious and silent spectator. He had indulged in a stiff argument with
Alfonso the night before, but had met defeat at the hands of his wayward
son. The boy’s courage and confidence were indisputable, and perhaps
Señor de Jiminez was a bit proud of his son’s progressive ideas.

“The airship is bound to be a great factor in the future history of
nations,” asserted Alfonso, and this could not be successfully
controverted until the future revealed itself and became history.

Joe and I followed directions in turning the motor and running the
machine along the deck for a start. It rose just before it reached the
bow, soared over the rail and headed straight out to sea, still
ascending. Absolute silence pervaded the anxious group on deck. We could
plainly hear the whir of the motors as the biplane, swift as a dart,
flew over the reefs, descried a graceful curve and circled around the
boats a hundred feet or more in the air.

The Faytans were certainly a stolid lot, as we afterward proved; but the
flight of the airship was so startling that they craned their necks to
watch it, and some rose in the canoes while others ducked down and
covered their heads as if in terror. Fear was unknown to this people,
but superstition bound them in chains, and this surely seemed like a
demonstration of the gods.

I must admit the boy handled the machine beautifully, and it responded
to his touch like a thing of life. Several times he circled around, then
swept out to sea until he was a mere birdlike speck, and finally came
back and headed directly for the ship. Perhaps it had been five or six
minutes since he left us, but to us it seemed an hour, so excited were
we by his daring and his success.

We kept the deck clear, pressing close to the rail, and it seemed
Alfonso’s intention to land. He came toward us in a straight line; then
the machine dipped, for as it neared us it was fully three hundred feet
above the sea. Now the aëronaut shut down the motors and glided
gracefully downward at an angle of nearly forty degrees. We were
preparing to shout our applause, when like a great bird the biplane
swept over the deck, struck the mainmast at about its middle and came
crashing down in a heap—operator and aëroplane being mixed in a confused
jumble.



                               CHAPTER X
                             THE PEARL CITY


Joe and I rushed in first of all and pulled Alfonso out of the wreck. He
was insensible and bleeding profusely from a cut across the forehead.
Others eagerly took the boy from us and carried him below, his father
sobbing that his son was dead, dead, dead! and now could never become
the president of Colombia.

I knew well enough Alfonso wasn’t dead, and told Lucia so when she asked
me with a white, startled face.

“A little damaged, that’s all,” said I, and watched her as she hurried
away, womanlike, to render what assistance she could.

“It were surely wonderful!” cried Uncle Naboth, viewing the mangled
biplane that lay at the foot of the mast; “but he’s spoilt his flying
machine the first trip.”

“Oh, I’m not at all sure about that,” I replied. “What do you think,
Joe?”

“Why, it’s like Alfonso—a little damaged, that’s all,” he answered with
a grin. “The motor seems all right, and that’s the main thing.”

We made an examination, then, and found some of the framework of the
planes splintered. Otherwise nothing was injured and a little work would
soon restore the thing to good working order.

Bryonia and “Capstan Bob,” the latter having been a poor doctor before
he became a good sailor, attended the injured boy, and soon word came up
that Alfonso had regained consciousness. He had broken his left arm and
cut his scalp open, but was not seriously injured. Late in the afternoon
he asked to see me, and when I went down to his room I found him quite
cheerful over his personal mishap, but worried about the condition of
his biplane. This I assured him could easily be repaired, and he told me
there was a supply of extra frames in one of the boxes, and asked me to
look after the airship and rig it up again.

“I want to make another trip in it as soon as I am able,” he told me.
“This broken arm is an unfortunate thing, but I guess I can manage the
wheel with my right hand. Are you sure the motor is uninjured?”

“It worked smoothly when I tested it,” I answered; “but I’ll go over it
again more carefully and make sure.”

“Do,” he urged. “You and Joe can do the work, and to-morrow I’ll come on
deck and direct you. I’ll be all right by that time.”

The morning, however, found Alfonso so stiff and sore from his bruises,
his gashed forehead and his cracked arm, that he could not leave his
berth. The women waited upon him tirelessly and Joe and I, left to our
own devices, decided to get to work on the biplane without the owner’s
assistance. It interested us more than ever, now that we had seen what
the thing could do, and I had acquired a powerful desire to test its
virtues myself. If we could restore the machine to good condition, and
should our safety demand knowledge of the movements of the natives, I
felt I would not hesitate to undertake a flight.

All that day we worked, finding spare parts to replace those that had
been damaged. It was evident that accidents to the frame were expected
and anticipated, since duplicates of almost every part of them had been
furnished. Only the motor and steering gear were without duplicate
parts; but these were little likely to become injured, even by a direct
fall.

On the following morning Joe and I arose before daybreak and got Bry to
make us some coffee while we finally adjusted the biplane. I had decided
to attempt a flight secretly, as I feared Señor de Jiminez or his son
would refuse us permission had we asked to go. The seat was so arranged
that it would carry two; so, both Joe and I being light in weight ought
not to prove too great a burden for the machine. I had intended to go
alone, at first, but Joe begged so hard that I did not like to refuse
him, and he agreed to allow me to manage it without interference.

We instructed Bry and Ned Britton how to start us, but we took our run
on the deck from stem to stern, so as to head over the island.

The _Antoinette_ rose like a bird—just as the sun came up—and with a
sense of elation and delight I realized we were actually flying. Up we
shot, right over the forest, which came beneath us so suddenly that for
the first time I recognized the marvelous speed of the machine.

Determined to investigate this threatening barrier, I turned the wheel
so as to descry a succession of circles and descended until we were just
above the tallest tree tops. Joe had a pair of powerful glasses, and
while I watched the biplane he examined the forest.

“The woods are full of savages,” he remarked, attentively looking
downward; “but most of them are lined up facing the ship.”

“What are they doing?” I asked.

“Stripping the trees of bark, and flattening it out. That’s queer. All
are working at this except the double line of sentries at the edge of
the forest.”

“Perhaps they’re making shields of the bark,” I suggested; “in which
case they intend to attack us presently. But if they think we use bows
and arrows, which a bark shield will stop, they’re much mistaken.”

“Who knows what they think?” muttered my companion.

“And who cares? Keep your balance, Joe; I’m going to explore the rest of
the island.”

First I rose to quite an altitude, so that we might determine the extent
of the island. Then I spied a large settlement at the far east of us—the
farthest point from the ship—and deciding that this was the Pearl City I
headed directly for it.

A few moments only sufficed to bring us above the city, a journey of
perhaps ten miles from our starting point. Here again I circled while we
inspected the place.

The city was of tremendous extent; for here, we afterward learned,
resided every inhabitant of Faytan. There was a pretty landlocked bay
before it, and the water front was thick with craft, mostly with canoes
such as we had seen, although there were some ponderous flat-bottomed
boats that resembled rafts more than ships. These I thought might be
used for the pearl fishing, although they were gaudily decorated and had
many seats with rudely carved backs.

Between the forest and the city were large cultivated fields, with
groups of cocoanut and date palms showing here and there, and we
discovered several bands of workers on these farms, all calmly engaged
in performing their proper tasks.

But the city itself was far more interesting than its surroundings. The
buildings were of clay bricks, of a light gray color, little wood being
used in their construction. They were of great size and laid out in
regular order, forming streets that radiated in all directions from a
central square. Directly in the middle of this space was a great
circular building which was painted a dark blue color—the only painted
building in the city—and lavishly decorated with pearls. The doorways,
windows and cornices, and even portions of the dome, were thickly set
with these precious gems, only pearls of great size and luster being
chosen for the purpose. This was the temple; but I ought to explain that
many of these details were not perceived by us at that time, while we
circled in the biplane over the city and looked curiously down upon it.
Perhaps it was this very curiosity that was our undoing, for I must have
neglected the machine in some way to send it suddenly swerving, first to
one side and then the other, in an erratic motion that was bewildering
and instantly destroyed my cool confidence. The strain on the planes was
dangerous, and although we managed to keep our balance I could not
steady the thing nor bring it to a stable equilibrium. We were at a
dangerous elevation should we fall, and to avoid this catastrophe I
involuntarily descended, without any regard as to where we might land.

It was almost a fall, as it was. We first dove headlong, at a dangerous
angle, and then I swung her head up, shut off the motor, and she
fluttered, rocked and came to a sudden stop with a jolt that well nigh
drove the breath from our bodies. Joe pitched from the seat and rolled
over a few times; then he sat up and looked at me in a dazed way that
would have made me laugh had I not been wondering just then how many
bones I had broken. But after the jar on my nerves had subsided I
crawled out of the machine, which dropped its planes as if ashamed of
its rude action, and found we were on the flat top of one of the high
buildings that overlooked the place of the Pearl Temple.

I crawled to the edge, which had a low parapet, and looked over. A
hundred eyes met mine, staring at me with wonder in spite of the stoic
nature of these remarkable islanders.

It was not strange that they marveled. Airships are not yet everyday
affairs in our own country, so this one might well startle the natives
of a secluded South Sea island which even ships do not sight. I am not
certain which party was at first most bewildered, Joe and I or the
Faytans; but we were first to recover, and our desperate situation
called for decisive thought.

Hastily I ran over the machine. A guide rope had parted, and I promptly
knotted it together again. In all other respects the _Antoinette_ seemed
uninjured.

“Get aboard, Joe!” I cried; “we must make a run for it the best way we
can.”

“Someone has to push the thing,” he returned. “I’ll start it and you
take it away, Sam. If you reach the ship safely you can come back with a
rescue party.”

“That’s nonsense!” I exclaimed. “I won’t go without you, and you know
it. Here, help me run it over to the edge, and we’ll see what we can do.
It may dip at first, but there is lots of room in the square down there
for us to get a start and rise again.”

“And lots of savages to grab us if we bump the ground. My way’s best,
Sam.”

“Your way is impossible!” said I. “We will either go together, or we’ll
both stay right here.”

The speech was prophetic. Before I had the words well out of my mouth
the natives began to pour in a stream out upon the roof, coming through
a square hole in the center which we had not thought to guard.

Each of us was armed with a brace of revolvers, but we hesitated to use
them. As we backed away to the furthermost edge I said to Joe:

“Don’t shoot. They’ll capture us anyhow by force of numbers, and we’ll
stand better with them if we don’t hurt anyone. Keep your pistols out of
sight, for a better time may come to use them.”

Joe nodded.

“You’re right,” he said briefly.

The Faytans lined up before us, a score of great muscular fellows with
singularly intelligent features and of grave, dignified demeanor. As I
looked upon them I decided to adopt a certain plan of action. Extending
my hand and smiling in a fearless, friendly manner, I slowly advanced
toward the man directly in front of me. There seemed to be no captain or
leader among them.

“Greeting, good friends,” I said in the language of Tuamotu, the island
Nux and Bry had come from, and which they had long ago taught me to
speak. All the natives of the South Seas have, I believe, a common
language, although each island seems to use a dialect or “brogue” of its
own. At any rate the islanders seem able to understand one another when
they meet in peace or war, and for that reason I hoped to make myself
understood.

That I succeeded was soon apparent. The man did not take my extended
hand, but he said in a deep, musical voice:

“We are not friends. It is not possible.”

“No?” I returned, as if astonished. And, indeed, his frankness was
surprising, for these islanders are usually subtle and deceptive,
claiming friendship when they intend murder. “Why is it not possible for
us to be friends?”

“Because you come unasked. Because we do not harbor strangers. Because
intruders deserve death, and the laws of the Faytans decree it.”

This was not at all pleasant.

“We came not here of our own will,” I said after a moment’s hesitation.
“The gods of the Storm and Wind thrust us upon your island. We wish to
go away; to return to our own country.”

“That cannot be,” said another standing near the first speaker. “To
allow a stranger from the world beyond the sea to escape would be to
allow him to carry tales of Faytan to his countrymen. Then they would
send many boats here to rob us of our pearls and make us trouble.”

“Therefore,” added another, “you must die to save Faytan.”

