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´╗┐Title: Bevis: The Story of a Boy
Author: Jefferies, Richard
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bevis: The Story of a Boy" ***

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The Story of a Boy
By Richard Jefferies
Published by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington,
London. This edition dated 1882.
Volume One, Chapter I.


One morning a large wooden case was brought to the farmhouse, and Bevis,
impatient to see what was in it, ran for the hard chisel and the hammer,
and would not consent to put off the work of undoing it for a moment.
It must be done directly.  The case was very broad and nearly square,
but only a few inches deep, and was formed of thin boards.  They placed
it for him upon the floor, and, kneeling down, he tapped the chisel,
driving the edge in under the lid, and so starting the nails.  Twice he
hit his fingers in his haste, once so hard that he dropped the hammer,
but he picked it up again and went on as before, till he had loosened
the lid all round.

After labouring like this, and bruising his finger, Bevis was
disappointed to find that the case only contained a picture which might
look very well, but was of no use to him.  It was a fine engraving of
"An English Merry-making in the Olden Time," and was soon hoisted up and
slung to the wall.  Bevis claimed the case as his perquisite, and began
to meditate what he could do with it.  It was dragged from the house
into one of the sheds for him, and he fetched the hammer and his own
special little hatchet, for his first idea was to split up the boards.
Deal splits so easily, it is a pleasure to feel the fibres part, but
upon consideration he thought it might do for the roof of a hut, if he
could fix it on four stakes, one at each corner.

Away he went with his hatchet down to the withy-bed by the brook (where
he intended to build the hut) to cut some stakes and get them ready.
The brook made a sharp turn round the withy-bed, enclosing a tongue of
ground which was called in the house at home the Peninsula, because of
its shape and being surrounded on three sides by water.  This piece of
land, which was not all withy, but partly open and partly copse, was
Bevis's own territory, his own peculiar property, over which he was
autocrat and king.

He flew at once to attack a little fir, and struck it with the hatchet:
the first blow cut through the bark and left a "blaze," but the second
did not produce anything like so much effect, the third, too, rebounded,
though the tree shook to its top.  Bevis hit it a fourth time, not at
all pleased that the fir would not cut more easily, and then, fancying
he saw something floating down the stream, dropped his hatchet and went
to the edge to see.

It was a large fly struggling aimlessly, and as it was carried past a
spot where the bank overhung and the grasses drooped into the water, a
fish rose and took it, only leaving just the least circle of wavelet.
Next came a dead dry twig, which a wood-pigeon had knocked off with his
strong wings as he rose out of the willow-top where his nest was.  The
little piece of wood stayed a while in the hollow where the brook had
worn away the bank, and under which was a deep hole; there the current
lingered, then it moved quicker, till, reaching a place where the
channel was narrower, it began to rush and rotate, and shot past a long
green flag bent down, which ceaselessly fluttered in the swift water.
Bevis took out his knife and began to cut a stick to make a toy boat,
and then, throwing it down, wished he had a canoe to go floating along
the stream and shooting over the bay; then he looked up the brook at the
old pollard willow he once tried to chop down for that purpose.

The old pollard was hollow, large enough for him to stand inside on the
soft, crumbling "touchwood," and it seemed quite dead, though there were
green rods on the top, yet it was so hard he could not do much with it,
and wearied his arm to no purpose.  Besides, since he had grown bigger
he had thought it over, and considered that even if he burnt the tree
down with fire, as he had half a mind to do, having read that that was
the manner of the savages in wild countries, still he would have to stop
up both ends with board, and he was afraid that he could not make it

And it was only the same reason that stayed his hand from barking an oak
or a beech to make a canoe of the bark, remembering that if he got the
bark off in one piece the ends would be open and it would not float
properly.  He knew how to bark a tree quite well, having helped the
woodmen when the oaks were thrown, and he could have carried the short
ladder out and so cut it high enough up the trunk (while the tree
stood).  But the open ends puzzled him; nor could he understand nor get
any one to explain to him how the wild men, if they used canoes like
this, kept the water out at the end.

Once, too, he took the gouge and the largest chisel from the workshop,
and the mallet with the beech-wood head, and set to work to dig out a
boat from a vast trunk of elm thrown long since, and lying outside the
rick-yard, whither it had been drawn under the timber-carriage.  Now,
the bark had fallen off this piece of timber from decay, and the surface
of the wood was scored and channelled by insects which had eaten their
way along it.  But though these little creatures had had no difficulty,
Bevis with his gouge and his chisel and his mallet could make very
little impression, and though he chipped out pieces very happily for
half an hour, he had only formed a small hole.  So that would not do; he
left it, and the first shower filled the hole he had cut with water, and
how the savages dug out their canoes with flint choppers he could not
think, for he could not cut off a willow twig with the sharpest splinter
he could find.

Of course he knew perfectly well that boats are built of plank, but if
you try to build one you do not find it so easy; the planks are not to
be fitted together by just thinking you will do it.  That was more
difficult to him than gouging out the huge elm trunk; Bevis could hardly
smooth two planks to come together tight at the edge or even to overlap,
nor could he bend them up at the end, and altogether it was a very
cross-grained piece of work this making a boat.

Pan: the spaniel, sat down on the hard, dry, beaten earth of the
workshop, and looked at Bevis puzzling over his plane and his pencil,
his footrule, and the paper on which he had sketched his model; then up
at Bevis's forehead, frowning over the trouble of it; next Pan curled
round and began to bite himself for fleas, pushing up his nostril and
snuffling and raging over them.  No.  This would not do; Bevis could not
wait long enough; Bevis liked the sunshine and the grass under foot.
Crash fell the plank and bang went the hammer as he flung it on the
bench, and away they tore out into the field, the spaniel rolling in the
grass, the boy kicking up the tall dandelions, catching the yellow disk
under the toe of his boot and driving it up in the air.

But though thrown aside like the hammer, still the idea slumbered in his
mind, and as Bevis stood by the brook, looking across at the old willow,
and wishing he had a boat, all at once he thought what a capital raft
the picture packing-case would make!  The case was much larger than the
picture which came in it; it had not perhaps been originally intended
for that engraving.  It was broad and flat; it had low sides; it would
not be water-tight, but perhaps he could make it--yes, it was just the
very thing.  He would float down the brook on it; perhaps he would cross
the Longpond.

Like the wind he raced back home, up the meadow, through the garden,
past the carthouse to the shed where he had left the case.  He tilted it
up against one of the uprights or pillars of the shed, and then stooped
to see if daylight was visible anywhere between the planks.  There were
many streaks of light, chinks which must be caulked, where they did not
fit.  In the workshop there was a good heap of tow; he fetched it, and
immediately began to stuff it in the openings with his pocket-knife.
Some of the chinks were so wide, he filled them up with chips of wood,
with the tow round the chips, so as to wedge tightly.

The pocket-knife did not answer well.  He got a chisel, but that cut the
tow, and was also too thick; then he thought of an old table-knife he
had seen lying on the garden wall, left there by the man who had been
set to weed the path with it.  This did much better, but it was tedious
work, very tedious work; he was obliged to leave it twice--once to have
a swing, and stretch himself; the second time to get a hunch, or cog, as
he called it, of bread and butter.  He worked so hard he was so hungry.
Round the loaf there were indentations, like a cogged wheel, such as the
millwright made.  He had one of these cogs of bread cut out, and well
stuck over with pats of fresh butter, just made and fresh from the
churn, not yet moulded and rolled into shape, a trifle salt but

Then on again, thrusting the tow in with the knife, till he had used it
all, and still there were a few chinks open.  He thought he would get
some oakum by picking a bit of rope to pieces: there was no old rope
about, so he took out his pocket-knife, and stole into the waggon-house,
where, first looking round to be sure that no one was about, he slashed
at the end of a cart-line.  The thick rope was very hard, and it was
difficult to cut it; it was twisted so tight, and the rain and the sun
had toughened it besides, while the surface was case-hardened by rubbing
against the straw of the loads it had bound.  He haggled it off at last,
but when he tried to pick it to pieces he found the larger strands
unwound tolerably well, but to divide them and part the fibres was so
wearisome and so difficult that he did not know how to manage it.  With
a nail he hacked at it, and got quite red in the face, but the tough
rope was not to be torn to fragments in a minute; he flung it down, then
he recollected some one would see it, so he hurled it over the hedge
into the lane.

He ran indoors to see if he could find anything that would do instead,
and went up into the bench-room where there was another carpenter's
bench (put up for amateur work), and hastily turned over everything;
then he pulled out the drawer in his mamma's room, the drawer in which
she kept odds and ends, and having upset everything, and mixed her
treasures, he lighted on some rag which she kept always ready to bind
round the fingers that used to get cut so often.  For a makeshift this,
he thought, would do.  He tore a long piece, left the drawer open, and
ran to the shed with it.  There was enough to fill the last chink he
could see; so it was done.  But it was a hundred and twenty yards to the
brook, and though he could lift the case on one side at a time, he could
not carry it.

He sat down on the stool (dragged out from the workshop) to think; why
of course he would fasten a rope to it, and so haul it along!  Looking
for a nail in the nail-box on the bench, for the rope must be tied to
something, he saw a staple which would do much better than a nail, so he
bored two holes with a gimlet, and drove the staple into the raft.
There was a cord in the summer-house by the swing, which he used for a
lasso--he had made a running noose, and could throw it over anything or
anybody who would keep still--this he fetched, and put through the
staple.  With the cord over his shoulder he dragged the raft by main
force out of the shed, across the hard, dry ground, through the gate,
and into the field.  It came very hard, but it did come, and he thought
he should do it.

The grass close to the rails was not long, and the load slipped rather
better on it, but farther out into the field it was longer, and the edge
of the case began to catch against it, and when he came to the furrows
it was as much as he could manage, first to get it down into the furrow,
next to lift it up a little, else it would not move, and then to pull it
up the slope.  By stopping a while and then hauling he moved it across
three of the furrows, but now the cord quite hurt his shoulder, and had
begun to fray his jacket.  When he looked back he was about thirty yards
from where he had started, not halfway to the gateway, through which was
another meadow, where the mowing-grass was still higher.

Bevis sat down on the sward to rest, his face all hot with pulling, and
almost thought he should never do it.  There was a trail in the grass
behind where the raft had passed like that left by a chain harrow.  It
wanted something to slip on; perhaps rollers would do like those they
moved the great pieces of timber on to the saw-pit.  As soon as he had
got his breath again, Bevis went back to the shed, and searched round
for some rollers.  He could not find any wood ready that would do, but
there was a heap of poles close by.  He chose a large, round willow one,
carried the stool down to it, got the end up on the stool, and worked
away like a slave till he had sawn off three lengths.

These he took to the raft, put one under the front part, and arranged
the other two a little way ahead.  Next, having brought a stout stake
from the shed, he began to lever the raft along, and was delighted at
the ease with which it now moved.  But this was only on the level ground
and down the slope of the next furrow, so far it went very well, but
there was a difficulty in getting it up the rise.  As the grass grew
longer, too, the rollers would not roll; and quite tired out with all
this work, Bevis flung down his lever, and thought he would go indoors
and sit down and play at something else.

First he stepped into the kitchen, as the door was open; it was a step
down to it.  The low whitewashed ceiling and the beam across it glowed
red from the roasting-fire of logs split in four, and built up on the
hearth; the flames rushed up the vast, broad chimney--a bundle of flames
a yard high, whose tips parted from the main tongues and rose disjointed
for a moment by themselves: the tiny panes of yellowish-green glass,
too, in the window reflected the light.  Such a fire as makes one's lips
moist at the thought of the juicy meats and the subtle sweetness
imparted by the wood fuel, which has a volatile fragrance of its own.
Bevis thought he would get the old iron spoon, and melt some lead, and
cast some bullets in the mould--he had a mould, though they would not
let him have a pistol--he knew where there was a piece of lead-pipe, and
a battered bit of guttering that came off the house.

Or else he would put in a nail, make it white hot, and hammer it into an
arrowhead, using the wrought-iron fire-dog as an anvil.  The heat was so
great, especially as it was a warm May day, that before he could decide
he was obliged to go out of the kitchen, and so wandered into the
sitting-room.  His fishing-rod stood in the corner where he had left it;
he had brought it in because the second joint was splitting, and he
intended (as the ferrule was lost) to bind it round and round with
copper wire.  But he did not feel much inclined to do that either; he
had half a mind to go up in the bench-room, and take the lock of the old
gun to pieces to see how it worked.  Only the stock (with the lock
attached) was left; the barrel was gone.

While he was thinking he walked into the parlour, and seeing the
bookcase open--the door was lined within with green material--put his
hand involuntarily on an old grey book.  The covers were grey and worn
and loose; the back part had come off; the edges were rough and
difficult to turn over, because they had not been cut by machinery; the
margin, too, was yellow and frayed.  Bevis's fingers went direct to the
rhyme he had read so often, and in an instant everything around him
disappeared, room and bookcase and the garden without, and he forgot
himself, for he could see the "bolde men in their deeds," he could hear
the harper and the minstrel's song, the sound of trumpet and the clash
of steel; how--

  "As they were drinking ale and wine
  Within Kyng Estmere's halle:
  When will ye marry a wyfe, brother,
  A wyfe to glad us all?"

How the kyng and "Adler younge" rode to the wooing, and the fight they
had, fighting so courageously against crowds of enemies,--

  "That soone they have slayne the Kempery men,
  Or forst them forth to flee."

Bevis put himself so into it, that he did it all, _he_ bribed the
porter, _he_ played the harp, and drew the sword; these were no words to
him, it was a living picture in which he himself acted.

He was inclined to go up into the garret and fetch down the old cutlass
that was there among the lumber, and go forth into the meadow and slash
away at "gix" and parsley and burdocks, and kill them all for Kempery
men, just as he out them down before when he was Saint George.  As he
was starting for the cutlass he recollected that the burdocks and the
rest where not up high enough yet, the Paynim scoundrels had not grown
tall enough in May to be slain with any pleasure, and a sense that you
were valiantly swording.  Still there was an old wooden bedstead up
there, on which he could hoist up a sail, and sail away to any port he
chose, to Spain, or Rhodes, or where the lotus-eaters lived.  But his
mind, so soon as he had put down the grey book, ran still on his raft,
and out he raced to see it again, fresh and bright from the rest of
leaving it alone a little while.

Volume One, Chapter II.


As he came near a butterfly rose from the raft, having stayed a moment
to see what this could be among the dandelions and buttercups, but Bevis
was too deeply occupied to notice it.  The cord was of no use; the
rollers were of no use; the wheelbarrow occurred to him, but he could
not lift it on, besides it was too large, nor could he have moved it if
it would go on.  Pan was not strong enough to help him haul, even if he
would submit to be harnessed, which was doubtful.  The cart-horses were
all out at work, nor indeed had they been in the stable would he have
dared to touch them.

What he wanted to do was to launch his raft before any one saw or
guessed what he was about, so that it might be a surprise to them and a
triumph to him.  Especially he was anxious to do it before Mark came; he
might come across the fields any minute, or along the road, and Bevis
wished to be afloat, so that Mark might admire his boat, and ask
permission to stop on board.  Mark might appear directly; it was odd he
had not heard his whistle before.  Full of this thought away went Bevis
back to the house, to ask Polly the dairymaid to help him; but she
hunted him out with the mop, being particularly busy that day with the
butter, and quite deaf to all his offers and promises.  As he came out
he looked up the field, and remembered that John was stopping the gaps,
and was at work by himself that day; perhaps he would slip away and help

He raced up the meadow and found the labourer, with his thick white
leather gloves and billhook, putting thorn bushes in the gaps, which no
one had made so much as Bevis himself.

"Come and help me," said Bevis.  Now John was willing enough to leave
his work and help Bevis do anything--for anything is sweeter than the
work you ought to do--besides which he knew he could get Bevis to bring
him out a huge mug of ale for it.

But he grinned and said nothing, and simply pointed through the hedge.
Bevis looked, and there was the Bailiff with his back against the great
oak, under which he once went to sleep.  The Bailiff was older now, much
older, and though he was so stout and big he did not do much work with
his hands.  He stood there, leaning his back against the oak, with his
hazel staff in his hand, watching the stone-pickers, who were gathering
up the bits of broken earthenware and rubbish from among the cowslips
out of the way of the scythe; watching, too, the plough yonder in the
arable field beyond; and with his eyes now and then on John.  While
those grey eyes were about, work, you may be sure, was not slack.  So
Bevis pouted, and picked up a stone, and threw it at the Bailiff, taking
good care, however, not to hit him.  The stone fell in the hedge behind
the Bailiff, and made him start, as he could not think what creature it
could be, for rabbits and weasels and other animals and birds move as
silently as possible, and this made a sharp tap.

Bevis returned slowly down the meadow, and as he came near the house,
having now given up hope of getting the raft to the brook, he caught
sight of a cart-horse outside the stable.  He ran and found the carter's
lad, who had been sent home with the horse; the horse had been hauling
small pieces of timber out of the mowing-grass with a chain, and the lad
was just going to take off the harness.

"Stop," said Bevis, "stop directly, and hitch the chain on my raft."

The boy hesitated; he dared not disobey the carter, and he had been in
trouble for pleasing Bevis before.

"This instant," said Bevis, stamping his foot; "I'm your master."

"No; that you beant," said the boy slowly, very particular as to facts;
"your feyther be my master."

"You do it this minute," said Bevis, hot in the face, "or I'll _kill_
you; but if you'll do it I'll give you--sixpence."

The boy still hesitated, but he grinned; then he looked round, then he
turned the horse's head--unwilling, for the animal thought he was going
to the manger--and did as Bevis told him.  Behind the strong cart-horse
the raft was nothing, it left a trail all across the grass right down to
the brook; Bevis led the way to the drinking-place, where the ground
sloped to the water.  The boy once embarked in the business, worked with
a will--highly delighted himself with the idea--and he and Bevis
together pushed the raft into the stream.

"Now you hold the rope," said Bevis, "while I get in," and he put one
foot on the raft.

Just then there came a whistle, first a long low call, then a quaver,
then two short calls repeated.

"That's Mark," said Bevis, and in he hastened.  "Push me off," for one
edge of the raft touched the sandy shore.

"Holloa!" shouted Mark, racing down the meadow from the gateway; "stop a
minute! let me!--"

"Push," said Bevis.

The boy shoved the raft off; it floated very well, but the moment it was
free of the ground and Bevis's weight had to be entirely supported, the
water squirted in around the edges.

"You'll be drownded," said the carter's lad.

"Pooh!" said Bevis.

"I shall jump in," said Mark, making as if he were about to leap.

"If you do I'll hit you," said Bevis, doubling his fists; "I say!--"

For the water rushed in rapidly, and was already half an inch deep.
When he caulked his vessel, he stopped all the seams of the bottom, but
he had overlooked the chinks round the edges, between the narrow planks
that formed the gunwales or sides, and the bottom to which they were

Bevis moved towards the driest side of the raft, but directly he stepped
there and depressed it with his weight the water rushed after him, and
he was deeper than over in it.  It came even over his boots.

"Let I get in," said the boy; "mine be water-tights."

"Pull me back," said Bevis.

Mark seized the rope, and he and the boy gave such a tug that Bevis,
thrown off his balance, must have fallen into the brook had he not
jumped ashore and escaped with one foot wet through to the ankle.

"Yaa--you!" they heard a rough voice growling, like a dog muttering a
bark in his throat, and instantly the carter's lad felt a grip on the
back of his neck.  It was the Bailiff who marched him up the meadow,
holding the boy by the neck with one hand and leading the cart-horse
with the other.  Bevis and Mark were too full of the raft even to notice
that their assistant had been haled off.

First they pulled till they had got it ashore; then they tilted it up to
let the water run out; then they examined the chinks where it had come

"Here's my handkerchief," said Mark; "put that in."

The handkerchief, a very dirty one, was torn into shreds and forced into
the chinks.  It was not enough, so Bevis tore up his; still there were
holes.  Bevis roamed up and down the grass in his excitement, gazing
round for something to stop these leaks.

"I know," said he suddenly, "moss will do.  Come on."

He made for a part of the meadow much overshadowed by trees, where the
moss threatened to overcome the grass altogether, so well did it
flourish in the coolness and moisture, for the dew never dried there
even at noonday.  The Bailiff had it torn up by the harrow, but it was
no good, it would grow.  Bevis always got moss from here to put in his
tin can for the worms when he went fishing.  Mark was close behind him,
and together they soon had a quantity of moss.  After they had filled
the chinks as they thought, they tried the boat again, Bevis insisting
on his right to get in first as it was his property.  But it still
leaked, so they drew it out once more and again caulked the seams.  To
make it quite tight Bevis determined to put some clay as well, to line
the chinks with it like putty.  So they had to go home to the garden,
get the trowel out of the summer-house where Bevis kept such things, and
then dig a few lumps of clay out of the mound.

There was only one place where there was any clay accessible, they knew
the spot well--was there anything they did not know?  Working up the
lumps of clay with their hands and the water so as to soften and render
it plastic, they carefully lined the chinks, and found when they
launched the raft that this time it floated well and did not admit a
single drop.  For the third time, Bevis stepped on board, balancing
himself with a pole he had brought down from the garden, for he had
found before that it was difficult to stand upright on a small raft.
Mark pushed him off: Bevis kept one end of the pole touching the bottom,
and so managed very well.  He guided the raft out of the drinking-place,
which was like a little pond beside the brook, and into the stream.

There the current took it, and all he had to do was to keep it from
grounding on the shallows, where the flags were rising out of the mud,
or striking against the steep banks where the cowslips overhung the
water.  With his feet somewhat apart to stand the firmer, his brow
frowning (with resolution), and the pole tight in his hands--all grimed
with clay--Bevis floated slowly down the stream.  The sun shone hot and
bright, and he had of course left his hat on the sward where it had
fallen off as he stooped to the caulking: the wind blew and lifted his
hair: his feet were wet.  But he never noticed the heat, nor the wind,
nor his wet feet, nor his clayey hands.  He had done it--he was quite
lost in his raft.

Round the bend the brook floated him gently, past the willow where the
wood-pigeon built (he was afraid to come near his nest while they were
about), past the thick hawthorn bushes white with may-bloom, under which
the blackbirds love to stay in the hottest days in the cool shadow by
the water.  Where there were streaks of white sand sifted by the stream
from the mud, he could see the bottom: under the high bank there was a
swirl as if the water wrestled with something under the surface: a
water-rat, which had watched him coming from a tiny terrace, dived with
a sound like a stone dropped quietly in: the stalks of flags grazed the
bottom of the raft, he could hear them as it drew on: a jack struck and
rushed wildly up and down till he found a way to slip by; the raft gave
a heave and shot swiftly forward where there had once been a bay and was
still a fall of two inches or so: a bush projected so much that he could
with difficulty hold the boughs aside and prevent the thorns from
scratching his face: a snag scraped the bottom of the boat and the jerk
nearly overthrew him--he did not mind that, he feared lest the old stump
had started a seam, but fortunately it had not done so.

Then there was a straight course, a broad and open reach, at which he
shouted with delight.  The wind came behind and pushed his back like a
sail and the little silvery ripples ran before him, and dashed against
the shore, destroying themselves and their shadows under them at the
same time.  The raft floated without piloting here, steadily on.  Bevis
lifted his pole and waved his hand in triumph.

From the gateway the carter's lad watched him; he had got away from the
angry Bailiff.  From the garden ha-ha, near the rhubarb patch, Polly the
dairymaid watched him, gesticulating every now and then with her arms,
for she had been sent to call him to dinner.  Mark, wild with envy and
admiration and desire to share the voyage, walked on the bank, begging
to come in, for Bevis to get out or let him join him, threatening to
leap aboard from the high bank where the current drifted the raft right
under him, pulling off his shoes and stockings to wade in and seize the
craft by main force; then, changing his mind, shouting to Bevis to mind
a boulder in the brook, and pointing out the place.

The raft swept with steady, easy motion down the straight broad reach;
Bevis did not need his pole, he stood without its help, all aglow with

The raft came to another bend, and Bevis with his pole guided it round,
and then, looking up, stamped his foot with vexation, for there was an
ancient, hollow willow right in front, so bowed down that its head
obstructed the fair way of the stream.  He had quite hoped to get down
to the Peninsula, and to circumnavigate it, and even shoot the cataract
of the dam below, and go under the arch of the bridge, and away yet
farther.  He was not fifty yards from the Peninsula, and Mark had run
there to meet him; but here was this awkward tree, and before he could
make up his mind what to do, bump the raft struck the willow, then it
swung slowly round and one side grounded on the bank, and he was at a

He hit the willow with his pole, but that was of no use, and called to
Mark.  Bevis pushed the willow with his pole, Mark pulled at a branch,
and together they could shake it, but they could not move it out of the
way; the stream was blocked as if a boom had been fastened across it.
The voyage was over.

While they consulted, Polly came down, having failed to make them hear
from the garden, and after she had shook them each by the shoulder
brought them to reason.  Though she would have failed in that too had
not the willow been there, not for dinner or anything would Bevis have
abandoned his adventure, so bent was he always on the business he had in

But the willow was obstinate, they could not get past it, so reluctantly
he agreed to go home.  First Polly had to fetch his hat, which was two
hundred yards away on the grass by the drinking-place; then Mark had to
put his shoes and stockings on, and take one off again because there was
a fragment of stone in it.  Next, Bevis had to step into the raft
again--a difficult thing to do from the tree--in order to get the cord
fastened to the staple to tie it up, not that there was the least risk
of the raft floating away, still these things, as you know, ought to be
done quite properly.

After he had tied the cord or painter to a branch of the willow as
firmly as possible, at last he consented to come.  But then catching
sight of the carter's lad, he had first to give him his sixpence, and
also to tell him that if he dared go near the raft, even to look at it,
he would be put in the brook.  Besides which he had to wash his hands,
and by the time Mark and he reached the table the rest had finished.
The people looked at them rather blackly, but they did not mind or
notice in the least, for their minds were full of projects to remove the
willow, about which they whispered to each other.

Pan raced beside them after dinner to the ha-ha wall, down which they
jumped one after the other into the meadow.  The spaniel hesitated on
the brink, not that he feared the leap, which he had so often taken, but
reflection checked him.  He watched them a little way as they ran for
the brook, then turned and walked very slowly back to the house; for he
knew that now dinner was over, if he waited till he was remembered, a
plateful would come out for him.

Volume One, Chapter III.


They found the raft as they had left it, except that petals of the
may-bloom, shaken from the hawthorn bushes by the breeze, as they came
floating down the stream had lodged against the vessel like a white line
on the water.  Already, too, the roach, which love a broad shadow to
play about its edge, had come underneath, but when they felt the shaking
of the bank from the footsteps turned aside, and let the current drift
them down.  Bevis fetched his hatchet from the Peninsula and began to
hack at the willow; Mark, not without some difficulty, got leave to
climb into the raft, and sit in the centre.  The chips flew, some fell
on the grass, some splashed into the brook; Bevis made a broad notch
just as he had seen the men do it; and though his arm was slender, the
fire behind it drove the edge of the steel into the wood.  The willow
shook, and its branches, which touched the water, ruffled the surface.

But though the trunk was hollow it was a long way through, and when
Bevis began to tire he had only cut in about three inches.  Then Mark
had to work, but before he had given ten strokes Bevis said it was of no
use chopping, they could never do it, they must get the grub-axe.  So
they went back to the house, and carried the ungainly tool down to the

It was too cumbrous for them, they pocked up a little turf, and just
disturbed the earth, and then threw the clumsy thing on the grass.  Next
they thought of the great saw--the cross-cut--the men used, one at each
end, to saw though timber; but that was out of their reach, purposely
put up high in the workshop, so that they should not meddle with it or
cut themselves with its terrible teeth.

"I know," said Mark, "we must make a fire, and burn the tree; we are
savages, you know, and that is how they do it."

"How silly you are!" said Bevis.  "We are _not_ savages, and I shall not
play at that.  We have just discovered this river, and we are going down
it on our raft; and if we do not reach some place to-night and build a
fort, very likely the savages will shoot us.  I believe I heard one
shouting just now; there was something rustled, I am sure, in the

He pointed at the thick double-mound hedge about a hundred yards

"What river is it?" said Mark.  "Is it the Amazon, or the Congo, or the
Yellow River, or the Nile--"

"It is the Mississippi, of course," said Bevis, quite decided and at
ease as to that point.  "Can't you see that piece of weed there.  My
papa says that weed came from America, so I am sure it is the
Mississippi, and nobody has ever floated down it before, and there's no
one that can read within a thousand miles."

"Then what shall we do?"

"O, there's always something you can do.  If we could only get a beaver
now to nibble through it.  There's always something you can do.  I
know," and Bevis jumped up delighted at his idea, "we can bore a hole,
and blow it up with gunpowder!"

"Lot us fetch an auger," said Mark.  "The gimlet is not big enough."

"Be quick," said Bevis.  "Run back to the settlement, and get the auger;
I will mind the raft and keep off the savages; and, I say, bring a spear
and the cutlass; and--I say--"

But Mark was too far, and in too much of a hurry to hear a word.  Bevis,
tired of chopping, rolled over on his back on the grass, looking up at
the sky.  The buttercups rose high above his head, the wind blew and
cooled his heated forehead, and a humble-bee hummed along: borne by the
breeze from the grass there came the sweet scent of green things growing
in the sunshine.  Far up he saw the swallows climbing in the air; they
climbed a good way almost straight up, and then suddenly came slanting
down again.

While he lay there he distinctly heard the Indians rustling again in the
forest.  He raised himself on one arm, but could not see them; then
recollecting that he must try to conceal himself, he reclined again, and
thought how he should be able to repel an attack without weapons.  There
was the little hatchet, he could snatch up that and defend himself.
Perhaps they would sink the raft?  Perhaps when Mark returned they had
better tow it back up stream, and draw it ashore safely at home, and
then return to the work of clearing the obstruction.  As he lay with his
knees up among the buttercups he heard the thump, thump of Mark's feet
rushing down the hill in eager haste with the auger.  So he sat up, and
beckoned to him to be quiet, and explained to him when he arrived that
the Indians were certainly about.  They must tow the raft back to the
drinking-place.  Bevis untied the cord with which the raft was fastened
to the willow, and stepped on board.

"Don't pull too quick," he said to Mark, giving him the cord; "or
perhaps I shall run aground."

"But you floated down," said Mark.  "Let me get in, and you tow; it's my

"Your turn?" shouted Bevis, standing up as straight as a bolt.  "This is
_my_ raft."

"But you always have everything, and you floated down, and I have not;
you have everything, and--"

"You are a great story," said Bevis, stamping so that the raft shook and
the ripples rushed from under it.  "I don't have everything, and you
have more than half; and I gave you my engine and that box of gun-caps
yesterday; and I hate you, and you are a big story."

Out he scrambled, and seizing Mark by the shoulders, thrust him towards
the raft with such force that it was with difficulty Mark saved himself
from falling into the brook.  He clung to the willow--the bark gave way
under his fingers--but as he slipped, he slung himself over the raft and
dropped on it.

"Take the pole," said Bevis, still very angry, and looking black as
thunder.  "Take the pole, and steer so as not to run in the mud, and not
to hit against the bank.  Now then," and putting the cord over his
shoulder, off he started.

Mark had as much as ever he could do to keep the raft from striking one
side or the other.

"Please don't go so fast," he said.

Bevis went slower, and towed steadily in silence.  After they had passed
the hawthorn under the may-bloom, Mark said, "Bevis," but Bevis did not

"Bevis," repeated Mark, "I have had enough now; stop, and you get in."

"I shall not," said Bevis.  "You are a great story."

In another minute Mark spoke again:--

"Let me get out and tow you now."  Bevis did not reply.  "I say--I say--
I say, Bevis."

No use.  Bevis towed him the whole way, till the raft touched the
shallow shore of the drinking-place.  Then Mark got out and helped him
drag the vessel well up on the ground, so that it should not float away.

"Now," said Bevis, after it was quite done.  "Will you be a story any

"No," said Mark, "I will not be a story again."

So they walked back side by side to the willow tree; Mark, who was
really in the right, feeling in the wrong.  At the tree Bevis picked up
the auger, and told him to bore the hole.  Mark began, but suddenly

"What's the good of boring the hole when we have not got any gunpowder,"
said he.

"No more we have," said Bevis.  "This is very stupid, and they will not
let me have any, though I have got some money, and I have a great mind
to buy some and hide it.  Just as if we did not know how to use powder,
and as if we did not know how to shoot!  Oh, I know!  We will go and cut
a bough of alder--there's ever so many alders by the Longpond--and burn
it and make charcoal; it makes the best charcoal, you know, and they
always--use it for gunpowder, and then we can get some saltpetre.  Let
me see--"

"The Bailiff had some saltpetre the other day," said Mark.

"So he did: it is in the dairy.  Oh yes, and I know where some sulphur
is.  It is in the garden-house, where the tools are, in the orchard;
it's what they use to smother the bees with--"

"That's on brown paper," said Mark; "that won't do."

"No it's not.  You have to melt it to put it on paper, and dip the paper
in.  This is in a piece, it is like a short bar, and we will pound it up
and mix; them all together and make capital gunpowder."

"Hurrah!" cried Mark, throwing down the auger.  "Let's go and cut the
alder.  Come on!"

"Stop," said Bevis.  "Lean on me, and walk slow.  Don't you know you
have caught a dreadful fever, from being in the swamps by the river, and
you can hardly walk, and you are very thin and weak?  Lean on my arm and
hang your head."

Mark hung his head, turning his rosy cheeks down to the buttercups, and
dragged his sturdy fever-stricken limbs along with an effort.

"Humph!" said a gruff voice.

"It's the Indians!" cried Bevis, startled; for they were so absorbed
they had not heard the Bailiff come up behind them.  They quite jumped,
as if about to be scalped.

"What be you doing to that tree?" said the Bailiff.

"Find out," said Bevis.  "It's not your tree: and why don't you say when
you're coming?"

"I saw you from the hedge," said the Bailiff.  "I was telling John where
to cut the bushes from for the new harrow."  That caused the rustling in
the forest.  "You'll never chop he down."

"That we shall, if we want to."

"No, you won't--he stops your ship."

"It isn't a ship: it's a raft."

"Well, you can't get by."

"That we can."

"I thinks you be stopped," said the Bailiff, having now looked at the
tree more carefully.  "He be main thick,"--with a certain sympathy for
stolid, inanimate obstruction.

"I tell you, people like us are never stopped by anything," said Bevis.
"We go through forests, and we float down rivers, and we shoot tigers,
and move the biggest trees ever seen--don't we, Mark?"

"Yes, that we do: nothing is anything to us."

"Of course not," said Bevis.  "And if we can't chop it down or blow it
up, as we mean to, then we dig round it.  O, Mark, I say!  I forgot!
Let's dig a canal round it."

"How silly we were never to think of that!" said Mark.  "A canal is the
very thing--from here to the creek."

He meant where the stream curved to enclose the Peninsula: the proposed
canal would make the voyage shorter.

"Cut some sticks--quick!" said Bevis.  "We must plug out our canal--that
is what they always do first, whether it is a canal, or a railway, or a
drain, or anything.  And I must draw a plan.  I must get my pocket-book
and pencil.  Come on, Mark, and get the spade while I get my pencil."

Off they ran.  The Bailiff leaned on his hazel staff, one hand against
the willow, and looked down into the water, as calmly as the sun itself
reflected there.  When he had looked awhile he shook his head and
grunted: then he stumped away; and after a dozen yards or so, glanced
back, grunted, and shook his head again.  It could not be done.  The
tree was thick, the earth hard--no such thing: his sympathy, in a dull
unspoken way, was with the immovable.

Mark went to work with the spade, throwing the turf he dug up into the
brook; while Bevis, lying at full length on the grass, drew his plan of
the canal.  He drew two curving lines parallel, and half an inch apart,
to represent the bend of the brook, and then two, as straight as he
could manage, across, so as to shorten the distance, and avoid the
obstruction.  The rootlets of the grass held tight, when Mark tried to
lift the spadeful he had dug, so that he could not tear them off.

He had to chop them at the side with his spade first, and then there was
a root of the willow in the way; a very obstinate stout root, for which
the little hatchet had to be brought to cut it.  Under the softer turf
the ground was very hard, as it had long been dry, so that by the time
Bevis had drawn his plan and stuck in little sticks to show the course
the canal was to take, Mark had only cleared about a foot square, and
four or five inches deep, just at the edge of the bank, where he could
thrust it into the stream.

"I have been thinking," said Bevis as he came back from the other end of
the line, "I have been thinking what we are, now we are making this

"Yes," said Mark, "what are we?--they do not make canals on the
Mississippi.  Is this the Suez canal?"

"Oh no," said Bevis.  "This is not Africa; there is no sand, and there
are no camels about.  Stop a minute.  Put down that spade, don't dig
another bit till we know what we are."

Mark put down the spade, and they both thought very hard indeed, looking
straight at one another.

"I know," said Bevis, drawing a long breath.  "We are digging a canal
through Mount Athos, and we are Greeks."

"But was it the Greeks?" said Mark.  "Are you sure--"

"Quite sure," said Bevis.  "Perfectly quite sure.  Besides, it doesn't
matter.  _We_ can do it if they did not, don't you see?"

"So we can: and who are you then, if we are Greeks?"

"I am Alexander the Great."

"And who am I!"

"O, you--you are anybody."

"But I _must_ be somebody," said Mark, "else it will not do."

"Well, you are: let me see--Pisistratus."

"Who was Pisistratus?"

"I don't know," said Bevis.  "It doesn't matter in the least.  Now dig."

Pisistratus dug till he came to another root, which Alexander the Great
chopped off for him with the hatchet.  Pisistratus dug again and
uncovered a water-rat's hole which went down aslant to the water.  They
both knelt on the grass, and peered down the round tunnel: at the bottom
where the water was, some of the fallen petals of the may-bloom had come
in and floated there.

"This would do splendidly to put some gunpowder in and blow up, like the
miners do," said Bevis.  "And I believe that is the proper way to make a
canal: it is how they make tunnels, I am sure."

"Greeks are not very good," said Mark.  "I don't like Greeks: don't
let's be Greeks any longer.  The Mississippi was very much best."

"So it was," said Bevis.  "The Mississippi is the nicest.  I am not
Alexander, and you are not Pisistratus.  This is the Mississippi."

"Let us have another float down," said Mark.  "Let me float down, and I
will drag you all the way up this time."

"All right," said Bevis.

So they launched the raft, and Mark got in and floated down, and Bevis
walked on the bank, giving him directions how to pilot the vessel, which
as before was brought up by the willow leaning over the water.  Just as
they were preparing to tow it back again, and Bevis was climbing out on
the willow to get into the raft they heard a splashing down the brook.

"What's that?" said Mark.  "Is it Indians?"

"No, it's an alligator.  At least, I don't know.  Perhaps it's a canoe
full of Indians.  Give me the pole, quick; there now, take the hatchet.
Look out!"

The splashing increased; then there was a "Yowp!" and Pan, the spaniel,
suddenly appeared out of the flags by the osier-bed.  He raced across
the ground there, and jumped into the brook again, and immediately a
moorcock, which he had been hunting, scuttled along the water, beating
with his wings, and scrambling with his long legs hanging down, using
both air and water to fly from his enemy.  As he came near he saw Bevis
on the willow, and rose out of the brook over the bank.  Bevis hit at
him with his pole, but missed; and Mark hurled the hatchet in vain.  The
moorcock flew straight across the meadow to another withy-bed, and then
disappeared.  It was only by threats that they stopped the spaniel from

Pan having got his plateful by patiently waiting about the doorway,
after he had licked his chops, and turned up the whites of his eyes, to
see if he could persuade them to give him any more, walked into the
rick-yard, and choosing a favourite spot upon some warm straw--for straw
becomes quite hot under sunshine--lay down and took a nap.  When he
awoke, having settled matters with the fleas, he strolled back to the
ha-ha wall, and, seeing Bevis and Mark still busy by the brook, went
down to know what they were doing.  But first going to a place he well
knew to lap he scented the moorcock, and gave chase.

"Come here," said Bevis; and, seizing the spaniel by the skin of his
neck, he dragged him in the raft, stepped in quickly after, and held Pan
while Mark hauled at the tow-line.  But when Bevis had to take the pole
to guide the raft from striking the bank Pan jumped out in a moment,
preferring to swim rather than to ride in comfort, nor could any
persuasions or threats get him on again.  He barked along the shore,
while Mark hauled and Bevis steered the craft.

Having beached her at the drinking-place on the shelving strand, they
thought they had better go up the river a little way, and see if there
were any traces of Indians; and, following the windings of the stream,
they soon came to the hatch.  Above the hatch the water was smooth, as
it usually is where it is deep and approaching the edge, and Bevis's
quick eye caught sight of a tiny ripple there near one bank, so tiny
that it hardly extended across the brook, and disappeared after the
third wavelet.

"Keep Pan there!" he said.  "Hit him--hit him harder than that; he
doesn't mind."

Mark punched the spaniel, who crouched; but, nevertheless, his body
crept, as it were, towards the hatch, where Bevis was climbing over.
Bevis took hold of the top rail, put his foot on the rail below, all
green and slippery with weeds where the water splashed, like the rocks
where the sea comes, then his other foot further along, and so got over
with the deep water in front, and the roar of the fall under, and the
bubbles rushing down the stream.  The bank was very steep, but there was
a notch to put the foot in, and a stout hawthorn stem--the thorns on
which had long since been broken off for the purpose--gave him something
to hold to and by which to lift himself up.

Then he walked stealthily along the bank--it overhung the dark deep
water, and seemed about to slip in under him.  There was a plantation of
trees on that side, and on the other a hawthorn hedge, so that it was a
quiet and sheltered spot.  As he came to the place where he had seen the
ripple, he looked closer, and in among a bunch of rushes, with the green
stalks standing up all round it, he saw a moorhen's nest.  It was made
of rushes, twined round like a wreath, or perhaps more like a large
green turban, and there were three or four young moorhens in it.  The
old bird had slipped away as he came near, and diving under the surface
rose ten yards off under a projecting bush.

Bevis dropped on his knee to take one of the young birds, but in an
instant they rolled out of the nest, with their necks thrust out in
front, and fell splash in the water, where they swam across, one with a
piece of shell clinging to its back, and another piece of shell was
washed from it by the water.  Pan was by his side in a minute; he had
heard the splash, and seen the young moorhens, and with a whine, as Mark
kicked him--unable to hold him any longer--he rushed across.

"They are such pretty dear little things," said Bevis, in an ecstasy of
sentiment, calling to Mark.  "Lie down!" banging Pan with a dead branch
which he hastily snatched up.  The spaniel's back sounded hollow as the
wood rebounded, and broke on his ribs.  "Such dear little things!  I
would not have them hurt for anything."

Bang again on Pan's back, who gave up the attempt, knowing from sore
experience that Bevis was not to be trifled with.  But by the time Mark
had got there the little moorhens had hidden in the grasses beside the
stream, though one swam out for a minute, and then concealed itself

"Don't you love them?" said Bevis.  "I do.  I'll _smash_ you,"--to Pan,
cowering at his feet.

The moorhens did not appear again, so they went back and sat on the top
of the steep bank, their legs dangling over the edge above the bubbling

A broad cool shadow from the trees had fallen over the hatch, for the
afternoon had gone on, and the sun was declining behind them over the
western hills.  A broad cool shadow, whose edges were far away, so that
they were in the midst of it.  The thrushes sang in the ashes, for they
knew that the quiet evening, with the dew they love, was near.  A
bullfinch came to the hawthorn hedge just above the hatch, looked in and
out once or twice, and then stepped inside the spray near his nest.  A
yellow-hammer called from the top of a tree, and another answered him
across the field.  Afar in the mowing-grass the crake lifted his voice,
for he talks more as the sun sinks.

The swirling water went round and round under the fall, with lines of
white bubbles rising, and quivering masses of yellowish foam ledged on
the red rootlets under the bank and against the flags.  The swirling
water, ceaselessly beaten by the descending stream coming on it with a
long-continued blow, returned to be driven away again.  A steady roar of
the fall, and a rippling sound above it of bursting bubbles and crossing
wavelets of the hastening stream, notched and furrowed over stones,
frowning in eager haste.  The rushing and the coolness, and the song of
the brook and the birds, and the sense of the sun sinking, stilled even
Bevis and Mark a little while.  They sat and listened, and said nothing;
the delicious brook filled their ears with music.

Next minute Bevis seized Pan by the neck and pitched him over into the
bubbles.  In an instant, before he came to the surface, as his weight
carried him beneath, Pan was swept down the stream, and when he came up
he could not swim against it, but was drifted away till he made for the
flags, which grew on a shallow spot.  There he easily got out, shook
himself, and waited for them to come over.

"I am hungry," said Mark.  "What ought we to have to eat; what is right
on the Mississippi?  I don't believe they have tea.  There is Polly
shouting for us."

"No," said Bevis thoughtfully; "I don't think they do.  How stupid of
her to stand there shouting and waving her handkerchief, as if we could
not find our way straight across the trackless prairie.  I know--we will
have some honey!  Don't you know?  Of course the hunters find lots of
wild honey in the hollow trees.  We will have some honey; there's a big
jar full."

So they got over the hatch, and went home, leaving their tools scattered
hither and thither beside the Mississippi.  They climbed up the ha-ha
wall, putting the toes of their boots where the flat stones of which it
was built, without mortar, were farthest apart, and so made steps while
they could hold to the wiry grass-tufts on the top.

"Where's your hat?" said Polly to Bevis.

"I don't know," said Bevis.  "I suppose it's in the brook.  It doesn't

Volume One, Chapter IV.


Next morning Bevis went out into the meadow to try and find a plant
whose leaves, or one of them, always pointed to the north, like a green
compass lying on the ground.  There was one in the prairies by which the
hunters directed themselves across those oceans of grass without a
landmark as the mariners at sea.  Why should there not be one in the
meadows here--in these prairies--by which to guide himself from forest
to forest, from hedge to hedge, where there was no path?  If there was a
path it was not proper to follow it, nor ought you to know your way; you
ought to find it by sign.

He had "blazed" ever so many boughs of the hedges with the hatchet, or
his knife if he had not got the hatchet with him, to recognise his route
through the woods.  When he found a nest begun or finished, and waiting
for the egg, he used to cut a "blaze"--that is, to peel off the bark--or
make a notch, or cut a bough off about three yards from the place, so
that he might easily return to it, though hidden with foliage.  No doubt
the grass had a secret of this kind, and could tell him which was the
way, and which was the north and south if he searched long enough.

So the raft being an old story now, as he had had it a day, Bevis went
out into the field, looking very carefully down into the grass.  Just by
the path there were many plantains, but their long, narrow leaves did
not point in any particular direction, no two plants had their leaves
parallel.  The blue scabious had no leaves to speak of, nor had the red
knapweed, nor the yellow rattle, nor the white moon-daisies, nor golden
buttercups, nor red sorrel.  There were stalks and flowers, but the
plants of the mowing-grass, in which he had no business to be walking,
had very little leaf.  He tried to see if the flowers turned more one
way than the other, or bowed their heads to the north, as men seem to
do, taking that pole as their guide, but none did so.  They leaned in
any direction, as the wind had left them, or as the sun happened to be
when they burst their green bonds and came forth to the light.

The wind came past as he looked and stroked everything the way it went,
shaking white pollen from the bluish tops of the tall grasses.  The wind
went on and left him and the grasses to themselves.  How should I knew
which was the north or the south or the west from these?  Bevis asked
himself, without framing any words to his question.  There was no
knowing.  Then he walked to the hedge to see if the moss grew more on
one side of the elms than the other, or if the bark was thicker and

After he had looked at twenty trees he could not see much difference;
those in the hedge had the moss thickest on the eastern side (he knew
which was east very well himself, and wanted to see if the moss knew),
and those in the lane just through it had the moss thickest on their
western side, which was clearly because of the shadow.  The trees were
really in a double row, running north and south, and the coolest shadow
was in between them, and so the moss grew there most.  Nor were the
boughs any longer or bigger any side more than the other, it varied as
the tree was closely surrounded with other trees, for each tree repelled
its neighbour.  None of the trees, nor the moss, nor grasses cared
anything at all about north or south.

Bevis sat down in the mowing-grass, though he knew the Bailiff would
have been angry at such a hole being made in it; and when he was sitting
on the ground it rose as high as his head.  He could see nothing but the
sky, and while he sat there looking up he saw that the clouds all
drifted one way, towards his house.  Presently a starling came past,
also flying straight for the house, and after a while another.  Next
three bees went over as straight as a line, all going one after another
that way.  The bees went because they had gathered as much honey as they
could carry, and were hastening home without looking to the right or to
the left.  The starlings went because they had young in their nests in a
hole of the roof by the chimney, and they had found some food for their
fledglings.  So now he could find his way home across the pathless
prairie by going the same way as the clouds, the bees, and the

But when he had reached home he recollected that he ought to know the
latitude, and that there were Arabs or some other people in Africa who
found out the latitude of the place they were in by gazing at the sun
through a tube.  Bevis considered a little, and then went to the
rick-yard, where there was a large elder bush, and cut a straight branch
between the knots with his knife.  He peeled it, and then forced out the
pith, and thus made a tube.  Next he took a thin board, and scratched a
circle on it with the point of the compasses, and divided it into
degrees.  Round the tube he bent a piece of wire, and put the ends
through a gimlet-hole in the centre of the board.  The ends were opened
apart, so as to fasten the tube to the board, allowing it to rotate
round the circle.  Two gimlet-holes were bored at the top corners of the
board, and string passed through so that the instrument could be
attached to a tree or post.

He was tying it to one of the young walnut-trees as an upright against
which to work his astrolabe, when Mark arrived, and everything had to be
explained to him.  After they had glanced through the tube, and decided
that the raft was at least ten degrees distant, it was clearly of no use
to go to it to-day, as they could not reach it under a week's travel.
The best thing, Mark thought, would be to continue their expedition in
some other direction.

"Let's go round the Longpond," said Bevis; "we have never been quite
round it."

"So we will," said Mark.  "But we shall not be back to dinner."

