Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Boy Traders - Sportsman's Club Among the Boers
Author: Castlemon, Harry
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Boy Traders - Sportsman's Club Among the Boers" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: THE “STRANGER” IN THE CYCLONE.]

                         _FRANK NELSON SERIES._



                                  THE
                              BOY TRADERS;
                   SPORTSMAN’S CLUB AMONG THE BOERS.


                          BY HARRY CASTLEMON,

   AUTHOR OF “THE GUNBOAT SERIES,” “SPORTSMAN’S CLUB SERIES,” “ROCKY
                         MOUNTAIN SERIES,” ETC.


                              PHILADELPHIA

                         HENRY T. COATES & CO.

                              CINCINNATI:
                          R. W. CARROLL & CO.

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



                               CONTENTS.


                               CHAPTER I.
                                                 PAGE
                   The Sandwich Islands,            5

                              CHAPTER II.
                   The Gale,                       24

                              CHAPTER III.
                   The Last of Long Tom,           42

                              CHAPTER IV.
                   A Change of Programme,          64

                               CHAPTER V.
                   The Two Champions,              85

                              CHAPTER VI.
                   The Consul’s “Clark,”          105

                              CHAPTER VII.
                   More about the Clerk,          129

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                   On the Quarter-deck again,     149

                              CHAPTER IX.
                   A Yankee Trick,                169

                               CHAPTER X.
                   Archie proves Himself a Hero,  192

                              CHAPTER XI.
                   An Obstinate Captain,          214

                              CHAPTER XII.
                   Buying an Outfit,              234

                             CHAPTER XIII.
                   A Surly Boer,                  253

                              CHAPTER XIV.
                   A Troop of Lions,              274

                              CHAPTER XV.
                   “Where’s my Horse?”            296

                              CHAPTER XVI.
                   Deserted,                      317

                             CHAPTER XVII.
                   Conclusion,                    339



                            THE BOY TRADERS;

                                OR, THE

                   SPORTSMAN’S CLUB AMONG THE BOERS.



                               CHAPTER I.
                         THE SANDWICH ISLANDS.


“Now, Uncle Dick, what is the matter?”

The captain of the Stranger looked toward the companion-ladder, up which
his nephew had just disappeared, and motioned to Frank to close the
door.

“That is the fourth time I have seen you look at that barometer during
the last half hour,” continued Frank.

“Yes, and I find it lower every time I look at it,” answered the old
sailor. “It is coming; trotting right along, too.”

“What is coming? Another tornado?”

“No, a regular old-fashioned cyclone.”

“I declare, it don’t seem to me that the schooner can stand much more
pounding,” said Frank, drawing a long breath.

“Oh, she is good for a dozen battles like the one she has just passed
through,” continued Uncle Dick, encouragingly. “Give me a tight craft, a
good crew, and plenty of elbow-room, and I would much rather be afloat
during a storm than on shore. There are no trees, chimneys, or roofs to
fall on us here.”

“But we haven’t plenty of elbow-room,” said Frank, somewhat anxiously.
“The islands are scattered around here thicker than huckleberry bushes
in a New England pasture, and they are all surrounded with coral reefs,
too.”

“I know it; but it is our business to keep clear of the coral reefs.
Now, let me see how much you know. Where’s the schooner?”

Frank, who now occupied his old position as sailing-master of the
vessel, took a chart from Uncle Dick’s desk, and pointed out the
position of their little craft, which he had marked with a red
lead-pencil after taking his observation at noon.

“Very good,” said Uncle Dick. “Which side of the equator are we?”

“South,” answered Frank.

“How many motions have cyclones?”

“Two; rotary and progressive.”

“Which way do they revolve in the Southern hemisphere?”

“In the same direction that the sun appears to move.”

“Correct. Now, suppose that while you were in command of the Tycoon, you
had found out that there was a cyclone coming—”

“I’m afraid I shouldn’t have found it out,” interrupted Frank, “for I
don’t know what the signs are.”

“But we will suppose that you knew all about it. After you have seen one
or two, you will know how to tell when they are coming. We will suppose,
now, that a cyclone comes up, and that the wind blows strongly from the
northwest. Which way from you is the centre of the storm?”

“Southwest.”

“And which way is it coming?”

“Toward the southeast.”

“Then if you bore away to the southwest you would escape, of course?”

“No, sir; I should probably insure my destruction, for I should sail
straight into the vortex. A northeasterly course would soon take me out
of danger.”

“Yes, you would get out of danger that way, but how soon I don’t know.
The paths of some of these hurricanes are a thousand miles broad. You’ll
do, however, and you are a very good boy to learn your lesson so well.”

“Shall I go to the head?” asked Frank, with a laugh.

The last time we saw the members of the Sportsman’s Club, they had just
found Frank Nelson after a long separation from him. Their vessel was
lying in the harbor of Honolulu; Captain Barclay, the wounded commander
of the whaler, had been taken to a hospital on shore; his ship, the
Tycoon, had passed through the hands of the American consul, who placed
a new captain aboard of her with orders to take her to the States, where
she belonged; and for the first time in long weeks the Club were free
from excitement, and had leisure to sit down and calmly talk over the
adventures that had befallen them, and the exploits they had performed
since leaving home.

They had many things to converse about, as we know, and some of their
number had reason to feel elated over what they had done. Walter had
been a hero for once in his life, for had he not been captured by
robbers, who believed him to be somebody else, been confined in Potter’s
ranche, and held as a hostage for the chief of the band who was a
prisoner in the fort? That was the worst predicament that Walter had
ever been in, and it was no wonder that there was a warm place in his
heart for Dick Lewis and Bob Kelly, the men who had rescued him from his
perilous situation.

Archie Winters was also a hero, for he had lassoed and ridden the wild
horse which had so long defied all efforts to capture him, and would in
all probability have given him, in a few days more, into the possession
of his lawful owner, Colonel Gaylord, had not he and his two friends,
Fred and Eugene, unfortunately stumbled upon Zack and Silas, the
trappers who robbed the emigrant. One thing made Archie hug himself with
delight every time he thought of the various exciting incidents that
happened while he remained in the trappers’ company, and that was, that
Zack and Silas did not get the million dollars after all. He laughed
outright when he remembered how astounded and enraged they were to find
that the box, which they supposed was filled with nuggets and gold-dust,
contained nothing but a small brass machine something like the works of
a clock. Archie wondered what had become of the hospitable Pike, and
whether or not he had succeeded in putting his machine together again,
and running his quartz mill with it.

But while the members of the Club gave to Walter and Archie all the
credit which their adventures and achievements demanded, they were
unanimous in according the lion’s share of praise to Frank Nelson, who
had brought himself safely out of a predicament, the like of which the
boys had never heard of before. It seemed almost impossible that one who
had been “shanghaied” and thrust into the forecastle of a whale-ship to
do duty as a common sailor, should, in so short a time and by sheer
force of character, have worked his way to the quarter-deck, and into a
position for which only men of years and experience are thought to be
qualified. But they had abundant evidence that such was the fact. There
was a witness in the person of the trapper, who was kidnapped at the
same time, and who had escaped in a manner so remarkable that even Uncle
Dick, who had seen a world of marvellous things, said the same feat
could not be performed again under like circumstances. Besides, the boys
had seen Frank on the Tycoon’s quarter-deck, had heard him give orders
that were promptly obeyed, had messed with him in his cabin, and he had
brought them safely into the harbor of Honolulu, beating the swift
little Stranger out of sight on the way.

As for Frank himself, he was very well satisfied with what he had done,
and often declared that an adventure which, at first, threatened to
terminate in something serious, had had a most agreeable ending. His
forced sojourn on the Tycoon and all the incidents that had happened
during that time—the sight of the first whale he ever struck coming up
on a breach close in front of his boat, and looming up in the air like a
church steeple; the excessive fatigue that followed the long hours spent
in cutting in and trying out; the sleepless nights; the days and weeks
of suspense he had endured; the race and the desperate battle under a
broiling sun he had had in Mr. Gale’s boat on the day Captain Barclay
deserted him; the fight with the natives at the Mangrove Islands, and
the rescue of the prisoners—all these things would have seemed like a
dream to Frank now, had it not been for the large callous spots on the
palms of his hands, which had been brought there by handling heavy oars
and by constant pulling at tarred ropes. The sight of these recalled
very forcibly to his mind the days and nights of toil which sometimes
tested his strength and endurance so severely that he hardly expected to
live through them. Nothing could have tempted him to submit to the same
trials again, but now that they were all over and he was safe among
friends once more, he would not have sold his experience at any price.

The Stranger remained at the Sandwich Islands three weeks, and during
that time the boys saw everything of interest there was to be seen.
Eugene, who was impatient to get ashore to see how the “savages” lived,
was quite astonished when his brother informed him that the natives were
considered to be the most generally educated people in the world; that
there was scarcely a man, woman, or child of suitable age among them who
could not read and write; that they had contributed a goodly sum of
money to the Sanitary Commission during our late war; that they had sent
a good many men to serve in our army and navy; and that among them were
a brigadier-general, a major, and several officers of lower grade.
Eugene could hardly believe it; but when he got ashore and saw the fine
hotel erected by the government at a cost of one hundred and twenty
thousand dollars, the prison, hospital, churches, and school-houses, he
was obliged to confess that he was among civilized people. Frank and
Archie were equally astonished at the familiar appearance of things, and
told their Southern friends that if they could imagine how Honolulu
would look without the bananas, palm, and tamarind trees, they could
tell exactly how the majority of New England villages looked.

The first Sunday the Club spent ashore they went to the seaman’s chapel
to hear Father Damon preach to the sailors; and the next day they hired
horses, a pack-mule, and guides for a ride around the island. This was a
great relief to them, especially to Dick and Bob, for it gave them a
taste of the frontier life to which they had so long been accustomed.
They were all glad to find themselves on horseback once more; so they
journeyed very leisurely, and the ride, which could easily have been
accomplished in four days, consumed the best part of eight.

Having explored Oahu pretty thoroughly, the Club returned on board the
Stranger, which set sail for Hilo in the island of Hawaii, which place
they reached after a rough passage of four days. At Hilo—the town has
been devastated by a tidal wave since the Club visited it—they had their
first view of a sport for which the natives of these islands are so
famous—swimming with the surf-board. It was a fine, not to say a
thrilling sight to see a party of men, some of whom were lying, others
kneeling, and still others standing erect upon boards which seemed
scarcely large enough to support their weight, shooting towards the
beach with almost railroad speed, closely followed by a huge comber that
seemed every instant to be on the point of overwhelming them. The grace
and skill exhibited by the swimmers made the feat appear very easy of
accomplishment, and after watching the bathers for a few minutes, Eugene
declared that he could do it as well as anybody, and dared Archie to get
a board somewhere and go into the water with him.

“Find a board yourself, and see if I am afraid to follow where you dare
lead,” was Archie’s prompt reply; and to show that he meant what he
said, he pulled off his jacket and threw it on the sand.

“Now, Archie,” remonstrated Frank, “I wouldn’t undertake anything I was
certain to make a failure of, if I were you. You can’t get beyond the
surf to save your life.”

“I’d like to know if I can’t duck my head and let a billow pass over me
as well as anybody?”

“No, you can’t.”

“There’s where you are mistaken. You’ll see. Our countrymen can dive
deeper and come out drier than any people in the world, not even
excepting these Sandwich Islanders. I’ll go as far as my leader goes,
you may rely upon that. Say, Mr. Kanaker,” added Archie, approaching a
stalwart swimmer who had just been landed high and dry by a huge billow,
“you gives me board, I gives you, quarter, eh?”

The native smiled good-naturedly and astonished Archie by replying in
plain English, and in much better terms than he had used—

“You may have it certainly, but I wouldn’t advise you to try it.”

While Archie stood perplexed and bewildered, wondering how he ought to
apologize to the man for addressing him in such a way, the latter
continued, “I think your friend has given up the idea of going out.”

Archie looked toward Eugene, and saw that he was standing with his boots
in his hand, gazing intently toward the water. He glanced in the same
direction, and was just in time to see a swimmer overtaken by a huge
comber, and carried out of sight in an instant. Archie was greatly
alarmed, and expected to see the man dashed stunned and bruised on the
beach; but presently a head bobbed up and out of the water beyond the
breaker, and the bold swimmer, still safe and sound and undismayed by
his failure, struck out for another trial, diving under the waves as
they came rolling in, and finally made his way to the smooth water, half
a mile from shore, where he waited for another high swell to carry him
in. That was as near as Archie and Eugene ever came to trying their
skill with the surf-board. One picked up his jacket, the other pulled on
his boots, and as both these acts were performed at the same time,
neither could consistently accuse the other of backing out.

The first excursion the Club made from Hilo was to a bay, with an
unpronounceable name, on the opposite side of the island, the scene of
Captain Cook’s death; and the next was to the volcano of Kilauea, the
largest active crater in the world. The trappers, who accompanied the
Club wherever they went, set out on this last expedition with fear and
trembling. The boys had explained to them the theory of volcanoes as
best they could, and to say that the backwoodsmen were astonished would
but feebly express their feelings. They had never heard of a burning
mountain before, and they were overwhelmed with awe. The statement that
there was a hole in the ground three miles long, a mile broad, and a
thousand feet deep, containing two lakes filled with something that
looked like red-hot iron, was almost too much for them to believe; but
the Club promised to show it to them, and so the trappers mounted their
horses and set out with the rest. But they went no farther than the
Volcano House, at which the party stopped for the night. The Club and
Uncle Dick took up their quarters in the house, but the trappers
preferred spreading their blankets on the veranda. Some time during the
night the rainstorm, that had set in just before dark, cleared away, and
old Bob, who happened to be awake, suddenly caught sight of something
that terrified him beyond measure. He aroused his companion, and the two
sat there on the veranda until morning looking at it. The top of the
mountain which had been pointed out to them as the volcano, seemed to be
on fire, and now and then sheets of flame would shoot up above the
summit, lighting up the clouds overhead, until it seemed to the two
anxious watchers that the whole heavens were about to be consumed.

By the time daylight came they had seen enough of volcanoes, and
emphatically refused to go another step toward the crater. There was
something up there, they said, that must be dreadful to look at, and
they didn’t want to get any nearer to it. The boys went, however, and
descended into the crater, and filled their pockets with chunks of lava,
saw the burning lakes, breathed the sulphurous fumes that arose from
them, walked over a fiery, molten mass from which they were separated by
only fourteen inches of something Uncle Dick said was _cold_ lava, but
which was still so hot that it burned the soles of their boots, and
finally came back to the Volcano House again at five o’clock, with minds
so deeply impressed by what they had seen that it could never be
forgotten. They did not have much to say about their journey—they wanted
to keep still and think about it; but when at last their tongues were
loosed, the burning lakes were the only subjects of their conversation
until the new and novel sights of another country took possession of
their minds and thoughts for the time being.

The trappers were also wonderfully impressed, though in a different way.
They were frightened again, and after that they had many long and
earnest debates on the subject of an immediate return to America. But
when they came to talk it over and ask the advice of others, they found
that there were many obstacles in their way. Dick Lewis remembered and
feared the boarding-house keeper, while old Bob was afraid to trust
himself to any vessel besides the Stranger. Neither he nor Dick wanted
to cross the Pacific again, for what if one of those big “quids,” or the
mother of that baby whale they had seen, should meet them and send them
to the bottom? No, they dared not go back, and they dreaded to go on.
There were dangers before as well as behind. New and wonderful sights
were being brought to their notice every day, and there were many others
yet to come that they had often heard the boys talk about. There were
animals called lions and tigers, as fierce as panthers, only a great
deal larger and stronger, some of which were so bold that they would
rush into a settlement in broad daylight, and carry off the first man
that came in their way. There were other animals called elephants, that
stood as high at the shoulders as the roof of Potter’s rancho, whose
teeth weighed fifty pounds apiece, and one of whose feet was so heavy
that it took two strong men to shoulder it. There were serpents so
enormous that they could crush and swallow a deer or a human being, and
others so numerous and deadly that more than thirty thousand people had
died in one year from the effects of their bites. And, more wonderful
than all, here was Uncle Dick, who had brought them safely through so
many dangers, and who had met and vanquished all these monsters, and he
was going straight back to the countries where they were to be found! He
was going to take his nephews and Frank there too, and the reckless
youngsters were eager to go. The trappers couldn’t understand it. They
didn’t mind an occasional brush with Indians and grizzlies—they rather
enjoyed it; but the thought of a single man boldly attacking an animal
as large as a house was enough to terrify them.

The trappers talked these matters over at every opportunity, and finally
decided that they would rather meet the dangers yet to come, provided
they could do so in Uncle Dick’s company and Frank’s, than go back alone
and face those they had left behind them. They announced this decision
quietly, like men who had determined to bravely meet the fate they could
not avert, and suffered themselves to be carried away to new countries
and new dangers on the other side of the Pacific.



                              CHAPTER II.
                               THE GALE.


The Sandwich Islands having been thoroughly explored, the Stranger set
sail for the harbor of Hilo, and shaped her course across the Pacific.
Japan was the Club’s destination, but they were in no hurry to get
there, and besides there were objects of interest to be seen on the way.
There were numerous islands to be visited, and among them were the
Mangroves. The boys were anxious to see the place where the fight with
the natives occurred, and Uncle Dick, yielding to their entreaties, told
Frank to take the schooner there, a command which he gladly obeyed. The
boys would also have been delighted could they have seen the village
which had been burned by Frank’s orders. They tried to induce Uncle Dick
to let them go there, giving as a reason for this insane desire that
possibly the savages might be holding other prisoners whom they could
release. But the old sailor settled that matter very quickly. He wasn’t
going to put his vessel and crew in danger for nothing, that was
certain. The boys might go ashore after terrapins if the schooner
stopped in the bay over night, and that was all they could do.

When they arrived in sight of the principal island, and had approached
within a mile of the beach, Uncle Dick said to Frank:

“The natives of course know by this time that we are coming, and to show
them that we are prepared to take care of ourselves, wouldn’t it be a
good plan to kick up a little dust out there with a thirty-pound shot?”

“I think it would,” answered Frank. “As our vessel is small, they will
know that we have a small crew, and the noise of a shell or two
whistling through the trees may save us from an attack if we lie at
anchor all night.”

Since leaving Bellville the crew had been drilled in the use of small
arms and in handling the big guns almost as regularly as though the
Stranger had been a little man-of-war; but none of the pieces had ever
spoken yet, and the Club were delighted with the prospect of hearing
Long Tom’s voice. The crew were at once piped to quarters, the shifting
men took their place about the thirty-pounder (the vessel’s company was
too small to allow of a full crew for each of the three guns), and in
response to the old familiar order, “Cast loose and provide,” which they
had all heard many a time when it meant something besides shelling an
unoccupied piece of woods, quickly stripped off the canvas covering and
made the piece ready for business. A cartridge was driven home, a shell
placed on top of it, the gun was trained in accordance with Frank’s
desires, the second captain lowered the breech a little, the first
captain raised his hand, and the crew stood back out of the way.

“Fire!” said Frank.

The first captain pulled the lock-string, and the little vessel trembled
all over as Long Tom belched forth its contents. Then something happened
that the Club had not looked for. As the smoke arose from the mouth of
the cannon, a crowd of natives, who had been lying concealed behind the
rocks on the beach, jumped to their feet and ran with all haste into the
woods. The shell ploughed through the trees above their heads, and
exploding, sent up a cloud of white smoke to mark the spot.

“That was pretty close to some of them, Frank,” said Uncle Dick.

“It is no matter if it hurt some of them,” said Frank, in reply. “They
had an ambush ready for us, didn’t they? Suppose we had been out of
water, and had sent a boat’s-crew ashore after some? There wouldn’t a
man of them have come back to us.”

Three more shells followed the first, being thrown toward other points
on the island, to show the treacherous inhabitants that the schooner’s
company could reach a good portion of their territory if they felt so
disposed, and then the cannon was taken in charge by the quarter-gunner,
who, after rubbing it inside and out until it shone like a mirror, put
on its canvas covering again. A few minutes afterward, the Stranger
dropped anchor in the bay, near the spot where the Tycoon had been
moored when attacked by the natives.

“This is the place,” said Frank, to the boys who gathered around to hear
once more the story of the thrilling scenes that had been enacted in
that lonely spot but a few short weeks before. “Here is where the ship
was anchored, and that creek over there was the ambush from which the
canoes came. The boats’ crews who went ashore after water were attacked
on that white beach you see off the port bow, and there was where we
landed when we went out to burn the village, which was located about
three-quarters of a mile from the beach.”

The boys could understand Frank’s description of the fight now that they
saw before them the very spot in which it had taken place. They listened
to the story as attentively as though they had never heard it before,
and ran down to supper telling one another that they would see and learn
more in the morning when they went ashore after terrapins. “And I hope
that then the natives will try and see what we are made of,” said Eugene
to Archie, in a confidential whisper. “My new Henry rifle that I bought
in ’Frisco to replace the one Jack stole from me will rust for want of
use if it lies in its case much longer.”

“I hope we shall have a chance to rescue the prisoners they are still
holding,” said Archie. “It must be dreadful to pass one’s life here
among these heathen. The worst part of such a captivity to me would be
the knowledge that every now and then friends came here who would be
only too willing to take me off if I could only get to them. I wish
there were enough of us to take the island.”

Probably the prisoners who were still in the hands of the natives wished
the same thing. Perhaps, too, they had some hopes of rescue when they
heard the roar of the thirty-pounder awaking the echoes among the hills.
But the schooner’s company was in no situation to render them
assistance, and the Club were now as near the island as they ever went.
While they were at supper, the officer of the deck suddenly descended
the companion-ladder and interrupted the lively conversation that was
going on by asking the captain if he would come on deck a minute. Uncle
Dick went, and had hardly disappeared before the boys heard the
boatswain’s whistle, followed by the order: “All hands stand by to get
the ship under way.”

With one accord the Club dropped their knives and forks and ran up the
ladder to see what was the occasion of the order; some of them being in
such a hurry that they did not stop to find their caps.

“Master Frank,” said Dick Lewis, who met his young friend at the top of
the ladder, “is that a quid out thar? Is that ole whale comin’ to ax the
cap’n what he’s done with her baby?”

The trapper pointed seaward, and Frank, looking in the direction
indicated by his finger, saw a dark cloud rising rapidly in the horizon,
and beneath it a long line of foam and a dense bank of mist that was
moving toward the island.

“Rodgers says we’re done for now,” continued Dick, whose face was white
as a sheet. “He says me and Bob never seed a whale yet, but will see one
now; that is, if we have a chance to see anything afore she opens her
mouth and sends us to—, to—; what sort of a place did he say that was,
Bob?” inquired Dick, turning to his frightened companion, who stood
close beside him.

“I don’t know; somebody’s cupboard,” replied Bob.

“Davy Jones’s locker, most likely,” explained Frank. “Now, Dick, when
Rodgers or anyone else, says such a thing to you again, you just tell
him that you know better. We’re going to have a blow, that’s all. You
have seen enough of them among the mountains and on the prairies to know
what they are.”

“But, whar be we goin’?” asked Dick, seeing that the Stranger was
walking rapidly up to her anchor.

“We’re going out, of course.”

“In the face and eyes of it?” gasped the trapper, looking dubious at the
angry clouds, whose appearance was indeed most threatening. “Why don’t
we stay here whar we’re safe?”

“Because we are not safe here. This is the most dangerous spot we could
be in. The wind will blow directly on shore, and the waves will come
rolling in here as high as the crosstrees. The first one that struck us
would carry us out there in the woods.”

“Then, let’s take our shootin’ irons an’ go ashore,” said Dick. “I’d
sooner fight the niggers than stay on this little boat and be drownded.”

“And what would we do with the schooner? Leave her to take care of
herself? That’s a pretty idea, isn’t it? She would be smashed into
kindling-wood on the beach, and then how would we ever get home again?
No, no, Dick; we must take care of the vessel first, so we are going out
where we shall have plenty of room. I wish we were out there now,” added
Frank, anxiously, as he directed his gaze toward a high rocky promontory
which jutted out into the water a mile in advance of them. “That point
is a pretty long one, and if we don’t weather it before the storm breaks
it will be good-bye, Stranger, and Sportsman’s Club, too.”

“Never fear,” exclaimed Uncle Dick, who happened to overhear this last
remark. “We’ve got a capful of wind, and that is all we need to make an
offing. Once off this lee-shore, we shall have plenty of room, unless we
are blown up against the Ladrone Islands.”

“And about the time that happens, look out for pirates,” said Eugene.

“What’s them?” asked Dick.

“Oh, they are wild, lawless men, like Allen and Black Bill,” replied
Eugene.

The trapper’s brow cleared at once. He was not afraid of lawless men,
for he had met too many of them during his career on the plains. He was
perfectly willing to meet anything that could be resisted by the weapons
to which he had been accustomed from his earliest boyhood, but storms
like this that was now approaching, and whales and “quids,” that could
destroy a vessel, and elephants as large as a house, Dick did not want
to see.

The Stranger was under sail in a very few minutes, and with all her
canvas spread she began to move away from the dangerous shore under her
lee. What little wind there was stirring was rapidly dying away, but it
blew long enough to enable the little vessel to pass the threatening
point which Frank so much dreaded, and then sail was quickly shortened,
and every preparation made to meet the on-coming tempest.

“Go below, now, boys,” said Uncle Dick, as he came out of the cabin with
his oilcloth suit on, and his speaking-trumpet in his hand. “I am going
to batten down everything. Take Dick and Bob with you.”

Before the trappers could refuse to go, as they would probably have done
had they been allowed time to think, they were pulled down into the
cabin, and the door, being closed behind them, was covered with a
tarpaulin; so were the skylights, and thus the cabin was made so dark
that the boys could scarcely distinguish one another’s features. This
was the first time these precautions had been taken since rounding Cape
Horn, and the boys made up their minds that the storm was going to be a
severe one.

“I don’t like this at all,” said Eugene. “I’d much rather go on deck and
face it.”

“You are safer here, for there is no danger of being washed overboard,”
said Featherweight.

“But I want to see what is going on,” said Eugene. “I can’t bear to be
shut up in this way.”

“How would you like to belong to the crew of a monitor?” asked George.
“In action, or during a storm at sea, the crew are all below, and they
are kept there by heavy iron gratings.”

“Whew!” exclaimed Eugene. “They must be regular coffins.”

“They sometimes prove to be, that’s a fact. The Tecumseh was blown up by
a torpedo in Mobile harbor, and went to the bottom, carrying one hundred
and twelve men with her.”

“Human natur’!” shrieked Dick, as all the occupants of the cabin were
thrown from their seats by the sudden lurching of the vessel. “We’re
goin’, too! We’re goin’, too!”

“Oh, no,” replied Frank, picking himself up from under the table, where
he had been pitched headlong. “That was only the first touch of the
storm.”

“Well, if that’s a _touch_, I sincerely hope that we shall not get a
blow,” said Archie, crawling back to his seat and rubbing his elbow with
one hand and his head with the other.

“She will soon come right side up,” said Frank.

But to Dick and Bob, and even to some of the other occupants of the
cabin, it seemed for a few minutes as though the Stranger was destined
to come wrong side up. She heeled over until the floor stood at such an
angle that it was useless for one to attempt to retain an upright
position, and the boys were knocked and bumped about in a way that was
quite bewildering. But she came up to a nearly even keel at last, as
Frank had said she would, and then the boys could tell, confined as they
were, that she was travelling through the water at a tremendous rate of
speed. They looked out at the bull’s-eyes, but could gain no idea of the
state of affairs outside, for the glasses were obscured by the rain and
by the spray which was driven from the tops of the waves. The waves must
have rolled mountains high, judging by the way their little vessel was
tossed about by them, and the wind roared and screeched so loudly that
the boys could not hear a single order, or even the tramping of the
sailors’ feet as they passed over their heads. So completely were all
sounds of life above decks shut out from them, that the Club might have
thought that the captain and all his crew had been swept overboard, had
it not been for the steady course the vessel pursued. That told them
that there was somebody watching over them, and that there was a skilful
and trusty hand at the helm.

The storm continued with unabated fury all the night long, but with the
rising of the sun the wind died away almost as suddenly as it had
arisen, the tarpaulin was thrown off, and the captain came into the
cabin looking like anything in the world except a man who had spent the
last twelve hours in fighting a gale. He looked as jolly and
good-natured as though he had just arisen from a refreshing sleep.

“Well, Uncle Dick, this is rather more than a sailing wind, isn’t it?”
asked Eugene.

“Rather,” was the laughing reply. “But the worst of it is over now. We
shall have a heavy sea for a few hours, but that will not prevent us
from fixing up a little. It was one of the hardest gales I ever
experienced; and if the Mangrove Islands had been under our lee when it
struck us—”

The old sailor shrugged his shoulders, and the boys knew what he meant
by it.

“You said something about fixing up a little,” said Frank. “Was anything
carried away?”

Uncle Dick nodded his head, and the Club went on deck in a body to take
a survey of the schooner. She did not look much like the Stranger of the
day before, and the boys wondered how she could have received so much
damage without their knowing anything about it. The flying jibboom was
gone, and so were both the topmasts. Some of the ratlines had parted and
were streaming out straight in the wind like signals of distress, the
port bulwarks were smashed in, the deck was littered with various odds
and ends, life-lines were stretched along the sides, and altogether the
handsome little craft looked very unlike herself. What must have been
the power of the elements to work all this ruin to a stanch craft which
had been built solely for strength and safety? It must have been
tremendous, and the boys were reminded that all danger from it had not
yet passed when they looked at the man who was lashed to the helm.
Presently they received another convincing proof of the fact. The
officer of the deck suddenly called out, “Hold fast, everybody!” and the
boys looked up just in time to see the schooner plunge her nose into a
huge billow which curled up over her bow, and breaking into a small
Niagara Falls, washed across the deck, sweeping it clean of everything
movable, and carrying with it one of the sailors, who missed the
life-line at which he grasped. Ready hands were stretched out to his
assistance, but the man saved himself by clutching at the life-rail and
holding fast to it.

The Club knew now how the bulwarks had been smashed in. The wave filled
the deck almost waist deep, and they were astounded at the force with
which it swept along. That portion of it which did not flow down into
the cabin passed out through the scuppers, leaving behind it a party of
youngsters with very wet skins and pale faces, who clung desperately to
the life-lines, and looked hastily about to see if any of their number
were missing. Their fears on this score being set at rest, they glanced
down into the cabin to see how Uncle Dick was getting on. The old sailor
was holding fast to the table and standing up to his knees in water, but
he had nothing to say. He was used to such things.

“Why don’t we lay to till the storm subsides?” said Eugene, slapping his
wet trowsers and holding up first one foot and then the other to let the
water run out of his boots.

“The gale is over now,” said the officer of the deck; “but we can’t
expect the sea to go down at once after such a stirring up as it had
last night.”

Although the waves did not go down immediately, they subsided gradually,
so that the men could be set to work to repair the damage done during
the storm. At the end of a week the Stranger looked as good as new, and
was ready for another and still more severe test of her strength, which
came all too soon, and promised for the time being to bring the Club’s
voyage to an abrupt ending.



                              CHAPTER III.
                         THE LAST OF LONG TOM.


For four weeks succeeding the gale the weather was delightful. Propelled
by favoring breezes the Stranger sped rapidly on her way, stopping now
and then at some point of interest long enough to allow the boys to
stretch their cramped limbs on shore, a privilege of which they were
always glad to avail themselves. Eugene found ample opportunity to try
his new Henry rifle on the various species of birds and animals with
which some of the islands abounded, and the others collected such a
supply of curiosities, in the shape of weapons and ornaments, which they
purchased from the natives, that the cabin of the Stranger soon began to
look like a little museum. The Club’s absent friends, Chase and Wilson,
were not forgotten. If one of their number found any curiosities of
special value, such as bows and arrows, spears, headdresses, or cooking
utensils, he always tried to procure more just like them to send to the
two boys in Bellville. Everything passed off smoothly for four weeks, as
we have said, and then the members of the Club, having made up their
minds that they had seen enough of the islands of the Pacific, began to
urge Uncle Dick to shape the schooner’s course toward Japan. On this
same day Frank noticed, with some uneasiness, that the captain seemed to
be very much interested in his barometer, so much so that he paid
frequent visits to it; and every time he looked at it he would come out
of his cabin and run his eye all around the horizon as if he were
searching for something. But he said nothing, and neither did Frank
until dinner was over, and Archie and George and the rest of the Club
had ascended to the deck. Then he thought it time to make some
inquiries, and the result was the conversation we have recorded at the
beginning of our first chapter.

“A cyclone!” thought Frank, with a sinking at his heart such as he had
frequently felt when threatened by some terrible danger. The very name
had something appalling in it. There they were, surrounded by
treacherous reefs which rendered navigation extremely difficult and
dangerous, even under the most favorable circumstances, and Uncle Dick
knew that there was a hurricane approaching, and still he allowed his
vessel to run along with all her sails spread. Frank had read of
shipmasters ordering in every stitch of canvas on the very first
indication of an approaching storm, and wondered why Uncle Dick did not
do the same.

The old sailor filled his pipe for his after-dinner smoke, and Frank
went on deck to see how things looked there. Then he found that some
precautions had already been taken to insure the safety of the schooner
and her company. The islands, which clustered so thickly on all sides of
them in the morning, were further away now, and were all lying astern.
In front and on both sides of them nothing was to be seen but the sky
and the blue water. Uncle Dick meant to have plenty of elbow-room.

The first thing that attracted Frank’s attention after he had noted the
position of the islands, was the unusual gloom and silence that seemed
to prevail everywhere. The men who were gathered about the capstan
conversed in almost inaudible tones, the two mates seemed to be wholly
absorbed in their own reflections and in watching the horizon; and even
the voices of the merry group on the quarter-deck were tuned to a lower
key. The wind whistled through the cordage as usual, the water bubbled
up under the bows, the masts and yards creaked and groaned, but all
these sounds were subdued—were uttered in a whisper, so to speak, as if
the schooner and the element through which she was passing were
depressed in the same degree and manner that Frank and the rest were.
Away off to the eastward he now discovered a large ship, standing along
with all her canvas spread that would catch the wind. Frank was glad to
see her. During the fearful convulsion that was to follow he thought it
would be a great comfort to know that he and his companions were not
alone on the deep—that there were human beings near who might be able to
extend a helping hand if they got into trouble. Somebody did get into
trouble, and help was needed and freely and promptly given; but it was
not to the Stranger or her crew.

“How far is it, Mr. Baldwin?” asked Frank.

“It is close at hand,” was the reply. “Half an hour will tell the
story.”

“Why didn’t we take in something then, and get ready for it?” inquired
Frank.

“Why, we want to run away from it, don’t we? How could we do it with
everything furled? You may safely trust the captain. There’s a heap of
knowledge under those gray hairs of his.”

“I know that,” returned Frank, quickly. “I only asked for information.”

“You see,” continued the officer, “hurricanes are not like ordinary
gales. The wind moves in a circle, and at the same time the body of the
storm has a motion in a straight line. The pressure of the atmosphere is
less the nearer you get to the outside of the storm, and greater as you
approach the centre; while if you should get into the very centre of it,
you wouldn’t feel any wind at all.”

“Has that been proved, or is it merely supposition?” asked Frank.