“In what way?” I asked, more to gain time than because the mode of dying
interested me just then.

“The King will determine that. We will take you to the King.”

“Very well,” I responded cheerfully. “Come, Joe; let’s visit the King.”

He grinned at this, for Joe isn’t easily scared, and we allowed the
Faytans to escort us from the roof, going so docilely that they did not
bind us or even touch our bodies. They merely surrounded us in a dense
mass, and since they were of gigantic size and strong as bulls that was
as secure a method as any.

The house through which we passed was not badly arranged or furnished.
We saw numerous rooms from the corridors we traversed, and they were
more pleasant and homelike than you might suppose, considering this to
be an uncivilized island which the world’s progress had never yet
thought of.

The square outside—it was a circle, really—was thronged with men, women
and children, all scantily clad as far as clothing was concerned, but
the humblest wearing a fortune in pearl ornaments.

This island of Faytan must be very populous. There were at least two
hundred men in the boats guarding the reefs; the forest was full of
them; many were working in the fields, and still the Pearl City was
packed full, as far as we could see. The natives were of superior
physique and intelligence. We had thought Nux and Bry exceptionally well
built fellows, for South Sea Islanders, and we had often proved their
fidelity and keenness of intellect; but the Faytans were fully their
equals in every respect, and I knew from the reports of Tuamotu that
they had no such capital as the Pearl City and lived in a more primitive
manner.

Crossing the square between close ranks of silent, staring natives, we
were escorted to the steps of the Great Temple and in through a high
arched doorway.



                               CHAPTER XI
                       A KING, A PRIEST AND A BOY


To our surprise there was no great hall of concourse before us, but an
entrance hall from which opened several doorways hung with finely woven
mats, all of which were lavishly decorated with conventional designs in
pearls. Before each doorway stood a guard, armed with a spear and a
double-edged battle-ax, the latter fashioned from gypsum by the method
employed by the North American Indians.

There was a captain of these guards and when one of our conductors spoke
to him in a low voice this official disappeared through a central
doorway. He returned presently and Joe and I were told to follow him.
After us came merely a half dozen of our captors, closing the rear, and
so in stately procession we tramped down a long corridor and came to the
throne room.

It was a high, spacious apartment, having many windows covered with
translucent fish-skin dyed in various colors. These had the appearance
of stained glass and were quite effective. Around three sides of the
room ran a stone bench covered with mattings and in the center was a
raised place, or dais, with a broad, pearl-encrusted seat.

Heaped upon the royal bench were many gay colored blankets woven from a
soft cocoanut fibre, and lying flat upon these, face downward, was the
mighty King of Faytan.

His Majesty was only a boy. His copper-colored form was lean and
slender, but no greater in length than my own.

He did not move for a time and I had opportunity to examine him
curiously. The knot of hair twisted upon the back of his head was
decorated with five monstrous black pearls—the rarest and most valuable
sort known. Around his waist was a broad belt on which exquisite rose
pearls were thickly clustered. Over his shoulder was draped a short
cloak sewn thick with the same precious gems. But aside from this
richness of decoration there was nothing to distinguish the youthful
king from his subjects, unless it was his attitude. This might indicate
grief, despair or suffering, for though he moved not a muscle there was
such utter abandon in his pose that I caught myself feeling sorry for
the youth’s misery without knowing why or how he was miserable.

We stood motionless, awaiting his royal pleasure. After a time, with a
slow, writhing motion he raised himself to a sitting position and showed
his face to us.

I was born and bred in a democratic republic, and believe that all men
are free and equal; nevertheless there was a serene dignity in this
boy’s countenance that plainly marked him royal. Wherever I might have
met him I should have recognized in him the king; yet he was a mere
savage secluded on an unknown island.

The unhappiness that had marked his former attitude showed plainly in
his face, but its proud regard seemed to demand no pity from anyone.
Whatever it was, the king was strong enough to bear it alone.

He eyed Joe and me with calm interest, his look flashing over us from
head to heel and noting every detail of our appearance. Then he turned
to the captain of the guard and nodded permission for him to speak.

“Flying through the air on a thing with wings,” began the man, “these
two intruders alighted upon the top of the house of Aza, where they were
captured. They are brought before your Majesty for judgment.”

The king passed his hand across his eyes with a wearied gesture. Then he
looked toward us again and said:

“They are young.” His voice was low and soft.

“You are also young, your Majesty,” I ventured to state.

“Then you understand our tongue?” he said quickly.

“Imperfectly. I was taught to speak it by a native of Tuamotu.”

“Tuamotu! So you have come here to get our pearls?”

“No, indeed. We were shipwrecked, having been driven out of our course
by the storm. We are not robbers, your Majesty, but only unfortunate
voyagers.”

He nodded.

“You are indeed unfortunate to land upon the shore of Faytan,” said he.
“It means death to all of you.”

“Not necessarily,” I returned, coolly. “For my part, I expect to live a
long time yet.”

“You do not understand,” he persisted gently. “It is the law of the
island—the law of my forefathers—that all strangers who land upon Faytan
shall be put to death.”

“A cruel law,” I remarked; “and an unjust one.”

“It is to protect us from invasion,” he explained in a kindly tone.
“This is the richest island in all the world, and the most favored by
nature. My people are the bravest and strongest of mankind. No other
nation can at all compare with this, for we are protected and favored by
the powerful Pearl God.” As he mentioned this deity all the Faytans
present prostrated themselves, muttering:

“The King is the Priest of the Pearl God. Through him we acquire power
and protection!”

The king had also bowed his head, reverently and with no hint of
self-adulation. When the chant ended he turned to us and continued:

“Strangers, it is not through hatred that your death is decreed. There
is no hate in my breast, although you have killed my father, the late
King of Faytan.”

His voice faltered, and I exclaimed:

“Killed the King! We? It is impossible.”

His grief was readily explained now, but although these people posed as
our enemies I was really shocked at the assertion that we had rendered
this boy fatherless.

“I do not think the deed was intentional,” he returned, musingly, “for
it was dark and your weapons could single out no man. But my noble
father’s death was the result of your coming here. When runners from the
other end of the island brought the news of your arrival, my father the
King set out at once with a band of chosen warriors to capture you. He
arrived at the cove at nightfall, in time to see your people leap into
your boats and start out to sea. Our warriors sent arrows after you, and
you replied with the weapons that sting. One stung my father and he fell
dead. The warriors brought him back to the Pearl City, where I slept,
and I was awakened to be told I had lost my dearest friend and was now
the King of Faytan.”

He bowed his head again and for a time remained motionless.

“I am sorry,” I said quietly. “It was the fortune of war.”

“Yes,” he returned, raising his head to look at me curiously; “the
fortune of war; the same fate that led you here in the storm to meet
your death.”

I began to feel a little uneasy.

“Is there no way of evading that foolish law of yours?” I asked.

“No. Away from Faytan every stranger is safe. He is nothing to us then.
But when a stranger comes to Faytan the law decrees his death. There is
no escape.”

“Does the law say in what manner we are to die?” I inquired.

“No. The King determines that. But it is our custom to grant our
prisoners the easiest death of which we have knowledge, which is by
drowning. The only demand of the law is that every invader shall die.
There is no desire on our part to be cruel.”

I pondered the matter.

“Does the law state how soon the prisoner shall die?” was my next
inquiry.

“No. That would, of course, depend upon circumstances,” he admitted.

“In that case, there is no need for us to worry over my death for the
present, or over that of this friend who is with me,” said I in my
easiest manner. “I begin to admire your law, your Majesty. It says very
truly that every intruder upon your island shall die. But every native
of Faytan, too, must die—in time.”

He saw my point, but was not impressed.

“The law says you shall be put to death, not that you will be permitted
to die in time,” said he.

“Oh; very well, let it be that way,” I agreed. “But I am innocent of any
intent to wrong you, or any of your people, your Majesty; so I appeal to
you to postpone putting me to death as long as possible.”

He stared at me in a puzzled way.

“It is not fear,” he muttered, “that drives you to beg for your life—for
a few brief hours or days. What is it, then?”

“I’ve acquired a habit of living,” said I, “and I hate to break it. Also
I have a duty to perform—to instruct you in the truth concerning the
great world outside of Faytan, of which I find you are very ignorant. I
must show you how far behind other nations you are; how much you have
yet to learn. You cannot gain this information from your own people, who
are as ignorant as you are; you must gain it from me, before I am put to
death. You say proudly that you rule a great country, but there is a way
for you to make it a far greater country. You say your people are happy
and prosperous, but I can teach you how to give them many comforts they
are now without.”

At last I had interested him, for he was an intelligent youth. His eyes
flashed. He rose to his feet, facing me, and asked:

“Can you do this?”

“Yes; and more. I can tell you of things you have never even dreamed of,
which will make Faytan greater and more powerful than it has ever
been—since the beginning of time.”

“Then,” said he, “your death shall wait until I have listened to your
teachings. But do not misunderstand me. I grant you neither pardon nor
life. I merely postpone your death.”

“That is fair enough,” I answered. “I am satisfied.”

Deliberately and with dignity he again seated himself, turning toward my
captors, who had heard all this conversation plainly.

“You may go,” said he.

Evidently the king had no thought of asking anyone’s advice as to his
actions. He told the captain of the guard to take us to a certain room
and keep us safely until he sent for us, and as we bowed low and left
the youthful monarch he turned and cast himself prone upon the blankets
of the throne again. When I looked back over my shoulder I found he had
buried his face in his hands and his attitude was one of great
dejection.



                              CHAPTER XII
                           THE “CROOKED ONE”


The Pearl Temple was also the Royal Palace, for as the king was the sole
priest of the Pearl God it was fitting that his abode should be in this
sacred place. Seldom has a nation placed the supreme power, both
religious and political, in the hands of one person. It is concrete
autocracy and usually a priesthood protects a country from its king
while the king protects it from the priests. But here was decidedly a
one-man rule—and the man was a boy. If we could win the boy’s friendship
there were no complications to thwart his will, and therein lay our sole
chance of salvation.

Joe and I talked it over in our prison, a fine big room in the rear
portion of the temple, with windows opening on the square. There were no
guards, nor were we bound or otherwise restrained except by the command
of the king to remain in the room until sent for. We might easily have
dropped from one of the windows to the crowded streets; but that would
have availed us nothing. We might have walked out by way of the
corridors, and met the guards at the other end. Really, we were safe
enough, and our captors knew it.

Our unfortunate mishap caused us considerable uneasiness. It was not so
much on account of our personal safety, although of that we had ample
cause to fear; but I worried lest my father or Uncle Naboth, suspecting
we were captured, should send out a party to attempt to rescue us. From
my present information I knew that would mean death to them all; only
while in the ship fort, with ample supplies of guns and ammunition,
could they successfully oppose these numerous and powerful Faytans.

At noon we were given ample rations of excellent food; fish, turtle and
lobster forming the chief dishes. The drinking water, almost ice-cold
from earthen jars, was the finest I ever tasted. Women waited upon us,
but when I spoke to them in their native tongue they refused to answer.

After the meal the king came in, unannounced and alone. The youth walked
with great dignity and his face was very sad. Sitting upon a bench
beside us he said:

“You will tell me of the world beyond the sea, and I will listen. But
first tell me your names, and what island you come from.”

We introduced ourselves and said we were Americans, but of course that
meant nothing to him.

“I am Attero, the twentieth of that name who has ruled in Faytan,” said
he proudly. Then he began to examine our clothing and to feel the
texture of the cloth, asking us how it was made and of what use the
various garments might be.

Joe is not much of a talker, so I spent several hours giving the king
the most primitive sort of information, taking care to so explain our
machinery and inventions as to set him wondering at our cleverness. He
was more interested at first in “the weapon that stings” than in any
other mechanical contrivance, and you may be sure I explained the
death-dealing character of our guns in a most impressive manner.

“Your people are many, oh King,” said I; “but our rifles and revolvers
have more stings in them than you have people, although our own numbers
are so few.”