"As if travellers ever thought of dinner!  Of course we shall take our
provisions with us."

"Let's go and get our spears," said Mark.

"Let's take Pan," said Bevis.

"Where is your old compass?" said Mark.

"O, I know--and I must make a map; wait a minute.  We ought to have a
medicine-chest; the savages will worry us for physic: and very likely we
shall have dreadful fevers."

"So we shall, of course; but perhaps there are wonderful plants to cure
us, and we know them and the savages don't--there's sorrel."

"Of course, and we can nibble some hawthorn leaf."

"Or a stalk of wheat."

"Or some watercress."

"Or some nuts."

"No, certainly not; they're not ripe," said Bevis, "and unripe fruit is
very dangerous in tropical countries."

"We ought to keep a diary," said Mark.  "When we go to sleep who shall
watch first, you or I?"

"We'll light a fire," said Bevis.  "That will frighten the lions; they
will glare at us, but they can't stand fire--you hit them on the head
with a burning stick."

So they went in, and loaded their pockets with huge double slices of
bread-and-butter done up in paper, apples, and the leg of a roast duck
from the pantry.  Then came the compass, an old one in a brass case;
Mark broke his nails opening the case, which was tarnished, and the card
at once swung round to the north, pointing to the elms across the road
from the window of the sitting-room.  Bevis took the bow and three
arrows, made of the young wands of hazel which grow straight, and Mark
was armed with a spear, a long ash rod with sharpened end, which they
thrust in the kitchen fire a few minutes to harden in the proper manner.

Besides which, there was Bevis's pocket-book for the diary, and a large
sheet of brown paper for the map; you see travellers have not always
everything at command, but must make use of what they have.  Pan raced
before them up the footpath; the gate that led to the Longpond was
locked, and too high to be climbed easily, but they knew a gap, and
crept through on hands and knees.

"Take care there are no cobras or rattlesnakes among those dead leaves,"
said Mark, when they were halfway through, and quite over-arched and
hidden under brambles.

"Stick your spear into them," said Bevis, who was first, and Mark,
putting his spear past him, stirred up the heap of leaves.

"All right," said he.  "But look at that bough--is it a bough or a

There was an oak branch in the ditch, crooked and grey with lichen, half
concealed by rushes; its curving shape and singular hue gave it some
resemblance to a serpent.  But when he stabbed at it with his spear it
did not move; and they crept through without hurt.  As they stood up in
the field the other side they had an anxious consultation as to what
piece of water it was they were going to discover; whether it was a lake
in Central Africa, or one in America.

"I'm tired of lakes," said Mark.  "They have found out such a lot of
lakes, and the canoes are always upset, and there is such a lot of mud.
Let's have a new sea altogether."

"So we will," said Bevis.  "That's capital--we will find a new sea where
no one has ever been before.  Look!"--for they had now advanced to where
the gleam of the sunshine on the mere was visible through the
hedge--"look! there it is; is it not wonderful?"

"Yes," said Mark, "write it down in the diary; here's my pencil.  Be
quick; put `Found a new sea'--be quick--there, come on--let's run--

They dashed open the gate, and ran down to the beach.  It was a rough
descent over large stones, but they reached the edge in a minute, and as
they came there was a splashing in several places along the shore.
Something was striving to escape, alarmed at their approach.  Mark fell
on his knees, and put his hand where two or three stones, half in and
half out of water, formed a recess, and feeling about drew out two
roach, one of which slipped from his fingers; the other he held.  Bevis
rushed at another splashing, but he was not quick enough, for it was
difficult to scramble over the stones, and the fish swam away just as he
got there.  Mark's fish was covered with tiny slippery specks.  The
roach had come up to leave their eggs under the stones.  When they had
looked at the fish they put it back in the water, and with a kind of
shake it dived down and made off.  As they watched it swim out they now
saw that three or four yards from the shore there were crowds upon
crowds of fish travelling to and fro, following the line of the land.

They were so many, that the water seemed thick with them, and some were
quite large for roach.  These had finished putting their eggs under the
stones, and were now swimming up and down.  Every now and then, as they
silently watched the roach--for they had never before seen such
countless multitudes of fish--they could hear splashings further along
the stones, where those that were up in the recesses were suddenly
seized with panic fear without cause, and struggled to get out, impeding
each other, and jammed together in the narrow entrances.  For they could
not forget their cruel enemies the jacks, and dreaded lest they should
be pounced upon while unable even to turn.

A black cat came down the bank some way off, and they saw her swiftly
dart her paw into the water, and snatch out a fish.  The scales shone
silver white, and reflected the sunshine into their eyes like polished
metal as the fish quivered and leaped under the claw.  Then the cat
quietly, and pausing over each morsel, ate the living creature.  When
she had finished she crept towards the water to get another.

"What a horrid thing!" said Mark.  "She ate the fish alive--cruel
wretch!  Let's kill her."

"Kill her," said Bevis; and before he could fit an arrow to his bow Mark
picked up a stone, and flung it with such a good aim and with such force
that although it did not hit the cat, it struck a stone and split into
fragments, which flew all about her like a shell.  The cat raced up the
bank, followed by a second stone, and at the top met Pan, who did not
usually chase cats, having been beaten for it, but seeing in an instant
that she was in disgrace, he snapped at her and drove her wild with
terror up a pine-tree.  They called Pan off, for it was no use his
yapping at a tree, and walked along the shore, climbing over stones, but
the crowds of roach were everywhere; till presently they came to a place
where the stones ceased, and there was a shallow bank of sand shelving
into the water and forming a point.

There the fish turned round and went back.  Thousands kept coming up and
returning, and while they stayed here watching, gazing into the clear
water, which was still and illuminated to the bottom by the sunlight,
they saw two great fish come side by side up from the depths beyond and
move slowly, very slowly, just over the sand.  They were two huge tench,
five or six pounds a-piece, roaming idly away from the muddy holes they
lie in.  But they do not stay in such holes always, and once now and
then you may see them like this as in a glass tank.  The pair did not go
far; they floated slowly rather than swam, first a few yards one way and
then a few yards the other.  Bevis and Mark were breathless with

"Go and fetch my fishing-rod," whispered Bevis, unable to speak loud; he
was so excited.

"No, you go," said Mark; "I'll stay and watch them."

"I shan't," said Bevis sharply, "you ought to go."

"I shan't," said Mark.

Just then the tench, having surveyed the bottom there, turned and faded
away into the darker deep water.

"There," said Bevis, "if you had run quick!"

"I won't fetch everything," said Mark.

"Then you're no use," said Bevis.  "Suppose I was shooting an elephant,
and you did not hand me another gun quick, or another arrow; and

"But _I_ might be shooting the elephant," interrupted Mark, "and you
could hand me the gun."

"Impossible," said Bevis; "I never heard anything so absurd.  Of course
it's the captain who always does everything; and if there was only one
biscuit left, of course you would let me eat it, and lie down and die
under a tree, so that I might go on and reach the settlement."

"I _hate_ dying under a tree," said Mark, "and you always want

Bevis said nothing, but marched on very upright and very angry, and Mark
followed, putting his feet into the marks Bevis left as he strode over
the yielding sand.  Neither spoke a word.  The shore trended in again
after the point, and the indentation was full of weeds, whose broad
brownish leaves floated on the surface.  Pan worked about and sniffed
among the willow bushes on their left, which, when the lake was full,
were in the water, but now that it had shrunk under the summer heat were
several yards from the edge.

Bevis, leading the way, came to a place where the strand, till then so
low and shelving, suddenly became steep, where a slight rise of the
ground was cut as it were through by the water, which had worn a cliff
eight or ten feet above his head.  The water came to the bottom of the
cliff, and there did not seem any way past it except by going away from
the edge into the field, and so round it.  Mark at once went round,
hastening as fast as he could to get in front, and he came down to the
water on the other side of the cliff in half a minute, looked at Bevis,
and then went on with Pan.

Bevis, with a frown on his forehead, stood looking at the cliff, having
determined that he would not go round, and yet he could not get past
because the water, which was dark and deep, going straight down, came to
the bank, which rose from it like a wall.  First he took out his
pocket-knife and thought he would cut steps in the sand, and he did cut
one large enough to put his toe in; but then he recollected that he
should have nothing to hold to.  He had half a mind to go back home and
get some big nails and drive into the hard sand to catch hold of, only
by that time Mark would be so far ahead he could not overtake him and
would boast that he had explored the new sea first.  Already he was
fifty yards in front, and walking as fast as he could.  How he wished he
had his raft, and then that he could swim!  He would have jumped into
the water and swam round the cliff in a minute.

He saw Mark climbing over some railings that went down to the water to
divide the fields.  He looked up again at the cliff, and almost felt
inclined to leave it and run round and overtake Mark.  When he looked
down again Mark was out of sight, hidden by hawthorn bushes and the
branches of trees.  Bevis was exceedingly angry, and he walked up and
down and gazed round in his rage.  But as he turned once more to the
cliff, suddenly Pan appeared at an opening in the furze and bramble
about halfway up.  The bushes grew at the side, and the spaniel, finding
Bevis did not follow Mark, had come back and was waiting for him.
Bevis, without thinking, pushed into the furze, and immediately he saw
him coming, Pan, eager to go forward again, ran along the face of the
cliff about four feet from the top.  He seemed to run on nothing, and
Bevis was curious to see how he had got by.

The bushes becoming thicker, Bevis had at last to go on hands and knees
under them, and found a hollow space, where there was a great
rabbit-bury, big enough at the mouth for Pan to creep in.  When he stood
on the sand thrown out from it he could see how Pan had done it; there
was a narrow ledge, not above four inches wide, on the face of the
cliff.  It was only just wide enough for a footing, and the cliff fell
sheer down to the water; but Bevis, seeing that he could touch the top
of the cliff, and so steady himself, never hesitated a moment.

He stepped on the ledge, right foot first, the other close behind it,
and hold lightly to the grass at the edge of the field above, only
lightly lest he should pull it out by the roots.  Then he put his right
foot forward again, and drew his left up to it, and so along, keeping
the right first (he could not walk properly, the ledge being so narrow),
he worked himself along.  It was quite easy, though it seemed a long way
down to the water, it always looks very much farther down than it does
up, and as he glanced down he saw a perch rise from the depths, and it
occurred to him in the moment what a capital place it would be for

He could see all over that part of the lake, and noticed two moorhens
feeding in the weeds on the other side, when puff! the wind came over
the field, and reminded him, as he involuntarily grasped the grass
tighter, that he must not stay in such a place where he might lose his
balance.  So he went on, and a dragonfly flew past out a little way over
the water and then back to the field, but Bevis was not to be tempted to
watch his antics, he kept steadily on, a foot at a time, till he reached
a willow on the other side, and had a bough to hold.  Then he shouted,
and Pan, who was already far ahead, stopped and looked back at the
well-known sound of triumph.

Running down the easy slope, Bevis quickly reached the railings and
climbed over.  On the other side a meadow came down to the edge, and he
raced through the grass and was already halfway to the next rails when
some one called "Bevis!" and there was Mark coming out from behind an
oak in the field.  Bevis stopped, half-pleased, half-angry.

"I waited for you," said Mark.

"I came across the cliff," said Bevis.

"I saw you," said Mark.

"But you ran away from me," said Bevis.

"But I am not running now."

"It is very wrong when we are on an expedition," said Bevis.  "People
must do as the captain tells them."

"I won't do it again," said Mark.

"You ought to be punished," said Bevis, "you ought to be put on
half-rations.  Are you quite sure you will never do it again?"


"Well then, this once you are pardoned.  Now, mind in future, as you are
lieutenant, you set a good example.  There's a summer snipe."

Out flew a little bird from the shore, startled as Pan came near, with a
piping whistle, and, describing a semicircle, returned to the hard mud
fifty yards farther on.  It was a summer snipe, and when they
approached, after getting over the next railings, it flew out again over
the water, and making another half-circle passed back to where they had
first seen it.  Here the strand was hard mud, dried by the sun, and
broken up into innumerable holes by the hoofs of cattle and horses which
had come down to drink from the pasture, and had to go through the mud
into which they sank when it was soft.  Three or four yards from the
edge there was a narrow strip of weeds, showing that a bank followed the
line of the shore there.  It was so unpleasant walking over this hard
mud, that they went up into the field, which rose high, so that from the
top they had a view of the lake.

Volume One, Chapter V.


"Do you see any canoes?" said Mark.

"No," said Bevis.  "Can you?  Look very carefully."

They gazed across the broad water over the gleaming ripples far away,
for the light wind did not raise them by the shore, and traced the edge
of the willows and the weeds.

"The savages are in hiding," said Bevis, after a pause.  "Perhaps
they're having a feast."

"Or gone somewhere to war."

"Are they cannibals?" said Mark.  "I should not like to be gnawn."

"Very likely," said Bevis.  "No one has ever been here before, so they
are nearly sure to be; they always are where no one has been.  This
would be a good place to begin the map as we can see so far.  Let's sit

"Let's get behind a tree, then," said Mark; "else if we stay still long
perhaps we shall be seen."

So they went a little farther to an ash, and sat down by it.  Bevis
spread out his sheet of brown paper.

"Give me an apple," said Mark, "while you draw."  Bevis did so, and
then, lying on the ground at full length, began to trace out the course
of the shore; Mark lay down too, and held one side of the paper that the
wind might not lift it.  First Bevis made a semicircle to represent the
stony bay where they found the roach, then an angular point for the
sandy bar, then a straight line for the shelving shore.

"There ought to be names," said Mark.  "What shall we call this?"
putting his finger on the bay.

"Don't splutter over the map," said Bevis; "take that apple pip off it.
Of course there will be names when I have drawn the outline.  Here's the
cliff."  He put a slight projection where the cliff jutted out a little
way, then a gentle curve for the shore of the meadow, and began another
trending away to the left for the place where they were.

"That's not long enough," said Mark.

"It's not finished," said Bevis.  "How can I finish it when we have only
got as far as this?  How do I know, you stupid, how far this bay goes
into the land?  Perhaps there's another sea round there," pointing over
the field.  "Instead of saying silly things, just find out some names,

"What sea is it?" said Mark thoughtfully.

"I can't tell," said Bevis.  "It is most extraordinary to find a new
sea.  And such an enormous big one.  Why how many days' journey have we
come already?"

"Thirty," said Mark.  "Put it down in the diary, thirty days' journey.
There, that's right.  Now, what sea is it?  Is it the Atlantic?"

"No; it's not the Atlantic, nor the Pacific, nor the South Sea; it's
bigger than all those."

"It's much more difficult to find a name than a sea," said Mark.

"Much," said Bevis.  They stared at each other for awhile.  "I know,"
said Bevis.

"Well, what is it?" said Mark excitedly, raising himself on his knees to
hear the name.

"I know," said Bevis.  "I'll lie down and shut my eyes, and you take a
piece of grass and tickle me; then I can think.  I can't think unless
I'm tickled."

He disposed himself very comfortably on his back with his knees up, and
tilted his straw hat so as to shade that side of his face towards the
sun.  Mark pulled a bennet.

"Not _too_ ticklish," said Bevis, "else that won't do: don't touch my

"All right."

Mark held the bending bennet (the spike of the grass) bending with the
weight of its tip, and drew it very gently across Bevis's forehead.
Then he let it just touch his cheek, and afterwards put the tip very
daintily on his eyelid.  From there he let it wander like a fly over his
forehead again, and close by, but not in the ear (as too ticklish),
leaving little specks of pollen on the skin, and so to the neck, and
next up again to the hair, and on the other cheek under the straw hat.
Bevis, with his eyes shut, kept quite still under this luxurious
tickling for some time, till Mark, getting tired, put the bennet
delicately on his lip, when he started and rubbed his mouth.

"Now, how stupid you are, Mark; I was just thinking.  Now, do it again."

Mark did it again.

"Are you thinking?" he asked presently.

"Yes," whispered Bevis.  They were so silent they heard the grasshoppers
singing in the grass, and the swallows twittering as they flew over, and
the loud midsummer hum in the sky.

"Are you thinking?" asked Mark again.  Bevis did not answer--he was
asleep.  Mark bent over him, and went on tickling, half dreamy himself,
till he nodded, and his hat fell on Bevis, who sat up directly.

"I know."

"What is it?"

"It is not one sea," said Bevis; "it is a lot of seas.  That's the Blue
Sea, there," pointing to the stony bay where the water was still and
blue under the sky.  "That's the Yellow Sea, there," pointing to the low
muddy shore where the summer snipe flew up, and where, as it was so
shallow and so often disturbed by cattle, the water was thick for some
yards out.

"And what is that out there!" said Mark, pointing southwards to the
broader open water where the ripples were sparkling bright in the

"That is the Golden Sea," said Bevis.  "It is like butterflies flapping
their wings,"--he meant the flickering wavelets.

"And this round here," where the land trended to the left, and there was
a deep inlet.

"It is the Gulf," said Bevis; "Fir-Tree Gulf," as he noticed the tops of

"And that up at the top yonder, right away as far as you can see beyond
the Golden Sea?"

"That's the Indian Ocean," said Bevis; "and that island on the left side
there is Serendib."

"Where Sinbad went?"

"Yes; and that one by it is the Unknown Island, and a magician lives
there in a long white robe, and he has a serpent a hundred feet long
coiled up in a cave under a bramble bush, and the most wonderful things
in the world."

"Let's go there," said Mark.

"So we will," said Bevis, "directly we have got a ship."

"Write the names down," said Mark.  "Put them on the map before we
forget them."

Bevis wrote them on the map, and then they started again upon their
journey.  Where the gulf began they found a slight promontory, or
jutting point, defended by blocks of stone; for here the waves, when the
wind blew west or south, came rolling with all their might over the long
broad Golden Sea from the Indian Ocean.  Pan left them while they stood
here, to hunt among the thistles in an old sand-quarry behind.  He
started a rabbit, and chased it up the quarry, so that when they looked
back they saw him high up the side, peering into the bury.  Sand-martins
were flying in and out of their round holes.  At one place there was
only a narrow strip of land between the ocean and the quarry, so that it
seemed as if its billows might at any time force their way in.

They left the shore awhile, and went into the quarry, and winding in and
out the beds of nettles and thistles climbed up a slope, where they sank
at every step ankle deep in sand.  It led to a broad platform of sand,
above which the precipice rose straight to the roots of the grass above,
which marked the top of the cliff with brown, and where humble-bees were
buzzing along the edge, and, bending the flowers down on which they
alighted, were thus suspended in space.  In the cool recesses of the
firs at the head of Fir-Tree Gulf a dove was cooing, and a great aspen
rustled gently.

They took out their knives and pecked at the sand.  It was hard, but
could be pecked, and grooves cut in it.  The surface was almost green
from exposure to the weather, but under that white.  When they looked
round over the ocean they were quite alone: there was no one in sight
either way, as far as they could see; nothing but the wall of sand
behind, and the wide gleaming water in front.

"What a long way we are from other people," said Mark.

"Thousands of miles," said Bevis.

"Is it quite safe?"

"I don't know," doubtfully.

"Are there not strange creatures in these deserted places?"

"Sometimes," said Bevis.  "Sometimes there are things with wings, which
have spikes on them, and they have eyes that burn you."

Mark grasped his knife and spear, and looked into the beds of thistles
and nettles, which would conceal anything underneath.

"Let's call Pan," he whispered.

Bevis shouted "Pan."

"Pan!" came back in an echo from another part of the quarry.  "Pan!"
shouted Bevis and Mark together.  Pan did not come.  They called again
and whistled; but he did not come.

"Perhaps something has eaten him," said Mark.

"Very likely," said Bevis.  "We ought to have a charm.  Don't forget
next time we come to bring a talisman, so that none of these things can
touch us."

"I know," said Mark.  "I know."  He took his spear and drew a circle on
the platform of sand.  "Come inside this.  There, that's it.  Now stand
still here.  A circle is magic, you know."

"So it is," said Bevis.  "Pan!  Pan!"

Pan did not come.

"What's in those holes?" said Mark, pointing to some large
rabbit-burrows on the right side of the quarry.

"Mummies," said Bevis.  "You may be sure there are mummies there, and
very likely magic writings in their hands.  I wish we could get a magic
writing.  Then we could do anything, and we could know all the secrets."

"What secrets?"

"Why, all these things have secrets."

"All?" said Mark.

"All," said Bevis, looking round and pointing with an arrow in his hand.
"All the trees, and all the stones, and all the flowers--"

"And these?" said Mark, picking up a shell.

"Yes, once; but can't you see it is dead, and the secret, of course, is
gone.  If we had a magic writing."

"Let's buy a book," said Mark.

"They are not books; they are rolls, and you unroll them very slowly,
and see curious things, pictures that move over the paper--"


They started.  Mark lifted his spear, Bevis his bow.  A deep, low, and
slow sound, like thunder, toned from its many mutterings to a mighty
sob, filled their ears for a moment.  It might have been very distant
thunder, or a cannon in the forts far away.  It was one of those
mysterious sounds that are heard in summer when the sky is clear and the
wind soft, and the midsummer hum is loud.  They listened, but it did not
come again.

"What was that?" said Mark at last.

"I don't know; of course it was something magic."

"Perhaps they don't like us coming into these magic places," said Mark.
"Perhaps it is to tell us to go away.  No doubt Pan is eaten."

"I shall not go away," said Bevis, as the boom did not come again.  "I
shall fight first;" and he fitted his arrow to the string.  "What's
that!" and in his start he let the arrow fly down among the thistles.

It was Pan looking down upon them from the edge above, where he had been
waiting ever since they first called him, and wondering why they did not
see him.  Bevis, chancing to glance up defiantly as he fitted his arrow
to shoot the genie of the boom, had caught sight of the spaniel's face
peering over the edge.  Angry with Pan for making him start, Bevis
picked up a stone and flung it at him, but the spaniel slipped back and
escaped it.

"Fetch my arrow," said Bevis, stamping his foot.

Mark went down and got it.  As he came up the sandy slope he looked

"There's a canoe," he said.

"So it is."

A long way off there was a black mark as it were among the glittering
wavelets of the Golden Sea.  They could not see it properly for the
dazzling gleam.

"The cannibals have seen us," said Mark.  "They can see miles.  We shall
be gnawn.  Let's run out of sight before they come too near."

They ran down the slope into the quarry, and then across to the
fir-trees.  Then they stopped and watched the punt, but it did not come
towards them.  They had not been seen.  They followed the path through
the firs, and crossed the head of the gulf.

A slow stream entered the lake there, and they went down to the shore,
where it opened to the larger water.  Under a great willow, whose tops
rose as high as the firs, and an alder or two, it was so cool and
pleasant, that Mark, as he played with the water with his spear, pushing
it this way and that, and raising bubbles, and a splashing as a whip
sings in the air, thought he should like to dabble in it.  He sat down
on a root and took off his shoes and stockings, while Bevis, going a
little way up the stream, flung a dead stick into it, and then walked
beside it as it floated gently down.  But he walked much faster than the
stick floated, there was so little current.

"Mark," said he, suddenly stopping, and taking up some of the water in
the hollow of his hand, "Mark!"

"Yes.  What is it?"

"This is fresh water.  Isn't it lucky?"


"Why, you silly, of course we should have died of thirst.  _That's_ the
sea," (pointing out).  "This will save our lives."

"So it will," said Mark, putting one foot into the water and then the
other.  Then looking back, as he stood half up his ankles, "We can call
here for fresh water when we have our ship--when we go to the Unknown

"So we can," said Bevis.  "We must have a barrel and fill it.  But I
wonder what river this is," and he walked back again beside it.

Mark walked further out till it was over his ankles, and then till it
was half as deep as his knee.  He jumped up both feet together, and
splashed as he came down, and shouted.  Bevis shouted to him from the
river.  Next they both shouted together, and a dove flew out of the firs
and went off.

"What river is this?"  Bevis called presently.

"O!" cried Mark suddenly; and Bevis glancing round saw him stumble, and,
in his endeavour to save himself, plunge his spear into the water as if
it had been the ground, to steady himself; but the spear, though long,
touched nothing up to his hand.  He bent over.  Bevis held his breath,
thinking he must topple and fall headlong; but somehow he just saved
himself, swung round, and immediately he could ran out upon the shore.
Bevis rushed back.

"What was it?" he asked.

"It's a hole," said Mark, whose cheeks had turned white, and now became
red, as the blood came back.  "An awful deep hole--the spear won't touch
the bottom."

As he waded out at first on shelving sand he laughed, and shouted, and
jumped, and suddenly, as he stepped, his foot went over the edge of the
deep hole; his spear, as he tried to save himself with it, touched
nothing, so that it was only by good fortune that he recovered his
balance.  Once now and then in the autumn, when the water was very low,
dried up by the long summer heats, this hole was visible and nearly
empty, and the stream fell over a cataract into it, boiling and
bubbling, and digging it deeper.  But now, as the water had only just
begun to recede, it was full, so that the stream ran slow, held back and
checked by their sea.

This hollow was quite ten feet deep, sheer descent, but you could not
see it, for the shore seemed to slope as shallow as possible.

Mark was much frightened, and sat down on the root to put on his shoes
and stockings.  Bevis took the spear, and going to the edge, and leaning
over and feeling the bottom with it, he could find the hole, where the
spear slipped and touched nothing, about two yards out.

"It is a horrid place," he said.  "How should I have got you out?  I
wish we could swim."

"So do I," said Mark.  "And they will never let us go out in a boat by
ourselves--I mean in a ship to the Unknown Island--till we can."

"No; that they won't," said Bevis.  "We must begin to swim directly.  My
papa will show me, and I will show you.  But how should I have got you
out if you had fallen?  Let me see; there's a gate up there."

"It is so heavy," said Mark.  "You could not drag it down, and fling it
in quick enough.  If we had the raft up here."

"Ah, yes.  There is a pole loose there--that would have done."  He
pointed to some railings that crossed the stream.  The rails were
nailed, but there was a pole at the side, only thrust into the bushes.
"I could have pulled that out and held it to you."

Mark had now got his shoes on, and they started again, looking for a
bridge to cross the stream, and continue their journey round the New
Sea.  As they could not see any they determined to cross by the
railings, which they did without much trouble, holding to the top bar,
and putting their feet on the second, which was about three inches over
the water.  The stream ran deep and slow; it was dark, because it was in
shadow, for the trees hung over from each side.  Bevis, who was first,
stopped in the middle and looked up it.  There was a thick hedge and
trees each side, and a great deal of fern on the banks.  It was straight
for a good way, so that they could see some distance till the boughs hid
the rest.

"I should like to go up there," said Mark.  "Some day, if we can get a
boat under these rails, let us go up it."

"So we will," said Bevis.  "It is proper to explore a river.  But what
river is this?"

"Is it the Congo?" said Mark.

"O! no.  The Congo is not near this sea at all.  Perhaps it's the

"It can't be the Mississippi," said Mark.  "That's a long way off now.
I know--see it runs slow, and it's not clear, and we don't know where it
comes from.  It's the Nile."

"So it is," said Bevis.  "It is the Nile, and some day we will go up to
the source."

"What's that swimming across up there?" said Mark.

"It is too far; I can't tell.  Most likely a crocodile.  How fortunate
you did not fall in."

When they had crossed, they whistled for Pan, who had been busy among
the fern on the bank, sniffing after the rabbits which had holes there.
Pan came and swam over to them in a minute.  They travelled on some way
and found the ground almost level and so thick with sedges and grass and
rushes that they walked in a forest of green up to their waists.  The
water was a long way off beyond the weeds.  They tried to go down to it,
but the ground got very soft and their feet sank into it; it was covered
with horsetails there, acres and acres of them, and after these shallow
water hidden under floating weeds.  Some coots were swimming about the
edge of the weeds too far to fear them.  So they returned to the firm
ground and walked on among the sedges and rushes.  There was a rough
path, though not much marked, which wound about so as to get the firmest
footing, but every now and then they had to jump over a wet place.

"What immense swamps," said Mark; "I wonder where ever we shall get to."

Underfoot there was a layer of the dead sedges of last year which gave
beneath their weight, and the ground itself was formed of the roots of
sedges and other plants.  The water had not long since covered the place
where they were, and the surface was still damp, for the sunshine could
not dry it, having to pass through the thick growth above and the matted
stalks below.  A few scattered willow bushes showed how high the water
had been by the fibres on the stems which had once flourished in it and
were now almost dried up by the heat.  A faint malarious odour rose from
the earth, drawn from the rotting stalks by the hot sun.  There was no
shadow, and after a while they wearied of stepping through the sedges,
sinking a little at every step, which much increases the labour of

The monotony, too, was oppressive, nothing but sedges, flags, and
rushes, sedges and horsetails, and they did not seem to get much farther
after all their walking.  First they were silent, labour makes us quiet;
then they stopped and looked back.  The perfect level caused the
distance to appear more than it really was, because there was a thin
invisible haze hovering over the swamp.  Beyond the swamp was the gulf
they had gone round, and across it the yellow sand-quarry facing them.
It looked a very long way off.

Volume One, Chapter VI.


"We shall never get round," said Mark, "just see what a way we have
come, and we are not half up one side of the sea yet."

"I wonder how far it is back to the quarry," said Bevis.  "These sedges
are so tiresome."

"We shall never get round," said Mark, "and I am getting hungry, and Pan
is tired of the rushes too."

Pan, with his red tongue lolling out at one side of his mouth, looked
up, showed his white tusks and wagged his tail at the mention of his
name.  He had ceased to quest about for some time; he had been walking
just at their heels in the path they made.

"We _must_ go on," said Bevis, "we _can't_ go back; it is not proper.
Travellers like us never go back.  I wish there were no more sedges.
Come on."

He marched on again.  But now they had once confessed to each other that
they were tired, this spurt soon died away, and they stopped again.

"It is as hot as Central Africa," said Mark, fanning himself with his

"I am not sure that we are not in Central Africa," said Bevis.  "There
are hundreds of miles of reeds in Africa, and as we have crossed the
Nile very likely that's where we are."

"It's just like it," said Mark, "I am sure it's Africa."

"Then there ought to be lions in the reeds," said Bevis, "or elephants.
Keep your spear ready."

They went on again a little way.

"I want to sit down," said Mark.

"So do I," said Bevis; "in Africa, people generally rest in the middle
of the day for fear of sunstrokes."

"So they do; then we ought to rest."

"We can't sit down here," said Bevis; "it is so wet, and it does not
smell very nice: we might have the fever, you know, if we stopped still

"Let's go to the hedge," said Mark, pointing to the hedge which
surrounded the shore and was a great way on their left hand.  "Perhaps
there is a prairie there.  And I am so thirsty, and there is no water we
can drink; give me an apple."

"But we must not go back," said Bevis; "I can't have that; it would
never do to let the expedition fail."

"No," said Mark.  "But let us sit down first."

Bevis did not quite like to leave the sedges, but he could not gainsay
the heat, and he was weary, so they left the rough path and went towards
the hedge, pushing through the sedges and rushes.  It was some distance,
and as they came nearer and the ground very gradually rose and became
drier, there was a thick growth of coarse grass between the other
plants, and presently a dense mass of reed-grass taller than their
shoulders.  This was now in bloom, and the pollen covered their sleeves
as they forced a way through it.  The closer they got to the hedge the
thicker the grasses became, and there were now stoles of willow, and
tall umbelliferous plants called "gix," which gave out an unpleasant
scent as they rubbed against or pushed them down and stepped on them.
It was hard work to get through, and when at last they reached the hedge
they were almost done up.

Now there was a new difficulty, the hedge had grown so close and thick
it was impossible to creep through it.  They were obliged to follow it,
searching for a gap.  They could not see a yard in front, so that they
could not tell how far they might have to go.  The dust-like pollen
flying from the shaken grasses and the flowering plants got inside their
nostrils and on the roofs of their mouths and in their throats, causing
an unbearable thirst and tickling.  The flies, gathering in crowds,
teased them, and would not be driven away.  Now and then something
seemed to sting their necks, and, striking the place with the flat hand,
a stoatfly dropped, too bloated with blood, like a larger gnat, to
attempt to escape the blow.

Pushing through the plants they stumbled into a hollow which they did
not see on account of the vegetation till they stepped over the edge and
fell in it.  Mark struck his knee against a stone, and limped; Bevis
scratched his hands and wrist with a bramble.  The hollow was a little
wet at the bottom, not water, but soft, sticky mud, which clung to their
feet like gum; but they scrambled out of it quickly, not really hurt,
but out of breath and angry.  They were obliged to sit down, crushing
down the grasses, to rest a minute.

"Let's go back to the path in the sedges," said Mark.

"I shan't," said Bevis savagely.  He got up and went on a few steps, and
then took out his knife.  "Couldn't we cut a way through the bushes?" he
asked.  They went nearer the hedge and looked, but it had been kept
thick that cattle might not stray into the marsh.  The outside twigs
could be cut of course, but hawthorn is hard and close-grained.  With
such little tools as their pocket-knives it would take hours--very
likely they would break them.

"If we only had something to drink," said Mark.  They had no more
apples.  Though it was a marsh, though they were on the shore, there was
not a drop of water; if they went back to the sedges they could not get
at the water, they would sink to the knees in mud first.  The tall
reed-grass and "gix," and other plants which so impeded their progress,
were not high enough to protect them in the least from the sun.  The
hedge ran north and south, and at noonday gave no shadow.  As they went
slowly forward, Mark felt the ground first with his spear to prevent
their falling into another hollow.  They pulled rushes, and bit the soft
white part which was cool to the tongue.  But the stalks of plants and
grass, each so easily bent when taken by itself, in the mass like this
began to prove stronger than they were.

They had to part them with their arms first, like swimming, and then
push through, and the ceaseless resistance wore out their power.  Even
Bevis at last agreed that it was not possible, they must go back to the
path in the sedges on their right.  After standing still a minute to
recover themselves they turned to the right and went towards the sedges.
In about twenty yards Mark, who had been sounding with his spear,
touched something that splashed, he stopped and thrust again, there was
no mistake, it was water.  On going nearer, and feeling for the bottom
with the spear, Mark found it was deep too, he could not reach the
bottom.  The grasses grew right to the edge, and the water itself was so
covered with weeds that, had they not prodded the ground before they
moved, they would have stepped over the brink into it.  The New Sea,
receding, had left a long winding pool in a hollow which shut them off
from getting to the path in the sedges unless by returning the weary way
they had come.

"This is dreadful," said Mark, when they had followed the water a little
distance and were certain they could not cross.  "We can't get out and
we can't go back; I am so tired, I can't push through much longer."

"We must go on," said Bevis; "somehow or other we must go on."  He too
dreaded the idea of returning through the entangled vegetation.  It was
less dense on the verge of the pool than by the hedge, and by feeling
their way with the spear they got on for a while.  Thirsty as he was
Mark could not drink from the weed-grown water; indeed he could not see
the water at all for weeds and green scum, and if he pushed these aside
with his spear the surface bubbled with marsh gases.  Bevis too
persuaded him not to drink it.  Slowly they worked on, the marsh on one
side, and the hedge on the other.

"Look," said Mark presently.  "There's a willow; can't we climb up and
see round?"

"Yes," said Bevis; and they changed their course to get to it; it was
nearer the hedge.  They felt the ground rise, it was two yards higher by
the willow, and harder; when the sea came up the spot in fact was an
islet.  There were bushes on it, brambles, and elder in flower; none of
these grow in water itself, but flourish on the edge.  There were
several tall willow-poles.  Bevis put down his bow and arrows, took off
his jacket (the pockets of which were stuffed full of things), took hold
of a pole, and climbed up.  Mark did the same with another.  The poles
were not large enough to bear their weight very high; they got up about
six or eight feet.

"There's Sindbad's Island," said Mark, pointing to the right.  Far away,
beyond the sedges and the reeds, there was a broad strip of clear water,
and across it the island of Serendib.  "If we only had a canoe."

"Perhaps we could make one," said Bevis.  "They make them sometimes of
willow--and from oak, only we have nothing to cover the framework;
sometimes they weave the rushes so close as to keep out water--"

"I can plait rushes," said Mark; "I can plait eight; but they would not
keep out water.  What's over the hedge?"

They looked that way; they could see over the thick, close hawthorn, but
behind it there rose tall ash-poles, which shut out the view completely.

"It is a thick double-mound," said Bevis.  "There's ash in the middle;
like that in our field, you know."

In front they could see nothing but the same endless reed-grass, except
that there were more bushes and willows interspersed among it, showing
that there must be numerous banks.  Tired of holding on to the poles,
which had no boughs of size enough to rest on, they let themselves
gradually slide down.  As they descended Mark spied a dove's nest in one
of the hawthorn bushes; tired as he was he climbed up the pole again,
and looked into it from a higher level.  There was an egg in it; he had
half a mind to take it, but remembered that it would be awkward to

"We shall never get home," he said, after he had told Bevis of the nest.

"Pooh," said Bevis.  "Here's something for you to drink."  He had found
a great teazle plant, whose leaves formed cups round the stem.  In four
of these cups there was a little darkish water, which had been there
since the last shower.  Mark eagerly sipped from the one which had the
most, though it was full of drowned gnats; it moistened his lips, but he
spluttered most of it out again.  It was not only unpleasant to the
taste but warm.

"I hate Africa," he shouted; "I _hate_ it."

"So do I," said Bevis; "but we've got to get through it somehow."  He
started again; Mark followed sullenly, and Pan came behind Mark.  Thus
the spaniel, stepping in the track they made, had the least difficulty
of either.  Pan's tail drooped, he was very hungry and very thirsty, and
he knew it was about the time the dishes were rattling in the kitchen at

"Listen," said Mark presently, putting his hand on Bevis's shoulder, and
stopping him.

Bevis listened.  "I can't hear anything," he said, "except the midsummer

The hum was loud in the air above them, almost shrill, but there was not
another sound.  Now Mark had called attention to it the noonday silence
in that wild deserted place was strange.

"Where are all the things?" said Mark, looking round.  "All the birds
have gone."

Certainly they could hear none, even the brook-sparrows in the sedges by
the New Sea were quiet.  There was nothing in sight alive but a few
swifts at an immense height above them.  Neither wood-pigeon, nor dove,
nor thrush called; not even a yellow-hammer.

"I know," whispered Bevis.  "I know--they are afraid."


"Yes; can't you see Pan does not hunt about?"

"What is it?" asked Mark in an undertone, grasping his spear tightly.
"There are no mummies here?"

"No," said Bevis.  "It's the serpent, you know; he's a hundred feet
long; he's come over from the Unknown Island, and he's waiting in these
sedges somewhere to catch something; the birds are afraid to sing."

"Could he swallow a man?" said Mark.

"Swallow a man," with curling lip.  "Swallow a buffalo easily."

"Hush! what's that?"  A puff of wind rustled the grasses.

"It's the snake," said Mark, and off he tore.  Bevis close behind him,
Pan at his heels.  In this wild panic they dashed quickly through the
grasses, which just before had been so wearisome an obstacle.  But the
heat pulled them up in ten minutes, panting.

"Did you see him?" said Bevis.

"Just a little bit of him--I think," said Mark.

"We've left him behind."

"He'll find us by our track."

"Let's tie Pan up, and let him swallow Pan."

"Where's a rope?  Have you any string?  Give me your handkerchief."

They were hastily tying their handkerchiefs together, when Mark, looking
round to see if the monstrous serpent was approaching, shouted,--

"There's a tree!"

There was a large hollow willow or pollard in the hedge.  They rushed to
it, they clasped it as shipwrecked men a beam.  Mark was first, he got
inside on the "touchwood," and scrambled up a little way, then he worked
up, his back against one side, and his knees the other.  Bevis got
underneath, and "bunted" him up.  Bunting is shoving with shoulder or
hands.  There were brambles on the top; Mark crushed through, and in a
minute was firmly planted on the top.

"Give me my spear, and your bow, and your hand," he said breathlessly.

The spear and the bow were passed up: Bevis followed, taking Mark's hand
just at the last.  Mark put the point of his spear downwards to stab the
monster.  Bevis fitted an arrow to his bow.  Pan looked up, but could
not climb.  They watched the long grasses narrowly, expecting to see
them wave from side to side every instant, as the python wound his
sinuous way.  There was a rustling beneath, but on the other side of the
hedge.  Bevis looked and saw Pan, who had crept through.

"What are you going to do?" said Mark, as Bevis slung his bow on his
shoulder as if it was a rifle, and began to move out on the hollow top
of the tree, which as it became hollow had split, and partly arched
over.  Bevis did not answer: he crept cautiously out on the top which
vibrated under him; then suddenly seizing a lissom bough, he slipped off
and let himself down.  He was inside the hedge that had so long baffled
them.  Mark saw in an instant, darted his spear down and followed.  So
soon as he touched ground, off they set running.  There were no sedges
here, nothing but short grasses and such herbage as grows under the
perpetual shade of ash-poles, and they could run easily.  The ease of
motion was, in itself, a relief, after the struggle in the reed-grass.
When they had raced some distance, and felt safe, they stopped.

"Why, this is a wood!" said Mark, looking round.  Ash-stoles and poles
surrounded them on every side.

"So it is," said Bevis.  "No, it's a jungle."

They walked forward and came to an open space, round about a broad
spreading oak.

"I shall sit down here," said Bevis.

But as they were about to sit down, Pan, who had woke up when he scented
rabbits, suddenly disappeared in a hollow.

"What's that," said Mark.  He went to see, and heard a sound of lapping.

"Water!" shouted Mark, and Bevis came to him.  Deep down in a narrow
channel there was the merest trickle of shallow water, but running, and
clear as crystal.  It came from chalk, and it was limpid.  Pan could
drink, but they could not.  His hollow tongue lapped it up like a spoon;
but it was too shallow to scoop up in the palm of the hand, and they had
no tube of "gix," or reed, or oat straw, or buttercup stalk to suck
through.  They sprang into the channel itself, alighting on a place the
water did not cover, but with the stream under their feet they could not
drink.  Nothing but a sparrow could have done so.

Presently Bevis stooped, and with his hands scratched away the silt
which formed the bottom, a fine silt of powdered chalk, almost like
quicksand, till he had made a bowl-like cavity.  The stream soon filled
it, but then the water was thick, being disturbed, and they had to wait
till it had settled.  Then they lapped too, very carefully, with the
hollow palm, taking care that the water which ran through their fingers
should fall below, and not above the bowl, or the weight of the drops
would disturb it again.  With perseverance they satisfied their thirst;
then they returned to the oak, and took out their provisions; they could
eat now.

"This is a jolly jungle," said Mark, with his mouth full.

"That's a banyan," said Bevis, pointing with the knuckle-end of the
drum-stick he was gnawing at the oak over them.  "It's about eleven
thousand years old."

Then Mark took the drum-stick, and had his turn at it.  When it was
polished, Pan had it: he cracked it across with his teeth, just as the
hyenas did in the cave days, for the animals never learnt to split
bones, as the earliest men did.  Pan cracked it very disconsolately: his
heart was with the fleshpots.


They starred.  It was the same peculiar sound they had heard before, and
seemed to come from an immense distance.  A pheasant crowed as he heard
it in the jungle close by them, and a second farther away.

"What can it be?" whispered Mark.  "Is there anything here?"--glancing

"There may be some genii," said Bevis quietly.  "Very likely there are
some genii: they are everywhere.  But I do not know what that was.

They listened: the wood was still; so still, they could hear a moth or a
chafer entangled in the leaves of the oak overhead, and trying to get
out.  Looking up there, the sky was blue and clear, and the sunlight
fell brightly on the open space by the streamlet.  There was nothing but
the hum.  The long, long summer days seem gradually to dispose the mind
to expect something unusual.  Out of such an expanse of light, when the
earth is tangibly in the midst of a vast illumined space, what may not
come?--perhaps something more than is common to the senses.  The mind
opens with the enlarging day.

It is said the sandhills of the desert under the noonday sun emit
strange sounds; that the rocky valleys are vocal; the primeval forest
speaks in its depths; hollow ocean sends a muttering to the becalmed
vessel; and up in the mountains the bound words are set loose.  Of old
times the huntsmen in our own woods met the noonday spirit under the
leafy canopy.

Bevis and Mark listened, but heard nothing, except the entangled chafer,
the midsummer hum, and, presently, Pan snuffling, as he buried his
nostrils in his hair to bite a flea.  They laughed at him, for his eyes
were staring, and his flexible nostrils turned up as if his face was not
alive but stuffed.  The boom did not come again, so they finished their

"I feel jolly lazy," said Mark.  "You ought to put the things down on
the map."

"So I did," said Bevis, and he got out his brown paper, and Mark held it
while he worked.  He drew Fir-Tree Gulf and the Nile.

"Write that there is a deep hole there," said Mark, "and awful
crocodiles: that's it.  Now Africa--you want a very long stroke there;
write reeds and bamboos."

"No, not bamboos, papyrus," said Bevis.  "Bamboos grow in India, where
we are now.  There's some," pointing to a tall wild parsnip, or "gix,"
on the verge of the streamlet.

"I'm so lazy," said Mark.  "I shall go to sleep."

"No you won't," said Bevis.  "I ought to go to sleep, and you ought to
watch.  Get your spear, and now take my bow."

Mark took the bow sullenly.

"You ought to stand up, and walk up and down."

"I can't," said Mark very short.

"Very well; then go farther away, where you can see more round you.
There, sit down there."

Mark sat down at the edge of the shadow of the oak.  "Don't you see you
can look into the channel; if there are any savages they are sure to
creep up that channel.  Do you see?"

"Yes, I see," said Mark.

"And mind nothing comes behind that woodbine," pointing to a mass of
woodbine which hung from some ash-poles, and stretched like a curtain
across the view there.  "That's a very likely place for a tiger: and
keep your eye sharp on those nut-tree bushes across the brook--most
likely you'll see the barrel of a matchlock pushed through there."

"I ought to have a matchlock," said Mark.

"So you did; but we had to start with what we had, and it is all the
more glory to us if we _get_ through.  Now mind you keep awake."

"Yes," said Mark.

Bevis, having given his orders, settled himself very comfortably on the
moss at the foot of the oak, tilted his hat aside to shelter him still
more, and, with a spray of ash in his hand to ward off the flies, began
to forget.  In a minute up he started.


"Yes;" still sulky.

"There's another oak--no, it's a banyan up farther; behind you."

"I know."

"Well, if you hear any rustle there, it's a python."

"Very well."

"And those dead leaves and sticks in the hole there by the stump of that
old tree?"

"I see."

"There's a cobra there."

"All right."

"And if a shadow comes over suddenly."

"What's that, then?" said Mark.

"That's the roc from Sinbad's Island."

"I say, Bevis," as Bevis settled himself down again.  "Bevis, don't go
to sleep."


"But it's not nice."



"Don't talk silly."

In a minute Bevis was fast asleep.  He always slept quickly, and the
heat and the exertion made him forget himself still quicker.

Volume One, Chapter VII.


Mark was alone.  He felt without going nearer that Bevis was asleep, and
dared not wake him lest he should be called a coward.  He moved a little
way so as to have the oak more at his back, and to get a clearer view on
all sides.  Then he looked up at the sky, and whistled very low.  Pan,
who was half asleep too, got up slowly, and came to him; but finding
that there was nothing to eat, and disliking to be stroked and patted on
such a hot day, he went back to his old place, the barest spot he could
find, mere dry ground.

Mark sat, bow and arrow ready in his hand, the arrow on the string, with
the spear beside him, and his pocket-knife with the big blade open, and
looked into the jungle.  It was still and silent.  The chafer had got
loose, and there was nothing but the hum overhead.  He kept the
strictest watch, scarce allowing himself to blink his eyes.  Now he
looked steadily into the brushwood he could see some distance, his
glance found a way through between the boughs, till presently, after he
had searched out those crevices, he could command a circle of view.

Like so many slender webs his lines of sight thus drawn through mere
chinks of foliage radiated from a central spot, and at the end of each
he seemed as if he could feel if anything moved as much as he could see
it.  Each of these webs strained at his weary mind, and even in the
shade the strong glare of the summer noon pressed heavily on his
eyelids.  Had anything moved, a bird or moth, or had the leaves rustled,
it would have relieved him.  This expectation was a continual effort.
His eyes closed, he opened them, frowned and blinked; then he reclined
on one arm as an easier position.  His eyes closed, the shrill midsummer
hum sounded low and distant, then loud, suddenly it ceased--he was

The sunburnt woodbine, the oaks dotted with coppery leaves where the
second shoot appeared, the ash-poles rising from the hollow stoles, and
whose pale sprays touching above formed a green surface, hazel with
white nuts, stiff, ragged thistles on the stream bank, burrs with
brown-tipped hooks, the hard dry ground, all silent, fixed, held in the

The sun slipped through the sky like a yacht under the shore where the
light wind coming over a bank just fills the sails, but leaves the
surface smooth.  Through the smooth blue the sun slipped silently, and
no white fleck of foam cloud marked his speed.  But in the deep narrow
channel of the streamlet there was a change--the tiny trickle of water
was no longer illumined by the vertical beams, a slight slant left it to
run in shadow.

Burr! came a humble-bee whose drone was now put out as he went down
among the grass and leaves, now rose again as he travelled.  Burr!  The
faintest breath of air moved without rustling the topmost leaves of the
oaks.  The humble-bee went on, and disappeared behind the stoles.

A little flicker of movement happened among the woodbine, not to be seen
of itself, but as a something interrupting the light like a larger mote
crossing the beam.  The leaves of the woodbine in one place were drawn
together and coated with a white web and a tiny bird came to take away
the destroyer.  Then mounting to a branch of ash he sang, "Sip, sip--
chip, chip!"

Again the upper leaves of the oak moved and jostling together caused a
slight sound.  Coo! coo! there was a dove beyond the hazel bushes across
the stream.  The shadow was more aslant and rose up the stalks of the
rushes in the channel.  Over the green surface of the ash sprays above,
the breeze drew and rippled it like water.  A jay came into the farther
oak and scolded a distant mate.