“It has been proved in a hundred cases, and once in my own experience.
It happened two years ago, and off the Mauritius. It began with a rather
stiff breeze, which in two hours increased to a gale, and in two more to
the worst hurricane I ever saw in my life. It blew squarely from the
northeast, and when it got so hard that it seemed as if wood and iron
couldn’t stand it an instant longer, there came a calm quicker than you
could say Jack Robinson, and there wasn’t a breath of air stirring. This
lasted fifteen minutes, and then without any warning the wind began
again with the most terrible screech I ever heard, and blew from the
southwest as hard as ever. Now, we don’t propose to get in there with
this little craft. As soon as we can tell which way it is coming from
we’ll run off in another direction and get out of its track. There’s the
first puff of it now,” said the officer, as a strong gust of wind filled
the sails, and the schooner began to careen under the pressure. “Keep
her steady, there.”

Mr. Baldwin started toward the cabin, but Uncle Dick was on the alert,
and came up the ladder in two jumps. He looked at the compass, made sure
of the direction of the wind, then issued some hasty orders, and in five
minutes more the Stranger was bounding away on another tack, and in a
direction lying almost at right angles with the one she had been
following. This was the time for Frank to see if his ideas were correct.
He looked at the compass and found that the wind was coming from the
northeast, coming pretty strong, too, which proved that they must be
some distance inside of the outer circle of the storm. It proved, too,
that the centre of the storm lay to the northwest of them, and as it was
moving toward the southeast, of course it was coming directly toward
them. The shortest way out of its path lay in a southwesterly direction,
and that was the way the schooner was heading, as he saw by another
glance at the compass. It took him some time to think these points all
out, but Uncle Dick, aided by the skill acquired by long experience, had
decided them without a moment’s delay.

“What was the old course, quartermaster?” asked Frank.

“Nor’west, one-half west, sir,” was the answer.

“We were holding as straight for it as we could go,” said Frank, drawing
a long breath. “In a little while we’d have been in the very midst of
it.”

“In the midst of what?” asked Walter, who with the rest of the Club had
watched Uncle Dick’s movements in surprise. “What is the trouble, and
why was the course of the vessel changed so suddenly?”

It required but a few minutes for Frank to make his explanations, and
then there were other interested ones aboard the schooner who watched
the progress of the storm with no little anxiety. They noticed with much
satisfaction that the strange ship to the eastward was keeping company
with them; that she also had changed her course, and was sailing in a
direction parallel to the one the Stranger was following. This proved
that her captain’s calculations had led to the same result as those of
Uncle Dick.

The wind steadily increased in force for almost four hours, being
accompanied at the last by the most terrific thunder and lightning, and
by such blinding sheets of rain that the boys and the trappers were
driven to the cabin and kept close prisoners there. This was all they
felt and all they knew of that cyclone until a long time afterward,
when, in another part of the world and under more agreeable
circumstances, Eugene received a paper from his friend Chase,
accompanied by a letter which contained this paragraph:

“I send you to-day a copy of the _Herald_, in which appears an account
of a terrible and most destructive storm that happened down there
somewhere. As the last letter you sent me was written while you were
approaching the Mangrove Islands, where Nelson performed the exploit
that made him master of the Tycoon, I felt a little uneasy, fearing that
you might have been caught out in it. Did you see the waves that flooded
the islands named in the article referred to, and did you feel the wind
that twisted off large trees as if they had been pipe-stems, and carried
the tops so far away that they were never seen afterwards?”

No, the Club saw and felt none of these, but they did see and feel the
effects of the protracted gale that set in at the close of that eventful
day, and never abated until the Stranger had been completely dismantled,
and her consort, the large ship that hove in sight just before the storm
commenced, driven high and dry upon the shores of one of those
inhospitable islands. This happened on the third day after the cyclone.
During the whole of this time the boys and the trappers were confined to
the cabin, and did not once sit down to a cooked meal, the storm being
so severe that it was impossible to build a fire in the galley. During
the night that followed the second day the fury of the gale seemed to
increase a hundred-fold, and the boys and their two friends passed the
long, gloomy hours in a state of anxiety and alarm that cannot be
described. On the morning of the third day the tarpaulin that covered
the cabin was suddenly thrown aside, and Uncle Dick came down. The
frightened boys held their breath while they looked at him, for
something told them that he had bad news for them.

“Go on deck, now,” said the old sailor, shouting the words through his
trumpet, for the gale roared so loudly that he could not have made
himself understood had he addressed them in any other way. “Hold fast
for your lives and stand by to do as I tell you. There is an island
under our lee and I can’t get away from it, because the schooner is
dismantled and almost unmanageable. We are driving ashore as fast as the
wind can send us. I want you boys and Dick and Bob to go to the pumps.
The men are tired out.”

The boys’ hearts seemed to stop beating. They followed Uncle Dick to the
deck, and grasping the life-lines he passed to them, gazed in awe at the
scene presented to their view. Never in their lives, not even when
rounding the Horn, had they seen such waves as they saw that morning.
They seemed to loom up to the sky, and how the Stranger escaped being
engulfed by some of them, drifting, as she did, almost at their mercy,
was a great mystery. Of the beautiful little schooner which had been so
recently refitted, there was nothing left but the hull. Both masts were
gone, the bowsprit was broken short off, and a little piece of sail,
scarcely larger than a good-sized pillowcase, which was rigged to a jury
mast, was all the canvas she had to keep her before the wind. Now and
then, as she was lifted on the crest of a billow, the boys could see the
island a few miles to leeward of them, and the long line of breakers
rolling over the rocks toward which the vessel was being driven with
tremendous force. It seemed as if nothing could be done to avert the
death toward which they were hastening, but even yet the crew had not
given up all hope. There was no confusion among them, and every man was
busy. Some were at the pumps, and others at work getting up the anchors
and laying the cables. A sailor never gives up so long as his vessel
remains afloat.

Toward the pumps the boys made their way with the assistance of the
life-lines, and taking the places of the weary seamen, went to work with
a will. Frank’s eyes were as busy as his arms, and whenever he could get
a glimpse of the island he closely examined the long line of breakers
before him, in the hope of discovering an opening in it through which
the Stranger could be taken to a place of safety. He could see no
opening, but he saw something else, and that was a crowd of men running
along the beach.

Before Frank had time to make any further observations, one of the mates
tapped him on the shoulder and made signs for him and his companions to
increase their exertions at the pumps, following up these signs by
others intended to convey the disagreeable information that the Stranger
was taking in water faster than they pumped it out. Frank understood
him, and so did the others; and if they had worked hard before, they
worked harder now. The schooner was sinking, and something must be done
to lighten her. Frank knew that this was the substance of the
communication which Mr. Baldwin shouted into the ears of his commander,
although he could not hear a word of it on account of the shrieking of
the gale, and when Uncle Dick pointed toward the thirty-pounder that
stood in the waist, Frank knew what he had determined on. The gun was to
be thrown overboard, and there was no time lost in doing it, either. The
mate removed the iron pin which held the gun-carriage to a ring in the
deck, and two sailors, with axes in their hands, crept to the waist by
the help of the life-lines. They stood there until the schooner made a
heavy lurch to starboard, and then in obedience to a sign from the mate,
severed the fastenings at a blow. The piece being no longer held in
position slid rapidly across the deck, through an opening the waves had
made in the bulwarks, and disappeared in the angry waters. That was the
last of Long Tom. Frank was sorry to see it go, and hoped that the
schooner was now sufficiently lightened. If she was not, the next things
to be sacrificed would be the twenty-four pounders, and in case they
were thrown overboard, what would they have to defend themselves with if
those natives he had seen on the beach should prove to be hostile? Small
arms, even though some of them did shoot sixteen times, could not
accomplish much against such a multitude.

The vessel being lightened and the water in the wells declared to be at
a standstill, Uncle Dick turned his attention to the island and to the
long line of breakers before him, which he closely examined through his
glass. He must have discovered something that gave him encouragement,
for he turned quickly and issued some hasty orders which the boys could
not hear. But they could see them obeyed. Another jury-mast was set up,
another little piece of canvas given to the wind, and the course of the
schooner was changed so that she ran diagonally across the waves,
instead of directly before them. She rolled fearfully after this. Wide
seams opened in her deck and the water arose so rapidly in the wells
that the boys grew more frightened than ever. How much longer they would
have succeeded in keeping the vessel afloat under circumstances like
these, it is hard to tell; but fortunately the most part of the danger
was passed a few minutes afterward. The Stranger dashed through an
opening in the breakers and ran into water that seemed as smooth as a
millpond compared with the rough sea they had just left. But the Club
never forgot the two minutes’ suspense they endured while they were
passing the rocks. It was awful! It seemed to them that Uncle Dick was
guiding the schooner to certain destruction, and so frightened were they
that they ceased their exertions at the pumps. The water arose before
them like a solid wall, but it was clear there, while on each side it
was broken into foam by the rocks over which it passed. The noise of the
waves combined with the noise of the gale was almost deafening, and all
on board held their breath when a sudden jar, accompanied by a grating
sound, which if once heard can never be forgotten, told them that the
schooner had struck! The blow, however, was a very light one, and did no
damage. The next moment a friendly wave lifted her over the obstruction
and carried her with railroad speed toward the beach. A hearty cheer
broke from the tired crew, and Uncle Dick pulled off his hat and drew
his hand across his forehead. Then the boys knew that the danger was
over.

“All ready with the anchor!” shouted Uncle Dick, and that was the first
order the boys had heard since coming on deck.

“All ready, sir,” was the reply.

The schooner ran on a quarter of a mile farther, the water growing more
and more quiet the nearer she approached the beach, and then the order
was given to let go. The anchor was quickly got overboard, and when she
began to feel its resisting power, the Stranger came about and rode
safely within short rifle-shot of the shore where the boys had expected
her to lay her bones, and perhaps their own. As soon as she was fairly
brought up with her head to the waves, a squad of men was sent to the
pumps, and the boys tottered back, and supporting themselves by the
first objects they could lay hold of, panted loudly. They were almost
exhausted.

“Mr. Baldwin,” said Uncle Dick, “have a fire started in the galley
without a minute’s delay, and see that the doctor serves up the best
he’s got in the lockers to these weary men. We’ll be the better for a
cup of hot coffee.”

Having given these orders, Uncle Dick came up and shook each of the boys
by the hand with as much cordiality as he would have exhibited if he had
not seen them for a twelvemonth.

“Now that it is all over, I can tell you that awhile ago I thought it
was the last of us,” said he. “Mr. Baldwin,” he added, as the mate came
up out of the galley, “have the magazine lighted. Frank, I think you had
better send our compliments to those fellows in the shape of a
two-second shell.”

Uncle Dick pointed over the stern, and Frank was surprised to see a
fleet of canoes loaded with natives approaching the schooner. His mind
had been so completely occupied with other things that he had not
thought of them since he saw Long Tom go overboard.

“Perhaps they are coming to help us,” said he.

“Well, we don’t want any of their help, and you had better tell them so
in language they will understand. Do it, too, before they come much
nearer.”

If Frank had been as cool as he usually was, and as cool as Uncle Dick
was in spite of the trying scenes through which he had just passed, he
would have seen the reason for this apparently hasty order. One glance
at the approaching canoes would have been enough. He would have noticed
that those of the natives who were handling the paddles bent to their
work with an eagerness which showed that they were animated by something
besides a desire to render assistance to the distressed vessel; that the
others brandished their weapons about their heads in the most
threatening manner; and, had the wind been blowing from them toward
himself, he would have heard yells such as he had never heard before,
not even when the Indians attacked the wagon-train to which he once
belonged. He went to the gun, which was quietly stripped and cast loose.
A cartridge with a shrapnel attached was driven home, and the nearest of
the approaching canoes was covered by the weapon.

“Shoot to hit,” said Uncle Dick. “If those Malays gain a footing on our
deck, our voyage will be ended sure enough.”

“All ready, sir,” said Frank.

“Let them have it, then,” commanded Uncle Dick.

The twenty-pounder roared, and the shrapnel, true to its aim, struck the
crowded canoe amidships, cutting it completely in two and sending all
her crew into the water. The destruction that followed an instant
afterwards must have been great. The missile exploded in the very midst
of the natives, of whom Uncle Dick said there were at least three
hundred, and created a wonderful panic among them. They had not looked
for such a reception from a vessel that was little better than a wreck.
The whole crowd turned and made for the shore, those in the uninjured
canoes being in such haste to seek a place of safety that they left
their companions who were struggling in the water to take care of
themselves as best they could. As the fleet separated a little, Uncle
Dick surveyed the scene with his glass, and announced that the shot had
been well-directed, four boatloads of natives having been emptied out
into the bay.

“Perhaps they will let us alone now,” said Frank.

“It will not be safe to relax our vigilance as long as we stay here,
simply because they have been once repulsed,” returned Uncle Dick. “I
know what those fellows are, for I have had some experience with them.
They have been thrashed repeatedly by our own and English vessels of
war, but they soon forget it and act as badly as ever. A man who falls
into their hands never escapes to tell how he was treated. Now, Frank,
load that gun and secure it; and Mr. Baldwin, have a sentry kept on that
quarter-deck night and day, with orders to watch that shore as closely
as ever—Eh? What’s the matter?”

The officer in reply pointed seaward. Uncle Dick and the boys looked,
and were horrified to see a large ship in the offing, drifting
helplessly before the gale.



                              CHAPTER IV.
                         A CHANGE OF PROGRAMME.


“That’s the same ship we saw at the beginning of the cyclone,” said
Frank. “I know her by her white hull and the black stripe above her
water-line.”

“Heaven help her,” said Uncle Dick, “for we can’t.”

The rest of the schooner’s company could say nothing. They could only
stand and watch the hapless vessel, which the angry waves tossed about
as if she had been a boy’s plaything. Like the Stranger, she was
completely dismantled. The stump of her mizzenmast was standing, and
there was something in her bow that looked like a jury-mast, with a
little piece of canvas fluttering from it. This was probably the
remnants of the storm-sail that had been hoisted to give the vessel
steerageway, but it had been blown into shreds by the gale, and now the
great ship was helpless. As she drifted along before the waves she would
now and then disappear so suddenly when one broke over her, and remain
out of sight so long, that the anxious spectators thought they had seen
the last of her. But she always came up again, and nearer the
threatening reefs than before. Her destruction was only a question of
time, and a very few minutes’ time too, for she was too close to the
rocks now to reach the opening through which the schooner had passed,
even had her captain been aware of its existence, and able to get any
canvas on his vessel. The boys looked on with blanched cheeks and
beating hearts, and some of them turned away and went into the cabin
that they might not see the terrible sight.

In striking contrast to these exhibitions of sympathy from the
schooner’s company was the delight the natives on shore manifested when
they discovered the doomed ship. They gathered in a body on the beach
opposite the point on the reefs where the vessel seemed destined to
strike, and danced, and shouted, and flourished their weapons, just as
they had done when the Stranger first hove in sight. The ship and her
cargo, which the waves would bring ashore as fast as the hull was broken
up, would prove a rich booty to them. Perhaps, too, a few prisoners
might fall into their hands, and on these the relatives and friends of
those who had been killed by Frank’s shot could take ample vengeance.

“Mr. Baldwin,” said Uncle Dick, suddenly, “have the boats put into the
water. I don’t know that it will be of any use,” he added, turning to
Frank, “for it doesn’t look to me, from here, as though a human being
could pass through those breakers alive. But a sailor will stand a world
of pounding, and if one gets through with a breath in him, we must be on
hand to keep him from falling into the power of those wretches on
shore.”

“Are you going to send the boats out there, Uncle Dick?” exclaimed
Eugene. “You mustn’t go. The natives would fill you full of arrows and
spears.”

“Don’t be uneasy,” said the old sailor. “The mates will go, and Frank
will see that the savages are kept out of range of the boats.”

“Will you open fire on them? So you can. I didn’t think of that.”

The schooner’s boats, which were stowed on deck, and which had
fortunately been but slightly damaged by the gale, were quickly put into
the water. Then Uncle Dick, having mustered the crew, told them what he
wanted to do, and called for volunteers, and there was not a man who was
too weary to lend a hand to the distressed strangers. Every one of them
stepped forward. The best oarsmen were selected and ordered over the
side, the mates took command, and the boats pulled away behind the reefs
to place themselves in a position to assist any one who might survive
the wreck. Their departure was announced by another shrapnel from the
twenty-four pounder on the quarter-deck, which the natives on shore
regarded as Uncle Dick intended they should regard it—as a hint that
their presence on the beach was most undesirable. They took to their
heels in hot haste the instant they saw the smoke arise from the
schooner’s deck, but some of them were not quick enough in their
movements to escape the danger. The shrapnel ploughed through the sand
at their feet, and, exploding, scattered death on every side. Frank was
amazed at the effect.

“Never mind,” said Uncle Dick, who thought by the expression he saw on
the face of his young friend that he did not much like the work, “they
would serve us worse than that if they had the power. They are fifty or
a hundred to our one, and as we must remain here for a month at least,
our safety can only be secured by teaching them a lesson now that they
will not forget as long as the Stranger is in sight. Keep it up.”

And Frank did keep it up. He threw his shells at regular
intervals—firing slowly so as not to heat the gun—and dropped them first
in one part of the woods, and then in another, to show the natives that
there was no place of safety anywhere within range of his little
Dahlgren. Having found a safe passage for the boats along the beach, he
turned to look at the ship once more. She was close upon the reefs. Even
as he looked she was lifted on the crest of a tremendous billow and
carried toward them with lightning speed. Frank turned away his head,
for he could not endure the sight, and even Uncle Dick’s weather-beaten
face wore an expression of alarm that no one had seen there when his own
vessel was battling with the gale a short half hour before. The shock of
the collision must have been fearful, and Frank, who had thus far clung
to the hope that some of the crew might be saved, lost all heart now.
The sea made quick work with what was left of the ship. She began to go
to pieces at once, and portions of the hull, as fast as they were broken
off by the waves and the friction of the rocks, were hurled through the
breakers toward the beach.

“It is just dreadful, isn’t it?” said George, who had kept close at
Frank’s side. “I remember that the first time I saw a ship in New
Orleans, I looked at her beams and braces, and wondered how it was
possible for so strong a craft to be wrecked. This one is no more than a
chip in a millpond.”

“An element that sometimes exerts a force of six thousand pounds to the
square foot, and which has been known to move great rocks weighing forty
tons and over, is a terrible enemy to do battle with,” replied Frank.

“I am afraid the poor fellows are all gone, and that our boats will be
of no use out there,” said Uncle Dick, “I can’t see anybody.”

“I can,” exclaimed Archie, who had kept his glass directed toward the
ship. “Don’t you see his head bobbing up and down with that mast, or
spar, or whatever it is? He is the only one I have seen thus far.”

“One life is well worth saving,” returned Uncle Dick. “The boats have
discovered him, have they not? I see one of them pulling toward the
breakers.”

“Yes, sir; and now they’ve got him, or what the breakers have left of
him,” replied Archie, joyously. “They’re hauling him in.”

All the crew could see that now without the aid of glasses, and when the
half-drowned man was safe in the boat, their satisfaction found vent in
loud and long-continued cheers. After that more cheers were given, for,
as the hull went to pieces, the boys saw several heads bobbing about in
the angry waters; and although some of them did not pass the breakers,
others did, and those who reached the smooth water on the other side
were promptly rescued by the boats. Archie called out the number of the
saved as fast as he saw them taken from the water, and when he said,
“That makes eleven,” Uncle Dick’s surprise and delight were almost
unbounded.

“I don’t see how in the world they ever got through those breakers,”
said he, “but I’m glad all the same that they did. There’s no loss
without some gain. If we hadn’t been blown in here not one of those
eleven men, that we may be the means of restoring to home and friends
once more, would have been left to tell how his ship was destroyed.
We’re in a scrape that it will take us a good month to work out of, but
we have lost none of our little company, and are still able to be of
service to those who are worse off than ourselves. Do you see any more,
Archie?”

“No, sir. There are a good many pieces of the wreck going through, but I
see no more men. They are transferring all the rescued to one boat now.”

“That’s right. They’re going to bring them aboard. Doctor, keep up a
roaring fire in the galley, and you, men, go below and put on some dry
clothes, and lay out a suit apiece for these poor fellows who have none
of their own to put on.”

The second mate’s boat remained on the ground to pick up any other
unfortunates who might survive the passage of the breakers, while Mr.
Baldwin turned back to take those already rescued on board the schooner.
The boys awaited his approach with no little impatience. They wanted to
be the first to assist the strangers over the side; but when the boat
came up they drew back almost horrified. The rescued men lay motionless
on the bottom of the cutter, and there was only one among them who had
life enough left in him to hold up his head. Utterly exhausted with
their long conflict with the gale, and bruised and battered by the
rocks, they were hoisted aboard more dead than alive, and tenderly
carried into the forecastle and laid upon the bunks. Uncle Dick was kept
busy after that bandaging wounds and administering restoratives from the
schooner’s medicine-chest, and the boys, who wanted to help but did not
know what to do, stood on deck at the head of the ladder watching him.

“I wish we were all doctors,” said Archie, at length. “I don’t like to
stand here with my hands in my pockets, and if I were to go down there I
might be in the way.”

“No doubt you would,” said his cousin. “But still there is something we
can do. We can relieve the crew and give them a chance to sleep. I’ll
speak to Mr. Baldwin.”

So saying, Frank hurried off and held a short consultation with the
first officer. When he came forward again he announced with a great show
of dignity that he was the officer of the deck now, and expected to be
obeyed accordingly. With an assumption of authority that made all the
boys laugh, he ordered Archie to relieve the sentry on the quarter-deck,
placed Bob and Perk to act as anchor watch, and after telling the others
that they might lie down and take a nap if they chose, he placed his
hands behind his back and began planking the weather side of the
quarter-deck.

Mr. Baldwin was much pleased with this arrangement, for it gave him and
the rest of the crew an opportunity to obtain the rest and sleep of
which they stood so much in need. Uncle Dick was satisfied with it, too.
The latter came out of the forecastle about midnight, and when he called
for the officer of the deck was promptly answered by Frank, who in a few
words explained the situation to him. “Have we done right?” he asked.

“Perfectly,” replied Uncle Dick. “It was kind and thoughtful in you, and
I thank you for it. Our poor fellows are almost worn out, and it is a
pity they can’t have beds to sleep in,” he added, glancing at the
stalwart sailors who were stretched out on the deck, slumbering heavily.
“If you and the rest of the boys can stand it until morning they will be
refreshed, and a good breakfast will put them in a fit condition for
work.”

“Oh, we can stand it,” said Frank, “and will do the best we can.”

“I have no fears. I know you will do just what ought to be done. All you
have to do is to see that the anchor holds, and keep your weather eye
directed toward the island. The night is pretty dark, and you must look
out for a surprise, for these natives are bold and cunning. If you see
or hear anything suspicious, bang away without stopping to call me.”

“I will,” said Frank. “How are our friends below?”

“Pretty well pounded, some of them, but I think they will be about soon.
They must have had a hard time by all accounts, but the trouble is they
don’t all tell the same story, and there is no officer among them of
whom I can make inquiries. They are all foremast hands. One says their
ship, the Sea Gull, was just from Melbourne, and another says she was
from Hobart Town, Tasmania.”

“Tasmania!” repeated Frank. “That used to be called Van Diemen’s Land.”

“Yes; and if four of our new friends ought not to be back there at this
minute, I am very much mistaken.”

“Are they convicts?” asked Frank, drawing a long breath.

“I don’t know. Wait till you see them, and then tell me what you think
about it. This trouble is going to interfere with our arrangements a
trifle. This being our second break-up, we have but few spars and little
spare canvas left, so we can only refit here temporarily—in other words,
put up such rigging as will last until we can reach some port where we
can go into the docks and have a regular overhauling. If we are going to
Natal we must cross the Indian Ocean, and I don’t want to venture near
the Mauritius with a leaky vessel. It blows too hard there sometimes. We
have been driven a long way out of our course, and if my calculations
are correct, our nearest port is Hobart Town. We’ll go there, and while
the vessel is being refitted we’ll take a run back into the country and
see how the sheep and cattle herders live. We shall be obliged to stay
there a month or two, and perhaps by the time we are ready to sail again
you boys will decide that you don’t want to go to Japan. If you do, it
will suit me. By the way, I wish you would step into the forecastle
every half hour or so and see if those men want anything. Good-night.”

Uncle Dick went down into his cabin, and Frank walked off where Archie
stood leaning on his musket and watching the island, whose dim outlines
could just be seen through the darkness. “Do you hear or see anything?”
he asked.

“Nothing at all,” answered Archie. “It is dull business, this standing
guard when there’s nothing going on.”

“Well, I’ll relieve you.”

“Oh, no; you stay here and talk to me, and I will hold the musket. What
was it Uncle Dick said about going back to Japan?”

Frank repeated the conversation he had had with the captain, adding:

“You know his heart is set on going to Natal, and I believe that was one
reason why he undertook this voyage. He has often told me that he would
go a long distance just to see a wild elephant once more. If we waste
much more time on our journey we can’t stay a great while in Africa.
Uncle Dick’s wishes ought to be respected.”

“Of course they must be,” said Archie, quickly. “Well, I’d as soon go to
Australia as to Japan. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to knock over a
kangaroo, and that’s an animal I’ve never seen yet.”

“I am not sure that they are to be found in Van Diemen’s Land,” said
Frank.

“Van Diemen’s Land!” echoed Archie. “That’s a convict settlement.”

Frank nodded his head.

“Well, I am just as near the fine fellows who live there as I want to
be,” said his cousin.

“Perhaps you are nearer to some of them at this minute than you imagine.
What would you say if you should see four of them come on deck to-morrow
morning?”

Archie raised his musket to his shoulder, and looked at his cousin. “Did
Uncle Dick say that there are four of them among these strangers?”

“No, he didn’t say so, but I know he thinks so.”

“Whew!” whistled Archie; “here’s fun. I wonder if they wouldn’t be kind
enough to get up some excitement for us if we should ask them?”

“Haven’t you had enough during the last few days? I have.”

“There’s too much of a sameness about these gales and cyclones. We want
a change—something new.”

Archie afterward had occasion to recall this remark. Before many weeks
had passed over his head he found that the men of whom he was speaking
were quite willing to give him all the excitement he wanted, and that,
too, without waiting to be asked to do so.

“But, after all, what can they do?” asked Archie, after thinking a
moment. “They are only four in number, and Dick Lewis and Rodgers can
take care of them.”

With this reflection to comfort him, Archie once more turned his
attention to the island, and Frank went forward to see how the anchor
watch were getting on, and to tell them and the rest of the unwelcome
discovery Uncle Dick had made. Of course the boys were all interested
and excited, and wished that morning would come so that they might see
what sort of looking fellows the convicts were. Frank also told them of
the change Uncle Dick proposed to make in their route ahead, and they
were all satisfied with it.

Nothing happened that night that is worthy of record. The wearied
sailors slumbered in safety, while Frank and his companions looked out
for the vessel, and walked the deck, and told stories to keep themselves
awake. The Stranger dragged twice before morning, but each time a little
more chain was let out, and finally enough weight was added to her
anchor to make her ride securely. Frank visited the forecastle every
half hour to hand a glass of water to one of the rescued men, or moisten
the bandages of another, and during these visits he picked out four of
the patients whom he thought to be the escaped convicts. One of them was
the nearest approach to a giant he had ever seen. Even Dick Lewis would
have looked small beside him. He reminded Frank of Boson, the third mate
of the Tycoon, only he was a great deal larger and stronger. The man was
sleeping soundly, and Frank leaned against his bunk and took a good look
at him.

“If these four fellows should attempt any mischief, I don’t know whether
Dick and Rodgers could take care of them or not,” thought he. “I’m
afraid they’d have their hands full with this one man.”

Frank went on deck feeling as he had never felt before. He was not sorry
that the man had been saved from the breakers, but somehow he could not
help wishing that he had been picked up by some vessel besides the
Stranger. If there was any faith to be put in appearances, the man was
but little better than a brute, and Frank told himself that the sooner
they reached some port and put him ashore, the sooner he would feel at
his ease again.

Uncle Dick came on deck at 5 o’clock, and the boys all went below to
take a short nap; but their short nap turned out to be a long one, for
having had no sleep worth mentioning for four nights in succession, they
were lost in a dreamless slumber almost as soon as they touched their
bunks, and it was twelve o’clock before they awoke. Then they were
aroused by the roar of the twenty-four pounder over their heads. They
started up in great alarm, and pulling on their clothes with all
possible haste, rushed to the deck expecting to find the natives
approaching to attack the vessel, and perhaps clambering over the side.
But they were most agreeably disappointed. About half of the crew of the
Stranger, aided by some of the rescued men, were busy setting things to
rights, and a short distance from the schooner was the cutter, which was
pulling toward the beach.

“Did I frighten you?” asked Uncle Dick, as the boys crowded up the
ladder. “Your faces say I did. That boat out there is going ashore after
some timber for spars, and that shrapnel was a notice to the natives to
keep out of the way.”

“Oh!” said the boys, who were all greatly relieved.

They took another look at the boat, ran their eyes along the beach to
make sure that there were no natives in sight, and then turned their
attention to the rescued men, who were working with the crew. There were
five of them—Uncle Dick said the others were not yet able to leave their
bunks—and conspicuous among them was the giant whom Frank had picked out
as one of the escaped convicts. All the boys opened their eyes as they
looked at him. Even Frank was astonished. Now that he could see the
whole of him he looked larger than he did while he was lying in his
bunk. “What do you think of him, Mr. Baldwin?” asked Eugene, after
trying in vain to induce his uncle to express an opinion.

“I think there is only one place in the world that he’s fit for,” was
the reply.

“What place is that?”

“The place he came from.”

Some other conversation followed, and when the boys went below they told
one another that Mr. Baldwin fully expected that Waters—that was the
name the giant had given—would occasion trouble sooner or later. “And if
he once gets started it will take all the men in the vessel to subdue
him,” said Eugene, somewhat anxiously.

“Will it?” exclaimed Archie. “I can show you one who will manage him
alone.”

“Who is he?”

“Dick Lewis.”

“Now let me tell you what’s a fact,” said Perk. “Dick can’t stand up
against an avalanche.”

“You’ll see,” said Archie, who had unbounded confidence in his backwoods
friend. “You’ll see.”

And sure enough they did.



                               CHAPTER V.
                           THE TWO CHAMPIONS.


For a week nothing occurred to relieve the dull monotony of their life.
The crew worked early and late, and under the skilful hands of the
carpenter and his assistants the masts, spars, and booms that were to
take the place of those that had been lost during the gale, began to
assume shape, and were finally ready for setting up. The timber of which
the most of them were made was brought from the shore, and Frank kept
such close watch over the boats, and the crews and workmen who went off
in them, that the natives never molested them. If the Malays had kept
out of sight on the first day of their arrival, the boys might have
believed the island to be uninhabited, for they saw no signs of life
there now.

On board the schooner everything was done decently and in order, as it
always was. The rescued men were all on their feet now, and able to do
duty. All but four of them—those suspected of being escaped
convicts—were able seamen, and these lent willing and effective aid in
the work of refitting the vessel. They were all Englishmen, but for some
reason or other they were not as arrogant and overbearing as the
majority of their countrymen seem to be, and the best of feeling
prevailed between them and the Stranger’s crew.

For a few days Waters conducted himself with the utmost propriety. He
seemed to be awed by his recent narrow escape from death, and so
entirely wrapped up in his meditations that he could hardly be induced
to speak to anybody. But the impressions he had received gradually wore
off as his bruises and scratches began to heal and his strength to come
back to him, and he assumed an impudent swagger as he went about his
work, that made the second mate look at him pretty sharply. He recovered
the use of his tongue too, and began to talk in a way that did not suit
the old boatswain’s mate, who one day sternly commanded him to work more
and jaw less. This reprimand kept Waters in shape for a day or two, and
then he appeared to gain confidence again, and got himself into a
difficulty that was rather more serious. Swaggering aft one morning
after breakfast with a borrowed pipe in his mouth, he suddenly found
himself confronted by the officer of the deck, who stepped before him.

“You have no business back here,” said Mr. Parker. “Go for’ard where you
belong.”

Waters took his pipe out of his mouth, and drawing himself up to his
full height, scowled down at the officer, “Look ’ere,” said he, with his
English twang; “hif you knowed me, you’d know hit’s jist a trifle
dangerous for heny man of your hinches to stand afore me.”

“I am second mate of this vessel,” answered Mr. Parker, hotly, “and any
more such language as that will get you in the brig. Go for’ard where
you belong.”

Like a surly hound that had been beaten by his master, Waters turned
about and went back to the forecastle. He was sullen all that day, and
“soldiered”—that is, shirked his work—so persistently that the old
boatswain’s mate was almost beside himself.

“I don’t like the cut of that fellow’s jib, cap’n,” said Barton, as he
ranged up alongside of Frank that night after the boats had been hoisted
at the davits, and the boarding nettings triced up. “He’s spoiling for a
row. He says if Lucas calls him a lubber again he’s going to knock him
down. He’s no good. Do you know what he was going aft for this morning?
Well, I do. He was going to take a look at the old man’s strong box. You
know it stands in the cabin right where you can see it through the
skylights.”

“Why did he want to take a look at the strong box?” asked Frank. “Has he
any designs upon it?”

“If he hasn’t, what makes him ask so many questions, sir?” asked the
coxswain, in reply. “He’s pumped the crew, easy like, till he’s found
out everything. He wanted to know how much we got a month, and when one
of the men told him that we could each have a handful of bright new
yellow-boys to spend in our next port if we wanted it, but that the old
man had advised us, friendly like, to leave all our earnings in his
hands and he would pay us interest on it at the end of the cruise, same
as the bank—when he found this out he wanted to know where the old man
kept his money and how much he had. Now what did he want to know that
for, sir?”

“What, indeed!” thought Frank, as Barton hurried away in obedience to
some orders. “He will bear watching, I think. I wish he was safe
ashore.”

Frank lost no time in making Uncle Dick acquainted with what he had
heard. The old sailor looked grave while he listened, and although he
said nothing in Frank’s hearing, he told Mr. Baldwin privately to keep
Waters so busily employed that he would have no time to think of
mischief, and at the very first sign of insubordination to promptly put
him where he would be powerless to work harm to the vessel or any of her
crew. Waters made the sign the very next morning. At five o’clock he was
ordered to assist in pumping out the schooner, and he obeyed with
altogether too much deliberation to suit Lucas, who was accustomed to
see men hurry when they were spoken to. This was the way Waters always
obeyed an order. He seemed to think he could do as he pleased, and no
one would dare take him to task for it. But when the old boatswain’s
mate was on duty he was on duty all over, and any of his men who
neglected their work were sure to be called to account. He had been very
patient with Waters because he was a landsman, but he could not stand
“soldiering.”

“I wish this was a man-o’-war now, and that flogging had not been
abolished,” said Lucas, as Waters came slowly up to the pump, staring
impudently at the mate as if to ask him what he was going to do about
it. “It would do me good to start you with a cat-o’-nine tails.”

“Do you think the likes o’ you could use a cat on me now?” sneered
Waters.

“I’ve used it on many a better man,” was the quick reply. “Make haste,
you lubber. I’ll stand this no longer. I’ll report”—

What it was that the old mate was going to report he did not have time
to tell, for Waters suddenly drew one of his huge fists back to his
shoulder, and when he straightened it out again Lucas went spinning
across the deck, rolling over and over, and finally bringing up against
the bulwarks. Every one who saw it—and every one who belonged to the
schooner was on deck, except her captain—was amazed at the ease with
which it was done.

Of course the excitement ran high at once. During the two years and more
that had passed since the schooner left Bellville, a blow had never been
struck on her deck, and never had an oath been heard there until these
rescued men were brought aboard. The whole crew arose as one man, not to
punish the offender for striking the petty officer, but to secure him
before he could do any more mischief. But Waters was fairly aroused, and
acted more like a mad brute than a human being. He backed up against the
bulwarks, and in less time than it takes to tell it, prostrated the
entire front rank of his assailants, including Barton, Rodgers, the
Doctor, as the negro cook was called, and the old gray-headed sailor who
had so badly frightened Dick Lewis by telling him that one of the
Sandwich Islands was the equator, and that when they passed it they
would be on the under side of the earth.