He pondered this a moment.

“I thought that might be so,” he returned. “That is a reason why I did
not sooner send my people to capture you. My chief Medicine Man, Kuru,
has been studying this matter, and Kuru has found that while the metal
stings enter human flesh, and pass through it, they do not go far into
the bark of the trees. For when my father and some of his people were
stung, many other stings flew over their heads and reached the forest,
where we found the marks they made. This is the first time such weapons
have been used by invaders into Faytan. All others have had spears and
arrows like our own. Also you are the only pale-skins who have come to
Faytan.”

“The pale-skins have more wisdom than the dark-skins,” I asserted. “They
have conquered all the known world. The reason Faytan has not yet been
conquered by us is that until the storm drove us upon your coast we did
not know such an island existed.”

He bowed gravely.

“That proves how wise my forefathers were in making our laws,” said he.
“We have been left in peace because the restless pale-skins, who love to
conquer what does not belong to them, did not know where to find Faytan.
Had we permitted any to leave our shores alive you would then have heard
of us. Also my forefathers declared that other nations would want our
pearls, which have brought good luck to us for many years. Is that also
true?”

“It is,” I replied frankly. “My people like all pretty things, and you
must know that pearls are found not alone in Faytan, but in many other
parts of the world.”

He seemed surprised.

“As many as we have?” he asked.

“Perhaps not. But pearls are not unknown to us. See,” and I showed him
my watch fob, which was set with a large diamond surrounded by small
pearls. He paid no attention to the diamond but examined the pearls
carefully. Then he smiled.

“Have you seen any so small, so dull and colorless in my kingdom?” he
asked.

“No, your Majesty.”

“Such trifles grow in small shellfish, which we do not open, but throw
back into the sea to allow them to grow. Those which you have are dead.
The life is gone from them. We know how to keep all our pearls alive by
bathing them in the salt water,” he said. Then he asked. “What is on the
other end of this yellow chain?”

I exhibited my watch and explained its use. He was greatly excited over
this trinket, especially when I showed him the wheels and how to keep
them going by winding. I thought it good policy to make him a present of
the watch, which was a cheap affair, and he accepted it with evidences
of joy and gave me in return a necklace of pearls worth a fortune.

When he left us he said:

“You must tell me more of your wonderful land and your wise people, for
truly you are able to teach me much.”

He paused on his way out and came slowly back to us.

“Tell me how my people can be safe from your stings,” he begged.

“By keeping a long distance away from them,” I replied promptly.

“Is there no other way?”

“None, your Majesty.”

“My chief Medicine Man, Kuru, thought that if we made shields of bark,
and carried them before us, the stings would not hurt.”

That explained the work we had seen the natives doing in the forest. But
I hastened to assure King Attero that such shields were useless, as when
they came neat to our guns the bullets would go through them easily.

“Then,” said he, in a grieved tone, “many of my people will die, for
they will make the attack to-morrow morning.”

“Can you not send swift messengers and stop them?” I asked anxiously.

“I will not do that,” he answered, “for it is not good to give one order
to change another. But I will spend the night in beseeching the great
Pearl God to protect my people from the pale-skins. Our god has never
yet failed us.”

With that he left us and we saw no more of him until the following
afternoon. When he entered our room then, the boy king was more cheerful
of countenance and stepped more firmly and proudly than ever.

“The Pearl God told me not to fear, for all would be well with my
people,” he announced.

I looked at him curiously. Could one so naturally intelligent really
believe some mythical god had spoken to him? But it is not safe to
question anyone’s religion. Ignoring the point I asked:

“Have you heard news of the battle?”

“Yes. Many of my warriors have been killed, and your ship has not yet
been captured. But they are still fighting.”

I heard this report with pleasure, and Joe shouted: “Hooray!”

The king did not seem annoyed.

“If we do not succeed to-day, we will to-morrow,” he prophesied, with
cool assurance. “For to-morrow I shall go to the battle myself, and
carry with me our greatest Chieftain, known as the Crooked One.”

“May we go, also?” I inquired, eagerly.

He considered the request thoughtfully. Then he replied:

“It would seem best to drown you both this evening, before I leave for
the fight. The Crooked One has advised that, and his wisdom is great.
But I wish to be taught more of your knowledge, so I will let you live
until my return.”

“But why must we stay here?” I asked.

“Would you assist me in defeating your people, if I took you with me?”

“No,” said I.

He took my hand and touched it lightly to his breast.

“What I like in the pale-skins,” he said, “is the truth-tongue. You do
not try to deceive me. That is why I have let you live to teach me. From
a lying teacher I would gain but little knowledge.”

I have said before that this boy was remarkably intelligent for a
savage. There was also a nobility in his nature that was admirable and
noteworthy. I am no more truthful than the average American, but it was
not easy to try to deceive one of so simple and frank a character. From
the first I had thought it the best policy to be honest with him. Had
the pale-skins always been honest in their dealings with the
dark-skinned races many national tragedies would have been averted.

We passed several hours in conversation, Joe taking a part in the talk,
now and then, but leaving most of it to me. Finally the king withdrew,
saying he would not see us again until after his return from the “war.”

It was getting dark and we were thinking of going to bed on our
benches—which were plentifully supplied with soft blankets—when a sound
of slow and dragging footsteps along the corridor aroused us. A light
flickered across the doorway and was followed by a native bearing a
torch of rottenwood.

At once I knew who it was. The shrewd, withered features, iron-gray
locks and penetrating glance; the humpbacked frame, long arms and
spindle legs could belong to none but the “Crooked One,” of whom the
king had spoken. I wondered if he came with his Majesty’s permission,
for he shielded the torch with a portion of an ample robe that partially
covered his misshapen body and peered at us silently a while before
addressing us.

Then he said, speaking in a low, soft voice:

“Strangers, I am here to assist you. Our mighty King, the wise Attero,
has accepted you as his friends; but that will not save you from the
death which the law decrees.”

He paused impressively, and I asked:

“What _will_ save us, then?”

“Perhaps nothing at all,” he returned, evasively. “But I am the King’s
adviser, even as I was his father’s adviser, and I command all the
warriors of Faytan. If King Attero listens to anyone, he will listen to
me.”

“And you will try to save us?”

“If you will do what I am about to ask.”

I reflected.

“There seems no way to evade the law,” said I. “The law is as old as
Faytan, I am told, and demands the death of every stranger landing upon
your shores. The King has himself informed us that he is powerless to
evade the law, even if he desired to.”

The Crooked One smiled sardonically.

“Who makes the laws of Faytan?” he demanded.

“The King’s forefathers made this law, it seems,” I returned.

“True. Only the King can make a law in Faytan. And—_only the King can
unmake it_.”

I sprang to my feet, inspired by a new hope. Of course the king had
power to abrogate the present law! Why had I not thought of this before?
It was an absurd law. The king was our friend.

The Crooked One, having spoken so impressively, was now regarding us
with marked attention. The look enabled me to recover my composure
quickly.

“Well, then?” said I.

He sat down upon a bench, looking more crooked than ever.

“I am Chief of the Warriors of Faytan,” he repeated. “I have fought many
invaders, and all are dead. For it is true that until now none has been
able to resist the number and power of the Faytans I have led. Your own
people cannot resist them for long; yet they are more terrible in a
fight than any we have ever met. There are perhaps as many persons in
your ship as I have fingers and toes; there are more Faytans than the
hairs of my head. In time, in spite of your stinging weapons, which the
King says are called guns, we shall surely capture you all. But if there
is much fighting many of my warriors will have died before we conquer
and destroy the pale-skins. I do not wish to have my warriors die. Why
is it necessary? So I have come to you, the King’s teachers, to say
this: Teach me, also. Teach me how to capture your people, and in return
I will ask the King to make a new law and cancel the old one, so that
you two will be permitted to remain in Faytan as long as you live, not
only safe from harm but honored by the King and all his people.”

“Chief,” I returned, amused but angry, “we could not be honored by
anyone if we proved ourselves dishonorable. Will any of your warriors
betray you, or your King, to save their own lives? I do not think they
would. Nor will we be less noble than the Faytans. But I will give you
this answer: We could not betray our people if we would; for there is no
way you or your warriors can avoid death if you fight with the
pale-skins. Had you made them your friends they would have gone away and
left you in peace. But if you foolishly continue to make war upon them,
you and your island are lost forever, for no human power can save you.”

“A man is but a man,” he returned, “whether his skin be pale or brown.
You have powerful weapons, but you are few in numbers. If you could kill
half my warriors the other half would finally conquer you.”

“That remains to be proven,” I said.

He arose from the bench and paced up and down, the light of the torch
making him appear like some huge goblin.

“So you would sacrifice your own lives to save your friends?” he asked.

“Willingly, if it is necessary.”

“And are they as loyal to you?”

“Any one of them would die to save us,” I asserted proudly.

He laughed at this; a low, cackling laugh that was not pleasant to hear.

“Then they must be allowed to do so,” he said, and picking up the torch
left the room without another word or even a parting glance in our
direction.

“I don’t like that,” growled Joe. “He’s up to some deviltry, I’m sure.”

“The same thing has occurred to me,” I replied. “Let us remember his
words. He will allow our friends to die to save our lives. It’s a trick
of some sort, Joe. The Crooked One is far more dangerous than the King
himself.”

“What can he do?” inquired my friend.

“I don’t know; but that clever old head has conceived some shrewd idea,
or I’m greatly mistaken. We must be on our guard, Joe. I wish we had
some way of warning our people.”

“Might send them a wireless,” said Joe, grinning.

“Well, let’s go to bed and forget it,” I suggested. “Nothing can happen
before morning, anyhow.”



                              CHAPTER XIII
                             LIVING SHIELDS


But in this declaration I was wrong. Something happened within the
hour—a summons to attend the king. We had gone to bed but had not fallen
asleep when the messenger came, so in a few moments we were ready to
follow the captain of the guard to the throne room.

His Majesty was ready for the field. He bore a short spear with rows of
pearls set in the shaft, and over his shoulder was slung a bow and sheaf
of arrows. In his belt was the native two-edged tomahawk, and the young
fellow looked fit to render a good account of himself, had he been going
to fight savages like himself.

Beside the king stood the Crooked One, who bore no arms at all. We
afterward learned that this famous chieftain, contrary to the custom of
these islanders, never fought in person but contented himself planning
the battle and directing his men. In this he was unconsciously imitating
the great generals of the civilized world.

“Come,” said Attero. “We are ready for the journey.”

“Oh! are we to go along?” I asked in surprise.

“Yes,” said he, and marched out into the square. We followed. It was
pitch dark, but a group of men outside bore torches. Several litters had
been provided, similar to the “stretchers” we carry wounded men on. The
king took possession of one of these, the Crooked One of another. A
third and fourth were for the use of Joe and myself. As soon as I had
reclined upon the litter four men started away with it, going on a jog
trot, and I found it by no means uncomfortable.

It was a queer procession. Half a dozen runners carried torches ahead of
us to light the way. The king’s litter came first; then the chieftain’s,
followed by mine and Joe’s. More torchbearers closed the line. And so we
proceeded at a rapid pace over hill and dale through the black night to
the opposite end of the island.

As we came to the further edge of the forest, dawn broke. It was a gray,
dismal day and I thought the sky threatened rain.

A great assemblage of warriors met us and welcomed the king and the
Crooked One with evident satisfaction. I stood by and listened while
several leaders made their reports. It seemed the fighting had been
constant the day before, and time and again the natives had been
repulsed with heavy loss. The “stinging things” went straight through
the bark shields, which the wise Kuru had recommended, and they had
therefore been abandoned. Between the forest and the ship the plain was
strewn with dead and wounded Faytans, and their friends could only go
under cover of darkness to reclaim their bodies, as whenever they showed
themselves a hail of bullets greeted them.

I was very proud to learn that my friends were doing such excellent
work. Against their rapid-fire guns the poor natives with their
primitive weapons had no show whatever. Yet the simple creatures had
persisted in sacrificing themselves uselessly.