Presently Pan awoke, nabbed another flea, looked round and shook his
ears, from which some of the hair was worn by continual rubbing against
the bushes under which he had crept for so many years.  He felt thirsty,
and remembering the stream, went towards it, passing very lightly by
Bevis, so closely as to almost brush his hat.  The slight pad, pad of
his paws on the moss and earth conveyed a sense of something moving near
him to Bevis' mind.  Bevis instantly sat up, so quickly, that the
spaniel, half alarmed, ran some yards.

Directly Bevis sat up he saw that Mark had fallen asleep.  He thought
for a moment, and then took a piece of string from his pocket.  Stepping
quietly up to Mark he made a slip-knot in the string, lifted Mark's arm
and put his hand through the loop above the wrist, then he jerked it
tight.  Mark scrambled up in terror--it might have been the python:--

"O!  I say!"

Before he could finish, Bevis had dragged him two or three steps towards
an ash-pole, when Mark, thoroughly awake, jerked his arm free, though
the string hung to it.

"How dare you?" said Bevis, snatching at the string, but Mark pushed him
back.  "How dare you? you're a prisoner."

"I'm not," said Mark very angrily.

"Yes, you are; you were asleep."

"I don't care."

"I will tie you up."

"You shan't."

"If you sleep at your post, you have to be tied to a tree, you know you
have, and be left there to starve."

"I won't."

"You must, or till the tigers have you.  Do you hear? stand still!"

Bevis tried to secure him, Mark pushed him in turn.

"You're a wretch."

"I hate you!"

"I'll kill you!"

"I'll shoot you!"

Mark darted aside and took his spear; Bevis had his bow in an instant
and began to draw it.  Mark, knowing that Bevis would shoot his hardest,
ran for the second oak.  Bevis in his haste pulled hard, but let the
arrow slip before he could take aim.  It glanced upon a bough and shot
up nearly straight into the air, gleaming as it went--a streak of
light--in the sunshine.  Mark stopped by the oak, and before Bevis could
fetch another arrow poised his spear and threw it.  The spear flew
direct at the enemy, but in his haste Mark forgot to throw high enough,
he hurled it point-blank, and the hardened point struck the earth and
chipped up crumbling pieces of dry ground; then it slid like a serpent
some way through the thin grasses.

Utterly heedless of the spear, which in his rage he never saw, Bevis
picked up an arrow from the place where he had slept, fitted the notch
to the string and looked for Mark, who had hidden behind the other oak.
Guessing that he was there, Bevis ran towards it, when Mark shouted to

"Stop!  I say, it's not fair; I have nothing, and you'll be a coward."

Bevis paused, and saw the spear lying on the ground.

"Come and take your spear," he said directly; "I won't shoot."  He put
his bow on the ground.  Mark ran out, and had his spear in a moment.
Bevis stooped to lift his bow, but suddenly in his turn cried,--

"Stop!  Don't throw; I want to say something."

Mark, who had poised his spear, put it down again on the grass.

"We ought not to fight now," said Bevis.  "You know we are exploring,
people never fight then, else the savages kill those who are left; they
wait till they get home, and then fight."

"So they do," said Mark; "but I shall not be left tied to a tree."

"Very well, not this time.  Now we must shake hands."

They shook hands, and Pan, seeing that there was now no danger of a
chance knock from a flying stick, came forth from the bush where he had
taken shelter.

"But you want everything your own way," said Mark sulkily.

"Of course I do," said Bevis, glaring at him, "I'm captain."

"But you do when you are not captain."

"You are a big story."

"I'm not."

"You are."

"I'm not."

"People are not to contradict me," said Bevis, looking very defiant
indeed, and standing bolt upright.  "I say I am captain."

Mark did not reply, but picked up his bat, which had fallen off.
Without another word each gathered up his things, then came the question
which way to go?  Bevis would not consult his companion; his companion
would not speak first.  Bevis shut his lips very tight, pressing his
teeth together; he determined to continue on and try and get round the
New Sea.  He was not sure, but fancied they should do so by keeping
somewhat to the right.  He walked to the channel of the stream, sprang
across it, and pushing his way through the hazel bushes, went in that
direction; Mark followed silently, holding his arm up to stop the boughs
which as Bevis parted them swung back sharply.

After the hazel bushes there was fairly clear walking between the
ash-poles and especially near the oak-trees, each of which had an open
space about it.  Bevis went as straight as he could, but had to wind in
and out round the stoles and sometimes to make a curve when there was a
thick bramble bush in the way.  As they passed in Indian file under some
larger poles, Mark suddenly left the path and began to climb one of
them.  Bevis stopped, and saw that there was a wood-pigeon's nest.  The
bird was on the nest, and though she felt the ash-pole tremble as Mark
came up, hand over hand, cracking little dead twigs, though her nest
shook under her, she stayed till his hand almost touched it.  Then she
flew up through the pale green ash sprays, and Mark saw there were two
eggs, for the sticks of which the nest was made were so thinly put
together that, now the bird was gone, he could see the light through,
and part of the eggs lying on them.

He brought one of the eggs down in his left hand, sliding down the pole
slowly not to break it.  The pure white of the wood-pigeon's egg is
curiously and delicately mottled like the pores of the finest human
skin.  The enamel of the surface, though smooth and glossy, has beneath
it some water-mark of under texture like the arm of the Queen of Love,
glossy white and smooth, yet not encased, but imperceptibly porous to
that breath of violet sweetness which announces the goddess.  The
sunlight fell on the oval as Mark, without a moment's pause, took a pin
from the hem of his jacket and blew the egg.

So soon as he had finished, Bevis went on again, and came to some
hawthorn bushes, through which they had much trouble to push their way,
receiving several stabs from the long thorns.  As it was awkward with
the egg in his hand, Mark dropped it.

There was a path beyond the hawthorn, very little used, if at all, and
green, but still a path--a trodden line--and Bevis went along it, as it
seemed to lead in the direction he wished.  By the side of the path he
presently found a structure of ash sticks, and stopped to look at it.
At each end four sticks were driven into the ground, two and two, the
tops crossing each other so as to make a small V.  Longer sticks were
laid in these V's, and others across at each end.

"It's a little house," said Mark, forgetting the quarrel.  "Here's some
of the straw on the ground; they thatch it in winter and crawl under."
(It was about three feet high.)

"I don't know," said Bevis.

"I'm sure it is," said Mark.  "They are little men, the savages who live
here, they're pigmies, you know."

"So they are," said Bevis, quite convinced, and likewise forgetting his
temper.  "Of course they are, and that's why the path is so narrow.  But
I believe it's not a house, I mean not a house to live in.  It's a place
to worship at, where they have a fetich."

"I think it's a house," said Mark.

"Then where's the fireplace?" asked Bevis decidedly.

"No more there is a fireplace," said Mark thoughtfully.  "It's a

Bevis went on again, leaving the framework behind.  Across those bars
the barley was thrown in autumn for the pheasants, which feed by darting
up and dragging down a single ear at a time; thus by keeping the barley
off the ground there is less waste.  They knew this very well.

"Bevis," said Mark presently.


"Let's leave this path."


"Most likely we shall meet some savages--or perhaps a herd of wild
beasts, they rush along these paths in the jungle and crush over
everything--perhaps elephants."

"So they do," said Bevis, and hastily stepped out of the path into the
wood again.  They went under more ash-poles where the pigeons' nests
were numerous; they counted five all in sight at once, and only a few
yards apart, for they could not see far through the boughs.  Some of the
birds were sitting, others were not.  Mark put up his spear and pushed
one off her nest.  There was a continual fluttering all round them as
the pigeons came down to, or left their places.  Never had they seen so
many nests--they walked about under them for a long time, doing nothing
but look up at them, and talk about them.

"I know," said Bevis, "I know--these savages here think the pigeons
sacred, and don't kill them--that's why there are so many."

Not much looking where they were going, they came out into a space where
the poles had been cut in the winter, and the stoles bore only young
shoots a few feet high.  There was a single waggon track, the ruts
overhung with grasses and bordered with rushes, and at the end of it,
where it turned, they saw a cock pheasant.  They tried to go through
between the stoles, but the thistles were too thick and the brambles and
briars too many; they could flourish here till the ash-poles grew tall
and kept away the sun.  So they followed the waggon track, which led
them again under the tall poles.

To avoid the savages they kept a very sharp lookout, and paused if they
saw anything.  There was a huge brown crooked monster lying asleep in
one place, they could not determine whether an elephant or some unknown
beast, till, creeping nearer from stole to bush and bush to stole, they
found it to be a thrown oak, from which the bark had been stripped, and
the exposed sap had dried brown in the sun.  So the vast iguanodon may
have looked in primeval days when he laid him down to rest in the

"When shall we come to the New Sea again?" said Mark presently, as they
were moving more slowly through a thicker growth.

"I cannot think," said Bevis.  "If we get lost in this jungle, we may
walk and walk and walk and never come to anything except banyan-trees,
and cobras, and tigers, and savages."

"Are you sure we have been going straight?"

"How do I know?"

"Did you follow the sun?" asked Mark.  "No, indeed, I did not; if you
walk towards the sun you will go round and round, because the sun

"I forgot.  O!  I know, where's the compass?"

"How stupid!" said Bevis.  "Of course it was in my pocket all the time."

He took it out, and as he lifted the brazen lid the white card swung to
and fro with the vibration of his hand.

"Rest your hand against a pole," said Mark.  This support steadied
Bevis's hand, and the card gently came to a standstill.  The north, with
the three feathers, pointed straight at him.

"Now, which way was the sea?" said Mark, trying to think of the
direction in which they had last seen it.  "It was that side," he said,
holding out his right hand; he faced Bevis.

"Yes, it was," said Bevis.  "It was on the right hand, now that would be
east," (to Mark), "so if we go east we must be right."

He started with the compass in his hand, keeping his eye on it, but then
he could not see the stoles or bushes, and walked against them, and the
card swung so he could not make a course.

"What a bother it is," he said, stopping, "the card won't keep still.
Let me see!"  He thought a minute, and as he paused the three feathers
settled again.  "There's an oak," he said.  "The oak is just east.  Come
on."  He went to the oak, and then stopped again.

"I see," said Mark, watching the card till it stopped.  "The elder bush
is east now."

They went to the elder bush and waited: there was a great thistle east
next, and afterwards a bough which had fallen.  Thus they worked a
bee-line, very slow but almost quite true.  The ash-poles rattled now as
the breeze freshened and knocked them together.

"What a lot of leaves," said Bevis presently; "I never saw such a lot."

"And they are so deep," said Mark.  They had walked on dead leaves for
some little while before they noticed them, being so eagerly engaged
with the compass.  Now they looked the ground was covered with brown
beech leaves, so deep, that although their feet sunk into them, they
could not feel the firm ground, but walked on a yielding substance.  A
thousand woodcocks might have thrown them over their heads and hidden
easily had it been their time of year.  The compass led them straight
over the leaves, till in a minute or two they saw that they were in a
narrow deep coombe.  It became narrower and with steeper sides till they
approached the end, when the chalk showed not white but dull as it
crumbled, the flakes hanging at the roots of minute plants.

"I don't like these leaves," said Mark.  "There may be a cobra, and you
can't see him; you may step on him without knowing."

Hastily he and Bevis scrambled a few feet up the chalky side; the danger
was so obvious they rushed to escape it before discussing.  When they
had got over this alarm, they found the compass still told them to go
on, which they could not do without scaling the coombe.  They got up a
good way without much trouble, holding to hazel boughs, for the hazel
grows on the steepest chalk cliffs, but then the chalk was bare of all
but brambles, whose creepers came down towards them; why do bramble
creepers, like water, always come down hill?  Under these the chalk was
all crumbled, and gave way under the foot, so that if they put one foot
up higher it slipped with their weight, and returned them to the same

Two rabbits rushed away, and were lost beneath the brambles.  Without
conscious thinking they walked aslant, and so gained a few feet every
ten yards, and then came to a spot where the crust of the top hung over,
and from it the roots of beech-trees came curving down into the hollow
space in search of earth.  To one of these they clung by turns, some of
the loose chalky clods fell on them, but they hauled themselves up over
the projecting edge.  Bevis went first, and took all the weapons from
Mark; Pan went a long way round.

At the summit there was a beautiful beech-tree, with an immense round
trunk rising straight up, and they sat down on the moss, which always
grows at the foot of the beech, to rest after the struggle up.  As they
sat down they turned round facing the cliff, and both shouted at
once,--"The New Sea!"

Volume One, Chapter VIII.


The blue water had lost its glitter, for they were now between it and
the sun, and the freshening breeze, as it swept over, darkened the
surface.  They were too far to see the waves, but that they were rising
was evident since the water no longer reflected the sky like a mirror.
The sky was cloudless, but the water seemed in shadow, rough and hard.
It was full half a mile or more down to where the wood touched the shore
of the New Sea and shut out their view, so that they could not tell how
far it extended.  Serendib and the Unknown Island were opposite, and
they could see the sea all round them from the height where they sat.

"We left the sea behind us," said Mark.  "The compass took us right away
from it."

"We began wrong somehow," said Bevis.  In fact they had walked in a long
curve, so that when they thought the New Sea was on Mark's right, it was
really on his left hand.  "I must put down on the map that people must
go west, not east, or they will never get round."

"It must be thousands of miles round," said Mark; "thousands and

"So it is," said Bevis, "and only to think nobody ever saw it before you
and me."

"What a long way we can see," said Mark, pointing to where the horizon
and the blue wooded plain below, beyond the sea, became hazy together.
"What country is that?"

"I do not know; no one has ever been there."

"Which way is England?" asked Mark.

"How can I tell when I don't know where we are?"

The ash sprays touching each other formed a green surface beneath them,
extending to the right and left--a green surface into which every now
and then a wood-pigeon plunged, closing his wings as the sea-birds dive
into the sea.  They sat in the shadow of the great beech, and the wind,
coming up over the wood, blew cool against their faces.  The swallows
had left the sky, to go down and glide over the rising waves below.

"Come on," said Bevis, incapable of rest unless he was dreaming.  "If we
keep along the top of the hill we shall know where we are going, and
perhaps see a way round presently."

They followed the edge of the low cliff as nearly as they could, walking
under the beeches where it was cool and shady, and the wind blow
through.  Twice they saw squirrels, but they were too quick, and Bevis
could not get a shot with his bow.

"We ought to take home something," said Mark.  "Something wonderful.
There ought to be some pieces of gold about, or a butterfly as big as a
plate.  Can't you see something?"

"There's a dragonfly," said Bevis.  "If we can't catch him, we can say
we saw one made of emerald, and here's a feather."

He picked up a pheasant's feather.  The dragonfly refused to be caught,
he rushed up into the air nearly perpendicularly; and seeing another
squirrel some way ahead, they left the dragonfly and crept from beech
trunk to beech trunk towards him.

"It's a red squirrel," whispered Mark.  "That's a different sort."  In
summer the squirrels are thought to have redder fur than in winter.
Mark stopped now, and Bevis went on by himself; but the squirrel saw
Pan, who had run along and came out beyond him.  Bevis shot as the
squirrel rushed up a tree, and his arrow struck the bark, quivered a
moment, and stuck there.

"The savages will see some one has been hunting," said Mark.  "They are
sure to see that arrow."

In a few minutes they came to some hazel bushes, and pushing through
these there was a lane under them in a hollow ten feet deep.  They
scrambled down and followed it, and came to a boulder-stone, on which
some specks sparkled in the sunshine, so that they had no doubt it was
silver ore.  Round a curve of the lane they emerged on the brow of a
green hill, very steep; they had left the wood behind them.  The trees
from here hid the New Sea, and in front, not far off, rose the Downs.

"What are those mountains?" asked Mark.

"The Himalayas, of course," said Bevis.  "Let's go to them."

They went along the brow, it was delicious walking there, for the sun
was now much lower, and the breeze cool, and beneath them were meadows,
and a brook winding through.  But suddenly they came to a deep coombe--a

"Look!" said Mark, pointing to a chimney just under them.  The square
top, blackened by soot, stood in the midst of apple-trees, on whose
boughs the young green apples showed.  The thatch of the cottage was
concealed by the trees.

"A hut!" said Bevis.

"Savages!" said Mark, "I know, I'll pitch a stone down the chimney, and
you get your bow ready, and shoot them as they rush out."

"Capital!" said Bevis.  Mark picked up a flint, and "chucked" it--it
fell very near the chimney, they heard it strike the thatch and roll
down.  Mark got another, and most likely, having found the range, would
have dropped it into the chimney this time, when Bevis stopped him.

"It may be a witch," he said.  "Don't you know what John told us? if you
pitch a stone down a witch's chimney it goes off bang! and the stone
shoots up into the air like a cannon-ball."

"I remember," said Mark.  "But John is a dreadful story.  I don't
believe it."

"No, no more do I.  Still we ought to be careful.  Let's creep down and
look first."

They got down the hillside with difficulty, it was so steep and
slippery--the grass being dried by the sun.  At the bottom there was a
streamlet running along deep in a gully, a little pool of the clearest
water to dip from, and a green sparred wicket-gate in a hawthorn hedge
about the garden.  Peering cautiously through the gate they saw an old
woman sitting under the porch beside the open door, with a black teapot
on the window-ledge close by, and a blue teacup, in which she was
soaking a piece of bread, in one hand.

"It's a witch," whispered Mark.  "There's a black cat by the
wall-flowers--that's a certain sign."

"And two sticks with crutch-handles," said Bevis.  "But just look
there."  He pointed to some gooseberry bushes loaded with the swelling
fruit, than which there is nothing so pleasant on a warm, thirsty day.
They looked at the gooseberries, and thirsted for them; then they looked
at the witch.

"Let's run in and pick some, and run out quick," whispered Mark.

"You stupid; she'd turn us into anything in a minute."

"Well--shoot her first," said Mark.  "Take steady aim; John says if you
draw their blood they can't do anything.  Don't you remember, they stuck
the last one with a prong."

"Horrid cruel," said Bevis.

"So it was," said Mark; "but when you want gooseberries."

"I wish we had some moly," said Bevis; "you know, the plant Ulysses had.
Mind before we start next time we must find some.  Who knows what
fearful magic people we might meet?"

"It was stupid not to think of it," said Mark.  "Do you know, I believe
she's a mummy."


"She hasn't moved; and I can't see her draw her breath."

"No more she does.  This is a terrible place."

"Can we get away without her seeing?"

"I believe she knows we're here now, and very likely all we have been

"Did she make that curious thunder we heard?"

"No; a witch isn't strong enough; it wants an enchanter to do that."

"But she knows who did it?"

"Of course she does.  There, she's moved her arm; she's alive.  Aren't
those splendid gooseberries?"

"I'll go in," said Bevis; "you hold the gate open, so that I can run

"So I will; don't go very near."

Bevis fitted an arrow to the string, and went up the garden path.  But
as he came near, and saw how peaceful the old lady looked, he removed
the arrow from the string again.  She took off her spectacles as he came
up; he stopped about ten yards from her.

"Mrs Old Woman, are you a witch?"

"No, I bean't a witch," said the old lady; "I wishes I was; I'd soon
charm a crock o' gold."

"Then, if you are not a witch, will you let us have some gooseberries?
here's sixpence."

"You med have some if you want's 'em; I shan't take yer money."

"What country is this?" said Bevis, going closer, as Mark came up beside

"This be Calais."

"Granny, don't you know who they be?" said a girl, coming round the
corner of the cottage.  She was about seventeen, and very pretty, with
the bloom which comes on sweet faces at that age.  Though they were but
boys they were tall, and both handsome; so she had put a rose in her
bosom.  "They be Measter Bevis and Measter Mark.  You know, as lives at

"Aw, to be sure."  The old lady got up and curtseyed.  "You'll come in,
won't 'ee?"

They went in and sat down on chairs on the stone floor.  The girl
brought them a plate of the gooseberries and a jug of spring-water.
Bevis had not eaten two before he was up and looking at an old gun in
the corner; the barrel was rusty, the brass guard tarnished, the ramrod
gone, still it was a gun.

"Will it go off?" he said.

"Feyther used to make un," said the girl.

Next he found a big black book, and lifted up the covers, and saw a rude
engraving of a plant.

"Is that a magic book?" said he.

"I dunno," she replied.  "Mebbe.  Granny used to read un."

It was an old herbal.

"Can't you read?" said Bevis.

The girl blushed and turned away.

"A' be a lazy wench," said the old woman.  "A' can't read a mossel."

"I bean't lazy."

"You be."

Bevis, quite indifferent to that question, was peering into every nook
and corner, but found nothing more.

"Let's go," said he directly.

Mark would not stir till he had finished the gooseberries.

"Tell me the way round the--the--" he was going to say sea, but
recollected that they would not be able to understand how he and Mark
were on an expedition, nor would he say pond--"round the water," he

"The Longpond?" said the girl.  "You can't go round, there's the marsh--
not unless you goes back to Wood Lane, and nigh handy your place."

"Which way did 'ee come?" asked the old woman.

"They come through the wood," said the girl.  "I seen um; and they had
the spannul."

She was stroking Pan, who loved her, as she had fed him with a bone.
She knew the enormity of taking a strange dog through a wood in the

"How be um going to get whoam?" said the old woman.

"We're going to walk, of course," said Bevis.

"It's four miles."

"Pooh!  We've come thousands.  Come on, Mark; we'll get round somehow."

But the girl convinced him after a time that it was not possible,
because of the marsh and the brook, and showed him too how the shadows
of the elms were lengthening in the meadow outside the garden at the
foot of the hill.  Bevis reluctantly decided that they must abandon the
expedition for that day, and return home.  The girl offered to show them
the way into the road.  She led them by a narrow path beside the
streamlet in the gully, and then along the steep side of the hill, where
there were three or four more cottages, all built on the slope, steep as
it was.  The path in front of the doors had a kind of breastwork, that
folk might not inadvertently tumble over and roll--if not quite sober--
into the gully beneath.  Yet there were small gardens behind, which
almost stood up on end, the vegetables appearing over the roofs.

Upon the breastwork or mound they had planted a few flowers, all yellow,
or yellow-tinged, marigolds, sunflowers, wall-flowers, a stray tulip,
the gaudiest they knew.  These specks of brightness by the dingy walls
and grey thatch and whitened turf, for the chalk was but an inch under,
came of instinct on that southern slope, as hot Spain flaunts a yellow

Six or eight children were about.  One sat crying in the midst of the
path, so unconscious under the wrong he had endured as not to see them,
and they had to step right over his red head.  Some stared at them with
unchecked rudeness; one or two curtseyed or tugged at their forelocks.
The happiest of all was sitting on the breastwork (of dry earth) eating
a small turnip from which he had cut the dirt and rind with a rusty
table-knife.  As they passed he grinned and pushed the turnip in their
faces, as much as to say, "Have a bite."  Two or three women looked out
after they had gone by, and then some one cried, "Baa!" making a noise
like a sheep, at which the girl who led them flushed up, and walked very
quickly, with scorn and rage, and hatred flashing in her eye.  It was a
taunt.  Her father was in gaol for lamb-stealing.  Her name was
Aholibah, and they taunted her by dwelling on the last syllable.

The path went to the top of the hill, and round under a red barn, and
now they could see the village, of which these detached cottages were an
outpost, scattered over the slope, and on the plain on the other side of
the coombe, a quarter of a mile distant.

"There's the windmill," said the girl, pointing to the tower-like
building.  "You go tow-ward he.  He be on the road.  Then you turn to
the right till you comes to the handing-post.  Then you go to the left,
and that'll take 'ee straight whoam."

"Thank you," said Bevis.  "I know now; it's not far to Big Jack's house.
Please have this sixpence," and he gave her the coin, which he had
unconsciously held in his hand ever since he had taken it out to pay for
the gooseberries.  It was all he had; he could not keep his money.

She took it, but her eyes were on him, and not on the money; she would
have liked to have kissed him.  She watched them till she saw they had
got into the straight road, and then went back, but not past the

They found the road very long, very long and dull, and dusty and empty,
except that there was a young labourer--a huge fellow--lying across a
flint heap asleep, his mouth open and the flies thick on his forehead.
Bevis pulled a spray from the hedge and laid it gently across his face.
Except for the sleeping labourer, the road was vacant, and every step
they took they went slower and slower.  There were no lions here, or
monstrous pythons, or anything magic.

"We shall never get home," said Mark.

"I don't believe we ever shall," said Bevis; "I hate this road."

While they yawned and kicked at stray flints, or pelted the sparrows on
the hedge, a dog-cart came swiftly up behind them.  It ran swift and
smooth and even balanced, the slender shafts bending slightly like the
spars of a yacht.

It was drawn by a beautiful chestnut mare, too powerful by far for many,
which struck out with her fore-feet as if measuring space and carrying
the car of a god in the sky, throwing her feet as if there were no road
but elastic air beneath them.  The man was very tall and broad and sat
upright--a wonderful thing in a countryman.  His head was broad like
himself, his eyes blue, and he had a long thick yellowy beard.  The
reins were strained taut like a yacht's cordage, but the mare was in the
hollow of his strong hand.

They did not hear the hoofs till he was close, for they were on a flint
heap, searching for the best to throw.

"It's Jack," said Mark.

Jack looked them very hard in the face, but it did not seem to dawn upon
him who they were till he had gone past a hundred yards, and then he
pulled up and beckoned.  He said nothing but tapped the seat beside him.
Bevis climbed up in front, Mark knelt on the seat behind--so as to look
in the direction they were going.  They drove two miles and Jack said
nothing, then he spoke:--

"Where have you been?"

"To Calais."

"Bad--bad," said Jack.  "Don't go there again."  At the turnpike it took
him three minutes to find enough to pay the toll.  He had a divine mare,
his harness, his cart were each perfect.  Yet for all his broad
shoulders he could barely muster up a groat.  He pulled up presently
when there were but two fields between them and the house at Longcot; he
wanted to go down the lane, and they alighted to walk across the fields.
After they had got down and were just turning to mount the gate, and
the mare obeying the reins had likewise half turned.  Jack said,--


"Yes," said Mark from the top bar.

"How are they all at home?" i.e. at Mark's.

"Quito well," said Mark.

"All?" said Jack again.

"Frances bruised her arm--"

"Much?" anxiously.

"You can't see it--her skin's like a plum," said Mark; "if you just
pinch it it shows."

"Hum!" and Jack was gone.

Late in the evening they tried hard to catch the donkey, that Mark might
ride home.  It was not far, but now the day was over he was very tired,
so too was Bevis.  Tired as they were, they chased the donkey up and
down--six times as far as it was to Mark's house--but in vain, the moke
knew them of old, and was not to be charmed or cowed.  He showed them
his heels, and they failed.  So Mark stopped and slept with Bevis, as he
had done so many times before.  As they lay awake in the bedroom,
looking out of the window opposite at a star, half awake and half
asleep, suddenly Bevis started up on his arm.

"Let's have a war," he said.

"That would be first-rate," said Mark, "and have a great battle."

"An awful battle," said Bevis, "the biggest and most awful ever known."

"Like Waterloo?" said Mark.




"Mal--Mal," said Mark, trying to think of Malplaquet.

"Oh! more than anything," said Bevis; "somebody will have to write a
history about it."

"Shall we wear armour?"

"That would be bow and arrow time.  Bows and arrows don't make any

"No more they do.  It wants lots of banging and smoke--else its

"No; only chopping and sticking."

"And smashing and yelling."

"No--and that's nothing."

"Only if we have rifles," said Mark thoughtfully; "you see, people don't
see one another; they are so far off, and nobody stands on a bridge and
keeps back all the enemy all by himself."

"And nobody has a triumph afterwards with elephants and chariots, and
paints his face vermilion."

"Let's have bow and arrow time," said Mark; "it's much nicer--and you
sell the prisoners for slaves and get heaps of money, and do just as you
like, and plough up the cities that don't please you."

"Much nicer," said Bevis; "you very often kill all the lot and there's
nothing silly.  I shall be King Richard and have a battle-axe--no, let's
be the Normans."

"Wouldn't King Arthur do?"

"No; he was killed, that would be stupid.  I've a great mind to be

"Then I shall be Roland."

"No; you must be a traitor."

"But I want to fight your side," said Mark.

"How many are there we can get to make the war?"

They consulted, and soon reckoned up fourteen or fifteen.

"It will be jolly awful," said Mark; "there will be heaps of slain."

"Let's have Troy," said Bevis.

"That's too slow," said Mark; "it lasted ten years."

"Alexander the Great--let's see; whom did he fight?"

"I don't know; people nobody ever heard of--nobody particular, Indians
and Persians and all that sort."

"I know," said Bevis; "of course!  I know.  Of course I shall be Julius

"And I shall be Mark Antony."

"And we will fight Pompey."

"But who shall be Pompey?" said Mark.

"Pooh! there's Bill, and Wat, and Ted; anybody will do for Pompey."

Volume One, Chapter IX.


"Put your hands on the rail.  Hold it as far off as you can.  There--now
let the water lift your feet up behind you."

Bevis took hold of the rail, which was on a level with the surface, and
then leaning his chest forward upon the water, felt his legs and feet
gradually lifted up, till he floated.  At first he grasped the rail as
tight as he could, but in a minute he found that he need not do so.
Just to touch the rail lightly was enough, for his extended body was as
buoyant as a piece of wood.  It was like taking a stick and pressing it
down to the bottom, and then letting it go, when it would shoot up
directly.  The water felt deliciously soft under him, bearing him up far
more gently than the grass, on which he was so fond of lying.

"Mark!" he shouted.  "Do like this.  Catch hold of the rail--it's

Mark, who had been somewhat longer undressing than impatient Bevis, came
in and did it, and there they both floated, much delighted.  The water
was between three and four feet deep.  When Bevis's papa found that they
could not be kept from roaming, and were bent on boating on the
Longpond, which was a very different thing to the shallow brook, where
they were never far from shore, and out of which they could scramble, he
determined to teach Bevis and his friend to swim.  Till Bevis could
swim, he should never feel safe about him; and unless his companion
could swim too, it was of no use, for in case of accident, one would be
sure to try and save the other, and perhaps be dragged down.

They had begged very hard to be allowed to have one of the boats in
order to circumnavigate the New Sea, which it was so difficult to walk
round; and he promised them if they would really try and learn to swim,
that they should have the boat as a reward.  He took them to a place
near the old quarry they had discovered, in one corner of Fir-Tree Gulf,
where the bottom was of sand, and shelved gently for a long way out; a
line of posts and rails running into the water, to prevent cattle
straying, as they could easily do where it was shallow like this.  The
field there, too, was away from any road, so that they could bathe at
all times.  It was a sunny morning, and Bevis, eager for his lesson, had
torn off his things, and dashed into the water, like Pan.

"Now try one hand," said his "governor."

"Let one hand lie on the water--put your arm out straight--and hold the
rail with the other."

Bevis, rather reluctantly, did as he was told.  He let go with his right
hand, and stretched it out,--his left hand held him up just as easily,
and his right arm seemed to float of itself on the surface.  But now, as
the muscles of his back and legs unconsciously relaxed, his legs drew up
under him, and he bottomed with his feet and stood upright.

"Why's that?" he said.  "Why did I come up like that?"

"You must keep yourself a little stiff," said the governor; "not rigid--
not quite stiff--just feel your muscles then."

Bevis did it again, and floated with one hand only on the rail: he found
he had also to keep his left arm quite straight and firm.  Then he had
to do it with only two fingers on; while Mark and the governor stood
still, that no ripple might enter his mouth, which was only an inch
above the surface.  Next, Mark was taken in hand, and learnt the same
things; and having seen Bevis do it, he had not the least difficulty.
The governor left them awhile to practise by themselves, and swam across
to the mouth of the Nile, on the opposite side of the gulf.  When he
came back he found they had got quite confident; so confident, that
Bevis, thinking to surpass this simple lesson, had tried letting go with
both hands, when his chin immediately went under, and he struggled up

The governor laughed.  "I thought you would do that," he said.  "You
only want a little--a very little support, just two fingers on the rail;
but you must have some, and when you swim you have to supply it by your
own motion.  But you see how little is wanted."

"I see," said Bevis.  "Why, we can very nearly swim now--can't we,

"Of course we can," said Mark, kicking up his heels and making a
tremendous splash.

"Now," said the governor, "come here;" and he made Bevis go on his knees
in shallow water, and told him to put both hands on the bottom.  He did
so; and when he was on all fours, facing the shore, the water only
reached just above his elbow, which was not deep enough, so he had to
move backwards till it touched his chest.  He had then to extend his
legs behind him, till the water lifted them up, while his hands remained
on the bottom.  His chest rested on the water, and all his body was
buoyed up in the same pleasant way as when he had hold of the rail.

By letting his arms bend or give a little, he could tell exactly how
much the water would bear him up, exactly how strong it was under him.
He let himself sink till his chin was in the water and it came halfway
to his lower lip, while he had his head well back, and looked up at the
sycamore-trees growing in the field above the quarry.  Then he floated
perfectly, and there seemed not the least pressure on his hands; there
was a little, but so little it appeared nothing, and he could fancy
himself swimming.

"Now walk along with your hands," said the governor.

Bevis did so; and putting one hand before the other, as a tumbler does
standing on his head, moved with ease, his body floating, and having no
weight at all.  One hand would keep him, or even one finger when he put
it on a stone at the bottom so that it did not sink in as it would have
done into the sand; but if he extended his right arm, it had a tendency
to bring his toes down to the bottom.  Mark did the same thing, and
there they crawled about in the shallow water on their hands only, and
the rest floating, laughing at each other.  They could hardly believe
that it was the water did it; it kept them up just as if they were
pieces of wood.  The governor left them to practise this while he
dressed, and then made them get out, as they had been in long enough for
one morning.

"Pan does not swim like you do," said Mark, as they were walking home.

"No," said the governor, "he paddles; he runs in the water the same as
he does on land."

"Why couldn't we do that?" asked Mark.

"You can, but it is not much use: you only get along so slowly.  When
you can swim properly, you can copy Pan in a minute."

The governor could not go with them again for two days on account of
business; but full of their swimming, they looked in the old bookcase,
and found a book in which there were instructions, and among other
things they read that the frog was the best model.  Out they ran to look
for a frog; but as it was sunny there were none visible, till Mark
remembered there was generally one where the ivy of the garden wall had
spread over the ground in the corner.

In that cool place they found one, and Bevis picked it up.  The frog was
cold to the touch even in the summer day, so they put it on a
cabbage-leaf and carried it to the stone trough in the yard.  No sooner
did it feel the water than the frog struck out and crossed the trough,
first in one direction, and then in another, afterwards swimming all
round close to the sides, but unable to land, as the stone was to it
like a wall.

"He kicks," said Mark, leaning over the trough; "he only kicks; he
doesn't use his arms."

The frog laid out well with his legs, but kept his forelegs, or arms,
still, or nearly so.

"Now, what's the good of a frog?" said Bevis; "men don't swim like

"It's very stupid," said Mark; "he's no model at all."

"Not a bit."

The frog continued to go round the trough much more slowly.

"No use watching him."

So they went away, but before they had gone ten yards Bevis ran back.

"He can't get out," he said; and placing the cabbage-leaf under the
frog, he lifted the creature out of the trough and put him on the
ground.  No sooner was the frog on the ground than he went under the
trough in the moist shade there, for the cattle as they drank splashed a
good deal over.  When they told the governor, he said that what they had
noticed was correct, but the frog was a good model in two things
nevertheless; first in the way he kicked, and secondly in the way he
leaned his chest on the water.  But a man had to use his arms so as to
balance his body and keep his chin and mouth from going under, besides
the assistance they give as oars to go forward.

Next morning they went to the bathing-place again.  Bevis had now to
hold the rail as previously, but when he had got it at arm's length he
was told to kick like the frog.

"Draw your knees up close together and kick, and send your feet wide
apart," said the governor.  Bevis did so, and the thrust of his legs
sent him right up against the rail.  He did this several times, and was
then ordered to go on hands and knees in the shallow water, just as he
had done before, and let his legs float up.  When they floated he had to
kick, to draw his knees up close together, and then strike his feet back
wide apart.  The thrust this time lifted his hands off the bottom on
which they had been resting, lifted them right up, and sent him quite a
foot nearer the shore.  His chest was forced against the water like an
inclined plane, and he was thus raised an inch or so.  When the impulse
ceased he sank as much, and his hands touched the bottom once more.

This pleased him greatly--it was quite half-swimming; but he found it
necessary to be careful while practising it that there were no large
stones on the bottom, and that he did not get in too shallow water, else
he grazed his knees.  In the water you scarcely feel these kind of
hurts, and many a bather has been surprised upon getting out to find his
knees or legs bruised, or even the skin off, from contact with stones or
gravel, of which he was unaware at the time.

Mark had no difficulty in doing the same, it was even easier for him, as
he had only to imitate, which is not so hard as following instructions.
The second, indeed, often learns quicker than the first.  They kicked
themselves along in fine style.

"Keep your feet down," said the governor; "don't let them come above the
surface, and don't splash.  Mark, you are not drawing your knees up, you
are only lifting your heels; it makes all the difference."

He then made them hold on to the rail in the deepest water they could
fathom--standing himself between them and the deeper water--and after
letting their legs float, ordered them to kick there, but to keep their
arms straight and stiff, not to attempt to progress, only to practise
the kick.  The object was that they might kick deep and strong, and not
get into a habit of shallow kicking, as they might while walking on
their hands on the sand.  All that lesson they had to do nothing but

In a day or two they were all in the water again, and after a
preliminary splashing, just to lot off their high spirits--otherwise
they would not pay attention--serious business began.

"Now," said the governor, "you must begin to use your arms.  You are
half-independent of touching the bottom already--you can feel that you
can float without your feet touching anything; now you must try to float
altogether.  You know the way I use mine."

They had seen him many times, and had imitated the motion on shore,
first putting the flat hands together, thumb to thumb; the thumbs in
their natural position, and not held under the palm; the tips of the
thumbs crossing (as sculls cross in sculling); the fingers together, but
not squeezed tight, a little interstice between them matters nothing,
while if always squeezed tight it causes a strain on the wrist.  The
flat hands thus put together held four to six inches in front of the
breast, and then shot out--not with a jerk, quick, but no savage jerk,
which wastes power--and the palms at the extremity of the thrust turned
partly aside, and more as they oar the water till nearly vertical.

Do not attempt a complete sweep--a complete half-circle--oar them round
as far as they will go easily without an effort to the shoulders, and
then bring them back.  The object of not attempting a full sweep is that
the hands may come back easily, and without disturbing the water in
front of the chest and checking progress, as they are apt to do.  They
should slip back, and then the thumbs being held naturally, just as you
would lay your flat hand on the table, they do not meet with resistance
as they do if held under the palm.  If the fingers are kept squeezed
tight together when the hands are brought back to the chest, should they
vary a hair's breadth from a level position they stop progress exactly
like an oar held still in the water, and it is very difficult to keep
them absolutely level.  But if the fingers are the least degree apart,
natural, if the hand inclines a trifle, the fingers involuntarily open
and the water slips through, besides which, as there is no strain, the
hands return level with so much greater ease.  The thrust forward is so
easy--it is learnt in a moment--you can imitate it the first time you
see it--that the bringing back is often thought of no account.  In fact,
the bringing back is _the_ point, and if it be not studied you will
never swim well.  This he had told them from time to time on shore, and
they had watched him as he swam slowly by them, on purpose that they
might observe the manner.  But to use the arms properly on shore, when
they pass through air and meet with no resistance, is very different to
using them properly in the water.

Bevis had to stand facing the shore in water as deep as his chest; then
to stoop a little--one foot in front of the other for ease--till his
chin nearly rested on the surface, and then to strike out with his arms.
He was not to attempt anything with his feet, simply to stand and try
the stroke.  He put his flat hands together, pushed them out, and oared
them round as he had often done on land.  As he oared them round they
pushed him forward, so that he had to take a step on the bottom; they
made him walk a step forward.  This he had to repeat twenty times, the
governor standing by, and having much trouble to make him return his
hauds to his chest without obstructing his forward progress.

Bevis became very impatient now to swim arms and legs together; he was
sure he could do it, for his arms, as they swept back, partly lifted him
up and pushed him on.

"Very well," said the governor.  "Go and try.  Here, Mark."

He took Mark in hand, but before they had had one trial Bevis had
started to swim, and immediately his head went under unexpectedly, so
that he came up spluttering, and had to sit on the rail till he could
get the water out of his throat.  While he sat there in no good temper
Mark had his lesson.  The governor then went for a swim himself, being
rather tired of reiterating the same instructions, leaving them to
practise.  On his return--he did not go far, only just far enough to
recover his patience--he set them to work at another thing.

Bevis had to go on his hands on the bottom as he had done before, and
let his limbs float behind.  Then he was told to try striking out with
the right hand, keeping the left on the sand to support himself.  He did
so, and as his arm swept back it pushed him forward just as an oar would
a boat.  The next time he did it he kicked with his legs at the same
moment, and the impetus of the kick and the motion of his right arm
together lifted his left hand momentarily off the bottom, and sent him
along.  This he did himself without being told, the idea of doing so
would occur to any one in the same position.

"That's right," said the governor.  "Do that again."

Bevis did it again and again, and felt now that he was three-parts
swimming; he swam with his legs, and his right arm, and only just
touched the bottom with his left hand.  After he had repeated it six or
seven times he lifted his left hand a little way, and made a quarter
stroke with it too, and then jumped up and shouted that he could swim.

Mark had to have his lesson some yards away, for Bevis had so splashed
the water in his excitement that it was thick with the sand he had
disturbed.  Bevis continued his trials, raising his left arm a little
more every time till he could very nearly use both together.  They were
then both set to work to hold on to the rail, let their limbs float, and
strike out with one arm, alternately left and right, kicking at the same
moment.  This was to get into the trick of kicking and striking out with
the hands together.  Enough had now been done for that morning.

They came up again the next day, and the governor left them this time
almost to themselves to practise what they had learnt.  They went on
their hands on the sand, let their limbs float, and by degrees began to
strike out with both hands, first lifting the left hand a few inches,
then more, till presently, as they became at home in the water, they
could nearly use both.

The next time they bathed the governor set Bevis a fresh task.  He was
made to stand facing the shore in water as deep as his chest, then to
lean forward gently on it--without splash--and to strike out with both
his arms and legs together.  He did it immediately, at the first trial,
but of course stood up directly.  Next he was told to try and make two
strokes--one is easily made, but the difficulty is when drawing up the
knees and bringing the hands back for the second stroke.  The chin is
almost certain to go under, and some spluttering to follow.  Bevis did
his best, and held his breath, and let his head go down well till he
drew some water up his nostrils, and was compelled to sit on the rail
and wait till he could breathe properly again.

Mark tried with exactly the same result.  The first stroke when the feet
pushed from the ground was easy; but when he endeavoured to draw up his
knees for the second, down went his head.

The only orders they received were to keep on trying.

Two days afterwards they bathed again, but though they asked the
governor to tell them something else he would not do so, he ordered them
to try nothing but the same thing over and over again, to face the shore
and strike out.  If they liked they could push forward very hard with
their feet, if it was done without splash, and the impetus would last
through two strokes, and help to keep the body up while they drew up
their knees for the second stroke.  Then he went for a swim across to
the Nile and left them.

They tried their very hardest, and then went on their hands on the sand
to catch the idea of floating again.  After that they succeeded, but so
nearly together that neither could claim to be first.  They pushed off
from the ground hard, struck out, drew up their knees and recovered
their hands, and made the second stroke.  They had to hold their breath
while they did it, for their mouths _would_ go under, but still it was
done.  Shouting to the governor to come back they threw themselves at
the water, bold as spaniels dashing in, wild with delight.

"You can swim," said the governor as he approached.

"Of course we _can_," said Bevis, rushing out in the field for a dance
on the sward, and then back splash into the water again.  That morning
they could hardly be got away from it, and insisted on bathing next day
whether convenient or not, so the governor was obliged to accompany
them.  This time he took the punt, and let them row him to the
bathing-place.  The lake was too deep there for poling.  They had been
in boats with him before, and could row well; it is remarkable that
there is nothing both boys and girls learn so quickly as rowing.  The
merest little boy of five years old will learn to handle an oar in a
single lesson.  They grounded the punt and undressed on the sward where
there was more room.

"Now," said the governor, as they began to swim their two strokes again,
"now do this--stand up to your chest, and turn towards the rail, and
when you have finished the second stroke catch hold of it."

Bevis found that this was not so easy as it sounded, but after five or
six attempts he did it, and then of his own motion stood back an extra
yard and endeavoured to swim three strokes, and then seize it.  This was
very difficult and he could not manage it that morning.  Twice more the
governor came with them and they had the punt, and on the second time
they caught the third stroke.  They pushed off, that was one stroke,
swam one good stroke while floating, and made a third partly complete
stroke, and seized the rail.

"That will do," said the governor.  He was satisfied: his object from
the beginning had been so to teach them that they could teach
themselves.  With a band beneath the chest he could have suspended them
(one at a time) from the punt in deep water, and so taught them, but he
considered it much better to let them gradually acquire a knowledge of
how far the water would buoy them up, and where it would fail to do so,
so as to become perfectly confident, but not _too_ confident.  For
water, however well you can swim, is not a thing to be played with.
They had seen now that everything could be done in water no deeper than
the chest, and even less than that, so that he had reason to believe if
left to themselves they would not venture further out till quite
competent.  He had their solemn promise not to go into deeper water than
their shoulders.  If you go up to your chin, the slightest wavelet will
lift you off your feet, and in that way many too venturesome people have
been drowned not twelve inches from safety.

They might go to their shoulders, always on condition of facing the
shore and swimming towards it.  When they thought they could swim well
enough to go out of their depth he would come and watch.  Both promised
most faithfully, and received permission to go next time by themselves,
and in a short while, if they kept their word, they should have the

If any ladies should chance to read how Bevis and Mark learnt to swim,
when they are at the seaside will they try the same plan?  Choose a
smooth sea and a low tide (only to have it shallow).  Kneel in the
water.  Place the hands on the sand, so that the water may come almost
over the shoulders--not quite, say up to them.  Then let the limbs and
body float.  The pleasant sense of suspension without effort will be
worth the little trouble it costs.  On the softest couch the limbs feel
that there is something solid, a hard framework beneath, and so the
Sybarites put cushions on the floor under the feet of their couches.  On
the surface of the buoyant sea there is nothing under the soft couch.
They will find that there is no pressure on the hands.  They have no
weight.  Now let them kick with both feet together, and the propulsion
will send them forward.

Next use one arm in swimming style.  Next use one arm and kick at the
same time.  Try to use both arms, lifting the hand from the sand a
little first, and presently more.  Stand up to the chest in water, stoop
somewhat and bend the knee, one foot in front of the other, and use the
arms together, walking at the same time, so as to get the proper motion
of the hands.  Place the hands on the sand again, and try to use both
arms once more.

Finally, stand up to the chest, face the shore, lean forward, and push
off and try a stroke--the feet will easily recover themselves.
Presently two strokes will become possible, after awhile three; that is
swimming.  The sea is so buoyant, so beautiful, that let them only once
feel the sense of floating, and they will never rest till they have
learned.  Ladies can teach themselves so quickly, and swim better than
we do.  The best swimming I ever saw was done by three ladies together:
the waves were large, but they swam with ease, the three graces of the

Volume One, Chapter X.


Bevis and Mark went eagerly to bathe by themselves, but immediately left
the direct path.  Human beings must be kept taut, or, like a rope, they
will slacken.  The very first morning they took a leaping-pole with
them, a slender ash sapling, rather more than twice their own height,
which they picked out from a number in the rick-yard, intending to jump
to and fro the brook on the way.  But before they had got half way to
the brook they altered their minds, becoming eager for the water, and
raced to the bathing-place.  The pole was now to be an oar, and they
were to swim, supported by an oar, like shipwrecked people.

So soon as he had had a plunge or two, Bevis put one arm over the pole
and struck out with the other, thinking that he should be able in that
way to have a long swim.  Directly his weight pressed on the pole it
went under, and did not support him in the least.  He put it next
beneath his chest, with both arms over it, but immediately he pushed off
down it went again.  Mark took it and got astride, when the pole let his
feet touch the bottom.

"It's no use," he said.  "What's the good of people falling overboard
with spars and oars?  What stories they must tell."

"I can't make it out," said Bevis; and he tried again, but it was no
good, the pole was an encumbrance instead of a support, for it insisted
upon slipping through the water lengthways, and would not move just as
he wished.  In a rage he gave it a push, and sent it ashore, and turned
to swimming to the rail.  They did not know it, but the governor, still
anxious about them, had gone round a long distance, so as to have a peep
at them from the hedge on the other side of Fir-Tree Gulf by the Nile.
He could tell by the post and rails that they did not go out of their
depth, and went away without letting them suspect his presence.

When they got out, they had a run in the sunshine, which dried them much
better than towels.  The field sloped gently to the right, and their
usual run was on the slope beside a nut-tree hedge towards a group of
elms.  All the way there and back the sward was short and soft, almost
like that of the Downs which they could see, and dotted with bird's-foot
lotus, over whose yellow flowers they raced.  But this morning, being no
longer kept taut, after they had returned from the elms with an enormous
mushroom they had found there, they ran to the old quarry, and along the
edge above.  The perpendicular sand-cliff fell to an enclosed pool
beneath, in which, on going to the very edge, they could see themselves
reflected.  Some hurdles and flakes--a stronger kind of hurdle--had been
placed here that cattle might not wander over, but the cart-horses, who
rub against everything, had rubbed against them and dislodged two or
three.  These had rolled down, and the rest hung half over.

While they stood still looking down over the broad waters of their New
Sea, the sun burned their shoulders, making the skin red.  Away they ran
back to dress, and taking a short path across a place where the turf had
partly grown over a shallow excavation pricked their feet with thistles,
and had to limp the rest of the way to their clothes.  Now, there were
no thistles on their proper racecourse down to the elms and back.

As they returned home they remembered the brook, and went down to it to
jump with the leaping-pole.  But the soft ooze at the bottom let the
pole sink in, and Bevis, who of course must take the first leap, was
very near being hung up in the middle of the brook.  Under his weight,
as he sprang off, the pole sank deep into the ooze, and had it been a
stiffer mud the pole would have stopped upright, when he must have
stayed on it over the water, or have been jerked off among the flags.
As it was it did let him get over, but he did not land on the firm bank,
only reaching the mud at the side, where he scrambled up by grasping the
stout stalk of a willow-herb.  In future he felt with the butt of the
pole till he found a firm spot, where it was sandy, or where the matted
roots of grasses and flags had bound the mud hard.  Then he flew over
well up on the grass.