Having cleared a space in front of him, Waters sprang to the windlass,
and seizing a handspike, was back against the bulwarks again before any
one could prevent him. “Stand by me, mates,” he roared, “and we’ll take
the ship. Back me hup, and we’ll drive these Yankees hover among the
sharks.”

“I declare!” gasped Eugene, who was the first of the frightened boys who
could find his tongue, “he’s started at last, and he’ll walk across the
deck with that handspike as though there was no one here. The best men
in the crew are like so many straws in his way.”

All these incidents which we have been so long in describing, occupied
but a very few seconds in taking place. Before the astonished officer of
the deck could recover himself sufficiently to command the peace, Waters
had complete possession of the forecastle. And even when the officer did
recover himself the orders he issued might as well have been addressed
to the mast, for Waters paid no attention to them.

“Drop that handspike,” shouted Mr. Baldwin, starting forward.

“Yes, I’ll drop it no doubt,” replied Waters. “You remember what you
said to me yesterday, don’t you, you fellow with the gold band around
your cap? Look hout for yourself, for I’m coming for you now.”

Waters was as good as his word. Swinging his handspike viciously about
his head to clear a path before him, he started aft; but before he had
made many steps he ran against something, just as Archie had predicted.
Dick Lewis and old Bob Kelly had stood silent and amazed spectators of
the scene, and Archie, who had expected so much of his backwoods friend
in case of disturbance, forgot that he was present. But now the trapper
called attention to himself by giving one or two fierce Indian yells,
like those that had so often rung in his ears while he was battling with
or fleeing from his sworn enemies.

“Whoop! Whoop!” yelled Dick.

The boys looked towards him and saw that he had prepared himself for
action by discarding his hat and pushing back his sleeves. Then he
crouched like a panther about to make a spring, and in a second more was
flying across the deck like an arrow from a bow. Waters saw him coming,
and halting, drew back his handspike in readiness to receive him. As the
trapper approached within striking distance, the weapon descended with
such speed and power that the boys all uttered an exclamation of horror,
and Frank involuntarily started forward as if to shield his friend from
the blow that seemed about to annihilate him. But Dick was in no need of
help. Long experience had taught him how to take care of himself in any
emergency. A flash of lightning is scarcely quicker than was the
movement he made to avoid the descending weapon. It passed harmlessly
through the air over his head, and the force with which it was driven
sent Waters sideways into the arms of the trapper, while the handspike
flew from his grasp and went over the side.

“Stand by me, mates!” roared the giant, as he felt the trapper’s strong
arms closing about him with crushing power.

This was all he had time to say—he was not allowed an instant in which
to do anything—for before the words had fairly left his lips he was
thrown to the deck with stunning force, and held as firmly as if he had
been in a vice. Just then Uncle Dick appeared on the scene.
“Master-at-arms!” he exclaimed.

“Here, sir,” replied the petty officer, stepping forward. He knew that
his services would be required and he was all ready to act. He had a
pair of irons in his hand—something the boys did not suppose could be
found in the schooner’s outfit.

“Put them on,” said Uncle Dick. “Now, Lewis,” he added, after the
ruffian’s hands and ankles had been securely confined, “let him up.”

“Can’t I give him just one leetle whack for every man he’s knocked down,
cap’n?” asked the trapper, flourishing one of his clenched hands in the
air.

“Let him up,” repeated Uncle Dick.

The backwoodsman obeyed the order very reluctantly. He arose to his
feet, pulling his antagonist up with him.

“Waters, is this the way you repay us for saving your worthless life?”
demanded Uncle Dick, sternly. “Some of the men you struck were the very
ones who kept you from falling into the hands of the savages on shore.”

“I’ll pay you for it hall afore I am done with you,” gasped the
prisoner, panting from the violence of his exertions. “Hand you, my
friend in buckskin, I’ll see you some other day when this thing—”

[Illustration: WATERS FINDS HIS MASTER.]

“Silence!” commanded Uncle Dick.

“There’s honly one way to stop my talking and that is to stop my
breath,” declared Waters, boldly.

“You will go without food for twenty-four hours for every word you
utter,” replied Uncle Dick. “Master-at-arms, take him down and put him
in the brig. Mr. Baldwin,” he continued, in a lower tone, “have a sentry
put over him with orders to allow him to hold communication with no
one.”

The fear of being starved into submission effectually closed the
prisoner’s mouth, and without another word he allowed the master-at-arms
to lead him below. The boys breathed easier when they saw his head
disappear below the combings of the hatchway.

“How did this trouble begin, Mr. Baldwin?” demanded Uncle Dick.

The officer told him in a few words and the captain said, with a smile,

“That is a good deal of work to be done in so short a space of time. I
came on deck as soon as I could get up from the table. When we reach
Hobart Town I’ll teach this fellow that he can’t strike my men with
impunity. You say he called for help from his friends. Did they seem
inclined to give it?”

“Yes, sir, one of them did. He picked up a handspike, but lacked the
courage to use it. The other two stood still and looked on.”

“Send them to the mast, Mr. Baldwin. They all belong to the same class,
and it may be well to have a fair understanding with them.”

Mr. Baldwin passed the order to the old boatswain’s mate, who was going
about his work with an eye bunged up, and presently Waters’s three
friends came to the mast and respectfully removed their caps. There was
no swagger or bluster about them. The defeat of their champion had cowed
them completely. Uncle Dick first explained why he had brought them
there, and then for five minutes talked to them in a way the boys had
never heard him talk before. Even Walter and Eugene were surprised to
know that their jolly uncle could be so stern and severe. He used words
that the men before him could readily understand. He bluntly told them
that they were escaped convicts (the start they gave when they heard
this showed that he had hit the nail fairly on the head), and that he
was just the man to deal with such characters as they were. He would rid
his vessel of their unwelcome presence as soon as he could, and give her
a good scrubbing from stem to stern after they went. He did not want
them there, but while they stayed they must walk a chalk-mark; and if he
heard so much as a mutinous eye-wink from any of them, he would show
them that the discipline that was maintained on board the Stranger could
be made as severe as that to which they had been subjected by their
prison taskmasters. That was all, and they might go forward and bear
everything he had said to them constantly in mind.

The suspected men, glad to be let off so easily, returned to their work,
and we may anticipate events a little by saying that they took the old
sailor at his word, and never made the schooner’s company the least
trouble—that is, they made them no trouble before they reached Hobart
Town, whither the Stranger went to refit. What they did afterward is
another matter; we have not come to that yet. We may also say that the
trapper won a high place in the estimation of all the foremast hands by
the exploit he performed that morning. He had peace after that. None of
the sailors ever told him any more stories about the Flying Dutchman,
the squids, and the whale that swallowed Jonah. It was not because they
were afraid of him—no one who behaved himself could look into the
trapper’s wild gray eye and feel the least fear of him—but because they
wanted to reward him for what he had done. When the crew assembled
around the mess-chest at meals Dick was always the first one waited upon
by the mess-cook, and if any of the blue jackets found a tit-bit in the
pan, it was always transferred to Dick’s plate. Old Bob also came in for
a large share of their attention, and it was not long before these
little acts of kindness so worked upon the feelings of the two trappers,
that they declared that if the schooner wouldn’t pitch about so with the
waves, and they could have a chance to use their rifles now and then,
they would as soon be there among the sailors as in the mountains.

Of course the exciting scene of which they had been the unwilling
witnesses produced a commotion among the boys, who for a long time could
talk about nothing else. If they ever forgot it, one glance at the
battered face which the old boatswain’s mate carried about with him
would instantly recall it, and set their tongues in motion again. The
ease with which the supple trapper had vanquished his huge antagonist,
was the occasion of unbounded astonishment to all of them except Frank
and Archie. The latter always wound up the conversation by saying:

“Didn’t I tell you that Waters would run against a stump if he attempted
any foolishness? You have heard the expression ’as quick as lightning,’
and now you know what it means. Hold on till we get ashore,” he added,
one day, “and I’ll show you some more of it.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Fred.

“I’ll borrow or hire a horse somewhere, and run a race with Dick.”

“Ha!” exclaimed Eugene, “I know from what you have said that the trapper
must be very fleet, but he can’t beat a good horse if _I_ ride him.”

“He can run a hundred yards, and turn and run back to the
starting-point, and beat the swiftest horse that ever moved,” replied
Archie, emphatically, “and you may ride the horse.”

The boys looked toward Frank, who confirmed Archie’s statement by saying
that he had seen him win a race of that description, but still they were
not satisfied. It was a novel idea to them, this matching a man’s
lightness of foot against the speed of a horse, and they longed for an
opportunity to see the swift trapper put to the test.

Meanwhile the work of refitting the vessel went steadily on. Having a
large force at his command, the work was accomplished in much less time
than the captain expected it could be done. The question whether their
proposed visit to Japan and India should be given up was discussed, and
decided in the affirmative. Uncle Dick gave the boys their choice of two
courses of action: they could carry out their original plan, spend a few
weeks in Asia, and after they had seen all they wanted to see they would
start directly for home by the way of the Cape of Good Hope, stopping
during the voyage only when it was necessary to take in fresh supplies
of food and water; or they would go to Natal, purchase there a trader’s
outfit, and spend a few months travelling about in the interior of
Africa, skirmishing with the strange animals they would find there. In
either case they must first go to the nearest port, and have the
schooner completely overhauled and refitted. She had been badly strained
by the gale, and her captain did not consider her safe. The boys decided
on the latter course simply because they knew Uncle Dick wished it.

This was the first time during the voyage that anything had been said
about going “home,” and the simple sound of the word was enough to set
them to thinking. Up to this time they had been going away from their
native land; but now every mile which the schooner passed over brought
them nearer to the loved ones they had left behind.



                              CHAPTER VI.
                         THE CONSUL’S “CLARK.”


Finally, to the Club’s great relief, the work was all done. The masts
had been stepped, the sails bent on, the last ratline knotted, and Uncle
Dick only waited for a high tide to carry the schooner over the coral
reef that marked the entrance to the bay. When the proper moment arrived
the crew gladly responded to the order of the old boatswain’s mate, “All
hands stand by to get ship under way!” and to the enlivening strains of
“The girl I left behind me,” which Eugene played on his flute, walked
the little vessel up to her anchor. Then the sails were trimmed to catch
the breeze, the star-spangled banner was run up to the peak, and the
lonely island echoed to the unwonted sound of a national salute. The
first two guns were shotted and were pointed toward the island, as a
parting token of the estimation in which its inhabitants were held by
the schooner’s company, and the other eleven were fired with blank
cartridges.

The boys could not help shuddering as they passed over the reef. Its
course could be traced for a mile or more on each side of them. The
opening through which they sailed was the only clear space they could
see in the whole length of it, and that was barely wide enough to admit
of the passage of their little vessel. The Sea Gull could never have got
through it; and how they had ever passed it in their waterlogged craft,
driven by a furious gale, was something they could not explain. The
waves foamed and roared around them, and being thrown back by the rocks,
followed in the wake of the schooner as if enraged at being cheated of
their prey. The boys trembled while they looked, and all breathed easier
when the man in the fore-chains who was heaving the lead, called out “No
bottom!” The reef was passed in safety and they were fairly afoot once
more; but their vessel was crippled and leaky, and there was not one
among the five hundred people who saw her sail so gaily out of the
harbor of Bellville who would have recognized her now. She had no
topmasts, yards, or flying jibboom, and could only spread four sails
where she had once spread nine, and, when the wind was light, ten, not
counting the studding-sails. All Uncle Dick asked of her was to take
them in safety to Hobart Town, where she could be put in trim for her
long voyage across the Indian Ocean.

The Club were three weeks in reaching their destination, and during that
time everything passed off smoothly. The weather was favorable, and that
was something on which Uncle Dick congratulated himself. Had the
schooner encountered another cyclone, or even a gale, we should probably
have had something unpleasant to record, for she was in no condition to
stand another conflict with the elements. No one on board, except the
Club and the officers, knew where she was bound, for Uncle Dick thought
it best that this matter should be kept secret. If the suspected men
were convicts, as he had every reason to believe they were, they might
object to going back to their taskmasters, and that was just where Uncle
Dick was resolved they should go, especially Waters, who had shown that
he was not a proper person to be intrusted with his liberty. The latter
was still confined in the brig, but he was allowed to come out twice
each day, and take his exercise on deck under the watchful eye of the
master-at-arms; and he it was who first told the crew where the schooner
was bound. He found it out one morning when he was brought out of the
brig to take a breath of fresh air. Land was then in plain sight; and
after Waters had run his eye along the shore, he started and muttered
something under his breath that sounded like an oath.

“Hit’s Tasmania, mates,” he exclaimed. “And there,” he added, pointing
with his manacled hands towards the church spire that could be dimly
seen in the distance, “is ’Obart Town. We’re back ’ere after hall our
trouble.”

The words reached the ears of his three companions for whom they were
intended, and their action did not escape the notice of the officer of
the deck, who had his eyes on them all the time. Leaving their work at
once, they gazed eagerly in the direction of the city, then turned and
looked along the shore as if searching for some familiar object, and the
expression that settled on their faces was all the proof Mr. Parker
needed to confirm his suspicions.

“Master-at-arms,” said he, “take your prisoner below and lock him up.
You three men,” he added, pointing to Waters’s companions, “go into the
forecastle until you are told to come on deck again. If you stay there
peaceably, well and good. Rodgers, go down and keep an eye on them.
Barton, take a musket and stand at the head of the ladder, and see that
they don’t come up without orders.”

Mr. Parker was simply obeying the instructions of his commander, which
were to the effect that the suspected men were to be watched night and
day, and ordered below under arrest the instant the officer of the deck,
whoever he was, became satisfied that they really were escaped convicts.
Mr. Parker was satisfied now, and so the ruffians were put where they
would have no opportunity to escape.

The schooner rapidly approached the town, and at one o’clock dropped
anchor at the stern of a large English steamer, which she followed into
the harbor. The gig was called away at once, and Uncle Dick got in and
was pulled ashore. An hour elapsed, and at the end of that time a large
yawl, which was slowly propelled by two men, was seen approaching the
schooner. It came alongside, and a fashionably dressed, kid-gloved young
gentleman about Frank’s age, seized the man-ropes that were handed to
him and was assisted to the deck.

“Aw! thanks,” said he, as he brushed a speck of dust from his
coat-sleeve. “Where’s the captain?”

“The captain is ashore, sir,” answered Mr. Baldwin. “I command in his
absence.”

“Aw! there’s my card,” continued the visitor, producing the article in
question and handing it to the first mate.

“I am glad to meet you, Mr. Fowler,” replied the officer, glancing at
the name on the card. “Can I be of any service to you?”

“I ham consul’s clark, and I’ve come ’ere to see about those seamen you
rescued from the wreck of the Hinglish ship Sea Gull. Muster them on
deck, and I’ll take them hoff at once.”

“Produce a written order from Captain Gaylord to that effect, and I
shall be glad to do so,” said Mr. Baldwin, who it was plain did not like
the commanding tone assumed by the young Englishman. “I suppose you have
one?”

“Naw, I ’ave not. I ’ave an horder from ’er Majesty’s consul, whose
clark I ham.”

“I am not obliged to obey her Majesty’s consul,” replied Mr. Baldwin. “I
am an American, and responsible to no one but my commander. Our own
consul could not take these men away in Captain Gaylord’s absence,
without first showing me a written order from him.”

“Then you refuse to give them hup?”

“Without an order? Yes, sir.”

The young Englishman fairly gasped while he listened to these words,
which, had they been spoken by one of his own countrymen, he would no
doubt have regarded as highly treasonable. When he found his tongue
again he said he would see ’ow this thing stood, and whether or not ’er
Majesty’s hofficers could be thus set at defiance; and as he spoke he
threw one leg over the side as if he were about to climb down into his
boat. Then he suddenly paused and gazed earnestly towards the nearest
wharf—or we ought rather to say “quay,” for that is what they are called
in that part of the world. He saw a boat approaching, and he made that
an excuse to come back; but the boys, who had been interested and amused
listeners to the conversation, shrewdly suspected that the real reason
why he came back was because he knew that Mr. Baldwin was in the right.
Like many persons who are clothed with a little brief authority, he felt
himself to be very important, and wanted to make everybody with whom he
came in contact bow to him.

“Aw!” said he, addressing himself to Frank, who had stepped to the side
to hand him one of the man-ropes, “there’s the police commissioner’s
boat coming, and I think I’ll stop and ’ave a look at those four
convicts I ’ear you’ve got on board. Hif they’re the ones I think they
hare hit’s a wonder they didn’t take your vessel from you. But it cawn’t
be they—it cawn’t be.”

“I don’t know whom you have in your mind, of course,” replied Frank, who
was highly amused by the patronizing manner in which the young
Englishman addressed him. “One of them showed a disposition to smash
things, but he is now in irons, while the others are in the forecastle
under guard. The quarrelsome one gave the name of Waters.”

“Waters? Aw! it is he. It is weally wonderful how you managed to secure
him, for he is a wetired membaw of the Hinglish prize wing. Hit must
’ave taken ’alf your crew to do it.”

“On the contrary,” said Frank, “he was very quickly and easily
vanquished by that man you see standing there.”

“Aw! you surprise me. I must weally ’ave a look at the gentleman,” said
the consul’s clerk. “He must be simply prodigious. Hisn’t he an Hinglish
gentleman?”

“No, sir,” said Frank, hardly able to control himself. “He’s an
American, every inch of him, and probably the first representative of
his class that you ever saw.”

The consul’s clerk fumbled in his pocket for a few minutes, and
presently drew out a gold eyeglass. He had some trouble in fixing it
under his right eyebrow, and when he got it placed to his satisfaction
he looked in the direction Frank pointed, and met the steady gaze of
Dick Lewis’s honest gray eyes. The stalwart backwoodsman, in company
with his friend, Bob Kelly, was leaning against the rail, and, although
the two men probably did not dream of such a thing, they presented a
picture that an artist would have been glad to reproduce on canvas.

“Aw!” exclaimed the young Englishman; “what very extraordinary-looking
persons. If I might be allowed the expression, I should say that they
had just come hout of the woods.”

“You have hit the nail squarely on the head,” said Frank. “They are
professional trappers and Indian fighters.”

The clerk started, and let his eyeglass fall in his excitement. He was
so surprised that he forgot to put in his usual drawl, and substitute w
for r when he spoke again.

“Trappers!” he exclaimed, “Indian fighters! I have often read of such
things, and no doubt you will think me simple when I say that I never
believed in their existence.”

“Why don’t you always talk as naturally as that?” thought Frank.

“You’re sure you’re not chaffing me now?” continued the clerk.

“Quite sure. I don’t do such things. I have known these men a long time,
and have spent months on the prairie and in the mountains in their
company. I know of two Indian fights in which they have been engaged
since I became acquainted with them.”

“I wonder!” exclaimed the clerk, whose astonishment and interest were so
great that he could not remove his eyes from the two trappers. “Pray
tell me about those fights.”

Frank thought of the historian, who, being invited to a dinner party,
was requested by a lady to relate the history of the world during the
five minutes that the host would probably be occupied in carving the
turkey, and laughed to himself at the idea of taking less than half an
hour to describe all the thrilling incidents that had happened during
the battle at Fort Stockton, as recounted to him by his friend, Adam
Brent, who was present on that memorable occasion. “It is rather a long
story,” said he.

“Well, then, perhaps at some future time you will oblige me,” replied
the clerk. “Were you ever in a battle?”

“Yes, several of them.”

“With the Indians?”

“No. They once attacked a wagon-train to which I belonged, and tried to
run off our cattle and horses, but we didn’t call that a battle.”

“Were you ever a prisoner among them?”

Frank replied in the affirmative.

“Were you ever tied to the stake?”

“No, but I’ve seen the man who mastered Waters in that situation, and I
saw a tomahawk and a knife thrown within an inch of his head.”

The young Englishman’s surprise increased every moment, and Frank
thought by the way he looked at him that he was not quite prepared to
believe all he heard. But Frank did not care for that. He was not trying
to make himself important; he was only answering the clerk’s questions.

“Are you an officer of this vessel?” asked the latter, glancing at
Frank’s suit of navy blue.

“I act as sailing master,” was the modest reply.

“What trade are you in?”

“No trade at all. This is a private yacht, and we have got thus far on
our voyage around the world. Two of those young gentlemen you see
there,” he added, directing the clerk’s attention toward the Club, who
had withdrawn to the quarter-deck, “are nephews of the owner and
captain.”

“I am delighted to hear it,” exclaimed the clerk, and it was evident
that the schooner and her company arose in his estimation at once. At
any rate, he dropped his patronizing air, and began to act and talk as
if he considered Frank his equal. He no doubt thought that those who
were able to travel around the world in their own vessel were deserving
of respect, even though they were Americans. “I wish I had time to make
their acquaintance,” he continued, “but here comes the commissioner’s
boat, and I see your captain is just putting out from the quay. I hope
to meet you again.”

Frank simply bowed. He could not say that he hoped so too, for he did
not. He could see nothing to admire in a young man who seemed to think
that only those who were wealthy were deserving of respect. Frank would
have been still more disinclined to meet him again had he known the
circumstances under which one of their meetings was to take place. This
was by no means the end of his acquaintance with Mr. Fowler. It was only
the beginning of it.

Frank now stepped to the side in readiness to hand the man-ropes to the
occupants of the commissioner’s boat, which just then came up. There
were four of them, and he was rather surprised at their appearance. Each
wore a short blue blouse, confined at the waist by a black belt, a very
juvenile-looking cap, and a broad, white shirt collar, which was turned
down over their coats, making them look like so many overgrown boys. But
the batons they carried in their hands, and the shields they wore on
their breasts, proclaimed them to be policemen. And very careful members
of the community they were, too; for without them the law-abiding
inhabitants of the city would have had anything but a pleasant time of
it, surrounded as they were by thousands of the worst characters that
Great Britain could produce. They climbed to the deck one after the
other, and the foremost informed Mr. Baldwin, who came forward to meet
them, that they had been sent to look at the suspected men, and to take
charge of them if they proved to be convicts. The mate accordingly gave
the necessary orders to the master-at-arms, and presently the four
prisoners came up under guard.

“Aw!” exclaimed the clerk, who had by this time recovered from the
surprise into which he had been thrown by his conversation with Frank,
“that one in irons is Waters, sure enough.”

“And he seems to know you, too,” said Frank, as the prisoner, after
running his eye over the vessel, nodded to the clerk, who smiled and
bowed in return.

“Aw! yes; that is, I have often seen him working in the chain-gang
ashore; but I want you to understand that I have nothing in common with
him, nothing whatever.”

“I didn’t suppose you had,” answered Frank, astonished at the clerk’s
earnest tone and manner. “What will your police do with him?”

“They’ll put him back in the gang again, but Lawd! what’s the use! He’ll
soon escape; he always does. He’s been off the island no less than four
times. Once he was half way to Hingland before it was found hout who he
was.”

“Why don’t the police watch him closer?”

The clerk shrugged his shoulders as much as to say that he didn’t know,
or didn’t care to trouble himself about the matter, and turned to meet
the captain, who just then sprang on board. Arrangements were quickly
made for removing the strangers, as everybody called the men who had
been rescued from the wreck of the Sea Gull. The sailors were given into
charge of the clerk, who ordered them into his boat and pushed off,
after telling Frank that he would hear from him again very soon, and the
convicts were turned over to the officers, who handcuffed them all, and
took them ashore. The boys were glad to see them go, and Uncle Dick
privately informed them that he considered himself fortunate in getting
rid of Waters and his companions so easily. They were a desperate lot,
if there was any faith to be put in the stories of their exploits which
he had heard while he was ashore.

“That clerk told me that Waters belongs in the chain-gang,” said Frank.
“How did he manage to escape?”

“Ask the police, and if you give them enough, perhaps they will tell
you,” returned Uncle Dick.

“The police!” repeated Frank.

“Yes. A five-pound note will accomplish wonders sometimes. I know that
less than that once bought off the policeman—or ‘man-hunter’ as we used
to call him—who arrested me.”

“Why, Uncle Dick!” exclaimed Walter.

The old sailor laughed long and loudly. “It is a fact,” said he. “I was
at work one morning at the mouth of my shaft in the Bendigo mines, and
this man-hunter stepped up and asked me if I had a license. I told him I
had, but it was in the pocket of my vest, and that was at the bottom of
the mine. Do you suppose he would let me go down after it? No, sir. He
arrested me at once, and was marching me off, when I offered him an
ounce of gold, worth about seventeen dollars and a half, if he would go
back and let me show him my license. He took the gold, but didn’t go
back with me, and neither did he trouble me afterward. If he had taken
me before the commissioner I should have been lucky if I had got off
with a fine of five pounds. Stand by, Mr. Baldwin. Here comes the tug,
and we are going into the docks now. After that, boys, we’ll take a run
out into the country. I have an acquaintance a few miles away, who is
getting rich, raising sheep. The last time I saw him he was glad to
break stones on the road in Melbourne for a pound a day. That would be
considered a good deal of money now, but it didn’t go far during the
time of the gold excitement. Everything was so dear that the man who
earned less than that stood a good chance of starving.”

We pass over the events of the next few days, as they have nothing to do
with our story. The schooner having been hauled into the docks, the Club
set out in company with the trappers to explore the town, and during the
day chanced to fall in with the consul’s clerk, who, with two other
young Englishmen of the same stamp as himself, was on his way to visit
the schooner. He presented his card, and introduced Frank to his
companions, and he and they were in turn introduced to the Club and to
the trappers. This being arranged to the satisfaction of both parties,
they adjourned to a restaurant—an Englishman always wants something to
eat—and Frank thought he could have enjoyed the splendid dinner that was
served up, had it not been for the presence of the liquors that were
introduced. The Englishmen drank freely, and pressed their guests to
follow their example; but the Club were proof against temptation, and
astonished their hosts by telling them that they did not know wine from
brandy, and that they had never smoked a cigar. They remained in their
room at the restaurant until it began to grow dark, for the Englishmen
had many questions to ask, and besides they were determined to force a
story out of Dick Lewis; but the trapper was shy in the presence of
strangers, and could not be induced to open his mouth. Being
disappointed in this, the clerk and his companions, with a laudable
desire to increase their store of knowledge, set themselves at work to
learn everything that was to be learned regarding the United States and
their inhabitants; but whether or not they gained any really useful
information is a question. The following conversation, which took place
that night in the cabin of the Stranger, would seem to indicate that
they did not. Walter was relating to Uncle Dick the various amusing
incidents that had happened at the restaurant, occasioned by the
Englishmen’s astounding ignorance of everything that related to America
and its people, when Frank suddenly inquired:

“Archie, what in the world possessed you to tell that clerk that the
Rocky Mountains were a hundred miles from New York, and that grizzly
bears and panthers had been known to come into Broadway, and carry off
men from behind the counters of their stores?”

“Why, did he believe it?” asked Archie, in reply. “Could he fool me that
way about his own country? Just before that Eugene had been telling him
that wild Indians had often been seen in the streets of New York, and I
had to back him up. Wild Indians, and bears, and panthers go together,
don’t they? I told him that he could find bears in Wall Street any day,
and so he can; and if they haven’t been known to take men, not only from
behind the counters of their stores, but right out of house and home,
then I have read the history of speculations in Wall Street to little
purpose.”

Uncle Dick laughed until the cabin rang again.

“But the idea of the Rocky Mountains being only a hundred miles from New
York,” said Frank.

“I didn’t tell him so,” answered Archie, quickly. “I said that they were
at least that distance away; and so they are. I had to make my
statements correspond with Eugene’s, didn’t I? Just before that he had
been telling Fowler that the whole of America was about as large as
Ireland—”

“Hold on,” interrupted Eugene. “Didn’t I tell him that it was fully as
large as Ireland?”

“That’s a fact,” said Archie, accepting the correction; “so you did.
Well, now, the United States and the British possessions in America
cover about six million square miles, and of these the Rocky Mountains
cover nine hundred and eighty thousand, or nearly one-sixth of the
surface of the whole country. When I came to build my mountains, I had
to build them in proportion to the size of the country they were
supposed to stand in, didn’t I?”

Uncle Dick roared again.

“When Fowler began to question me on distances I had to be careful what
I said,” continued Archie. “When he asked me how big the Rocky Mountains
were, I told him that they covered at least five thousand square miles,
and you ought to have seen him open his eyes. He said he had no idea
that there was room enough in America for any such mountains. Now, since
Ireland contains thirty-three thousand square miles, I think my
proportion was a pretty good one. If you can come any closer to it in
round numbers, I’d like to see you do it.”

Frank could not combat such arguments as these, so he went to his room
and tumbled into bed.



                              CHAPTER VII.
                         MORE ABOUT THE CLERK.


The week following the one on which the Stranger was hauled into the
dry-docks, found the Club settled on a sheep-farm a few miles in the
interior, the guests of Uncle Dick’s friend and fellow-miner, Mr.
Wilbur. If we should say that they enjoyed their liberty, their target
shots, and horseback rides, we should be putting it very mildly. The
change from their cramped quarters on board the schooner to the freedom
of the country was a most agreeable one, and they made the most of it.
They were almost constantly on the move, and there was not a station (in
California it would have been called a ranche) for miles around that
they did not visit, or a piece of woods that they did not explore.

It was while they remained here that the novel trial of speed which
Archie had proposed came off. It was no novelty to Uncle Dick and Mr.
Wilbur, who declared that the trapper was certain to prove the winner,
but it was a new thing to the old members of the Club, who could not
bring themselves to believe that a man could beat a horse in a fair
race, until they had seen it with their own eyes. The arrangements were
made one rainy day, when there was nothing else the Club could do except
to sit in the house, and sing songs, and tell stories, and the next
morning was set apart for the trial.

Eugene being allowed his choice of all the horses on the station,
selected Mr. Wilbur’s own favorite riding nag, which had the reputation
of being able to run a quarter of a mile in less time than any other
horse on the island. After the arrangements had all been made, Archie
noticed, with some uneasiness, that Mr. Wilbur and Eugene held frequent
and earnest consultations, which they brought to a close whenever he
came within earshot of them; and when the storm cleared away, just
before night, he saw the horse, against which the trapper was to run,
brought out and put through his paces. Mr. Wilbur had explained to
Eugene that the place where the horse would lose the race would be at
the turning-point. He would, beyond a doubt, run the hundred yards
before the trapper could; but in stopping and turning he would lose
ground, and Dick would be half way home before he could get under way
again. Eugene thought he could remedy that by giving his horse a little
practice beforehand, and the result of his experiment encouraged him
greatly. The intelligent animal seemed to enter into the spirit of the
matter with as much eagerness as his rider did, and after he had passed
over the course a few times, he would stop on reaching the
turning-point, wheel like a flash, and set out on the homestretch at the
top of his speed; and he would do it, too, without a word from Eugene.

Archie, from his post on the veranda, witnessed the whole proceeding,
and when it was concluded and the horse was led back to the stable, he
hurried off to find the trapper. To his surprise Dick did not seem to be
at all uneasy over what he had to tell him. “Never mind, leetle ’un,”
said the trapper. “Sposen I should tell you that I had beat a hoss that
had been practiced that way for a hul week, what would you say?”

“I should say that you had done it,” replied Archie.

“Wal, I have, and more’n onct, too.”

The next morning, at five o’clock, the Club, and Mr. Wilbur and all his
herdsmen, were on the ground, and the arrangements for the race had all
been completed. If Eugene had been about to ride for his life, he could
not have made greater preparations. He had discarded his hat and boots,
tied a handkerchief around his head to keep the hair out of his eyes,
and rode in his shirt-sleeves, and without a saddle. Dick simply pulled
off his hunting shirt, and tightened his belt.

“I want a flying start,” said Eugene.

“Well, I am sorry to say so, but you can’t have it,” answered Archie,
who acted as master of ceremonies.

“Why, a man can get under way twice while a horse is getting started
once,” said Eugene.

“That isn’t my fault, or the man’s either,” returned Archie. “It’s the
horse’s.”

“Give him the flyin’ start,” said Dick Lewis.

Uncle Dick and Mr. Wilbur were surprised to hear this, and the latter
told his companion in a whisper that the trapper must have the greatest
confidence in his speed, or he would not be willing to give the horse so
much of a chance.

Eugene rode back twenty yards from the starting-point, the trapper took
his stand by his side, and when both were ready they moved off together,
Archie giving the signal to “go” as they passed the starting-point.
Before the word had fairly left his lips the trapper was flying down the
course like an arrow from a bow. He succeeded in getting a fine start,
but, after all, it was not so great as everybody thought it would be.
Eugene was on the alert, and so was his horse. The animal made one or
two slow bounds after he passed the starting-point, and then he settled
down to his work, and went at the top of his speed, Eugene lying close
along his neck, and digging his heels into his side at every jump. The
horse came up with and passed the trapper just before the latter reached
the end of the course, and remembering his training of the day before,
made an effort to stop and wheel quickly; but so great was his speed
that he went some distance farther on, and when he did face about,
Eugene saw that it was too late to win the race. The fleet-footed
trapper was half-way home; and although the horse quickly responded to
his rider’s encouraging yells, Dick won the race very easily. The Club
were satisfied now. One thing was certain, and that was, they had never
dreamed that a human being was capable of such speed as the trapper had
exhibited that morning.

“If he were not a good runner he wouldn’t be here now,” said Archie, in
reply to their exclamations of wonder. “His lightness of foot has saved
his scalp, I suppose, a score of times. He says he never was beaten.”

The boys did not doubt it at all. They were now prepared to accept
without question anything that Frank and Archie might tell them
concerning the trapper.

In a very few days the Club had seen everything of interest there was to
be seen about the station, and Uncle Dick’s proposition to take a run
over to Australia was hailed with delight. They went by steamer from
Hobart Town to Melbourne, and during the next three weeks had ample
opportunity to gain some idea of what the settlers meant when they
talked of life in the bush. They first explored every nook and corner of
the city of Melbourne, spent a few days in the mines where Uncle Dick
had worked during the gold excitement, and finally camped on another
sheep station, where they made their headquarters as long as they
remained in Australia. Archie did not succeed in shooting a kangaroo,
but his horse was stolen from him by the bushrangers, and the Club spent
a week in trying to recover it. The animal was never seen again,
however, and it took all Archie’s pocket-money, and a good share of
Frank’s, to make the loss good when they reached Melbourne; for that was
the place where the horses had been hired.

At length a letter from Uncle Dick’s agent in Hobart Town brought the
information that the repairs on the schooner were rapidly approaching
completion, and that she would be ready to sail in a few days. As he had
promised to spend one more week with his friend, Mr. Wilbur, before he
started for Natal, the captain ordered an immediate return to Tasmania,
and in due time the Club found themselves once more under the
sheep-herder’s hospitable roof. We must not forget to say, however, that
they stopped two days in Hobart Town, for it was while they were there
that an incident happened which had something to do with what afterward
befell two of the members of the Club.

On the morning after their arrival, Uncle Dick and some of the boys went
down to the docks to see how the schooner was getting on, and the rest
sauntered off somewhere, leaving Frank in the reading-room of the hotel,
deeply interested in a newspaper. Shortly after the others had gone, he
was interrupted in his reading by a slap on the shoulder, and upon
looking up he saw the consul’s clerk standing beside him.