The Crooked One listened calmly to the reports. Then he asked:

“Have any of the invaders left the ship?”

Not any, they told him, since the two who were prisoners had flown away
through the air.

“Very good,” said he. “To-day, my warriors, we will capture all the
pale-skins.”

I was curious to learn how he would do it; but breakfast seemed the
first thing on the programme, and of this meal Joe and I were given an
ample share.

Afterwards the king walked aside with his chieftain while they conferred
together privately, speaking in low tones. The natives, stolid and calm,
obeying implicitly—and indifferent to life or death—awaited their
pleasure in silence. Then Joe and I were led to the edge of the forest
and permitted to step out into the open and observe the ship. There was
no sign of life on board at first, and rather anxiously I pulled out my
handkerchief and waved it to and fro, regardless of the Faytans just
behind me. Joe imitated my example and after a moment a flag was run up
on the mainmast and ducked once or twice to show we had been recognized.

To find only that short distance separating us from our friends was
distinctly aggravating and I was almost tempted to cut and run for the
ship and chance a spear thrust between my shoulders. Turning my head to
see how near the natives were I found the Crooked One grinning with much
satisfaction, and saw him exchange a triumphant glance with the youthful
king.

This nettled me, for I at once suspected we had been playing into the
hands of our enemies and for some reason had been placed where we were
in order that our friends on the ship might recognize us. A moment later
the chieftain gave a signal and we were seized by strong natives and our
hands bound firmly behind our backs.

Then the mystery was explained.

The Faytan warriors, fully armed, formed in two long lines just behind
us, Joe being placed in front of one line and I before another. It was
easy to guess their plan then. They intended to use us for living
shields, believing our friends would not dare to fire upon us, and so
advance near enough to the ship to board it with a rush and slay the
pale-skins by sheer force of numbers.

It was a desperate attempt, cleverly conceived, and based upon my
assertion to the Crooked One that our friends would sacrifice themselves
for our sakes.

But nature took a hand in the game just then. The sky had been overcast
since daybreak, and just as the two lines were advancing into the open,
pushing Joe and me before them, the clouds opened and immense drops of
rain came pattering down. It grew dark, too, so that we could scarcely
see the ship, and the Faytans hesitated and looked inquiringly at their
chieftain.

The Crooked One eyed the sky, listened to the low growl of thunder, and
ordered his men back to the forest. Next moment the rain came down in
floods, and a bolt of lightning crashed overhead and sent a tall tree
toppling down upon us. No one was hurt, but it was now so dark we could
not see one another, and the great battle of the elements seemed to
render our puny human war insignificant.

I realized this would be a good time to make a break for liberty, but
our hands were tied and the cords held by stalwart Faytans, so that we
were unable to take advantage of the opportunity.

Crash after crash succeeded, and the thunder was deafening, while around
us the lightning darted like angry serpents. They have terrible storms
in these tropics, at times, and it is no unusual thing for an island to
suddenly disappear and never be heard of again. The tempest we now
experienced was so extraordinary that I believe it awed even the
natives.

I could hear the sea pounding against the rocks and wondered if the
boats patrolling the reefs could survive. An hour, perhaps, the storm
lasted; but it broke almost as suddenly as it began, and while the trees
still dripped rivulets upon us, who were drenched to the skin already,
the sun came out brilliantly, shining for the first time that day. The
clouds tumbled away hurriedly, as if they had business elsewhere; the
wind hushed and was still and only the fierce boom of the breakers
remained to remind us of our late fearful experience.

The Faytans also recovered quickly. A few moments sufficed to turn the
hundreds of dusky dripping statues into eager, alert warriors, and again
the Crooked One ordered the advance—in the same manner previously
attempted.

Neither Joe nor I was big enough to fully cover the lines of gigantic
warriors crowding behind us; but the idea was that our friends would not
dare fire for fear of hitting us. If the natives could in this manner
advance close enough to stampede up the rocks to the ship, they hoped to
get enough men aboard to conquer our small party very quickly. For at
close range the savages had no doubt of their own superiority.

For a time it seemed their plot would be successful. Joe and I held back
as much as we could, with that pushing crowd behind us, but steadily we
approached the ship and no sign came from those on board. I began to be
worried. Surely Uncle Naboth and Ned Britton were too clever to allow a
lot of half naked islanders to outwit them; yet not a head appeared
above the bulwarks, not a puff of smoke or rifle ball proved that our
tried and trusty seamen were prepared to sell their lives dearly and
defend the women to the last.

We had reached the first of the rocks that clustered above the shore and
had began to stumble over them when, with an abruptness that fairly made
me jump, a near by crack of firearms saluted us and a straggling volley
was poured upon the devoted natives. Not from the ship, however; the
shots came from a ridge of rocks directly to the left of us, and the
Faytans began falling by the dozens.

“Drop, Joe!” I cried, and at the same time fell flat upon my face
between two protecting rocks and lay there while the slaughter
continued.

I was exulting in the strategy that had outflanked the Faytans and
reflecting that our boys had made a dash for those rocks during the
darkness of the storm, when their movements could not be observed, when
two stout arms seized me and raised me bodily from the ground. I thought
at first some of our own people had rescued me, but being turned face
down over a broad shoulder I saw the dusky skin of a savage below me and
knew that I had been taken by a Faytan.

Instantly I began to struggle and cry out, but bound as I was I could
offer no serious resistance and my howls were almost drowned by the
crack of rifles, which continued unabated. I know now that my friends
saw my plight and Ned and Señor de Jiminez, who were both splendid
shots, made one or two attempts to bring down my captor; but my
sprawling body so covered him that only his head and legs were free, and
to fire at him at all was to put me in imminent danger.

He was a powerful fellow, and fairly ran with me—no light burden, if I
am small—back to the forest. There were few of his band as successful
and he doubtless owed his own safety to the fact that he bore me upon
his back.

The “stinging weapons” had played fearful havoc with the attacking
party, and even as the few stragglers who survived—most of them
wounded—crept back to the protecting forest, our men sallied from the
rocks, hastily stripped the pearl ornaments from the fallen, and
regained the ship without a single casualty.

I stood among the trees watching them, with the king at one side of me
and the Crooked One on the other side. My joy was equaled by the chagrin
of my enemies when we saw Joe was safe with his comrades and being
complimented on all sides, while the ladies waved their handkerchiefs to
him from the deck of the ship.

We were a silent party. I, because I was so disappointed and disgusted
at my hard luck that I could almost have cried, and the others because
their prettily conceived plan of attack had been thwarted and their
warriors mowed down by scores.

“It is useless, your Majesty,” announced the Crooked One, regretfully;
“the weapons of the pale-skins are too bitter for us to face. The other
plan is best. It will require time and patience; but it is best.”

“Come, then,” replied the King, briefly. “We will return to the city.”

“What is the other plan?” I inquired, as we were conducted to our
litters.

“We shall let thirst and hunger fight for us,” answered Attero, readily.
“Your people will soon need fresh water; but they cannot get it without
entering the forest, where my warriors will patiently await them.”

I got into my litter, where my bonds were removed and I was borne along
by my bearers beside the king.

“Did the boats escape the storm?” I asked presently.

He nodded.

“Of course. There was less danger to them on the water than to us in the
forest.”

“But the reefs—”

“My men are fishes first, and warriors afterward. They are used to
storms and do not dread them.”

I did not see how any living thing could withstand the breakers on the
reefs, but said nothing more on that subject.

The king was unusually quiet and seemed not to wish to converse with me.
I could not well blame him, seeing he had just witnessed the destruction
of many of his choicest fighting men.

Dismally enough we made our way back to the Pearl City, where to my
satisfaction I was taken to my old room at the back of the temple. I
missed Joe, but was glad he was safe with his friends. It was not the
room that I cared especially for, but the evidence that I still retained
the young king’s good will. Had he ordered me to some other place in
close confinement, I might know my end was not very far off.



                              CHAPTER XIV
                          A DESPERATE ATTEMPT


Attero sent for me the following day and asked me to continue my
descriptions of American life. In view of the fact that he was
determined upon the destruction of our entire band I thought best to
impress upon him our national importance and to assure him that, as our
ships sailed every sea, it was only a question of time when others would
discover Faytan and come in such numbers that they could not be
successfully opposed. Also I explained many of the luxuries and
conveniences we enjoyed, of which the Faytans were wholly ignorant, and
informed the king that he and his people could readily secure them all
in exchange for a portion of their pearls.

“At present the pearls are of no value to you,” said I, “as you can use
them only as ornaments. But by disposing of even your smallest ones you
can secure practical inventions and manufactured goods that would have
the effect of civilizing your people and render their lives far more
pleasant and useful.”

Attero thought deeply upon this matter, and I could see my arguments
tempted him; but neither during this interview nor others could I
overthrow the prejudices inherited from a long line of exclusive
ancestors, who believed Faytan was the important portion of the world
and none but Faytans must ever be permitted to live upon the island.

“I would like the good things the pale-skins have,” he admitted, “but
not at the price we would have to pay. Our riches lie in our pearls; not
because they could be exchanged for so many other things, but because
they bring us good luck, and the vast collection we have keeps the Pearl
God here among us, and thus insures his protection. We are now
prosperous and do not miss your great inventions because we have never
had them. But if we allowed you to go away and return with more of your
people, think what would happen! Our happy life would become one of
turmoil and eagerness to gain worldly goods. Some of my people would
want more than their share, and that would lead to envy and quarrels. At
present all property belongs to the King, and each of his subjects is
given what he requires. My people are content with this condition and it
would be foolish for me to change it.”

“Then,” said I, “I have another proposition. Allow us to leave this
island, and do you come with us as our guest. We will take you to
America and show you our cities and our great civilization. You will
acquire much wisdom, much learning and experience. And afterward, if you
still desire it, we will bring you back here, land you upon your island,
and go away without telling anyone of Faytan or its king. We will
faithfully keep your secret, your Majesty, and you will be no worse off
than before we came, but far richer in knowledge of the world.”

I thought this would win him, for a time; but finally he rejected the
plan, as he did all others I suggested. We talked together on several
days, but my stories of our life and the wonders of our civilization
seemed to content him. One evening he said to me:

“You have given me much to think of, Steele; and after you are dead I
shall remember you as a good teacher. I am even sorry the law compels me
to put you to death; but it does, and my chiefs and medicine men are
beginning to reproach me for the delay.”

“The King is supreme,” I said rather uneasily.

“Because he obeys the same laws his subjects do,” was the answer. “Were
I to disobey the laws of my great ancestors there would soon be rebels
and traitors in Faytan.”

I remembered the suggestion of the Crooked One.

“The King who makes the laws has power to change them,” I asserted. “If
you proclaim a new law, saying that I, your friend, must be permitted to
live, your subjects will accept it willingly.”

He smiled and looked at me rather pityingly.

“It would please me to do that,” said he; “but it would be wrong. I must
not, for my own pleasure, disobey my forefathers, who in their wisdom
said that all strangers must be put to death. Is my own judgment so
perfect that I dare oppose that of twenty noble rulers of Faytan? No. I
have the power to save you in that way; but I will not do so.”

“Never mind,” said I; “we will speak of this matter again, some other
time.”

He gave me a steady look.

“There will be no opportunity,” was his reply. “I like you, Steele. I am
glad you have been my friend. But to-morrow you will be put to death.”

“To-morrow!”

“I have waited too long already. My people are unhappy to see a
pale-skin alive when the law condemns him to death. It will be
to-morrow.”

He turned away.

“Wait, your Majesty—hear me!” I pleaded.

He waved me aside with a haughty gesture and left the room. The Faytans
are philosophers and accept death without a murmur. The king, my friend,
could not understand my protest.

Friend? Well, it was a queer sort of friendship that made no effort to
save me; that had no sympathy for my unhappy fate.