Mark took his turn, and as he put the butt in the water a streak of mud
came up where a small jack fish had shot away.  So they went on down the
bank leaping alternately, one carrying the towels while the other flew
over and back.

Sometimes they could not leap because the tripping was bad, undermined
where cowslips in the spring hung over the stream, bored with the holes
of water-rats, which when disused become covered with grass, but give
way beneath the foot or the hoof that presses on them pitching leaper or
rider into the current, or it was rotten from long-decaying roots, or
about to slip.  Sometimes the landing was bad, undermined in the same
way, or higher than the tripping, when you have not only to get over,
but to deliver yourself on a higher level; or swampy, where a wet furrow
came to the brook; or too far, where there was nothing but mud to come
on.  They had to select their jumping-places, and feel the ground to the
edge first.

"Here's the raft!" shouted Mark, who was ahead, looking out for a good

"Is it?" said Bevis, running along on the other side.  They had so
completely forgotten it, that it came upon them like something new.
Bevis took a leap and came over, and they set to work at once to launch
it.  The raft slipped gradually down the shelving shore of the
drinking-place, and they thrust it into the stream.  Bevis put his foot
on board, but immediately withdrew it, for the water rushed through
twenty leaks, spurting up along the joins.  Left on the sand in the
sun's rays the wood of the raft shrank a little, opening the planking,
while the clay they had daubed on to caulk the crevices had cracked, and
the moss had dried up and was ready to crumble.  The water came through
every where, and the raft was half-full even when left to itself without
any pressure.

"We ought to have thatched it," said Mark.  "We ought to have made a
roof over it.  Let's stop the leaks."

"O! come on," said Bevis, "don't let's bother.  Rafts are no good, no
more than poles or oars when you fall overboard.  We shall have a ship

The raft was an old story, and he did not care about it.  He went on
with the leaping-pole, but Mark stayed a minute and hauled the raft on
shore as far as his strength would permit.  He got about a quarter of it
on the ground, so that it could not float away, and then ran after

They went into the Peninsula, and looked at all the fir-trees, to see if
any would do for a mast for the blue boat they were to have.  As it had
no name, they called it the blue boat to distinguish it from the punt.
Mark thought an ash-pole would do for the mast, as ash-poles were so
straight and could be easily shaved to the right size; but Bevis would
not hear of it, for masts were never made of ash, but always of pine,
and they must have their ship proper.  He selected a tree presently, a
young fir, straight as an arrow, and started Mark for the axe, but
before he had gone ten yards Mark came back, saying that the tree would
be of no use unless they liked to wait till next year, because it would
be green, and the mast ought, to be made of seasoned wood.

"So it ought," said Bevis.  "What a lot of trouble it is to make a

But as they sat on the railing across the isthmus swinging their legs,
Mark remembered that there were some fir-poles which had been cut a long
time since behind the great wood-pile, between it and the walnut-trees,
out of sight.  Without a word away they ran, chose one of these and
carried it into the shed where Bevis usually worked.  They had got the
dead bark off and were shaving away when it was dinner-time, which they
thought a bore, but which wise old Pan, who was never chained now,
considered the main object of life.

Next morning as they went through the meadow, where the dew still
lingered in the shade, on the way to the bathing-place, taking Pan with
them this time, they hung about the path picking clover-heads and
sucking the petals, pulling them out and putting the lesser ends in
their lips, looking at the white and pink bramble flowers, noting where
the young nuts began to show, pulling down the woodbine, and doing
everything but hasten on to their work of swimming.  They stopped at the
gate by the New Sea, over whose smooth surface slight breaths of mist
were curling, and stood kicking the ground and the stones as flighty
horses paw.

"We ought to be something," said Mark discontentedly.

"Of course we ought," said Bevis.  "Things are very stupid unless you
are something."

"Lions and tigers," said Mark, growling, and showing his teeth.


"Shipwrecked people on an island."

"Fiddle!  They have plenty to do and are always happy, and we are not."

"No; very unhappy.  Let's try escaping--prisoners running away."

"Hum!  Hateful!"

"Everything's hateful."

"So it is."

"This is a very stupid sea."

"There's nothing in it."

"Nothing anywhere."

"Let's be hermits."

"There's always only one hermit."

"Well, you live that side," (pointing across), "and I'll live this."

"Hermits eat pulse and drink water."

"What's pulse?"

"I suppose it's barley water."



"You say what we shall be then."

"Pan, you old donk," said Bevis, rolling Pan over with his foot.  Lazy
Pan lay on his back, and let Bevis bend his ribs with his foot.

"Caw, caw!" a crow went over down to the shore, where he hoped to find a
mussel surprised by the dawn in shallow water.

Bang!  "Hoi!  Hoo!  Yah!"  The discharge was half a mile away, but the
crow altered his mind, and flew over the water as near the surface as he
could without touching.  Why do birds always cross the water in that

"That's Tom," said Mark.  Tom was the bird-keeper.  He shot first, and
shouted after.  He potted a hare in the corn with bits of flint, a
button, three tin tacks, and a horse-stub, which scraped the old barrel
inside, but slew the game.  That was for himself.  Then he shouted his
loudest to do his duty--for other people.  The sparrows had flown out of
the corn at the noise of the gun, and settled on the hedge; when Tom
shouted they were frightened from the hedge, and went back into the
wheat.  From which learn this, shoot first and shout after.

"Shall we say that was a gun at sea?" continued Mark.

"They are always heard at night," said Bevis.  "Pitch black, you know."

"Everything is somehow else," said Mark.  Pan closed his idle old eyes,
and grunted with delight as Bevis rubbed his ribs with his foot.  Bevis
put his hands in his pockets and sighed deeply.  The sun looked down on
these sons of care, and all the morning beamed.

"Savages!" shouted Mark kicking the gate to with a slam that startled
Pan up.  "Savages, of course!"


"They swim, donk: don't they?  They're always in the water, and they
have catamarans and ride the waves and dance on the shore, and blow





"No clothes?"


"All jolly?"



Away they ran towards the bathing-place to be savages, but Mark stopped
suddenly, and asked what sort they were?  They decided that they were
the South Sea sort, and raced on again, Pan keeping pace with a kind of
shamble; he was too idle to run properly.  They dashed into the water,
each with a wood-pigeon's feather, which they had found under the
sycamore-trees above the quarry, stuck in his hair.  At the first dive
the feathers floated away.  Upon the other side of the rails there was a
large aspen-tree whose lowest bough reached out over the water, which
was shallow there.

Though they made such a splashing when Bevis looked over the railings a
moment, he saw some little roach moving to and fro under the bough.  The
wavelets from his splashing rolled on to the sandy shore, rippling under
the aspen.  As he looked, a fly fell on its back out of the tree, and
struggled in vain to get up.  Bevis climbed over the rails, picked an
aspen leaf, and put it under the fly, which thus on a raft, and tossed
up and down as Mark dived, was floated slowly by the undulations to the
strand.  As he got over the rails a kingfisher shot out from the mouth
of the Nile opposite, and crossed aslant the gulf, whistling as he flew.

"Look!" said Mark.  "Don't you know that's a `sign.'  Savages read
`signs,' and those birds mean that there are heaps of fish."

"Yes, but we ought to have a proper language."

"Kalabala-blong!" said Mark.

"Hududu-blow-fluz!" replied Bevis, taking a header from the top of the
rail on which he had been sitting, and on which he just contrived to
balance himself a moment without falling backwards.

"Umplumum!" he shouted, coming up again.

"Ikiklikah," and Mark disappeared.

"Noklikah," said Bevis, giving him a shove under as he came up to

"That's not fair," said Mark, scrambling up.

Bevis was swimming, and Mark seized his feet.  More splashing and
shouting, and the rocks resound.  The echo of their voices returned from
the quarry and the high bank under the firs.

They raced presently down to the elms along the sweet soft turf,
sprinkling the dry grass with the sparkling drops from their limbs, and
the sunlight shone on their white shoulders.  The wind blew and stroked
their gleaming backs.  They rolled and tumbled on the grass, and the
earth was under them.  From the water to the sun and the wind and the

They played round the huge sycamore trunks above the quarry, and the
massive boughs stretched over--from a distance they would have seemed
mere specks beneath the immense trees.  They raced across to a round
hollow in the field and sat down at the bottom, so that they could see
nothing but the sky overhead, and the clouds drifting.  They lay at full
length, and for a moment were still and silent; the sunbeam and the
wind, the soft touch of the grass, the gliding cloud, the eye-loved blue
gave them the delicious sense of growing strong in drowsy luxury.

Then with a shout, renewed, they ran, and Pan who had been waiting by
their clothes was startled into a bark of excitement at their sudden
onslaught.  As they went homewards they walked round to the little
sheltered bay where the boats were kept, to look at the blue boat and
measure for the mast.  It was beside the punt, half drawn up on the
sand, and fastened to a willow root.  She was an ill-built craft with a
straight gunwale, so that when afloat she seemed lower at stem and stern
than abeam, as if she would thrust her nose into a wave instead of
riding it.  The planks were thick and heavy and looked as if they had
not been bent enough to form the true buoyant curve.

The blue paint had scaled and faded, the rowlocks were mended with a
piece cut from an old rake-handle, there was a small pool of bilge water
in the sternsheets from the last shower, fall of dead insects, and
yellow willow leaves.  A clumsy vessel put together years ago in some
by-water of the far distant Thames above Oxford, and not good enough
even for that unknown creek.  She had drifted somehow into this
landlocked pond and remained unused, hauled on the strand beneath the
willows; she could carry five or six, and if they bumped her well on the
stones it mattered little to so stout a frame.

Still she was a boat, with keel and curve, and like lovers they saw no
defect.  Bevis looked at the hole in the seat or thwart, where the mast
would have to be stepped, and measured it (not having a rule with him)
by cutting a twig just to the length of the diameter.  Mark examined the
rudder and found that the lines were rotten, having hung dangling over
the stern in the water for so long.  Next they stepped her length,
stepping on the sand outside, to decide on the height of the mast, and
where were the ropes to be fastened? for they meant to have some
standing rigging.

At home afterwards in the shed, while Bevis shaved the fir-pole for the
mast, Mark was set to carve the leaping-pole, for the South Sea savages
have everything carved.  He could hardly cut the hard dried bark of the
ash, which had shrunk on and become like wood.  He made a spiral notch
round it, and then searched till he found his old spear, which had to be
ornamented and altered into a bone harpoon.  A bone from the kitchen was
sawn off while in the vice, and then half through two inches from the
largest end.  Tapping a broad chisel gently, Mark split the bone down to
the sawn part, and then gradually filed it sharp.  He also filed three
barbs to it, and then fitted the staff of the spear into the hollow end.
While he was engraving lines and rings on the spear with his
pocket-knife, the dinner interrupted his work.

Bevis, wearying of the mast, got some flints, and hammered them to split
off flakes for arrowheads, but though he bruised his fingers, he could
not chip the splinters into shape.  The fracture always ran too far, or
not far enough.  John Young, the labourer, came by as he was doing this
sitting on the stool in the shed, and watched him.

"I see a man do that once," said John.

"How did he do it? tell me? what's the trick?" said Bevis, impatient to

"Aw, I dunno; I see him at it.  A' had a gate-hinge snopping um."

The iron hinge of a gate, if removed from the post, forms a fairly good
hammer, the handle of iron as well as the head.

"Where was it? what did he do it for?"

"Aw, up in the Downs.  Course he did it to soil um."

The prehistoric art of chipping flints lingered among the shepherds on
the Downs, till the percussion-cap came in, and no longer having to get
flakes for the flintlock guns they slowly let it disappear.  Young had
seen it done, but could not describe how.

Bevis battered his flints till he was tired; then he took up the last
and hurled it away in a rage with all his might.  The flint whirled over
and over and hummed along the ground till it struck a small sarsen or
boulder by the wood-pile, put there as a spur-stone to force the
careless carters to drive straight.  Then it flew into splinters with
the jerk of the stoppage.

"Here's a sharp 'un," said John Young, picking up a flake, "and here's

Altogether there were three pointed flakes which Bevis thought would do.
Mark had to bring some reeds next day from the place where they grew
half a mile below his house in a by-water of the brook.  They were
green, but Bevis could not wait to dry them.  He cut them off a little
above the knot or joint, split the part above, and put the flint flake
in, and bound it round and round with horsehair from the carter's store
in the stable.  But when they were finished, they were not shot off,
lest they should break; they were carried indoors into the room upstairs
where there was a bench, and which they made their armoury.

They made four or five darts next of deal shaved to the thickness of a
thin walking-stick, and not quite so long.  One end was split in four--
once down and across that--and two pieces of cardboard doubled up thrust
in, answering the purpose of feathering.  There was a slight notch
two-thirds up the shaft, and the way was to twist a piece of twine round
it there crossed over a knot so as just to hold, the other end of the
twine firmly coiled about the wrist, so that in throwing the string was
taut and the point of the dart between the fingers.  Hurling it the
string imparted a second force, and the dart, twirling like an arrow,
flew fifty or sixty yards.

Slings they made with a square of leather from the sides of old shoes, a
small hole out out in the centre that the stone might not slip, but
these they could never do much with, except hurl pebbles from the
rick-yard, rattling up into the boughs of the oak, on the other side of
the field.  The real arrows to shoot with--not the reed arrows to look
at--were tipped with iron nails filed to a sharp point.  They had much
trouble in feathering them; they had plenty of goose-feathers (saved
from the Christmas plucking), but to glue them on properly was not easy.

Volume One, Chapter XI.


With all their efforts, they could not make a blow-tube, such as are
used by savages.  Bevis thought and thought, and Mark helped him, and
Pan grabbed his fleas, all together in the round blue summer-house; and
they ate a thousand strawberries, and a basketful of red currants, ripe,
from the wall close by, and two young summer apples, far from ready, and
yet they could not do it.  The tube ought to be at least as long as the
savage, using it, was tall.  They could easily find sticks that were
just the thickness, and straight, but the difficulty was to bore through
them.  No gimlet or auger was long enough; nor could they do it with a
bar of iron, red-hot at the end; they could not keep it true, but always
burned too much one side or the other.

Perhaps it might be managed by inserting a short piece of tin tubing,
and making a little fire in it, and gradually pushing it down as the
fire burnt.  Only, as Bevis pointed out, the fire would not live in such
a narrow place without any draught.  A short tube was easily made out of
elder, but not nearly long enough.  The tinker, coming round to mend the
pots, put it into their heads to set him to make a tin blow-pipe, five
feet in length; which he promised to do, and sent it in a day or two.
But as he had no sheet of tin broad enough to roll the tube in one
piece, he had made four short pipes and soldered them together.  Nothing
would go straight through it because the joints were not quite perfect,
inside there was a roughness which caught the dart and obstructed the
puff, for a good blow-tube must be as smooth and well bored as a

When they came to look over their weapons, they found they had not got
any throw-sticks, nor a boomerang.  Throw-sticks were soon made, by
cutting some with a good thick knob; and a boomerang was made out of a
curved branch of ash, which they planed down smooth one side, and cut to
a slight arch on the other.

"This is a capital boomerang," said Bevis.  "Now we shall be able to
knock a rabbit over without any noise, or frightening the rest, and it
will come back and we can kill three or four running."

"Yes, and one of the mallards," said Mark.  "Don't you know?--they are
always too far for an arrow, and besides, the arrow would be lost if it
did not hit.  Now we shall have them.  But which way ought we to throw
it--the hollow first, or the bend first?"

"Let's try," said Bevis, and ran with the boomerang from the shed into
the field.

Whiz!  Away it went, bend first, and rose against the wind till the
impetus ceased, when it hung a moment on the air, and slid to the right,
falling near the summer-house.  Next time it turned to the left, and
fell in the hedge; another time it hit the hay-rick: nothing could make
it go straight.  Mark tried his hardest, and used it both ways, but in
vain--the boomerang rose against the wind, and, so far, acted properly,
but directly the force with which it was thrown was exhausted, it did as
it liked, and swept round to the left or the right, and never once
returned to their feet.

"A boomerang is a stupid thing," said Bevis, "I shall chop it up.  I
hate it."

"No; put it upstairs," said Mark, taking it from him.  So the boomerang
was added to the collection in the bench-room.  A crossbow was the next
thing, and they made the stock from a stout elder branch, because when
the pith was taken out, it left a groove for the bolt to slide up.  The
bow was a thick briar, and the bolt flew thirty or forty yards, but it
did not answer, and they could hit nothing with it.  A crossbow requires
delicate adjustment, and to act well, must be made almost as accurately
as a rifle.

They shot a hundred times at the sparrows on the roof, who were no
sooner driven off than they came back like flies, but never hit one; so
the crossbow was hung up with the boomerang.  Bevis, from much practice,
could shoot far better than that with his bow and arrow.  He stuck up an
apple on a stick, and after six or seven trials hit it at twenty yards.
He could always hit a tree.  Mark was afraid to throw his bone-headed
harpoon at a tree, lest the head should break off; but he had another,
without a bone head, to cast; and he too could generally hit a tree.

"Now we are quite savages," said Bevis, one evening, as they sat up in
the bench-room, and the sun went down red and fiery, opposite the little
window, filling the room with a red glow and gleaming on their faces.
It put a touch of colour on the pears, which were growing large, just
outside the window, as if they were ripe towards the sunset.  The
boomerang on the wall was lit up with the light; so was a parcel of
canvas, on the floor, which they had bought at Latten town, for the
sails of their ship.

There was an oyster barrel under the bench, which was to contain the
fresh water for their voyage, and there had been much discussion as to
how they were to put a new head to it.

"We ought to see ourselves on the shore with spears and things when we
are sailing round," said Mark.

"So as not to be able to land for fear."

"Poisoned arrows," said Mark.  "I say, how stupid! we have not got any

"No more we have.  We must get a lot of poison."

"Curious plants nobody knows anything about but us."

"Nobody ever heard of them."

"And dip our arrows and spear's in the juice."

"No one ever gets well after being shot with them."

"If the wind blows hard ashore and there are no harbours it will be
awful with the savages all along waiting for us."

"We shall see them dancing and shouting with bows and throw-sticks, and

"That's you and me."

"Of course.  And very likely if the wind is very hard we shall have to
let down the sails, and fling out an anchor and stay till the gale goes

"The anchor may drag."

"Then we shall crash on the rocks."

"And swim ashore."

"You can't.  There's the breakers and the savages behind them.  I shall
stop on the wreck, and the sun will go down."

"Red like that," pointing out of window.

"And it will blow harder still."

"Black as pitch."


"No help."

"Fire a gun."


"Make a raft."

"The clouds are sure to break, or something."

"I say," said Bevis, "won't all these things,"--pointing to the
weapons--"do first-rate for our war?"

"Capital.  There will be arrows sticking up everywhere all over the

"Broken lances and horses without riders."

"Dints in the ground."

"Knights with their backs against trees and heaps of soldiers chopping
at them."

"Flashing swords! the ground will shake when we charge."



"Grass all red!"

"Blood-red sun like that!"  The disc growing larger as it neared the
horizon, shone vast through some distant elms.

"Flocks of crows."

"Heaps of white bones."

"And we will take the shovels and make a tumulus by the shore."

The red glow on the wall slowly dimmed, the colour left the pear, and
the song of a thrush came from the orchard.

"I want to make some magic," said Bevis, after a pause.  "The thing is
to make a wand."

"Genii are best," said Mark.  "They do anything you tell them."

"There ought to be a black book telling you how to do it somewhere,"
said Bevis; "but I've looked through the bookcase and there's nothing."

"Are you sure you have quite looked through?"

"I'll try again," said Bevis.  "There's a lot of books, but never
anything that you want."

"I know," said Mark suddenly.  "There's the bugle in the old cupboard--
that will do for the war."

"So it will; I forgot it."

"And a flag."

"No; we must have eagles on a stick."

Knock!  They jumped; Polly had hit the ceiling underneath with the
handle of a broom.


When they went to bathe next morning, Bevis took with him his bow and
arrows, intending to shoot a pike.  As they walked beside the shore they
often saw jacks basking in the sun at the surface of the water, and only
a few yards distant.  He had fastened a long thin string one end to the
arrow and the other to the bow, so that he might draw the arrow back to
him with the fish on as the savages do.  Mark brought his bone-headed
harpoon to try and spear something, and between them they also carried a
plank, which was to be used as a catamaran.

A paddle they had made was tied to it for convenience, that their hands
might not be too full.  Mark went first with one end of the plank on his
shoulder, and Bevis followed with the other on his, and as they had to
hold it on edge it rather cut them.  Coming near some weeds where they
had seen a jack the day before, they put the catamaran down, and Bevis
crept quietly forward.  The jack was not there, but motioning to Mark to
stand still, Bevis went on to where the first railings stretched out
into the water.

There he saw a jack about two pounds' weight basking within an inch of
the surface, and aslant to him.  He lifted his bow before he went near,
shook out the string that it might slip easily like the coil of a
harpoon, fitted the arrow, and holding it almost up, stole closer.  He
knew if he pulled the bow in the usual manner the sudden motion of his
arms would send the jack away in an instant.  With the bow already in
position, he got within six yards of the fish, which, quite still, did
not seem to see anything, but to sleep with eyes wide open in the sun.
The shaft flew, and like another arrow the jack darted aslant into deep

Bevis drew back his arrow with the string, not altogether disappointed,
for it had struck the water very near if not exactly at the place the
fish had occupied.  But he thought the string impeded the shaft, and
took it off for another trial.  Mark would not stay behind; he insisted
upon seeing the shooting, so leaving the catamaran on the grass, they
moved gently along the shore.  After a while they found another jack,
this time much larger, and not less than four pounds' weight, stationary
in a tiny bay, or curve of the land.  He was lying parallel to the
shore, but deeper than the first, perhaps six inches beneath the
surface.  Mark stood where he could see the dark line of the fish, while
Bevis, with the bow lifted and arrow half drawn, took one, two, three,
and almost another step forward.

Aiming steadily at the jack's broad side, just behind the front fins,
where the fish was widest, Bevis grasped his bow firm to keep it from
the least wavering (for it is the left hand that shoots), drew his
arrow, and let go.  So swift was the shaft, unimpeded, and drawn too
this time almost to the head, in traversing the short distance between,
that the jack, quick as he was, could not of himself have escaped.
Bevis saw the arrow enter the water, and, as it seemed to him, strike
the fish.  It did indeed strike the image of the fish, but the real jack
slipped beneath it.

Bevis looked and looked, he was so certain he had hit it, and so he had
hit the mark he aimed at, which was the refraction, but the fish was
unhurt.  It was explained to him afterwards that the fish appears higher
in the water than it actually is, and that to have hit it he should have
aimed two inches underneath, and he proved the truth of it by trying to
touch things in the water with a long stick.  The arrow glanced after
going two feet or so deep, and performed a curve in the water exactly
opposite to that it would have traced in the air.  In the air it would
have curved over, in the water it curved under, and came up to the
surface not very far out; the water checked it so.  Bevis fastened the
string again to another arrow, and shot it out over the first, so that
it caught and held it, and he drew them both back.

They fetched the catamaran, and went on till they came to the point
where there was a wall of stones rudely put together to shield the land
from the full shock of the waves, when the west wind rolled them heavily
from the Indian Ocean and the Golden Sea.  Putting the plank down again,
Mark went forward with his harpoon, for he knew that shoals of fish
often played in the water when it was still, just beneath this rocky
wall.  As he expected, they were there this morning, for the most part
roach, but a few perch.  He knelt and crept out on all fours to the edge
of the wall, leaving his hat on the sward.  Looking over, he could see
to the stony bottom, and as there was not a ripple, he could see

He put his harpoon gently, without a splash, into the sunlit water, and
let it sink slowly in among the shoal.  The roach swam aside a yard or
so from it, but showed no more fear than that it should not touch them.
Mark kept his harpoon still till a larger roach came slowly by within
eighteen inches of the point, when he jerked it at the fish.  It passed
six inches behind his tail, and though Mark tried again and again,
thrusting quickly, he could not strike them with his single point.  To
throw it like a dart he knew was useless, they were too deep down, nor
could he hit so small an object in motion.  He could not do it, but some
days afterwards he struck a small tench in the brook, and got him out.
The tench was still, so that he could put the head of his harpoon almost
on it.

They marched on, and presently launched the catamaran.  It would only
support one at a time astride and half in the water, but it was a
capital thing.  Sitting on it, Bevis paddled along the shore nearly to
the rocky wall and back, but he did not forget his promise, and was not
out of his depth; he could see the stones at the bottom all the time.
Mark tried to stand on the plank, but one edge would go down and pitch
him off.  He next tried to lie on it on his back, and succeeded so long
as he let his legs dangle over each side, and so balanced it.  Then they
stood away, and swam to it as if it had been the last plank of a wreck.

"Look!" said Mark, after they had done this several times.  He was
holding the plank at arm's length with his limbs floating.  "Look!"

"I see.  What is it?"

"This is the way.  We ought to have held the jumping-pole like this.
This is the way to hold an oar and swim."

"So it is," said Bevis, "of course, that's it; we'll have the punt, and
try with a scull."

Held at arm's length, almost anything will keep a swimmer afloat; but if
he puts it under his arm or chest, it takes a good-sized spar.
Splashing about, presently the plank forgotten for the moment slipped
away, and, impelled by the waves they made, floated into deep water.

"I'm sure I could swim to it," said Bevis, and he was inclined to try.

"We promised not," said Mark.

"You stupe--I know that; but if there's a plank, that's not dangerous

"Stupe" was their word for stupid.  He waded out till the water was over
his shoulders, and tried to lift him.

"Don't--don't," said Mark.  Bevis began to lean his chest on the water.

"If you're captain," cried Mark, "you ought not to."

"No more I ought," said Bevis, coming back.  "Get my bow."

"What for?"

"Go and get my bow."

"I shan't, if you say it like that."

"You shall.  Am I not captain?"

Mark was caught by his own argument, and went out on the sward for the

"Tie the arrow on with the string," shouted Bevis.  Mark did it, and
brought it in, keeping it above the surface.  Bevis climbed on the
railings, half out of water, so that he could steady himself with his
knees against the rail.

"Now, give me the bow," he said.  He took good aim, and the nail, filed
to a sharp point, was driven deep into the soft deal of the plank.  With
the string he hauled the catamaran gently back, but it would not come
straight; it slipped sideways (like the boomerang in the air), and came
ashore under the aspen bough.

When they came out they bathed again in the air and the sunshine; they
rolled on the sward, and ran.  Bevis, as he ran and shouted, shot off an
arrow with all his might to see how far it would go.  It went up, up,
and curving over, struck a bough at the top of one of the elms, and
stopped there by the rooks' nests.  Mark shouted and danced on the
bird's-foot lotus, and darted his spear, heedless of the bone-head.  It
went up into the hazel boughs of the hedge among the young nuts, and he
could not get it till dressed, for the thistles.

They ran again and chased each other in and out the sycamore trunks, and
visited the hollow, shouting their loudest, till the distant herd looked
up from their grazing.  The sunlight poured upon them, and the light air
came along; they bathed in air and sunbeam, and gathered years of health
like flowers from the field.

After they had dressed they took the catamaran to the quarry to leave it
there (somewhat out of sight lest any one should take it for firewood),
so as to save the labour of carrying it to and fro.  There was a savage
of another tribe in the quarry, and they crept on all fours, taking
great pains that he should not see them.  It was the old man who was
supposed to look after the boats, and generally to watch the water.  Had
they not been so occupied they would have heard the thump, thump of the
sculls as he rowed, or rather moved the punt up to where the narrow
mound separated the New, Sea from the quarry.

He was at work scooping out some sand, and filling sacks with the best,
with which cargo he would presently voyage home, and retail it to the
dairymaids and at the roadside inns to eke out that spirit of
juniper-berries needful to those who have dwelt long by marshy places.
They need not have troubled to conceal themselves from this stranger
savage; he would not have seen them if they had stood close by him.  A
narrow life narrows the sweep of the eye.  Miserable being, he could see
no farther than one of the mussels of the lake which travel in a groove.
His groove led to the sanded inn-kitchen, and his shell was shut to all
else.  But they crept like skirmishers, dragging the catamaran
laboriously behind them, using every undulation of the ground to hide
themselves, till they had got it into the hollow, where they left it
beside a heap of stones.  Then they had to crawl out again, and for
thirty yards along the turf, till they could stand up unseen.

"Let's get the poison," said Mark, as they were going home.

So they searched for the poison-plants.  The woody nightshade they knew
very well, having been warned long ago against the berries.  It was now
only in flower, and it would be some time before there were any berries;
but after thinking it over they decided to gather a bundle of stalks,
and soak them for the deadly juice.  There were stems of arum in the
ditches, tipped with green berries.  These they thought would do, but
shrank from touching.  The green looked unpleasant and slimy.

Next they hunted for mandragora, of which John Young had given them an
account.  It grew in waste places, and by the tombs in the churchyard,
and shrieked while you pulled it up.  This they could not find.  Mark
said perhaps it wanted an enchanter to discover it, but he gathered a
quantity of the dark green milfoil from the grass beside the hedge and
paths, and crammed his pockets with it.  Some of the lads had told him
that it was a deadly poison.  It is the reverse--thus reputation
varies--for it was used to cure mediaeval sword-cuts.  They passed the
water-parsnip, unaware of its pernicious qualities, looking for noisome

"There's another kind of nightshade," said Bevis; "because I read about
it in that old book indoors, and it's much stronger than this.  We must
have some of it."

They looked a long time, but could not find it; and, full of their
direful object, did not heed sounds of laughter on the other side of the
hedge they were searching, till they got through a gap and jumped into
the midst of a group of haymakers resting for lunch.  The old men had
got a little way apart by themselves, for they wanted to eat like Pan.
All the women were together in a "gaggle," a semicircle of them sitting
round a young girl who lounged on a heap of mown grass, with a huge
labourer lying full length at her feet.  She had a piece of honey suckle
in her hand, and he had a black wooden "bottle" near him.

There was a courting going on between these two, and all the other
women, married and single, collected round them, to aid in the business
with jokes and innuendoes.

Bevis and Mark instantly recognised in the girl the one who at "Calais"
had shown them the road home, and in the man at her feet the fellow who
was asleep on the flint heap.

Her large eyes, like black cherries--for black eyes and black cherries
have a faint tint of red behind them--were immediately bent full on
Bevis as she rose and curtseyed to him.  Her dress at the throat had
come unhooked, and showed the line to which the sun had browned her, and
where the sweet clear whiteness of the untouched skin began.  The soft
roundness of the swelling plum as it ripens filled her common print,
torn by briars, with graceful contours.  In the shadow of the oak her
large black eyes shone larger, loving and untaught.

Bevis did not speak.  He and Mark were a little taken aback, having
jumped through the gap so suddenly from savagery into haymaking.  They
hastened through a gateway into another field.

"How you do keep a-staring arter they!" said the huge young labourer to
the girl.  "Yen you seen he afore?  It's onely our young measter."

"I knows," said the girl, sitting down as Bevis and Mark disappeared
through the gateway.  "He put a bough on you to keep the flies off while
you were sleeping."

"Did a'?  Then why didn't you axe 'un for a quart?"

She had slipped along the fields by the road that day, and had seen
Bevis put the bough over her lover's face as he slept on the flint
heap--where she left him.  The grateful labourer's immediate idea was to
ask Bevis for some beer.

Behind the hedge Bevis and Mark continued their search for deadly
poison.  They took some "gix," but were not certain that it was the true

"There's a sort of sorrel that's poison," said Mark.

"And heaps of roots," said Bevis.

They were now near home, and went in to extract the essence from the
plants they had.  The nightshade yielded very little juice from its
woody bines, or stalks; the "gix" not much more: the milfoil, well
bruised and squeezed, gave most.  They found three small phials, the
nightshade and "gix" only filled a quarter of the phials used for them:
Mark had a phial three-parts full of milfoil.  These they arranged in a
row on the bench in the bench-room under the crossbow and boomerang, for
future use in war.  They did not dip their arrows or harpoon in yet,
lest they should poison any fish or animal they might kill, and so
render it unfit for food.

Volume One, Chapter XII.


The same evening, having got a great plateful of cherries, they went to
work in the bench-room to cut out the sails from the parcel of canvas.
There had been cherries in town weeks before, but these were the first
considered ripe in the country, which is generally later.  With a cherry
in his mouth, Bevis spread the canvas out upon the floor, and marked it
with his pencil.  The rig was to be fore and aft, a mainsail and jib;
the mast and gaff, or as they called it, the yard, were already
finished.  It took forty cherries to get it cut out properly, then they
threw the other pieces aside, and placed the sails on the floor in the
position they would be when fixed.

"You are sure they're not too big," said Mark, "if a white squall

"There are no white squalls now," said Bevis on his knees, thoughtfully
sucking a cherry-stone.  "It's cyclones now.  The sails are just the
right size, and of course we can take in a reef.  You cut off--let me
see--twenty bits of string, a foot--no, fifteen inches long: it's for
the reefs."

Mark began to measure off the string from a quantity of the largest
make, which they had bought for the purpose.

"There's the block," he said.  "How are you going to manage about the
pulley to haul up the mainsail?"

"The block's a bore," mused Bevis, rolling his cherry-stone about.  "I
don't think we could make one--"

"Buy one."

"Pooh!  There's nothing in Latten; why you can't buy anything."  Mark
was silent, he knew it was true.  "If we make a slit in the mast and put
a little wheel in off a window-blind or something--"

"That would do first-rate."

"No it wouldn't; it would weaken the mast, stupe, and the first cyclone
would snap it."

"So it would.  Then we should drift ashore and get eaten."

"Most likely."

"Well, bore a hole and put the cord through that; that would not weaken
it much."

"No; but I know!  A curtain-ring!  Don't you see, you fasten the
curtain-ring, it's brass, to the mast, and put the rope through, and it
runs easy--brass is smooth."

"Of course.  Who's that?"

Some small stones came rattling in at the open window, and two voices

"I say.  Holloa!"

Bevis and Mark went to the window and saw two of their friends, Bill and
Wat, on the garden path below.

"When's the war going to begin?" asked Wat.

"Tell us about the war," said Bill.

"The war's not ready," said Bevis.

"Well how long is it going to be?"

"Make haste."

"Everybody's ready."

"Lots of them.  Do you think you shall want any more?"

"I know six," said a third voice, and Tim came round the corner, having
waited to steal a strawberry, "and one's a whopper."

"Let's begin."

"Now then."

"O! don't make such a noise," said Bevis.  The sails and the savages had
rather put the war aside, but Mark had talked of it to others, and the
idea spread in a minute; everybody jumped at it, and all the cry was

"Make me lieutenant," said Andrew, appearing from the orchard.

"I want to carry the flag."

"Come down and tell us."

"How are we to tell you if you keep talking?" said Mark; Bevis put his
head out of window by the pears, and they were quiet.

"I tell you the war's not ready," he said; "and you're as bad as
rebels--I mean you're a mutiny to come here before you're sent for, and
you ought to be shot,"--("Executed," whispered Mark behind
him)--"executed, of course."

"How are we to know when it's ready?"

"You'll be summoned," said Bevis.  "There will be a muster-roll and a
trumpet blown, and you'll have to march a thousand miles."

"All right."

"And the swords have to be made, and the eagles, besides the map of the
roads and the grub,"--("Provisions," said Mark)--"provisions, of course,
and all the rest, and how do you think a war is to be got ready in a
minute, you stupes!" in a tone of great indignation.

They grumbled: they wanted a big battle on the spot.

"If you bother me much," said Bevis, "while I'm getting the fleet ready,
there shan't be a war at all."

"Are you getting a fleet?"

"Here are the sails," said Mark, holding up some canvas.

"Well, you won't be long?"

"You'll let us know?"

"Shall we tell anybody else?"

"Lots," said Bevis; "tell lots.  We're going to have the biggest armies
ever seen."

"Thousands," said Mark.  "Millions!"

"Millions!" said Bevis.

"Hurrah!" they shouted.

"Here," said Bevis, throwing the remainder of the cherries out like a
shower among them.

"Are you coming to quoits?"

"O! no," said Mark, "we have so much to do; now go away."  The soldiery
moved off through the garden, snatching lawlessly at any fruit they saw.

"Mark," said Bevis on his knees again, "these sails will have to be
hemmed, you know."

"So they will."

"We can't do it.  You must take them home to Frances, and make her
stitch them; roll them up and go directly."

"I don't want to go home," said Mark.  "And perhaps she won't stitch

"I'm sure she will; she will do anything for me."

"So she will," said Mark rather sullenly.  "Everybody does everything
for you."

Bevis had rolled up the sails, quite indifferent as to what people did
for him, and put them into Mark's unwilling hands.

"Now you can have the donkey, and mind and come back before breakfast."

"I can't catch him," said Mark.

"No; no more can I--stop.  John Young's sure to be in the stable, he

"Ah," said Mark, brightening up a little, "that moke is a beast."

John Young, having stipulated for a "pot," went to catch the donkey;
they sat down in the shed to wait for him, but as he did not come for
some time they went after him.  They met him in the next field leading
the donkey with a halter, and red as fire from running.  They took the
halter and sent John away for the "pot."  There was a wicked thought in
their hearts, and they wanted witnesses away.  So soon as John had gone,
Mark looked at Bevis, and Bevis looked at Mark.  Mark growled, Bevis
stamped his feet.

"Beast!" said Mark.

"Wretch!" said Bevis.

"You--you--you, Thing," said Mark; they ground their teeth, and glared
at the animal.  They led him all fearful to a tree, a little tree but
stout enough; it was an ash, and it grew somewhat away from the hedge.
They tied him firmly to the tree, and then they scourged this miserable

All the times they had run in vain to catch him; all the times they had
had to walk when they might have ridden one behind the other on his
back; all his refusals to be tempted; all the wrongs they had endured at
his heels boiled in their breasts.  They broke their sticks upon his
back, they cut new ones, and smashed them too, they hurled the fragments
at him, and then got some more.  They thrashed, thwacked, banged,
thumped, poked, prodded, kicked, belaboured, bumped, and hit him,
working themselves into a frenzy of rage.

Mark fetched a pole to knock him the harder as it was heavy; Bevis
crushed into the hedge, and brought out a dead log to hurl at him, a log
he could but just lift and swung to throw with difficulty,--the same
Bevis who put an aspen leaf carefully under the fly to save it from
drowning.  The sky was blue, and the evening beautiful, but no one came
to help the donkey.

When they were tired, they sat down and rested, and after they were
cooler and had recovered from the fatigue, they loosed him--quite cowed
this time and docile, and Mark, with the parcel of sails, got on his
back.  After all this onslaught there did not seem any difference in him
except that his coat had been well dusted.  This immunity aggravated
them; they could not hurt him.

"Put him in the stable all night," said Bevis, "and don't give him
anything to eat."

"And no water," said Mark, as he rode off.  "So I will."

And so he did.  But the donkey had cropped all day, and was full, and
just before John Young caught him had had a draught, rather unusual for
him and equal to an omen, at the drinking-place by the raft.  The donkey
slept, and beat them.

After Mark had gone Bevis returned to the bench-room, and fastened a
brass curtain-ring to the mast, which they had carried up there.  When
he had finished, noticing the three phials of poison he thought he would
go and see if he could find out any more fatal plants.  There was an
ancient encyclopaedia in the bookcase, in which he had read many curious
things, such as would not be considered practical enough for modern
publication, which must be dry or nothing.  Among the rest was a page of
chemical signs and those used by the alchemists, some of which he had
copied off for magic.  Pulling out the volumes, which were piled
haphazard, like bricks shot out of a cart, there was one that had all
the alphabets employed in the different languages, Coptic, Gothic,
Ethiopic, Syriac, and so on.

The Arabic took his fancy as the most mysterious--the sweeping curves,
the quivering lines, the blots where the reed pen thickened, there was
no knowing what such writing might not mean.  How mystic the lettering
which forms the running ornament of the Alhambra!  It is the writing of
the Orient, of the alchemist and enchanter, the astrologer and the

Bevis copied the alphabet, and then he made a roll of a broad sheet of
yellowish paper torn from the end of one of the large volumes, a
fly-leaf, and wrote the letters upon it in such a manner as their shape
and flowing contour arranged themselves.  With these he mingled the
alchemic signs for fire and air and water, and so by the time the dusk
crept into the parlour and filled it with shadow he had completed a
manuscript.  This he rolled up and tied with string, intending to bury
it in the sand of the quarry, so that when they sailed round in the ship
they might land and discover it.

Mark returned to breakfast, and said that Frances had promised to hem
the sails, and thought it would not take long.  Bevis showed him the

"It looks magic," said Mark.  "What does it mean?"

"I don't know," said Bevis.  "That is what we shall have to find out
when we discover it.  Besides the magic is never in the writing; it is
what you see when you read it--it's like looking in a looking-glass, and
seeing people moving about a thousand miles away."

"I know," said Mark.  "We can put it in a sand-martin's hole, then it
won't get wet if it rains."

They started for the bathing-place, and carefully deposited the roll in
a sand-martin's hole some way up the face of the quarry, covering it
with sand.  To know the spot again, they counted and found it was the
third burrow to the right, if you stood by the stone heap and looked
straight towards the first sycamore-tree.  Having taken the bearings,
they dragged the catamaran down to the water, and had a swim.  When they
came out, and were running about on the high ground by the sycamores,
they caught sight of a dog-cart slowly crossing the field a long way
off, and immediately hid behind a tree to reconnoitre the new savage,
themselves unseen.

"It's Jack," said Bevis; "I'm sure it is."  It was Jack, and he was
going at a walking pace, because the track across the field was rough,
and he did not care to get to the gateway before the man sent to open it
had arrived there.  His object was to look at some grass to rent for his

"Yes, it's Jack," said Mark, very slowly and doubtfully.  Bevis looked
at him.

"Well, suppose it is; he won't hurt us.  We can easily shoot him if he
comes here."

"But the letter," said Mark.

"What letter?"

Mark had started for his clothes, which were in a heap on the sward, he
seized his coat, and drew a note much frayed from one of the pockets.
He looked at it, heaved a deep sigh, and ran with all his might to
intercept Jack.  Bevis watched him tearing across the field and laughed;
then he sat down on the grass to wait for him.

Mark, out of breath and with thistles in his feet, would never have
overtaken the dog-cart had not Jack seen him coming and stopped.  He
could not speak, but handed up the note in silence, more like Cupid than
messengers generally.  He panted so that he could not run away directly,
as he had intended.

"You rascal," said Jack, flicking at him with his whip.  "How long have
you had this in your pocket?"

Mark tried to run away, he could only trot; Jack turned his mare's head,
as if half-inclined to drive after him.

"If you come," said Mark, shaking his fist, "we'll shoot you and stick a
spear into you.  Aha! you're afraid! aha!"

Jack was too eager to read his note to take vengeance.  Mark walked away
jeering at him.  The reins hung down, and the mare cropped as the master
read.  Mark laughed to think he had got off so easily, for the letter
had been in his pocket a week, though he had faithfully promised to
deliver it the same day--for a shilling.  Had he not been sent home with
the sails it might have remained another week till the envelope was
fretted through.

Frances asked if he had given it to Jack.

Mark started.  "Ah," said she, "you have forgotten it."

"Of course I have," said Mark.  "It's so long ago."

"Then you did really?"

"How stupid you are," said Mark; and Frances could not press him
further, lest she should seem too anxious about Jack.  So the young dog
escaped, but he did not dare delay longer, and had not Jack happened to
cross the field meant to have ridden up to his house on the donkey.
When Jack had read the note he looked at the retreating figure of Cupid
and opened his lips, but caught his breath as it were and did not say
it.  He put his whip aside as he drove on, lest he should unjustly
punish the mare.

Mark strolled leisurely back to the bathing-place, but when he got there
Bevis was not to be seen.  He looked round at the water, the quarry, the
sycamore-trees.  He ran down to the water's edge with his heart beating
and a wild terror causing a whirling sensation in his eyes, for the
thought in the instant came to him that Bevis had gone out of his depth.
He tried to shout "Bevis!" but he was choked; he raised his hands; as
he looked across the water he suddenly saw something white moving among
the fir-trees at the head of the gulf.

He knew it was Bevis, but he was so overcome he sat down on the sward to
watch, he could not stand up.  The something white was stealthily
passing from tree to tree like an Indian.  Mark looked round, and saw
his own harpoon on the grass, but at once missed the bow and arrows.
His terror had suspended his observation, else he would have noticed
this before.

Bevis, when Mark ran with the letter to Jack, had sat down on the sward
to wait for him, and by-and-by, while still, and looking out over the
water, his quiet eye became conscious of a slight movement opposite at
the mouth of the Nile.  There was a ripple, and from the high ground
where he sat he could see the reflection of the trees in the water there
undulate, though their own boughs shut off the light air from the
surface.  He got up, took his bow and arrows, and went into the firs.
The dead dry needles or leaves on the ground felt rough to his naked
feet, and he had to take care not to step on the hard cones.  A few
small bramble bushes forced him to go aside, so that it took him some
little time to get near the Nile.

Then he had to always keep a tree trunk in front of him, and to step
slowly that his head might not be seen before he could see what it was
himself.  He stooped as the ripples on the other side of the brook
became visible; then gradually lifting his head, sheltered by a large
alder, he traced the ripples back to the shore under the bank, and saw a
moorcock feeding by the roots of a willow.  Bevis waited till the cock
turned his back, then he stole another step forward to the alder.

It was about ten yards to the willow which hung over the water, but he
could not get any nearer, for there was no more cover beyond the alder--
the true savage is never content unless he is close to his game.  Bevis
grasped his bow firm in his left hand, drew the arrow quick but
steadily--not with a jerk--and as the sharp point covered the bird,
loosed it.  There was a splash and a fluttering, he knew instantly that
he had hit.  "Mark!  Mark!" he shouted, and ran down the bank, heedless
of the jagged stones.  Mark heard, and came racing through the firs.

The arrow had struck the moorcock's wing, but even then the bird would
have got away, for the point had no barb, and in diving and struggling
it would have come out, had not he been so near the willow.  The spike
went through his wing and nailed it to a thick root; the arrow quivered
as it was stopped by the wood.  Bevis seized him by the neck and drew
the arrow out.

"Kill him!  Kill him!" shouted Mark.  The other savage pulled the neck,
and Mark, leaping down the jagged stones, took the dead bird in his
eager hands.

"Here's where the arrow went in."

"There's three feathers in the water."

"Feel how warm he is."

"Look at the thick red on his bill."

"See his claws."


"Let's eat him."


"No.  Cook him."

"All right.  Make a fire."

Thus the savages gloated over their prey.  They went back up the bank
and through the firs to the sward.

"Where shall we make the fire?" said Mark.  "In the quarry?"

"That old stupe may come for sand."

"So he may.  Let's make it here."

"Everybody would see."

"By the hedge towards the elms then."

"No.  I know, in the hollow."

"Of course, nobody would come there."

"Pick up some sticks."

"Come and help me."

"I shall dress--there are brambles."

So they dressed, and then found that Mark had broken a nail, and Bevis
had cut his foot with the sharp edge of a fossil shell projecting from
one of the stones.  But that was nothing, they could think of nothing
but the bird.  While they were gathering armsful of dead sticks from
among the trees, they remembered that John Young, who always paunched
the rabbits and hares and got everything ready for the kitchen, said
coots and moorhens must be skinned, they could not be plucked because of
the "dowl."

Dowl is the fluff, the tiny featherets no fingers can remove.  So after
they had carried the wood they had collected to the round hollow in the
field beyond the sycamore-trees, they took out their knives, and haggled
the skin off.  They built their fire very skilfully; they had made so
many in the Peninsula (for there is nothing so pleasant as making a fire
out of doors), that they had learnt exactly how to do it.  Two short
sticks were stuck in the ground and a third across to them, like a
triangle.  Against this frame a number of the smallest and driest sticks
were leaned, so that they made a tiny hut.  Outside these there was a
second layer of longer sticks; all standing, or rather leaning against
the first.

If a stick is placed across, lying horizontally, supposing it catches
fire, it just burns through the middle and that is all, the ends go out.
If it is stood nearly upright, the flame draws up it; it is certain to
catch; it burns longer and leaves a good ember.  They arranged the rest
of their bundles ready to be thrown on when wanted, and then put some
paper, a handful of dry grass, and a quantity of the least and driest
twigs, like those used in birds'-nests, inside the little hut.  Then
having completed the pile they remembered they had no matches.

"It's very lucky," said Bevis.  "If we had we should have to throw them
away.  Matches are not proper."

"Two pieces of wood," said Mark.  "I know; you rub them together till
they catch fire, and one piece must be hard and the other soft."

"Yes," said Bevis, and taking out his knife he cut off the end of one of
the larger dead branches they had collected, and made a smooth side to
it.  Mark had some difficulty in finding a soft piece to rub on it, for
those which touched soft crumbled when rubbed on the hard surface Bevis
had prepared.

A bit of willow seemed best, and Bevis seizing it first, rubbed it to
and fro till his arm ached and his face glowed.  Mark, lying on the
grass, watched to see the slight tongue of flame shoot up, but it did
not come.

Bevis stopped, tired, and putting his hand on the smooth surface found
it quite warm, so that they had no doubt they could do it in time.  Mark
tried next, and then Bevis again, and Mark followed him; but though the
wood became warm it would not burst into flame, as it ought to have

Volume One, Chapter XIII.


"This is very stupid," said Bevis, throwing himself back at full length
on the grass, and crossing his arms over his face to shield his eyes
from the sun.

"They ought not to tell us such stupid things," said Mark.  "We might
rub all day."

"I know," said Bevis, sitting up again.  "It's a drill; it's done with a
drill.  Give me my bow--there, don't you know how Jonas made the hole in
Tom's gun?"