“Aw! I’m overjoyed to see you again,” exclaimed Fowler, extending the
forefinger of his right hand. (The reader will understand that we shall
hereafter write down this young gentleman’s words as he ought to have
spoken them, not as he did speak them.) “I have been out to Wilbur’s
twice—he is a friend of mine, you know—and I was sorry not to meet you
there. I saw you when you landed last night, but was so busy that I
could not get a chance to speak to you. Had a good time in Australia?”

“Yes, I enjoyed myself,” replied Frank. “Everything was new and
strange.”

“I have been aboard your vessel nearly every day since you have been
gone, and the foreman tells me that the repairs on her are nearly
completed,” added Fowler. “When do you sail?”

“Not under ten days, and it may possibly be two weeks,” answered Frank.

“What are your arrangements, anyhow? I ask because I want to have a
chance to visit with you a little before you go.”

Frank did not care to visit with Mr. Fowler, but he could not well
refuse to answer his question. “The arrangements, as far as they are
made, are these,” he replied. “As soon as the schooner is ready for sea
she is to leave the harbor, go around into the river, and come to anchor
near Mr. Wilbur’s house.”

“Good!” exclaimed the clerk, settling back in his chair, and slapping
his knees. “That will just suit us.”

Frank, somewhat surprised at his enthusiasm, looked at him a moment, and
inquired: “Whom do you mean by ‘us?’”

“Oh, a party of our fellows, who may be up there to see you before you
leave. Go on. What next?”

“The captain intends to take Mr. Wilbur and his family out for a short
excursion,” replied Frank. “We shall be gone three or four days; and if
the weather is fair, we may not be back for a week. When we return we
shall be ready to start for Natal.”

“All right,” exclaimed the clerk. “Things couldn’t be arranged to suit
me better. I suppose you will have all your stores and everything else
aboard before you leave the harbor?”

“I suppose so.”

“By the way, who is paymaster of your craft?”

“Walter Gaylord keeps the books and the key of the safe,” answered
Frank.

“And you act as sailing master, I think you told me?”

Frank replied that he did.

“You must understand seamanship and navigation, then,” continued Fowler.

“I am no seaman, but I know something about navigation.”

“You have commanded a vessel, haven’t you?”

“Yes, two of them.”

“Were they large ones?”

“One of them was a whaler, and the other was a gunboat.”

“So I was told. Could you take a vessel from here to San Francisco?”

“I think I could,” said Frank, with a smile. “I brought the Stranger
from Bellville around the Horn to ’Frisco.”

Fowler nodded his head, and sat looking at the floor for some minutes in
silence. “Speaking of your paymaster,” said he, suddenly—“the reason I
asked about him, was because I heard some of your crew wishing that he
would make haste and come back. They have spent all their money, and
want a new supply. I suppose Walter is able to pay them all their dues?”

“Oh, yes,” said Frank.

“I suppose, too, that the contents of that little safe would make you
and me rich.”

“I don’t know, I am sure. The captain keeps money enough with him to pay
all expenses, but whether or not he has any more on hand, I don’t know.
I have never inquired into the matter.”

“I was told that the safe was full of gold,” said Fowler. “I should
think that Walter would be afraid to carry the key about with him.”

“I don’t know that he does,” returned Frank. “But even if he did, why
should he be afraid?”

“Oh, because there are plenty of men here who would knock him over for
one-tenth of the sum he is known to control. Money is everything in this
world, isn’t it?”

“Some people seem to think so,” replied Frank.

“Well, good-by,” said the clerk, jumping up. “I may not be able to see
you again before you go out to Wilbur’s, but I shall surely see you
while you are there.”

Fowler went away, and Frank was glad to see him go. He did not resume
his reading immediately, but sat for a long time looking down at the
floor in a brown study. He recalled every word that had passed between
himself and the consul’s clerk, and somehow he could not rid himself of
the impression that the latter had some reasons for questioning him so
closely, other than those he had given. Frank remembered what Barton had
told him about the inquiries Waters had made in regard to the contents
of Uncle Dick’s strong box, and he could not help connecting that
circumstance with the interview he had just had with the consul’s clerk.
But when he had done so he laughed at himself.

“What nonsense,” he said mentally. “My short acquaintance with Waters
and his friends has made me suspicious. Since his attempt to take
possession of our vessel, I think that every one who makes inquiries
about her has some designs upon her. I’ll try to be a little more
reasonable.”

With this, Frank resumed his reading, and dismissed all thoughts of the
consul’s clerk and the conversation he had had with him.

On the morning of the next day but one Mr. Wilbur and his big wagon
arrived and took Uncle Dick, the Club, and the trappers out to his
station. Two days after that the schooner came up the river, and dropped
anchor at a short distance from the house. The boys were delighted to
see her looking like her old self once more, and as soon as the first
boat came off, they went on board in a body to take a good look at her.
Uncle Dick’s instructions to the workmen had been faithfully obeyed, and
the Club could hardly believe that she was the same vessel that had been
driven, waterlogged and helpless, upon the shores of that inhospitable
island away off in the Pacific. She looked just as she did on the day
she came from the hands of the men who built her.

Shortly after she came to anchor there liberty was granted to the blue
jackets, and then there was fun indeed around Mr. Wilbur’s house. A
sailor always wants to ride when he comes ashore, and there were horses
enough on the station to mount every one of them. Among the number were
some wild young steeds which had never felt the weight of a saddle, and
these were the ones that the blue jackets wanted to ride. Mr. Wilbur
cheerfully gave his consent, and the ludicrous attempts at
horse-breaking that followed were beyond our power to describe. The
owner of the horses and his guests were kept in roars of laughter for
hours at a time.

On the second day, to Frank’s great disgust, the consul’s clerk made his
appearance. He was cordially greeted by Mr. Wilbur, who, after shaking
him by the hand, turned to present him to the members of the Club.
“There’s no need to do that,” said Fowler. “I know them all, and this
gentleman,” he added, extending his forefinger to Frank, “I think I can
claim as an old acquaintance.”

“Then it is all right, and I am glad you have come,” said Mr. Wilbur. “I
will leave them in your charge to-day, while the captain and I ride into
the country to see an old friend of ours who used to be in the mines
with us. You are at home here, Gus, and you will understand that my
house and everything in it, are at your service and theirs. If those
sailors come on shore and ask for horses, give them as many as they
want. It will probably be dark long before the captain and I return.”

The Club were not at all pleased with this arrangement, but they could
not oppose it. They did not like Fowler, and wanted to see as little of
him as possible. There was only one thing they could do, and that was to
get out of sight and hearing of him. This they did as soon as Uncle Dick
and Mr. Wilbur rode away, all except Frank, to whom the consul’s clerk
stuck like a leech. Frank could not shake him off without being rude,
and becoming utterly weary of his company at last, he excused himself,
went on board the schooner, and lay down in his bunk. He did not intend
to go to sleep, but the book he happened to pick up as he passed through
the cabin proved to be rather dry reading, and before he knew it, he was
in the land of dreams.

When he awoke it was with a start, and a presentiment that there was
something wrong. As soon as his eyes were open, he saw by the flood of
light that streamed in through the open transom over his door, that the
lamps in the cabin were burning. Hardly able to believe that he had
slept so long, Frank jumped from his bunk, and looked out at the bull’s
eye. He could see nothing. Even the trees on the bank were concealed by
the darkness. Just then the vessel gave a lurch, and laid over in the
water as if she were heeling to the pressure of her canvas.

“What does that mean?” thought Frank. “She can’t be under way! She
certainly is,” he added, a moment later, as the schooner began to rise
and fall slowly and regularly as if she were passing over the waves.
“Where are we going, I wonder?”

Frank turned and laid his hand upon the knob, but the door refused to
open for him. He stooped down and looked at the lock, and saw that the
bolt was thrown into the catch. He was fastened in. “Archie,” he thought
(if any trick was played upon him he always laid the blame upon his
cousin’s shoulders), “if I had you here for a minute, I believe I should
be tempted to shake you.”

As Archie was not there, Frank shook the door instead, and listened to
hear the footsteps of some one coming to release him; but there was no
stir in the cabin to indicate that there was anybody there. Beyond a
doubt the boys were sitting around the table almost bursting with
laughter. Hardly able to refrain from laughing himself, Frank placed one
foot on his bunk, laid hold of the lower part of the transom with his
hands, and drew himself up until he could look over into the cabin. Yes,
there was Archie, sitting in Uncle Dick’s easy chair, with his hands in
his pockets, and looking up at his cousin in the most unconcerned manner
possible. Frank was about to ask what he meant by locking him in after
that fashion, when his eye chanced to light on another occupant of the
cabin—a man who was seated on the other side of the table, opposite
Archie. He was a low-browed, villainous-looking fellow, and in his high
top-boots, red shirt, and slouch hat, reminded Frank of the descriptions
he had read of robbers, smugglers, and such worthy characters. He sat
with his elbow resting on the table, one hand supporting his chin, and
the other grasping a huge revolver, which lay on the table in front of
him.

“How are you?” said Archie, hooking his thumbs in the armholes of his
vest, and nodding to his cousin.

“What does this mean?” demanded Frank. “Who locked me in here, and why
is the schooner underway? Where’s Uncle Dick?”

Archie took one thumb out of the armhole of his vest long enough to wave
his hand toward the man on the opposite side of the table, and then put
it back again.

“You will know all about it in good time,” said the man, cheerfully;
“and until we want you, you had better stay in there and behave
yourself.”

“You have taken the schooner, have you?”

“That’s the way it looks to us out here. How does it look to you in
there?”

While Frank was wondering how he should answer this question, the door
opened, and Waters, the convict, and Fowler, the consul’s clerk, came
into the cabin.



                             CHAPTER VIII.
                       ON THE QUARTER-DECK AGAIN.


Up to this time Frank had been all in the dark, and utterly at a loss to
find any explanation for the situation of affairs; but at the sight of
these two worthies a sudden light broke in upon him.

“Everything is clear to me now,” thought he. “I know why Fowler had so
many questions to ask concerning the contents of Uncle Dick’s strong
box, and why he was so particular to inquire into my abilities as a
navigator. He is the one we have to thank for this trouble. He is hale
fellow well met with these convicts, has assisted them to escape, and
expects to get a large share of the money in the safe. Our voyage around
the world ends right here, and I am in a lovely scrape besides. These
fellows expect me to take them to San Francisco. After I get there what
shall I do with the schooner? What will become of Uncle Dick and the
rest in the meantime?”

While Frank was turning these knotty questions over in his mind, Fowler
and his companion came into the cabin, and closed the door behind them.
“Well, Waters, you are off for America once more,” said the consul’s
clerk, “and this time I think you are all right. I can’t see what
drawbacks you are going to have. There was no war vessel in the harbor
when we left.”

“But there was one at Melbourne,” replied Waters, “and it’ll not take
long for the commissioners to set her on our track. We must depend on
our captain to keep us clear of her. I’m sorry you are here, Archie.”

“So am I,” said the latter. “Your man must be a regular blockhead to
take me for Walter Gaylord. He looks about as much like me as I look
like you.”

“Oh, that’s the way you came here, is it?” said Frank to himself. “These
fellows wanted to catch Walter because he carries the key of the safe,
but made a blunder and captured you in his place. This makes twice that
Walter has escaped trouble in that way.”

“Mistakes will happen,” said Waters. “I told Bob here to collar a fellow
dressed in black, and wearing a Panama hat; and as you answered that
description exactly, he took you in. No matter; we can get along without
the key. Some of these days, when we feel in the humor, we’ll set Bob at
work on the safe with a hammer and cold chisel. He knows how to do such
things, and that’s why he’s here in Tasmania; eh, Bob?”

The man with the revolver grinned his appreciation of the compliment,
and Archie said:

“How much do you expect to find when you get into the safe?”

“Oh, enough to make us all rich men in America.”

“And how much will you get, Fowler, for your share in this business?”

“Nothing at all,” said Waters, before the consul’s clerk had time to
speak. “He isn’t here because he wants to be. We made him come.”

“What use will he be to you?”

“Oh, we can use him easy enough. Seeing that the paymaster ain’t here,
he’ll have to act in his place, and get the bills of credit cashed; that
is, if we find any.”

“That’s too attenuated; it’s altogether too thin,” declared Archie. “He
is the ringleader in this business, and I know it. In regard to that
strong box, you’re going to be disappointed when you see what’s in it.
You’ll be as badly disappointed as the two fellows were whom I met in
the Rocky Mountains a few months ago. They captured an emigrant family,
and robbed their wagons, expecting to find a million dollars in them;
but when they came to break open the box, which they supposed contained
the treasure, they found in it nothing but a little brass model of a
machine with which the emigrant intended to run his quartz mill. The
million dollars were yet to be made. There’s money in the safe, no
doubt; but not enough to pay you for the risk you are running, or to
make you rich in America or anywhere else. The most of it is in bills of
credit, and they will be of about as much use to you as so much paper.
No one but Walter can get them cashed.”

It made Frank very uneasy to hear his cousin talk to the ruffian in this
way, for he fully expected that Waters would become angry, and do him
some injury; but the giant took it all in good part, and laughed
heartily at the “little man’s” impudence. Fowler scowled and looked as
black as a thundercloud, but Archie did not seem to notice it.

“I wonder if our captain has woke up yet?” said Waters, glancing toward
the door of Frank’s stateroom.

“It looks that way in here; how does it look to you out there?” said
Frank, repeating the words which the man with the revolver had used in
reply to one of his questions. “What’s the use of keeping me in here?
Hadn’t you better open the door, and let me out?”

“Yes, Bob’ll let you out,” said Waters.

The man at the table put his revolver into one pocket, drew a key from
another, and unlocked the door. Frank stepped out into the cabin, and
was greeted with—

“Well, captain, you didn’t think to see us again so soon, did you?”

“No, I didn’t. I was in hopes I had seen the last of you,” was the
honest reply.

“Oh, I am not such a bad fellow as you may think,” said Waters, with a
laugh. “I’m as peaceable as a lamb when I ain’t riled; and you and your
mate here will fare well enough so long as you do as you are told, and
don’t try any tricks on us. That’s something we won’t stand from nobody.
We’re working for our liberty, and we’re bound to have it. We’ve got the
schooner now, and we brought you aboard because you are a sailor, and we
want you to take us to America.”

“I know what your plans are,” said Frank.

“Will you help us carry them out?”

“I don’t see how I can avoid it,” replied Frank.

“I don’t either,” said Waters. “We’re the gentlest fellows in the world
when you stroke us easy; but when you go against us, we’re a bad lot to
have about. We’ll make you captain of the vessel, and our little man
here,” he added, pointing to Archie, “we’ll put in for mate. He mustn’t
live off our grub for nothing, you know, and we can’t use him in any
other way. Will he do?”

“Yes, he’ll do,” said Frank. “But now I want you to understand one thing
before we go any further: I don’t claim to be a seaman, and if we are
blown out of our course or crippled in any way, you mustn’t blame me for
it.”

“Never mind that,” said Waters, quickly. “I know all about you. I know
that you were master of a whaler, and that you commanded a Yankee
gunboat during the war; so there must be something of the sailor about
you. If you will do as well as you can, that’s all I ask, and me and you
won’t have no words. Nobody shan’t bother you. You shall do just as you
please. The rest of the men can sleep in the forecastle, and us five
fellows that’s here now will mess in the cabin, and live like
gentlemen.”

“How much of a crew have I?” asked Frank.

“There’s just an even dozen of us on board. There will be ten to do the
work.”

“You will be surprised to learn one thing, Frank,” said Archie. “There
are four of our own men aboard, and three of them came of their own free
will, too. More than that, they helped Fowler and Waters carry out their
plan of seizing the vessel.”

“Who are they?” exclaimed Frank.

Archie called over the names of the men, and Frank, astonished beyond
measure to learn that any of the Stranger’s crew could be so disloyal,
dropped into the nearest chair without speaking. “I suppose you offered
them a share of the money you expect to find in the safe, didn’t you?”
said he, at length, addressing himself to Fowler.

“All’s fair in war,” replied the consul’s clerk.

“The doctor, who is one of the four, is not in the plot,” continued
Archie. “He was aboard when these men surprised and captured the vessel,
and Waters wouldn’t let him go ashore.”

“Of course not,” said the convict. “We ain’t going to starve. There’s
plenty of good grub on board, and we need a cook to serve it up in
shape. Mind you now, captain, no fooling with these men. We won’t stand
that.”

“You need not borrow any trouble on that score,” answered Frank,
hastily. “I shall not speak to them if I can avoid it. I want nothing to
do with such people.”

“We couldn’t help it,” said Waters. “We couldn’t undertake so long a
voyage with a crew of landsmen, for we needed somebody to steer the
vessel and go aloft. These men wanted money, and were ready to join with
us, so we took them. If you’re satisfied with everything, captain, you
might as well go on deck and take charge.”

“Of course I am not satisfied,” answered Frank, “but I don’t see that
anything better can be done under the circumstances. What shall I do if
my crew refuse to obey my orders?”

“Oh, they’ll obey your orders. Just show me the man that don’t start
when he’s spoke to, and I’ll show you somebody who will hurt himself
against these bones,” said Waters, doubling up his huge fist and
flourishing it above his head. “I ain’t a sailor, but I’m a bully
overseer, and I’ll keep the men straight, I bet you. Me and Bob, one of
us, will be on deck all the time, to see that things go on smooth and
easy, like they had oughter do. We are working for liberty, mind you,
and we can’t have no foolishness from nobody. Everything depends on you,
captain, and it may comfort you to know that we’ll have our eyes on you
night and day. You can’t make a move that we won’t see.”

“I am glad you told me,” said Frank. “I always like to know what I have
to expect. Let’s go on deck and set the watch, Archie.”

The captain and his mate ascended the ladder closely followed by Waters.
As Frank stepped upon the deck he looked about him with some curiosity.
He wanted to see the men who were so lost to all sense of honor, that
they could be induced to betray their trust for money. He glanced toward
the wheel, and saw that it was in the hands of one who, next to Freas
and Barton, Uncle Dick had always regarded as his most faithful and
trusty hand. This proved to Frank’s satisfaction the truth of the old
adage, that you must summer and winter a man before you know him; in
other words, you must see him in all manners of situations, and in all
sorts of temptations, before you can say that you are really acquainted
with him. It proved, too, that Uncle Dick knew what he was talking about
when he said that a sailor was never satisfied. Give him a brownstone
front to live in, and a hundred dollars a month to spend, and he will
grumble because he doesn’t live in a palace and get two hundred. The man
hung his head when Frank looked at him. He could not meet the young
captain’s gaze.

Having satisfied his curiosity on this point, Frank looked about him to
note the position of the schooner. He told himself that he must have
slept very soundly indeed, for she had probably been under way an hour
or more before he awoke. She was already a long distance from the shore,
and the lighthouse at the entrance of the harbor was fast disappearing
in the darkness. The only thing he could do that night was to make an
offing, and the next day, as soon as he could take an observation, he
would work out a course and fill away for the States. He would do the
best he could, too. He would perform his duty as faithfully as though
the schooner was his own property, and he and the rest of her company
were bound on a pleasure excursion. This much he had made up his mind
to, and he had done it simply because Archie was on board. Of course, if
Waters and the rest should relax their vigilance after a few days, and
give him an opportunity to assume control of the vessel, he would
promptly seize upon it, provided he was satisfied that his efforts would
result in complete success; but he would take no chance whatever. He had
seen what the giant was when he became fairly aroused, and he would be
very careful not to incur his displeasure. Waters knew that Archie was
his cousin; he had been on board the Stranger long enough to learn a
good deal of the history of the occupants of the cabin, and if he became
angry at Frank, Archie would be sure to suffer. The young captain wished
most heartily that his cousin was safe ashore with the rest of the Club.
He would have felt much more at his ease.

“Muster the crew, Archie, and divide them into two watches,” said Frank.
“Send the port watch below, and then go below yourself and try to get a
wink of sleep. Our force is so small that we’ll have to stand watch and
watch; and as there are only three men able to manage the wheel, you and
I will have to take a hand at it now and then. Do you think you can do
it?”

Archie was quite sure he could. He was in new business now, but the way
he went about the execution of his cousin’s command showed that he had
kept his eyes and ears open. He ordered the foremast hands around like
any old mate, and they obeyed as promptly and silently as though they
had all been trained sailors. The men belonging to the Stranger’s crew
hung their heads, and would not look at him, and Archie, on his part,
acted as though he did not recognize them.

“Couldn’t you make her go a little faster, captain?” asked Waters, who
kept close at Frank’s side all the while. “We’re working for liberty,
you know, and we don’t want to waste no time.”

“You’ll go faster presently,” answered Frank. “The breeze is freshening,
and she’s got as much on now as she can stand. You must remember that we
have only three men to work the topsails, and I don’t want to run any
risks. If you will let me manage matters my own way I will get you along
just as fast as I can.”

Waters seemed satisfied with this assurance, and never again offered
advice. He kept Frank company during his watch, and although the latter
at first would have been very glad to be rid of his presence, he finally
became interested in his conversation, and after a little urging induced
him to tell how it was that he had been able to escape from the island
four different times, and who had first put it into his head to seize
the Stranger. The sequel proved that Uncle Dick had not been mistaken
when he hinted that gold would control the police. Waters and all his
companions who were then on board the Stranger had been tried and
transported for the same offence. One of them—the convict who was
keeping guard over Archie when Frank awoke, and whom he had heard
addressed as Bob—was a ticket-of-leave man, who had made considerable
money by hauling goods from Melbourne to the Bendigo mines. Instead of
taking care of himself he stood by his friends, and it was his gold that
had so often released Waters from the chain-gang, and started him on his
way to England and America. It was his gold, too, that had made a friend
of the consul’s clerk. The latter knew all about the vessels that were
preparing to sail, and when the convicts were ready to make an attempt
at escape he would select a ship for them, and assist them in getting on
board. Three times Waters and his friends had gone aboard as gentlemen,
paid their passage, and messed in the cabin; but twice they had been
overtaken and carried back by a war vessel, and once the captain of
their ship found out, by some means, who they were; secured them all by
stratagem and carried them back where they came from. Their last attempt
was made on the Sea Gull. Assisted by Fowler, they shipped on board of
her before the mast, and would in all probability have succeeded in
reaching their destination, had it not been for the gale which wrecked
their vessel, and threw Waters and his three friends into the company of
the Stranger’s crew.

It was Waters himself who first conceived the idea of seizing the
schooner. He found opportunity to talk to Fowler about it, and the
latter was the one who made all the arrangements. Visiting the schooner
every day while she was in the dry-docks, he selected three of the
sailors whom he thought he could induce to lend their assistance, and
the result proved that he had not been mistaken in his men. Every one of
them had seen the inside of the strong box, for Walter always called the
crew into the cabin when he paid them any money, and they declared that
it was full to the brim with English gold pieces.

Up to this time Fowler and Bob, the ticket-of-leave man, had no
intention of joining the convicts in their attempt to leave the island.
The consul’s clerk held an honorable position which he was in no hurry
to throw up, while Bob was coining money at his vocation, and was
satisfied to remain where he was, for the present at least. His pardon
was only a conditional one, and if detected in an attempt at escape, he
would be deprived of his liberty and sent back to the penal settlement
again. He did not want to go there; but when he learned through Fowler
that there was an opportunity for him to make a fortune without work, he
determined to assist the others in seizing the Stranger and take all the
chances.

By questioning Frank, the consul’s clerk found out just what Uncle Dick
intended to do as soon as the repairs on his vessel were completed, and
this information was in due time conveyed to Waters. Preparations were
made accordingly; and on the night of the second day after the Stranger
entered the river and came to anchor near Mr. Wilbur’s house, Waters and
his companions quietly unlocked their irons and betook themselves to the
bush. Fowler was already on the ground. He stuck to Frank until he drove
him on board the schooner and into his bunk, and then he set to work to
clear the way for the convicts, so that they would have little or no
trouble in boarding the vessel. He mingled freely with the sailors who
were ashore, and by giving them a glowing description of a wonderful
horse-race that was to come off that afternoon at a station a few miles
distant, he induced them to apply to Mr. Baldwin for liberty until
twelve o’clock that night, which was granted. Fowler exerted himself to
supply the blue jackets with all the horses they needed, and having seen
them fairly started on their wild-goose chase, he turned his attention
to the first mate, whom he tried to induce to remain ashore all night.
But in this he failed. The officer knew that his place was on board his
vessel, and on board his vessel he went as soon as it began to grow
dark.

About nine o’clock that evening Waters and his companions arrived, and
concealed themselves among the bushes on the bank opposite the spot
where the schooner lay at anchor. Fowler visited them shortly afterward
to tell them how their plans were working. After listening to his report
the ticket-of-leave man stole off into the woods to carry out a
particular part of the programme that had been assigned to him, while
the other four entered the water and swam silently off to the vessel,
which they boarded without opposition. The two mates, and the few
foremast hands who remained on board, were quickly mustered on deck and
held passive by loaded revolvers, which two of the convicts kept pointed
at their heads, while Waters and another proceeded to tie them hand and
foot. This being done, they were each gagged to prevent them from
raising an alarm, and then one of the boats was lowered, and the
helpless men were taken ashore and laid in the bushes. All this work was
performed so silently that Frank was not awakened. The convicts saw him
asleep in his bunk, and to make sure of finding him there when they
wanted him, they quietly locked the door, and fastened him in.

Having concealed their prisoners among the bushes, the convicts returned
on board the schooner, and, assisted by the three sailors, proceeded to
get her under way. They slipped the anchor, turned her around with the
help of the cutter, and when she was fairly under the influence of the
current, one of the convicts returned to the shore in the boat to await
the appearance of Fowler and the ticket-of-leave man, who had been
intrusted with the work of seizing Walter Gaylord. Fortunately for
Walter, there was a slight hitch in the proceedings right here, and the
wrong man was taken.



                              CHAPTER IX.
                            A YANKEE TRICK.


It had been the custom of the Club, during their sojourn under Mr.
Wilbur’s roof, to pass the hours that intervened between dark and
bedtime on the veranda, singing songs, or listening to the stories of
one of the sheep-herders. It was to be Fowler’s business to separate
Walter from his companions, and, under pretence of telling him something
that it was very important he should know, conduct him down a shaded
lane a short distance from the house. Bob was to be concealed somewhere
along the route, and when they passed his ambush he was to jump out,
collar them both (for reasons of his own Fowler wished to have it appear
that he was in no way connected with the plot), and march them down to
the river-bank, where the boat was waiting for them.

The Club, who had gone off somewhere on purpose to be rid of the young
Englishman, were absent so long that Fowler began to be very uneasy,
fearing that they might stay until so late an hour that it would be
impossible for him to carry out his part of the programme. But they came
shortly after dark, to the clerk’s great relief, and after disposing of
a hearty supper gathered on the veranda as usual. Fowler had more
difficulty in persuading Walter to “take a walk” with him than he had
anticipated. The captain’s nephew had taken a great dislike to the
clerk, for some reason, and wanted little to do with him; but he yielded
at last, and Fowler took him by the arm and led him toward the lane.

As bad luck would have it, they encountered Archie Winters, who was also
out for an after-supper stroll. On Walter’s invitation he joined the two
and walked with them. This did not suit Fowler. It was a larger party
than he had bargained for. Bob had but two hands, and Fowler did not see
how he could manage three persons with them. Either Walter or Archie
might elude his grasp and slip away in the darkness, and that would be a
misfortune. As soon as he had made good his escape he would go straight
to the house, tell what had been going on in the lane, and that would
lead to an investigation which would probably result in the discovery of
the fact that the schooner was missing. That was a matter that must be
kept secret as long as possible, in order to give the managers a good
long start. After thinking over these points for a few minutes, the
clerk turned and went back up the lane again with Walter, paying no
further attention to the movements of Archie, who, he hoped, would soon
get tired of his walk, and leave the coast clear for him.

“I don’t want to speak in the presence of a third party,” said Fowler.
“We’ll come back as soon as Archie goes away.”

“Why not tell me now?” asked Walter. “We are alone.”

“I know, but it is a long story, and it will take me half an hour to go
into all the details.”

“Oh, let it go till morning then. I am too tired to spend half an hour
more in walking.”

“Perhaps I can tell it in ten or fifteen minutes,” said Fowler.

“Let it go until morning,” repeated Walter.

“But it is about an attempt to rob your safe while you were gone.”

“Nonsense!”

“I assure you it is a fact, upon my word and honor as a gentleman. I
found it out by the merest accident.”

“Then why didn’t one of the mates speak about it?”

“Because they were in the plot,” replied the clerk, sinking his voice
almost to a whisper. “I’ll take you to that boat with me if I have to
carry you under my arm,” he added, mentally.

“Fowler!” exclaimed Walter, turning upon him almost fiercely, “do you
want me to—” Walter finished the sentence by pushing up his coat
sleeves. “Do you? If you don’t, don’t let me hear you say another word
against Mr. Baldwin or Mr. Parker. My uncle would trust them with the
key of his safe as readily as he trusts me with it. They’re honest, and
that’s more than I think you are.”

Walter’s leavetaking was so very abrupt and unceremonious that Fowler
could have made no attempt to detain him, even had he felt so disposed.
But he did not want to make the attempt. He stood silent and motionless
where Walter left him, and saw the latter join the merry group on the
veranda. Presently they all arose from their seats and went into the
house. It was well for Fowler that he let him go, for the wiry young
paymaster could have tossed him over the nearest fence with almost as
much ease as Fowler himself could tell a lie.

Being disappointed in his attempts to make a prisoner of Walter, the
consul’s clerk began to think of himself. He ran down the river-bank,
and presently reached the spot where Bob and the other convict were
keeping guard over somebody in a Panama hat and black suit, who was
seated in the stern of the boat.

“Is that you, Fowler?” demanded the ticket-of-leave man, impatiently. “I
was just going to push off. I have waited for you long enough. I caught
this fellow half an hour ago.”

“This fellow? What fellow?” demanded the clerk.

“Why, the paymaster, of course. Who else did I want to catch? I saw him
going along the lane, so I just jumped out and nabbed him.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Archie, for he it was who was seated in the stern of the
boat. “I wondered what you could want of me. Seeing that I am not the
fellow you’re after, you’ll let me go, won’t you?”

“Winters!” cried the clerk, in great amazement. “Now you have made a
mess of it, Bob. You’ve grabbed the wrong chap.”

“Jump in here,” replied the ticket-of-leave man, seizing the bow of the
boat preparatory to shoving off. “I know just what I’ve done. I got
orders from Waters.”

“But I tell you that you don’t know what you’ve done. I left the
paymaster and saw him go into the house not ten minutes ago,” insisted
Fowler. “This fellow is of no use to us.”

“Not a bit,” chimed in Archie. “If money is what you’re after I can’t
help you to a guinea. I am dead broke.”

The ticket-of-leave man let go of the boat, and straightening up looked
first at his fellow-convict and then at Fowler. “Well it’s his own
fault,” said he, after thinking a moment. “He had no business to have
them clothes and that hat on. What shall we do with him?”

“Let me go,” said Archie. “That’s all you can do with me.”

“Not by a long shot we won’t let you go,” replied the ticket-of-leave
man. “You’d talk too much when you got back to your friends. If I only
had a piece of rope, I’d tie him and leave him out in the bushes with
the others; but I ain’t got it. He’ll have to go with us; there’s no
other way. Jump in, Fowler. We’ve wasted too much time already. The
schooner must be a mile or two outside.”

Fowler picked up one of the oars, Bob and the other convict, having
pushed the boat away from the shore, sprang in and picked up two more,
while Archie, in obedience to orders, laid hold of the tiller ropes. He
did not remonstrate with his captors, for his past experience had taught
him that in circumstances like these words were useless. He devoted his
whole attention to steering the boat and looking out for the schooner.
They found her a mile outside of the mouth of the river, lying to and
waiting for them. Waters stormed a little at Fowler because so much
precious time had been wasted, and looked as though he wanted to swear
when he found that Bob had captured Archie instead of the paymaster; but
a few words from the ticket-of-leave man smoothed his ruffled temper,
and Archie was ordered below under guard.

This is the version of the story which Waters told Frank that night
during the latter’s watch. When it was finished the young captain said:

“I don’t see that you need Walter at all. You say that Bob is
experienced in such matters, and that he can easily work his way into
that safe with a hammer and a cold chisel.”

“I know that,” replied Waters, “and I know another thing, too: when
folks travel in this way, they generally carry their money in bills of
credit.”

“Well, what of it?” said Frank.

“Well,” repeated Waters, “we wanted the paymaster to get them cashed for
us.”

“He wouldn’t have done it.”

“I think he would. You could have made him do it easy enough.”

“And do you imagine that I would use my influence to induce him to turn
his uncle’s money over to you?”

“I do think just that. You’d do it sooner than see me raise a racket
like I did once aboard this very vessel, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t like
to have me reach for you, would you?”

“Oho!” exclaimed Frank. “Then it appears that you intended to make use
of me in two different ways. Besides making me act as captain of the
schooner, you were going to hold me as a sort of hostage to compel
Walter to do as you wanted him to do.”

“That’s about the way I fixed it up in my own mind,” said Waters.

“If you intended to work on the paymaster’s feelings in that way, you
ought to have captured his brother,” said Frank. “That would have been
the surer way.”

“Never mind that. I know all about you and him too. You saved Eugene’s
life, and helped Walter out of the worst scrape he ever got into, and
they and their old uncle would give you the schooner if you asked for
it. The paymaster would do anything before he would see harm come to
you.”

By this time it was twelve o’clock. Frank called his cousin, and after
he had seen the watch relieved, he went below and tumbled in bed. He was
too excited to sleep much, and at the first peep of day he was up and
dressed. The first object on which his eyes rested as he stepped out of
his stateroom, was Waters’s burly form stretched out in front of the
cabin door. “He meant that I shouldn’t go on deck without waking him,”
thought Frank. “It is anything but agreeable to know that I can’t move
unless this ruffian is at my side.”

Frank seized the man by the shoulder and shook him roughly, intending to
tell him, when he awoke, that it was time he was going on deck to see
how things were working there; but the giant only breathed the harder,
and rolled from side to side on his mattress without once opening his
eyes. After spending five minutes in the vain effort to arouse him,
Frank opened the door, stepped over the prostrate figure and ascended to
the deck. They were alone on the deep. The schooner was bowling along
before a fine breeze, and there was not a sail in sight. Archie was
walking up and down in the waist with his hands in his pockets, and the
ticket-of-leave-man stood leaning against the rail close by, keeping
guard over him.

“How long has that man been at the wheel?” asked the young captain.

“Since three o’clock,” answered Archie. “I stood there myself until I
got so sleepy that I couldn’t hold her steady.”

Frank went aft to relieve the helmsman, who was one of the Stranger’s
crew. As he laid his hand upon the wheel the sailor saluted him
respectfully, but Frank paid no sort of attention to him. The man seemed
hurt by this direct cut. He glanced toward the waist, and seeing that
the eyes of Archie’s keeper were fastened upon him, he turned and
pointed over the stern towards the horizon, where a faint cloud of smoke
marked the path of a steamer.

“That may be a man-o’-war, sir,” said he, in a low tone, “but that ain’t
what I want to say to you. I’d give everything that’s coming to me from
this schooner if she was back where she belongs.”

“I wish she was there, too,” said Frank.

“We’re all sick of our bargain, sir, and we don’t see how we come to do
it,” continued the sailor, still pointing toward the cloud of smoke in
order to make Archie’s guard believe that he was talking about the
steamer in the distance. “If you want to take the ship, sir, we’ll all
stand by you if we lose our lives by it.”

“I don’t want to take the ship.”

“You’re afraid to trust us, ain’t you, sir?”

“Yes, I am. Men who will prove unfaithful once, will do so again.”