I am a good deal of a coward at times. That night I could not sleep.
Thinking over my predicament with sober care I could see no possible way
of escape. My prison was well guarded. If I managed to leave it there
was no chance of my being able to pass through the native city and gain
the ship unchallenged. Still, desperate conditions require desperate
remedies, and I had my two revolvers in my pocket, both fully loaded.
About midnight it occurred to me to make a bold dash for liberty. If I
failed I could be no worse off than now, since I was condemned to die
the next morning.

The windows of my room were not glazed or barred. They were big square
openings placed about five feet above the floor. By standing on the
stone bench that ran around the room I could look out upon the square at
the rear of the temple. I had no light; neither was there any light
burned outside; but the stars were bright enough for me to observe all
surrounding objects distinctly. I found the square deserted save by a
solitary form standing almost directly beneath my window, his back
toward me. A blanket covered his head and shoulders, for the natives
dread the chill night air and usually wear a blanket in this manner when
abroad at night.

I waited for the man to move away, but when a half hour passed and he
did not stir I decided he was a sentry placed there to prevent my
escape. It was the first time a guard of any sort had been set to watch
over me.

The sight of his blanket gave me an idea. I gathered up one of the
heaviest of those with which my bench was provided and creeping into the
thick embrasure of the window I spread the blanket, dropped it swiftly
over the head of the sentry, and then leaped down and caught him firmly
around the arms, bearing him to the ground with my weight.

Although muffled in the blanket, which obstructed free action, the
fellow struggled desperately, and I soon realized I could not subdue
him. I dared not fire a revolver, as the sound would bring a horde upon
me; so I managed to draw my pocket knife and open the blade. With this I
stabbed repeatedly at the blanket, trying to reach the man’s heart, but
the cloth was so thick and closely woven that the rather blunt end of my
knife would not penetrate it, and all the while I was having greater
difficulty in holding him down.

Rendered desperate by this condition I suddenly sprang away and made for
the nearest alley that led out of the square, leaving the sentry to
fumble with the blanket until he could free his head.

Before he could do this I had entered a narrow street, up which I ran at
my best speed. By good luck it led westward, and I had visions of making
a successful run across the island when suddenly in the darkness a pair
of strong arms were flung around me and I was pinioned in a viselike
grip.

“Pardon me,” said a low, sneering voice, in the native tongue. “It is
not wise to walk out at night. The dews of Faytan are dangerous.”

It was the Crooked One.

Panting and breathless I stood an unresisting prisoner, for I knew the
game was up. But I did not reply, understanding that any remark would
only call forth more triumphant sneers. As we stood there footsteps
hastily approached and another joined us.

“Have you got him?” asked the newcomer.

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“Good,” said Attero. “He nearly smothered me.”

“I beg your Majesty’s pardon,” said I. “I had no idea it was you.”

“And had you known—what then?” he asked.

“I believe I should have acted in the same way.”

The Crooked One laughed, and said:

“While I hold him, your Majesty will do well to search him. He may carry
dangerous weapons.”

Attero had no hesitation in obeying this request. He took away my
revolvers. My knife I had dropped in the square. Then I was led back to
my prison.

“I suspected,” said the Crooked One as he thrust me into my old room,
“that on this night you would attempt to escape, knowing you are to die
to-morrow.”

“It was but natural,” added the king, calmly. “So we watched, my
chieftain and I, that we might prevent it. Good night, Steele. Myself, I
cannot sleep because of your impending doom. It makes me very unhappy.
But die you must.”

With these words he left me, but the Crooked One remained to say:

“Every street is well guarded. Escape is impossible. Be patient,
therefore, for no man can evade his fate.”

He shuffled after the king, and left alone I threw myself upon the bench
and waited for daylight.



                               CHAPTER XV
                              MY EXECUTION


I have several times been in danger of a violent death, and yet I still
survive. “No man can evade his fate,” said the Crooked One; yet it is
equally true that no man knows or can foresee his fate. One who
frequently escapes death learns to fall back upon philosophy and ceases
to worry overmuch.

I must have fallen asleep after a time, for when I opened my eyes the
sun was flooding the room and my usual breakfast of milk and fruits
stood upon the bench near me. I had scarcely finished the meal when in
came a dozen Faytan warriors, headed by the Crooked One himself.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

“What if I am not?” I retorted. “You intend I shall go with you, of
course.”

He inclined his head gravely—not mockingly. Even he, standing in the
presence of death, respected my feelings.

They did not bind me, but led me out between close files of the
warriors. In the square was a vast crowd, silent and attentive. With my
guard I passed to the east and took the broadest thoroughfare—that
leading to the bay.

I had never been in this direction before, but I remembered seeing the
water front from the airship when Joe and I first entered the city. The
crowd swayed back to let us pass and then closed up behind us, following
after in a long procession.

It was not far to the beautiful landlocked bay before which the Pearl
City had been built, and when it came into full view I found the water
thickly covered with boats of every description. The entire populace
seemed to have turned out to witness my execution, and the occasion
partook of the nature of a festival, for boats, barges and buildings
were gay with the peculiar banners these people use for decoration. They
were of all colors and shapes, and every one was bordered with pearls.

One of the biggest flat-bottomed barges, manned by a score of oarsmen,
lay at the foot of the street waiting to receive us. I stepped aboard,
the guards followed and the Crooked One took a seat beside me. Then,
while the crowd scrambled for all the empty boats remaining, our oarsmen
dipped their paddles and we moved slowly away toward the center of the
bay.

A clear space, several hundred feet in diameter, had been left for my
exclusive use, and I looked at it rather disapprovingly because the
clear, smooth stretch of water was destined, seemingly, to extinguish
all my future hopes and ambitions. Death by drowning may be a merciful
mode of execution, but I do not think any condemned person can look with
composure upon death in any form. For my part I took a sudden aversion
to water, although I had always loved it before.

First we drew up before the royal barge, in which sat the young king
upon a high seat. Around this place, and indeed all around the clear
space in the bay, were clustered hundreds of boats, so densely packed
that their sides touched. Every boat had as many passengers as it would
hold, but the natives were quiet and no shouts nor jeering did I hear.

Standing up beside me the Crooked One bowed low before the king and said
in a loud voice:

“Here is a stranger who has dared to land upon the shores of Faytan.
What shall be done with him, King of Faytan?”

“Let him die,” answered the king, speaking so that all might hear.

With an abruptness that startled me, all that vast concourse repeated
the sentence after him:

“Let him die!”

It was a veritable roar of voices, expressing all the restrained
repugnance of the people for a stranger and their demand for vengeance.
It was not so much personal hatred on their part as a desire that I
should pay the long deferred penalty for my crime—the crime of being
shipwrecked on their coast.

The chieftain resumed his seat and motioned to the oarsmen. With their
former deliberation they paddled us out into the clear space, until we
had reached the very center of it. Quite naturally I had expected to be
bound and have a weight attached to me before I was thrown overboard to
drown, but it transpired that this was not the Faytan custom. The king
had said he was merciful and did not torture his victims, yet it was
with a thrill of horror that I realized my death was to be made a
spectacle for the delectation of the natives, who were assembled to
watch and enjoy my struggles as I slowly drowned.

Two strong warriors caught me up and tossed me into the water without
any warning or preparation. Then the barge receded to a position beside
that of the king, leaving me to my fate.

I am a good swimmer, having lived on the water all my life. After the
plunge I arose to the surface, supported myself and looked about me. My
clothes were a drag upon me, so I managed to divest myself of my coat
and my shoes while I trod water.

Why I should make what appeared a useless struggle for a brief period of
life was not clear to my mind just then. I was the center of a great
theater and thousands of eyes watched me with grave interest. At the
edge of the clearing a man was stationed in the prow of every boat with
an uplifted spear to prevent my clinging to the side. They wanted me to
struggle. The longer I tried to keep above water the longer the
spectacle would last. No matter how powerful a swimmer I might prove I
would wear out my strength in time, and they were prepared to wait
patiently to witness my antics and my final conquest.

The thought came to me to disappoint them by letting myself quietly
drown at once; but so strong is hope in the human breast that I
abandoned the idea and determined, instead, to fight it out to the very
end.

I rested leisurely upon my back, trying to avoid giving way to
excitement and wondering how long I could last, when suddenly a dark
object swept across the sky, approaching me with marvelous rapidity. In
an instant I knew it was the biplane, and the knowledge so excited me
that it was almost fatal. I rolled over and began to sink; then I
struggled to the surface to find the airship just over me.

“Catch hold of the frame—here—anywhere!” called an eager voice—eager
though it strove to be calm.

I raised myself and made a frantic effort to obey, but failed and sank
again. When I came to the surface a moment later the biplane was
circling over the bay. Again it came toward me, and this time it dipped
until it nearly touched the water. I grabbed the frame as it passed by
and clung to it desperately, for it nearly jerked my arms from their
sockets.

Arrows were whizzing about me in a cloud; the natives were shouting
angrily and a thousand boats were rushing toward us; but the next
instant I was high in the air, dangling from the frail crossbar of the
lower plane, and my safety was only a question of whether I could hang
on or not.

A face bent over me from the seat and stared into mine—a girl’s face.

“Lucia!” I cried in wonder.

“Save your breath and hold on!” she returned. “Can you manage it, Sam?”

“I’ll try—for awhile.”

“Till we get to the ship?”

“I—I’m afraid not.”

Indeed, this rush through the air was fast driving the life out of me.
My arms and hands were so numb there was no feeling in them at all.
Lucia had straightened up to attend to the machine, and the next thing I
knew I bumped the earth, lost my hold, and went rolling over and over.

“Quick!” cried the girl. “Let me help you.”

I sat up, quite dazed, and glanced about me. We were in an open field,
just now deserted by the natives, and Alfonso’s _Antoinette_ rested upon
the ground a short distance away. I could not have stood alone, but
Lucia dragged me to my feet and half supported me while I tottered to
the machine. It was a great effort to climb aboard, but the girl,
naturally strong and rendered doubly so by excitement, got me into the
seat and then deftly started the motors as she sprang up beside me.

The machine rolled along the ground a little way, lifted its nose and
then soared into the air like a bird. I was still marveling at the
girl’s wonderful control of the aëroplane when the ship came in sight.
We dipped downward, the motor ceased to whir and the next moment we
gracefully alighted full upon the deck of the ship.

A mighty cheer rang in my ears. Then all turned black and I lost
consciousness.



                              CHAPTER XVI
                          THE WAY IT HAPPENED


When I recovered I was surrounded by my friends. Father and Uncle Naboth
were administering restoratives while Ned Britton, Alfonso and Señor de
Jiminez stood by in a sympathetic group with the sailors for a
background. Lucia, squatted in a heap upon the deck, was sobbing into a
wet handkerchief. Evidently, now that the adventure was over, the brave
girl was wholly unnerved.

Still dazed, but trying to collect my thoughts, I sat up.

“Where’s Joe?” I asked.

My father was silent and Uncle Naboth shook his head. Lucia redoubled
her sobs. This made me anxious. I got upon my feet with an effort and
said:

“Isn’t he here?”

“No,” said Lucia, spreading out her hands with a piteous gesture. “He is
in the Pearl City. I left him there.”

Then, by degrees, they explained it all to me. Joe could not rest
contented while he knew I was in danger, and from his knowledge of King
Attero he believed the savage ruler would drown me as soon as I ceased
to interest him in my tales of the civilized world. He confided his
fears to Lucia, and suggested that as the biplane was still reposing
upon the roof of the house in the Pearl City, he might rescue me by its
aid if he could succeed in getting there. He had already crossed the
island twice, and believed he could make the trip in a single night.
Lucia encouraged him to make the attempt, and offered to go with him;
but he would not allow her to do that. When Joe mentioned the matter to
father and Uncle Naboth they both disapproved the idea, considering it a
hopeless and foolhardy adventure. They did not forbid him to go,
however, but said if he undertook the thing he must do so on his own
responsibility.