Jonas the blacksmith, a clever fellow in his way, drilled out a broken
nipple in the bird-keeper's muzzle-loading gun, working the drill with a
bow.  Bevis and Mark, always on the watch everywhere, saw him do it.

They cut a notch or hole in the hard surface of the thicker bough, and
shaped another piece of wood to a dull point to fit in it.  Bevis took
this, placed it against the string of his bow, and twisted the string
round it.  Then he put the point of the stick in the hole; Mark held the
bough firm on the ground, but immediately he began to work the bow
backwards and forwards, rotating the drill alternate ways, he found that
the other end against which he pressed with his chest would quickly fray
a hole in his jacket.  They had to stop and cut another piece of wood
with a hole to take the top of the drill, and Bevis now pressed on this
with his left hand (finding that it did not need the weight of his
chest), and worked the bow with his right.

The drill revolved swiftly, it was really very near the savages'
fire-drill; but the expected flame did not come.  The wood was not dry
enough, or the point of friction was not accurately adjusted; the wood
became quite hot, but did not ignite.  You may have the exact machinery
and yet not be able to use it, the possession of the tools does not make
the smith.  There is an indefinite something in the touch of the
master's hand which is wanting.

Bevis flung down the bow without a word, heaving a deep sigh of rage.

"Flint and steel," said Mark presently.


"There's a flint in the gateway," continued Mark.  "I saw it just now;
and you can knock it against the end of your knife--"

"You stupe; there's no tinder."

"No more there is."

"I hate it--it's horrid," said Bevis.  "What's the use of trying to do
things when everything can't be done?"

He sat on his heels as he knelt, and looked round scowling.  There was
the water--no fire to be obtained from thence; there was the broad
field--no fire there; there was the sun overhead.

"Go home directly, and get a burning-glass--unscrew the telescope."

"Is it proper?" said Mark, not much liking the journey.

"It's not matches," said Bevis sententiously.

Mark knew it was of no use, he had to go, and he went, taking off his
jacket before he started, as he meant to run a good part of the way.  It
was not really far, but as his mind was at the hollow all the while the
time seemed twice as long.  After he had gone Bevis soon found that the
sunshine was too warm to sit in, though while they had been so busy and
working their hardest they had never noticed it.  Directly the current
of occupation was interrupted the sun became unbearable.  Bevis went to
the shadow of the sycamores, taking the skinned bird with him, lest a
wandering beast of prey--some weasel or jackal--should pounce on it.

He thought Mark was a very long time gone; he got up and walked round
the huge trunk of the sycamore, and looked up into it to see if any
immense boa-constrictor was coiled among its great limbs.  He thought
they would some day build a hut up there on a platform of poles.  Far
out over the water he saw the Unknown Island, and remembered that when
they sailed there in the ship there was no knowing what monsters or what
enchantments they might encounter.  So he walked out from the trees into
the field to look for some moly to take with them, and resist Circe.

The bird's-foot lotus he knew was not it.  There was one blue spot of
veronica still, and another tiny blue flower which he did not know,
besides the white honeysuckle clover at which the grey bees were busy,
and would scarce stir from under his footsteps.  He found three button
mushrooms, and put them in his pocket.  Wandering on among the buttercup
stalks and bunches of grass, like a butterfly drawn hither and thither
by every speck of colour, he came to a little white flower on a slender
stem a few inches high, which he gathered for moly.  Putting the
precious flower--good against sorcery--in his breast-pocket for safety,
he rose from his knees, and saw Mark coming by the sycamores.

Mark was hot and tired with running, yet he had snatched time enough to
bring four cherries for Bevis.  He had the burning-glass--a lens
unscrewed from the telescope, and sitting on the grass they focussed the
sun's rays on a piece of paper.  The lens was powerful and the summer
sun bright, so that in a few seconds there was a tiny black speck, then
the faintest whiff of bluish smoke, then a leap of flame, and soon
another, till the paper burned, and their fire was lit.  As the little
hut blazed up they put some more boughs on, and the dead leaves attached
to them sent up a thin column of smoke.

"The savages will see that," said Mark, "and come swarming down from the

"We ought to have made the fire in a hole," said Bevis, "and put turf on

"What ever shall we do?" said Mark.  "They'll be here in a minute."

"Fetich," said Bevis.  "I know, cut that stick sharp at the end, tie a
handful of grass on it--be quick--and run down towards the elms and
stick it up.  Then they'll think we're doing fetich, and won't come any

"First-rate," said Mark, and off he went with the stick, and thrust it
into the sward with a wisp of grass tied to the top.  Bevis piled on the
branches, and when he came back there was a large fire.  Then the
difficulty was how to cook the bird?  If they put it on the ashes, it
would burn and be spoiled; if they hung it up, they could not make it
twist round and round, and they had no iron pot to boil it; or
earthenware pot to drop red-hot stones in, and so heat the water without
destroying the vessel.  The only thing they could do was to stick it on
a stick, and hold it to the fire till it was roasted, one side at a

"The harpoon will do," said Bevis.  "Spit him on it."

"No," said Mark; "the bone will burn and get spoiled--spit him on your

"The nail will burn out and spoil my arrow, and I've lost one in the
elms.  Go and cut a long stick."

"You ought to go and do it," said Mark; "I've done everything this

"So you have; I'll go," said Bevis and away; he went to the nut-tree
hedge.  He soon brought back a straight hazel-rod to which he cut a
point, the bird was spitted, and they held it by turns at the fire,
sitting on the sward.

It was very warm in the round, bowl-like hollow, the fire at the bottom
and the sun overhead, but they were too busy to heed it.  Mark crept on
hands and knees up the side of the hollow while Bevis was cooking, and
cautiously peered over the edge to see if any savages were near.  There
were none in sight; the fetich kept them at a distance.

"We must remember to take the burning-glass with us when we go on our
voyage," said Bevis.

"Perhaps the sun won't shine."

"No.  Mind you tell me, we will take some matches, too; and if the sun
shines use the glass, and if he doesn't, strike a match."

"We shall want a camp-fire when we go to war," said Mark.

"Of course we shall."

"Everybody keeps on about the war," said Mark.  "They're always at me."

"I found these buttons," said Bevis; "I had forgotten them."

He put the little mushrooms, stems upwards, on some embers which had
fallen apart from the main fire.  The branches as they burned became
white directly, coated over with a film of ash, so that except just in
the centre they did not look red, though glowing with heat under the
white layer.  Even the flames were but just visible in the brilliant
sunshine, and were paler in colour than those of the hearth.  Now and
then the thin column of grey smoke, rising straight up out of the
hollow, was puffed aside at its summit by the light air wandering over
the field.  As the butterflies came over the edge of the hollow into the
heated atmosphere, they fluttered up high to escape it.

"I'm sure it's done," said Mark, drawing the stick away from the fire.
The bird was brown and burnt in one place, so they determined to eat it
and not spoil it by over-roasting.  When Bevis began to carve it with
his pocket-knife he found one leg quite raw, the wings were burnt, but
there was a part of the breast and the other leg fairly well cooked.
These they ate, little pieces at a time, slowly, and in silence, for it
was proper to like it.  But they did not pick the bones clean.

"No salt," said Mark, putting down the piece he had in his hand.

"No bread," said Bevis, flinging the leg away.

"We don't do it right somehow," said Mark.  "It takes such a long time
to learn to be savages."

"Years," said Bevis, picking a mushroom from the embers, it burned his
fingers and he had to wait till it was cooler.  The mushrooms were
better, their cups held some of the juice as they cooked, retaining the
sweet flavour.  They were so small, they were but a bite each.

"I am thirsty," said Mark.  Bevis was the same, so they went down
towards the water.  Mark began to run down the slope, when Bevis
suddenly remembered.

"Stop," he cried; "you can't drink there."

"Why not?"

"Why of course it's the New Sea.  We must go round to the Nile; it's
fresh water there."

So they ran through the firs to the Nile, and lapped from the brook.  On
the way home a little boy stepped out from the trees on the bank where
it was high, and he could look down at them.

"I say!"--he had been waiting for them--"say!"

"Well!" growled Mark.

"Bevis," said the boy.  Bevis looked up, he could not demean himself to
answer such a mite.  The boy looked round to see that he was sure of his
retreat through the trees to the gap in the hedge he could crawl
through, but they would find it difficult.  Besides, they would have to
run up the bank, which was thick with brambles.  He got his courage
together and shouted in his shrill little voice,--

"I say, Ted says he shan't play if you don't have war soon."

Mark picked up a dead branch and hurled it at the mite; the mite dodged
it, and it broke against a tree, then he ran for his life, but they did
not follow.  Bevis said nothing till they reached the blue summer-house
at home and sat down.  Then he yawned.

"War is a bother," he said, putting his hands in his pockets, and
leaning back in an attitude of weary despair at having to do something.
If the rest would not have played, he would have egged them on with
furious energy till they did.  As they were eager he did not care.

"O! well!" said Mark, nodding his head up and down as he spoke, as much
as to indicate that he did not care personally; but still, "O! well! all
I know is, if you don't go to war Ted will have one all to himself, and
have a battle with somebody else.  I believe he sent Charlie."  Charlie
was the mite.

"Did he say he would have a war all to himself?" said Bevis, sitting

"I don't know," said Mark, nodding his head.  "They say lots of things."

"What do they say?"

"O! heaps; perhaps you don't know how to make war, and perhaps--"

"I'll have the biggest war," said Bevis, getting up, "that was ever
known, and Ted's quite stupid.  Mind, he doesn't have any more cherries,
that's certain.  I hate him--awfully!  Let's make the swords."

"All right," said Mark, jumping up, delighted that the war was going to
begin.  He was as eager as the others, only he did not dare say so.
Most of the afternoon they were cutting sticks for swords, and measuring
them so as to have all the same length.

Next morning the governor went with them to bathe, as he wanted to see
how they were getting on with their swimming.  They had the punt, and
the governor stopped it about twenty yards from the shore, to which they
had to swim.  Bevis dived first, and with some blowing and spluttering
and splashing managed to get to where he could bottom with his feet.  He
could have gone further than that, but it was a new feeling to know that
he was out of his depth, and it made him swim too fast and splash.  Mark
having seen that Bevis could do it, and knowing he could swim as far as
Bevis could, did it much better.

The governor was satisfied and said they could now have the blue boat,
but on two conditions, first, that they still kept their promise not to
go out of their depth, and secondly, that they were to try and see every
day how far they could swim along the shore.  He guessed they had rather
neglected their swimming; having learnt the art itself they had not
tried to improve themselves.  He said he should come with them once or
twice a week, and see them dive from the punt so as to get used to deep

If they would practise along the shore in their depth till they could
swim from the rocky point to the rails, about seventy yards, he would
give them each a present, and they could then go out of their depth.  He
was obliged to be careful about the depth till they could swim a good
way, because he could not be always with them, and fresh water is not so
buoyant as the sea, so that young swimmers soon tire.

The same day they carried the mast up, and fitted it in the hole in the
thwart.  The mast was a little too large, but that was soon remedied.
The bowsprit was lashed to the ring to which the painter was fastened,
and at its inner end to the seat and mast.  Next the gaff was tried, and
drew up and down fairly well through the curtain-ring.  But one thing
they had overlooked--the sheets, or ropes for the jib, must work through
something, and they had not provided any staples.  Besides this, there
was the rudder to be fitted with a tiller instead of the ropes.  Somehow
they did not like ropes; it did not look like a ship.  This instinct was
right, for ropes are not of much use when sailing; you have no power on
the rudder as with a tiller.

After fitting the mast and bowsprit they unshipped them, and carried
them home for safety till the sails were ready.  Bevis wanted Mark to go
and ask Frances to be quick, but Mark was afraid to return just yet, as
Frances would now know from Jack that he had forgotten the letter.
Every now and then bundles of sticks for swords, and longer ones for
spears and darts, and rods for arrows, were brought in by the soldiery.
All these were taken upstairs into the bench-room, or armoury, because
they did not like their things looked at or touched, and there was a
look and key to that room.  Bevis always kept the key in his pocket now.

They could not fit a head to the oyster barrel for the fresh water on
the voyage, but found a large round tin canister with a tight lid, such
as contain cornflour, and which would go inside the oyster barrel.  The
tin canister would hold water, and could be put in the barrel, so as to
look proper.  More sticks kept coming, and knobbed clubs, till the
armoury was crowded with the shafts of weapons.  Now that Bevis had
consented to go to war, all the rest were eager to serve him, so that he
easily got a messenger to take a note (as Mark was afraid to go) to
Frances to be quick with the stitching.

In the evening Bevis tore another broad folio page or fly-leaf from one
of the big books in the parlour, and took it out into the summer-house,
where they kept an old chair--the back gone--which did very well for a
table.  Cutting his pencil, Bevis took his hat off and threw it on the
seat which ran round inside; then kneeling down, as the table was so
low, he proceeded to draw his map of the coming campaign.

Volume One, Chapter XIV.


"I say!"


"Saint George is right--"

"Hold your tongue."

"Pikes twenty feet long."

"Marching two and two."

"Do stop."

"I shall be general."

"That you won't."

"Romans had shields."

"Battleaxes are best."

"Knobs with spikes."

"I say--I say!"

"You're a donkey!"

"They had flags--"

"And drums."

"I've got a flute."



"Yes, _me_."



"If you hit me, I'll hit you."



"Be quiet."

"Go on."

"Let's begin."

"I will,"--buzz--buzz--buzz!

Phil, Tom, Ted, Jim, Frank, Walter, Bill, "Charl," Val, Bob, Cecil, Sam,
Fred, George, Harry, Michael, Jack, Andrew, Luke, and half a dozen more
were talking all together, shouting across each other, occasionally
fighting, wrestling, and rolling over on the sward under an oak.  There
were two up in the tree, bellowing their views from above, and little
Charlie ("Charl") was astride of a bough which he had got hold of,
swinging up and down, and yelling like the rest.  Some stood by the edge
of the water, for the oak was within a few yards of the New Sea, and
alternately made ducks and drakes, and turned to contradict their

On higher ground beyond, a herd of cows grazed in perfect peace, while
the swallows threaded a maze in and out between them, but just above the
grass.  The New Sea was calm and smooth as glass, the sun shone in a
cloudless sky, so that the shadow of the oak was pleasant; but the
swallows had come down from the upper air, and Bevis, as he stood a
little apart listening in an abstracted manner to the uproar, watched
them swiftly gliding in and out.  He had convened a council of all those
who wanted to join the war in the fields, because it seemed best to keep
the matter secret, which could not be done if they came to the house,
else perhaps the battle would be interfered with.  This oak was chosen
as it was known to every one.

It grew alone in the meadow, and far from any path, so that they could
talk as they liked.  They had hardly met ten minutes when the confusion
led to frequent blows and pushes, and the shouting was so great that no
one could catch more than disjointed sentences.  Mark now came running
with the map in his hand; it had been forgotten, and he had been sent to
fetch it.  As he came near, and they saw him, there was a partial lull.

"What an awful row you have been making," he said, "I heard it all
across the field.  Why don't you choose sides?"

"Who's to choose?" said Ted, as if he did not know that he should be one
of the leaders.  He was the tallest and biggest of them all, a head and
shoulders above Bevis.

"You, of course," came in chorus.

"And you needn't look as if you didn't want to," shouted somebody, at
which there was a laugh.

"Now, Bevis, Bevis!  Sides."  They crowded round, and pulled Bevis into
the circle.

"Best two out of three," said Mark.  "Here's a penny."

"Lend me one," said Ted.

Phil handed him the coin.

"You'll never get it back," cried one of the crowd.  Ted was rather
known for borrowing on the score of his superior strength.

"Bevis, you're dreaming," as Bevis stood quiet and motionless, still in
his far-away mood.  "Toss."

Bevis tossed, the penny spun, and he caught it on the back of his hand;
Mark nudged him.


"Head," said Ted.  Mark nudged again; but it was a head.  Mark stamped
his foot.

"Tail," and it was a tail; Ted won the toss.

"I told you how to do it," whispered Mark to Bevis in a fierce whisper,
"and you didn't."

"Choose," shouted everybody.  Ted beckoned to Val, who came and stood
behind him.  He was the next biggest, very easy tempered and a
favourite, as he would give away anything.

"Choose," shouted everybody again.  It was Bevis's turn, and of course
he took Mark.  So far it was all understood, but it was now Ted's turn,
and no one knew who he would select.  He looked round and called Phil, a
stout, short, slow-speaking boy, who had more pocket-money, and was more
inclined to books than most of them.

"Who shall I have?" said Bevis aside to Mark.

"Have Bill," said Mark.  "He's strong."

Bill was called, and came over.  Ted took another--rank and file--and
then Bevis, who was waking up, suddenly called "Cecil."

"You stupe," said Mark.  "He can't fight."

Cecil, a shy, slender lad, came and stood behind his leader.

"You'll lose everybody," said Mark.  "Ted will have all the big ones.
There, he's got Tim.  Have Fred; I saw him knock George over once."

Fred came, and the choosing continued, each trying to get the best
soldiers, till none were left but little Charlie, who was an odd one.

"He's no good," said Ted; "you can put him in your pocket."

"I hate you," said Charlie; "after all the times I've run with messages
for you.  Bevis, let me come your side."

"Take him," said Ted; "but mind, you'll have one more if you do, and I
shall get some one else."

"Then he'll get a bigger one," said Mark.  "Don't have him; he'll only
be in the way."

Charlie began to walk off with his head hanging.

"Cry-baby," shouted the soldiery.  "Pipe your eye."

"Come here," said Bevis; Charlie ran back delighted.

"Well, you have done it," said Mark in a rage.  "Now Ted will have
another twice as big.  What's the use of my trying when you are so
stupid!  I never did see.  We shall be whopped anyhow."

Quite heedless of these reproaches, Bevis asked Ted who were to be his

"I shall have Val and Phil," said Ted.

"And I shall have Mark and Cecil," said Bevis.  "Let us count.  How many
are there on each side?  Mark, write down all ours.  Haven't you a
pocket-book? well, do it on the back of the map.  Ted, you had better do
the same."

"Phil," said Ted, who was not much of a student, "you put down the

Phil, a reader in a slow way, did as he was bidden.  There were fifteen
on Bevis's side, and fourteen on Ted's, who was to choose another to
make it even.

"There's the muster-roll," said Mark, holding up the map.

"But how shall we know one another?" said George.

"Who's friends, and who's enemies," said Fred.

"Else we shall all hit one another anyhow," said another.

"Stick feathers in our hats."

"Ribbons round our arms would be best," said Cecil.  "Hats may be
knocked off."

"Ribbons will do first-rate," said Bevis.  "I'll have blue; Ted, you
have red.  You can buy heaps of ribbon for nothing."

"Phil," said Ted, "have you got any money?"


"Lend us, then."

"No, I shan't," said Phil: "I'll buy the ribbons myself."

"Let's have a skirmish now," said Bill.  "Come on, Val," and he began to
whirl his hands about.

"Stop that," said Bevis.  "Ted, there's a truce, and if you let your
fellows fight it's breaking it.  Catch hold of Bill--Mark, Cecil, hold

Bill was seized, and hustled round behind the oak, and kept there till
he promised to be quiet.

"But when are we going to begin?" asked Jack.

"Be quick," said Luke.

"War! war!" shouted half a dozen, kicking up their heels.

"Hold your noise," said Ted, cuffing one of his followers.  "Can't you
see we're getting on as fast as we can.  Bevis, where are we going to

"In the Plain," said Bevis.  "That's the best place."

"Plenty of room for a big battle," said Ted.  "O, you've got it on the
map, I see."

The Plain was the great pasture beside the New Sea, where Bevis and Mark
bathed and ran about in the sunshine.  It was some seventy or eighty
acres in extent, a splendid battle-field.

"We're not going to march," said Mark, taking something on himself as

"We're not going to march," said Bevis.  "But I did not tell you to say
so; I mean we are not going to march the thousand miles, Ted; we will
suppose that."

"All right," said Ted.

"But we're going to have camps," continued Bevis.  "You're going to have
your camp just outside the hedge towards the hills, because you live
that side, and you will come that way.  Here,"--he showed Ted a circle,
drawn on the map to represent a camp,--"that's yours; and this is ours
on this side, towards our house, as we shall come that way."

"The armies will encamp in sight of each other," said Phil.  "That's
quite proper.  Go on, Bevis.  Shall we send out scouts?"

"We shall light fires and have proper camps," said Bevis.

"And bring our great-coats and cloaks, and a hamper of grub,"
interrupted Mark, anxious to show that he knew all about it.

Bevis frowned, but went on.  "And I shall send one of my soldiers to be
with you, and you will send one of yours to be with me--"

"Whatever for?" said Ted.  "That's a curious thing."

"Well, it's to know when to begin.  When we are all there, we'll hoist
up a flag--a handkerchief will do on a stick--and you will hoist up
yours, and then when the war is to begin, you will send back my soldier,
and I will send back yours, and they will cross each other as they are
running, and when your soldier reaches you, and mine reaches me--"

"I see," said Ted, "I see.  Then we are to march out so as to begin
quite fair."

"That's it," said Bevis.  "So as to begin at the same minute, and not
one before the other.  I have got it all ready, and you need not have
sent people to worry me to make haste about the war."

"Well, how was I to know if you never said anything?" said Ted.

"And who are we to be?" said Val.  "Saxons and Normans, or Crusaders, or
King Arthur--"

"We're all to be Romans," said Bevis.

"Then it will be the Civil War," said Phil, who had read most history.

"Of course it will," said Bevis, "and I am to be Julius Caesar, and Ted
is to be Pompey."

"I won't be Pompey," said Ted; "Pompey was beat."

"You must," said Bevis.

"I shan't."

"But you _must_."

"I won't be beaten."

"I shall beat you easily."

"That you won't," very warmly.

"Indeed I shall," said Bevis quite composedly, "as I am Caesar I shall
beat you very easily."

"Of course we shall," added Mark.

"You won't; I've got the biggest soldiers, and I shall drive you

"No, you won't."

"I've got Val and Phil and Tim, and I mean to have Ike, so now--"

"There, I told you," said Mark to Bevis.  "He's got all the biggest, and
Ike is a huge big donk of a fellow."

"It's no use," said Bevis, not in the least ruffled; "I shall beat you."

"Not you," said Ted, hot and red in the face.  "Why I'll pitch you in
the water first."

"Take you all your time," said Bevis, shutting his lips tighter and
beginning to look a little dangerous.  "Shut up," said Val.

"Stop," said Phil and Bill and George, pressing in.

"Hush," said Cecil.  "It's a truce."

"Well, I won't be Pompey," said Ted sullenly.  "Then we must have
somebody who will," said Bevis sharply, "and choose again."

"I wouldn't mind," said some one in the crowd.  "Nor I," said another.

"If I was general I wouldn't mind being Pompey.  Let me, Bevis."

"Who's that," said Ted.  "If any one says that I'll smash him."  When he
found he could so easily be superseded he surrendered.  "Well, I'll be
Pompey," he said, "but mind I shan't be beat."

"Pompey ought to win if he can," said Val; "that's only fair."

"What's the use of fighting if we are to be beat?" said Phil.

"Of course," said Bevis, "how very stupid you all are!  Of course, Ted
is to win if he can; he's only to be called Pompey to make it proper.  I
know I shall beat him, but he's to beat us if he can."

"I'm only to be called Pompey, mind," said Ted; "mind that.  We are to
win if we can."

"Of course;" and so this delicate point was settled after very nearly
leading to an immediate battle.

"Hurrah for Pompey!" shouted George, throwing up his hat.

"Hurrah for Caesar!" said Bill, hurling up his.  This was the signal for
a general shouting and uproar.  They had been quiet ten minutes, and
were obliged to let off their suppressed energy.  There was a wild
capering round the oak.

"Ted Pompey," said Charlie, little and impudent, "what fun it will be to
see you run away!"  For which he had his ears pulled till he squealed.

"Now," shouted Mark, "let's get it all done.  Come on."  The noise
subsided somewhat, and they gathered round as Ted and Bevis began to
talk again.

"Caesar," said Phil to Bevis, "if you're Caesar and Ted's Pompey, who
are we?  We ought to have names too."

"I'm Mark Antony," said Mark, standing bolt upright.

"Very well," said Bevis.  "Phil, you can be--let me see, Varro."

"All right, I'm Varro," said Phil; "and who's Val?  Oh, I know,"--
running names over in his mind,--"he's Crassus.  Val Crassus, do you

"Capital," said Crassus.  "I'm ready."

"Then there's Cecil," said Mark; "who's he?"

"Cecil!" said Phil.  "Cecil--Cis--Cis--Scipio, of course."

"First-rate," said Mark.  "Scipio Cecil, that's your name."

"Write it down on the roll," said Bevis.  The names were duly
registered; Pompey's lieutenants as Val Crassus and Phil Varro, and
Caesar's as Mark Antony and Scipio Cecil.  After which there was a great
flinging of stones into the water and more shouting.

"Let's see," said Ted.  "If there's fifteen each side, there will be
five soldiers to each, five for captains, and five for lieutenants."

"Cohorts," said Phil.  "A cohort each, hurrah!"

"Do be quiet," said Ted.  "How can we go on when you make such a row?
Caesar Bevis, are all the swords ready?"

"No," said Bevis.  "We must fix the length, and have them all the same."

They got a stick, and after much discussion cut it to a certain length
as a standard; Mark took charge of it, and all the swords were to be cut
off by it, and none to be any thicker.  There were to be cross-pieces
nailed or fastened on, but the ends were to be blunt and not sharp.

"No sticking," said Ted.  "Only knocking."

"Only knocking and slashing," said Bevis.  "Stabbing won't do, and
arrows won't do, nor spears."

"Why not?" said Mark, who had been looking forward to darting his
javelin at Ted Pompey.

"Because eyes will get poked out," said Bevis, "and there would be a
row.  If anybody got stuck and killed, there would be an awful row."

"So there would," said Mark.  "How stupid!"  Just as if people could not
kill one another without so much fuss!

"And no hitting at faces," said Bevis, "else if somebody's marked there
will be a bother."

"No," said Ted.  "Mind, no slashing faces.  Knock swords together."

"Knock swords together," said Bevis.  "Make rattling and shout."

"Shout," said Mark, bellowing his loudest.

"How shall we know when we're killed?" said Cecil.

"Well, you _are_ a stupe," said Val.  "Really you are."  They all
laughed at Cecil.

"But I don't know," said Ted Pompey.  "You just think, how shall we know
who's beat?  Cecil's not so silly."

"No more he is," said Mark.  "Bevis, how is it to be managed?"

"Those who run away are beaten," said Charlie.  "You'll see Ted run fast
enough."  Away he scampered himself to escape punishment.

"Of course," said Bevis.  "One way will be if people run away.  O!  I
know, if the camp is taken."

"Or if the captain is taken prisoner," said Phil; "and tied up with a

"Yes," continued Bevis.  "If the captain is taken prisoner, and if the
eagles are captured--"

"Eagles," said Ted Pompey.

"Standards," said Phil.  "That's right: are we to have proper eagles,
Caesar Bevis?"

"Yes," said Bevis.  "Three brass rings round sticks will do.  Two eagles
each, don't you see, Ted, like flags, only eagles, that's proper."

"Who keeps the ground wins the victory," said Cecil.

"Right," said Ted.  "I shall soon tie up Bevis--we must bring cords."

"You must catch him first," said Mark.

"Captains must be guarded," said Val.  "Strong guards round them and
awful fighting there," licking his lips at the thought of it.

"Captain Caesar Bevis," said Tim, who had not spoken before, but had
listened very carefully.  "Is there to be any punching?"

"Hum!"  Bevis hesitated, and looked at Ted.

"I think so," said Ted, who had long arms and hard fists.

"If there's punching," cried Charlie from the oak, into which he had
climbed for safety; "if there's punching, only the big blokes can play."

"No punching," said Mark eagerly, not that he feared, being stout and
sturdy, but seizing at anything to neutralise Ted's big soldiers.

"No punching," shouted a dozen at once; "only pushing."

"Very well," said Bevis, "no punching, and no tripping--pushing and
wrestling quite fair."

"Wrestling," said Ted directly.  "That will do."

"Stupid," said Mark to Bevis; then louder, "Only nice wrestling, no

"No `scrumpshing,'" shouted everybody.

Ted stamped his foot, but it was of no use.  Everybody was for fair and
pleasant fighting.

"Never mind," said Ted.  "We'll shove you out of the field."

"Yah! yah!" said Charlie, making faces at him.

"If anybody does what's agreed shan't be done," said Mark, still anxious
to stop Ted's design; "that will lose the battle, even if it's won."

"It ought to be all fair," said Val, who was very big, but

"If anything's done unfair, that counts against whoever does it," said

"No sneaking business," shouted everybody.  "No sneaking and hitting

"Certainly not," said Bevis.  "All quite fair."

"Somebody must watch Ted, then," said Charlie from the oak.

Ted picked up a piece of dead stick and threw it at him.  He dodged it
like a squirrel.

"If you say such things," said Bevis, very angry, "you shan't fight.  Do
you hear?"

"Yes," said Charlie, penitent.  "I won't any more.  But it's true," he
whispered to Fred under him.

"Everything's ready now, isn't it?" said Ted.

"Yes, I think so," said Bevis.

"You haven't fixed the day," said Val.

"No, more I have."

"Let's have it to-day," said Fred.

They caught it up and clamoured to have the battle at once.

"The swords are not ready," said Mark.

"Are the eagles ready?" asked Phil.

"Two are," said Mark.

"The other two shall be made this afternoon," said Bevis.  "Phil, will
you go in to Latten for the blue ribbon for us; here's three shillings."

"Yes," said Phil, "I'll get both at once--blue and red, and bring you
the blue."

"To-morrow, then," said Fred.  "Let's fight to-morrow."

But they found that three of them were going out to-morrow.  So, after
some more discussion, the battle was fixed for the day after, and it was
to begin in the evening, as some of them could not come before.  The
camps were to be made as soon after six o'clock as possible, and, this
agreed to, the council broke up, though it was understood that if
anything else occurred to any one, or the captains wished to make any
alterations, they were to send despatches by special messengers to each
other.  The swords and eagles for Ted's party were to be fetched the
evening before, and smuggled out of window when it was dark, that no one
might see them.


So they parted, and the oak was left in silence, with the grass all
trampled under it.  The cattle fed down towards the water, and the
swallows wound in and out around them.

Volume One, Chapter XV.


As they were walking home Mark reproached Bevis with his folly in
letting Ted, who was so tall himself, choose almost all the big

"It's no use to hit you, or pinch you, or frown at you, or anything,"
grumbled Mark; "you don't take any more notice than a tree.  Now Pompey
will beat us hollow."

"If you say any more," said Bevis, "I will hit you; and it is you who
are the donk.  I did not want the big ones.  I like lightning-quick
people, and I've got Cecil, who is as quick as anything--"

"What's the use of dreaming like a tree when you ought to have your eyes
open; and if you're like that in the battle--"

"I tell you the knights were not the biggest; they very often fought
huge people and monsters.  And don't you remember how Ulysses served the
giant with one eye?"

"I should like to bore a hole through Ted like that," said Mark.  "He's
a brute, and Phil's as cunning as ever he can be, and you've been and
lost the battle."

"I tell you I've got Cecil, who is as quick as lightning, and all the
sharp ones, and if you say any more I won't speak to you again, and I'll
have some one else for lieutenant."

Mark nodded his head, and growled to himself, but he did not dare go
farther.  They worked all the afternoon in the bench-room, cutting off
the swords to the same length, and fastening on the cross-pieces.  They
did not talk, Mark was sulky, and Bevis on his dignity.  In the evening
Phil came with the ribbons.

Next morning, while they were making two more eagles for Pompey, Val
Crassus came to say he thought they ought to have telescopes, as
officers had field-glasses; but Bevis said they were not invented in the
time of their war.  The day was very warm, still, and cloudless, and,
after they had fixed the three brass rings on each long rod for
standards, Bevis brought the old grey book of ballads out of the parlour
into the orchard.  Though he had used it so often he could not find his
favourite place quickly, because the pages were not only frayed but some
were broader than others, and would not run through the fingers, but
adhered together.

When he had found "Kyng Estmere," he and Mark lay down on the grass
under the shadow of a damson-tree, and chanted the verses, reading them
first, and then singing them.  Presently they came to where:--

  "Kyng Estmere threwe the harpe asyde,
  And swith he drew his brand;
  And Estmere he, and Adler yonge,
  Right stiffe in stour can stand.

  "And ay their swords soe sore can byte,
  Through help of gramarye,
  That soone they have slayne the Kempery men,
  Or forst them forth to flee."

These they repeated twenty times, for their minds were full of battle;
and Bevis said after they had done the war they would study gramarye or
magic.  Just afterwards Cecil came to ask if they ought not to have
bugles, as the Romans had trumpets, and Bevis had a bugle somewhere.
Bevis thought it was proper, but it was of no use, for nobody could blow
the bugle but the old Bailiff, and he could only get one long note from
it, so dreadful that you had to put your hands to your ears if you stood
near.  Cecil also said that in his garden at home there was a bay-tree,
and ought they not to have wreaths for the victors?  Bevis said that was
capital, and Cecil went home with orders from Caesar to get his sisters
to make some wreaths of bay for their triumph when they had won the

Soon after sunset that evening the Bailiff looked in, and said there was
some sheet lightning in the north, and he was going to call back some of
the men to put tarpaulins over two or three loaded waggons, as he
thought, after so much dry, hot weather, there would be a great storm.
The lightning increased very much, and after it grew dusk the flashes
lit up the sky.  Before sunset the sky had seemed quite cloudless, but
now every flash showed innumerable narrow bands of clouds, very thin,
behind which the electricity played to and fro.

While Bevis and Mark were watching it, Bevis's governor came out, and
looking up said it would not rain and there was no danger; it was a
sky-storm, and the lightning was at least a mile high.  But the
lightning became very fierce and almost incessant, sometimes crooked
like a scimitar of flame, some times jagged, sometimes zigzag; and now
and then vast acres of violet light, which flooded the ground and showed
every tree and leaf and flower, all still and motionless; and after
which, though lesser flashes were going on, it seemed for a moment quite
dark, so much was the eye overpowered.

Bevis and Mark went up into the bench-room, where it was very close and
sultry, and sat by the open window with the swords for Pompey bound up
in two bundles and the standards, but they were half afraid no one would
come for them.  Their shadows were perpetually cast upon the white wall
opposite as the flashes came and went.  The crossbow and lance, the
boomerang and knobbed clubs were visible, and all the tools on the
bench.  Now and then, when the violet flashes came, the lightning seemed
to linger in the room, to fill it with a blaze and stop there a moment.
In the darkness that followed one of these they heard a voice call
"Bevis" underneath the window, and saw Phil and Val Crassus, who had
come for the swords.  Mark lowered the bundles out of window by a cord,
but when they had got them they still stood there.

"Why don't you go?" said Mark.

"Lightning," said Val.  "It's awful."  It really was very powerful.  The
pears on the wall, and everything however minute stood out more
distinctly defined than in daytime.

"It's a mile high," said Bevis.  "It won't hurt you."

"Ted wouldn't come," said Phil.  "He's gone to bed, and covered his
head.  You don't know how it looks out in the fields, all by yourself;
it's all very well for you indoors."

"I'll come with you," said Bevis directly; up he jumped and went down to
them, followed by Mark.

"Why wouldn't Ted come?" said Mark.

"He's afraid," said Phil, "and so was I till Val said he would come with
me.  Will lightning come to brass?"  The flashes were reflected from the
brass rings on the standards.

"I tell you it won't hurt," said Bevis, quite sure, because his governor
had said so.  But when they had walked up the field and were quite away
from the house and the trees which partly obstructed the view, he was
amazed at the spectacle, for all the meadow was lit up; and in the sky
the streamers of flame rose in and out and over each other, till you
could not tell which flash was which in the confusion of lightning.
Bevis became silent and fell into one of his dream states, when, as Mark
said, he was like a tree.  He was lost--something seemed to take him out
of himself.  He walked on, and they went with him, till he came to the
gate opening on the shore of the New Sea.

"O, look!" they all said at once.

All the broad, still water, smooth as glass, shone and gleamed,
reflecting back the bright light above; and far away they saw the wood
(where Bevis and Mark once wandered) as plain as at noontide.

"I can't go home to-night," said Phil.  Val Crassus said he could sleep
at his house, which was much nearer; but he, too, hesitated to start.

"It _is_ awful," said Mark.

"It's nothing," said Bevis.  "I like it."  The continuous crackling of
the thunder just then deepened, and a boom came rolling down the level
water from the wooded hill.  Bevis frowned, and held his lips tight
together.  He was startled, but he would not show it.

"I'll go with you," he said; and though Mark pointed out that they would
have to come back by themselves, he insisted.  They went with Pompey's
lieutenants till Val's house, lit up by lightning, was in sight; then
they returned.  As they came into the garden, Bevis said the battle
ought to be that night, because it would read so well in the history
afterwards.  The lightning continued far into the night, and still
flashed when sleep overcame them.

Next morning Bevis sprang up and ran to the window, afraid it might be
wet; but the sun was shining and the wind was blowing tremendously, so
that all the willows by the brook looked grey as their leaves were
turned, and the great elms by the orchard bowed to the gusts.

"It's dry," shouted Bevis, dancing.

"Hurrah!" said Mark, and they sang,--

  "Kyng Estmere threwe his harpe asyde,
  And swith he drew his brand."

This was the day of the great battle, and they were impatient for the

There was a letter on the breakfast-table from Bevis's grandpa,
enclosing a P.O.O., a present of a sovereign for him.  He asked the
governor to advance him the money in two half-sovereigns.  The governor
did so, and Bevis immediately handed one of them to Mark.

About dinner-time there came a special messenger from Pompey with a
letter, which was in Pompey's name, but Phil's handwriting.  "Ted Pompey
to Caesar Bevis.  Please tell me who you are going to send to be with me
in my camp, and let him come to the stile in Barn Copse at half-past
five, and I will send Tim to be with you till the white handkerchiefs
are up.  And tell me if the lieutenants are to carry the eagles, or some
one else."

Bevis wrote back:--"Caesar to Pompey greeting,"--this style he copied
from his books,--"Caesar will send Charlie to be with you, as he can ran
quick, though he is little.  The lieutenants are not to carry the
eagles, but a soldier for them.  And Caesar wishes you health."

Then in the afternoon Mark had to go and tell Cecil and others, who were
to send on the message to the rest of their party, to meet Bevis at the
gate by the New Sea at half-past five, and to mind and not be one moment
later.  While Mark was gone, Bevis roamed about the garden and orchard,
and back again to the stable and sheds, and then into the rick-yard,
which was strewn with twigs and branches torn off from the elms that
creaked as the gale struck them; then indoors, and from room to room.
He could not rest anywhere, he was so impatient.

At last he picked up the little book of the Odyssey, with its broken
binding and frayed margin, from the chair where he had last loft it; and
taking it up into the bench-room, opened it at the twenty-second book,
where his favourite hero wreaked his vengeance on the suitors.  With his
own bow in his right hand, and the book in his left, Bevis read,
marching up and down the room, stamping and shouting aloud as he came to
the passages he liked best:--

  "Swift as the word, the parting arrow sings,
  And bears thy fate, Antinous, on its wings!

  * * * *

  "For fate who fear'd amidst a feastful band?
  And fate to numbers by a single hand?

  * * * *

  "Two hundred oxen every prince shall pay;
  The waste of years refunded in a day.
  Till then thy wrath is just,--Ulysses burn'd
  With high disdain, and sternly thus return'd.

  * * * *

  "Soon as his store of flying fates was spent,
  Against the wall he set the bow unbent;
  And now his shoulders bear the massy shield,
  And now his hands two beamy javelins wield."

Bevis had dropped his bow and seized one of Mark's spears, not hearing,
as he stamped and shouted, Mark coming up the stairs.  Mark snatched up
one of the swords, and as Bevis turned they rattled their weapons
together, and shouted in their fierce joy.  When satisfied they stopped,
and Mark said he had come by the New Sea, and the waves were the biggest
he had ever seen there, the wind was so furious.

They had their tea, or rather they sat at table, and rushed off as soon
as possible; who cared for eating when war was about to begin!  Seizing
an opportunity, as the coast was clear, Mark ran up the field with the
eagles, which, having long handles, were difficult to hide.  Cecil and
Bill took the greatcoat, and a railway-rug, which Bevis meant to
represent his general's cloak.  He followed with the basket of
provisions on his shoulder, and was just thinking how lucky they were to
get off without any inquiries, when he found they had forgotten the
matches to light the camp-fire.  He came back, took a box, and was going
out again when he met Polly the dairymaid.

"What are you doing now?" said she.  "Don't spoil that basket with your
tricks--we use it.  What's in it?" putting her hand on the lid.

"Only bread-and-butter and ham, and summer apples.  It's a picnic."

"A picnic.  What's that ribbon for?"  Bevis wore the blue ribbon round
his arm.

"O! that's nothing."

"I've half a mind to tell--I don't believe you're up to anything good."

"Pooh! don't be a donk," said Bevis.  "I'll give you a long piece of
this ribbon when I come back."

Off he went, having bribed Scylla, but he met Charybdis in the gateway,
where he came plump on the Bailiff.

"What's up now?" he gruffly inquired.


"Mind you don't go bathing; the waves be as big as cows."

"Bathing," said Bevis, with intense contempt.  "We don't bathe in the
evening.  Here, you--" donk, he was going to say, but forebore; he gave
the Bailiff a summer apple, and went on.  The Bailiff bit the apple,
muttered to himself about "mischief," and walked towards the rick-yard.
In a minute Mark came to meet Bevis.

"You did him?" he said.

"Yes," said Bevis, "and Polly too."

"Hurrah!" shouted Mark.  "They're all there but one, and he's coming in
five minutes."

Bevis found his army assembled by the gate leading to the New Sea.  Each
soldier wore a blue ribbon round the left arm for distinction; Tim, who
had been sent by Pompey to be with them till all was ready, wore a red

"Two and two," said Caesar Bevis, taking his sword and instantly
assuming a general's authoritative tone.  He marshalled them in double
file, one eagle in front, one halfway down, where his second lieutenant,
Scipio Cecil, stood; the basket carried in the rear as baggage.  Caesar
and Mark Antony stood in front side by side.

"March," said Bevis, starting, and they followed him.

The route was beside the shore, and so soon as they left the shelter of
the trees the wind seemed to hit them a furious blow, which pushed them
out of order for a moment.  The farther they went the harder the wind
blow, and flecks of brown foam, like yeast, came up and caught against
them.  Rolling in the same direction as they were marching, the waves at
each undulation increased in size, and when they came to the bluff Bevis
walked slowly a minute, to look at the dark hollows and the ridges from
whose crests the foam was driven.

But here leaving the shore he led the army, with their brazen eagles
gleaming in the sun, up the slope of the meadow where the solitary oak
stood, and so beside the hedge-row till they reached the higher ground.
The Plain, the chosen battle-field, was on the other side of the hedge,
and it had been arranged that the camps should be pitched just without
the actual campaigning-ground.  On this elevated place the gale came
along with even greater fury; and Mark Antony said that they would never
be able to light a camp-fire that side, they must get through and into

"I shall do as I said," shouted Bevis, scarcely audible, for the wind
blew the words down his throat.  But he kept on till he found a hawthorn
bush, with brambles about the base, a detached thicket two or three
yards from the hedge, and near which there was a gap.  He stopped, and
ordered the standard-bearer behind him to pitch the eagle there.  The
army halted, the eagles were pitched by thrusting the other end of the
rods into the sward, the cloaks, coats, and rug thrown together in a
heap, and the soldiers set to work to gather sticks for the fire.  Of
these they found plenty in the hedge, and piled them up in the shelter
of the detached thicket.

Bevis, Mark Antony, and Scipio Cecil went through the gap to reconnoitre
the enemy.  They immediately saw the smoke of his camp-fire rising on
the other side of the Plain, close to a gateway.  The smoke only rose a
little above the hedge there--the fire was on the other side--and was
then blown away by the wind.  None of Pompey's forces were visible.

"Ted, I mean Pompey, was here first," said Mark Antony.  "He'll be ready
before us."

"Be quick with the fire," shouted Caesar.

"Look," said Scipio Cecil.  "There's the punt."

Behind the stony promontory at the quarry they could see the punt from
the high ground where they stood; it was partly drawn ashore just inside
Fir-Tree Gulf, so that the projecting point protected it like a
breakwater.  The old man (the watcher) had started for the quarry to get
a load of sand as usual, never thinking, as how should he think? that
the gale was so furious.  But he found himself driven along anyhow, and
unable to row back; all he could do was to steer and struggle into the
gulf, and so behind the Point, where he beached his unwieldy vessel.
Too much shaken to dig sand that day, and knowing that he could not row
back, he hid his spade and the oars, and made for home on foot.  But the
journey by land was more dangerous than that by sea, for he insensibly
wandered into the high road, and came to an anchor in the first inn,
where, relating his adventures on the deep with the assistance of ardent
liquor, he remained.

Bevis, who had gone to light the fire with the matches in his pocket,
now returned through the gap, and asked if anything had been seen of
Pompey's men.  As he spoke a Pompeian appeared, and mounting the spars
of the distant gate displayed a standard, to which was attached a white
handkerchief, which fluttered in the breeze.

"They're ready," said Mark Antony.  "Come on.  Which way shall we march?
Which way are you going?"

The smoke of Caesar's fire rose over the hedge, and swept down by the
gale trailed along the ground towards Pompey's.  Bevis hastened back to
the camp, and tied his handkerchief to the top of an eagle, Mark
followed.  "Which way are you going?" he repeated.  "Where shall we meet
them?  What are you going to do?"

"I don't know," said Caesar, angrily pushing him.  "Get away."

"There," growled Mark Antony to Scipio, "he doesn't know what he's going
to do, and Phil is as cunning as--"

The standard-bearer sent by Caesar pushed by him, got through the gap,
and held up the white flag, waving it to attract more attention.  In
half a minute, Pompey's flag was hauled down, and directly afterwards
some one climbed over the gate and set out running towards them.  It was
Charlie.  "Run, Tim," said Caesar Bevis; "we're ready."  Tim dashed
through the gap, and set off with all his might.

"Two and two," shouted Caesar.  "Stand still, will you?" as they moved
towards the opening.  "Take down that flag."

The eagle-bearer resumed his place behind him.  Caesar signing to the
legions to remain where they were, went forward and stood on the mound.
He watched the runners and saw them pass each other nearly about the
middle of the great field, for though little, Charlie was swift of foot,
and full of the energy which is more effective than size.

"Let's go."

"Now then."


The legions were impatient and stamped their feet, but Caesar would not
move.  In a minute or two Charlie reached him, red and panting with

"Now," shouted Bevis, "march!" and he leaped into the field; Charlie
came next for he would not wait to take his place in the ranks.  The
legions rushed through anyhow, eager to begin the fray.

"Two and two," shouted Caesar, who would have no disorder.

"Two and two," repeated his first lieutenant, Mark Antony.

"Two and two," said Scipio Cecil, punching his men into place.

On they went, with Caesar leading, straight across the wind-swept plain
for Pompey's camp.  The black swifts flew about them, but just clearing
the grass, and passing so close as to seem almost under foot.  There
were hundreds of them, they come down from the upper air, and congregate
in a great gale; they glided over the field in endless turns and
windings.  Steadily marching, the army had now advanced a third part of
the way across the field.

"Where's Pompey?" said Scipio Cecil.

"Where shall we meet and fight?" said Mark Antony.

"Silence," shouted Bevis, "or I'll degrade you from your rank, and you
shan't be officers."

They were silent, but every one was looking for Pompey and thinking just
the same.  There was the gate in full view now, and the smoke of
Pompey's camp, but none of the enemy were visible.  Bevis was thinking
and trying to make out whether Pompey was waiting by his camp, or
whether he had gone round behind the hedge, and if so, which way, to the
right towards the quarry, or to the left towards the copse, but he could
not decide, having nothing to guide him.

But though uncertain in his own mind, he was general enough not to let
the army suppose him in doubt.  He strode on in silence, but keeping the
sharpest watch, till they came to the waggon track, crossing the field
from left to right.  It had worn a gully or hollow way leading down to
the right to the hazel hedge, where there was a gate.  They came to the
edge of the hollow way, where there were three thick hawthorn bushes and
two small ash-trees.

"Halt!" said Caesar Bevis, as the bushes partly concealed them from
view.  "Stay here.  Let no one move."

Bevis himself went round the trees and looked again, but he could see
nothing: Pompey and his army were nowhere in sight.  He could not tell
what to do, and returned slowly, thinking, when looking down the hollow
way an idea struck him.

"Scipio, take your men,"--("Cohort," said Antony)--"take your cohort,
jump into the road, and go down to the gate there.  Keep out of sight--
stoop: slip through the gate, and go up inside the hedge, dart round the
corner and seize Ted's camp.  Quick!  And mind, if they're all there, of
course you're not to fight, but come back.  Now--quick."

Scipio Cecil jumped into the hollow way followed by his five soldiers,
and stooping so as to be hidden by the bank, ran towards the gate in the
hazel hedge.  They watched him till the cohort had got through the gate.

"Now what shall we do?" said Mark Antony.

"How can I tell what to do when Pompey isn't anywhere?" said Bevis, in a

"Put me up a tree," said Charlie, "perhaps I could see."

"You've no business to speak," said Bevis; but he used the idea, and
told two of them to "bunt" (shove) Charlie up one of the ash-trees till
he could grasp a branch.  Then Charlie, agile as a squirrel, was up in a

"There's no one in their camp," he shouted down.  "Cecil's rushing on
it.  Pompey, O!  I can see him."


"There by the copse," pointing to the left and partly behind them.

"Which way is he going?" asked Bevis.

"That way,"--to the left.

"Our camp," said Mark.

"That's it," said Bevis.  "Come down, quick.  Turn to the left," (to the
army).  "No, stop.  Charlie, how many are there with Pompey?"

"Six, ten--oh, I can't count: I believe it's all.  I can't see any
anywhere else."

"Quick!" shouted Bevis, turning his legions to the left.  "Quick march!