“What’s going on there between you two?” demanded the ticket-of-leave
man, suddenly.

“There’s a steamer over there,” replied Frank, “and Brown says it may be
a man-of-war.”

“Well, when he gets through saying it he’d better get away from there,”
returned Bob.

The man went, and Frank kept his place at the wheel until breakfast was
ready. All that morning he waited and watched for an opportunity to say
a word to Archie in private, but none was offered until after he had
taken his observation at noon. While he was busy with his chart, Archie
came into the cabin, apparently for the purpose of changing his coat,
but really to exchange a word or two with his cousin. He went into his
stateroom, pulled off the coat he had on, and came out with the other in
his hand.

“I have found out something,” said he, in a low tone, as he bent down
and looked over Frank’s shoulder.

The young captain glanced up hastily and saw that Waters was standing on
the quarter-deck, watching them closely through the open skylights. To
disarm the man’s suspicions, if he had any, Frank caught up his parallel
ruler, and began moving it about over the chart as if he were working
out a course.

“Be careful,” he whispered, earnestly. “Don’t look up. Waters has his
eyes on us. What have you found out?”

“That all our men are sorry for what they have done, and are ready to
make amends for it. Bob doesn’t watch me as closely as Waters does you,
and so I have had three or four chances to talk with them.”

“I wouldn’t trust them,” said Frank; and then he made some figures on a
slip of paper and handed it over to Archie, who examined it with a great
show of interest.

“I’ve found out another thing, too,” added Archie, shaking his head as
he handed the paper back, as if to imply that his cousin’s calculations
were not correct, “and that is, that Waters sleeps like a log. I was in
the cabin three times last night, and the first time I came in I
stumbled over him before I saw him and fell flat; but the noise I made
never awoke him.”

“I know he sleeps soundly,” returned Frank. “Now, Archie, let me say”—

“And another thing,” interrupted Archie, earnestly, “there are two
loaded revolvers in Uncle Dick’s bunk, under the foot of the mattress,
that these fellows don’t know anything about. I was pretty certain they
were there, so I went in last night and satisfied myself.”

“Let them stay there,” replied Frank. “They are of no use to us. Now,
Archie, while I have the chance, I want to tell you that I shall make no
attempt to take the vessel out of the hands of these scoundrels. As far
as I am concerned, I am ready for anything; but if danger should befall
you through me, what should I say to your father and mother when I get
home? I am responsible for you, in a certain sense, and I wish with all
my heart that you were safe ashore.”

“Do you take me for a little boy?” whispered Archie, almost indignantly.
“I am almost as old as you are, and I want you to understand that I am
able to take care of myself. You are not responsible for me in any way.
You may be glad that I am here before this voyage is ended.”

“What you two fellows talking about down there?” demanded Waters. “Your
heads are almost too close together to suit me. You had better come up
here, my little man.”

“It is his watch below,” said Frank, “I belong on deck myself.”

“Come up here, then.”

“I will as soon as I get through.”

“Then let the little one go to bed,” exclaimed Waters, in a louder tone,
which showed that he was getting angry; “I want you two apart; and if
you don’t get apart pretty quick I’ll come down there and separate you.”

Archie went into his stateroom, and closed the door behind him, while
Frank, having completed his calculations, ran up the ladder, and took
charge of the deck.

During the day everything passed off smoothly. The crew were obedient
and prompt, and the schooner was as well sailed as she would have been
had her lawful captain been on her quarter-deck. Just before dark some
interest was excited among those on board by the discovery of a large
steamer, which appeared to be following in their wake. Frank watched her
through his glass until the night shut her out from his view.

“Can you make her out?” asked Waters.

“No, I cannot,” answered Frank. “She is too far off.”

“Brown says she looks rather suspicious.”

“Well, he’s an old sailor, and ought to be able to tell a man-o’-war
from a merchantman, even at that distance.”

“If she is following us, what time will she come up with us?”

“About midnight, perhaps, if this wind holds.”

“Then look out for fun,” exclaimed Waters, striking his open palm with
his clenched hand. “We’ve all got two revolvers apiece; we’ve got all
the muskets belonging to the schooner piled up in the cabin, where we
can get our hands upon them at a moment’s notice; and,” he added,
jerking his thumb over his shoulder toward the twenty-four pounder,
“Brown says you’re the best fellow to work these guns that he ever saw.”

“I have had some experience with them,” said Frank.

“We’ll give the man-hunters a lively tussle,” added the convict.

“What will be the use of that?” asked Frank. “If you beat off her boats
when she sends them out to board us, she’ll open on us with her big guns
and sink us.”

“No matter. We’d sooner she’d do that than take us back. But ’spose now,
captain, that you knew that steamer was a war vessel, and that you was a
smuggler or something, who had reasons for keeping out of her way, what
would you do?”

“I should wait until it was pitch dark, and then I’d put out all lights,
come about, and sail right back to meet her,” said Frank, who had
already made up his mind that it would be better to put this plan into
operation than to risk a battle with the steamer if she should prove to
be a man-of-war. He knew that the convicts would fight desperately
before they would permit themselves to be taken back. Of course they
would be beaten and overpowered, as they deserved to be, but what would
become of himself and Archie in the meantime? How would the beautiful
little Stranger look after a broadside from the man-of-war? “I should,
of course, pass her at such a distance that she wouldn’t discover me,”
added Frank, “and at daylight we would be out of sight of each other.”

“That’s a regular Yankee trick,” exclaimed Waters. “Don’t you think you
had better try it?”

The young captain thought he had, and he did. The ruse was entirely
successful. They passed the steamer a little after eleven o’clock. They
could see the lights at her catheads, and hear the pounding of her
paddle-wheels, but their own vessel was invisible in the darkness. There
were no lamps to betray her to the watchful eyes of the steamer’s
lookout, for those in the cabin were shut out from view by a tarpaulin
which was thrown over the skylights, and the one in the binnacle threw
out only sufficient light to show the face of the compass. Waters
questioned the sailors, and they told him that the vessel was
undoubtedly a man-of-war. She showed too few lights for a passenger
steamer. Waters breathed easier when she was out of sight.

“Captain,” he exclaimed, taking Frank’s hand in his own, and giving it a
hearty gripe and shake, “if I had a thousand pounds of my own I’d as
soon give it to you as not. It takes Yankees to do things, after all.”

“That’s a fact,” said Archie. “We whipped you English gentlemen twice,
and we can do it again.”

Archie’s pert speeches seemed to afford the giant a world of amusement.
“Did you have a hand in it, my little man?” he asked, with a laugh.

“No,” replied Archie, slowly, “I didn’t. There was one little thing that
prevented me—a very little thing, and I have always been sorry for it.”

“What was that?” asked Waters.

“I wasn’t born.”

Everybody roared except Fowler, and he was angry.

Frank remained on deck till midnight, and then believing that all danger
of discovery had passed, he told Archie to have the tarpaulin removed
from the skylights, to send one watch below, and then go to bed himself.
“You go to bed,” replied Archie. “I am not at all sleepy, and I might as
well stay on deck as to roll about in my bunk for six hours. As for that
tarpaulin—if it will suit you as well, I will leave it where it is.”

“Why do you want to do that? It will be more cheerful with a little more
light on deck.”

“That’s just what’s the matter. I don’t want more light on deck.”

His cousin told him to do as he pleased about it, and having seen one of
the watches sent below, he went into the cabin, and lay down on his
bunk. It seemed to him that he had scarcely closed his eyes in sleep
when a hand was laid softly on his shoulder. He started up quickly, and
saw Archie standing by the side of his bunk with his finger on his lips.

“Not a word above your breath for your life,” whispered the latter,
whose face was as white as a sheet, and as he said it, he put something
into Frank’s hand. It was one of Uncle Dick’s revolvers. “It is loaded
and all ready for use,” whispered Archie. “I have done the worst part of
the work. The men are on deck and waiting, and all you have to do is to
tell them what your wishes are. I’m a little boy, am I, and you’re
responsible for me, are you? You wish I was ashore where I belong, don’t
you? We’ll have the schooner in five minutes more. Come out here, and
I’ll show you why I wanted the tarpaulin left over the skylights.”

All this was Greek to Frank, who, not yet fairly awake, sat up in his
bunk staring blankly, first at his cousin, and then at the revolver he
held in his hand; but when Archie laid hold of his arm, he sprang
lightly upon the floor and stepped out into the cabin.



                               CHAPTER X.
                     ARCHIE PROVES HIMSELF A HERO.


“Look there,” whispered Archie. “Could any little boy do that?”

Frank looked, and was greatly astonished at what he saw. There lay
Waters, fast asleep on his mattress in front of the cabin door, but he
was a prisoner, his hands and feet being securely ironed. Frank could
scarcely believe that his eyes were not deceiving him.

“That’s why I didn’t want the tarpaulin taken off the skylights,”
continued Archie. “Bob could have looked right down into the cabin and
seen everything I did. I slipped down here and put the irons on him and
never woke him up. It was the hardest piece of work I ever did, too,” he
added, drawing his hand across his forehead, on which the perspiration
stood in great beads.

Frank could well believe it. His cousin’s face bore unmistakable
evidence that the ordeal through which he had passed had been a most
trying one. What if the first touch of the cold irons had aroused the
giant from his slumbers! Archie probably never would have lived to tell
what he had attempted to do. He had more nerve than his cousin had ever
given him credit for.

“I am glad it is done,” continued Archie. “I don’t know whether I could
do it again or not. I’m afraid I couldn’t. I took his tools, too,” he
went on, drawing a huge revolver from each of the outside pockets of his
coat. “I’ll give you one and keep the other. The next thing is to make
sure of our friend Bob, and then we’ll pay our respects to the other
fellow on deck. He said he was tired, so I made him up a good bed and
told him to go to sleep on it.”

By this time Frank had fully recovered from his amazement and was
prepared to act. He saw the necessity of promptly completing the good
work so well begun. Without saying a word he opened the door, stepped
over the slumbering giant, and led the way to the quarter-deck. At the
head of the ladder he encountered the ticket-of-leave man.

“What have you been doing?” demanded the latter, addressing himself to
Archie. “I was just coming down after you. The next time you go down
there I want to know it, so that I can go with you, do you hear? I don’t
like the way you have been skipping about the vessel to-night, and I
won’t have any more of it.”

“All right,” said Archie. “I don’t see any reason that you should get on
a high horse simply because I went down to call the captain. Do you want
me to tell you when I want to wink or sneeze? Any man with half an eye
can see that the breeze is freshening. Hallo! What’s that over there?
Looks like something.”

While this conversation was going on, Frank had thrown back one corner
of the tarpaulin so that the light from the cabin lamps could shine
through the skylights. He had a dangerous piece of work to perform, and
he did not want to operate in the dark. As Bob turned to look at the
object which Archie pretended he had discovered off the weather beam,
Frank stepped quickly around the corner of the skylights and laid his
hand upon his shoulder. The ticket-of-leave man faced about and saw the
muzzle of a cocked revolver looking him squarely in the face. He saw
more. He saw three figures come out from the shadow of the galley, and
range themselves on both sides of him. They were the negro cook, and two
of the sailors belonging to the crew of the Stranger. They all carried
handspikes, and their presence there indicated that Archie had neglected
no precautions to insure the complete success of his undertaking. How he
had managed to lay his plans so well when almost every move he made was
closely watched by his keeper, was a great mystery to his cousin.

The ticket-of-leave man shrank away from the muzzle of Frank’s revolver,
and brought his head in contact with another six-shooter with which
Archie had covered him on the opposite side. “Don’t shoot!” he gasped.

“We don’t intend to shoot, unless you make it necessary,” replied Frank.
“We have things all our own way now, and if you will quietly submit, we
will treat you as well as you have treated us with this exception: we
can’t allow you your liberty. Brown, you and the Doctor take hold of his
hands. Stevens, go through his pockets, and if you find any weapons
there, throw them overboard. Bob will have no further use for them.”

“Where’s Waters?” demanded the ticket-of-leave man, who showed a
disposition to resist when he saw Archie put up his revolver and draw a
pair of handcuffs from his pocket.

“He’s in the cabin, and in irons, too.”

“I don’t believe it.”

“That doesn’t trouble us any, for we know he is. He sleeps like a log,
as you are aware.”

[Illustration: ARCHIE RECAPTURES THE “STRANGER.”]

This was all Bob cared to hear. He knew now how the giant had been
secured, and without another word or the least show of resistance, he
allowed Archie to lock the irons about his wrists and ankles. This being
done, and the revolvers which Stevens found in his pockets having been
tossed over the side, the ticket-of-leave man was commanded to sit down
on the deck and remain there quietly under guard of the negro cook,
while Frank and his companions went forward to secure the other
convicts. The one who belonged to the starboard watch was fast asleep on
the mattress which Archie had provided for him. He was ironed before he
was fairly awake, and was marched to the quarter-deck and ordered to sit
down by the side of the ticket-of-leave man. His revolvers were also
consigned to the care of Old Neptune, for Frank did not think it safe to
have too many of these dangerous weapons on board. The two convicts who
were asleep in the forecastle were also secured without difficulty. One
of them made a feeble resistance at first, but a sharp punch from
Brown’s handspike brought him to his senses. The work was all done in
five minutes, and then Frank and his cousin looked at each other and
drew a long breath of relief.

“This relieves me from answering a very disagreeable question,” said the
young captain—“one that I could not bear to think of; that is, what
would have become of Uncle Dick and the rest if we had been obliged to
take these fellows to ’Frisco, and what would we have done with the
schooner after we got there? I thought our voyage was ended sure
enough.”

The two convicts in the forecastle having been secured, Frank ordered
them on deck and marched them into the cabin, picking up Bob and his
companion on the way. Waters was still fast asleep on his mattress, and
each of the prisoners gave him a hearty kick as he stepped over him.
This finally aroused the giant, who started up with an angry exclamation
on his lips, but he sank back on his mattress again when he saw Brown
standing over him with uplifted handspike. Then his eyes wandered to his
companions, who in obedience to Frank’s orders had seated themselves in
a row against the after bulkhead, and from them they came back to the
irons on his wrists and ankles. Archie expected him to go into a perfect
tempest of fury, but Waters did nothing of the kind. He had probably had
the bracelets on him often enough to know that they render a man utterly
powerless for mischief. He leaned his elbow on the mattress and rested
his head on his hand. “Who done it, cap’n?” he asked.

“I did,” replied Archie.

“You!” exclaimed the giant. He ran his eyes over Archie’s slender little
figure, and then looked down at his own colossal proportions. “Well,
you’re the pluckiest little chap I ever saw. There isn’t a man in
Tasmania who could be hired to do such a thing. Did you know that you
ran the biggest kind of a risk?”

“I did, but I took the chances.”

“I might have knowed that I’d have some Yankee trick or another played
on me before I got through with this business,” growled Waters.

“Get up and sit with the rest,” said Archie. “You are right in the way
there.”

He hardly expected that the giant would obey, but he did, and that, too,
without an instant’s hesitation. He arose and took his place with his
companions, who at once began to upbraid him for being the cause of
their misfortunes. “If he had not slept so soundly, that little Yankee
never would have thought of putting irons on him,” they said. “Why
couldn’t he keep one eye about half open when he knew that his liberty
was the price of vigilance?” Waters replied in an angry tone, and the
debate grew hotter and louder until Frank commanded silence.

“We’re not going to have bedlam here,” said he, emphatically. “If you
want to stay in the cabin you must keep quiet; if you don’t you’ll all
go in the brig.”

“What’s the matter out there?” demanded a voice from one of the
staterooms.

“Oh! my young cockney friend, is that you?” exclaimed Archie. “We’ve got
something to show you; here it is.”

Once more Frank had occasion to wonder at the forethought displayed by
his cousin. The latter raised one corner of the cloth that covered the
table, and brought out a pair of handcuffs, with which he went into the
clerk’s stateroom. At the sight of the irons Fowler bounded out of his
bunk, and made an effort to thrust Archie aside so that he could run out
into the cabin.

“Easy, easy,” exclaimed Archie, standing his ground in spite of the
clerk’s efforts to push him away; “it will do no good to raise a rumpus
now.”

“What’s the meaning of this, and where’s Waters?” demanded Fowler, as
soon as he could speak.

“It means that you have had charge of the vessel long enough,” answered
Archie. “Our little pleasure trip is ended now, and we are going back to
Hobart Town. If you want to see Waters, there he is.”

Archie stepped aside so that Fowler could look out into the cabin. The
latter was almost overwhelmed by the sight that met his gaze.

“You might as well give in, Gus,” said the giant. “The Yankees have the
upper hand.”

“Don’t put those things on me,” cried the clerk. “I won’t do a thing.
I—I—”

“Of course,” interrupted Archie. “I know all about it; but you can’t be
trusted, and it must be done.”

It was done, too. The clerk resisted and remonstrated, but all to no
purpose. With the Doctor’s assistance the irons were put on, and Fowler
was led out into the cabin, and commanded to sit down with the rest.

The enemy were now all secured, and Frank had the vessel to himself. He
meant to keep her, too, so he lost no time in providing for any
emergency that might arise. He knew that his prisoners would not permit
themselves to be carried back to Hobart Town if they could help it, and
if the opportunity were presented, they would make a desperate effort to
regain control of the schooner. If Frank had had full confidence in his
crew, he would have felt no uneasiness whatever; but there were the
three foremast hands, who had once betrayed their trust! True, they had
repented, and assisted him in securing the convicts; but might they not
also repent of that act, and try to undo it? There was no dependence to
be placed in such men. There was one he could trust, and that was the
Doctor. Him Frank armed with a loaded musket, and placed as a guard over
the convicts, with instructions to shoot the first one who made any
effort to free himself from his irons. Then he went on deck, feeling
perfectly safe.

Frank’s first care was to bring the schooner about, and shape her course
toward Hobart Town, as nearly as he could guess at it, and his next to
put it out of the power of the convicts to do any great damage, even if
they should succeed in freeing themselves from their irons, and gaining
a footing on deck. He and Archie had possession of the only loaded
firearms on board, and he did not intend that anybody else should get
any without considerable trouble. The mess-chests were emptied of the
pots and pans they contained, and the muskets and other small arms
belonging to the vessel being packed away in them, the chests were
closed and locked. The keys were hidden where no one but himself would
ever think of looking for them, and the lids were further secured by
being nailed down. The keys to the magazine, which were kept hung up in
Uncle Dick’s stateroom, were also concealed, and then Frank told himself
that he was master of the vessel. If Waters and his companions should
succeed in regaining their liberty, either by stratagem or through the
treachery of some of the crew, they would find nothing but handspikes
and belaying-pins to fight with, and he and Archie, with their brace of
revolvers apiece, could easily overcome them.

When he went into the cabin he told himself that he had been wise in
taking all these precautions, for Waters had already been trying to
bribe the guard to procure a key and release him. He had offered him a
thousand pounds for the service.

“Whar’s you gwine to get so much money to give dis niggah?” the Doctor
was saying just as Frank came in.

“Oh, it’s in the strong box,” replied Waters, not at all abashed by the
presence of the captain.

“Dat money in dar ’longs to Cap’n Gaylord,” said the Doctor. “’Pears
like you’s makin’ mighty free wid oder folk’s money.”

“Go on, Waters,” said Frank. “You told me not to tamper with the men,
and I didn’t; but I’ll give you permission to try all your arts on the
Doctor. He’s true blue.”

“I call him black,” said Waters.

The Doctor laughed heartily at this joke, and Frank, after glancing at
each of the prisoners in turn, went on deck satisfied that he had left
them in safe hands. He did not go to bed again that night, and neither
did Archie. They and the Doctor relieved one another every two hours in
keeping watch over the prisoners; and when not on guard, they stood
alternate tricks at the wheel in order to give the three foremast hands
a chance to rest.

“Have me and my mates made amends for striking hands with them fellows,
cap’n?” asked Brown, when Frank went aft to take his place at the helm.

“Yes, I think you have,” was the answer.

“What will the old man do with us when we get to port?” continued Brown.

“I don’t know. If I were in his place, I should call the thing square.
You helped take the vessel, but you helped get her back again, and so
you’re even.”

“If you was the cap’n would you take us back into the crew again?”

“Yes, I would.”

“You wouldn’t mind saying that much to the old man, would you, sir? We
want a chance to show him how sorry we are.”

Frank replied that he would bear the matter in mind, and the repentant
sailor went forward feeling as if a mountain had been removed from his
shoulders. The other two approached Frank on the same subject, at the
first opportunity, and were both sent away with the assurance that Uncle
Dick should hear a full account of the services they had rendered, and
if a word of recommendation from himself and Archie would benefit them
in any way, they should certainly have it. While he was at the wheel his
cousin came up.

“I declare, it seems delightful to be able to talk to you once more
without having some one around to hear what I say,” exclaimed the
latter. “I hope we shall always get out of the scrapes we get into as
easily as we got out of this.”

“You have done wonders,” answered Frank. “The honor all belongs to you,
and I hope no one will rob you of any portion of it.”

“Who’s going to rob me,” demanded Archie.

“Why, after what has been done, we ought to take the vessel and these
prisoners back to Hobart Town without help from anybody. But if that
steamer we saw last night was a man-o’-war—and I think she was, for she
didn’t show lights enough for a merchantman—she will soon discover the
trick we played upon her, and be back after us.”

“Well, suppose she does come back after us! She’ll not trouble us. There
is no need of it, for we are in a position to take care of ourselves.”

“You’ll see,” said Frank. “Her captain probably has orders to take
charge of the vessel, and if he comes up with us he’ll do it.”

Archie did see, and so did Frank. Shortly after daylight, while the
latter was taking his turn guarding the prisoners, Archie suddenly
appeared at the head of the companion-ladder and shouted:

“Here she comes. Shall I send the Doctor down to relieve you?”

Frank replied in the affirmative, and when the Doctor came down, he
hurried to the deck. The steamer they had seen the night before was a
little way in advance of them, and about three miles distant. She was
following a course almost at right angles with the one the Stranger was
pursuing, and that looked as if it was her intention to intercept the
schooner.

“When I first saw the smoke, she was bearing away to the southwest,”
said Archie. “Then the mist lifted a little, and when she caught sight
of us, she changed her course at once. That means business, doesn’t it?”

Frank was quite sure it did. He went down into the cabin after Uncle
Dick’s trumpet, and wanted to see what the steamer was going to do. When
she had approached within half a mile, the English flag was run up to
the peak, and all her broadside ports were dropped. Through their
glasses the boys could see that her crew were at quarters.

“She couldn’t make greater preparations if she were about to come
alongside a hostile frigate,” said Archie. “I wish she’d sheer off and
let us alone. She is of no use here.”

“Brown, show that captain that we float a prettier flag than he does,”
said Frank.

Brown hurried to the signal-chest, and presently a little round ball,
that one could almost cover with his hands, went travelling up to the
Stranger’s peak. Then a little twitch with one of the halliards
unfastened the bundle, and the American colors streamed out to the
breeze. The young captain was as proud of that flag as the English
commander was of his.

Having placed himself directly across the schooner’s path, the steamer
stopped her engines, and presently her whistle was blown three times.
Frank replied by bringing his vessel up into the wind, this being a
signal that the British captain had something to say to him.

“What schooner is that?” shouted a hoarse voice from the steamer’s deck.

“The Stranger, bound to Hobart Town,” replied Frank, through his
trumpet.

“I’ll send a boat aboard of you,” shouted the voice.

“Very good, sir,” said Frank.

“I don’t think it is very good,” exclaimed Archie. “I think it is very
bad. We’ve got to give up the vessel now, and we’ll be taken into port
as if we were prisoners ourselves.”

“We’ll have the satisfaction of going in under our own flag,” said
Frank, “you may depend upon that.”

“Won’t you haul it down if they tell you to do so?”

“By no means. We are not prisoners of war. If an English officer sails
our craft into port, he will do it with our flag floating over him.”

“Perhaps he will haul it down himself.”

“Perhaps he will, and then again perhaps he won’t touch it. Did you
never hear about those young English middies who pulled down the flag
that was floating over the American consulate in Honolulu? They put it
back again in short order, and with an apology, too.”

The steamer’s boat came in sight while this conversation was going on,
and Archie, who levelled his glass at it, informed his cousin that there
were two officers sitting in the stern sheets, and that it was crowded
with men, who were all armed. It came alongside in a few minutes, and
the old gray-headed lieutenant who was in charge looked a little
surprised when Frank handed the man-ropes to him. He had doubtless
expected a very different reception. He clambered aboard, followed by
his men, who handled their weapons nervously, and looked all about as if
expecting an attack from some quarter. The expression of astonishment
their faces wore was reflected in the countenances of their officers,
who acted as if they thought they had got a little out of their
reckoning.

“Are you the captain, sir?” asked the gray-headed lieutenant, returning
Frank’s salute.

“At present, yes, sir.”

“There must be some mistake,” continued the officer. “We are in search
of the American yacht Stranger, who is reported to have been seized by
escaped convicts and taken to sea.”

“This is the vessel, sir, but I am glad to say that the convicts no
longer have control of her. They are safe under guard in the cabin. Step
this way, if you please.”

The officer, lost in wonder, followed Frank into the cabin, and his
astonishment increased when he saw the convicts seated in a row before
him, and all securely ironed. “How did you ever manage to do this,
captain?” he asked.

“It was done before they knew what was going on,” replied Frank.

“How did you get the irons on Waters?”

“They were put on while he was asleep.”

“While he was _asleep_!” exclaimed the officer.

“That’s the gospel truth,” said Waters. “It couldn’t have been done no
other way. The Yankees didn’t give us no chance at all.”

“They probably knew you too well. My orders are to leave an officer and
crew in charge of the yacht, and to take the prisoners aboard our own
vessel,” added the lieutenant, turning to Frank.

“I protest against such a proceeding, sir,” said the young captain,
quickly. “Your government has a claim upon these prisoners, but it has
no claim whatever upon this yacht. With the crew I have, I am able to
take care of her myself.”

The lieutenant drew himself up and looked at Frank without speaking.



                              CHAPTER XI.
                         AN OBSTINATE CAPTAIN.


Frank now began to see that he had been mistaken in the mental estimate
he had made of one of the two officers who came off in the steamer’s
boat. The midshipman, whose name was Kendall, as he afterwards learned,
he had put down as a conceited young prig, who would have made a
first-rate companion for the consul’s clerk; and his conduct a few
minutes later gave Frank no reason to change his opinion. The
gray-headed lieutenant he had supposed to be a gentleman, but on that
point he now began to have some doubts. The officer seemed to be greatly
astonished at the audacity Frank exhibited in presuming to object to
anything he might see fit to do. He drew himself up, and stared at the
young captain in a way that was perfectly insulting, and made the latter
all the more determined to stick to the course he had marked out for
himself.

“I am sailing-master of this craft,” said Frank, “and in the absence of
my superior have a right to command her.”

“Her Majesty’s officers are in the habit of obeying any orders they may
receive,” returned the lieutenant, loftily.

“But those orders were given to you under the supposition that the
lawful crew of this vessel were in need of your assistance,” replied
Frank. “When we passed you last night we should have been glad of your
help; but now we are in a situation to take care of ourselves.”

“Why did you not hail us when you passed us last night?” asked the
midshipman.

“Because Waters and his friends had full control of the schooner, and I
had no desire to be pitched overboard,” answered Frank.

“If you had been a brave young man, you would have done your duty at all
hazards. But I do not wish to waste any more time in argument. Mr.
Kendall,” said the lieutenant, turning to the midshipman, “select ten
men from that boat’s crew, and remain in charge of the yacht. Follow in
our wake when we steam away for Hobart Town.”

The young officer saluted, and hurried up the ladder to obey these
orders, while the lieutenant turned to the prisoners, and commanded them
to get up and go on deck. Frank followed them up the companion-way, and
when he reached the top, was surprised to find Mr. Kendall and Archie
engaged in an angry war of words. He had no trouble in guessing at the
cause of it. He looked toward the stern, and saw Brown standing there
with the color halliards in his hand, and the colors themselves were
partly hauled down.

“I want you to understand that I command this yacht now,” said Mr.
Kendall, shaking his clenched hand at Archie.

“I don’t dispute it, do I?” returned the latter.

“Then why do you countermand my orders?” demanded the midshipman.

“Brown!” exclaimed Frank, sharply, “run that flag up to the peak where
it belongs. Belay the halliards and go for’ard.”

“There!” said Archie, turning to the officer; “I hope you are satisfied
now that that flag was put there to stay.”

“Captain,” said the midshipman, trying to speak calmly, although it was
plain to be seen that he was very angry, “_I_ ordered those colors
hauled down.”

“There is not a man in my crew who will obey an order of that kind,”
replied Frank.

“But I am in command now, and I don’t sail under that flag.”

“All right, sir. Haul it down yourself, if you wish to take the
responsibility.”

The young officer knew better than to do that. He bit his lips and
looked towards his superior, who seemed to be utterly confounded by the
turn affairs were taking. “I call this a very extraordinary proceeding,
captain,” said he, at length.

“Not at all, sir,” replied Frank. “If you regard our vessel as a prize
and ourselves as prisoners, you have the power to act accordingly; but
it will be useless to ask us to smooth the way for you.”

“No, no!” exclaimed the lieutenant, quickly; “you don’t understand the
matter at all. We expected to find the convicts in charge of your yacht,
and to have a fight with them before we could recover possession of
her.”

“Your expectations were not realized,” said Frank. “We saved you all
trouble.”

“Perhaps I had better return and ask further instructions from my
captain,” continued the officer, after thinking a moment. “Mr. Kendall,
you will remain in charge until you receive other orders.”

So saying, the lieutenant ordered the convicts into his boat, jumped in
himself, and pushed off towards his own vessel, leaving a very
unsociable company on board the schooner. During the half hour that
followed not a word was exchanged between any of them, except by the two
cousins. The midshipman planked the weather side of the quarter-deck in
solitary state; his men were gathered in a group on the forecastle; and
the crew of the Stranger stood in the waist, Frank and Archie leaning
against the rail a little apart from the others, so that they could
exchange opinions without being overheard. At the end of the half hour
the steamer’s boat came in sight again, and when she had drawn up
alongside, the coxswain handed a note to the midshipman. The contents,
whatever they were, evidently surprised and enraged the officer, who, in
a very gruff voice, ordered his men to tumble into the boat, then jumped
in himself and shoved off without saying a word to Frank.

“Does that mean that you are in command once more?” asked Archie.

“I don’t know, but I’ll take the risk,” was the reply.

As soon as the midshipman’s boat was clear of the side, the Stranger
filled away on her course and dashed across the bow of the steamer, her
flag flaunting defiantly in the faces of the English blue jackets, who
watched her as she flew by. Neither of the cousins said a word until
they were safely out of hearing of the people on the steamer’s deck, and
then Archie’s patriotism bubbled over, and he struck up “Unfurl the
Glorious Banner,” and sang it through to the end.

“You’d better haul it down now,” said Frank, when the song was
concluded, “or you’ll not have any flag to rave about very long. The
breeze will whip it into ribbons in a few minutes more.”

It was the Stranger’s holiday flag, and they could not afford to lose
it; so Archie pulled it down and packed it away in the signal-chest,
handling it as tenderly as though the flag could appreciate the care he
bestowed upon it.

As soon as the steamer’s boat was hoisted at the davits she turned her
bow towards Hobart Town, and before night was out of sight in the
distance. When the sun set, Frank called up his crew to shorten sail. He
knew nothing whatever about the coast he was approaching, and was afraid
to get too close to it in the dark. He and Archie kept a bright lookout
all that night, and as soon as day began to dawn all sail was hoisted
again, and the Stranger once more sped merrily on her way. The smoke of
a steamer was seen in the distance, but Frank did not take a second look
at it until an hour or two afterwards, when Brown announced that it was
a tug, and that she was headed directly towards the schooner.

“She ain’t coming out to tow us in, sir,” said the sailor, “’cause she
knows that we don’t want help with such a breeze as this. I shouldn’t
wonder if your friends were aboard of her, sir.”

After hearing this, Frank began to take some interest in the movements
of the tug. He kept his glass directed toward her, and presently
discovered a group of persons standing on her hurricane-deck. A quarter
of an hour later he could see that they were signalling to him with
their handkerchiefs; and finally the two vessels approached so near to
each other that he could see the faces of those composing the group.
Then he recognized Uncle Dick, his friend Mr. Wilbur, the two trappers,
and the Club. They had probably learned from the captain of the steamer
that the Stranger was safe and approaching Hobart Town as swiftly as the
breeze could drive her, but they were so impatient to see her and their
missing companions once more that they could not wait until she arrived
in port, and so had chartered a tug and started out to meet her. Frank
and Archie were delighted at the prospect of the reunion which was soon
to take place, but the three sailors looked rather gloomy over it. They
could not bear to meet the captain they had wronged.

As soon as the tug arrived abreast of the vessel she began to round to,
and Frank threw the Stranger up into the wind to wait for her to come
alongside. When her bow touched the schooner, the delighted members of
the Club scrambled over the rail like so many young pirates, and greeted
the cousins in the most boisterous manner. The older members of the
party followed more leisurely and were not quite so demonstrative,
although it was plain that they were quite as glad to see Frank and
Archie once more as the Club were.

In obedience to a sign from Uncle Dick the tug steamed off toward Hobart
Town, the Stranger filled away on her course, and then the party went
into the cabin to talk over the events of the last few days. Frank first
told the story of the seizure of the schooner, as he had heard it from
the lips of the convict, and described how they had recovered possession
of her, giving Archie all the credit for the exploit, as he was in duty
bound to do. He laid a good deal of stress on the services rendered by
the Doctor, and said all he could in praise of the three foremast hands;
but when he proposed that they should be retained as if nothing had
happened, Uncle Dick shook his head.

“That will hardly do, Frank,” said he. “As far as I am concerned, I
should not hesitate to keep them and trust them as I did before; but we
should have no peace if I did. The rest of the men have threatened to
take vengeance on them, and every time their liberty was granted there
would be trouble, which would probably end in all the crew finding their
way into the lockup. I think I had better discharge them.”

Of course that settled the matter. Frank was sorry, for he believed that
the three foremast hands were ready to make amends for their misconduct
by every means in their power; but he saw the force of the captain’s
reasoning, and so he said no more about it.

In accordance with Frank’s request, Uncle Dick then told how he had
first discovered the loss of the schooner. He and his friend, Mr.
Wilbur, had returned from their ride about nine o’clock, he said, and
had gone to bed believing that everything was just as it should be. He
never troubled himself about his vessel when he was ashore, for he knew
that his officers were able to take care of her.

Just before daylight, the sailors whom Fowler had sent off on that
wild-goose chase, came back, having been lost for hours in the bush.
They had found the station which Fowler had described to them, and were
surprised to learn that no arrangements for a race had ever been made
there. Believing that they were the victims of a practical joke they
were very indignant, and promised one another that they would square
yards with the consul’s clerk before another twenty-four hours had
passed over their heads. They put their horses into the inclosure where
they found them, went down the bank to hail the schooner for a boat, and
were amazed to find that she was gone. Far from suspecting that there
was anything wrong, they believed that Uncle Dick had taken Mr. Wilbur
and his family out for the excursion that had been so long talked of;
and knowing that if this was the case, some of the herdsmen could tell
them all about it, they returned to the house and pounded loudly upon
the door. The summons was answered by Uncle Dick in person, and the
bluejackets were as surprised to see him as he was to learn of the
discovery they had just made. An investigation was ordered at once, and
it resulted in the finding of the two officers and the rest of the crew,
whom the convicts had left bound and gagged in the bushes on the bank.