My friend would not be dissuaded, but he confided no further in my
relatives and went about his preparations in his own way. With Lucia’s
aid he made a stain that dyed his skin to a copper color, and then
stripped himself of all clothing except a loin cloth such as the Faytans
wore. He took a blanket and his revolvers and then, when all was ready
and night came, Lucia let down a knotted rope for him and he climbed
down the side unobserved and began his journey.

The girl, meantime, had made up her mind not to be deprived of the glory
of a share in the adventure. With the impulsiveness of a Spaniard in her
was united the athletic training of an American girl, and her romantic
nature impelled her to an act that was no less than folly. She silently
followed Joe and tracked him more than half way across the island before
he discovered her. Then he was in a dilemma. She positively refused to
return to the ship, and he did not like to have her do so unattended. On
the other hand he had an intuition that I was in immediate danger and
time pressed, so he dared not go back and postpone the event. Therefore
he unwillingly permitted the girl to accompany him.

After they had succeeded in passing the warriors in the forest they met
no delays on their journey and before daybreak arrived at the city. Joe
found the house where we had left the airship, but could not get in. He
secreted himself and Lucia in a nook between two rear buildings until
morning, when the family that inhabited the place arose. By good luck
they managed to creep in unobserved and made their way to the roof,
where they found the biplane had been left undisturbed. The natives knew
nothing of its operation and perhaps regarded the machine with
superstitious awe.

In overhauling the machine Joe discovered that Lucia understood it as
well as he did. She had watched us put it together and repair it after
Alfonso’s accident and had listened carefully and intelligently while we
were instructed in its use. Now she helped Joe adjust it, and they got
it in order just as I was led out for my execution.

Peering over the edge of the roof Joe watched me being led away and at
first could not understand what was up. But when the entire population
not already gathered at the water front hurried after us, he gave a
shrewd guess that the hour of my execution was at hand.

He knew pretty well what the programme would be. I was to be drowned in
sight of the watching Faytans. The water front was not visible from
their station on the housetop, but Lucia proposed she should take a
flight in the airship and find out how seriously I was in danger.

He allowed her to go for two reasons. One was that he believed he could
start the machine all right from the roof, which she could not do. And
then, if she found a chance to rescue me, we could go back to the ship
in the biplane and Lucia and I would both be saved. To go himself meant
to leave her there alone upon the roof, in a strange city and surrounded
by enemies.

Of course her mission was a desperate one at the best; but Joe
considered it less hazardous than for her to be left upon the roof, and
the biplane could not be trusted to carry three.

He questioned Lucia closely, and her knowledge of the machine was more
accurate than his own. She had never operated it, but neither had he,
for that matter, so in the end he let her go.

The biplane was started safely at the first attempt, and Lucia rose well
into the air and circled around until she got her bearings and could
overlook the tragedy being enacted on the bay. Then, seeing my danger,
she headed directly for me—and the result you know.

“Where is he now?” I asked Lucia.

“Still in the Pearl City,” she replied. “Before I left him he said he
would hide until to-night and then make his way back across the island.”

“Did he say where he would hide?”

“Yes. He was afraid some one would visit the roof as soon as the natives
found that the airship had been taken away. So, while every one was on
the water front, he intended to steal away and hide in the room that
used to be your prison, at the back of the temple. He said no one would
think of looking for him there, and he could get in through the windows
and get out again when it grew dark.”

I didn’t like that plan very well, and began to be worried about my
friend. I found my strength returning rapidly and as soon as I could get
about I began to examine the airship, to see if it was in proper order.
Alfonso, his arm in a sling and his head well bandaged, sauntered up to
me and said:

“You fellows seem to have little respect for the property of others. See
what trouble you’ve caused by stealing my _Antoinette_.”

“You are right,” I admitted. “What will you take for the machine?”

“I won’t sell it. It belongs to the revolution.”

“Well, the revolution can’t use it just now, and I can,” I returned. “So
if you won’t sell it I’ll borrow it.”

“What are you going to do?” he inquired.

“I’m going to look for Joe. Those Faytans are in an ugly temper just
now, and they’ll make a quick end of him if they find him.”

“Don’t be a fool, Sam,” cautioned Uncle Naboth.

“Joe can take care of himself,” added my father.

“I thought I could, too; but if Joe hadn’t tried to help me I’d be
drowned by this time. Do you think I ought to desert a comrade, father?”

He looked at me thoughtfully a moment. Then he muttered as he turned
away:

“Do as you like, Sam. You know best.”

I turned to Alfonso.

“How about the biplane?” I asked. “Can I borrow it, or must I steal it
again?”

“Take it and welcome,” he replied. “Joe’s a good fellow. I wish I could
go after him myself.”

Alfonso wasn’t half bad for a South American. He had his faults, but a
lot of good qualities with them.

“You can’t go just now,” warned Lucia, who had been listening to us with
nervous attention.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Look!” She pointed to the sky, and for the first time I noticed that it
was a leaden gray. The sun had not wholly disappeared, but was a half
luminous ball glowing through murky clouds.

“Another of them blamed storms is comin’,” remarked Uncle Naboth; “but
we don’t have to shorten sail for ’em while we’re floatin’ on dry land.”

“The other storm didn’t come that way, sir,” observed Ned Britton,
gravely.

We were silent now, for darkness fell upon us suddenly. It was almost as
if a light had been extinguished at night. There wasn’t a breath of air
stirring and the sea was like glass, but a queer moaning sound came to
our ears and we could not discover what caused it.

“Better get below, Lucia, and look after your mother,” said Alfonso.

I could hear her move away obediently, but was unable to see any of the
forms that stood around me.

We waited for we knew not what, and the unseen but recognized danger
filled us with awe.



                              CHAPTER XVII
                            THE CONSEQUENCES


Suddenly the deck slid from beneath my feet and I fell flat upon my
face. The ship heaved and rolled as if it were tossing upon the waves of
the ocean, and her timbers creaked and groaned mournfully. At the same
time crash after crash echoed around us, accompanied by a strange
rending sound, as if all creation was being torn asunder.

Then the ship stood firm, as it had been before, trembling slightly at
times but no longer tossing at its rock anchorage. The blackness
continued, however, and our men lighted the lanterns, disclosing our
white, pallid faces as we peered at one another questioningly.

Black Nux had raised me to my feet and was even yet partially supporting
me.

“What is it?” I whispered.

“Eart’quake, Mars Sam,” he replied in a calm voice. “Guess it all over
now.”

There were a few more trembles, and then came the rain—in a deluge, as
it had rained before. We were all driven to seek shelter below, and
there we waited anxiously for the sky to clear, that we might discover
what cataclysms the quake had wrought.

It rained for two solid hours. The darkness continued for an hour or so
longer. It lightened gradually, so that the first intimation I had of it
was the clearing away of the shadows that had lurked in the corners of
the cabin, where the lamplight did not penetrate. I went on deck, where
I found Ned, with Nux and Bryonia and most of the crew, all peering
anxiously through the dim light in the direction of the sea.

“What is it, Ned?” I asked, joining them.

“The reefs!” he said, pointing with a trembling finger. “Where are they,
Sam?”

I also looked, straining my eyes to discover the two jagged lines of
rock jutting out of the sea between us and the open water, as well as
the boat patrol that had guarded them ever since the day of our
shipwreck. But through the gray atmosphere I could see nothing but the
broad expanse of ocean. The waves rolled in, one after another, and
broke against the very rocks that held the _Seagull_ a prisoner.

There was something queer about the position of the ship, too.
Heretofore we had been perched between the two points of rock, full
twenty feet above the sea. Now the waves almost lapped our sides, and
instead of the rocky points being below us, they reared themselves far
above the deck on either side.

I turned toward the island, from whence not a sound was heard. The light
had strengthened sufficiently for me to see the forest line, and
presently I was aware that some of the trees near the edge had tottered
and fallen their length upon the plain. Otherwise the landscape seemed
unchanged, and the open space between us and the forest, which had been
the scene of such deadly conflict, looked just as it had before.

Truly the earthquake had wrought wonders, and in some ways had benefited
us. The most startling change was the destruction of the reefs, leaving
the sea free before us. The boats filled with warriors, placed to guard
us from escaping, had been swallowed up with the reefs, and no vestige
of that formidable array remained except a few fragments of the canoes
which washed ashore.

Perhaps inspired by a common hope we all descended the ladders to the
ground. There we were better able to appreciate all that had happened.
Except that the sky was still gray and forbidding, we now had plenty of
light to examine our surroundings clearly.

One glance at the _Seagull_ dispelled our half formed hopes. Although
her keel was now on a level with the ocean, which even lapped her bow,
the ship was wedged fast between the two huge rocks. These must have
separated during the earthquake and allowed her to settle down into her
present position; but they still held her as in a vise.

“If another quake comes, which ain’t unlikely,” observed Uncle Naboth,
“them rocks is liable to come together again, in which case they’d crack
the _Seagull’s_ sides like a nut in the jaws of a nutcracker.”

It was quite possible, and the statement did not reassure us in the
least.

“If we could but manage to launch her,” said Alfonso, “we have now
plenty of deep water for her to slide into.”

My uncle looked at the young Colombian reproachfully.

“Them ‘ifs’ seem to excuse a lot of fool remarks,” he said. “The only
way to launch the _Seagull_ would be with dynamite, and after that she
wouldn’t be likely to float.”

It was now the middle of the afternoon, and although the sky continued
gloomy there was no air stirring and I dared not wait longer if I meant
to rescue Joe. I was very uneasy about my old chum, for the earthquake
was likely to have created as much havoc at the Pearl City as it had at
this end of the island.

My father had gone into the hold with the carpenter and Ned to examine
the condition of the ship. The little damage we had sustained from the
typhoon which had tossed the ship to her elevated perch had already been
repaired—quite foolishly we thought. But the _Seagull_ was still dear to
the heart of Captain Steele, and he took as much care of her now that
she was useless as when she was proudly riding the waves.

“What’s the programme?” asked Uncle Naboth, as I prepared to start.

“I’m going to try to get to the city and find Joe. If possible I’ll get
him aboard and fetch him back with me. That’s as far as I can plan now,
Uncle.”

“You won’t be foolhardy?”

“I’ll try not to be.”

Then I took my seat, Lucia started the motors, and a moment later I was
flying over the forest.



                             CHAPTER XVIII
                             A RUN FOR LIFE


Ascending to an altitude of several hundred feet I attempted what is
called the “spiral dip,” circling, in the air while gradually
descending. But the shadows lay so thick in the forest that I could not
tell whether any Faytans remained there or not. So I rose again and
headed east across the island in the direction of the Pearl City.

I must have covered five of the ten miles in the next five minutes, and
the machine was working perfectly, when on glancing down I discovered a
native sprinting across the fields at a rapid pace. After him, but
nearly a quarter of a mile away, rushed a horde of savages. There must
have been at least two thousand of them, all intent upon the chase.

This was so peculiar that I did another spiral dip to get a little
closer to the scene of action, and as I neared the ground and could see
more plainly it suddenly flashed upon me that the flying native was Joe.
Lucia had said that he had stained his skin and dressed himself in the
native loin cloth, but I had forgotten that until now. It explained the
scene perfectly. Joe had been discovered in the Pearl City, but had
managed to escape and was now heading for the ship, followed by a host
of pursuers.

My friend was a mighty runner; I knew that. It was Joe’s especial
athletic accomplishment, and with such a lead I believed he could keep
the Faytans behind him until he reached the ship, unless—unless the
forest still harbored an army of warriors, in which case they could
easily head him off.

With this contingency in mind I resolved to pick him up and take him
with me; so, judging the distance as accurately as I could, I swooped
downward and landed about a hundred yards ahead of the fugitive.

“Climb aboard, Joe!” I called. “Take it easy, old man. We’re safe enough
now.”

He dashed up, panting but still full of energy, and said:

“How can we start her, Sam?”

“Take your seat, and I’ll show you,” I replied. I had seen Lucia do the
trick and thought I could repeat it. The motor started, but the machine
would not rise. It bumped along the rough ground a way until I became
alarmed and stopped it.