Volume One, Chapter XVI.


They left Charlie to get down how he could, and started at a sharp pace
to meet and intercept Pompey.  Now, if Pompey had continued his course
behind the hedge all the way, he must have got to Caesar's camp first;
as Caesar could not crush through the hedge.  But when Pompey came to
the gate, from which the waggon track issued into the field, he saw that
he could make a short cut thence to the gap by Caesar's camp, instead of
marching round the irregular curve of the hedge.  Caesar, though running
fast to meet him, was at that moment passing a depression in the ground,
and was out of sight.  Pompey seized so favourable an opportunity, came
through the gate, and ordering "Quick march!" ran towards the gap.  When
Caesar came up out of the depression he saw Pompey's whole army running
with their backs almost turned away from him towards the gap by the
camp.  They seemed to flee, and Caesar's legions beholding their
enemies' backs, raised a shout.  Pompey heard, and looking round, saw
Caesar charging towards his rear.  He halted and faced about, and at the
same time saw that his own camp was in Caesar's possession; for there
was an eagle at the gate there, and his baggage was being pitched over.
Nothing daunted, Pompey ordered his soldiers to advance, and pushed them
with his own hands into line, placing Crassus and Varro, one at either

As he came running, Caesar saw that the whole of Pompey's army was
before them, while he had but two-thirds of his, and regretted now that
he had so hastily detached Scipio's cohort.  But waving his sword, he
ran at the head of his men, keeping them in column.  They were but a
hundred yards apart, when Pompey faced about, and so short a distance
was rapidly traversed.

Caesar's sword was the first to descend with a crash upon an enemy's
weapon, but Antony was hardly a second later, and before they could lift
to strike again, the legion behind, with a shout, pushed them by its
impetus right through Pompey's line.

When Caesar Bevis stopped running, and looked round, there was a break
in the enemy's army, which was divided into two parts.  Bevis instantly
made at the part on his left (where Phil Varro commanded), thinking,
instinctively, to crush this half with all his soldiers.  But as they
did not know what his object was, for he had no time even to give an
order, only four or five followed him.  The rest paused and faced Val
Crassus; and these Ted Pompey and six or seven of his men at once

Bevis met Phil Varro, and crossed swords with him.  Clatter! crash!
snap! thump! bang!  They slashed and warded: Bevis's shoulder was stung
with a sharp blow.  He struck back, and his sword sliding down Varro's,
broke the cross-piece, and rapped his fingers smartly.  Before Varro
could hit again, two others, fighting, stumbled across and interrupted
the combat.

"Keep together!  Keep together!" shouted Phil Varro.  "Ted--Pompey,
Pompey!  Keep together!"

Slash! swish! crash! thump!  "Hit him!  Now then!  He's down!  Hurrah!"
Crash!  Crack--a sword split and flew in splinters.

"Follow Bevis!" shouted Mark, "Stick to Bevis!  Fred!  Bill!  Quick!"
He had privately arranged with these two, Fred and Bill, who were the
biggest on their side, that all three should keep close to Bevis and
form a guard.  Mark was very shrewd, and he guessed that Ted Pompey,
being so much stronger and well-supported with stout soldiers, would
make every effort to seize Caesar, who was slightly built, and bind him
prisoner.  He did not tell Bevis that he had arranged this, for Bevis
was a stickler for his imperial authority, and if Mark had told him,
would be quite likely to countermand it.

Whirling his sword with terrible fury, Caesar Bevis had cut his way
through all between.  Slight as he was, the intense energy within him
carried him through the ranks.  He struck a sword from one; overthrew
another rushing against him; sent a third on his knees, and reaching
Phil, hit him on the arm so heavy a blow that, for a moment, he could
not use his weapon, but gave way and got behind his men.

"Hurrah!" shouted Mark.  "Follow Bevis!  Stick to Bevis!"

"Here I am," said Bill, the young giant hitting at Varro.

"So am I," said Fred, the other giant, and slashing Varro on the side.
Varro turned aside to defend himself, when Mark Antony rushed at and
overturned him thump on the sward.

"Hurrah!  Down they go!"  Such a tremendous shout arose in another
direction, that Caesar Bevis, Mark, and the rest, turned fresh from
their own victory to see their companions thrashed.

"Over with them!"

Ted Pompey, Val Crassus, and the other half of the divided line had
attacked the remainder of the legion, which paused, and did not follow
Caesar.  Separated from Bevis, they fought well, and struggled hard to
regain him; and, while they could keep their assailants at
sword's-length, maintained the battle.  But Varro's shout, "Keep
together!  Keep together!  Pompey!  Keep together!" reminded Ted of what
Phil Varro had taught him, and, signing to Crassus and his men to do the
same, he crossed his arms, held his head low, and, with Crassus and the
rest, charged, like bulls with eyes closed, disregarding the savage
chops and blows he received.  The manoeuvre was perfectly successful;
their weight sent them right over Caesar's men, who rolled on the ground
in all directions.

"There!" said Mark, "what did I tell you?"

"Come on!" shouted Caesar Bevis, and he ran to assist the fallen.  He
fell on Crassus, who chanced to be nearest, with such violence that Val
gave way, when Bevis left him to attack Ted.  Ted Pompey, nothing loth,
lifted his sword and stepped to meet him.

"Bill!  Fred!" shouted Mark; and these three, hustling before Caesar
Bevis, charged under Pompey's sword, for he could not hit three ways at
once; and, thump, he measured his length on the grass.

"Cords!--Ropes!" shouted Mark.  "Bill--the rope.  Hold him down, Fred!
O!  You awful stupe!  O!"

He stood stock-still, mouth agape; for Bevis, pushing Fred aside as he
was going to kneel on Ted as men kneel on a fallen horse's head, seized
Ted by the arm and helped him up.

"Three to one's not fair," he said.  "Ted, get your sword and fight

Ted looked round for his sword, which had rolled a yard or two.  At the
same moment Varro, having got on his feet again, rushed up and struck
Caesar a sharp blow on his left arm.  He turned, Varro struck again, but
Fred guarded it off on his sword.  Three soldiers, with Varro,
surrounded Fred and Bevis, and, for the moment, they could do nothing
but fence off the blows.  Ted Pompey having found his sword, ran to aid
Varro, when Mark hit him: he turned to strike at Mark, but a body of
soldiers, with George and Tim at their head, rushed by, fighting with
others, and bore Mark and Ted before them bodily.  In a second all was
confusion.  On both sides the leaders were separated from their troops,
the battle spread out, covering forty yards or more, and twenty
individual combats raged at once.  All the green declivity was covered
with scattered parties, and no one knew which had the better.

"Keep together!  Keep together!" shouted Varro, as he struck and rushed
to and fro.  "I tell you, keep together!  Ted!  Ted!  Pompey!  Keep

Swish! slash! clatter! thump!


"He's down!"


"You've got it!"

"Take that!"  Slash!  But the slain arose again and renewed the fight.

Shrewd Mark Antony having knocked his man over, paused on the higher
part of the slope where he chanced to be, and looked down on the battle.
He noted Phil Varro go up to Pompey and urge something.  Pompey seemed
to yield, and shouted, "A tail! a tail!  Crassus!  George!  Tim!  A

Mark dashed down the slope to Bevis, who was fighting on the level
ground.  He hastened to save the battle, for a "tail" is a terrible
thing.  The leader, who must be the biggest, gets in front, the next
biggest behind him, a third behind him, and so on to the last, forming a
tail, which is in fact a column, and so long as it keeps formation will
bore a hole through a crowd.  Before he could get to Caesar, for so many
struck at him in passing that it took him some time to pass fifty yards,
the tail was made--Pompey in front, next Val Crassus, then Varro, then
Ike (a big fellow, but who had as yet done nothing, and was no good
except for the weight of his body), then George, then Tim, and two more.
Eight of them in a mighty line, which began to descend the slope.

"Look!" said Mark Antony at last, touching Caesar Bevis, "look there!
It's a tail!"

"It doesn't matter," said Bevis, looking up.

"Doesn't matter!  Why, they'll _hunt_ us!"

And Pompey did hunt them, downright hunt them along.  Before Fred and
Bill could come at Mark's call, before they could shake themselves free
of their immediate opponents, Pompey came thundering down, and swept
everything before him.

"Out of the way!" cried Mark.  "Bevis, out of the way!  O!  Now!"  He
wrung his hands and stamped.

Bevis stood and received the charge which Pompey led straight at him.
Pompey, with his head down and arms crossed to defend it, ran with all
his might.  Bevis, never stirring, lifted his sword.  There was a part
of Pompey's bare head which his arms did not cover.  It was a
temptation, but he remembered the agreement, and he struck with all his
strength on Pompey's left arm.  So hard was the blow that the tough
sword snapped, and Pompey groaned with pain, but in the same instant
Caesar felt as if an oak or a mountain had fallen on him.  He was hurled
to the ground with stunning force, and the column passed over him, one
stepping on his foot.

There he lay for half a minute, dazed, and they might easily have taken
him prisoner, but they could not stop their rush till they had gone
twenty or thirty yards.  By that time, Mark, Fred, and Bill had dragged
Bevis up, and put a sword which they snatched from a soldier into his
hand.  He limped, and looked pale and wild for a minute, but his blood
was up, and he wanted to renew the fight.  They would not let him, they
pulled him along.

"It's no use," said Mark; "you can't.  We must get to the trees.  Here,
lean on me.  Run.  Sycamores!  Sycamores!" he shouted.

"Sycamores! trees!" shouted Fred and Bill to their scattered followers.
They urged Caesar to run, he limped, but kept pace with them somehow.
Pompey had turned by now, and went through a small body of Caesar's men,
who had rushed towards him when they saw he was down, just as if they
had been straws.  Still they checked the column a little, as floating
beams check heavy waves, and so gave Caesar time to get more ahead.

"Sycamores!"  Mark continued to shout as he ran, and the broken legions
easily understood they were to rally there.  At that moment the battle
was indeed lost.  Pompey ranged triumphant.  Leading his irresistible
and victorious column with shouting, he chased the flying Caesar.

Little Charlie, left in the ash-tree, could not get down, but saw the
whole of the encounter.  The lowest bough was too high to drop from, the
trunk too large to clasp and slide down.  He was imprisoned and
helpless, with the war in sight.  He chafed and raged and shouted, till
the tears of vexation rolled down his cheeks.  Full of fiery spirit it
was torture to him to see the battle in which he could not take part.
For awhile, watching the first shock, he forgot everything else in the
interest of the fight; but presently, when the combatants separated, and
were strewn as it were over the slope, he saw how easily at that
juncture any united body could have swept the field, and remembered
Scipio Cecil.  Why did not Cecil come?

He looked that way, and from his elevation could see Cecil standing on
the gate by Pompey's camp.  Having sacked the camp, put the fire out,
and thrown all the coats over the gate into a heap in the field, Scipio
did not know what next he ought to do, and wondered that no orders
reached him from Caesar.  He got up on the highest bar except one of the
gate, but could see no one, the undulations of the ground completely
concealing the site of the conflict.  He did not know what to do; he
waited a while and looked again.  Once he fancied he heard shouting, but
the gale was so strong he could not be certain.

Charlie in the ash-tree now seeing Pompey form the tail, or column,
worked himself into a state of frenzy.  He yelled, he screamed to Scipio
to come, till he was hoarse, and gasped with the straining of his
throat; but the howling of the tremendous wind through the trees by the
gate, prevented Scipio from hearing a word.  Had he known Charlie was in
the tree he might have guessed there was something wrong from his
frantic gestures, but he did not, and as there were so many scattered
trees in the field, there was nothing to make him look at that one in
particular.  Charlie waved his hat, and at last flung it up into the
air, waved his handkerchief--all in vain.

He could see the crisis, but could not convey a knowledge of it to the
idle cohort.  He looked again at the battle.  Caesar was down and
trampled under foot.  He threw up his arms, and almost lost his balance
in his excitement.  The next minute Caesar was up, and he and his
lieutenant were flying from Pompey.  The column chased them, and the
whole scene--the flight and the pursuit--passed within a short distance,
half a stone's throw of the ash-tree.

Quite wild, and lost to everything but his auger, Charlie the next
second was out on a bough, clinging to it like a cat.  He crawled out
some way, till the bough bent a little with his weight.  His design was
to get out till it bowed towards the ground, and so lowered him--a
perilous feat!  He got half a yard further, and then swung under it, out
and out, till the branch gave a good way.  He tried again, and looked
down; the ground was still far below.  He heard a shout, it stimulated
him.  He worked out farther, till the branch cracked loudly; it would
break, but would not bend much farther.  His feet hung down now; he only
held by his hands.  Crack!  Another shout!  He looked down wildly, and
in that instant saw a little white knob--a button mushroom in the grass.
He left hold, and dropped.  The little mushroom saved him, for it
guided him, steadied his drop; his feet struck it and smashed it, and
his knees giving under him, down he came.

But he was not hurt, his feet, as he hung from the bowed branch, were
much nearer the earth than it had looked to him from his original perch,
and he alighted naturally.  The shock dazed him at first, just as Bevis
had been confused, a few minutes previously.  In a minute he was all
right, and running with all his speed towards Scipio.

As Caesar ran, with the shout of victorious Pompey close behind, he
said, "If we could charge the column sideways we could break it--"

"If," snorted Mark, with the contempt of desperation; "if--of course!"

Caesar was right, but he had not got the means just then.  Next minute
they reached the first sycamore, not ten yards in front of Pompey.  As
they turned to face the enemy, with their backs to the great tree,
Pompey lowered his head, crossed his arms, and the column charged.
Nothing could stop that onslaught, which must have crushed them, but
Bevis, quick as thought, pushed Mark and Fred one way and Bill the
other, stepping after the latter.  Ted Pompey, with his eyes shut, and
all the force of his men thrusting behind, crashed against the tree.

Down he went recoiling, and two or three more behind him.

Thwack! thwack!  The four defenders hammered their enemies before they
could recover the shock.

"Quick!" cried Mark; "tie him--prisoner--quick," pulling a cord from his
pocket, and putting his foot on Ted, who was lying in a heap.

Before any one could help Mark the heap heaved itself up, and Val
Crassus and Phil Varro hauled their half-stunned leader back out of

Crash! clatter! bang! thwack!

"Backs to trees!  Stand with backs to trees!" shouted Bevis, hitting out
furiously.  "We shall win!  Here, Bill!"

They planted themselves, these four, Bevis, Mark, Fred, and Bill, with
their backs to the great trunk of the sycamore, standing a foot or two
in front of it for room to swing their swords, and a little way apart
for the same reason.  The sycamore formed a bulwark so that none could
attack them in rear.

The column, as it recoiled, widened out, and came on again in a
semicircle, surrounding them.

"Give in!" shouted Val.  "We're ten to one!"  (that was not numerically
correct.) "Give in!  You'll all be prisoners in a minute!"

"That we shan't," said Bill, fetching him a side way slash.

"If we could only get Scipio up," said Mark.  "Where is he?  Can't we
get him?"

"I forgot him," said Bevis.  "There, take that," as he warded a cut and
returned it.  "I forgot him.  Look out, Fred, that's it.  Hurrah!
Mark," as Mark made a successful cut.  "How stupid."  In the heat and
constant changes of the combat they had totally forgotten Cecil and his

"Why, we've been fighting two to three," said Bill, "and they haven't
done us yet."

"But we mean to," said Tim, and Bill shrank involuntarily under an
unexpected knock.

"Some more of you--there," shouted Ted Pompey, as he came to himself,
and saw a number of his soldiers in the rear watching the combat.
"You,"--in a rage,--"you go round behind and worry them there; and some
of you get up in the tree and hit down."

"O! botheration!" said Mark, as he heard the last order.

"We _must_ get Cecil somehow," said Bevis.

"Now then," yelled Ted Pompey, stamping in terrible fury, "do as I tell
you; go round the tree, and `bunt' somebody up into it!"

He passed his hand across his bruised forehead, wiping off a fragment of
bark which adhered indented in the skin, and rushed into the fight.  Ted
fought that day like a hero; twice severely punished, he returned to the
war with increased determination.  He was nervous at lightning, but he
feared no mortal being.  He was as brave as brave could be.  These heavy
knocks seemed only to touch him on the quick and arouse a stronger will.
When he came in the combat became tremendous.

Like knights with their backs to the tree, the four received them.  The
swords crossed and rattled, and for two or three minutes nothing else
was heard; they were too busy to shout.  The eight of the column would
have succeeded better had not so many of the others pressed in to get a
safe knock at Bevis, hitting from behind the bigger ones so as to be
themselves in safety.  These impeded Val and Phil and the first line.

One and all struck at Bevis.  The dust flew from his coat, his shoulders
smarted, his arms were sore, his left arm, which he used as a guard like
a shield, almost numb with knocks.

His face grew pale with anger.  He frowned and set his lips tight
together, his eyes gleamed.  The hail of blows descended on him, and
though his wrist began to weary, he could not repay one-tenth of that
they gave him.

"Give in!  Give in!" shouted Val, who was in front of him, and he put
his left hand on Bevis's shoulder.  With a twist of his wrist Bevis hit
his right hand so sharp a knock that the sword flew out of it, and for a
second Val was daunted.

"Give in! give in!" shouted Phil, pushing to Val's assistance.  "You're
done!  It's no good.  You can't help it.  Hurrah!"

Two soldiers appeared in the fork of the tree above.  Though so huge the
trunk was short, and they began to strike down on Mark, who was forced
to stand out so far from the tree that he was in great danger of being
seized, and would have been, had they not been so bent on Bevis.

Bevis breathed hard and panted.  So thick came the hail that he could do
nothing.  If he lifted his sword it was beaten down, if he struck, ten
knocks came for one.  He received his punishment in silence.  Tim had
the cord to bind him ready: they made a noose to throw, over his head.

"Stick to Bevis," shouted Mark.  "Bevis--Bevis--stick to Bevis--Fred--
ah!"--a smart knock made him grind his teeth, and four or five
assailants rushing in separated him from Caesar.

Bevis was beaten on his knee.  He crouched, his left side against the
tree with his left hand against it, hitting wild and savage, and still
keeping a short clear space with his sword.

"Stop!" cried Val, himself desisting.  "That's enough.  Stop! stop!
Don't hit him!  He's done.  We've got him!  Now, Phil."

Phil and Tim rushed in with the noose: Bevis sprang up, drove his head
into Phil and sent him whirling with Tim under.  Bevis made good use of
the moment's breathing time he thus obtained, punishing three of his
hardest thrashers.

"Keep together," shouted Phil as he got up on his knees.  "If Ted would
only do as I said.  Hurrah!"

They had hammered Bevis by sheer dint of knocks down on his knees again.
Fred and Bill in vain tried to get to him; they were attacked front and
rear: Mark quite beside himself with rage, pushed, wrestled, and struck,
but they encompassed him like bees.  Bevis could hit no more; he warded
as well as he could, he could not return.

"Shame! shame!" cried Val, pulling two back, one with each hand.  "Don't
hit him!  He's down!"

"Why doesn't he give in, then?" said Phil, black as thunder.

Ted Pompey, who had watched this scene for a moment without moving,
smiled grimly as he saw Bevis could not hit.

"Now," said he, "Phil, Tim, George--Val's too soft.  Come on--keep
close--in we go and have him.  Hurrah!  Hang it!  I say!"



End of Volume One.

Volume Two, Chapter I.


Scipio's cohort rushed them clean away from the sycamore.  In a mass,
Scipio Cecil and his men (fetched by Charlie), with half or more of
Caesar's scattered soldiers, who rallied at once to Cecil's compact
party, rushed them right away.  Cecil forced his men to be quiet as they
ran; they saw the point, and there was not a sound till in close order
they fell on Pompey.  Pompey, Val, Phil, and the whole attacking party
were swept away like leaves before the wind.  Had they seen Scipio
coming, or heard him, or in the least expected him, it would not have
been so.  But thus suddenly burst on from the rear, they were helpless,
and carried away by the torrent.

In a second Bevis, Mark, Fred, and Bill, found themselves free.  Bevis
stood up and breathed again.  They came to him.  "Are you hurt?" said

"Not a bit," said Bevis, laughing as he shook himself together.  "Look

Whirled round and round by the irresistible pressure of the crowd,
Pompey and his lieutenants were hurried away, shouting and yelling, but
unable even to strike, so closely were they hemmed in.

"They've got my eagle," said Mark in a fury.  His standard-bearer had
been overthrown while he defended himself at the tree, and the eagle
taken from him.

"Phil's down," said Fred.  "So's Tim!  And Ike!  Hurrah!"

"Look at little Charlie hitting!" said Bill.  "Shout for Charlie," said
Bevis.  "Capital!"

"My eagle," said Mark.

"Quick," said Bevis suddenly.  "Mark--quick; you and Fred, and Bill, and
these,"--three or four soldiers who came up now things looked
better--"run quick, Mark, and get in the hollow, you know where we
cooked the bird, they're going that way.  See, Ted's beginning to fight
again, and you will be behind him.  Make an ambush, don't you see?
Seize him as he goes by.  Quick!  I'm tired, I'll follow in a minute."

Off ran Mark, Fred, Bill, and the rest, and making a little circuit, got
into the bowl-like hollow.  The crowd with Scipio Cecil was still
thrusting Pompey and his men before them, but Ted had worked himself
free by main force, and he and Val Crassus, side by side, were fighting
as they were forced backwards.  Step by step they went backwards, but
disputing every inch, straight back for the hollow where Mark and his
party were crouching.  In half a minute Ted would certainly be taken.

"Victory!" shouted Bevis, in an ecstasy of delight.  He had been leaning
against the sycamore: he stood up and stepped just in front of it to see
better, shading his eyes (for his hat had gone long since) with his left
hand, the point of his sword touched the ground.  He was alone, he
rejoiced in the triumph of his men.  The gale blew his hair back, and
brushed his cheek.  His colour rose, a light shone in his eyes.

"We've won!" he shouted.  Just then the hurricane smote the tree, and as
there was less noise near him, he heard a bough crack above.  He looked
up, thinking it might fall; it did not, but when he looked back Ted was

"He's down!" said Bevis.  "They've got him."

He could see Mark Antony, who had risen out of the hollow; thus caught
between two forces, Scipio pushing in front, the Pompeians broke and
scattered to the right in a straggling line.

"Hurrah!  But where's Ted?  Hurrah!"

Bevis was so absorbed in the spectacle that, though the fight was only a
short distance from him, the impulse to join it did not move him.  He
was lost in the sight.

"They're running!"

"I've got you!"

Ted Pompey pounced on him from behind the sycamore-tree; Bevis
involuntarily started forward, just escaping his clutch, struck,
parried, and struck again.

Pompey, while driven backwards step by step by Scipio, had suddenly
caught sight of Bevis standing alone by the sycamore.  He slipped from
Scipio, and ran round just as Bevis looked up at the cracking bough, and
Mark sprang out of the hollow.  Scipio's soldiers shouted, seeing Pompey
as they thought running away.  Mark for a moment could not understand
what had become of him, the next he was occupied in driving the
Pompeians as they yielded ground.  Pompey running swiftly got round
behind the tree and darted on Caesar, whose strategy had left him alone,
intending to grasp him and seize him by main force.

Caesar Bevis slipped from him by the breadth of half an inch.

Pompey hit hard, twice, thrice; crash, clatter.  His arm was strong, and
the sword fell heavy; rattle, crash.  He hit his hardest, fearing help
would come to Bevis.  Swish! slash!

Thwack!  He felt a sharp blow on his shoulder.  Bevis kept him off, saw
an opportunity, and cut him.  With swords he was more than Ted's match.
He and Mark had so often practised they had both become crafty at
fencing.  The harder Ted hit, overbalancing himself to put force into
the blow, and the less able to recover himself quickly, the easier Bevis
warded, and every three knocks gave Ted a rap.  Ted danced round him,
trying to get an advantage; he swung his sword to and fro in front of
him horizontally.  Bevis retired to avoid it past the sycamore.  Finding
this answer, Ted swung it all the more furiously, and Bevis retreated,
watching his chance, and they passed several trees on to the narrow
breadth of level short sward between the trees and the quarry.

Ted's chest heaved with the fury of his blows; Bevis could not ward
them, at least not so as to be able to strike afterwards.  But suddenly,
as Ted swung it still fiercer, Bevis resolutely received the sword full
on his left arm--thud, and stopped it.  Before Ted could recover himself
Bevis hit his wrist, and his sword dropped from it on the ground.

Ted instantly rushed in and grappled with him.  He seized him, and by
sheer strength whirled him round and round, so that Bevis's feet but
just touched the sward.  He squeezed him, and tried to get him across
his hip to throw him; but Bevis had his collar, and he could not do it.
Bevis got his feet the next instant, and worked Ted, who breathed hard,

The quarry was very near, they were hardly three yards from the edge of
the cliff; the sward beneath their feet was short where the sheep had
fed it close to the verge, and yellow with lotus flowers.  Yonder far
below were the waves, but they saw nothing but themselves.

The second's pause, as Bevis forced Ted back two steps, then another,
then a fourth, as they glared at each other, was over.  Ted burst on him
again.  He lifted Bevis, but could not for all his efforts throw him.
He got his feet again.

"You punched me!" hissed Ted between his teeth.

"I didn't."

"You did."  Ted hit him with doubled fist.  Bevis instantly hit back.
They struck without much parrying.  At this, as at swords, Bevis's quick
eye and hand served him in good stead.  He kept Ted back; it was at
wrestling Ted's strength was superior.  Ted got a straight-out blow on
the chin; his teeth rattled.

He hurled himself bodily on Bevis; Bevis stepped back and avoided the
direct hug, but the cliff yawned under him.  Into Ted's mind there
flashed, vivid as a picture, something he had seen when two men were
fighting in the road.  Without a thought, it was done in the millionth
of a second, he tripped Bevis.  Bevis staggered, swung round, half saved
himself, clutched at Ted's arm, and put his foot back over the cliff
into nothing.

Ted did but see his face, and Bevis was gone.  As he fell he
disappeared; the edge hid him.  Crash!

Ted's face became of a leaden pallor, his heart stopped boating; an
uncontrollable horror seized upon him.  Some inarticulate sound came
from between his teeth.  He turned and fled down the slope into the
firs, through the fields, like the wind, for his home under the hills.
He fled from his own act.  How many have done that who could have faced
the world!  Bevis he knew was dead.  As he ran he muttered to himself,
constantly repeating it, "His bones are all smashed; I heard them.  His
bones are all smashed."  He never stopped till he reached his home.  He
rushed upstairs, locked his door, and got into bed with all his things

Bevis was not dead, nor even injured.  He had scarcely fallen ten feet
before he was brought up by a flake, which is a stronger kind of hurdle.
It was one of those originally placed along the edge of the precipice
to keep cattle from falling over.  It had become loose, and a horse
rubbing against it sent it over weeks before.  The face of the cliff
there had been cut into a groove four or five feet wide years ago by the
sand-seekers.  This groove went straight down to a deep pool of water,
which had filled up the ancient digging for the stone of the lower
stratum.  As the flake tumbled it presently lodged aslant the cutting,
and it was in that position when Bevis fell on it.

His weight drove it down several feet farther, when the lower part
caught in a ledge at that side of the groove, and it stopped with a
jerk.  The jerk cracked one bar of the flake, which was made much like a
very slender gate, and it was this sound which Ted in his agony of mind
mistook for the smashing of bones.

Bevis when he struck the flake instinctively clutched it, and it was
well that he did so, or he would have rolled over into the pool.  For
the moment when he felt his foot go into space, he lost conscious
consciousness.  He really was conscious, but he had no control, or will,
or knowledge at the time, or memory afterwards.  That moment passed
completely out of his life, till the jerk of the flake brought him to
himself.  He saw the pool underneath as through the bars of a grating,
and clasped the flake still firmer.

In that position, lying on it, he remained for a minute, getting his
breath, and recognising where he was.  Then he rose up a little, and
shouted "Mark!"  The gale took his voice out over the New Sea, whose
waves were rolling past not more than twenty yards from the base of the

"Mark!"  No one answered.  He sat upon the flake still holding it, and
began to try and think what he should do if Mark did not come.

His first thought was to climb up somehow, but when he looked he saw
that the sand was as straight as a wall.  Steps might be cut in the soft
sand, and he put his hand in his pocket for his knife, when he reflected
that steps for the feet would be of no use unless he had something to
hold to as well.  Then he looked down, inclined for the moment to drop
into the water, which would check his fall, and bring him up without
injury.  Only the sides of the pool were as steep as the cliff itself,
so that any one swimming in it could not climb up to get out.

He recollected the frog which he and Mark put in the stone trough, to
see how it swam, and how it went round and round, and could not escape.
So he should be if he fell into the pool.  He could only swim round and
round until his strength failed him.  If the flake broke, or tipped, or
slipped again, that was what would happen.

Bevis sat still, and tried to think; and while he did so he looked out
over the New Sea.  The sun was now lower, and all the waves were touched
with purple, as if the crests had been sprinkled with wine.  The wind
blew even harder, as the sun got nearer the horizon, and fine particles
of sand were every now and then carried over his head from the edge of
the precipice.

What would Ulysses have done?  He had a way of getting out of
everything; but try how he would, Bevis could not think of any plan,
especially as he feared to move much, lest the insecure platform under
him should give way.  He could see his reflection in the pool beneath,
as if it were waiting for him to come in reality.

While he sat quite still, pondering, he thought he heard a rumbling
sound, and supposed it to be the noise of tramping feet, as the legions
battled above.  He shouted again, "Mark!  Mark!" and immediately wished
he had not done so, lest it should be a party fetched by Pompey to seize
him; for if he was captured the battle would be lost.  He did not know
that Pompey had fled, and feared that his shout would guide his
pursuers, forgetting in his excitement that if he could not get up to
them, neither could they get down to him.  He kept still looking up,
thinking that in a minute he should see faces above.

But none appeared, and suddenly there was another rumbling noise, and
directly afterwards a sound like scampering, and then a splash
underneath him.  He looked, and some sand was still rolling down
sprinkling the pool.  "A rabbit," thought Bevis.  "It was a rabbit and a
weasel.  I see--of course!  Yes; if it was a rabbit then there's a
ledge, and if there's a ledge I can get along."

Cautiously he craned his head over the edge of the flake, carefully
keeping his weight as well back as he could.  There was a ledge about
two feet lower than the flake, very narrow, not more than three or four
inches there; but having seen so many of these ledges in the quarry
before, he had no doubt it widened.  As that was the extreme end, it
would be narrowest there.  He thought he could get his foot on it, but
the difficulty was what to hold to.

It was of no use putting his foot on a mere strip like that unless there
was something for his hand to grasp.  Bevis saw a sand-martin pass at
that moment, and it occurred to him that if he could find a martin's
hole to put his hand in, that would steady him.  He felt round the edge
of the groove, when, as he extended himself to do so, the flake tipped a
little, and he drew back hastily.  His chest thumped with sudden terror,
and he sat still to recover himself.  A humble-bee went by round the
edge of the groove, and presently a second, buzzing close to him, and
seeing these two he remembered that one had passed before, making three

"There must be thistles," said Bevis to himself, knowing that
humble-bees are fond of thistle-flowers, and that there were quantities
of thistles in the quarry.  "If I can catch hold of some thistles,
perhaps I can do it."  He wanted to feel round the perpendicular edge
again, but feared that the flake would tip.  In half a minute he got his
pocket-knife, opened the largest blade, and worked it into the sand
farthest from the edge--in the corner--so as to hold the flake there
like a nail.

Then with the utmost caution, and feeling every inch of his way, he put
his hand round the edge, and moving it about presently felt a thistle.
Would it hold? that was the next thing; or should he pull it up if he
held to it?  How could he hold it tight, the prickles would hurt so.  He
knew that thistles generally have deep roots, and are hard to pull up,
so he thought it would be firm, and besides, if there was one there were
most likely several, and three or four would be stronger.

Taking out his handkerchief, he put his hand in it, and twisted it round
his wrist to make a rough glove, then he knelt up close to the sand
wall, and steadied himself before he started.  The flake creaked under
these movements, and he hesitated.  Should he do it, or should he wait
till Mark missed him and searched?  But the battle--the battle might be
lost by then, and Mark and all his soldiers driven from the field, and
Pompey would triumph, and fetch long ladders, and take him prisoner.

Bevis frowned till a groove ran up the centre of his forehead, then he
moved towards the verge of the flake, and slowly put his foot over till
he felt the narrow ledge, at the same time searching about with his hand
for the thistle.  Now he had his foot on the ledge, and his hand on the
stem of the thistle; it was very stout, which reassured him, but the
prickles came through the handkerchief.  A moment's pause, and he sprang
round and stood upright on the ledge.

His spring broke the blade of the knife, and the flake upset and crashed
down splash into the pool.

The prickles of the thistle dug deep into his hand, causing exquisite

He clung to the thistle, biting his lips, till he had got his other foot
on.  One glance showed him his position.

The moment he had his balance he let go of the thistle, and ran along
the ledge, which widened to about nine inches or a foot, tending
downwards.  Running kept him from falling, just as a bicycle remains
upright while in motion.

In four yards he leapt down from the ledge to a much broader one, ran
along that six or seven yards, still descending, sprang from it down on
a wide platform, thence six or eight feet on to an immense heap of loose
sand, into which he sank above his knees, struggled slipping as he went
down its yielding side, and landed on his hands and knees on the sward
below, while still the wavelets raised by the fall of the flake were
breaking in successive circles against the sides of the pool.

He was up in a moment, and stamped his feet alternately to shake the
sand off; then he pulled out some of the worst of the thistle points
stuck in his hand, and kicked his heels up and danced with delight.

Without looking back he ran up on the narrow bank between the excavation
and the New Sea, as the nearest place to look round from.  The punt was
just there inside the headland.  He saw that the waves, though much
diminished in force by the point, had gradually worked it nearly off the
shore.  He could see nothing of the battle, but remembering a place
where the ascent of the quarry was easy, and where he and Mark had often
run up the slope, which was thinly grown with grass, he started there,
ran up, and was just going to get out on the field when he recollected
that he was alone, and had no sword, so that if Pompey had got a party
of his soldiers, and was looking for him, they could easily take him
prisoner.  He determined to reconnoitre first, and seeing a little
bramble bush and a thick growth of nettles, peered out from beside this
cover.  It was well that he did so.

Val Crassus, with a strong body of Pompeians, was coming from the
sycamores direct towards him.  They were not twenty yards distant when
Bevis saw them, and instantly crouched on hands and knees under the
brambles.  He heard the tramp of their feet, and then their voices.

"Where can he be?"

"Are you sure you looked all through the firs?"

"Quite sure."

"Well, if he isn't in the firs, nor behind the sycamores, nor anywhere
else, he _must_ be in the quarry," said Crassus.

"So I think."

"I'm sure."

"Ted's got him down somewhere."

"Perhaps he's hiding from Ted."

"Can you see him now in the quarry?"

They crowded on the edge, looking over Bevis into the excavated hollow
beneath.  Now Bevis had not noticed when he crouched that he had put his
hand almost on the mouth of a wasp's nest, but suddenly feeling
something tickle the back of his hand, he moved it, and instantly a
wasp, which had been crawling over it, stung him.  He pressed his teeth
together, and shut his eyes in the endeavour to repress the exclamation
which rose; he succeeded, but could not help a low sound in his chest.
But they were so busy crowding round and talking they did not hear it.

"I can't see him."

"He's not there."

"He may be hidden behind the stone-heaps.  There's a lot of nettles down
there," said Crassus.

"Yes," said another, and struck at the nettles by Bevis, cutting down
three or four with his sword.

"Anyhow," said Crassus, "we're sure to have him, he can't get away; and
Mark's a mile off by this time."

"Look sharp then; let's go down and hunt round the stone heaps."

"There's the old oak," said some one; "it's hollow; perhaps he's in

"Let's look in the oak as we go round to get down, and then behind the
stones.  Are there any caves?"

"I don't know," said Crassus.  "Very likely.  We'll see.  March."

They moved along to the left; Bevis opened his eyes, and saw the sting
and its sheath left sticking in his hand.  He drew it out, waited a
moment, and then peered out again from the brambles.  Crassus and the
cohort were going towards the old hollow oak, which stood not far from
the quarry on low ground by the shore of the New Sea, so that their
backs were towards him.  Bevis stood out for a second to try and see
Mark.  There was not a sign of him, the field was quite deserted, and he
remembered that Crassus had said Mark was a mile away.  "The battle's
lost," said Bevis to himself.  "Mark has fled, and Pompey's after him,
and they'll have me in a minute."

He darted down the slope into the hollow which concealed him for the
time, and gave him a chance to think.  "If I go out on the Plain they'll
see me," he said to himself; "if I ran to the firs I must cross the open
first; if I hide behind the stones, they're coming to look.  What shall
I do?  The New Sea's that side, and I can't.  O!"

He was over the bank and on the shore in a moment.  The jutting point
was rather higher than the rest of the ground there, and hid him for a
minute.  He put his left knee on the punt, and pushed hard with his
right foot.  The heavy punt, already loosened by the waves, yielded,
moved, slid off the sand, and floated.  He drew his other knee on, crept
down on the bottom of the punt, and covered himself with two sacks,
which were intended to hold sand.  He was, too, partly under the seat,
which was broad.  The impetus of his push off and the wind and waves
carried the punt out, and it was already fifteen or twenty yards from
the land when Crassus and his men appeared.

Volume Two, Chapter II.


They had found the oak empty, and were returning along the shore to
search the quarry.  The wind brought their voices out over the water.

"Mind, he'll fight if he's there."

"Pooh! we're ten to one."

"Well, he hits hard."

"And he can run.  We shall have to catch him when we find him; he can
run like a hare."


"The punt's loose."

"So it is."

"Serves the old rascal right.  Hope it will sink."

"It's sure to sink in those big waves," said Crassus.  "Come on," and
down he went into the quarry, where they looked behind the stone heaps
and every place they could think of, in vain.  Next some one said that
perhaps even now Bevis might be in the sycamores, up in the boughs, so
they went there and looked, and actually pushed a soldier up into one
tree to see the better.  After which they went down to the lower ground
and searched along the nut tree hedge, some one side, some another, and
two up in the mound itself.

"Wherever _can_ he be?" said Crassus.  "It's extraordinary.  And Pompey,

"Both of them nowhere."

"I can't make it out.  Thrust your sword into those ferns."  So they
continued hunting the hedge.

Now the way Val Crassus and his cohort came to hunt for Caesar Bevis was
like this: At the moment when Pompey pounced on Caesar, the rest of the
Pompeians, a little way off, were scattering before Mark Antony and
Scipio Cecil, who had attacked them front and rear.  Mark Antony, though
he had (to him unaccountably) missed Ted, saw the eagle which he had
lost before him, and, calling to Cecil, pursued with fury.  So terrific
was their onslaught, especially as Scipio's cohort was quite fresh, that
the Pompeians gave way and ran, not knowing where their general was, and
some believing they had seen him fly the combat.  This pursuit continued
for a good distance, almost down to the group of elms to which Bevis and
Mark used to run when they came out from their bath.

As the Pompeians ran, Val Crassus, driven along by the throng, caught
his foot against one who had tumbled, and fell.  When he got up he found
the rest had gone on and left him behind with several stragglers who had
escaped at the side of the crowd.  As he stood, dubious what to do, and
looking round for Pompey, several more stragglers gathered about him,
till by-and-by he had a detachment.  Still he was uncertain what to do,
whether to go after Mark and endeavour to check the rout, or whether to
stay there and rally the Pompeians, if possible, to him.

By this time the fugitives, with Antony and Scipio hot on their rear,
had gone through the gate to which the hollow way or waggon-track led,
and were out of sight.  Val Crassus moved towards the rising ground to
view what happened in the meadows beyond, when two Pompeians came
running to him, and said that Pompey had got Caesar Bevis prisoner.

These were the two who had been hoisted up into the sycamore-tree, at
Pompey's order, to slash down at the four defenders.  So long as Bevis
stood there afterwards watching Scipio drive his recent assailants away,
they dared not descend.  They had seen Bevis fight like a paladin; and
though he was alone they dared not come down.  But when Pompey pounced
on him, and they went fencing at each other, past the tree, and some
distance, they slipped out of the tree, which was very large, but
equally short, so that they had not half the depth to fall that Charlie

They dreaded to go near the two leaders, for the moment, but watched the
main fight, and hesitated to go near it, too, as their friends were in
distress.  When they turned, Pompey and Caesar were both gone: they
looked the other way, and the Pompeians were in full flight.  They hid
for a few minutes in the bowl-like hollow, where the moor-cock was
cooked; and when they ventured to peep out, saw Val Crassus, with the
soldiers who had rallied around him.  They ran to him with the story of
Caesar's capture, and that Ted was holding him, and could but just
manage it.

Val Crassus immediately hastened to the sycamores, but when he arrived,
found no one, for Pompey had fled, and Bevis was on the flake.  Val
turned angrily on the two who had brought him this intelligence, but
they maintained their story, and being now in for it, added various
other particulars; how Caesar had got up once, and how Ted pulled him
down again, so that, most likely, Bevis had got away again, and Ted was
chasing him.

Crassus shouted, but received no answer; then he went through the firs,
and came back to the sycamores, and next to the quarry, where he stood
within a yard or two of Bevis without seeing him.  Unable to discover
either Pompey or Bevis, Crassus was now minutely searching the broad
mound of the nut tree hedge.

While he had been thus engaged, Antony and Scipio followed close in the
rear of the fugitives across two meadows, Mark forgetting Bevis in his
eagerness to recover his standard.  As they ran, presently Phil Varro
stopped, sat down on the grass, and was instantly taken prisoner.  He
was short and stout and so overcome with his exertions that he could
make no resistance, as they tied his hands behind him.

Antony still continued to pursue, shouting to the soldier with the eagle
to surrender.  He did not do so, but, looking back and seeing Varro
taken, threw it down, the better to escape.  So Antony recovered it, and
at last, pausing, found himself alone, having outstripped all the rest.
He now returned to where Varro was prisoner, and Scipio Cecil came up
with another eagle, which he had taken, and which had been carried
before Phil Varro.

"Hurrah!" shouted Mark, sitting down to recover breath; and they all
rested a minute or two.

"Wreaths!" said Cecil, panting.  "Wreaths for the victors!"

"How many did you have made?"

"Two or three.  Hurrah! we'll put them on presently."

"Where's Bevis?" said Mark, as he got over his running.

"I haven't seen him," said Cecil.

"Nor I!"

"It's curious."

"Have you seen him?"--to the others.

"Not for a long time."

"No--nor Pompey."  Every one remarked on the singular absence of the two

"Crassus," said Mark.  "Bevis is hunting Crassus and Pompey: that's it.
Come on.  Let's help.  March."

He marched along the winding hedge-row towards the Plain, and, turning
round a corner, presently came to the gate in the nut tree mound just as
Crassus, who had been searching it, opened the gate.

"Charge!" shouted Mark, and they dashed on the Pompeians.  Crassus drew
back, but before he could get quite through, Mark jammed him with the
gate, between the gate and the post.

"Fred!  Bill!"  For Crassus struggled, and was very strong.  Bill rushed
to Mark's assistance: together they squeezed Val tight.

"O!  My side!  You dogs!"  Crassus hit at them with his sword: they
pressed him harder.

"Give in," said Bill.  "You're caught--give in."

"I shan't," gasped Val.  "If I could only reach you,"--he hit viciously,
but they were just an inch or two beyond his arm.

"Charge, Cecil!--Scipio, charge!" shouted Mark.  Scipio had charged
already, and the Pompeians, being divided into three parties, one on
each side of the mound, and the third up in it, were easily scattered.
Scipio himself found their eagle in the brambles, where the bearer had
left it, as he jumped out of the hedge to run.

"Yield," said Bill.  "Give in--we've got your eagle."

"All the eagles," said Scipio, returning.  "Every one--our two and
Pompey's two."

"And Varro's a prisoner--there he is," said Mark.  "Give in, Val."

"I won't.  Let me out.  Come near and hit then.  If I could get at you!"

"But you can't!"

"O!"--as they pressed him.

"Give in!"

"No!  Not if I'm squashed:--no, that I won't," said Val, frantically

"What's the use?" said Scipio.  "You may just as well--the battle's won,
and it's no use your fighting."

"Where's Pompey?" asked Val Crassus.

"Run away," said Mark promptly.

"Then where's Bevis?"

"After him of course," said Mark.

"I don't believe it; did any one see Pompey run?  Phil, did you?"--to
the prisoner.

"Don't know," said Varro, sullenly.  "Don't care.  If he had done as I
said he would have won.  Yes, I saw him leave the fight."

"Now will you give in?" said Mark.  "Or must we chop you till you do."

"Chop away," said Val defiantly.

"Don't hit him," said Scipio.  "Val, really it's no good, you've lost
the battle."

"I suppose we have," said Val.  "Well, let some one take Varro on the
hill, and let him tell me if he can see Pompey anywhere."

They did so.  Cecil and three others as guards took Varro on the rising
ground; Varro was obliged to own that Pompey was not in sight.

"Take it then," said Crassus, hurling his sword at them.  "Well, I never
thought Ted would have run.  If he had not, I would not have given in
for fifty of you."

"But he did run," said Mark, unable to suppress his joy.

"You won't tie me," said Crassus, as they let him out.  Mark did not tie
him, and then as they were now ten to one they loosened Varro too.  Mark
led them up on the higher ground towards the sycamores, fully expecting
to see Bevis every moment.  When he got there, and could not see him
anywhere, he could not understand it.  Then Crassus told him of the
search he had made.  Mark went to the quarry and looked down--no one was
there.  He halted while two of his men ran through the firs shouting,
but of course came back unsuccessful.

"I know," said Scipio, "he's gone to the camp."

"Of course," said Mark.  "How stupid of us--of course he's at the camp.
Let him see us come properly.  Two and two, now--prisoners two and two
half-way down, that's it.  Eagles in front.  Right.  March."

He marched, with Scipio beside him, the four eagles behind, and the
prisoners in the centre.  Never was there a prouder general than Mark at
that moment.  He had captured both the enemy's eagles, recovered his
own, and taken Pompey's lieutenants captive.  Pompey himself and all his
soldiers had fled: looking round the Plain there was not one in sight.
Mark Antony was in sole possession of the battlefield.  Proudly he
marched, passing every now and then broken swords on the ground, and
noticing the trampled grass where fierce combats had occurred.  How
delighted Bevis would be to see him!  How he looked forward to Bevis's
triumph!  All his heart was full of Bevis, it was not his own success,
it was Bevis's victory that he rejoiced in.

"Bevis!  Bevis!" he shouted, as they came near the camp, but there was
no answer.  When they entered the camp, and found the fire still
smouldering, but no Bevis, Mark's face became troubled.  The triumph
faded away, he grew anxious.

"Where ever can he be?" he said.  "I hope there's nothing wrong.
Bevis!" shouting at the top of his voice.  The gale took the shout with
it, but nothing came but the roaring of the wind.  The sun was now
sinking and cast a purple gleam over the grass.

Volume Two, Chapter III.


In the punt Bevis remained quite still under the sacks while Crassus
searched the quarry for him, then looked up in the sycamores, and
afterwards went to the hazel hedge.  Bevis, peeping out from under the
broad seat, saw him go there, and knew that he could not see over the
New Sea from the lower ground, but as others might at any moment come on
the hill, he considered it best to keep on the bottom of the boat.  The
punt at first floated slowly, and was sheltered by the jutting point,
but still the flow of the water carried it out, and in a little time the
wind pushed it more strongly as it got farther from shore.  Presently it
began to roll with the waves, and Bevis soon found some of the
inconveniences of a flat-bottomed vessel.

The old punt always leaked, and the puntsman being too idle to bale till
compelled, the space between the veal and the false bottom was full of
water.  As she began to roll this water went with a sound like "swish"
from side to side, and Bevis saw it appear between the edge of the
boards and the side.  When she had drifted quite out of the gulf and met
the full force of the waves every time they lifted her, this bilgewater
rushed out over the floor.  Bevis was obliged to change his position,
else he would soon have been wet through.  He doubled up the two sacks
and sat on them, reclining his arms on the seat so as still to be as low
down and as much concealed as possible.

This precaution was really needless, for both the armies were scattered,
the one pursuing and the other pursued, in places where they could not
see him, and even had they moved by the shore they would never have
thought of looking for him where he was.  He could not know this, and so
sat on the sacks.  The punt was now in the centre of the storm, and the
waves seemed immense to Bevis.  Between them the surface was dark, their
tops were crested with foam, which the wind blew off against him, so
that he had to look in the direction he was going and not back to escape
the constant shower of scud in his face.

Now up, now down, the boat heaved and sank, turning slowly round as she
went, but generally broadside on.  With such a hurricane and such waves
she floated fast, and the shore was already far behind.  When Bevis felt
that he was really out on the New Sea a wild delight possessed him.  He
shouted and sang how--

"Estmere threw his harpe asyde, And swith he drew his brand!"

The dash of the waves, the "wish" of the gust as it struck him, the
flying foam, the fury of the storm, the red sun almost level with the
horizon and towards which he drifted, the dark heaving waters in their
wrath lifted his spirit to meet them.  All he wished was that Mark was
with him to share the pleasure.  He was now in the broadest part of the
New Sea where the rollers having come so far rose yet higher.  Bevis
shouted to them, wild as the waves.

The punt being so cumbrous and heavy did not rise buoyantly as the waves
went under, but hung on them, so that the crests of the larger waves
frequently broke over the gunwale and poured a flood of water on board.
There were crevices too in her sides, which in ordinary times were not
noticed, as she was never loaded deep enough to bring them down to the
water-line.  But now the waves rising above these found out the chinks,
and rushed through in narrow streams.

The increase of the water in the punt again forced Bevis to move, and he
sat up on the seat with his feet on the sacks.  The water was quite
three inches above the false bottom, and rushed from side to side with a
great splash, of course helping to heel her over.  Bevis did not like
this at all; he ceased singing, and looked about him.