Uncle Dick did not wait to hear the whole of the story that Mr. Baldwin
had to tell; a very few words were enough to let him into the secret of
the matter. Accompanied by Mr. Wilbur he set out on horseback for Hobart
Town, and the police commissioner being hunted up, the matter was
explained to him. That gentleman informed his visitors that there was no
war steamer nearer than Melbourne, but she should be sent for at once,
and Uncle Dick might go home fully assured that his vessel would be
returned to him in a very few days, unless she was burnt or sunk by her
convict crew before the man-of-war could come up with her. Uncle Dick,
however, did not go home, and neither did Mr. Wilbur. They both remained
at Hobart Town and boarded every vessel that came in, to inquire if
anything had been seen of the Stranger; but they could gain no tidings
of her, and Uncle Dick began to be seriously alarmed. He did not fear
for the safety of his vessel—he scarcely thought of her—but he did fear
for Frank and his cousin. He remembered what had transpired shortly
after Waters and his three friends were rescued from the breakers, and
he knew that they had two objects in view when they captured the vessel.
One was to regain their liberty, and the other was to make themselves
rich by stealing the contents of the strong box. They might succeed in
regaining their liberty, if they could elude the war-vessel that had
gone in pursuit of them, but they would never make themselves rich as
they hoped. There were not more than twenty-five pounds in the safe.
When the Stranger was hauled into the dry-docks, Walter had deposited
every cent of the vessel’s funds in the bank; and all there was in the
strong box now was a little of his own and Eugene’s pocket-money, which
they had put in there for safe keeping. Uncle Dick did not like to think
what would happen when Waters discovered this fact. Beyond a doubt he
would be very angry, and if he acted as he had done on a former
occasion, when he allowed his rage to get the better of him, what would
become of Frank and his cousin?

“While I was worrying about that it never occurred to me that _you_ were
man enough to take care of him,” added Uncle Dick, nodding to Archie.

“I declare it beats anything I ever heard of,” said Featherweight. “I
didn’t know you had so much pluck.”

“If you had seen me while I was doing it and after it was done, you
wouldn’t give me so much credit,” replied Archie. “I don’t think I was
ever before so badly frightened.”

Uncle Dick then went on to say that the war-steamer had returned to
Hobart Town about ten o’clock on the morning of the previous day. He and
Mr. Wilbur boarded her as soon as she touched the quay, and sought an
interview with her commander, who put all their fears at rest by telling
them that he had the convicts safe under guard, and that he had left the
Stranger in the hands of those who seemed fully competent to take care
of her. Uncle Dick was astonished beyond measure to learn how completely
the boys had turned the tables upon their captors, and could hardly
believe it until he was told that Waters himself had confirmed the
story. The English commander further stated that he would have brought
the yacht into port under convoy, had it not been for the obstinacy of
her captain. Frank having hoisted his colors would not take them down,
and as he had no right to do it, and his officers could not be expected
to sail under a foreign flag, he had left the Stranger to take care of
herself. Uncle Dick laughed when he came to this part of his story, and
Frank knew by the stinging slap he received on the back that he had done
just as the old sailor himself would have done under the same
circumstances.

The schooner sailed into port about three o’clock that afternoon, and as
soon as she was made fast to the quay, the three foremast hands were
called into the cabin and paid off. Uncle Dick gave the same reasons for
discharging them that he had given Frank, and the sailors accepted the
situation without a word of complaint. They took a sorrowful leave of
the captain and each of the Club, and the boys never saw them again
after they went over the side with their bags and hammocks.

When the tide turned the Stranger left the harbor again, Uncle Dick on
the quarter-deck and the Club acting as the crew, and in a few hours
dropped anchor in her old berth near Mr. Wilbur’s house. The sailors and
the herdsmen, who had gathered in a body on the bank to see her come in,
greeted her with cheers, and when the cutter went ashore with Uncle Dick
and the rest, the blue jackets crowded into it with an eagerness that
did not escape the notice of their officers. They expected to find Brown
and his two companions on board the schooner, and if they had found them
there, it is probable that there would have been trouble directly. When
they learned from the Doctor that the three men had been discharged at
Hobart Town, a select party of six, among whom were Lucas and Barton,
was appointed to go to the city, hunt them up, and give them a vigorous
trouncing. But this fine scheme was defeated at the outset, for when the
selected six went aft with their caps in their hands to ask their
liberty, Mr. Baldwin informed them that not a man would be allowed to
leave the vessel. The disappointed blue jackets growled lustily among
themselves, but that did not help the matter.

The next day Mr. Wilbur and his family came aboard, the sails were
hoisted, and the Stranger sailed away with them. They spent a week in
cruising along the coast, stopping at various points of interest, and
then returned to their old anchorage. After that more provisions and
water were hoisted in, three American sailors, whom Uncle Dick found
stranded at Hobart Town, were shipped to supply the places of those who
had been discharged, and the schooner began her voyage to Natal.

This proved to be the pleasantest part of their trip around the world,
so far as the weather was concerned. The topsails were spread at the
start, and were scarcely touched until the shores of Africa were in
sight. Of course the voyage was monotonous, for books were scarce, and
almost every topic of conversation had been worn threadbare. The plans
they had laid for their campaign in Africa had been discussed until they
were heartily tired of them, and it was only when Uncle Dick could be
prevailed upon to relate some of the adventures that had befallen him
during the three years he had spent in the wilds of that almost unknown
country, that the boys exhibited any interest at all. The welcome cry
“Land, ho!” from the masthead aroused them, and sent them up to the
crosstrees with their field-glasses in their hands. They were all
impatient to get ashore—all except the two trappers. The latter seemed
to have forgotten the most of their old fears by this time, and to be
quite as much at home in the forecastle as they were in the mountains
and on the prairie. They had come to realize that they were in no danger
of falling off among the clouds when they reached the under side of the
earth, and were fully convinced that the phantom ship, the Flying
Dutchman, the whale that swallowed Jonah, and the monstrous “quids”
which had so excited their terror, had no existence except in the brains
of the foremast hands; but they knew that there were such things as
elephants, lions, and tigers, for they had heard Uncle Dick and Frank
say so. They did not care to meet any of these monsters, and they
approached the coast with fear and trembling. Perhaps if the Club had
known just what was in store for them, they also would have felt a
little less enthusiasm.



                              CHAPTER XII.
                           BUYING AN OUTFIT.


On the afternoon of the same day that land was discovered from the
masthead, the Stranger sailed into the port of Natal. As soon as the
anchor was dropped the gig was called away, and Uncle Dick was rowed
ashore, where he remained so long that the boys began to grow impatient
and uneasy; but finally, to their great relief, they saw him coming back
again, and they saw, too, that there was a trunk in the bow of the boat,
and that a stranger was seated in the stern-sheets beside Uncle Dick—a
tall, gray-headed man, with a weather-beaten face and mutton-chop
whiskers. While they were wondering who he could be, the boat came
alongside, and Uncle Dick and his companion sprang on board. “Mr.
Baldwin,” said the captain, “have this trunk taken into the forecastle,
and give this man a bunk there. Then get under way at once.”

“Under way,” repeated Walter. “What is the matter?”

“Nothing at all,” was the reply. “Come down into the cabin, and I will
tell you what I have done since I went ashore.”

The boys followed, lost in wonder. The order to get under way, when they
had fully expected that the schooner would remain at her present
anchorage for six or eight months, surprised them greatly; but the
captain explained it in a few words.

“While I was ashore I had the good fortune to meet an English colonel
who has just returned from a hunting trip in the interior,” said he. “He
has an outfit that he wants to sell, having no further use for it, and
which is just the thing we want—a span of oxen, a wagon, a dozen
‘salted’ horses, and a whole armory of double-barrelled rifles. If they
suit us we will buy them all in a lump, and that will save us two or
three weeks’ time.”

The boys had read enough to know that a “span” of oxen was six yoke, and
that a “salted” horse was an animal which had had the distemper and been
cured of it. Such horses were hard to find, and it sometimes required
considerable urging, and the display of a good deal of money, to induce
their owners to part with them after they were found, for they were
considered to be proof against the diseases which were so prevalent in
the interior. Many a sportsman had the boys read of, who, when a
thousand miles from the coast and in the midst of a fine hunting
country, had suddenly found himself without a nag to ride, all his
animals having been carried off by the distemper. Had he taken the
precaution to purchase “salted” horses, he would not have been in so
much danger of being placed in this disagreeable situation. True, the
lions might kill his stock, or it might die for want of water; but these
were perils that could oftentimes be averted by a little extra care and
forethought.

“This outfit is at Grahamstown,” continued Uncle Dick, “and we are going
down to take a look at it. This man I brought off with me is a
Scotchman, named McGregor. He used to be a transport-rider.”

“What is a transport-rider, and where is Grahamstown?” asked Eugene.

“Grahamstown is a few miles farther down the coast, and the point from
which the most of the trading expeditions start for the interior. It is
to Cape Colony what St. Joe and Independence used to be to our own
country. A transport-rider is a teamster, who makes a business of
carrying goods from one settlement to another. This man, McGregor, made
a little money in that way, then went to trading and lost his last cent.
It wouldn’t surprise me much if we should sink all the capital we put
into the business, either,” said Uncle Dick, with a cheerful wink at the
Club.

“How did he lose his money?” asked George.

“He lost the cattle he received in exchange for his merchandise,”
answered Uncle Dick. “One drove died of thirst while crossing the
desert, and the other was stolen by the natives, who came very near
making an end of McGregor at the same time.”

“Why do you think you will lose your money?” asked Walter.

“Oh, because there’s trouble brewing between the Dutch farmers, who are
called Boers, and their sworn enemies, the Griquas; and when they get at
swords’ points, as they do about twice every year, they make it very
unpleasant for travellers, and especially for traders. They are so
cowardly that they seldom come to blows, but if they catch a stranger in
their country, he is almost sure to suffer. Each side is afraid that he
will lend aid and comfort to the other, and consequently both treat him
as an enemy. If he passes through the country of the Griquas, they
think, or pretend to think, that he has been selling munitions of war to
the Boers, and straightway rob him of all he has; and if the Boers find
any extra guns in his wagon, or more powder than the law allows, they
accuse him of selling contraband articles to their enemies, and
confiscate what he has left. We have come at the wrong time, and in that
respect we are unfortunate. In other ways I think we are very lucky. We
are lucky in finding this outfit, and in securing the services of
McGregor. He knows the country thoroughly, and is capable of acting as
interpreter. Having been a trader, he is experienced, and so we will
give the management of our expedition entirely into his hands.”

“So we’re bound to be fleeced by one side or the other, are we?” said
Walter.

“It looks that way now. Shall we give up the journey and go home?”

“No, sir!” cried all the boys at once.

“We have come so far around the world on purpose to see something of
life in Africa,” exclaimed Eugene. “It was in our minds when we started,
and we have abandoned other plans we have laid in order that we might
carry out this part of our programme. It would be a pretty thing now if
we should be frightened away by a few negroes and Dutchmen.”

“Hear! hear!” cried the rest of the Club.

“All right. We’ll go on,” said Uncle Dick.

And they did go on. They reached Grahamstown early the next morning, and
McGregor (the boys had become familiar enough with him by this time to
call him “Mack”) struck a bargain with the English colonel’s agent in
less than an hour after he got ashore. The outfit he purchased comprised
everything our travellers could possibly need during their journey
except provisions, merchandise, and ammunition. It comprised a good many
things, too, for which they did not think they should find any use, and
some which they thought were entirely unnecessary, such as camp-stools,
easy-chairs, mattresses, and a carpet to cover the floor of the tent in
which the colonel and his companions had lived like princes. The boys
laughed when they saw these things, and told one another that no one but
a very wealthy man could be a hunter if English notions were carried
out. They had spent months on the prairie with no more luggage than they
could carry on their backs, and they had lived well, too, and enjoyed
themselves.

“The colonel ought to have had just one more thing, and then he would
have been very comfortably fixed,” said Archie; “that is a bath-tub.”

“Just look here!” cried Frank, as he drew one of the double-barrelled
rifles from its holster. “There’s no one in our party who can use this
weapon. It was made for a giant.”

It was an elephant gun, the first the boys had ever seen, and it was a
great curiosity to them. It was so heavy that when Frank raised it to
his shoulders and glanced along the barrels, it required the outlay of
all his strength to hold it steady. His little Maynard, which weighed
just eight pounds and was warranted to throw a ball a thousand yards,
would have looked like a pop-gun beside it.

The guns were not the only things in their new outfit that the boys
found to wonder at. The wagon, and the oxen that were to draw it during
a four or five months’ journey, if they should be fortunate enough to
escape the lions so long, demanded a good share of their attention. The
wagon was a huge, clumsy-looking affair—the largest thing the boys had
ever seen mounted on wheels. It was eighteen feet long, four feet wide,
and looked heavy enough to tax the strength of the oxen even when there
was nothing in it. It was provided with a cover, like the wagon in which
Frank and his cousin made their first journey across the plains, but it
was not made of canvas. It was made of green boughs fastened together
with strips of rawhide. It was furnished with two water-tanks, four
boxes in which to carry tools and clothing, and there was still space
enough left in the body of the wagon to accommodate an ample supply of
provisions, and also a good-sized cargo of merchandise.

The oxen that were to draw this unwieldy vehicle were tall, gaunt,
wiry-looking beasts, with wide-spreading horns. They reminded the
cousins of the half-wild cattle they had seen in their uncle’s ranche in
California.

The horses too needed a good looking over. At first glance they were
anything but pleased with them, and they expressed great astonishment
that the English colonel, who had spent money so lavishly on other
portions of his outfit, should have been content with such sorry-looking
beasts. There were but two handsome ones in the lot. The rest, to quote
from Archie, looked like the “breaking up of a hard winter,” and the
sight of them made the boys wish for the sleek, well-conditioned riding
nags they had left at home. But they proved themselves capable of good
service, and after two of them, the homeliest and most vicious horses in
the group, had carried their riders safely through an ambuscade, as they
did a few weeks later, nothing more was said about their looks.

This part of their outfit having been purchased, the next thing was to
lay in a supply of provisions and ammunition, and also a stock of goods
suitable for barter. Here Mack proved himself to be an invaluable
assistant. He knew just what to take and what to leave behind, and he
showed as much skill in loading the wagon as any sailor would have
showed in stowing away the cargo of his vessel. The boys were as
surprised at the quantity of goods he put into it as they were at the
great variety of articles he selected. For the Boers, with whom Uncle
Dick intended to trade for cattle, he had everything, from a piece of
thread with which to mend a harness, to a gaudy handkerchief for the
fraus to tie around their necks. For the Griquas he laid in a supply of
beads, brass and copper wire, and cheap smooth-bore guns, all of which
were to be exchanged for ivory.

While Mack was employed in this way the rest of the party were not idle.
The horses and guns were to be distributed, and there were servants to
be engaged. We have said that there were two desirable animals among the
horses, and there were also among the weapons some light handy pieces,
which the boys would have selected in preference to any of the others.
Of course all could not be exactly suited, and in order to give every
one a fair opportunity to secure the best, it was decided to dispose of
the horses and guns by lot. The colonel’s own riding mare and his
favorite double-barrel, both of which were pointed out by the agent of
whom the outfit was purchased, were first set aside for Uncle Dick.
Those that were left were then numbered, and corresponding numbers being
placed in Walter Gaylord’s hat, each boy drew out one, and became
temporary owner of the steed and the rifle whose number agreed with his
own. Frank drew number three; and on hunting up his property, found that
the charger which bore that number on a card tied to his foretop, was a
long-legged, raw-boned animal, and the most vicious one in the whole
drove. He welcomed his new master by laying back his ears and making a
savage bite at his hand. When he came to examine the weapons, he found
that number three rifle was the mass of wood and iron which he had
declared to be heavy enough for a giant. He had the worst luck of all;
and the boys laughed heartily at the wry faces he made, and more
heartily still at the antics of Archie Winters, who paraded past his
cousin mounted on a high-stepping thoroughbred, and carrying a handsome
silver-mounted rifle, both of which had fallen to his lot.

“Now here’s what I call a horse,” cried Archie, patting the sleek neck
of the animal he bestrode. “He doesn’t look much like your old crowbait,
does he? I say, Frank, I don’t believe I’d go, if I were in your place.
You can’t possibly keep up with us, and neither can you shoot anything;
for it will take so long to raise that killdeer to your shoulder, that
all the game within range will have plenty of time to get safely out of
sight. Here’s a rifle, if you want to look at one. Just lift it, and see
how nicely it is balanced.”

But Frank said he didn’t care to examine it—he was very well satisfied
with his own. He took charge of his property in a quiet, indifferent
sort of way, that had a volume of meaning in it. He resolved that his
“crowbait” and “killdeer” should become famous before the journey was
ended.

The servants, of whom Uncle Dick was in search, were soon forthcoming in
the shape of four stalwart Kaffirs, who had accompanied English
sportsmen on expeditions similar to this, and understood the duties
required of them; but the sequel proved that they were lacking in some
very necessary qualities. The letter of recommendation that one of them
proudly presented to Uncle Dick would have applied to them all. It was
from his last employer, and read as follows:

“This man is a good cook, but he is a fearful twister of the truth, and
a most expert thief. Take him, if you like a good cup of coffee in the
morning, but never take your eyes from him; if you do, he will be
missing some fine day, and so will your best horse and gun.”

Uncle Dick engaged the Kaffir, but took care to post the boys, and his
head man, Mack, in order that they might keep watch of him.

At last Mack announced that all the arrangements had been made, and he
was ready to “trek”—that is, to begin the journey. This was followed by
an order from Uncle Dick to “inspan” (oxen are not “yoked” or “unyoked”
in Africa—they are “inspanned” and “outspanned”), and that occupied the
best part of the forenoon. In the first place the oxen had to be brought
in from the neighboring hills, where they had been driven to graze, and,
of course, some of them had strayed away, and had to be hunted up, while
others, preferring the freedom of the pasture to labor under the yoke,
didn’t want to be driven to camp. The training Frank and Archie had
received while living in California came into play here, and the latter
showed that he had not yet lost his skill with the lasso, by capturing
an obstinate brute which had repeatedly dodged Eugene and Featherweight,
and seemed determined to follow every road except the one that led
toward the wagon. When the oxen were brought in they were surrounded to
keep them from running away again, and after a good deal of breath had
been expended in shouting and scolding, and a bushel or two of stones
had been thrown, and the hair had been cut from some of the most unruly
ones by the heavy whip which Mack handled as if it had been a feather,
the inspanning was completed and the journey begun. The wagon went
first, driven by Mack; behind it followed half a dozen cows, twice as
many goats, and three loose horses; while the boys and the trappers
brought up the rear, and rode on the flanks of the train to keep these
extra animals from straying away. The cows and goats were expected to
furnish the travellers with milk until they reached the Griqua country,
when they were to be exchanged for ivory. The horses were to mount any
member of the party who might be so unfortunate as to injure or lose his
own nag.

During the first six weeks nothing happened that is of sufficient
interest to be recorded here. The weather for the most part was
pleasant, the roads much better than they had expected to find them, and
Mack often declared that they were making wonderful headway. Nothing had
yet been done in the way of trading, for they were too close to the
settlements. Mack was gradually drawing away from the travelled routes,
in order to reach a colony of Boers who had located their farms on the
very borders of the Griqua country. Cattle were plenty and cheap there,
and consequently good bargains could be made. The country through which
they were travelling showed some few signs of civilization. Once or
twice each week they met a transport rider, and about as often they
would encounter a few Boers going to or returning from some remote
settlement. About as often, too, they would make their camp near the
house of some farmer, who in the evening would come over and drink tea
with Uncle Dick. All these Boers talked of was the impending war with
the natives, and every one of them urged Uncle Dick to turn aside and
give the Griqua country a wide berth.

The boys often told one another that if any people in the world ought to
be supremely happy it was these same Boers. They owned or controlled
immense farms on which horses and cattle, which constituted their sole
wealth, were raised with scarcely any trouble at all; their tables were
abundantly supplied; they seemed to possess everything in the way of
household comforts that any people with their simple habits could ask
for; and they lived in the midst of a hunting country which far
surpassed anything the boys had ever dreamed of. One of these Boers
could get up any morning in the week, take his old “roer” down from the
pegs at the head of his bed, and knock over an eland or a springbok for
breakfast, and that too without going any farther than the threshold of
his own door. There were antelopes, large and small, zebras, quaggas,
and buffaloes without number. Time and again had the boys been awakened
from their morning nap by the clatter of countless hoofs, and hurried
out of their tents to find the plain covered with these animals as far
as their eyes could reach. Such sights drove the trappers almost wild
with excitement. They reminded them of the glorious sport they had
enjoyed among the noble game of their own country, the buffaloes, which,
like the class of men to which Dick and Bob belonged, are fast becoming
extinct. Of course the boys had ample opportunity to try the speed of
their horses and the accuracy of their new weapons. The wagon did not
halt a single day to give them a chance to hunt, for theirs was a
trading, not a hunting expedition; but they scoured the country for
miles on each side of the route, and already large quantities of
something which Mack called “bell-tongue,” but which the boys called
“jerked meat,” was packed away in the wagon for use in the days when
game was not quite so plenty.

The place where this good hunting was found was in the uninhabited
region lying between the borders of the colony and the remote Dutch
settlement toward which Mack was directing his course. As they
approached the opposite side of it, the game decreased in numbers, until
finally an exceedingly wild springbok would be the only animal the boys
could find in a day’s hard riding. This was a sign that the settlement
was near at hand. Their trading begun now, and trouble followed close on
the heels of it.



                             CHAPTER XIII.
                             A SURLY BOER.


The “settlement” that Mack was so anxious to reach proved to be no
settlement at all, as the boys understood the meaning of the word. It
was simply a collection of a dozen or more families who were scattered
over an immense country, the nearest neighbors living three days’
journey from each other. They arrived at the first farmhouse one bright
afternoon, and the sight of the cattle feeding about it delighted Mack,
who declared that he would not inspan again until he had traded for a
dozen or fifteen of the best of them; but the reception they met from
the farmer himself, made the boys a little doubtful on that point. They
had seen enough of the Boers by this time to learn something of their
customs. One of these customs was, that every traveller must be
cordially greeted at the door, presented to each member of the family in
turn, and invited to dinner; and this farmer was the first one who
neglected this ceremony. When the wagon drew up in front of the house he
stood in the door with his long pipe in his hand, but he made no move to
welcome them, although Mack greeted him as an old acquaintance.

“Well, Mynheer Schrader,” exclaimed the driver, as he jumped off his
wagon, “I am glad to see you again. Where shall I outspan, and where
shall the oxen be driven to graze?”

“There is a fountain five miles further on,” replied the Boer in broken
English.

“But I intend to stop here,” replied Mack. “You have some fine cattle,
and I have the best stock of goods ever brought out by a trader—ribbons,
and tea and coffee for the women, cloth to make clothes for the
children, and perhaps something for Mynheer himself. Where shall I
offload?”

“I want nothing,” growled the Boer.

“Oh, it’s no trouble at all,” insisted Mack. “It’s my business to show
goods. That’s what I am hired for.”

Mack looked around to select a place for the camp, and discovering a
little grove at a short distance from the house, he drove the wagon
there and proceeded to outspan, just as he would have done if the Boer
had given him the most cordial welcome. As soon as the oxen were freed
from their yokes one of the Kaffirs drove them away to graze, and Mack
proceeded to make a display of his goods.

“Are you going to unload?” asked Walter. “That Boer says he doesn’t want
anything.”

“Oh, he don’t know whether he does or not,” replied Mack. “That’s what
they all say at first, only they generally say it in a more friendly
manner. Wait till the women see what I have to show them, and perhaps he
will change his mind.”

“He’s a surly old rascal,” said Eugene.

“That’s true,” answered Mack. “I don’t much like the way he welcomed us.
We must make a friend of him if we can, for he’s a field cornet.”

“What’s that?”

“A sort of magistrate. He’s a big man here, and the other farmers will
be likely to do just as he does. If he treats us well and trades with
us, the others will do the same; but if he holds off and acts sulky, we
might as well pack up and go on to the Griquas, for we shall get no
cattle.”

“What do you suppose makes him act so?” asked Bob. “The others have all
seemed glad to see us.”

“Oh, he knows that we want ivory as well as cattle, and he is afraid
we’ll sell guns and powder to the natives. He may take it into his
stupid head to tell us that we mustn’t go any farther.”

“What will we do in that case?”

“Pay no attention to him. He can’t raise men enough in the settlement to
turn us back—our twelve men would make a pretty good show drawn up in
line—and before he can send off for help, we’ll be miles in the Griqua
country, where he dare not follow us. I don’t much like that move
either.”

“What move?” asked Archie.

Mack bobbed his head toward the house by way of reply. The boys looked
and saw a young Boer, who they afterward learned was the son of the
owner of the farm, sitting on his horse listening to some instructions
from his father. The old man was excited, if one might judge by the way
he paced back and forth in front of his house and swung his arms about
his head. When he had finished his speech the young Boer rode off
posthaste.

“I don’t like that move,” repeated Mack. “I don’t know whether the old
chap wants help, or whether he is sending word to the other farmers that
they mustn’t trade with us. It is one or the other. If he doesn’t change
his tactics pretty soon, I’ll put all the things back in the wagon and
to-morrow we’ll trek again.”

While Mack was unloading his goods and spreading them out on the ground
so that they could be inspected by the Boer and his family, if they
should choose to look at them, the boys busied themselves in unsaddling
the horses, pitching the tents, and making other preparations for the
night. They stopped to look at the retreating figure of the young Boer
occasionally, and told one another that his mission, whatever it was,
must be one of importance, for he kept his horse on the run as long as
he remained in sight. Presently a party of negroes, some on foot and
others on horseback, rode into camp. The boys, who had by this time
learned to look upon these visits as petty annoyances that could not be
escaped (the natives were great beggars and thieves), did not take a
second look at these newcomers, until they heard Mack say that they were
Zulus and Griquas. He knew the members of all the tribes and could tell
them as far as he could see them, just as Dick and Bob could tell a
Sioux Indian or a Comanche.

“Griquas!” repeated George. “There’ll be a row here now, I suppose.”

“Who’ll raise it?” asked Mack.

“Why, that Boer over there,” said Frank. “I should think the natives
would have better sense than to go prowling about through an enemy’s
country.”

“Oh, that’s nothing,” returned Mack. “They haven’t come to blows yet.
They are only threatening each other.”

As the boys expected to see a good deal of the Griquas before their
journey was ended, they looked at their visitors with a good deal of
interest. Unlike the majority of the natives they had thus far seen,
these were dressed as well as a good many of the Boers with whom they
had come in contact, only their clothes were made of leather, and
instead of hats they wore gaudy handkerchiefs tied around their heads,
after the fashion of some of the negroes in our Southern States. They
rode sorry-looking beasts, and each of them carried a cheap smooth-bore
rifle on his shoulder, and an immense powderhorn under his arm. They
were a ruffianly looking set, and the boys thought that the efforts of
the missionaries, who had lived among them so many years, had not
amounted to much. They had been taught to wear clothing and to use
firearms, and that was as far as the white man’s influence had had any
effect on them. Their companions, the Zulus, were a still harder lot.
They looked and acted like genuine savages. They were on foot, and their
weapons consisted principally of spears and war-clubs.

“They’re the lads that own the ivory,” said Mack. “If you should go to
their country you’d see elephants by the drove, and have no trouble at
all in filling this wagon with their teeth.”

“Well, why can we not go there?” asked Eugene. “If the Boers will not
trade with us—”

“Oh, I wouldn’t go to the Zulu country for all the money the wagon could
hold,” interrupted Mack, quickly. “There is no water in the desert, and
the wild bushmen are thicker than blackberries.”

“And they shoot poisoned arrows,” said Walter.

“That’s what’s the matter,” exclaimed Mack. “I’d sooner face a bullet
than one of those arrows.”

“Mack!” shouted Uncle Dick, from his place under the fly of the tent
where he was lying at his ease, with his hands under his head, and his
big meerschaum in his mouth, “ask this fellow what he wants. I’ve
forgotten all my Dutch.”

Uncle Dick was surrounded by his visitors, one of whom was holding his
gun in one hand and making motions around the lock with the other, as if
he were trying to explain something about it. When Mack inquired into
the matter the Griquas at once gathered about him, and for a few minutes
an animated discussion was carried on. The conversation was principally
by signs, as it seemed to the boys, for they could not understand how
any one could make sense out of words which sounded almost exactly like
the grunting of pigs.

“His gun is out of order, sir, and he wants somebody to fix it,” said
Mack. “The notch is worn smooth, and the hammer won’t stay back.”

“Well, tell him that I don’t keep a travelling gun-shop,” replied the
old sailor.

“Let me see it,” said Frank, extending his hand for the gun, which the
native promptly surrendered to him.

“Look out there, my boy,” exclaimed Uncle Dick, “or my first customer
will be one of my own party.”

“Now I’ll tell you what’s a fact. What do you mean by that?” asked Perk.

“I mean that if you break that gun among you in trying to fix it, you
will have to buy a new one of me to replace it.”

“Why the weapon is useless now,” said Frank, bending back the hammer,
which instantly fell down upon the tube when he released it. “Even if I
should break it, it couldn’t be in any worse condition than it is now.”

“No matter. You’ve got a rogue to deal with, and he wouldn’t ask any
better fun than to make you give him a new gun for his wornout piece.”

“But I wouldn’t do it,” said Frank.

“Then in two or three days we should have a band of Griqua warriors down
here to ask what’s the reason,” returned Uncle Dick.

“Whew!” whistled Frank. “If that’s the kind of scrape I am likely to get
into by being accommodating, I’ll go no further. Here Mr.—Mr.—”

“Jones,” suggested Archie.

“Here, Jones, take your old gun. I can’t do anything with it.”

He handed the weapon to the owner as he spoke, but to his great surprise
the native backed away, put his hands behind his back and refused to
receive it. He shook his head vehemently and gabbled loudly in Dutch, at
the same time appealing to his companions, who nodded their approval.

“What does he say, Mack?” asked Bob.

“He says that the Englishman must fix it, now that he has begun it.”

“I haven’t begun it, and I’m not an Englishman either,” exclaimed Frank.

“No matter. That’s what he and his friends say,” was Mack’s laughing
response.

“Offer it to him again, and if he doesn’t take it knock him down with
it,” suggested Eugene.

For a second or two it seemed as if Frank thought it would be a good
plan to follow this advice. He was quite willing to undertake the task
of repairing the weapon as an act of kindness, but his blood rose when
he saw that an effort was being made to compel him to do so. The sight
of the comical monkey-like face which the native turned upon him,
however, was too much for his anger. It disappeared almost immediately,
and breaking into a laugh Frank turned to the wagon to hunt up a file
and screw-driver, followed by the Griquas, who watched all his movements
with the keenest interest. Seating himself on the ground, he removed the
lock, took out the tumbler, deepened the smoothly worn notch by a few
passes of the file, and then put it back again just as it was before.
The work was done in five minutes, and to show the native that it was
well done, he took a cap from his own box, put it on the tube and pulled
the trigger. The cap snapped, and the native with a grunt of
satisfaction seized his gun and walked off, surrounded with his
delighted friends. Frank put his hands into his pockets and stood
looking after him. “You didn’t expect him to thank you, did you?” asked
Uncle Dick.

“N-no, sir; but I didn’t expect him to grab the gun as though he thought
I was going to steal it.”

“The next time you do a job of that kind throw in a kick, too,” said
Eugene.

“The next time I won’t touch the gun in the first place,” replied Frank.
“Hallo!”

He looked up just then and saw the surly farmer standing near the wagon
enveloped in a cloud of smoke. Now and then the breeze would carry it
away for an instant, and Frank could see that he was scowling fiercely.

“Ah! Mynheer Schrader,” exclaimed Mack, cheerfully, “you have come out
at last to look at my fine goods. Why didn’t you bring the frau along?”

“I wants nothing,” growled the Boer.

“Now, Mynheer Schrader,” said Mack, in his most winning tones, “when you
see all the fine goods I have brought out here on purpose to—”

The Scotchman was as persistent as a book agent, but he had met his
match in the obstinate Boer, who declared that he didn’t want anything,
and neither would he look at anything. Mack might as well put his fine
goods back into his wagon, and go his way, for not an ox could he buy of
him. A long and animated conversation followed. As it was carried on in
Dutch, the boys could not, of course, understand a single word of it,
but they could easily see that the farmer was angry, and that he was
taking Mack to task for something. Whether he had any advantage of their
man, the boys could not quite decide. They rather thought not; for when
Mack became fairly aroused he talked as fast as the others did, and
slapped his hands and shouted so loudly that he might have been heard
for half a mile. The Griquas listened intently, and did not hesitate to
put in a word, and sometimes a good many of them, whenever an
opportunity was offered. The boys thought they were taking sides with
their champion. Finally, the debate was ended by the Dutchman, who, with
an exclamation of disgust, turned on his heel, and walked away, smoking
furiously.

“Well, Mack, what is the upshot of the whole matter?” asked Uncle Dick,
as the driver lifted his hat from his head, and wiped away the
perspiration into which he had been thrown by his exertions. “Will he
trade?”

“No, sir, and neither will any of his people. They want to discourage
traders from coming out here, for they sell too much ammunition to the
natives.”

“And what did our visitors have to say?” asked Uncle Dick. “I noticed
that they chimed in now and then.”

“Yes, sir. They assured me that we would stand a better chance if we
should go straight to their own country, and let the Boers alone; and
the Zulus say that there is ivory enough in their principal village to
fill our wagon. But I wouldn’t go after it if I could get it for
nothing. The Boer gave you particular fits,” added Mack, turning to
Frank.

“Me! What have I done?”

“You mended that gun for Mr. Jones,” replied Mack; whereupon the boys
and Uncle Dick broke out into a hearty peal of laughter. The idea of
giving a civilized name and title to a creature like that was supremely
ridiculous.

“What business was that of the Boer’s?” asked Frank, as soon as the
noise had subsided.

“Why, he contends that Jones couldn’t have fixed it himself, and so you
went and did it, and gave the Griquas just one more gun to shoot Boers
with. He says we can’t stay in his settlement after that.”

“We don’t want to stay in his settlement,” said Uncle Dick. “We’ll start
through it early in the morning; and the goods that we can’t barter to
the natives we’ll bring back with us, and try to sell to the Boers
nearer the colony.”

This decision was acted upon. Mack had the travellers all astir at an
early hour the next morning, and while the boys were busy striking the
tents and packing them away in the wagon, the cook made coffee and the
other servants went off to drive up the oxen. By the time breakfast was
disposed of the inspanning was completed; and when Mack had taken a turn
about the camp to make sure that nothing had been left behind, he
mounted his box and set the oxen in motion. Uncle Dick rode on ahead in
company with Frank, as he generally did; the rest of the boys and the
trappers came behind to keep the loose cattle and horses in their
places; and the extreme rear was brought up by the Griquas on their
sorry-looking beasts. The Zulus had left camp the night before, after
begging a little tea from Uncle Dick. The sight of the goods that had
been displayed for the Boer’s benefit, made them open their eyes, and
they were hastening to their own country to inform their chief that a
trader was approaching. This was what Mack told the boys, and he knew it
by what he had overheard of the conversation they had with the Griquas
just before they left. But they needn’t think that they were going to
get him to trek so far out of the world, he said. He wouldn’t cross that
desert and take his chances with the wild Bushmen for all the ivory
there was in Africa.