“Try again,” said Joe, coolly.

I glanced over my shoulder and found the Faytans were getting
uncomfortably near. But I kept my wits and took time to readjust the
machine a little, so it would rise more quickly. A half dozen or so of
the pursuers were well in advance of the others, and I suspected they
might interfere with our start. So I faced about and carefully emptied
my revolvers at them, halting all but one. Then I turned back to the
machine, started the motor and ran beside it a few paces before I sprang
into the seat.

Just then I heard a revolver crack beside me, but could pay no attention
to it because the biplane was speeding into the air at a tremendous
clip. It persisted in mounting upward, because I had adjusted it that
way, and in working the steering gear to obviate this the machine got a
side motion that was both unpleasant and dangerous.

“Steady her, Sam!” called Joe; but I couldn’t.

To add to my perplexity it grew dark again; the moaning sound was
repeated, and looking down I saw the earth shaking under me like a bowl
full of jelly. It was a horrible sight, and in my agitation I must have
bungled in some way, for the fearful side motion increased, and both of
us had to hold fast to keep from being hurled from our seats.

Suddenly the biplane took a dive—swift as a bullet, but was supported
from falling by the outstretched planes. I lost all control, but managed
to shut off the motor and then cling to the frame with all my might.

Down, down we went, but fortunately still gliding diagonally in the
direction of the ship. It was a regular tumble by this time, and I am
positive the biplane turned over and over several times. We just skipped
the further edge of the forest and crashed into the branches of a fallen
tree—one of those felled by the earthquake. With a jar that drove the
breath out of me I bounded from the branches and fell prone upon the
ground. Joe landed near me, and aside from the severe shock we both
escaped serious injury or the breaking of bones and soon scrambled to
our feet.

I had turned to glance at the biplane, now a hopeless mass of junk, when
Joe suddenly caught my hand and said:

“We must run for it, Sam!”

Bursting in a stream from the forest came hundreds of Faytan warriors,
brandishing their weapons as they ran. They were so near that an arrow
or a well thrown spear might have caught us easily, but the savages
seemed intent on capturing us.

I am not a great runner, but on this occasion, at least, I did myself
credit as a sprinter. Joe’s hand in mine and his superior swiftness
helped, of course, and we managed to keep a lead till we were near the
ship, when a volley from the deck effectually halted our pursuers.

Even as we clambered up the side by means of the ladders they let down,
the sky darkened again and another tremble shook the earth. It made us
totter, but was not severe enough to cause any especial damage, and we
were all getting used to the quakes by this time, so were not much
frightened. Scientists have told me they are puzzled to explain this
apparent connection between the sky and the earthquakes. Atmospheric
conditions have nothing to do with earth convulsions, and vice versa,
they say. Yet it is a fact that in Faytan we could tell when a “tremble”
was coming by the sudden darkening of the sky.

The Faytans were learning a few lessons by experience. When the light
became strong enough for us to see again we found the plain fairly alive
with natives, and more were constantly pouring in from the forest.

At once all hands were assembled at the rail and our men lost no time in
opening fire, for we did not dare give our enemies time to attempt to
board us in such numbers, and it was now much easier to scale our sides
since the ship had settled down to the sea level.

“Train the howitzers!” called my father, and the gunners leaped to their
posts. We had not used the cannon before, as they had not been required,
but now the savages were massed before us on the plain and a charge of
grape and canister was more effective than many rifle balls.

We took the aggressive and without waiting to be attacked fired the two
cannon, one after another, point blank into the mass of Faytans.

It was still too dark for us to see just what had been accomplished, but
I shudder to think of the wholesale destruction we must have caused.
They were doggedly determined, however, to get the “pale-skins” at any
cost, and if we destroyed hundreds there were hundreds more to take
their places.

Presently they were swarming below us so close that the cannon were only
effective in slaughtering those crowding the plain behind them, and
every one of us able to hold a rifle stood at the rail and picked off
the nearest of our enemies. Their method of getting aboard was curiously
primitive. One man clung to the end of a long pole, which others raised
in the air and lifted so he could catch our rail. We had little
difficulty at first in shooting these down as fast as they were raised
to our level; but the attack was concerted with some skill, and every
inch of the rail needed to be guarded.

“It must be the young king who is directing this battle,” I said to Joe
as we stood side by side, firing whenever we saw a head appear.

“It can’t be the king,” he replied. “I shot him just as you carried me
off in the biplane.”

“You shot the king!” I exclaimed.

“Yes. He was right upon us and about to grab the frame when I let go at
him. Didn’t you hear me shoot?”

“Yes, but I was busy with the machine. I’m rather sorry for Attero,” I
answered, regretfully.

“My opinion is that the Crooked One has planned this onslaught,”
continued Joe, “and that he is bound to get us this time at any
sacrifice. He’s a wily old fox.”

We were too busy after that for further conversation. The smoke and din
of battle was something terrifying, and even now I wonder that the
savages were not disheartened by the noise and the sight of their
comrades falling on all sides of them. When we consider how unused they
were to firearms we must admit their courage was wonderful.

I think we all began to realize that the situation was serious. On deck
Alfonso was fighting as well as he could with his broken arm, while his
father stood at his side and rendered an excellent account of himself.
Below in the cabin Madam de Alcantara had first fainted and then gone
into convulsions. Her shrill screams were not the least disheartening
sounds that reached our ears, yet I knew Lucia and Madam de Jiminez were
with her and that the poor lady was only frightened and not in a dying
condition.

The constant tax on our nerves and the need to be constantly alert was
fast wearing out the strongest of us. Bryonia, who had fought nobly,
came over to me presently and suggested that we get the women into one
of the small boats and launch it while all of us covered the retreat
with our guns. He thought they might escape in that way, whereas we were
almost certain to be overcome at length by sheer force of numbers, and
then all would be doomed.

I did not approve of the attempt myself, but counseled with my father
and Uncle Naboth, who promptly turned down the proposition. Just then
four Faytans succeeded in leaping aboard, and were engaged in a hand to
hand fight with Nux and Bry, who met them, when Ned got a sword through
one and Joe disposed of another with a pistol shot. That evened the
numbers and our blades were not long in ridding themselves of their
opponents.

But this temporary invasion was a warning that we were losing ground and
our enemies gaining confidence, so we redoubled our activity and found
plenty to do in protecting ourselves from the boarders.



                              CHAPTER XIX
                        A CAPRICIOUS EARTHQUAKE


The fight was still raging fiercely when blackness fell upon us once
more, and for the first time I became panic-stricken. The sky had not
been clear all day, but we had managed to see until now, ever since the
fight began, but with a black pall hanging all around us and thousands
of enemies marking us for death the outlook was absolutely terrifying.
The Faytans had not been afraid of the dark before, and if now they had
the temerity to continue the attack we could not hope to resist them
long.

My fears were soon justified. I heard Joe cry: “Look out, Sam!” and felt
rather than saw a big warrior standing before me. The moaning sound that
preceded a quake sang in my ears as I struck out furiously with my
cutlass, and then the ship reared her stem and pitched us all in a
struggling mass down the incline of the deck to the bow.

I struck against a naked body and two hands grasped my throat and
effectually stopped my breath until I got a pistol out and shot my
assailant dead. At least he relaxed his hold and slid away from me—and I
slid too, rolling and bumping against obstacles of every sort till my
bones cracked. And now through the pitch darkness everything seemed to
go—ship and all—and a sheet of water struck me and made me gasp.

The _Seagull_ was level now, but rolled from side to side while big
waves dashed over her and rushed out of the scuppers in a perpetual
stream. I heard a faint cheer from the forecastle; but now the elements
were in a wild turmoil and I was too utterly bewildered to think.

The wind had instantly risen to a gale; the waves beat upon us in fury,
and through the darkness the _Seagull_ floundered here and there in an
aimless way that was puzzling and perilous.

While I clung to a bit of rigging and tried to get my breath I realized
but one thing clearly—that the ship was afloat again. An earthquake more
severe than any that had previously occurred had split the two rocks
asunder and allowed her to slide into the sea. But where were we now?
And where were the Faytans?

It takes a good deal to phase Captain Steele. Even while I stood
marveling my father had grasped the wheel, and, as our rudder and screw
had been fully repaired the aimless pitching of the ship was rectified
as soon as her head was brought to the wind and she faced the waves.
Then suddenly the sky brightened sufficiently for us to see one another
again.

In the bow stood huddled a group of nearly a dozen Faytan warriors,
while our men were scattered here and there clinging to whatever support
they could find. I found that Joe wasn’t a dozen yards away from me. The
_Seagull_ was floating serenely on a rather turbulent sea and the coast
of Faytan was a quarter of a mile on our lee.

We stared at the warriors a moment, and they stared at us. Then with one
accord we all made an advance toward the savages, determined to settle
the fight the first thing we did. They did not wait for us, but leaped
the rail into the sea and began swimming toward their island.

“Let ’em go!” shouted my father. “And some of you get busy and toss
those bodies overboard. Where’s the firemen? Step lively, lads, and get
up steam as soon as the Lord’ll let you.”

The men gave a cheer and responded with alacrity. We stripped all the
pearl ornaments from the dead natives that cluttered the deck, and
afterward threw the bodies overboard. During this operation I came upon
Señor de Jiminez seated in the scupper with his back to the bulwark and
sobbing like a baby.

“Is anything wrong, sir?” I asked anxiously.

“No—no! Everything is right,” he answered. “We are saved—the revolution
is saved! Hurrah for the revolution!”

Joy affects some people that way, but I have no patience with men who
cry.

We got up steam presently, but found the _Seagull_ was leaking like a
sieve. It took all the power of our engines to keep the pumps going; so
my father ordered sail hoisted, and as the wind had moderated to a stiff
breeze we were soon bowling along with the mainsail and jib set. The
mizzenmast had gone by the board at the time of the wreck.

My father’s face wore an anxious expression and he called Uncle Naboth
and me into the cabin for a consultation.

“We can keep afloat this way for a time—perhaps for days, if the leaks
don’t get worse,” he said; “but it’s foolish to take such chances. There
are islands near by, I’m sure. Shall we stop at the first one we sight?”

“H-m. It might prove to be another Faytan,” said my uncle, doubtfully.
“I’ve had enough fighting to last me for a while.”

“Wait a moment,” said I. “I want to get Bry.”

“What for?” demanded my father.

“He’s the only one aboard who knows these seas,” I replied.

Bryonia came to the cabin and being questioned declared that he knew the
way to his own island of Tuamotu from here, but could not tell how to
get from there back to our regular course.

“I know, though,” said Captain Steele, “for Tuamotu is marked on my
chart. It seems a French ship stopped there once, and did some trading
with the natives, so I’ve got it pretty fairly located.”

“But what sort of a reception will your people give us, Bry?” I asked.

He smiled.

“I am Chief of Tuamotu,” he answered proudly. “I am equal to a king. My
friends will be welcome.”

“All right,” said my father. “Take the wheel, Bry, and steer us towards
Tuamotu.”

Bry became navigator then, and although he knew nothing of the science
he possessed an instinct that guided him correctly. Having once been
over the course from Tuamotu to Faytan he had the points firmly fixed in
his mind, and as the distance was only about a hundred miles and the
breeze held finely, on the second day we sighted a big island which both
Bry and Nux declared to be Tuamotu.

Meantime a semblance of order had been restored to the ship. From being
in the depths of despair our passengers were now elated with hope. They
paid little heed to the fact that water was pouring into our hold as
fast as the engines could pump it out, for having escaped the more
tangible dangers of Faytan they believed our luck had changed and all
would now be well with us.

Our men realized the situation and wore grave looks. But Lucia pounded
the piano and sang her Spanish songs; Señor de Jiminez resumed his
writing of the speech to be delivered before the Colombian Congress, and
Madam de Alcantara dressed herself in her most gorgeous robes and
declared she had enjoyed her recent adventure except for a sad attack of
“nerves.”