It seemed a mile (it was not so far) back to the quarry, such a waste of
raging waves and foam!  On either side the shore was a long, long way,
he could not swim a tenth as far.  He recognised the sedges where he and
Mark had wandered on his left, and found that he was rapidly coming near
the two islands.  He began to grow anxious, thinking that the boat would
not keep afloat very much longer.  The shore in front beyond the islands
was a great way, and from what he knew of it he believed it was
encumbered far out with weeds through which, if the punt foundered, he
could not swim, so that his hope was that she would strike either the
Unknown Island or Serendib.

Both were now near, and he tried to discover whether the current and
wind would throw him on them.  A long white streak parallel to the
course of the storm marked the surface of the water rising and falling
with the waves like a ribbon, and this seemed to pass close by Serendib.
The punt being nearly on the streak he hoped he should get there.  If
he only had something to row with!  The Old Man of the Sea had hidden
the sculls, and had not troubled to bring the movable seat with him, as
he did not want it.  The movable seat would have made a good paddle.  As
for the stretcher it was fixed, nailed to the floor.

He could do nothing paddling with his hand, in calm weather he might,
but not in such a storm of wind.  If he only had something to paddle
with he could have worked the punt into the line so as to strike on
Serendib.  As it was he could do nothing; if he had only had his hat he
could have baled out some of the water, which continued to rise higher.

Drifting as the waves chose he saw that Serendib was a low, flat island.
The Unknown Island rose into a steep sand bluff at that end which faced
him.  Against this bluff the waves broke with tremendous fury, sending
the spray up to the bushes on the top.  Bevis watched to see where the
punt would ground, or whether it would miss both islands and drift
through the narrow channel between them.

He still thought it might hit Serendib, when it once more rotated, and
that brought it in such a position that the waves must take it crash
against the low steep cliff of the Unknown Island.  Bevis set his teeth,
and prepared to dig his nails into the sand, when just as the punt was
within three waves of the shore, it seemed to pause.  This was the
reflux--the undertow, the water recoiling from the bank--so that the
boat for half a moment was suspended or held between the two forces.

Before he had time to think what was best to do the punt partly swung
round, and the rush of the current, setting between the islands, carried
it along close beside the shore.  The bluff now sloped, and the waves
rushed up among the bushes and trees.  Bevis watched, saw a chance, and
in an instant stepped on the seat, and leaped with all his might.  It
was a long way, but he was a good jumper, and his feet landed on the
ground.  He would even then have fallen back into the water had he not
grasped a branch of alder.

For a moment he hung over the waves, the next he drew himself up, and
was safe.  He stepped back from the edge, and instinctively put his left
arm round the alder trunk, as if clinging to a friend.  Leaning against
the tree he saw the punt, pushed out by the impetus from his spring,
swing round and drift rapidly between the islands.  It went some
distance, and then began to settle, and slowly sank.

Bevis remained holding the tree till he had recovered himself, then he
moved farther into the island, and went a little way up the bluff,
whence he saw that the sun had set.  He soon forgot his alarm, and as
that subsided began to enjoy his position.  "What a pity Mark was not
with me!" he said to himself.  "I am so sorry.  Only think, I'm really
shipwrecked.  It's splendid!"  He kicked up his heels, and a startled
blackbird flew out of a bramble bush and across the water.

Bevis watched him fly aslant the gale till he lost sight of him in the
trees on shore.  Looking that way--north-west--his quick eyes found out
a curious thing.  On that side of the island there was a broad band of
weeds stretching towards the shore, and widening the farther it

These weeds were level with the surface, and as the waves rolled under
they undulated like a loose green carpet lifted by a strong draught.  As
they proceeded the undulations became less and less, till on emerging
into an open channel on the other side of the weeds, they were nothing
more than slow ripples.  Still passing on the slow ripples gently
crossed, and were lost in a second band of weeds.  He could hear the
boom of the waves as they struck the low cliff and dashed themselves to
pieces, yet these furious waves were subdued by the leaves and stalks of
the weeds, any of which he knew he could pull up with his hand.

Watching the green undulations he looked farther and saw that at some
distance from the island there were banks covered with sedges, and the
channel between the weeds (showing deeper water) wound in among these.
Next he went up on the top of the cliff, and found a young oak-tree
growing on the summit, to which he held while thus exposed to the full
strength of the wind, and every now and then the spray flew up and
sprinkled him.

Shading his eyes with his hand, for the wind seemed to hurt them, he
looked towards the quarry, which appeared yellow at this distance.  He
saw a group of people, as he supposed Pompey's victorious army, passing
by the sycamores.

"It's no use, Ted," he said to himself, "you can't find me, and you
can't win.  I've done you."

The group was really Mark and the rest searching for him.  After a while
they went over the hill, and Bevis could not see them.

Bevis came down from the cliff, and thought he would see how large the
island was, so he went all round it, as near the edge as he could.  It
was covered with wood, and there were the thickest masses of bramble he
had ever seen.  He had to find a way round these, so that it took him
some time to get along.  Some firs too obstructed his path, and he found
one very tall spruce.  At last he reached the other extremity, where the
ground was low, and only just above the water, which was nearly smooth
there, being sheltered by the projecting irregularities of the shore.

Returning he had in one place to climb over quantities of stones, for
the bank just there was steeper, and presently compelled him to go more
inland.  The island seemed very large, in shape narrow and long, but so
thickly overgrown with bushes and trees that he could not see across it.
The surface was uneven, for he went down into a hollow which seemed
beneath the level of the water, and afterwards came to a steep bank, on
rounding which he was close to the place from which he started.

Not having had anything to eat since dinner (for they shirked their
tea), and having gone through all these labours, Bevis began to feel
hungry, but there was nothing to eat on his island, for the berries were
not yet ripe.  First he whistled, then he wished Mark would come, then
he walked up to the cliff and climbed into the oak on the summit.

"Mark is sure to come," he said to himself.  Just then he saw the full
moon, which had risen above the distant hills, and shining over the
battlefield touched the raging waves with tarnished silver.

He looked at the great round shield on which the heraldic markings were
dimmed by its own gleam.  He almost fancied he could see it move, so
rapidly did it sweep upwards.  It was clear and bright as if wind-swept,
as if the hurricane had brushed it.  Bevis watched it a little while,
and then he thought of Mark.  The possibility that Mark would not know
where he was never entered his mind, nor did it occur to him that
perhaps even Mark would hesitate to venture out in such a tempest of
wind: so strong was his faith in his companion.

The wind blew so hard up in the tree, he presently got down, and
descended the slope till the ridge sheltered him.  He sat on the rough
grass, put his hands in his pockets, and whistled again to assure
himself that he liked it.  But he was hungry, and the time seemed very
slow, and he could not quite suppress an inward feeling that shipwreck
when one was quite alone was not altogether so splendid.  It was so

He got up, picked up some stones, and threw them into the shadowy
bushes, just for something to do.  They fell with a crash, and one or
two birds fluttered away.  He wished he had his knife to cut and whittle
a stick.  He thought he would make up his mind to go to sleep, and
extended himself on the ground, when, looking up as he lay on his back,
he saw there were stars.  Not in the least sleepy, up he jumped again.

"Kaack! kaack!" like an immensely exaggerated and prolonged "quack"
without the "qu;" a harsh shriek resounding over the water even above
the gale.

"A heron," thought Bevis.  "If I only had a gun, or my bow now."  He
took a stone, and peered out over the water on the side the cry came
from, which was where the weeds were.  The surface was dim and shadowy
in that direction, and he could not see the heron.  He returned and sat
down on the grass.  He could not think of anything to do, till at last
he resolved to build a hut of branches, as shipwrecked people did.  But
when he came to pull at the alder branches, those of any size were too
tough; the aspen were too high up; the firs too small.

"Stupid," he said to himself.  "This _is_ stupid."  Once more he
returned to the foot of the slope, and sat down on the grass.

Before him there were the shadowy trees and bushes, and behind he could
hear the boom of the waves, yet it never occurred to him how weird the
place was.  All he wanted was to be at something.  "Why ever doesn't
Mark come?" he repeated to himself.  Just then he chanced to put his
hand in his jacket-pocket, and instantly jumped up delighted.
"Matches!"  He took out the box, which he had used to light the
camp-fire, and immediately set about gathering materials for a fire.
"The proper thing to do," he thought.  "The very thing!"

He soon began to make a pile of dead wood, when he stopped, and, lifting
the bundle in his arms, carried it up the slope nearly to the top of the
cliff, where he put it down behind a bramble bush.  He thought that if
he made the fire on the height it would be a guide to Mark, but down in
the hollow no one could see it.  To get together enough sticks took some
time; for the moon, though full and bright only gave light where the
beams fell direct.  In the shadow he could hardly see at all.

Having arranged the pile, and put all the larger sticks on one side,
ready to throw on presently, he put some dry leaves and grass
underneath, as he had no straw or paper, struck a match and held, it to
them.  Some of the leaves smouldered, one crackled, and the dry grass
lit a little, but only just where it was in contact with the flame of
the match.  The same thing happened with ten matches, one after the
other.  The flame would not spread.  Bevis on his knees thought a good
while, and then he set to work and gathered some more leaves, dry grass,
and some thin chips of dry bark.  Then he took out the sliding-drawer of
the match-box, and placed it under these, as the deal of which it was
made would burn like paper.  The outer case he was careful to preserve,
because they were safety matches, and lit only on the prepared surface.

In and around the little drawer he arranged half-a-dozen matches, and
then lit them, putting the rest in his pocket.  The flame caught the
deal, which was as thin as a wafer, then the bark and tiny twigs, then
the dry grass and larger sticks.  It crept up through the pile,
crackling and hissing.  In three minutes it had hold of the boughs,
curling its lambent point round them, as a cow licks up the grass with
her tongue.  The bramble bush sheltered it from the gale, but let enough
wind through to cause a draught.

Up sprang the flames, and the bonfire began to cast out heat, and red
light flickering on the trees.  Bevis threw on more branches, the fire
flared up and gleamed afar on the wet green carpet of undulating weeds.
He hauled up a fallen pole, the sparks rose as he hurled it on.

"Hurrah!" shouted Bevis, dancing and singing:

  "Kyng Estmere threwe his harpe asyde,
  And swith he drew his brand;
  And Estmere he, and Adler yonge,
  Right stiffe in stour can stand!"

"Adler will be here in a minute."  He meant Mark.

Volume Two, Chapter IV.


But Adler was himself in trouble.  After they had waited some time in
the camp, thinking that Bevis would be certain to return there sooner or
later, finding that he did not come, the whole party, with Mark at their
head, searched and re-searched the battlefield and most of the adjacent
meadows, not overlooking the copse.  Mark next ran home, hoping that
Bevis for some reason or other might have gone there, and asked himself
whether he had offended him in any way, and was that why he had left the
fight?  But he could not recollect that he had done anything.

Bevis, of course, was not at home, and Mark returned to the battlefield,
every minute now adding to his anxiety.  It was so unlike Bevis that he
felt sure something must be wrong.

"Perhaps he's drowned," said Val.

"Drowned," repeated Mark, with intense contempt; "why he can swim fifty

Fifty yards is not far, but it would be far enough to save life on many
occasions.  Val was silenced, still Mark, to be certain, went along the
shore, and even some way up the Nile.  By now the others had left, one
at a time, and only Val, Cecil, and Charlie remained.

The four hunted again, then they walked slowly across the field, trying
to think.  Mark picked up Bevis's hat, which had fallen off in the
battle; but to find Bevis's hat was nothing, for he had a knack of
leaving it behind him.

"Perhaps he's gone to your place," said Charlie, meaning Mark's home.

Mark shook his head.  "But I wish you would go and see," he said; he
dared not face Frances.

"So I will," said Charlie, always ready to do his best, and off he went.

Charlie's idea gave rise to another, that Bevis might be gone to Jack's
home in the Downs, and Val offered to go and inquire, though it was a
long, long walk.

He set out, Cecil went with him, and Mark, left to himself, walked
slowly home, hoping once more Bevis might have returned.  As he came in
with Bevis's hat in his hand, the servants pounced upon him.  Bevis was
missed, there had been a great outcry, and all the people were inquiring
for him.  Several had come to the kitchen to gossip about it.  The
uproar would not have been so great so soon but it had got out that
there had been a battle.

"You said it was a picnic," said Polly, shaking Mark.

"You told I so," said the Bailiff, seizing his collar.

"Let me go," shouted Mark, punching.

"Well, what have you done with him?  Where is he?"

Mark could not tell, and between them, four or five to one, they hustled
him into the cellar.

"You must go to gaol," said the Bailiff grimly.  "Bide there a bit."

"How can you find Bevis without me!" shouted Mark, who had just admitted
he did not know where Bevis was.  But the Bailiff pushed him stumbling
down the three stone steps, and he heard the bolt grate in the staple.
Thus the general who had just won a great battle was thrust
ignominiously into a cellar.

Mark kicked and banged the door, but it was of solid oak, without so
much as a panel to weaken it, and though it resounded it did not even
shake.  He yelled till he was hoarse, and hit the door till his fists
became numbed.  Then suddenly he sat down quite quiet on the stone
steps, and the tears came into his eyes.  He did not care for the
cellar, it was about Bevis--Bevis was lost somewhere and wanted him, and
he _must_ go to Bevis.

Dashing the tears away, up he jumped, and looked round to see if he
could find anything to burst the door open.  There was but one window,
deep set in the thick wall, with an iron upright bar inside.  The glass
was yellowish-green, in small panes, and covered with cobwebs, so that
the light was very dim.  He could see the barrels, large and small, and
as his eyes became accustomed to the semi-darkness some meat--a joint--
and vegetables on a shelf, placed there for coolness.  Out came his
pocket-knife, and he attacked the joint savagely, slashing off slices
anyhow, for he (like Bevis) was hungry, and so angry he did not care
what he did.

As he ate he still looked round and round the cellar and peered into the
corners, but saw nothing, though something moved in the shadow on the
floor, no doubt a resident toad.  Mark knew the cellar perfectly, and he
had often seen tools in it, as a hammer, used in tapping the barrels,
but though he tried hard he could not find it.  It must have been taken
away for some purpose.  He stamped on the stone floor, and heard a
rustle as a startled mouse rushed into its hole.

The light just then seemed to increase, and turning towards the window
he saw the full round moon.  As it crossed the narrow window the shadow
of the iron bar fell on the opposite wall, then moved aside, and in a
very few minutes the moon began to disappear as she swept up into the
sky.  He watched the bright shield still himself for awhile, then as he
looked down he thought of the iron bar, and out came his knife again.

The bar was not let into the stonework, the window recess inside was
encased with wood, and the bar, flattened at each end, was fastened with
three screws.  Mark endeavoured to unscrew these, he quickly broke the
point of his knife, and soon had nothing but a stump left.  The stump
answered better than the complete blade, and he presently got the screws
out.  He then worked the bar to and fro with such violence that he
wrenched the top screws clean away from the wood there.  But just as he
lifted the bar to smash all the panes and get out, he saw that the frame
was far too narrow for him to pass through.

Inside the recess was wide enough, but it was not half so broad where
the glass was.  The bar was really unnecessary; no one could have got in
or out, and perhaps that was why it had been so insecurely fastened, as
the workmen could hardly have helped seeing it was needless.

Mark hurled the bar to the other end of the cellar, where it knocked
some plaster off the wall, then fell on an earthenware vessel used to
keep vegetables in, and cracked it.  He stamped up and down the cellar,
and in his bitter and desperate anger, had half a mind to set all the
taps running for spite.

"Let me out," he yelled, thumping the door with all his might.  "Let me
out; you've no business to put me in here.  If the governor was at home,
I know he wouldn't, and you're beasts--you're _beasts_."

He was right in so far that the governor would not have locked him in
the cellar; but the governor was out that evening, and Bevis's mamma, so
soon as she found he was missing, had had the horse put in the dog-cart,
and went to fetch him.  So Mark fell into the hands of the merciless.
No one even heard him howling and bawling and kicking the heart of oak,
and when he had exhausted himself he sat down again on a wooden frame
made to support a cask.  Presently he went to the door once more, and
shouted through the keyhole, "Tell me if you have found Bevis!"

There was no answer.  He waited, and then sat down on the frame, and
asked himself if he could get up through the roof.  By standing on the
top of the largest cask he thought he could touch the rafters, but no
more, and he had no tool to cut his way through with.  "I know," he said
suddenly, "I'll smash the lock."  He searched for the iron bar, and
found it in the earthenware vessel.

He hit the lock a tremendous bang, then stopped, and began to examine it
more carefully.  His eyes were now used to the dim light, and he could
see almost as well as by day, and he found that the great bolt of the
lock, quite three inches thick, shot into an open staple driven into the
door-post, a staple much like those used to fasten chains to.

In a minute he had the end of the iron bar inside the staple.  The
staple was strong, and driven deep into the oaken post, but he had a
great leverage on it.  The bar bent, but the staple came slowly, then
easier, and presently fell on the stones.  The door immediately swung
open towards him.

Mark dashed out with the bar in his hand, fully determined to knock any
one down who got in his way, but they were all in the road, and he
reached the meadow.  He dropped the bar, and ran for the battlefield.
Going through the gate that opened on the New Sea, something pushed
through beside him against his ankles.  It would have startled him, but
he saw directly it was Pan.  The spaniel had followed him: it may be
with some intelligence that he was looking for his master.

"Pan!  Pan!" said Mark, stooping to stroke him, and delighted to get
some sympathy at last.  "Come on."

Together they raced to the battlefield.

Then from the high ground Mark saw the beacon on the island, and
instantly knew it was Bevis.  He never doubted it for a moment.  He
looked at the beacon, and saw the flames shoot up, sink, and rise again;
then he ran back as fast as he could to the head of the water, where the
boats were moored in the sandy corner.  Fetching the sculls from the
tumbling shed where they were kept, he pushed off in the blue boat which
they were fitting up for sailing, never dreaming that the first voyage
in it would be like this.  Pan jumped in with him.

In his haste, not looking where he was going, he rowed into the weeds,
and was some time getting out, for the stalks clung to the blade of the
scull as if an invisible creature in the water were holding it.  Soon
after he got free he reached the waves, and in five minutes, coming out
into the open channel, the boat began to dance up and down.  With wind
and wave and oar he drove along at a rapid pace, past the oak where the
council had been held, past the jutting point, and into the broad
waters, where he could see the beacon, if he glanced over his shoulder.

The boat now pitched furiously, as it seemed to him rising almost
straight up, and dipping as if she would dive into the deep.  But she
always rose again, and after her came the wave she had surmounted
rolling with a hiss and bubble eager to overtake him.  The crest blew
off like a shower in his face, and just as the following roller seemed
about to break into the stern-sheets it sank.  Still the wave always
came after him, row as hard as he would, like vengeance, black, dire,
and sleepless.

Lit up by the full moon, the raging waters rushed and foamed and gleamed
around him.  Though he afterwards saw tempests on the ocean, the waves
never seemed so high and so threatening as they did that night, alone in
the little boat.  The storms, indeed, on inland waters are full of
dangers, perhaps more so than the long heaving billows of the sea, for
the waves seem to have scarcely any interval between, racing quick,
short and steep, one after the other.

This great black wave--for it looked always the same--chased him
eagerly, overhanging the stern.  Pan sat there on the bottom as it
looked under the wave.  Mark rowed his hardest, trying to get away from
it.  Hissing, foaming, with the rush and roar of the wind, the wave ran
after.  When he ventured to look round he was close to the islands, so
quickly had he travelled.

Bevis was standing on the summit of the cliff with a long stick burning
at the end in his hand.  He held it out straight like the arm of a
signal, then waved it a little, but kept it pointing in the same
direction.  He was shouting his loudest, to direct Mark, who could not
hear a sound, but easily guessed that he meant him to bear the way he
pointed.  Mark pulled a few strokes and looked again, and saw the white
spray rushing up the cliff, though he could not hear the noise of the

Bevis was frantically waving the burning brand; Mark understood now, and
pulled his left scull, hardest.  The next minute the current setting
between the islands seized the boat, and he was carried by as if on a
mountain torrent.  Everything seemed to whirl past, and he saw the black
wave that had followed him dashed to sparkling fragments against the

He was taken beyond the island before he could stay the boat, then he
edged away out of the rush behind the land, where the water was much
smoother, and was able presently to row back to it in the shelter.
Bevis came out from the trees to meet him, and taking hold of the stem
of the boat drew it ashore.  Mark stepped out, and Pan, jumping on
Bevis, barked round him.

Bevis told him how it had all happened, and danced with delight when he
heard how Mark had won the battle, for he insisted that Mark had done
it.  They went to the beacon fire, and then Mark, now his first joy was
over, began to grumble because Bevis had been really shipwrecked and he
had not.  He wished he had smashed his boat against the cliff now.
Bevis said they could have another great shipwreck soon.  Mark wanted to
stop all night on the island, but Bevis was hungry.

"And besides," said he, "there's the governor; he will be awfully
frightened about us, and he ought to know."

"So he did," said Mark.  "Very well; but, mind, there is to be a jolly

Scamps as they were, they both disliked to give pain to those who loved
them.  It was the knowledge that the governor would never have put him
in the cellar that stopped Mark from the spiteful trick of turning on
the taps.  Bevis was exceedingly angry about Mark having been locked up.
He stamped his foot, and said the Bailiff should know.

They got into the boat, and each took a scull, but when they were afloat
they paused, for it occurred to both at once that they could not row
back in the teeth of the storm.

"We shall have to stop on the island now," said Mark, not at all sorry.
Bevis, however, remembered the floating breakwater of weeds, and the
winding channel on that side, and told Mark about it.  So they rowed
between the weeds, and so much were the waves weakened that the boat
barely rocked.  Now the boat was steady, Pan sat in front, and peered
over the stem like a figure-head.  Presently they came to the sand or
mudbanks where the water was quite smooth, and here the heron rose up.

"We ought to have a gun," said Bevis; "it's a shame we haven't got a

"Just as if we didn't know how to shoot," said Mark indignantly.

"Just as if," echoed Bevis; "but we will have one, somehow."

The boat as he spoke grounded on a shallow; they got her off, but she
soon grounded again, and it took them quite three-quarters of an hour to
find the channel, so much did it turn and wind.  At last they were
stopped by thick masses of weeds, and a great bunch of the reed-mace,
often called bulrushes, and decided to land on the sandbank.  They
hauled the boat so far up on the shore that she could not possibly get
loose, and then walked to the mainland.

There the bushes and bramble thickets again gave them much trouble, but
they contrived to get through into the wildest-looking field they had
over seen.  It was covered with hawthorn-trees, bunches of thistles,
bramble bushes, rushes, and numbers of green ant-hills, almost as high
as their knees.  Skirting this, as they wound in and out the ant-hills,
they startled some peewits, which rose with their curious whistle, and
two or three white tails, which they knew to be rabbits, disappeared
round the thistles.

It took them some time to cross this field; the next was barley, very
short; the next wheat, and then clover; and at last they reached the
head of the water, and got into the meadows.  Thence it was only a short
way home, and they could see the house illuminated by the moonlight.

The authorities were wroth, though secretly glad to see them.  Nothing
was said; the wrath was too deep for reproaches.  They were ordered to
bed that instant.  They did not dare disobey, but Mark darted a savage
look, and Bevis shouted back from the top of the staircase that he was
hungry.  "Be off, sir," was the only reply.  Sullenly they went into
their room and sat down.  Five minutes afterwards some one opened the
door a little way, put in a plate and a jug, and went away.  On the
plate were three huge slices of bread, and in the jug cold water.

"I won't touch it," said Bevis; "it's hateful."

"It's hateful," said Mark.

"After we came home to tell them, too," said Bevis.  "Horrid!"

But by-and-by his hunger overcame him; he ate two of the huge slices,
and Mark the other.  Then after a draught of the cold water, they
undressed, and fell asleep, quick and calm, just as Aurora was beginning
to show her white foot in the East.

Volume Two, Chapter V.


"As if we were dogs," said Bevis indignantly.

"Just as if," said Mark.  "It's hateful.  And after coming home from the
island to tell them."

"All that trouble."

"I could have brought you some stuff to eat," said Mark, "and we could
have stopped there all night, quite jolly."


They were in the blue-painted summer-house the next day talking over the
conduct of the authorities, whose manner was distant in the extreme.
The governor was very angry.  They thought it unjust after winning such
a mighty victory, and actually coming home on purpose to save alarm.

"I do not like it at all," said Bevis.

"Let's go back to the island," said Mark eagerly.

"They would come and look there for us the first thing," said Bevis.
"I've a great mind to walk to Southampton, and see the ships.  It's only
sixty miles."

"Well, come on," said Mark, quite ready, "The road goes over the hills
by Jack's.  O!  I know!"

"What is it?" for Mark had jumped up.

"Jack's got a rifle," said Mark.  "He'll lot us shoot.  Let's go and
stop with Jack."

"First-rate," said Bevis.  "But how do you know he has a rifle?  There
wasn't one when I was there last--you mean the long gun."

"No, I don't; he's got a rifle.  I know, because he told Frances.  He
tells Frances everything.  Stupids always tell girls everything.
Somebody wanted to sell it, and he bought it."

"Are you quite sure?" said Bevis, getting up.


"What sort is it?"

"A deer rifle."

"Come on."

Off they started without another word, and walked a mile in a great
hurry, when they recollected that if they did not appear in the evening
there would be a hunt for them.

"Just as if we were babies," said Mark.

"Such rubbish," said Bevis.  "But we won't have any more such stuff and
nonsense.  Let's find Charlie, and send him back with a message."

They found him, and sent him home with a piece of paper, on with Bevis
wrote, "We are gone to Jack's, and we shall not be home to-night."  It
was quite an hour's walk to Jack's, whose house was in a narrow valley
between two hills.  Jack was away in the fields, but when he returned he
showed them the rifle, a small, old-fashioned muzzle-loader, and they
spent a long time handling it, and examining the smallest detail.

"Let's have a shot," said Bevis.

"Yes," said Mark.  "Now do, Jack."  They begged and teased and worried
him, till he almost yielded.  He thought perhaps Bevis's governor would
not like shooting, but on the other hand he knew Frances was fond of
Bevis, and Mark was her brother, with whom, for various reasons, he
wished to keep especially friendly.  At last he said they would go and
try and shoot a young rabbit, and took down his double-barrel.

They did not take any dogs, meaning to stalk the rabbits and shoot them
sitting, as neither Mark nor Bevis could kill anything moving.  Jack
went down to some little enclosed meadows at the foot of the Downs where
the rabbits came out as the sun began to sink.  Every now and then he
made them wait while he crept forward and peered through gaps or over

Presently he came quietly back from a gap by a hollow willow, and giving
Bevis the gun (which he had hitherto carried himself, being very anxious
lest an accident should happen), whispered to him that there were three
young rabbits out in the grass.

"Aim at the shoulder," said Jack, thinking Bevis might miss the head.
"And be sure you don't pull both triggers at once, and--I say--" But
Bevis had started.  Bevis stepped as noiselessly as a squirrel, and
glancing carefully round the willow saw the rabbits' ears pricked up in
the grass.  They had heard or seen him, but being so young were not much
frightened, and soon resumed feeding.

He lifted the gun, which was somewhat heavy, having been converted from
a muzzle-loader, and old guns were made heavier than is the custom now.
One of the rabbits moving turned his back to him, so that he could not
see the shoulder; the other was behind a bunch of grass; but in a minute
the third moved, and Bevis aimed at him.  The barrels would not at first
keep quite steady, the sight, just as he had got it on the rabbit,
jumped aside or drooped, so that he had to try twice before he was

"What a time he is," whispered Mark, when Bevis pulled the trigger, and
they all ran forward.  Jack jumped through the gap and picked up the
rabbit, which was kicking in the grass.  Bevis rubbed his shoulder and
felt his collar-bone.

"Hurt?" said Jack, laughing.  "Kicked?  I was going to tell you only you
were in such a hurry.  You should have held the stock tight to your
shoulder, then it would not kick.  There, like this; now try."

Bevis took the gun and pressed it firm to his bruised shoulder.

"Got it tight?" said Jack.  "Aim at that thistle, and try again."

"But he'll frighten the rabbits, and it's my turn," said Mark.

"All gone in," said Jack, "every one; you'll have to wait till they come
out again.  Shoot."

Bevis shot, and the thistle was shattered.  It scarcely hurt him at all,
it would not have done so in the least, only his shoulder was tender

"It's a very little rabbit," said Mark.

"That it's not," said Bevis.  "How dare you say so?"

"It looks little."

"The size of a kitten," said Jack.  "As sweet as a chicken," he added,
"when cooked, and as white.  You shall have it to-morrow for dinner--
just the right size to be nice;" he saw that Bevis was rather inclined
to be doubtful, and wished to reassure him.  Jack was a huge,
kind-hearted giant.

"Are you sure it will be nice?"

"The very thing," said Jack, "if Mark can only shoot another just like
it; it wants two for a pudding."

About half an hour afterwards Mark did shoot another, and then there was
a long discussion as to which was the biggest, which could not be
decided, for, in fact, being both about the same age, one could hardly
be distinguished from the other, except that Mark's had a shot-hole in
the ear, and Bevis's had not.  On the way home a cloud of sparrows rose
out of some wheat and settled on the hedge, and Bevis had a shot at
these, bringing down three.  Afterwards he missed a yellow-hammer that
sat singing happily on a gate.

He wanted the yellow-hammer because it had so fine a colour.  The
yellow-hammer sang away while he aimed, repeating the same note, as he
perched all of a heap, a little lump of feathers on the top bar.  The
instant the flash came the bird flew, and as is its habit in starting
drooped, and so was shielded by the top bar.  The bar was scarred with
shot, and a dozen pellets were buried in it; but the yellow-hammer was
not hurt.

Mark was delighted that Bevis had missed.  There was an elm near the
garden, and up in it Mark, on the look-out for anything, spied a young
thrush.  He took steady aim, and down came the thrush.  They were
disposed to debate as to who had shot, best, but Jack stopped it, and
brought out the quoits.  After they had played some time, and it was
growing dusky, Ted entered the field.

"Halloa!  Pompey," said Mark.  "Pompey!"

"Pompey," said Jack, not understanding.

Ted walked straight up to Bevis.

"Where did you go," said Bevis, "after I fell over?"

"But aren't you angry?" said Ted.


"Because I sent you over."

"But you didn't do it purposely."

"No, _that_ I didn't," said Ted, with all his might.

From that moment they were better friends than they had ever been
before, though it was some time before Ted could really believe that
Bevis was not angry about it.  In fact, the idea had never entered
Bevis's mind.  Ted stopped with them to supper, and everything was
explained to Jack, who was delighted with the battle, and could not hear
enough about it.  But they did not press Ted as to what had become of
him, seeing how confused he was whenever the subject was approached.

Quite beside himself with terror and misery, poor Ted had pretended
illness and remained in his room, refusing to see any one, and dreading
every footstep and every knock at the door, lest it should be the
constable come to arrest him.  Towards the afternoon Val, who had
already been down to Bevis's house and found he was all right, strolled
up to see Pompey.  Ted would not open the door even to him, and Val
taunted him for being such a coward all that time after the battle.
Still, Ted would not unlock it till Val happened to say that there was a
row about the war, and Bevis had gone up to Jack's.  Open came the door

"Where's Bevis?" said Ted, grasping at Val's arm.

"At Jack's."

"Not killed?"

"Killed--no.  How could he be killed?"

As soon as he understood that Bevis was really alive, not even hurt, Ted
started off, to Val's amazement, and never stopped till he entered the
field where they were picking up the quoits as it grew too dark to play
well.  So Caesar and Pompey sat down to supper very lovingly, and talked
over Pharsalia.  Big Jack made them tell him the story over and over
again, and wished he could have taken part in the combat.  Like Mark,
too, he envied Bevis's real shipwreck.  Now seeing Jack so interested
they made use of his good-humour, and coaxed him till at last he
promised to let them shoot with the rifle on the morrow in the evening,
after he had finished in the fields.

All next day they rambled about the place, now in the garden, then in
the orchard, then in the rick-yard or the stables, back again into the
house, and up into the lumber-room at the top to see if they could find
anything; down into the larder, where Jack's dear old mother did her
best to surfeit them with cakes and wines, and all the good things she
could think of, for they reminded her of Jack when he was a boy and, in
a sense, manageable.  As for Jack's old father, who was very old, he sat
by himself in the parlour almost all day long, being too grim for
anybody to approach.

He sat with his high hat on, aslant on his head, and when he wanted
anything knocked the table or the floor as chance directed with a thick
stick.  When he walked out, every one slipped aside and avoided him,
hiding behind the ricks, and Jack's pointer slunk into his house,
drooping his tail.

In the orchard Bevis and Mark squailed at the pears with short sticks.
If they hit one it was bruised that side by the blow; then as it fell it
had another good bump; but it is well-known that such thumping only
makes pears more juicy.  Tired of this they walked down by the
mill-pool, in which there were a few small trout, Jack's especial pets.
The water was so clear that they could see the bottom of the pool for
some distance; it looked very different to that of the New Sea below in
the valley.

"We ought to have some of this water in our water-barrel when we go on
our voyage," said Bevis.  "It's clearer than the Nile."

"The water-barrel must be got ashore somehow when we have the
shipwreck," said Mark, "or perhaps we shall not have any to drink."

They were rather inclined to have a swim in the pool, but did not know
how Jack would like it, as he was so jealous of his trout, and angry if
they were disturbed.  They would have had a swim though all the same, if
the miller had not been looking over the hatch of his door.  There he
stood white and floury, blinking his eyes, and watching them.

"How anybody can be so stupid as to stand stock still, and stare, stare,
stare, I can't think," said Mark, quite loud enough for the miller to
hear.  He did not smile nor stir; he did not even understand that he was
meant; so sidelong a speech was beyond his comprehension.  It would have
needed very severe abuse indeed, hurled straight at his head, to have
made him so much as lift his hand to dust the flour from his sleeve--the
first thing he did when he began to feel a little.

Next they went indoors and had a look at the guns and rifle on the rack,
which they dared not touch.  Hearing the quick clatter of hoofs they ran
out, and saw a labourer riding a pony bare back.  He had been sent out
to a village two miles away for some domestic requirement, and carried a
parcel under his arm, while his heels but just escaped scraping the
ground.  The pony came up as sharp as he could, knowing his stable.

But no sooner was the labourer off, than Bevis was up, and forced him to
go round the pasture below the house.  When Bevis wearied, Mark mounted,
and so by turns they rode the pony round and round the field, making him
leap a broad furrow, and gallop his hardest.  By-and-by, as Bevis got
off and Mark had put his hand on before he sprang up, the pony gave a
snort and bolted, throwing up his heels as he flew for his stable.

Such an experience was new to him, and he was some time before he quite
understood; so soon as he did, and found out into what hands he had
fallen, the pony made use of the first opportunity.  They followed, but
he showed his heels so viciously they thought it best to let him alone;
so hurling the sticks with which they had thrashed him round the field
at his head, they turned away.  After dinner they took to another game.

This was sliding down the steep down just behind the house, on a short
piece of broad plank with a ridge in front.  The way is to lie down with
the chest on the plank head first, trailing the toes behind, legs
extended as rudders to keep the course straight.  A push with the feet
starts the board, and the pace increasing, you presently travel at a
furious velocity.  Nothing can be nicer.  They worked at it for hours.
The old gentleman came out into the garden and watched them, no doubt
remembering when he used to do it himself; but as for the performers,
all they thought about him was that they would like to squail a stick at
his high and ancient hat aslant on his head.

Presently they rambled into a nut copse over the hill.  The nuts were
not ripe, and there was nothing much to be done there, but it was a
copse, and copses are always pleasant to search about in.  Mark returned
to the sliding, Bevis sat down on the summit, and at first looked on,
but after a while he became lost in his dreamy mood.

Far away the blue-tinted valley went out to the horizon, and the sun was
suspended over it like a lamp hung from the ceiling, as it seemed no
higher than the hill on which he sat.  Underneath was the house, and
round the tiled gables the swallows were busy going to and fro their
nests.  The dovecot and the great barn, the red apples in the orchard,
the mill-pool and the grey mill, he could almost put his hand out on

Beyond these came the meads, and then the trees closed together like
troops at the bugle call, making a limitless forest, and in this was a
narrow bright gleam, like a crooked reaping-hook thrown down.  It was
the New Sea.  After which there was no definition, surface only, fainter
and fainter to the place where the white clouds went through the door of
distance and disappeared.  He did not see these, and only just knew that
the wheat at his back rustled as the light wind came over.  It was the
vast aerial space, and the golden circle of the sun.  He did not think,
he felt, and listened to it.

Mark shouted presently that Jack was coming home; so he ran down, and
they went to meet him.  Jack put up the target after tea.  It was a
square of rusty sheet-iron, on which he drew a circle with chalk six
inches in diameter, and outside that another about two feet.  This he
placed against the steep hill--the very best of butts--keeping it
upright with two stakes, which he drove in the sward.  He measured a
hundred yards by stepping, and put three flints in a row to mark the
spot.  The rifle was loaded and the bullet rammed home with the iron
ramrod, which had a round smooth handle at the end, so that you might
force the lead into the grooves.

Jack fired, and missed; fired again, and missed; shot a third time after
longer aim, and still there was no ringing sound and no jagged hole in
the sheet-iron.  Bevis tried, and Mark tried, and Jack again, but they
could not hit it.  More powder was used, and then less powder; the
bullet was jammed home hard by knocking the ramrod with a fragment of
post (the first thing that came handy), and then it was only just pushed
down to the powder.  All in vain.  The noise of the reports had now
brought together a number of labourers and cottage boys, who sat on the
summit of the hill in a row.

They fired standing up, kneeling down, lying at full length.  A chair
was fetched, and the barrel was placed on the rung at the back as a
rest, but not a single hole was made in the target.  Mark wanted to go
nearer and try at fifty yards, but Jack would not; the rifle was made to
kill deer at a hundred yards, and at a hundred yards he intended to use
it.  He was getting very angry, for he prided himself on his shooting,
and was in fact a good shot with the double-barrel; but this little
rifle--a mere toy--defied him; he could not manage it.  They fired
between thirty and forty shots, till every bullet they had ready cast
was gone.

The earth was scored by the target, cut up in front of it, ploughed to
the right and left, drilled over it high up, but the broad sheet-iron
was untouched.

Jack threatened to pitch the rifle into the mill-pool, and so disgusted
was he that very likely he would have done it had not Bevis and Mark
begged him earnestly not to do so.  He put it up on the rack, and went
off, and they did not see him till supper-time.  He was as much out of
temper as it was possible for him to be.

When they went to their bedroom that night, Bevis and Mark talked it
over, and fully agreed that if they only had the rifle all to themselves
they could do it.

"I'm sure we could," said Bevis.

"Of course we could," said Mark.  "There's only something you have to
find out."

"As easy as nothing," said Bevis.

Volume Two, Chapter VI.


At Bevis's home the authorities were still more wroth when they received
the scrap of paper sent by Charlie, who scampered off before he could be
questioned.  There was more wrath about the battle than any of their
previous misdeeds, principally because it was something novel.  No one
was hurt, and no one had even had much of a knock, except the larger
boys, who could stand it.  There was more rattling of weapons together
than wounds.  Ted's forehead was bruised, and Bevis's ankle was tender
where some one had stepped on it while he was down.  This was nothing to
the bruises they had often had at football.

The fall over the quarry indeed might have been serious, so too the
sinking of the punt; but both those were extrinsic matters, and they
might have fought twenty Pharsalias without such incidents.  All of them
had had good sense enough to adhere to the agreement they had come to
before the fighting.  They could not anyhow have hurt themselves more
than they commonly did at football, so that the authorities were perhaps
a little too bitter about it.  If only they had known what was going on,
and had had it explained, if it had not been kept secret, so that the
anxiety about Bevis being lost might not have been so great, there would
not have been much trouble.

But now Bevis and Mark were in deep disgrace.  As for their going away
they might go and stay away if they wished.  For the first day, indeed,
it was quite a relief, the house was so quiet and peaceful; it was like
a new life altogether.  It would be a very good plan to despatch these
rebels to a distance, where they would be fully employed, and under
supervision.  How peaceful it would be!  The governor and Bevis's mother
thought with such a strain removed they should live fully ten years

But next day somehow it did not seem so pleasant.  There was a sense of
emptiness about the house.  The rooms were vacant, and occasional voices
sounded hollow.  No one chattered at breakfast.  At dinner-time Pan was
called in that there might be some company, and in the stillness they
could hear the ring, ring of the blacksmith's hammer on his anvil.  When
Bevis was at home they could never hear that.

The governor rode off in the afternoon, and Bevis's mother thought now
these tormentors were absent it would be a good time to sit down calmly
at some needlework.

Every five minutes she got up and looked out of window.  Who was that
banged the outer gate?  Was it Bevis?  The familiar patter of steps on
the flags, the confused murmur which came before them did not follow.
It was only John Young gone out into the road.  The clock ticked so
loud, and Pan snored in the armchair, and looked at her reproachfully
when she woke him.  By-and-by she went upstairs into their bedroom.  The
bed was made, but no one had slept in it.

There was a gimlet on the dressing-table, and Bevis's purse on the
floor, and the half-sovereign in it.  A great tome, an ancient
encyclopaedia, which Bevis had dragged upstairs, was lying on a chair,
open at "Magic."  Mark's pocket-knife was stuck in the bed-post, and in
his best hat there were three corn-crake's eggs, blown, of course, and
put there for safety, as he never wore it.

She went to the window, and the swallows came to their nests above under
the eaves.  Bevis's jackets and things were lying everywhere, and as she
left the room she saw a curious mark on the threshold, all angles and
points.  He had been trying to draw the wizard's foot there, inking the
five angles, to keep out the evil spirits and witches, according to the
proper way, lest they should take the magician by surprise.

Next she went to the bench-room--their armoury--and lifted the latch,
but it was locked, the key in Bevis's pocket.  The door rattled hollow.
She looked through the keyhole, and could see the crossbow and the
rigging for the ship.  Downstairs again, sitting with her needlework,
she heard the carrier's van go by, marking the time to be about four.
There was the booing of distant cows, and then a fly buzzed on the pane.
She took off her thimble and looked at old Pan in the armchair--old
Pan, Bevis's friend.

It was deadly quiet.  No shout, and bang, and clatter upstairs.  No loud
"I must," "I will."  No rushing through the room, upsetting chairs,
twisting tables askew.  No "Ma, where's the hammer?"  "Ma, where's my
bow?"  "Ma, where's my hat?"

She rang the bell, and told Polly to go down and ask Frances to come and
take tea with her, as she was quite alone.  Frances came, and all the
talk was about Bevis, and Mark, and big Jack.  So soon as she had heard
about the battle Frances immediately took their part, and thought it was
very ingenious of Bevis to contrive it, and brave to fight so
desperately.  Then mamma discovered that it was very good of Mark, and
very affectionate, and very brave to row all up the water in the storm
to fetch Bevis from the island.

When the governor returned, to his surprise, he found two ladies
confronting him with reasons why Bevis and Mark were heroes instead of
scamps.  He did not agree, but it was of no use; of course he had to
yield, and the result was the dog-cart was sent for them on the
following morning.  But Bevis was not in the least hurry to return, not
a bit.  He was disposed, on the contrary, to disobey, and remain where
he was.  Mark persuaded him not to do this, but still he kept the
dog-cart waiting several hours, till long after dinner.

They tried hard to get Jack to let them take the rifle with them,
unsuccessfully, for he thought the authorities would not like it.  At
last Bevis deigned to get up, and they were driven home, for in his
sullen mood Bevis would not even touch the reins, nor let Mark.  He was
very much offended.  The idea of resentment against Ted had never
entered his mind.  Ted was his equal for one thing, in age.

But he hated to be looked at with a severe countenance as if he had been
a rogue and stolen sixpence by the authorities against whom he did not
feel that he had done anything.  He burned against them as the
conspirators abroad burn with rage against the government which rules
them.  They were not Ted, and equal; they had power and used it over
him.  Bevis was wrong and very unjust, for they were the tenderest and
kindest of home authorities.

At home there was a dessert waiting on the table for them, and some
Burgundy.  The Burgundy, a wine not much drunk in the country, had been
got a long time ago to please Bevis, who had read that Charles the Bold
was fond of and took deep draughts of it.  Bevis fancied he should like
it, and that it would make him bold like Charles.  Mamma poured him out
a glassful, Mark took his, and said "Thank you."

Bevis drank in silence.

"Aren't you glad to come home?" said mamma.

"No, _that_ I'm not," said Bevis, and marched off up into the
bench-room.  Mamma saw that Mark wanted to follow, so she kissed him,
recollecting that he had ventured through the storm after Bevis, and
told him to do as he liked.

"The sails ought to be finished by now," said Bevis, as Mark came up.

"Yes," said Mark, "they're sure to be.  But you know I can't go."

"You ought to fetch them," said Bevis, "you're lieutenant; captains
don't fetch sails."  He was ready for any important exertion, but he had
a great idea of getting other people to do these inferior things for

"I can't go," said Mark, "Frances hates me."

"O! very well," said Bevis savagely, and ready to quarrel with anybody
on the least pretext.  The fact was, though resentful, he did not feel
quite certain that he approved of his own conduct to his mother.  He
could have knocked any one down just to recover confidence.  He pushed
by Mark, slammed the door, and started to get the sails.

Frances laughed when she saw him.  "Ah!" she said, "Mark did not care to
come, did he?"  She brought out the sails nicely hemmed--they had been
ready some days--and made them into a parcel for him.

"So you ran away from the battle," she said.

"I didn't," said Bevis rudely.

"You sailed away--floated away."

"Not to run away."

"Yes, you did.  And you were called Caesar."

She liked to tease him, being fond of him; she stroked his short golden
curls, pinched his arm, kissed him, taunted him, and praised him; walked
with him as he went homewards, asked him why he did not offer her his
arm, and when he did, said she did not take boys' arms--_boys_ with
emphasis--till he grew scarlet with irritation.  Then she petted him,
asked him about the battle, and said it was wonderful, and he must show
her over the battlefield.  She made him promise to take her for a sail,
and looked so delicious Bevis could not choose but smile.

She had her hat in her hand, such a little hand and so white, like a
speck of sunshine among shadows.  Her little feet peeped out among the
grass and the blue veronica flowers.  Her rounded figure, not too tiny
at the waist, looked instinct with restless life, buoyant as if she
floated.  The bright light made her golden brown hair gleam.  She lifted
her long eyelashes, and looked him through and through with her grey
eyes.  Delicate arched eyebrows, small regular features, pouting lips,
and impudent chin.

"You're very little," said Bevis, able to speak again.  "I believe I
could lift you over the stile."

She was little--little and delicious, like a wild strawberry, daintily
tinted, sweet, piquant, with just enough acid to make you want some
more, rare, and seldom found.

"As you are so impertinent," said she, "I shall not come any farther."

Bevis got over the stile first to be safe, then he turned, and said,--

"Jack will have you some day, and he's big, and he'll manage you."

"O!" said Frances, dropping her hat, "O!"  Her little foot was put
forward, she stood bolt upright with open lips.  Scorn, utter, complete,
perfect scorn was expressed from head to foot.  Jack manage her!  The
idea!  Before she could recover her breath, Bevis, who had immediately
started running, was half across the next field.

Next morning they set to work to fix up the blue boat for sailing, and
first stepped the mast and wedged it tight with a chip.  A cord came
down each side aslant to the gunwale, and was fastened there--these were
the backstays to strengthen the mast when the wind blew rough.  The
bowsprit was lashed firmly at the bow, and the sheets or cords to work
the foresail put through the staples, after which the tiller was fixed
on instead of the lines.  They had two sails--mainsail (without a boom)
and foresail.  Bevis once thought of having a topsail, but found it very
awkward to contrive it without the ropes (they always called their cords
ropes) becoming entangled.

The rigging and sails were now up, and Mark wanted to unfurl them and
see how they answered, but Bevis, who was in a sullen mood, would not
let him, till everything was completed.  They had to put in the ballast,
first bricks placed close together on the bottom, then two small bags of
sand, and a large flat stone, which they thought would be enough.  All
this occupied a great deal of time, what with having to go backwards and
forwards to the house for things and tools that had been forgotten, and
the many little difficulties that always arise when anything new is
being done.

Nothing fits the first time, and it all has to be done twice.  So that
when the last thing of all, the oyster-barrel with the tin canister
inside, was put on board, it was about four in the afternoon.  When they
began to push the boat off the ground and get her afloat, they found
that the wind had sunk.  In the morning it had blown steadily from the
westward, and busy at their work they had not noticed that after noon it
gently declined.  They pushed off, and rowed a hundred yards, so as to
be out of the shelter of the trees on the shore, but there was no more
breeze there than in the corner which they called the harbour.

The surface was smooth, and all the trees were reflected in it.  Bevis
had been sullen and cross all day, and this did not improve his temper.
It was very rare for him to continue angry like this, and Mark resented
it, so that they did not talk much.  Bevis unfurled the sails and
hoisted them up.  The foresail worked perfectly, but the mainsail would
not go up nor come down quickly.  It was fastened to the mast by ten or
twelve brass rings for travellers, and these would not slip, though they
looked plenty large enough.  They stuck, and had to be pushed by hand
before the sail could be hoisted.

This was not at all proper, sails ought to go up and down easily and
without a moment's delay, which might indeed be dangerous in a squall.
Bevis pulled out his knife, and cut a number of them off, leaving only
three or four, and the sail then worked much better.  Next they tried
reefing, they had put in two rows, but when the second was taken in the
sail looked rather shapeless, and Bevis angrily cut off the second row.
He told Mark to row back while he furled, and Mark did so.  After they
had fastened the boat by the painter to the willow root, and picked up
their tools, they went homewards, leaving the rigging standing ready for
use on the morrow.

"There's two things now," said Mark, "that ought to be done."

"What's that?" crossly.

"There ought to be an iron ring and staple to tie the ship to--a ship
ought not to be tied to a root."

"Get a ring, then."

"And another thing--two more things."

"That there are not."

"That there are.  You want a bowl to bale the water out, the waves are
sure to splash over."

"That's nothing."

"Well, then," said Mark savagely, "you've forgotten the anchor."