When the wagon passed the farmhouse the Boer was standing in the door,
pipe in hand. “Good morning and good-by to you, Mynheer Schrader,”
exclaimed Mack, cheerfully. “I may see you again in a few weeks, and
then I hope I shall find you in a better humor. Remember that I have the
best stock of goods—”

“I wants nothing but that the lions may catch you while you are going
through the veldt,” growled the Boer, in reply. “Ah! you’re going to a
bad place, and there’ll be no traces left of you in the morning.”

“Never fear. I know more about that veldt and the lions that are in it
than you do.”

The boys did not quite understand this, so after a little consultation
among themselves, Featherweight rode up to the wagon to ask some
information. He remained in conversation with Mack for ten minutes, and
when he dropped back beside his companions again, his face was all aglow
with excitement. “We may see something now, fellows,” he exclaimed.
“That ‘veldt’ the Boer was talking about is a valley in the hills about
a day’s journey from here, and the lions are so numerous there that it
is known all over the country as ‘the lion veldt.’ Every traveller
dreads it. No one pretends to go through there by night, and people have
been killed in broad daylight.”

“Human natur’!” ejaculated Dick.

The rest of the party said nothing at once, but looked down at the horns
of their saddles and thought about it. They had not yet caught a glimpse
of the king of beasts on his native heath. They had heard his voice on
several occasions, and that was enough for them, especially for the
trappers, who, judging of the animal by the noise he was able to make,
formed the opinion that he must be of immense size and something fearful
to look at. To hear a tame lion roar in a menagerie, when they were
standing in a crowd of spectators and the lion was penned up in an iron
cage and deprived of all power for mischief, was one thing; and to hear
that same tame lion’s uncle or cousin give tongue in the wilds of Africa
on a dark and stormy night (Uncle Dick had often told them that when a
lion made up his mind to do any particular damage he always chose a
stormy night for it), when there were no iron bars to confine him, and
nothing but the thin sides of their tent, and a frail breastwork of
thorn-bushes, to keep him from dashing into their very midst, was
another and a widely different thing. The boys had heard lions roar
under all these circumstances, and George expressed the sentiments of
the most of the party when he said:

“I have listened to several concerts since I have been in this country,
and I don’t want to hear another.”

“You will probably hear another within a few hours,” returned Fred. “The
next water we shall find on the route is in that valley, and there’s
where we shall camp to-night.”

“Ain’t thar no trail that leads around it?” asked old Bob, nervously.

“Probably not, or some one would have found it before this time. All
traders pass through there. Mack told me that about three years ago he
watched the fountain, beside which we are going to camp next, all one
night, and saw three different troops of lions come there to drink; but
he was so badly frightened by the hubbub they made, that he dared not
shoot at them. He told me that his shooting-hole is there yet and that I
could use it to-night if I felt so disposed; but I declined.”

“I dare you to stay there with me to-night.”

The astonished boys looked up to see who the bold challenger was. It was
Eugene Gaylord, who, finding that his companions were staring hard at
him, dropped his reins, placed his hands on his hips and looked at each
of them in turn. “Don’t all speak at once, because I don’t want too much
company,” said he.



                              CHAPTER XIV.
                           A TROOP OF LIONS.


“There’s no danger that you will be overburdened with company if you
intend to pass the night at that shooting-hole,” said Bob, with a laugh.
“I know who _won’t_ go. Here’s one.”

“Here’s another,” said George.

“Here’s one who will go,” cried Archie.

“You don’t mean it,” exclaimed George.

“I mean just this: if Eugene is brave enough to stay beside that spring
to-night, I am,” returned Archie.

“So am I,” said Fred.

“Oh, of course,” laughed George. “If one of you three go, you’ll all go.
Well, I shall stay contentedly by the fire, and about the time you hear
the roar of the first lion that is coming to the spring to drink, you’ll
wish yourselves safe beside the fire, too.”

“Do you really mean to go, Eugene?” asked Archie, in a low tone.

“Yes, I do, if you two fellows will go with me. We don’t expect to kill
a lion or even shoot at one, but we’ll have something to brag of. When
we get home we can say we performed a feat that none of the others dared
attempt.”

“How big is one of them critters, anyhow?” asked Dick Lewis. “Is he much
bigger’n a painter?”

“Why a panther wouldn’t make an ear for a lion,” replied Eugene. “Well,
yes, perhaps he would, too,” he added, seeing that the trapper’s eyes
were fastened searchingly upon him; “but he wouldn’t make more than a
half a dozen good mouthfuls. Will you go with us, Dick?”

“Nary time,” exclaimed the trapper, quickly. “A critter that can make
such a bellerin’ as that one did that stormy night a few weeks back, is
something I don’t want to see.”

Our three friends, Archie, Fred, and Eugene, had something to talk about
now—something in which they alone were interested; so they fell back
behind the others, and during the rest of the forenoon were left almost
entirely to themselves. Whether or not they expected to derive any
pleasure from their projected enterprise, other than to be found in
talking about it after it was all over, it is hard to tell. They tried
their best to make themselves and one another believe that they did, and
repeatedly expressed the hope that Uncle Dick would not interpose his
authority, and spoil all their sport by ordering them to stay in the
camp. They expected that he would have something to say about it during
the noon halt, and so he did, but he did not put his veto on the
project. He had done such a thing more than once during his young and
foolish days, he said, and although he could not be easily induced to do
it again, he would not like to sell his experience at any price. It was
going to be a beautiful night for sport. It would be as dark as pitch,
and that was just what they wanted. He hoped that they would bag lions
enough so that each one of the party could have a skin to remind him of
his sojourn in Africa, and of that night in particular. Frank talked
much in the same strain, and added that he thought he had enough
arsenical soap left to preserve a few of the heads of the lions, if the
hunters would cut them off and bring them to the camp. The three friends
were not prepared for this, and they did not know what to make of it.
They had looked for opposition, and instead of that received
encouragement and offers of assistance. They said nothing until the
journey was resumed, and then they fell behind to compare notes.

“Now what do you suppose is in the wind?” asked Eugene, as soon as they
were out of earshot of the rest of the party.

“Let Archie guess; he’s a Yankee,” replied Fred. “There’s something up,
I know, or Uncle Dick and Frank would not have talked as they did. What
is it, Archie?”

“There’s no danger that any lions will come near the spring,” replied
Archie.

“Why, didn’t Mack tell me this morning that the veldt was full of them,
and that he had seen three troops of lions at that very fountain?”
demanded Fred. “That can’t be it. Guess again.”

“They think that when night comes and it begins to grow dark, our
courage will give way, and we will say no more about going out to the
shooting-hole,” said Archie. “Am I any nearer the mark this time?”

“I think you are,” replied Eugene. “That’s the best guess you have made
yet. They may think so—it is probable they do—but they will find that
they are mistaken. Do they imagine that I proposed this thing just to
hear myself talk? They ought to know me better than that.”

The boys having now got it into their heads that their courage was
questioned, were more than ever determined to carry their plans into
execution, provided, of course, that Uncle Dick did not change his mind
before night came. They tried to look very unconcerned when they
announced this decision, and perhaps they felt so just then, for it is
always easy to talk carelessly of danger when the danger itself is far
distant; but as the afternoon began to wane, and the range of hills
toward which they had been journeying all day seemed to approach nearer
and nearer to them, our three hunters began to be a little nervous and
uneasy. Perhaps the actions of their companions had something to do with
this. The Griquas, who had all the day been loitering far in the rear,
suddenly urged their beasts into something resembling a canter, and drew
nearer to the boys, as if for protection; while the trappers, after
exchanging a few words in a hurried undertone, rode up to the head of
the line and joined Uncle Dick and his party. They seemed to feel safer
in the captain’s presence and Frank’s than they did anywhere else. The
Griquas were prompt to follow their example, and thus the rear-guard was
reduced to a mere handful.

Archie and his friends cared nothing for the company of the natives, for
they knew that in case of trouble no dependence was to be placed upon
them; but the hurried flight of the two trappers, who had faced so many
dangers without flinching, had anything but a soothing effect upon them.
They would have been glad to ride up to the head of the line, too, but
that would not look well in three hunters who had announced their
determination to perform an exploit that not another person in the
company was willing to undertake. They staid because their pride
compelled them to do so, and George staid to keep them company.

An hour later the wagon entered the valley. It was a dreary,
lonely-looking place they found when they got fairly into it, and they
did not wonder that travellers hurried through it with all possible
speed. It was about two miles wide, and on both sides arose steep hills,
which were covered with thick forests from base to summit. The surface
of the valley was not a level plain, as they had expected to find it. It
was undulating, and even hilly in some places; and although almost bare
of trees, it was thickly covered with boulders, some the size of a man’s
head, and others as large as the wagon. Among these huge boulders the
road twisted and turned in a way that was quite bewildering, a few of
the bends being so abrupt that in passing around them the leaders of the
team and the wheel oxen were seen moving in opposite directions. What an
ambuscade it would have formed for hostile natives—wild Bushmen, for
instance—and how easily a hungry lion could spring out from behind one
of the boulders beside the road, seize a goat or a man, and jump back
again before a shot could be fired at him! Once safe behind a boulder he
was certain to escape with his booty, for he could spring from one rock
to the cover of a second, and thence to a third, faster than even the
breechloaders could be charged and fired at him. But if there was any
hungry lion in the neighborhood he did not show himself, and the
travellers passed safely through the wilderness of rocks, and finally
drew up in the edge of a little grove, where Mack intended to camp for
the night. Our three friends were on the ground at last.

Archie and his companions did not dismount as the others did, but set
off at once in search of the fountain. The first ox that was freed from
the yoke showed them where it was. Knowing that the animal’s instinct
would direct him aright, they followed in his lead, and presently found
themselves standing on the bank of the spring. It was, perhaps, a
hundred yards away from the wagon.

Travellers on our Western plains, when they camp for the night,
generally take pains to stop close beside a stream of water; but campers
in Africa are obliged to follow a different custom. The springs, which
are few and far apart, are generally found on the bare plain, and
sometimes there is not a stick or bush within miles of them. Sticks and
bushes are necessary, one to keep the fire going, and the other to build
the barricade which is always erected to protect the travellers and
their stock from sudden attacks of wild beasts; so the camp is made in
the nearest piece of woods, the cattle are driven to the spring, and the
traveller brings back enough of the water to make his tea and coffee.

Upon reaching the fountain the boys drew rein and looked about them with
a great deal of interest. They saw before them a body of water about
fifty yards long and half as wide, whose source of supply was in the
limpid spring that bubbled out from the low bank that overhung one side
of it. About twenty-five yards from the edge of the water, and in plain
view of it, was the shooting-hole they were to occupy that night; and
about twenty yards still further back was another bank, ten or twelve
feet high, which completely shut them out from the view of the camp.

The shooting-hole was an excavation about four feet deep and six feet
square. There was not much elbow-room in it for three such restless
fellows as our young friends, but still it would afford them a very
comfortable hiding-place if they could only content themselves with
close quarters for a short time. They had one great objection to it when
they came to look at it, and that was, it was too close to the water.
“Two or three swift bounds would carry a wild beast from the fountain’s
edge right into our very midst,” exclaimed Eugene; “that is, provided,
of course, that one comes here to-night and makes up his mind to pitch
into us.”

“Oh, he’ll come,” shouted Fred, from the other side of the fountain.
“You needn’t borrow any trouble on that score. Come over here.”

The boys went, and, when they had examined the ground on that side of
the spring, told one another that it would be surprising indeed if they
did not have visitors before morning. Wild beasts of some sort came
there to drink every night, and in goodly numbers, too. There could be
no mistake about that, for the shore, which was low on that side of the
spring, was tramped so hard that the hoofs of the thirty oxen made no
impression on it. An experienced and enthusiastic hunter, like the
English colonel of whom they purchased their outfit, would have been
delighted at such a prospect for sport.

Their friends at the camp looked curiously at them when they came back,
but saw no signs of backing out. The three hunters were not only in
earnest, but they were impatient to begin operations, if one might judge
by the way they hurried up the preparations for supper. They ate
heartily of the viands that were set before them, and having satisfied
their appetites and bidden their friends good-by, each boy shouldered
his rifles and a bundle of blankets, and was ready to set out. We say
“rifles,” for each boy carried two. Besides their double-barrels, Fred
and Eugene took their sixteen shooters, and Archie his Maynard. They had
the most faith in their breechloaders, for they were accustomed to them.
Uncle Dick and Frank walked down to the spring with them, and having
seen them snugly stowed away in the shooting-hole, bade them good-night
and returned to the camp.

“I can’t quite understand what makes Uncle Dick act so,” said Eugene,
thoughtfully. “Seems to me that he ought to have raised some objections,
and I don’t see why he didn’t.”

“Perhaps he and Frank are hiding up there behind the bank to keep an eye
on us, and be ready to lend us a hand in case we get into trouble,” said
Fred.

“Well, we don’t want any such backing as that. If they want to take a
hand in this business, let them come in here with us. There’s room
enough for them with tight squeezing. I’ll just satisfy myself on that
point.”

So saying, Eugene jumped out of the hole and ran up the bank. The
campfire was burning brightly in the edge of the grove, and by the light
it threw out the young hunter could see that Uncle Dick and his
companion had just joined the rest of the party, who were busy making
preparations for the night. The native servants, having built a small
inclosure of thorn bushes, were driving the oxen into it and fastening
them in; some of the boys were arranging the beds in the tent; and the
others were tying the horses, which now began to come into the camp one
after another. These intelligent animals never waited to be driven in at
night as the oxen did. Their instinct taught them that the neighborhood
of the campfire was the safest place for them, and thither they went as
soon as it began to grow dark.

Having completed his observations, Eugene joined his companions in the
shooting-hole, and reported that he had seen Uncle Dick go into the
camp, and that he and his two friends were alone in their glory. The
sudden silence that fell on the party when Eugene said this, was
evidence that there was not near as much fun in being alone in their
glory as they thought there was. How plainly they could hear the voices
of the Kaffirs as they shouted at the oxen! And when the oxen were all
driven in and the voices ceased, how still it became all at once, and
how dark, too! They tried hard to shake off their feelings of awe and to
find something to talk about, but both efforts were failures. They could
not converse, for their lowest whispers were wonderfully distinct, and
seemed to them loud enough to frighten away any animal that might be
approaching the fountain. For an hour they remained almost motionless in
their hiding-place, holding their weapons in readiness, and keeping
their gaze directed over the edge of the bank toward the water, and then
Fred gave a sudden start and placed his hand on Archie’s shoulder.
“There’s something there!” he whispered, excitedly.

The others listened, and could distinctly hear a faint lapping sound,
made by some animal in drinking; but he was invisible in the darkness.
They could not obtain the slightest glimpse of him.

“It must be a lion,” whispered Fred. “You know Uncle Dick told us that
he has heard lions drinking within ten yards of him, and couldn’t see
them. They can’t be seen in the dark.”

“But they make a very loud noise in drinking,” said Archie, “and this
animal we can scarcely hear. It must be something else.”

“I can see him now,” said Eugene, as he pushed his double-barrel slowly
and cautiously over the bank. “Be ready to give him a broadside in case
I don’t kill him at the first shot. I am not accustomed to shooting in
the dark, you know.”

The other two could see the animal now, but not plainly enough to
determine what it was. It was moving swiftly on the other side of the
fountain, and the boys thought it was looking directly towards their
hiding-place. It circled around to their right, Eugene following all its
movements with his rifle, and only waiting for it to become stationary
for a moment so that he could make a sure shot, and presently it reached
the top of the bank at the rear of the shooting-hole, and stood out in
bold relief against the sky. Then it got the “wind” of the young
hunters, and, with a whisk of its tail and a toss of its head, it backed
quickly down the hill out of sight, at the same time setting up a chorus
of yelps that awoke the echoes far and near, and made the cold chill
creep all over the boys.

“It’s a sneaking jackal,” exclaimed Fred, in great disgust.

“Yes, and I’d rather see almost anything else,” said Eugene. “Just hear
what a yelping he keeps up! He’ll bring the lions down on us as sure as
the world.”

The boys, being well versed in natural history, were acquainted with the
habits of this animal before they ever saw one, and of late they had had
a little experience with some of his tribe. They knew that the jackal is
a sort of scout for the lion. Whenever he finds any game that he is
afraid to attack himself, he sets up a terrific yelping, and any hungry
lion who may be within hearing of the signal comes up and kills it, the
jackal standing by and looking on until the lordly beast has satisfied
his appetite and gone away, when he makes a meal of what is left. One
day, just before they reached the house of the “surly Boer,” our three
friends, in company with Frank Nelson, were hunting elands along the
route, and in the excitement of the chase they followed them so far away
that it was night before they rode into camp, to which they were
directed by the firing of signal guns. Shortly after it began to grow
dark, and while they were yet five miles from the wagon, they were
discovered by a jackal, which followed them within sight of the
campfire, yelping all the while and trying his best to call the lions to
them. The cunning animal seemed to know what a gun was, for he took care
to keep at a respectful distance from the boys, and whenever one of them
halted and tried to shoot him, he would take to his heels and be out of
sight in a moment.

“There he is,” continued Eugene, as the jackal cautiously raised his
head above the top of the bank and looked down at them; but before the
double-barrel could be brought to bear on him he had dodged back out of
sight.

“Jump up there and shoot him, Archie,” cried Fred. “You are the nearest
to him, and we don’t want that yelping in our ears much longer.”

“No, sir!” exclaimed Archie, drawing himself close into his own corner.
“I wouldn’t go up there for—for—No, sir! Who knows but that he has
called up a lion already?”

“I declare he has,” said Eugene, in a thrilling whisper. “I can see him.
I see two—three. There is a troop of them!”

This startling announcement would have tested the nerves of older and
more experienced hunters than Archie and Fred were; and if what they
heard was enough to set their hearts to beating rapidly, what they saw a
moment later was sufficient to take all the courage out of them. A
single glance showed them that Eugene’s eyes had not deceived him. There
they were in plain sight—a number of tawny animals moving swiftly about
on the opposite bank of the fountain, passing and repassing one another
in their rapid evolutions, crouching close to the ground, and gradually
drawing nearer to the top of the bank where the jackal had disappeared,
probably with the object of getting the “wind” of the boys. Archie tried
to count them; but when he fixed his gaze upon one, two or three more
would pass before it, these would quickly give place to as many more,
and finally Archie became so bewildered and excited that he was ready to
declare that troops of lions were springing up out of the ground before
his very eyes. He thought they showed rather plainly in the dark for
lions, but still there could be no doubt that they were lions. Their
color and their stealthy, crouching movements were enough to settle that
point.

“If they get in here among us, there’ll not be a mouthful apiece for
them, will there?” said Fred.

“They’ll not all get in here,” replied Archie.

“Now that we are cornered, it is a good time to show what we are made
of. I am going to begin shooting.”

Before the words had fairly left his lips Archie’s double-barrel spoke,
and one of the lions sprang into the air, and fell at full length on the
ground. A second received the contents of the other barrel without
falling, and even succeeded in getting away out of sight, although
Archie was certain that the ball from his Maynard, which he caught up as
soon as his double-barrel was empty, must have found a lodgment in his
body somewhere.

While Archie was thus engaged, his two companions were not idle. They
promptly opened on the lions with their own weapons, and without waiting
to see the effect of the bullets from their double-barrels, caught up
their sixteen-shooters, and pumped the shots right and left. The
magazines were emptied in a trice, and then the three hunters hastily
ducked their heads and crouched close behind the walls of their
hiding-place, holding their breath in dread suspense, and waiting for
some of the wounded members of the troop to precipitate themselves into
the shooting-hole. But nothing of the kind happened. All was still
outside. They heard only the beating of their own hearts.

“We must have hit those we killed,” Fred ventured to whisper at last.

“Probably we did,” returned Archie. “We couldn’t have killed them unless
we hit them.”

“I mean we must have killed all we hit and frightened the rest away,”
said Fred. “If there were any wounded ones among them they would have
been in here before this time.”

[Illustration: THE NIGHT IN THE SHOOTING PIT.]

The others were very willing to accept this as the reason why they had
not all been torn in pieces long ago. It put new life and courage into
them, and having pushed a cartridge into their breechloaders, they
raised their heads cautiously above the bank to take a survey of the
scene of the slaughter. They could not see a single lion or hear
anything of one; but they heard something else—a heavy tramping of feet
and a confused murmur of voices. They looked hastily around, and saw a
bright light shining above the bank behind them.

“Uncle Dick’s coming!” cried Fred; and the next moment the old sailor
appeared at the top of the bank, closely followed by the rest of the
party, two of whom carried firebrands in their hands.



                              CHAPTER XV.
                          “WHERE’S MY HORSE?”


“What is it, boys?” asked Uncle Dick, his voice trembling with
excitement and alarm. “Anybody hurt?”

“No, sir,” replied Eugene, drawing a long breath of relief; “but if you
look about a little you’ll find some _thing_ out there that’s hurt. We
haven’t fired thirty-nine shots for nothing, I tell you.”

“What was it, anyhow?” asked George. “A lion?”

“I should think so,” replied Fred.

“Oh, I guess not,” said Mack, incredulously.

“I guess they were lions,” returned Eugene, quickly. “We saw more than
twenty prowling about here.”

“That’s a larger troop than I ever heard of before,” said Mack.

“Well, you hear of it now, and if you had been here you would have seen
it. Archie shot one, and he jumped clear of the ground, so that we all
had a fair view of him. I tell you he was a big one—larger than any I
ever saw in a menagerie. He’s out there somewhere.”

“I believe I see him,” said Frank, holding his firebrand above his head,
and looking intently at some object on the other side of the fountain.

The three hunters scrambled up out of the shooting-hole, and with the
rest of the party followed after Frank, who led the way down the bank.
There was some animal lying on the ground on the opposite side of the
spring, sure enough; but it was not the immense object they expected to
see after listening to Eugene’s description of it. When they had taken a
few steps more Mack broke into a laugh, and Eugene began to think that
he must have looked through a very badly frightened pair of eyes to make
a first-class lion out of the insignificant beast he saw before him.
What had at first appeared to be a great shaggy head gradually dwindled
into a pair of shoulders, and presently he found himself standing beside
an animal a little larger than the wolves he had often seen in his
native State.

“This can’t be the thing I shot,” said Archie.

“I don’t see anything else,” replied his cousin, raising his firebrand
above his head and looking all around.

“What is it, anyhow?” asked Fred. “It looks like a dog, and a
half-starved one at that.”

“That’s just what it is,” said Mack, “a wild dog. It was a pack of these
animals you fired into, instead of a troop of lions. I suspected it all
the time.”

“We’ll not stop to skin him, for his hide is not worth saving,” said
Uncle Dick. “We’ll go back to camp now.”

The three hunters were so greatly astonished that they had not a word to
say. Silently they shouldered their rifles and followed the party back
to the camp, listening all the while for the words of ridicule which
they expected from their companions, but which were never uttered.
Nothing was said about the matter until the next morning at breakfast,
and then the hunters themselves began to make sport of their night’s
work. This led to a long conversation, during which the boys learned two
things. The first was, that they had been in just as much danger of an
attack from the wild dogs as they would have been had they been visited
by a troop of lions. Wild dogs were by no means the insignificant foes
they imagined them to be. They were as fierce as wolves, always hungry,
and ready to attack anything they met, from a springbok to a buffalo. A
single one would take to his heels at the sight of a human being, but
numbers made them bold, and it was not often that a solitary hunter met
a pack of them and escaped to tell the story. The second thing they
learned was, that the reason Uncle Dick permitted them to carry out
their plan of watching the fountain, was because Mack assured him that
there was no danger to be apprehended from lions at that season of the
year. These animals came there to drink only when the springs that lay
deeper in the veldt were dry. Had they passed that way two months later,
Archie and his companions would have received orders to remain in camp.
The boys, however, supposed, from what Mack said, that lions visited the
fountain every night, and they showed no small amount of courage in what
they had done, but they never again proposed to spend a night in a
shooting-hole.

During the next three weeks nothing happened that is worthy of record,
and neither did anything happen to encourage the hope that their stock
of goods would pay the expenses of the trip. Not a Boer in the
settlement—and they visited every one of them—would trade with them. The
sight of the fine fat cattle feeding on the farms they passed induced
Mack to spend a good deal of time in the effort to dispose of the
contents of the wagon, but not a yard of ribbon could he barter. The
magistrate’s orders were strictly obeyed. Indeed, at the last farm they
visited they found the magistrate himself, who was, if that were
possible, more crabbed than when they first met him. No sooner had the
wagon halted than he appeared and ordered Mack to move on; but the
Scotchman, who had his eye on the cattle, believing that there was more
money to be made out of them in Grahamstown than out of the ivory they
expected to receive from the Griquas, was not to be driven away so
easily. He went directly to the house, found the owner of the farm, and
tried his arts with him, but with no better success. This one was as
cross and surly as the other, and Mack, finally becoming disgusted at
their obstinacy, jumped on his wagon and put the oxen in motion.

“I hope the Bushmen will jump down on you and steal every ox you’ve
got,” he exclaimed, shaking his whip at the Boer as he drove away.
“That’s all the harm I wish you, Mynheer Schrader.”

The Dutchman made an angry reply in his own language, and seemed to be
giving Mack a little parting advice, for he talked rapidly to him as
long as the driver was within hearing of his voice. The boys could not
tell what he said, but they thought by the expression that came over the
Scotchman’s face, that his words had produced an unpleasant effect. “If
I thought that was so, I wouldn’t go a step farther,” the boys heard him
say, when the Boer ceased his shouting and went into the house.

“If you thought what was so?” asked Eugene.

“Why, Schrader says the Bushmen will be down on _us_ before they touch
him,” answered Mack. “He says there’s a large party of them between here
and the Griqua country, and that that farmer back there is going to pack
up to-morrow and move his family and cattle farther into the settlement
for protection.”

“And you say you don’t believe it?”

“I have no reason to disbelieve it,” said Mack, in a tone the boys did
not like to hear. “They’re always roaming about, these Bushmen are.
They’re something like what I think your Indians must be from what I
hear of them. Although they go about on foot—the only reason they steal
cattle is because they want something to eat—they get over a good
stretch of country in a day, and jump down on a fellow before he knows
they are near him. If I owned this wagon I’d turn back. We’ve got a
journey of four weeks to make before we reach the Griquas’ principal
town, and if the Bushmen are about they’ll have plenty of time to find
us. We shall see trouble before many days.”

The trouble began that very night. It was commenced by the Kaffirs, who
had overheard what the Boers said to Mack, and were greatly troubled by
it. When the wagon halted for the night, these worthies went about the
work of outspanning very reluctantly. They did not shout and sing as
they usually did when their day’s labor was over, but went into the
sulks, and acted like a lot of children who had been denied something
their parents thought they ought not to have. Uncle Dick, who lay on his
blanket under his tent enjoying his pipe, watched their actions for a
few minutes and then called Frank to his side. “Just keep your weather
eye open to-night, and see that the horses all come in,” said he, in a
low tone, “and tell the rest of the boys to be very careful of their
guns.”

“What’s the matter?” asked Frank.

“You know what that Boer said to Mack about the Bushmen, don’t you?
Well, the Kaffirs heard it and are laying their plans to leave us. They
are afraid of those wild men of the desert.”

“So am I,” said Frank.

“I am not particularly anxious to meet them,” said Uncle Dick, with a
smile, “but I am not going to run until I see something to run from, and
neither do I mean that our property shall be stolen. These Kaffirs are
noted for deserting their employers when things don’t go to their
liking, and they take care not to leave empty-handed. They always steal
the best of the horses and the best of the guns, too, if they can get
their hands on them. We must have a guard every night from this time
forward. Don’t you think it would be a good plan?”

This question was addressed to the driver, who had been standing in the
door of the tent long enough to overhear the most of what Uncle Dick
said to Frank.

“You surely don’t mean to go on?” said Mack.

“Certainly I do,” answered Uncle Dick. “I am not going to take my stock
of goods back to Grahamstown if I can help it.”

“If they belonged to me I should start back with them to-morrow.”

“Now, Mack, I didn’t expect to hear that from you,” said Uncle Dick,
reproachfully.

“And you wouldn’t either, sir, if it wasn’t that the Bushmen are
prowling about us.”

“Did you ever have any trouble with them?”

“No, sir.”

“Did you ever hear of a trader who did?”

“No, sir.”

“Neither did I. All we know about them is what we have heard of their
fights with the Zulus.”

This was only the beginning of the conversation between Uncle Dick and
the driver. The latter seemed to be greatly alarmed at the danger they
were about to run into, and when he found his employer was resolved to
go ahead, he urged him to pay him off and let him go. This Uncle Dick
refused to do. He could not get on without Mack, and besides, the latter
had agreed to drive the wagon to the Griqua country and back to
Grahamstown for so much money, which was to be paid when the journey was
ended. It was not yet half completed, and if Mack chose to stop work
then and there, he could not expect a farthing for the services he had
already rendered.

“You’re made of good stuff, you Yankees are,” said Mack, with more
earnestness than the occasion demanded, “and since you are bound to go
on, I’ll stick to you to the death. Bet on me every time.”

To give emphasis to his words the driver shook hands with his employer,
then with Frank, and hurried out of the tent to see how the Kaffirs were
getting on with their preparations for the night.

“Did he speak his real sentiments?” asked Uncle Dick, as soon as he was
out of hearing.

“That was the very question I was asking myself,” replied Frank. “To my
mind his tongue said one thing and his face another.”

Frank, who had his own duties to perform every time the camp was made,
now went out to attend to them. He found the rest of the boys and three
of the Kaffirs busy erecting a barricade of thorn-bushes behind the
tent, and joining in the work, he found opportunity to report to each of
his companions the warning Uncle Dick had given him. The boys were all
eager to stand guard, and Frank, knowing that Uncle Dick expected him to
arrange the matter, divided them into reliefs, and told them what hours
they would be called on for duty.

Supper was served in a few minutes, and while the meal was in progress
the horses began to come into camp and take their stations behind the
wagon, where they were always tied during the night. As fast as they
came up, the owners set down their plates and went out to secure their
steeds, taking care to see that the halters were tightly buckled on, and
that the tie-reins were well secured. About the same time Mack, who had
been missing for the last half hour, came up driving the oxen. Frank
told himself that that was something the driver had never done before,
and then the matter passed out of his mind until a few hours later, when
something happened to recall it very forcibly. During the meal one other
thing happened that was unusual, and which soon drew everybody’s
attention. When Uncle Dick’s horse was made fast to the wagon, he raised
his head, and looking back towards the grove from which he had just
emerged, uttered a loud, shrill neigh. This he repeated at intervals,
until Uncle Dick and the rest began to think it meant something, and
Archie, having finished his supper, went out to look into the matter. “I
know what it means now,” said he, at length. “The horses are all here
except mine, and Uncle Dick’s nag is calling him.”

The boys then remembered something which they might never have thought
of again if this incident had not suggested it to them, and that was,
that Uncle Dick’s horse and Archie’s had been almost constant companions
ever since the journey began. They never mingled with the other animals
when turned loose to graze, but wandered off by themselves; and if any
of the nags belonging to the rest of the party intruded upon them, they
would turn away as if annoyed by their presence, and hunt up a new
feeding-ground. It was the custom of their masters when on the march to
ride at opposite ends of the train, Uncle Dick in front, and Archie in
the rear with Fred and Eugene. The horses seemed to dislike this
arrangement, and annoyed their riders exceedingly by constantly calling
to each other. They liked to be in company, and they were uneasy when
separated.

“I wonder what has become of my horse!” said Archie, anxiously.

“I saw him a quarter of an hour ago, and he was all right then,” replied
Mack. “He will be along directly.”

“I am not so certain of that,” answered Archie. “These two animals are
never parted if they can help it, and there must be something the
matter. I’ll soon find out. May I take your horse for a few minutes,
Uncle Dick?”

“Where are you going?” asked Mack, as Archie, having received an
affirmative reply from the captain, hurried into the tent and picked up
his rifle.

“I am going out to see what has become of my horse,” was the answer.

“Oh, I wouldn’t do it, if I were you,” exclaimed the driver, who seemed,
all at once, to take a deep interest in Archie’s movements. “It will be
pitch dark in five minutes—there’s no twilight in this country, you
know—and if you lose your way out there in the bush the lions will get
you sure. I tell you that you had better stay here in camp where you’re
safe,” he added, almost appealingly, when he saw that the rest of the
boys were making ready to accompany Archie.

But the youngsters paid no attention to him. Hastily catching up their
rifles, they mounted their horses without stopping to put on the saddles
or bridles, and followed after Archie, who, giving Uncle Dick’s horse
his own way, was carried at a rapid gallop towards the grove. The
animal, which seemed to know just what Archie wanted to do, skirted the
woods for a few hundred yards, neighing at intervals, and finally
succeeded in bringing a faint response from among the trees. Then he
turned and was about to plunge into the forest, but his rider checked
him. Archie would not have gone in there for a dozen horses. The
undergrowth was all thorn-bushes, which stood so closely together that
it was only with the greatest difficulty that one could make his way
among them in daylight without being terribly scratched and torn. In the
dark it would have been almost as much as his life was worth to attempt
to force a passage through them.

“We must give him up until morning, if he doesn’t find his way out
before,” said Eugene.

“Then he’ll never come out,” returned Archie, dolefully. “Something will
make a meal of him before daylight. Good-by horse!”

“What do you suppose makes him stay in there anyhow? That’s what I can’t
understand,” said Frank. “If he went in there of his own free will he
ought to be able to find his way out.”

“Are there any natives about here who would be likely to dig pitfalls
for game in these woods?” asked George.

“Listen!” cried Eugene, suddenly. “That neigh certainly sounded louder
and plainer than the others. Yes, sir, he’s coming.”

Archie thought this news was too good to be true. He held his breath and
listened until the next shrill neigh was uttered, and then told himself
there was no mistake about it. Presently the boys could hear the horse
forcing his way through the bushes, and in ten minutes more he came out
into the open ground, and galloping forward to greet his companion,
rubbed noses with him, and said as plainly as a horse could say, that he
was overjoyed to see him once more.

When the boys reached the camp Mack was the first to greet them. Indeed,
he was so anxious to know whether or not the horse had been found, that
when he heard them coming he ran out and met them a hundred yards from
the wagon. “It’s all right,” said Archie, gleefully.

“You haven’t brought him back?” exclaimed the driver, in tones of
astonishment.

“Yes, we have.”

This declaration seemed to surprise Mack. He stood motionless for a
moment, and then moved around to take a look at the horse, which was
following the one on which Archie was mounted. He saw the animal, but it
seemed as if he could not be satisfied until he had put his hand on him.
This familiarity, however, the horse would not permit. He bounded out of
the driver’s reach, and turned his heels toward him as if he had a good
notion to kick him.

“There wasn’t any rope on—I mean—”

“Rope!” exclaimed Perk, when Mack hesitated. “Now I’ll tell you what’s a
fact, of course there wasn’t. Who should put a rope on him?”

“I mean it’s wonderful that you’ve got him back safe and sound,” said
the driver, quickly. “I was afraid some wild beast had found him before
this time.”

The boys thought the Scotchman acted very strangely, but they were so
glad to recover the horse that they did not stop to think about that.
Archie’s first care was to fasten the animal to the wagon beside Uncle
Dick’s horse, and when he had done that he went into the tent where the
rest of the party were arranging their beds preparatory to retiring, and
trying to decide what it was that had kept the horse out so long after
his companion had come into camp. The conclusion at which they arrived
was that he had become separated from the other horse and got bewildered
in the woods. This was the opinion advanced by the driver, and the rest
all thought he was right—all except Uncle Dick. The latter said nothing,
but he thought there was something suspicious about the whole
proceeding, and that it would be a good plan to set a watch over the
driver. He could not speak about it then, for Mack was present; but he
resolved that he would do it the first thing in the morning.