Joe and I made a list of the pearls we had secured at Faytan, including
those rifled from the dead bodies of our enemies. They made so large a
collection and were of such extraordinary size and color that we knew
they would sell for an immense sum in America. All of our men were to
participate in the “prize money,” for all had helped to earn it.

Joe, however, was richer in pearls than all the rest of us. When left by
Lucia at the Pearl City he had easily made his way unobserved to the
temple and crept through the window into our old room. Here he remained
quietly secreted for a time, but the silence throughout the great
building was so profound that he ventured to explore some of the
passages that were unknown to him. One of them led him to the inner
shrine of the temple, where an ugly image of the Pearl God was
installed. At the feet of this deity had been placed the most splendid
pearls found by the Faytans for many generations past, and Joe calmly
filled the folds of his loin cloth as full as they would hold of the
choicest gems.

At that moment he was discovered by an attendant, who raised a hue and
cry just as the king was returning from the bay at the head of his
people, all heartily disgusted by my escape. Joe managed to leap from
the window and speed away before the Faytans fully recovered from their
astonishment, and then began the race which I had ended by taking Joe
aboard the airship.

Next to Joe’s splendid pearls, the value of which would make any man
rich, however greedy he might be, my own string of gems, presented me by
Attero, was of prime importance. Tiffany has since valued them at forty
thousand dollars, but I will not part with them. I liked Attero and have
always regretted that Joe had to kill him.



                               CHAPTER XX
                              KING BRYONIA


When we sighted Tuamotu it occurred to us that the most important person
in our company was now our cook Bryonia—or rather Louiki, as he was
called by his people. We had to depend upon the hospitality of these
natives for some time to come; or until we had fully repaired the leaks
in the _Seagull_ for the long voyage still before us. Therefore we held
a consultation and decided to appoint Bry to the temporary office of
High Admiral, and to defer to him most respectfully while we lay at the
island. For if his people found their chief occupying a menial position
they might lose respect for him, and cause us a lot of trouble, whereas
if he arrived clothed with grandeur and power his prestige would be
increased. Nux also must be an important personage, for he was the
chief’s cousin and close comrade. It was all explained to our passengers
and crew, and so popular were the two faithful blacks that every one
entered into the spirit of the deception with glee, expecting much
amusement as the result.

Tuamotu we found a beautiful island, finely wooded, with a range of
mountains in the center, and altogether somewhat larger than was Faytan.
As Bry had declared, there was a fine harbor, with a shelving beach upon
which we proposed to run the _Seagull_ at high tide, so as to get at her
leaks most conveniently.

As we entered this harbor on a bright, sunny morning we found the shore
thickly clustered with natives, all as black as the ace of spades. They
were not, as a class, so intelligent looking as the Faytans; neither
were they so big and powerful of frame; but comparing them with other
South Sea Islanders I must admit they were vastly superior to the
general run. There was little ferocity about them, although I know they
can fight and are brave and sturdy warriors. Just now they were merely
curious and excited, for ours was the first ship but one to anchor in
their bay. We had made a brave display of bunting and flags, and when we
dropped anchor and furled our sails we fired a single shot from the bow
by way of salute.

After many conferences with Bry we had decided upon our course of
action, so at once the gig was lowered and manned by a chosen crew,
while Bry and Nux, arrayed in their best gray and gold uniforms, gravely
descended the ladder and took their seats in the stern. I most admit
they moved with admirable dignity, and their great size lent them an
impressive appearance. No one but us could know that the uniforms were
those of servants.

They were received in silence when first they landed, but then we saw
Bry stand before his people and begin a speech, and presently a shout
arose so prolonged and loud that it was fairly deafening. Those nearest
Bry fell on their knees and tried to kiss his feet, while those on the
outskirts leaped about, performing antics of joy. Then a tall native
advanced and folded Bry in a cordial embrace, afterward embracing Nux in
like manner.

We knew then that our men had been recognized and loyally welcomed home.
A procession was formed to the village on the hill, and Bry and Nux
marched ahead of it while the shouts and gambols continued unabated. The
ship seemed no longer the center of interest to the natives, although
scattered bands of them soon began to saunter back to the shore to gaze
upon the unusual spectacle.

Much entertained by the reception and satisfied that our black friends
were having a good time, we patiently awaited their return, listening
the while to the monotonous “chug-chug” of the pumps as they drove out
the water that persistently rushed into the hold.

After a couple of hours the procession reappeared, Bry and Nux again at
the head. They marched down to the shore and while the chief and his
cousin reëntered the gig, accompanied by two other blacks, three canoe
loads of favored individuals clung to their wake and followed them to
the ship as invited guests. At a respectful distance a swarm of other
canoes came toward us, but they kept their distance from the ship and
had no disposition to intrude.

We received the visitors with great ceremony. Nux told us that the tall
black—he who had first embraced them—was his own brother. When the old
chief, Bry’s father, had passed away, this man became the successor to
the rule of the island, as all thought that the legitimate heir, Louiki,
had perished in the battle with the Faytans. So Nux’s brother had been
chief until Bry’s return when, being a good fellow at heart, he welcomed
the long lost one and gladly resigned the royal office in his favor.

In this party were the principal men and officials of the island, and
Bry showed them all over “his” ship, afterward giving them a plentiful
feast in the main cabin. Joe and I waited upon them, and it was fun to
see Bry at one end of the table and Nux at the other, posing as the
ruling spirits of the _Seagull_. My father and Uncle Naboth kept out of
sight, as did all our passengers, although Alfonso and Lucia hid on deck
and looked through the cabin windows at the savage feasters. The natives
of Tuamotu were duly impressed by the magnificent surroundings of their
chief, and when, he told them his ship needed repairs and tinkering they
gladly volunteered to render him every assistance in their power.

So his Majesty dismissed them and sent them back to land, and when they
were gone he put on his apron and cooked our dinner.

At five o’clock it was high tide, so we ran the _Seagull_ as far upon
the sandy beach as she would go, using the engines to propel her, and
then the natives swarmed into the water and braced her sides securely
with long poles. As the tide receded it left us high and dry, and by
daybreak our men were able to begin work. They found several planks
badly sprung and one gaping hole torn in the bottom by the sharp rocks
as we slid into the sea during the earthquake at Faytan. It would take
several days to repair the damage, because we could only work part of
the time, while the tide was out.

Meantime, we were entertained by Bry in the chief’s house. It was the
best in the village, or on the island, but made of logs with a palm
thatched roof and far inferior in all ways to the houses of Faytan. Bry
gave us a native repast, consisting mainly of roast goat and cheese,
with a variety of delicious fruits. There was constant feasting and a
succession of dances and ceremonies in honor of the chief’s return, and
I was curious to know how all this would affect Bry, and whether he
would leave us to rule over his native island, or not.

But when the repairs were completed Bry announced his intention of
sailing with us.

“Allola, who is the brother of Nux, will make my people a good chief,”
he said, “and my life with you has spoiled me to be now an ignorant
islander. I could not be contented here any more; so I will go with you,
and stay with you always.”

There had never been any question about Nux. He had always said he
preferred the life on our ship to being a big man in Tuamotu.

All being ready, hundreds of natives waded into the water at high tide
and by sheer force of numbers pushed the _Seagull_ off the sands till
she floated. This operation was assisted by our propeller, but we could
not have moved the heavy ship without the aid of Bry’s subjects.

The chief held a final farewell celebration, and distributed among his
people many beads and trinkets, a stock of which we always carried with
us. Then, amid the shouts of the multitude, who were all really sorry to
see us go, we started our engines, whistled three times and fired a gun,
and steamed out of the hospitable harbor.

The voyage to Colombia was without important event. We soon got upon our
course again and encountered no more bad weather.

But at our destination Señor de Jiminez received some startling news.
The revolution had, by a clever coup, overthrown the unpopular
government and won without bloodshed. As De Jiminez did not happen to be
present, another patriot was elected to the presidency, and was doing
his duty ably when we arrived.

So the feelings of young Alfonso and his father were a combination of
both joy and sadness; but the joy predominated when they were greeted
enthusiastically by their political friends and De Jiminez was publicly
thanked for his services to his party.

We were able to unload the guns and ammunition without danger, after
which we settled our accounts in a satisfactory manner with the
revolutionists, who recognized all of De Jiminez’ obligations. Then,
being once more the legal owners of the _Seagull_, we bade good-bye to
our passengers, who had shared with us the dangerous adventure at
Faytan, and steamed northward toward San Francisco.

I noticed that Joe and Lucia exchanged rings, and overheard him promise
to see her again. I wonder if he ever will?


  A new and exciting story of the adventures of “The Boy Fortune
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                     The Boy Fortune Hunters Series

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  The Boy Fortune Hunters in Yucatan
  The Boy Fortune Hunters in the South Seas

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stories detail further adventures in Yucatan and among the South Sea
Islands.

  _Illustrated 12mos. Uniform cloth binding, stamped in three colors.
                       Stunning colored wrapper._

                          Price 60 cents each


                       The Aeroplane Boys Series
                            By ASHTON LAMAR

  I IN THE CLOUDS FOR UNCLE SAM
    Or, Mersy Marshall of the Signal Corps.
  II THE STOLEN AEROPLANE
    Or, How Bud Wilson Made Good.
  III THE AEROPLANE EXPRESS
    Or, The Boy Aeronauts’s Grit.
  IV THE BOY AERONAUTS’ CLUB
    Or, Flying For Fun.
  V A CRUISE IN THE SKY
    Or, The Legend of the Great Pink Pearl.
  VI BATTLING THE BIG HORN
    Or, The Aeroplane in the Rockies.
                          OTHER TITLES TO FOLLOW

These stories are the newest and most up-to-date. All aeroplane details
are correct. Fully illustrated. Colored frontispiece. Cloth, 12mos.
                         Price, 60 cents each.


                        The Airship Boys Series
                            By H. L. SAYLER

  I THE AIRSHIP BOYS
    Or, The Quest of the Aztec Treasure.
  II THE AIRSHIP BOYS ADRIFT
    Or, Saved by an Aeroplane.
  III THE AIRSHIP BOYS DUE NORTH
    Or, By Balloon to the Pole.
  IV THE AIRSHIP BOYS IN THE BARREN LANDS
    Or, The Secret of the White Eskimos.
  V THE AIRSHIP BOYS IN FINANCE
    Or, The Flight of the Flying Cow.
  VI THE AIRSHIP BOYS’ OCEAN FLYER
    Or, New York to London in Twelve Hours.

These thrilling stories deal with the wonderful new science aerial
navigation. Every boy will be interested and instructed by reading them.
Illustrated. Cloth binding. Price, $1.00 each.

          The above books are sold everywhere or will be sent
                  postpaid on receipt of price by the

           Publishers    The Reilly & Britton Co.    Chicago
              _Complete catalog sent, postpaid on request_


                            Every Boy Wants
                           School-Fellow Days

                              Designed by
                          Clara Powers Wilson

                   [Illustration: SCHOOL-FELLOW DAYS]

A record book suitable for boys of the upper grammar grades, through
high school, preparatory school and military academy. Striking
illustrations, printed in two colors on specially made, tinted paper
with good writing surface.

                         No. 9. Buckram Edition

Bound in fancy buckram with clever and appropriate cover design, in
three colors and gold. Large 8vo. 192 pages. Handsomely boxed.
                                                             Price $1.25

                      No. 10. Schoolmates Edition

Swiss Velvet Ooze. Silk marker. Striking box.
                                                             Price $2.00


MY GOLDEN SCHOOL DAYS. For school boys of all ages—with places and
departments for every important item of interest—and containing
appropriate verses and poems. Printed in three delicate colors on
specially made gray paper. Symbolical cover in two colors and gold.
Small 8vo. 100 pages—each decorated. Attractively boxed. List Price,
$0.60

                      Sold Wherever Books Are Sold
                _Complete catalog, postpaid, on request_



                          Transcriber’s Notes


--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)





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