It was now dark and time to post the guards, so Frank called the first
relief, which, singularly enough, consisted of Walter and Bob, the very
ones who were on duty the night two of Potter’s men made a raid on their
camp in the Rocky Mountains. The latter Frank posted at the upper end of
the camp in plain view of the barricade, behind which the four Kaffirs
were lying, and the other he stationed near the wagon, to keep an eye on
the horses.

“I hope you will not get into as much trouble as you did the first time
I put you on guard,” said Frank.

“I think there is little danger of it,” laughed Walter. “There are no
outlaws in this country, and besides I have learned wisdom since then.
I’d like to see a man approach me to-night and deceive me as completely
as those two fellows did. It couldn’t be done.”

“I don’t suppose that any one will try it. As long as the Kaffirs know
that we are watching them and the horses, they will probably behave
themselves. We’d be in a nice fix if all our help should desert us,
wouldn’t we? Good-night. Keep up the fire, and call Archie at ten
o’clock.”

Frank went back to the tent, wrapped himself up in his blanket, and went
to sleep, lulled by the yelping of a pack of jackals, which made it a
point to serenade the camp as regularly as the prairie-wolves did when
the travellers were journeying on the plains. In half an hour more every
person in the camp seemed to be sound asleep except the two sentries.
These paced their beats alert and watchful, one thinking of home and
friends, and the other recalling the thrilling incidents that had
happened once upon a time while he was guarding camp away off in the
wilds of his own country. He went through the adventures of that night
again in imagination, and just as he got to that particular part of them
where he first discovered the outlaws approaching the camp, he heard a
footfall near him, and turning quickly about saw the driver step over
the wagon-tongue.



                              CHAPTER XVI.
                               DESERTED.


“What’s the matter, Mack?” asked Walter. “Do the jackals disturb you?”

“’Sh!” whispered the latter, making a warning gesture. “There’s no need
of arousing the camp, for I can make it all right myself.”

“Make what all right?” asked Walter, almost involuntarily sinking his
voice to a low whisper.

“Why, one of the Kaffirs has slipped away from Bob, and I saw him
sneaking off towards the woods with your uncle’s fine double-barrel in
his hands,” replied Mack.

“You did!” exclaimed Walter. “Then I must—”

“Never mind. I’ll do all that’s to be done. Don’t make the least noise,
because if you do the others will run away too, and we might as well be
at sea in an open boat without oars or sails, as out here in this
wilderness if the Kaffirs leave us. I’ll bring him back if you will lend
me your horse and gun.”

“Of course I will,” said Walter. “Don’t come back till you catch him,
for I don’t know what Uncle Dick would do without that rifle. He would
be sorry to lose it.”

“He shan’t lose it,” answered Mack, taking Walter’s saddle and bridle
out of the wagon and placing them upon the horse. “Say nothing to
nobody. I’ll have him back here in no time, and if I don’t use the
wagon-whip on him! Whew! I wouldn’t be in his place for no money.”

The horse was saddled and bridled in a trice, and Mack springing upon
his back took the rifle Walter handed to him, and rode away in the
darkness. All this passed so rapidly that it was done and Mack was out
of sight before Walter fairly realized it. Then it occurred to him that
it was very strange that the driver should want a horse to pursue a man
on foot who had but a few minutes the start of him, but when he came to
think about it, it was not so very strange either. Walter knew that some
of the Kaffirs could run like deer, and he knew, too, that Mack, having
been accustomed to ride on horseback ever since he was large enough to
sit alone in the saddle, was very much averse to walking, and very
clumsy besides; so perhaps the best thing had been done after all. He
was sorry to hear of his uncle’s loss, and wondered how the Kaffir could
have succeeded in obtaining possession of the weapon and stealing away
without being seen by Bob, who stood where he could observe every move
that was made about the tent. He waited most impatiently for Mack’s
return, but could hear nothing of him—it was so dark that he could not
have seen him until he was close upon the camp—and at ten o’clock he
mended the fire and called his relief. Archie presently came out with
his Maynard on his shoulder, and Walter told him what had happened,
adding that he had been looking for Mack every minute during the last
hour, and now began to fear that the Kaffir had succeeded in eluding him
in the darkness. He lay down on his blanket, intending to speak to Bob
about it; but the latter lingered to talk to his relief, and when he
came into the tent Walter was fast asleep.

Mack did not return during Archie’s watch, and at twelve o’clock he
called Eugene, to whom he repeated the substance of what Walter had told
him. Of course Eugene was highly excited at once, and when Archie went
into the tent, he walked toward the other end of the camp to take a look
at the Kaffirs, and see who it was that was missing. There was one among
them who had in some way incurred Eugene’s displeasure, and if this was
the one who had stolen Uncle Dick’s rifle, he would not be at all sorry
to see the wagon-whip used on him.

“Now just listen to me a minute, and I’ll tell you what’s a fact. What
are you doing here?” demanded Perk, who stood sentry at that end of the
camp.

“Do you know that one of your Kaffirs has run away?” asked Eugene.

“No; and one of them hasn’t run away, either,” replied Perk, almost
indignantly. “I haven’t been asleep.”

“Oh, he went while Bob was on—stole Uncle Dick’s fine gun too, the
rascal.”

“Then I must be blind, or else he put a dummy in his bed,” declared
Perk. “I counted them when I came out, and they were all there.”

“Are you sure?”

“Am I sure that I can count as high as four?”

“I begin to think you can’t,” answered Eugene. “Let’s go and see.”

The two boys advanced on tip-toe toward the place where the native
servants were curled up under the shelter of the thorn-bushes. They were
all soundly asleep, and so closely covered with their skin cloaks that
nothing but the tops of their woolly heads could be seen. Eugene counted
them twice, and then to make assurance doubly sure, went closer and
lifted the cloaks so that he could see their faces. Then he stepped back
again and looked at Perk. “What do you think now?” asked the latter.

Eugene did not know what to think.

“Who first started the story that one of them had run away?” continued
Perk.

“Mack started it. He told Walter so.”

“Now I’ll just tell you what’s a fact. Where’s Mack?”

“He borrowed Walter’s horse and gun and went out to catch the Kaffir.”

“Yes, and in the morning we’ll have to send somebody out to catch Mack.
I understand now why he didn’t want Archie to go out to look for his
horse. He had the animal tied up out there in the woods.”

“No!” exclaimed Eugene.

“Didn’t he ask if there was a rope on him? The horse got away somehow,
and Mack being afraid that he had brought the rope back with him, wanted
to get hold of him, so that he could take it off before we saw it. He
intended to leave the animal out there in the bushes until after dark,
when he would jump on him, and ride away; but that plan being knocked in
the head, he made up that funny story he told Walter, and got off after
all.”

Eugene waited to hear no more. Believing that Perk had made a very
shrewd guess, as indeed he had, he rushed into the tent to arouse his
uncle, and in doing so awoke all the boys, who, fearing that something
dreadful had happened, started up in alarm, and reached hurriedly for
their weapons. “Mack’s gone!” was all Eugene could say in reply to their
questions.

“I thought so,” exclaimed Walter, who then went on to describe the
interview that had taken place between him and the driver.

“It is all my fault,” said Frank. “I might have warned you.”

“Don’t worry over it,” returned Uncle Dick, quickly. “There’s no one to
blame except myself. If I had told you to put the boys on their guard
against Mack, you would have done so. You fellows, who are on watch,
keep your eyes open, and see that we don’t lose any more horses and
guns, and the rest of us will go to sleep again.”

Eugene thought this was taking matters very coolly, but after all he did
not see that there was anything else to be done. Mack was mounted on a
fleet horse and had a good long start; and besides he was so well
acquainted with the country that he could have escaped if there had been
an army in pursuit of him. He was gone, and there was an end of the
matter.

The boys were gloomy enough the next morning, but Uncle Dick was as
cheerful as usual. He aroused the Kaffirs at daylight and ordered them
to drive the oxen out to graze, while the boys, having turned the horses
loose, began the work of packing up. The Kaffirs obeyed very sullenly,
and the old sailor saw plainly enough that the trouble with his hired
help was only just beginning. They drove the oxen out, and contrary to
his usual custom, the cook went with them. They passed pretty close to
their employer, who saw their spear-heads sticking out from under one
side of their cloaks, while the other was bulged out as if the wearers
were carrying something under their left arms. He suspected the truth at
once, but said nothing, and smoked his morning pipe as serenely as
though everything was working to his entire satisfaction.

“Where in the world is that cook?” exclaimed Eugene about an hour later,
after the tent had been struck and all the camp equipage packed away in
the wagon. “I don’t see any preparations for breakfast.”

“Neither do I,” said Uncle Dick. “Perk, you used to act as ship’s cook
in the Banner once in a while; suppose you show us what you can do in
that line now. Yes,” he added, in reply to the inquiring looks that were
directed toward him, “we’re deserted.”

The boys dropped their work and gazed at one another in speechless
astonishment. At first they could hardly realize what the words meant.
They felt a good deal as shipwrecked mariners must feel when they find
themselves tossing about in the waves in an open boat with not a point
of land or a friendly sail in sight.

“From this time forward we must do the best we can by ourselves,”
continued the old sailor, cheerfully. “The Griquas here will show us the
way to their country, and when we have sold them everything there is in
the wagon that they want, we’ll hire some of them to guide us back to
the coast.”

“And when we get there, if we ever do, I for one shall be ready to start
for home,” declared Walter.

“Oh, don’t get gloomy over it. Some of you have been in worse situations
than this.”

“But are you sure the Kaffirs are gone?” asked Fred.

“As sure as I can be. When they went out with the oxen this morning they
took all their property with them.”

“And you saw it and never tried to stop them?” inquired Eugene.

“I did. Why should I try to stop them? If a Kaffir will not work
willingly you can’t force him to do it. They would have slipped away
from us some time or other, and since they were bound to go, they might
as well go to-day as to-morrow.”

The boys were stunned, bewildered by this unexpected calamity, and it
was a long time before Uncle Dick’s cheering words had any effect on
them.

They had depended wholly upon Mack to make this expedition successful,
and to conduct them safely back to the coast, and now that he was gone
it seemed as if their mainstay was gone, and that there was nothing left
for them but to give up entirely. They had put such implicit faith in
Mack, too! It was only during the last few hours that any one began to
suspect that he was not altogether worthy of the confidence that had
been reposed in him.

But this gloomy state of feeling could not long continue while the old
sailor was about. His cheerfulness and good-nature were contagious, and
in less than half an hour the boys were talking as merrily about what
they had considered to be a misfortune as though it was the most
agreeable thing that could have happened to them. Perk’s breakfast
completely restored their spirits, and when they had done full justice
to it, the inspanning began. This was the most annoying piece of work
the boys had yet undertaken. They shouted and talked Dutch and threw
stones as they had heard and seen the Kaffirs do, but the oxen were not
acquainted with them, and ran away as fast as they were brought up to
the yokes. Eugene said it was because the animals were disgusted with
their efforts to talk in a foreign tongue, and advised his companions to
scold them in English; but this had no better effect. However, after
they had all shouted themselves hoarse, and thrown stones until their
arms ached, the last ox was put into the yoke, and Walter, who
volunteered to act as driver, picked up the whip.

“Whoa! Haw, there, Buck! Get up!” he shouted; and following the example
of the absent driver, who always gave the signal for starting by making
his whip crack like a pistol, he swung the heavy lash around, but with
no other result than to hit himself a stinging blow across the ear.
While his companions were laughing at him, and Walter was dancing about,
holding one hand to the side of his head, and trying with the other to
unwrap the lash that had wound itself around his body, Uncle Dick
shouted: “Trek! trek!” The oxen, understanding this, settled into the
yokes, and the wagon was quickly in motion.

We might relate many interesting and some amusing incidents that
happened during the next few weeks, but as we have to do principally
with the adventures that befell our heroes, we must hasten on to the
last, and wind up the history of the Sportsman’s Club. Led by the
Griquas, who acted as their guides, the travellers finally reached the
principal village of the tribe (they saw nothing of the wild Bushmen
during the journey, although they kept a constant lookout for them) and
when they had taken a good view of it, they fervently hoped that their
stay there would be a short one. They could see nothing attractive in
the dirty savages who surrounded them, or in the still dirtier hovels
that served them for shelter. Besides, they were growing heartily tired
of staying ashore. They had seen quite enough of life in Africa, and
began to talk more about home and friends than they had done at any time
since leaving Bellville. But their departure from the village was
delayed more than a month. In the first place, the natives proved to be
hard people to deal with. It took them a long time to make up their
minds how much ivory ought to be given for one of the guns Uncle Dick
offered them, and when that point had been settled, the chief suddenly
found out that there was no ivory in the village, and that he would have
to send and bring it before any trading could be done. Upon hearing
this, Uncle Dick inspanned at once and set out for the coast; but before
he had gone many miles he was overtaken by a messenger from the chief,
who told him that if he would return to the village he should have an
elephant’s tooth for every gun he had to sell. The travellers turned
back, and after that there was little delay in the trading. The
elephants’ teeth came in rapidly, the last gun was finally disposed of,
and when the ivory had been packed away in the wagon, and guides and
servants engaged, the travellers were ready to turn their faces
homeward.

The last night they were to pass among the Griquas was spent by the boys
in doing a little trading on their own account. They were strolling
about, taking a last look at everything, and exchanging a few beads, and
some brass and copper wire, for spears and war-clubs, when their
attention was attracted by a commotion which suddenly arose in the upper
end of the town. The boys looked up, and were surprised to see that the
natives were running about in the greatest alarm, catching up whatever
articles of value they could lay their hands on, and then dodging into
their hovels and barricading their doors after them. Some of the more
timid ones, having collected their property, took to their heels, and
ran across the plain as if a pack of jackals were after them.

“What’s up now?” asked Archie. “I don’t see anything to frighten them.”

“Who are those coming there?” said Frank.

The others looked in the direction he pointed, and saw a long line of
warriors rising over the nearest hill. While they were looking at them,
wondering who they were and what had brought them there, they heard
Uncle Dick calling to them. “Here’s more trouble, boys,” said the old
sailor. “I don’t want to alarm you, but it is always well to be prepared
for the worst.”

“Is the village going to be attacked?” asked Frank.

“Oh, no. These are Zulus, and they are probably a delegation sent by
their king to take us to that country.”

“Across the desert where the wild Bushmen live?” exclaimed Eugene.

“Exactly,” replied Uncle Dick.

“But we have nothing they want,” said Walter. “We’ve sold all our guns,
beads, and wire.”

“I know it.”

“Then tell them so when they come up.”

“What good will it do? Haven’t you seen enough of these natives to know
that you can’t reason with them any more than you can reason with a
stone?”

“What made the Griquas run so,” asked Bob.

“Oh, these Zulus are a fierce and warlike race, and the Griquas are
afraid of them. But they are after us now. If their leader has orders to
take us back with him, he’ll have to do it or lose his head when he gets
home.”

This was a most alarming piece of news. The driver had said so much
about the wild Bushmen and their poisoned arrows, and had given so
graphic a description of the desert they lived in, where there was no
game to be found, and no grass or water for the stock, that the boys
were frightened whenever they thought of the dangers that must attend
every step of the journey to the Zulu country. While they were turning
the matter over in their minds, the warriors marched through the
principal street of the village, which was by this time entirely
deserted, and stopped in front of Uncle Dick’s tent. There were probably
a hundred and fifty of them in the band. They were fine-looking men
physically, and all except two were armed with spears and war-clubs, and
carried shields of elephant’s hide. Those who were not armed followed
close behind the leader, and carried two elephants’ tusks upon their
shoulders.

The leader of the warriors stopped in front of Uncle Dick, and after
laying down his shield and weapons began a speech, which would no doubt
have proved very entertaining to the travellers if they could have
understood it; but as the chief spoke in his native tongue his words did
not make much of an impression upon them. The speech occupied the best
part of ten minutes, and when it was concluded the men with the
elephants’ tusks stepped up and laid them on the ground in front of
Uncle Dick, and when they straightened up again one of them began to
interpret the speech in Dutch. Then the boys listened with some
interest. They had learned enough of this language during their
intercourse with Mack and the Griquas, to carry on quite a lengthy
conversation with any one who spoke slowly and distinctly. The native
did neither, but still the Club caught enough of his speech to satisfy
them that Uncle Dick had not been mistaken in regard to the object the
Zulus had in view in visiting his camp. The speaker said that his king,
who lived on the other side of the desert, was a very powerful monarch,
and having heard that there was an English trader in the neighborhood
(the natives seemed to think that every white man who came into their
country to hunt and trade must of necessity be an Englishman), he had
sent him and his companions to conduct him to their principal town,
where there was ivory enough to fill a dozen wagons. To prove it the
king had sent the trader two elephants’ teeth, in exchange for which he
expected to receive the best double-barrel there was in the party. The
faithful warriors who brought these teeth were hungry and thirsty, for
they had travelled far and rapidly, and the Englishman must furnish them
with meat to eat and tea to drink.

Uncle Dick’s reply to this insolent demand was short and to the point.
There was not meat enough in his wagon to feed so large a party, he
said, and he could not spend time to hunt for it, for having sold all
his guns he had made ready to start for Grahamstown early the next
morning; so the warriors might take their elephant’s teeth and go back
as they came. The interpreter seemed to be greatly shocked at this
reply, and tried to remonstrate with Uncle Dick, telling him that he was
running a great risk in defying his king in that way. But the old sailor
repeated what he had said, adding that as he was a licensed trader, he
was free to go and come when he pleased, and he intended to exercise the
privilege.

The chief listened impatiently while this conversation was going on, and
when it was ended turned to the interpreter to hear Uncle Dick’s reply.
It threw him into an awful rage at once. He stamped his feet on the
ground, caught up handfuls of dust and threw them into the air above his
head, swung his arms wildly about, and shouted at the top of his voice.
The longer he talked the angrier he seemed to grow; and what he might
have been led to do had he been allowed to go on until his rage boiled
over, it is hard to tell; but just as he was working himself up to the
fighting-point, he was interrupted most unexpectedly. A series of
terrific Indian yells, so loud and piercing that they completely drowned
the chief’s voice, suddenly arose on the air, causing the warrior to
drop his arms and stand motionless with amazement. Of course the yells
came from Dick Lewis. He thought from the looks of things that a fight
would soon be in progress, and began preparing for it in a manner
peculiar to himself. He dashed his hat upon the ground, pulled off his
hunting shirt and sent it after the hat, and began to loosen his joints
by making the most extraordinary leaps and contortions, yelling the
while with all the power of his lungs. The chief looked at him for a few
seconds, and then hastily gathering up his weapons, made off, followed
by his men, who fled in such haste that they never thought to take the
elephants’ teeth with them. In two minutes from the time Dick began his
leaping and shouting there was not one of them in sight.



                             CHAPTER XVII.
                              CONCLUSION.


The Club stood speechless with astonishment, and so did the trapper.
Uncle Dick was the first to break the silence, which he did by laughing
long and heartily. “You have made a reputation now, Lewis,” said he.
“These natives are all firm believers in witchcraft, and they think you
are a medicine-man.”

This was the reason why the Zulus had fled in such hot haste. They had
never seen a white man dressed as Dick was, and neither had they ever
seen one act so strangely. It struck them at once that he was a
conjuror, and that he was going through some sort of an incantation for
the purpose of bringing some dire calamity upon his foes.

“I think we have seen the last of them for to-night,” continued Uncle
Dick. “Now when we resume our journey we must make all haste, for when
these fellows go back to their own country their king will send an army
after us, and Dick may not be able to frighten them away again.”

As soon as the Zulus were gone the Griquas came out of their
hiding-places and gathered about the tent, all clamoring to know how it
happened that the dreaded enemy had been driven off so easily. When
Uncle Dick gravely informed them that his conjuror had found means to
send them away, their gratitude knew no bounds. Then most of them
dispersed at once, and when they returned, brought presents of milk and
corn—articles for which they had hitherto demanded the highest prices in
beads and wire—and tremblingly placed them on the ground before the
great medicine-man. Groups of them stood about the fire until ten
o’clock that night, watching every move he made; and Dick had only to
stand erect, look toward the stars, extend an arm at full length and
pull the other back to his shoulder as if he were drawing a bow, to send
them scampering away at the top of their speed.

The next morning the travellers were astir at an early hour, all eager
to begin the journey to the coast; but now another difficulty was
presented. The Griquas who had been engaged to fill the places of the
Kaffirs were nowhere to be found. The boys were dismayed, but Uncle Dick
was as serene as usual. “I expected it,” said he. “They were frightened
by that visit from the Zulus. We must depend upon the oxen to guide us
back.”

“Do they know the way home?” asked George.

“No, but they made a trail coming here, and their instinct will lead
them to follow that trail back.”

“Why, it must be obliterated by this time.”

“No matter for that. They will find and follow it in the darkest of
nights.”

Inspanning was a task the boys did not like, and they hoped they had
assisted in it for the last time; but as there was no one to do the
business for them they set to work with a will, and by ten o’clock the
wagon was in motion. Contrary to their expectations, not a Griqua
followed them out of the village. They were afraid of the Zulus, and so
was Uncle Dick, if one might judge by the way he disposed of his forces,
and the arrangements he made for repelling an attack. He and Frank went
on ahead as usual, the two trappers brought up the rear—there were no
loose cattle and horses to drive now—and the others rode beside the
wagon, Eugene being instructed in case of difficulty to take his brother
up behind him. The travellers moved in this order until the middle of
the afternoon, when they entered the dry bed of what had once been a
stream of considerable magnitude. The high banks on each side were
thickly lined with bushes and rocks, affording excellent ambush for an
enemy, and as the bed of the stream was only forty feet wide, and the
road ran through the middle of it, it was impossible for the travellers
to get out of range of the javelins of the Zulus should they chance to
be awaiting them here. And they were waiting for them, just as Uncle
Dick expected they would be. The chief of the Zulus, having recovered
from his fright, had made a wide detour around the village during the
night, and concealed his warriors along the banks of the stream among
the rocks and bushes. When the passage was about half completed he made
his presence known. The signal for attack was a loud yell given by the
chief, who suddenly appeared on the top of one of the high rocks on the
bank; but no sooner had he gained a footing there, than a bullet from
Bob Kelly’s ready rifle brought him headlong into the bed of the stream.
His warriors however, promptly obeyed the signal. They arose from their
concealments on both sides of the road, and the way the spears whistled
through the air for a few minutes was surprising. The majority of these
weapons seemed to be aimed at the two trappers—the warriors, no doubt,
believing that if the conjuror could be killed the rest of the
travellers could be easily managed—and it was a wonder how they escaped
being pierced by them. Their horses were struck down almost instantly,
but the trappers landed on their feet, and sheltering themselves behind
convenient rocks in the road, opened a hot fire on the savages.

All these things happened in less than a minute. Although the attack was
not altogether unexpected, it was still a surprise, it was made so
suddenly. As soon as Uncle Dick had time to think he began to issue his
orders.

“Leave the wagon, boys,” said he, “and run for that high hill you see
yonder.”

“Come on, Dick,” shouted Archie, slinging his empty Maynard on his back
and drawing his pistols from their holsters.

“Lewis, you and Bob stay where you are,” commanded Uncle Dick. “You’re
safe there, and in a few minutes we shall be in a position to help you.”

The boys, led by Uncle Dick, at once put their horses into a full
gallop. Walter, who was seated on the driver’s box, springing up behind
his brother, and Frank bringing up the rear, carrying a revolver in each
hand, and banging away every time he saw a head to fire at. The oxen,
frightened by the shouting and the noise of the firearms, tried to
follow, but three of them had already been killed in the yoke, and the
leaders turning back upon those in the rear, the team became mixed up in
the greatest confusion.

Frank was astonished at the force with which the Zulus threw their
spears. They did not throw them very accurately, for the reason that
they were so very much afraid of the bullets which rattled about among
the rocks, that they did not spend an instant in poising their weapons
before they launched them; but they sent them through the air with great
speed, and those which struck the oxen and horses made wounds that were
almost instantly fatal. Presently Frank was given further proof that
they were terrible weapons in the hands of those who knew how to use
them. Archie, who was galloping along in front of him, mounted on the
splendid animal which he had paraded before his cousin when the latter
drew the ungainly beast he was then riding, suddenly came to the ground
all in a heap. Frank drew up on the instant, and the utmost horror was
depicted on his countenance as he threw himself from his saddle and
kneeled by his cousin’s side. As he did so a spear whistled through the
air and buried itself in the sand beside him, but he paid no attention
to it. His thoughts were wholly wrapped up in his cousin, who set his
fears at rest by saying, cheerfully,

“I’m all right, but I’ve lost my horse at last. Did you see that spear
go through his neck? He has fallen on my leg, and I—Oh, Frank!”

The latter, who had seized his cousin by the shoulders, and was exerting
all his strength to pull him to his feet, suddenly released his hold and
fell by Archie’s side. At the same time there was a whistling sound in
the air, and Archie looked up to see the shaft of a spear quivering in
the air above his cousin’s side, the point being out of sight. It looked
as though it was buried in Frank’s body, but fortunately it was not. It
had passed through the haversack in which he carried the cartridges for
his Maynard, and was thrown with sufficient force to carry him to the
ground. The next moment the grim warrior who launched the weapon came
tumbling heels over head down the bank, while a triumphant shout from
Dick Lewis told the cousins who it was that sent him there.

“It is hot about here, Frank. You had better take care of yourself,”
said Archie.

The only notice Frank took of this friendly advice was to jump to his
feet and renew his efforts to release his cousin. This time he was
successful, but when he lifted him to his feet Archie found that he
could not stand alone. That, however, was a matter of small moment
seeing that Frank had a horse close by. The animal had remained
motionless where his rider left him, and it was the work of but a few
seconds for Frank to jump into the saddle and pull his cousin up after
him. This done, he put the animal to the top of his speed, and the two
were carried safely down the ravine and into the midst of their friends,
who having reached the hill of which Uncle Dick had spoken, were in a
position to drive the Zulus from the field. Having a cross-fire upon
them they had complete command of their position, and one volley was all
that was needed to send them flying up the hill on each side of the
ravine.

As soon as the Zulus were out of sight the trappers arose from their
concealments, and having removed the saddles and bridles from their dead
steeds and thrown them into the wagon, they proceeded to put the train
in motion, Uncle Dick and his party keeping up a steady fire all the
while to prevent the return of the savages. While Bob cut the dead oxen
loose from the yokes, Dick forced the leaders back into their places,
and when the animals had been made to understand what was required of
them, they brought the wagon up the hill in safety. It was a lucky fight
taken altogether. The Zulus must have suffered severely; the trappers
said they had seen a dozen or more of them tumble into the ravine, while
all the travellers lost were three oxen and as many horses. Frank had
had a very narrow escape. The weapon which had so nearly ended his
existence was packed carefully away in the wagon with the haversack
still fast to it. He intended that these articles should some day occupy
a prominent place among the curiosities in his room at the cottage.

The misfortunes which had thus far followed the travellers seemed to end
with that fight. From that time forward things worked as smoothly as
could be desired. Fortune first smiled upon them the next morning when
the Griquas, who had been engaged to accompany them to the coast,
entered the camp. The Zulus having been whipped and driven out of the
country, they were no longer afraid to fulfil their contract. Walter was
glad to see them, for he was tired of acting as driver, and so were the
rest of the boys, for they were relieved of the task of inspanning. They
passed back through the Boer settlement, and here another surprise
awaited them. The Dutchmen having had time to recover their good-nature
were in the humor for trading, and at every farm they visited some of
the goods, which they thought they would have to carry back to
Grahamstown with them, were exchanged for fat cattle. Long before they
reached the coast their stock was exhausted, there was a drove of eighty
oxen following behind the wagon, and those of the party who had lost
their horses were remounted on animals purchased from the Boers.
Everything was disposed of at a fair profit, so that the expedition,
which at first threatened to end in failure, turned out much better than
they had ever hoped it would.

Uncle Dick’s first care, when he reached the coast, was to inquire for
his runaway driver, of whom he had heard at several farm-houses along
the route. He found that the man had been in Grahamstown, and that he
had sold a horse and gun there; but they were not the same that he had
stolen from his employer. Mack was much too smart for that. He had
traded off Uncle Dick’s horse and gun at the first opportunity, sold
those he received in exchange, and used the money to carry him out of
the country. Uncle Dick’s gun had probably been left with some Boer a
thousand miles back in the interior; but of course it would not pay to
go back after it.

When the last ox, the last pound of ivory, and the last article
composing their outfit had been disposed of, the party went on board the
schooner in high spirits; and at the turn of the tide the anchor was
hoisted not to be dropped again, they fondly hoped, until they sailed
into the bay at the rear of Mr. Gaylord’s plantation. Nothing happened
to mar the pleasure of the homeward voyage. Propelled by favoring
breezes the Stranger sped merrily on her way, and the topsails were
scarcely touched from the day they took their departure from the Cape of
Good Hope until land was sighted on the other side of the Atlantic. The
first familiar object they saw was Lost Island, which would ever be
memorable in the history of the Sportsman’s Club, and the next was the
village of Bellville. As the schooner sailed along past the town—the
wind being favorable she did not signal for a tug to tow her in—her
appearance attracted the attention of the people on the wharves, who
gazed at her with great interest. There were some among them who had
never seen her before, while others thought there was something about
her that looked familiar, but they could not tell who she was. The
Club’s friends had learned from Chase and Wilson that the Stranger was
homeward bound, but they did not look for her so soon, and not one on
the wharf could call her by name until they saw her round the point
above the village and shape her course towards Mr. Gaylord’s wharf. Then
it was too late to welcome her.

When the schooner rounded the point the Gaylord mansion and all its
surroundings came plainly into view. The family did not seem to be on
the lookout for her, but they were quickly made aware of her arrival.
The twenty-four pounders, whose voices had not been heard since they
spoke so emphatically to the inhabitants of that island away off in the
Pacific, awoke the echoes of the hills, and when the breeze carried away
the smoke that rolled up from their muzzles, some one was seen running
along the carriageway that led from the barn to the house. It was old
Sam. He was gone but a few minutes, and when he returned he was
accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Gaylord. The schooner stood as close in to
the jetty as the depth of the water would permit, and then dropped her
anchor. Before it had fairly touched the bottom the gig was in the
water, and Uncle Dick and the Club were on their way to the shore.

Of course, a perfect round of festivities followed the return of the
wanderers, and the happy Christmas times were repeated. It was a week
before George Le Dell and the cousins could tear themselves away from
the hospitable Gaylord mansion. The rickety stage-coach carried them to
New Orleans, and when they had taken leave of the trappers and seen them
safely on board a steamer bound for St. Louis, they took passage on
board a Washita River boat, and the next time they set foot ashore it
was in front of George’s home. There the cousins remained another
week—Archie would have been glad to prolong the stay indefinitely—and
then started for Lawrence, where they arrived in due time, their voyage
around the world being happily terminated.

Now, reader, the story of the Club’s adventures and exploits is ended,
and before bidding them and you farewell, it only remains for us to tell
where they are now, and what they have been doing since we last saw
them. It is a true saying, that the boy is father to the man; and from
what we know of our heroes, it is safe to predict that the virtues of
manliness, truthfulness and fidelity which have ruled their lives in the
past will always be strictly adhered to. Frank Nelson has not yet made
anything more than a local reputation, but that he is sure to do it some
day his friends all feel confident. He is a practicing lawyer in his
native State. He is as fond of his fishing-rod and double-barrel as he
ever was, and spends a portion of each summer at the Rangeley Lakes and
among the Adirondacks. If he ever goes into politics, as his friends are
urging him to do, it is to be hoped that he will use his influence and
eloquence to correct some of the abuses that are now so prevalent. His
home is still at Lawrence, where his mother resides. Archie Winters,
shortly after his return from abroad, became a student at a certain
polytechnic institute. He settled down to business with the
determination to make a man and a civil engineer of himself. He
graduated with honors, stepped at once into a responsible and lucrative
position, and the cards of invitation that were sent out a few months
ago show what he was working for. Archie is married now, and General Le
Dell and his family go North every summer to visit him and his wife.
Henry Chase and Leonard Wilson have purchased an orange plantation in
Florida, and report says they are respected and successful men.

Fred Craven is a first lieutenant in the revenue service; and when he
becomes a captain, as he probably will before another year has passed
over his head, we should like to see any smuggler outwit him as Mr. Bell
outwitted the captain of the cutter who overhauled the Banner once upon
a time, and made her captain and crew prisoners. Jasper Babcock is a
commission merchant and cotton factor in Bellville; George Le Dell, who
is Archie’s brother-in-law, is in the same business in Memphis; Phil
Perkins owns a controlling interest in a line of steamers plying between
New Orleans and Galveston; and Walter and Eugene are carrying on their
father’s extensive plantation, Mr. Gaylord having retired from active
business. Of course they live at home—there is no place in the world
like home, they think—and so does Uncle Dick, whose cabin is as much a
place of resort for the young men of the vicinity as it used to be for
the boys. The Banner is still in existence, and as for the Stranger,
Uncle Dick says she is as good as she ever was, and still able to beat
anything of her size that floats.

The intercourse between the cousins and the Sportsman’s Club which was
brought about almost by accident, has never been interrupted. This
acquaintance quickly ripened into friendship, which will be as lasting
as life itself. Many a grand reunion have they had since they returned
from abroad; and of all the adventures of which they have been the
heroes, none occupy a more prominent place in their memories or are so
often discussed as those that befell them while they were sojourning
AMONG THE BOERS.

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



                        FAMOUS CASTLEMON BOOKS.


  =GUNBOAT SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 6 vols. 12mo.

      FRANK THE YOUNG NATURALIST.
      FRANK IN THE WOODS.
      FRANK ON THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI.
      FRANK ON A GUNBOAT.
      FRANK BEFORE VICKSBURG.
      FRANK ON THE PRAIRIE.

  =ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo.
      Cloth.

      FRANK AMONG THE RANCHEROS.
      FRANK IN THE MOUNTAINS.
      FRANK AT DON CARLOS’ RANCH.

  =SPORTSMAN’S CLUB SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo.
      Cloth.

      THE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB IN THE SADDLE.
      THE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB AFLOAT.
      THE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB AMONG THE TRAPPERS.

  =FRANK NELSON SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

      SNOWED UP.
      FRANK IN THE FORECASTLE.
      THE BOY TRADERS.

  =BOY TRAPPER SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

      THE BURIED TREASURE.
      THE BOY TRAPPER.
      THE MAIL-CARRIER.

  =ROUGHING IT SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

      GEORGE IN CAMP.
      GEORGE AT THE WHEEL.
      GEORGE AT THE FORT.

  =ROD AND GUN SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

      DON GORDON’S SHOOTING BOX.
      THE YOUNG WILD FOWLERS.
      ROD AND GUN CLUB.

  =GO-AHEAD SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

      TOM NEWCOMBE.
      GO-AHEAD.
      NO MOSS.

  =FOREST AND STREAM SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo.
      Cloth.

      JOE WAYRING.
      SNAGGED AND SUNK.
      STEEL HORSE.

  =WAR SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 5 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

      TRUE TO HIS COLORS.
      RODNEY THE OVERSEER.
      MARCY THE REFUGEE.
      RODNEY THE PARTISAN.
      MARCY THE BLOCKADE-RUNNER.

                    _Other Volumes in Preparation._

                  *       *       *       *       *

       Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1877, by

                          R. W. CARROLL & CO.,

       In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

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



                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES


       1. Moved the advertising page from after the title page to
            the end.
       2. Silently corrected typographical errors.
       3. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as
            printed.
       4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.
       5. Enclosed bold font in =equals=.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Boy Traders - Sportsman's Club Among the Boers" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home