Bevis looked at him as if he could have smashed him, and then went up
into the bench-room without a word.

"You're a bear," shouted Mark from the bottom of the staircase.  "I
shan't come;" and he went to the parlour and found a book.  For the
remainder of the day, whenever they met, in a minute they were off at a
tangent, and bounded apart.  Bevis was as cross as a bear, and Mark
would not conciliate him, not seeing that he had given him the least
reason.  At night they quarrelled in their bedroom, Bevis grumbling at
Mark for throwing his jacket on the chair he generally used, and Mark
pitching Bevis's waistcoat into a corner.

About ten minutes after the candle was out, Bevis got up, slipped on his
trousers and jacket, and went downstairs barefoot in the dark.

"Glad you're gone," said Mark.

Bevis opened the door of the sitting-room where his mother was reading,
walked up to her, kissed her, and whispered, "I'm sorry; tell the
governor," and was off before she could answer.  Next morning he was as
bright as a lark, and every thing went smoothly again.  The governor
smiled once more, and asked where they intended to sail to first.

"Serendib," said Mark.

"A long voyage," said the governor.

"Thousands of miles," said Bevis.  "Come on, Mark; what a lot you do

Mark came, but as they went up the meadow he said that there ought to be
an anchor.

"So there ought," said Bevis.  "We'll make one like that in the
picture--you know, with a wooden shaft, and a stone let through it."

"Like they used to have when they first had ships," said Mark.

"And went cruising along the shore--"

"We've forgotten the compass."

"Of course, that's right; they had no compass when we lived."

"No; they steered by the sun.  Look, there's a jolly wind."

The water was rippling under a light but steady and pleasant summer
breeze from the north-west.  They pushed out, and while the boat slowly
drifted, set the sails.  Directly the foresail was up she turned and
moved bow first, like a horse led by the bridle.  When the mainsail was
hoisted she began to turn again towards the wind, so that Bevis, who
steered, had to pull the tiller towards him, or in another minute they
would have run into the weeds.  He kept her straight before the wind
till they had got out of the bay where the boats were kept, and into the
open water where the wind came stronger.  Then he steered up the New
Sea, so that the wind blew right across the boat, coming from the
right-hand side.

It was a beautiful breeze, just the one they wanted, not too strong, and
from the best direction, so that they could sail all the way there and
back without trouble, a soldier's wind, out and home again.

Mark sat by the mast, both of them on the windward side, so as to trim
the boat by their weight and make her stiffer.  He was to work the
foresail if they had to tack, or let down the mainsail if a white squall
or a tornado struck the ship.  The ripples kissed the bow with a merry
smack, smack, smack; sometimes there was a rush of bubbles, and they
could feel the boat heel a little as the wind for a moment blew harder.

"How fast we're going!" said Mark.  "Hurrah!"

"Listen to the bubbles?  Don't the sails look jolly?" said Bevis.  The
sunshine shone on the white canvas hollowed out by the wind; as the
pilot looked up he could see the slender top of the mast tracing a line
under the azure sky.  Is there anything so delicious as the first sail
in your own boat that you have rigged yourself?

Away she slipped, and Mark began to hum, knocking the seat with his
knuckles to keep time.  Then Bevis sang, making a tune of his own,
leaning back and watching the sails with the sheet handy to let go if a
puff came, for were they not voyaging on unknown seas?  Bevis sang the
same two verses over and over:--

  "Telling how the Count Arnaldos,
  With his hawk upon his hand,
  Saw a fair and stately galley,
  Steering onward to the land.

  `Learn the secret of the sea?
  Only those who brave its dangers,
  Comprehend its mystery!'"

Mark sang with him, till by-and-by he said, "There's the battlefield;
what country's that?"

"Thessaly," said Bevis.  "It's the last land we know; now it's all new,
and nobody knows anything."

"Except us."

"Of course."

"Are you going all round or straight up?" said Mark presently, as they
came near Fir-Tree Gulf.

"We ought to coast," said Bevis.  "They used to; we mustn't go out of
sight of land."

"Steer into the gulf then; mind the stony point; what's that, what's the

"I don't know," said Bevis.  "It's a dreadful place; awful rocks--smash,
crash, ship's side stove in--no chance for any body to escape there."

"A raft would be smashed."

"Lifeboats swamped."

"People jammed on the rocks."

"Pounded into jelly-fish."

"But it ought to have a name?  Is it Cape Horn?"

"I don't think so, that's the other way round the world; we're more the
India way, I think."

"Perhaps it's Gibraltar."

"As if we shouldn't know Gibraltar!"

"Of course we should, I forgot.  Look!  There's a little island and a
passage--a channel.  Mind how you steer--"

"It's Scylla and Charybdis," said Bevis.  "I can see quite plain."

"Steer straight," said Mark.  "There's not much room, rocks one side,
shoal the other; it's not a pistol-shot wide--"

"Not half a pistol-shot."

"We're going.  Hark! bubbles!"

Volume Two, Chapter VII.


Bevis had eased off, and the boat was sailing right before the wind,
which blew direct into the gulf.  Mark crawled up more into the bow to
see better and shout directions to the pilot.



"Well, port."

"Starboard, now--that side.  There, we scraped some weeds."  The weeds
made a rustling sound as the boat passed over them.

"Right--right--starboard, that side," holding out his hand, "you'll hit
the rocks; you're too close."

"Pooh!" said Bevis.  "It's deeper under the rocks, don't you remember."
He prided himself on steering within an inch; the boat glided between
the sandy island and the rocky wall, so close to the wall that the sail
leaning over the side nearly swept it.  Then he steered so as to pass
along about three yards from the shore.  The quarry opened out, and they
went by it on towards the place where they bathed.

"Kails," said Mark, "mind the rails."  By the bathing-place the posts
and rails which were continued into the water were partly under the
surface, so that a boat might get fixed on the top.  Bevis pushed the
tiller over, and the boat came round broadside to the wind, and began to
cross the head of Fir-Tree Gulf.

The ripples here increased in size, and became wavelets as the breeze,
crossing a wider surface of water, blew straight on shore, and seemed to
rush in a stronger draught through the trees.  These wavelets were not
large enough to make the boat dance, but they caused more splashing at
the bow, and she heeled a little to the wind.  They slipped across the
head of the gulf, some two hundred yards, at a good pace, steering for
the mouth of the Nile.

"Tack," said Bevis, as they came near.  "It's almost time.  Get ready."

Mark unfastened the cord or sheet on the left side, against which the
foresail was pulling, and held it in his hand.  "I'm ready," he said,
and in a minute,--"Quick, we shall be on shore."

Bevis pushed the tiller down hard to the left, at the same time telling
Mark to let go.  Mark loosened the foresheet, and the boat turning to
the right was carried by her own impetus and the pressure of the
mainsail up towards the wind.  Bevis expected her to do as he had seen
the yachts and ships at the seaside, and as he had read was the proper
way, to come round slowly facing the wind, till just as she passed the
straight line as it were of the breeze, Mark would have to tighten the
foresheet, and the wind would press on the foresail like a lever and
complete the turn.

He watched the foresail eagerly, for the moment to shout to Mark; the
boat moved up towards the wind, then paused, hung, and began to fall
back again.  The wind blew her back.  Bevis jammed the tiller down still
harder, rose from his seat, bawled, "Mark!  Mark!" but he was jerked
back in a moment as she took the ground.

Mark seized a scull to push her off, when letting go the sheet the
foresail flapped furiously, drawing the cord or rope through the staple
as if it would snap it.  Bevis, fearing the boat would turn over, let go
the mainsheet, and then the mainsail flew over the left side, flapping
and shaking the mast, while the sheet or rope struck the water and
splashed it as if it were hit with a whip.

"Pull down the mainsail," shouted Bevis, stumbling forward.

"Hold tight," shouted Mark, giving a great shove with the scull.  The
boat came off, and Bevis was thrown down on the ballast.  The wind took
her before they could scramble into their places, and she drifted across
the mouth of the Nile and grounded again.

"Down with the sail, I tell you," shouted Bevis in a rage.  "Not that
one--the big one."

Mark undid the cord or halyard, and down fell the mainsail into the
boat, covering Bevis, who had to get out from under it before he could
do anything.

"Did you ever see such a bother?" said Mark.

"Is anything broken?" said Bevis.

"No.  You ought to have tacked sooner."

"How could I tell?  She wouldn't come round."

"You ought to have had room to try twice."

"So we will next time."

"Let's go up the Nile and turn round, and get the sails up there," said
Mark.  "It will be such a flapping here."

Bevis agreed, and they pushed the boat along with the sculls a few yards
up the Nile which was quite smooth there, while at the mouth the quick
wavelets dashed against the shore.  The bank of the river and the trees
on it sheltered them while they turned the boat's head round, and
carefully set the sails for another trial.

"We'll have two tries this time," said Bevis, "and we're sure to do it.
If we can't tack, it's no use sailing."

When everything was ready, Mark rowed a few strokes with one oar till
the wind began to fill the sails; then he shipped it, and sat down on
the ballast on the windward side.  The moment she was outside the Nile
the splashing began, and Mark, to his great delight, felt a little spray
in his face.  "This is real sailing," he said.

"Now we're going," said Bevis, as the boat increased her speed.  "Lot's
see how much we can gain on this tack."  He kept her as close to the
wind as he could, but so as still to have the sails well filled and
drawing.  He let the mainsail hollow out somewhat, thinking that it
would hold the wind more and draw them faster.

"Hurrah!" said Mark; "we're getting a good way up; there's the big
sarsen--we shall get up to it."

There was a large sarsen or boulder, a great brown stone, lying on the
shore on the quarry side of the gulf, about thirty yards above the
bathing-place.  If they could get as high up as the boulder, that would
mean that in crossing the gulf on that tack they had gained thirty yards
in direct course, thirty yards against the wind.  To Mark it looked as
if they were sailing straight for the boulder, but the boat was not
really going in the exact direction her bow pointed.

She inclined to the right, and to have found her actual course he ought
to have looked not over the stem but over the lee bow.  The lee is the
side away from the wind.  That is to say, she drifted or made leeway, so
that when they got closer they were surprised to see she was not so high
up as the boulder by ten yards.  She was off a bunch of rushes when
Bevis told Mark to be ready.  He had allowed space enough this time for
two trials.

"Now," said Bevis, pushing the tiller over to the right; "let go."

Mark loosened the foresail, that it might not offer any resistance to
the wind, and so check the boat from turning.

Bevis pushed the tiller over still harder, and as she had been going at
a good pace the impetus made her answer the rudder better.

"She's coming," shouted Mark.  "Jam the rudder."

The rudder was jammed, but when the bow seemed just about to face the
wind, and another foot would have enabled Mark to tighten the foresail,
and let it draw her quite round like a lever, she lost all forward

"O! dear!" said Bevis, stamping with vexation.  The boat stopped a
moment, and then slowly fell back.  "Pull tight," said Bevis, meaning
refasten the foresheet.  Mark did so, and the boat began to move ahead

"We're very close," said Mark almost directly.

"Tack," said Bevis.  "Let go."

He tried to run her up into the wind again, but this time, having less
weigh or impetus, she did not come nearly so far round, but began to pay
off, or fall back directly, and, before Mark could get a scull out,
bumped heavily against the shore, which was stony there.

"Let's row her head round," said Mark.

"Sculls ought not to be used," said Bevis.  "It's lubberly."

"Awful lubberly," said Mark.  "But what are we to do?"

"Pull away, anyhow," said Bevis.

Mark put out the scull, pushed her off, and after some trouble pulled
till her head came round.  Then he shipped the scull, and they began to
sail again.

"We haven't got an inch," said Bevis.  "Just look; there are the rails."

They had made about twenty yards, but in missing stays twice, drifting,
and rowing round, had lost it all before the boat could get right again,
before the sails began to draw well.

"What ever is it?" said Mark.  "What is it we don't do?"

"I can't think," said Bevis.  "It's very stupid.  That's better."

There was a hissing and bubbling, and the boat, impelled by a stronger
puff, rushed along, and seemed to edge a way up into the wind.

"Splendid," said Mark.  "We shall get above the Nile this time, we shall
get to the willow."

A willow-tree stood on the shore that side some way up.  The boat
appeared to move direct for it.

"I shall tack soon," said Bevis, "while we've got a good wind."

"Tack now," said Mark.  "It doesn't matter about going right across."

"All right--now; let go."

They tried again, just the same; the boat paused and came back: then
again, and still it was of no use.

"Row," said Bevis.  "Bother!"

Mark rowed with a scull out on the lee side, and got her round.

"Now, just look," said Bevis.  "Just look!"

He pointed at the Nile.  They had drifted so that when they at last
turned they were nearly level with the mouth of the river from which
they had started.

"Let me row quicker next time," said Mark.  "Let me row directly.  It's
hateful, though."

"It's hateful," said Bevis.  "Sailing without tacking is stupid.  Nobody
would ever think we were sailors to see us rowing round."

"What's to be done?" said Mark.  "Now try."

Bevis put the tiller down, and Mark pulled her head round as quick as he
could.  By the time the sails had begun to draw they had lost more than
half they had gained, and in crossing as the breeze slackened a little
lost the rest, and found themselves as before, just off the mouth of the

"I don't think you keep her up tight enough," said Mark, as they began
to cross again.  "Try her closer.  Close-hauled, you know."

"So I will," said Bevis; and the breeze rising again he pulled the
mainsheet tighter (while Mark tightened the foresheet), and pushed the
tiller over somewhat.

The boat came closer to the wind, and seemed now to be sailing straight
for the quarry.

"There," said Mark, "we shall get out of the gulf in two tacks."

"But we're going very slow," said Bevis.

"It doesn't matter if we get to the quarry."

The boat continued to point at the quarry, and Bevis watched the
mainsail intently, with his hand on the tiller, keeping her so that the
sail should not shiver, and yet should be as near to it as possible.

"Splendid," said Mark, on his knees on the ballast, looking over the
stem.  "Splendid.  It's almost time to tack."

He lifted the foresail, and peered under it at the shore.

"I say--well, Bevis!"

"What is it?" asked Bevis.  "I'm watching the mainsail; is it time?"

"We haven't got an inch--we're going--let's see--not so far up as the

All the while the boat's head pointed at the quarry she had been making
great leeway, drifting with the wind and waves.  The sails scarcely
drew, and she had no motion to cut her way into the wind.  Instead of
edging up into it, she really crossed the gulf in nearly a straight
line, almost level with the spot whence she started.  When Bevis tried
to get her found, she would not come at all.  She was moving so slowly
she had no impetus, and the wind blew her back.  Mark had to row round

"That's no use," he said.  "But it looked as if it was."

"She won't sail very near the wind," said Bevis, as they crossed again
towards the Nile.  "We must let her run free, and keep the sails

They crossed and crossed five times more, and still came only just above
the mouth of the Nile, and back to the bunch of rushes.

"I believe it's the jib," said Bevis, as they sailed for the quarry side
once more.  "Let's try without the jib.  Perhaps it's the jib won't let
her come round.  Take it down."

Mark took the foresail down, and the boat did show some disposition to
run up into the wind; but when Bevis tried to tack she went half-way,
and then payed off and came back, and they nearly ran on the railings,
so much did they drift.  Still they tried without the foresail again;
the boat they found did not sail so fast, and it was not the least use,
she would not come round.  So they re-set the foresail.  Again and again
they sailed to and fro, from the shore just above the Nile to the bunch
of rushes, and never gained a foot, or if they did one way they lost it
the other.  They were silent for some time.

"It's like the Bay of Biscay," said Mark.

  "`There she lay, all the day,
  In the Bay of Biscay, O!'

"And the sails look so jolly too."

"I can't make it out," said Bevis.  "The sails are all proper, I'm sure
they are.  What can it be?  We shall never get out of the gulf."

"And after all the rowing round too," said Mark.  "Lubberly."

"Horrid," said Bevis.  "I hope there's no other ship about looking at
us.  The sailors would laugh so.  I know--Mark!"


"Don't row next time; we'll wear ship."

"What's that?"

"Turn the other way--with the wind.  Very often the boom knocks you over
or tears the mast out."

"Capital, only we've no boom.  What must I do?"

"Nothing; you'll see.  Sit still--in the middle.  Now."

Bevis put the tiller over to windward.  The boat paid off rapidly to
leeward, and described a circle, the mainsail passing over to the
opposite side, and as it took the wind giving a jerk to the mast.

Mark tightened the other foresheet, and they began to sail back again.

"But just look!" said he.

"Horrid," said Bevis.

In describing the circle they had lost not only what they had gained,
but were level with the mouth of the Nile, and not five yards from the
shore at the head of the gulf.  It was as much this tack as they could
do to get above the railings; they were fifteen yards at least below the
rushes, when Bevis put the tiller up to windward, and tried the same
thing again.  The boat turned a circle to leeward, and before she could
get right round and begin to sail again, they had gone so near the
shore, drifting, that Mark had to put out the scull in case they should
bump.  In crossing this time the wind blew so light that they could not
get above the mouth of the Nile.

"It's no use wearing ship," said Mark.

"Not a bit; we lose more than ever.  You'd better row again," said Bevis

Mark pulled her round again, and they sailed to and fro three times
more, but did but keep their position, for the wind was perceptibly less
as the day went on, and it became near noon.

"I hate those rushes," said Mark, as he pulled her head round once more.

Bevis did not reply, but this time he steered straight across to the
Nile and up it till the bank sheltered them from the wind.  There they
took down the sails, quite beaten, for that day at least, and rowed back
to harbour.

Next morning when they arrived at the New Sea they found that the wind
came more down the water, having turned a little to the south, but it
was the same in force.  They started again, and sailed very well till
they were opposite the hollow oak in which on the day of battle it was
supposed Bevis had hidden.  Here the wind was a head-wind, against which
they could only work by tacking, and when they came to tack they found
just the same difficulty as yesterday.

All the space they gained during the tack was lost in coming round
before the boat could get weigh on her.  They sailed to and fro from the
hollow oak to some willow bushes on the other side, and could not
advance farther.  Sometimes they got above the oak, but then they fell
back behind the willow bushes; sometimes they worked up twenty yards
higher than the willow bushes, but dropped below the oak.

Bevis soon discovered why they made better tacks now and then; it was
because the wind shifted a little, and did not so directly oppose them.
The instant it returned to its usual course they could not progress up
the sea.  By the willow bushes they could partly see into Fir-Tree Gulf;
yesterday they could not sail out of the gulf, and to-day, with all
their efforts, they could not sail into it.

After about twenty trials they were compelled to own that they were
beaten, and returned to harbour.  Bevis was very much troubled with this
failure, and as soon as they had got home he asked Mark to go up in the
bench-room, or do anything he liked, and leave him by himself while he
looked at the old encyclopaedia.

Mark did as he was asked, knowing that Bevis always learnt anything best
by himself.  Bevis went up into the bedroom, where the great book
remained open on the chair, knelt down, and set to work to read
everything there was in it on ships and navigation.  There was the whole
history of boats and ships, from the papyrus canoes of the Nile, made by
plaiting the stalks, the earthenware boats, hide boats, rafts or skins,
hollowed trees, bark canoes, catamarans, and proas.  There was an
account of the triremes of Rome, and on down to the caravels, bilanders,
galliots, zebecs, and great three-deckers.  The book did not quite reach
to the days of glorious Nelson.

It laid down the course supposed to have been followed by Ulysses, and
described the voyages of the Phoenicians to Britain.  The parts of a
three-decker were pictured, and the instruments of navigation were
explained with illustrations.  Everything was there except what Bevis
wanted, for in all this exhaustive and really interesting treatise,
there were no plain directions how to tack.

There were the terms and the very orders in nautical language, but no
explanation as to how it was done.  Bevis shut the book up, and rose
with a sigh, for he had become so occupied with his search that he had
unconsciously checked his breathing.  He went down to the bookcase and
stood before it thoughtfully.  Presently he recollected that there was
something about yachting in a modern book of sports.  He found it and
read it carefully, but though it began about Daedalus, and finished with
the exact measurement of a successful prize-winning yacht, he could not
make out what he wanted.

The account was complete even to the wages of the seamen and the method
of signalling with flags.  There was a glossary of terms, but nothing to
tell him how to tack, that is, nothing that he could understand.  He put
the book away, and went out into the blue-painted summer-house to think
it over again.

What you really want to know is never in a book, and no one can tell
you.  By-and-by, if you keep it steadily in memory and ever have your
eyes open, you hit on it by accident.  Some mere casual incident throws
the solution right into your hands at an unexpected moment.

Bevis had fitted up his boat according to his recollections of those he
had seen in the pictures.

There was no sailing-boat that he could go and see nearer than forty
miles.  As he sat thinking it over Mark rushed up.  He, too, had been
thinking, and he had found something.

"I know," he said.


"We have not got enough ballast," said Mark.  "That's it--I'm sure
that's it.  Don't you remember how the boat kept drifting?"

"Very likely," said Bevis.  "Yes, that's it; how stupid we were.  Let's
get some more directly.  I know; I'll ask the governor for a bag of

The governor allowed them to take the bag, which weighed twenty-eight
pounds, on condition that they put it inside a small sack, so as to look
like sand, else some one might steal it.  They also found two pieces of
iron, scraps, which made up the fresh ballast to about forty pounds.
The wind had now gone down as it did soon after midday, and they could
do nothing.

But next morning it blew again from the south, and they were afloat
directly after breakfast.  The effect of the ballast was as Mark had
anticipated; the boat did not drift so much, she made less leeway, and
she was stiffer, that is, she stood up to the wind better.  They did not
lose so much quite, but still they did not gain, nor would she come
round without using a scull; indeed, she was even worse in this respect,
and more obstinate, she would not come up into the wind, the weight
seemed to hold her back.

After two hours they were obliged to give it up for the third time.  The
following day there was no wind.  "Let's make the anchor," said Mark,
"and while we're making the anchor perhaps we shall think of something
about tacking."

So they began to make the anchor, after the picture of one in the old
folio.  They found a square piece of deal, it was six inches by four,
and sawed off about two feet.  In the middle they cut a long hole right
through, and after much trouble found a flat stone to fit it.  This was
wedged in tight, and further fastened with tar-cord.  Near one end a
small square hole was cut, and through this they put a square rod of
iron, which the blacksmith sold them for a shilling--about three times
its value.

The rod was eighteen inches long, and when it was through it was bent
up, or curved, and the ends filed to a blunt point.  It fitted tight,
but they wedged it still firmer with nails, and it was put the opposite
way to the stone, so that when the stone tried to sink flat on the
bottom, one or other of the points of the bar would stick in the ground.
Mark thought there ought to be a cross-piece of wood or iron as there
is in proper anchors, but so far as they could make out, this was not
attached to the ancient stone-weighted ones, and so they did not put it.

Lastly, a hole was bored at the other end of the shaft, and the rope or
cable (a stout cord) inserted and fastened.  Looking eagerly out of
window in the morning to see if there was a wind they were delighted to
see the clouds drifting from the north-north-west.  This was a capital
wind for them as they could not tack.  It was about the same that had
been blowing the first day when they sailed into Fir-Tree Gulf and could
not get out, but it would have taken them to the very end of the New Sea
had they not considered it proper to coast round.  This time they meant
to sail straight up the centre and straight back.

Volume Two, Chapter VIII.


After breakfast they got afloat, and when away from the trees the boat
began to sail fast, and every now and then the bubbles rushed from under
the bow.  Mark sat on the ballast, or rather reclined, and Bevis
steered.  The anchor was upon the forecastle, as they called it, with
twenty-five feet of cable.  Sailing by the bluff covered with furze, by
the oak where the council was held, past the muddy shore lined with
weeds where the cattle came down to drink, past the hollow oak and the
battlefield, they saw the quarry and Fir-Tree Gulf, but did not enter
it.  As they reached the broader water the wind came fresher over the
wide surface, and the boat careening a little hastened on.  They were
now a long way from either shore in the centre of the widest part.

"This is the best sail we've had," said Mark, putting his legs out as
far as he could, leaning his back against the seat and his head against
the mast.  "It's jolly."

Bevis got off the stern-sheets and sat down on the bottom so that he too
could recline, he had nothing to do but just keep the tiller steady and
watch the mainsail, the wind set the course for them.  They could feel
the breeze pulling at the sails, and the boat drawn along.

"Is it rough?" said Mark.

"Shall we take in a reef?" said Bevis.

"No," said Mark.  "Let's capsize."

"Right," said Bevis.  "It doesn't matter."

"Not a bit.  Isn't she slipping along?"

"Gurgling and guggling."

"Bubbling and smacking.  That was spray."

"There's a puff.  How many knots are we going?"


"Pooh! twenty.  No chance of a pirate catching us."

"In these unknown seas," said Mark, "you can't tell what proas are
waiting behind the islands, nor how many Malays with creeses."

"They're crooked the wrong way," said Bevis.  "The most curious knives I
ever saw."

"Or junks," went on Mark.  "Are these the Chinese Seas?"

"Jingalls," said Bevis, "they shoot big bullets, almost cannon-balls, as
big as walnuts.  I wish we had one in the forecastle."

"We ought to have a cannon."

"Of course we did."

"As if we couldn't manage a cannon!"

"As if!"

"Or a double-barrel gun."

"Or anything."


"People _are_ stupid."


"We must have a gun."

"We must."

They listened again to the gurgling and "guggling," the bubbles, and
kiss, kiss of the wavelets.

"We're a long way now," said Mark presently.  "Can we see land?"

"See land!  We lost sight of land months ago.  I should think not.  Look
up there."

Bevis was watching the top of the mast, tracing its line along the sky,
where white filmy clouds were floating slowly.  Mark opened his drowsy
eyes and looked up too.

"No land in sight," said he.  "Nothing but sky and clouds," said Bevis.
"How far are we from shore?"

"Six thousand miles."

"It's the first time anybody has ever sailed out of sight of land in our
time," said Mark.  "It's very wonderful, and we shall be made a great
deal of when we get home."

"Yes, and put in prison afterwards.  That's the proper way."

"We shall bring home sandal-wood, and diamonds as big as--as apples--"

"And see unknown creatures in the sea, and butterflies as huge as

"Catch fevers and get well again--"

"We must make notes of the language, and coax the people to give us some
of their ancient books."

"O!  I say," said Mark, "when you were on the Unknown Island did you see
the magician with long white robes, and the serpent a hundred feet long
he keeps in a cave under the bushes?"

"No," said Bevis, "I forgot him."  So he had.  His imagination ran so
rapidly, one thing took the place of the other as the particles of water
take each other's place in a running brook.  "We shall find him, I dare

"Let's land and see."

"So we will."

"Are you sure you're steering right?"

"O! yes; it's nothing to do, you only have to keep the wind in the

"I wonder what bird that is?" said Mark, as a dove flew over.  He knew a
dove well enough on land.

"It's a sort of parrot, no doubt."

"I wonder how deep it is here."

"About a million fathoms."

"No use trying to anchor."

"Not the least."

"It's very warm."

"In these places ships get burnt by the sun sometimes."

Another short silence.  "Is it time to take a look-out, captain?"

"Yes, I think so," said the captain.  Mark crept up in the bow.

"You're steering too much to the right--that way," he cried, holding out
his right arm.  "Is that better?"

"More over."



As the boat fell off a little from the wind obeying the tiller, Bevis,
now the foresail was out of his line of sight could see the Unknown
Island.  They were closer than they had thought.

"Shall we land on Serendib?"

"O! no--on your island," said Mark.  "Steer as close to the cliff as you

Bevis did so, and the boat approached the low sandy cliff against which
the waves had once beat with such fury.  The wavelets now washed
sideways past it with a gentle splashing, they were not large enough to
make the boat dance, and if they had liked they could have gone up and
touched it.

"It looks very deep under it," said Mark, as Bevis steered into the
channel, keeping two or three yards from shore.

"Ready," he said; "get ready to furl the mainsail."

Mark partly unfastened the halyard, and held it in his hand.  Almost
directly they had passed the cliff they were in the lee of the island
which kept off the wind.  The boat moved, carried on by its impetus
through the still water, but the sails did not draw.  In a minute Bevis
told Mark to let the mainsail down, and as it dropped Mark hauled the
sail in or the folds would have fallen in the water.  At the same moment
Bevis altered the course, and ran her ashore some way below where he had
leaped off the punt, and where it was low and shelving.  Mark was out
the instant she touched with the painter, and tugged her up on the
strand.  Bevis came forward and let down the foresail, then he got out.

"Captain," said Mark, "may I go round the island?"

"Yes," said the captain, and Mark stepped in among the bushes to
explore.  Bevis went a little way and sat down under a beech.  The hull
of the boat was hidden by the undergrowth, but he could see the slender
mast and some of the rigging over the boughs.  The sunshine touched the
top of the smooth mast, which seemed to shine above the green leaves.
There was the vessel; his comrade was exploring the unknown depths of
the wood; they were far from the old world and the known countries.  He
sat and gloated over the voyage, till by-and-by he remembered the

They could not do it, even yet they were only half mariners, and were
obliged to wait for a fair wind.  If it changed while they were on the
island they would have to row back.  He was no longer satisfied; he went
down to the boat, stepped on board, and hoisted the sails.  The trees
and the island itself so kept off the wind that it was perfectly calm,
and the sails did not even flutter.  He stepped on shore, and went a few
yards where he could look back and get a good view of the vessel, trying
to think what it could be they did not do, or what it could be that was

He looked at her all over, from the top of the mast to the tiller, and
he could not discover anything.  Bevis walked up and down, he worked
himself quite into a fidget.  He went into the wood a little way, half
inclined to go after Mark as he felt so restless.  All at once he took
out his pocket-book and pencil and sat down on the ground just where he
was, and drew a sailing-boat such as he had seen.  Then he went back to
the shore, and sketched their boat on the other leaf.  His idea was to
compare the sailing-boats he had seen with theirs.

When he had finished his outline drawing he saw directly that there were
several differences.  The mast in the boat sketched from memory was much
higher than the mast in the other.  Both sails, too, were larger than
those he had had made.  The bowsprit projected farther, but the foresail
was not so much less in proportion as the mainsail.  The foresail looked
almost large enough, but the mainsail in the boat was not only smaller,
it was not of the same shape.

In his sketch from memory the gaff or rod at the top of the sail rose up
at a sharper angle, and the sail came right back to the tiller.  In the
actual boat before him the gaff was but little more than horizontal to
the mast, and the sail only came back three-fourths of the distance it
ought to have done.

"It must be made bigger," Bevis thought.  "The mainsail must be made
ever so much larger, and it must reach to where I sit.  That's the
mistake--you can see it in a minute.  Mark!  Mark!"  He shouted and

Mark came presently running.  "I've been all round," he said panting,
"and I've--"

"This is it," said Bevis, holding up his pocket-book.

"I've seen a huge jack--a regular shark.  I believe it was a shark--and
three young wild ducks, and some more of those parrots up in the trees."

"The mainsail--"

"And something under the water that made a wave, and went along--"

"Look, you see it ought to come--"

"What could it have been that made the wave and went along?"

"O! nothing--only a porpoise, or a seal, or a walrus--nothing!  Look

"But," said Mark, "the wave moved along, and I could not tell what made

"Magic," said Bevis.  "Very likely the magician.  Did you see him?"

"No; but I believe there's something very curious about this island--"

"It's enchanted, of course," said Bevis.  "There's lots of things you
know are there, and you can't find," said Mark; "there's a tiger, I
believe, in the bushes and reeds at the other end.  If I had had my
spear I should have gone and looked, and there's boa-constrictors and a
hippopotamus was here last night, and heaps of jolly things, and I've
found a place to make a cave.  Come and see," (pulling Bevis).

"I'll come," said Bevis, "in a minute.  But just look, I've found out
what was wrong--"

"And how to tack?"


"Then let's do it, and tack and get shipwrecked, and live here.  If we
only had Jack's rifle."

"But we must sail properly first," said Bevis.  "I shan't do anything
till we can sail properly: now this is it.  Look."

He showed Mark the two sketches, and how their mainsail did not reach
back far enough towards the stern.

"Frances must make it larger," said Mark.  "Of course that's it--it's as
different as possible.  And the mast ought to be higher--it would crack
better, and go overboard--whop!"

"I don't know," said Bevis; "about the mast; yes, I think I will.  We
will make one a foot or eighteen inches higher--"

"Bigger sails will go faster, and smash the ship splendidly against the
rocks," said Mark.  "There'll be a crash and a grinding, and the decks
will blow up, and there'll be an awful yell as everybody is gulped up
but you and me."

"While we're doing it, we'll make another bowsprit, too--longer," said

"Why didn't we think of it before," said Mark.  "How stupid!  Now you
look at it, you can see it in a minute.  And we had to sail half round
the world to find it."

"That's just it," said Bevis.  "You sail forty thousand miles to find a
thing, and when you get there you can see you left it at home."

"We have been stupes," said Mark.  "Let's do it directly.  I'll shave
the new mast, and you take the sails to Frances.  And now come and see
the place for the cave."

Bevis went with him, and Mark took him to the bank or bluff inside the
island which Bevis had passed when he explored it the evening of the
battle.  The sandy bank rose steeply for some ten or fifteen feet, and
then it was covered with brambles and fern.  There was a space at the
foot clear of bushes and trees, and only overgrown with rough grasses.
Beyond this there were great bramble thickets, and the trees began again
about fifty yards away, encircling the open space.  The spot was almost
in the centre of the island, but rather nearer the side where there was
a channel through the weeds than the other.

"The sand's soft and hard," said Mark.  "I tried it with my knife; you
can cut it, but it won't crumble."

"We should not have to prop the roof," said Bevis.

"No, and it's as dry as chips; it's the most splendid place for a cave
that ever was."

"So it is," said Bevis.  "Nobody could see us."

He looked round.  The high bank shut them in behind, the trees in front
and each side.  "Besides, there's nobody to look.  It's capital."

"Will you do it," said Mark.

"Of course I will--directly we can sail properly."

"Hurrah!" shouted Mark, hitting up his heels, having caught that trick
from Bevis.  "Let's go home and begin the sails.  Come on."

"But I know one thing," said Bevis, as they returned to the boat; "if
we're going to have a cave, we must have a gun."

"That's just what I say.  Can't we borrow one?  I know, you put up
Frances to make Jack lend us his rifle.  She's fond of you--she hates

"I'll try," said Bevis.  "How ought you to get a girl to do anything?"

"Stare at her," said Mark.  "That's what Jack does, like a donk at a
thistle when he can't eat any more."

"Does Frances like the staring?"

"She pretends she doesn't, but she does.  You stare at her, and act

"Is Jack stupid?"

"When he's at our house," said Mark.  "He's as stupid as an owl.  Now
she kisses you, and you just whisper and squeeze her hand, and say it's
very tiny.  You don't know how conceited she is about her hand--can't
you see--she's always got it somewhere where you can see it; and she
sticks her foot out so," (Mark put one foot out); "and don't you move an
inch, but stick close to her, and get her into a corner or in the
arbour.  Mind, though, if you don't keep on telling her how pretty she
is, she'll box your ears.  That's why she hates me--"

"Because you don't tell her she's pretty.  But she is pretty."

"But I'm not going to be always telling her so--I don't see that she's
anything very beautiful either--you and I should look nice if we were
all the afternoon doing our hair, and if we walked like that and stuck
our noses up in the air; and kept grinning, and smacked ourselves with
powder, and scent, and all such beastly stuff.  Now Jack's rifle--"

"We could make it shoot," said Bevis, "if we had it all to ourselves,
and put bullets through apples stuck up on a stick, or smash an egg--"

"And knock over the parrots up in these trees."

"I _will_ have a gun," said Bevis, kicking a stone with all his might.
"Are you sure Frances could get Jack--"

"Frances get Jack to do it!  Why, I've seen him kiss her foot."

They got on board laughing and set the sails, but as the island kept the
wind off, Mark had to row till they were beyond the cliff.  Then the
sails filled and away they went.

"Thessaly," said Mark presently.  "See! we're getting to places where
people live again.  I say, shall we try the anchor?"

"Yes.  Let down the mainsail first."

Mark let it down, and then put the anchor over.  It sank rapidly,
drawing the cable after it.  The flat stone in the shaft endeavoured as
it sank to lie flat on the bottom, and this brought one of the flukes or
points against the ground, and the motion of the boat dragging at it
caused it to stick in a few inches.  The cable tightened, and the boat
brought up and swung with her stem to the wind.  Mark found that they
did not want all the cable; he hauled it in till there was only about
ten feet out; so that, allowing for the angle, the water was not much
more than five or six feet deep.  They were off the muddy shore, lined
with weeds.  Rude as the anchor was, it answered perfectly.  In a minute
or two they hauled it up, set the mainsail, and sailed almost to the
harbour, having to row the last few yards because the trees kept much of
the breeze off.  They unshipped the mast, and carried it and the sails

In the evening Mark set to work to shave another and somewhat longer
pole for the new mast, and Bevis took the sails and some more canvas to
Frances.  He was not long gone, and when he returned said that Frances
had promised to do the work immediately.

"Did you do the cat and mouse?" said Mark.  "Did you stare?"

"I stared," said Bevis, "but there were some visitors there--"


"Stupes, so I couldn't get on very well.  She asked me what I was
looking at, and if she wasn't all right--"

"She meant her flounces; she thinks of nothing but her flounces.  Some
of the things are called gores."

"But I began about the rifle, and she said perhaps, but she really had
no influence with Jack."

"O!" said Mark with a snort.  "Another buster."

"And she couldn't think why you didn't come home.  She had forgiven you
a long time, and you were always unkind to her, and she was always
forgiving you."

"Busters," said Mark.  "She's on telling stories from morning to night."

"I don't see why you should be afraid of her; she can't hurt you."

"Not hurt me!  Why if you've done anything--it's niggle-niggle,
niggle-naggle, and she'll play you every nasty trick, and set the Old
Moke on to look cross; and then when Jack comes, it's `Mark, dear Mark,'
and wouldn't you think she was a sweet darling who loved her brother!"

Mark tore off a shaving.

"One thing though," he added.  "Won't she serve Jack out when he's got
her and obliged to have her.  As if I didn't know why she wants me to
come home.  All she wants is to send some letters to him."

"Postman.  I see," said Bevis.

"But I'll go," said Mark.  "I'll go and fetch the sails to-morrow.  I
should like to see the jolly Old Moke; and don't you see? if I take the
letters she'll be pleased and get the rifle for us."

It was exceedingly disrespectful of Mark to speak of his governor as the
Old Moke; his actual behaviour was very different to his speech, for in
truth he was most attached to his father.  The following afternoon Mark
walked over and got the sails, and as he had guessed Frances gave him a
note for Jack, which he had to deliver that evening.  They surprised the
donkey; Mark mounted and rode off.

Bevis went on with the mast and the new gaff and bowsprit, and when Mark
got back about sunset he had the new mast and rigging fitted up in the
shed to see how it looked.  The first time they made a mast it took them
a long while, but now, having learned exactly how to do it, the second
had soon been prepared.  The top rose above the beam of the shed, and
the mainsail stretched out under the eave.

"Hoist the peak up higher," said the governor.  Being so busy they had
not heard him come.  "Hoist it up well, Mark."

Mark gave another pull at the halyard, and drew the peak, or point of
the gaff, up till it stood at a sharp angle.

"The more peak you can get," said the governor, "the more leverage the
wind has, and the better she will answer the rudder."

He was almost as interested in their sailing as they were themselves,
and had watched them from the bank of the New Sea concealed behind the
trees.  But he considered it best that they should teach themselves, and
find out little by little where they were wrong.  Besides which he knew
that the greatest pleasure is always obtained from inferior and
incomplete instruments.  Present a perfect yacht, a beautiful horse, a
fine gun, or anything complete to a beginner, and the edge of his
enjoyment is dulled with too speedy possession.  The best way to learn
to ride is on a rough pony, to sail in an open ill-built boat, because
by encountering difficulties the learner comes to understand and
appreciate the perfect instrument, and to wield or direct it with fifty
times more power than if he had been born to the purple.

From the shore the governor had watched them vainly striving to tack,
and could but just refrain from pointing out the reason.  When he saw
them fitting up the enlarged sails and the new mast, he exulted almost
as much as they did themselves.  "They will do it," he said to himself,
"they will do it this time."

Then to Bevis, "Pull the mainsail back as far as you can, and don't let
it hollow out, not hollow and loose.  Keep it taut.  It ought be as flat
as a board.  There--" He turned away abruptly, fearing he had told them
too much.

"As flat as a board," repeated Bevis.  "So I will.  But we thought it
was best hollow, didn't we?"  There was still enough light left to see
to step the mast, so they carried the sails and rigging up to the boat,
and fitted them the same evening.

Volume Two, Chapter IX.


In the morning the wind blew south, coming down the length of the New
Sea.  Though it was light and steady it brought larger waves than they
had yet sailed in, because they had so far to roll.  Still they were not
half so high as the day of the battle, and came rolling slowly, with
only a curl of foam now and then.  The sails were set, and as they
drifted rather than sailed out of the sheltered harbour, the boat began
to rise and fall, to their intense delight.

"Now it's proper sea," said Mark.

"Keep ready," said Bevis.  "She's going.  We shall be across in two

He hauled the mainsheet taut, and kept it as the governor had told him,
as flat as a board.  Smack!  The bow hit a wave, and threw handfuls of
water over Mark, who knelt on the ballast forward, ready to work the
foresheets.  He shouted with joy, "It's sea, it's real sea!"

Smack! smack!  His jacket was streaked and splotched with spray; he
pushed his wet hair off his eyes.  Sish! sish! with a bubbling hiss the
boat bent over, and cut into the waves like a knife.  So much more
canvas drove her into the breeze, and as she went athwart the waves
every third one rose over the windward bow like a fountain, up the spray
flew, straight up, and then horizontally on Mark's cheek.  There were
wide dark patches on the sails where they were already wet.

Bevis felt the tiller press his hand like the reins with a strong fresh
horse.  It vibrated as the water parted from the rudder behind.  The
least movement of the tiller changed her course.  Instead of having to
hold the tiller in such a manner as to keep the boat's head up to the
wind, he had now rather to keep her off, she wanted to fly in the face
of the breeze, and he had to moderate such ardour.  The broad mainsail
taut, and flat as a board, strove to drive the bow up to windward.

"Look behind," said Mark.  "Just see."

There was a wake of opening bubbles and foam, and the waves for a moment
were smoothed by their swift progress.  Opposite the harbour the New Sea
was wide, and it had always seemed a long way across, but they had
hardly looked at the sails and the wake, and listened to the hissing and
splashing, than it was time to tack.

"Ready," said Bevis.  "Let go."

Mark let go, and the foresail bulged out and fluttered, offering no
resistance to the wind.  Bevis pushed the tiller over, and the mainsail
having its own way at last drove the head of the boat into the wind,
half round, three-quarters; now they faced it, and the boat pitched.
The mainsail shivered; its edge faced the wind.

"Pull," said Bevis the next moment.

Mark pulled the foresheet tight to the other side.  It drew directly,
and like a lever brought her head round, completing the turn.  The
mainsail flew across.  Bevis hauled the sheet tight.  She rolled,
heaved, and sprang forward.

"Hurrah!  We've done it!  Hurrah!"

They shouted and kicked the boat.  Wish! the spray flew, soaking Mark's
jacket the other side, filling his pocket with water, and even coming
back as far as Bevis's feet.  Sish! sish!  The wind puffed, and the
rigging sang; the mast leaned; she showed her blue side; involuntarily
they moved as near to windward as they could.

Wish!  The lee gunwale slipped along, but just above the surface of the
water, skimming like a swallow.  Smack!  Such a soaker.  The foresail
was wet; the bowsprit dipped twice.  Swish!  The mainsail was dotted
with spray.  Smack!  Mark bent his head, and received it on his hat.

"Ready!" shouted the captain.

The foresheet slipped out of Mark's hand, and flapped, and hit him like
a whip till he caught the rope.  The mainsail forced her up to the wind;
the foresail tightened again levered her round.  She rolled, heaved, and
sprang forward.

Next time they did it better, and without a word being spoken.  Mark had
learned the exact moment to tighten the sheet, and she came round
quicker than ever.  In four tacks they were opposite the bluff, the
seventh brought them to the council oak.  As the wind blew directly down
the New Sea each tack was just the same.

Bevis began to see that much depended upon the moment he chose for
coming about, and then it did not always answer to go right across.  If
he waited till they were within a few yards of the shore the wind
sometimes fell, the boat immediately lost weigh, or impetus, and though
she came round it was slowly, and before she began to sail again they
had made a little leeway.

He found it best to tack when they were sailing full speed, because when
he threw her head up to windward she actually ran some yards direct
against the wind, and gained so much.  Besides what they had gained
coming aslant across the water at the end of the tack she shot up into
the eye of the wind, and made additional headway like that.  So that by
watching the breeze, and seizing the favourable opportunity, he made
much more than he would have done by merely travelling as far as

The boat was badly built, with straight, stiff lines, a crank, awkward
craft.  She ought to have been a foot or so broader, and more swelling,
when she would have swung round like a top.

Bevis might then have crossed to the very shore, though the wind
lessened, without fear of leeway.  But she came round badly even at the
best.  They thought she came round first-rate, but they were mistaken.
Had she done so, she would have resumed the return course without a
moment's delay, instead of staggering, rolling, heaving, and gradually
coming to her work again.  Bevis had to watch the breeze and coax her.

His eye was constantly on the sail, he felt the tiller, handling it with
a delicate touch like a painter's brush.  He had to calculate and decide
quickly whether there was space and time enough for the puff to come
again before they reached the shore, or whether he had better sacrifice
that end of the tack and come round at once.  Sometimes he was wrong,
sometimes right.  In so narrow a space, and with such a boat, everything
depended upon coming round well.

His workmanship grew better as they advanced.  He seemed to feel all
through the boat from rudder to mast, from the sheet in his hand to the
bowsprit.  The touch, the feeling of his hand, seemed to penetrate
beyond the contact of the tiller, to feel through wood and rope as if
they were a part of himself like his arm.  He responded to the wind as
quickly as the sail.  If it fell, he let her off easier, to keep the
pace up; if it blew, he kept her closer, to gain every inch with the
increased impetus.  He watched the mainsail hauled taut like a board,
lest it should shiver.  He watched the foresail, lest he should keep too
close, and it should cease to draw.  He stroked, and soothed, and
caressed, and coaxed her, to put her best foot foremost.

Our captains have to coax the huge ironclads.  With all the machinery,
and the science, and the elaboration, and the gauges, and the
mathematically correct everything, the iron monsters would never come
safe to an anchorage without the most exquisite coaxing.  You must coax
everything if you want to succeed; ironclads, fortune, Frances.

Bevis coaxed his boat, and suited her in all her little ways; now he
yielded to her; now he waited for her; now he gave her her head and let
her feel freedom; now, he hinted, was the best moment; suddenly his hand
grew firm, and round she came.

Do you suppose he could have learnt wind and wave and to sail like that
if he had had a perfect yacht as trim as the saucy Arethusa herself?
Never.  The crooked ways of the awkward craft brought out his ingenuity.

As they advanced the New Sea became narrower, till just before they came
opposite the battlefield the channel was but a hundred yards or so wide.
In these straits the waves came with greater force and quicker; they
wore no higher, but followed more quickly, and the wind blew harder, as
if also confined.  It was tack, tack, tack.  No sooner were the sheets
hauled, and they had begun to forge ahead, than they had to come about.
Flap, flutter, pitch, heave, on again.  Smack! smack!  The spray flew
over.  Mark buttoned his jacket to his throat, and jammed his hat down
hard on his head.

The rope, or sheet, twisted once round Bevis's hand, cut into his skin,
and made a red weal.  He could not give it a turn round the cleat
because there was no time.  The mainsail pulled with almost all its
force against his hand.  Just as they had got the speed up, and a shower
of spray was flying over Mark, round she had to come.  Pitch, pitch,
roll, heave forward, smack! splash! bubble, smack!

On the battlefield side Bevis could not go close to the shore because it
was lined with a band of weeds; and on the other there were willow
bushes in the water, so that the actual channel was less than the
distance from bank to bank.  Each tack only gained a few yards, so that
they crossed and recrossed nearly twenty times before they began to get
through the strait.  The sails were wet now, and drew the better; they
worked in silence, but without a word, each had the same thought.

"It will do now," said Mark.

"Once more," said Bevis.

"Now," said Mark, as they had come round.


From the westward shore Bevis kept her close to the wind, and as the
water opened out, he steered for Fir-Tree Gulf.  He calculated that he
should just clear the stony promontory.  Against the rocky wall the
waves dashed and rose up high above it, the spray was carried over the
bank and into the quarry.  The sandbank or islet in front was concealed,
the water running over it, but its site was marked by boiling surge.

The waves broke over it, and then met other waves thrown back from the
wall; charging each other, they sprang up in pointed tips, which parted
and fell.  Over the grassy bank above rolled brown froth, which was then
lifted and blown away.  This was one of those places where the wind
always seems to blow with greater force.  In a gale from the southwest
it was difficult to walk along the bank, and even now with only a light
breeze the waves ran at the stony point as if they were mad.  Bevis
steered between Scylla and Charybdis, keeping a little nearer the sunken
islet this time, the waves roared and broke on each side of them, froth
caught against the sails, the boat shook as the reflux swept back and
met the oncoming current; the rocky wall seemed to fly by, and in an
instant they were past and in the gulf.

Hauling into the wind, the boat shot out from the receding shore, and as
they approached the firs they were already half across to the Nile.
Returning, they had now a broad and splendid sea to sail in, and this
tack took them up so far that next time they were outside the gulf.  It
was really sailing now, long tacks, or "legs," edging aslant up into the
wind, and leaving the quarry far behind.

"It's splendid," said Mark.  "Let me steer now."

Bevis agreed, and Mark crept aft on hands and knees, anxious not to
disturb the trim of the boat; Bevis went forward and took his place in
the same manner, buttoning his jacket and turning up his collar.

Mark steered quite as well.  Bevis had learned how to work the boat, to
coax her, from the boat and the sails themselves.  Mark had learned from
Bevis, and much quicker.  It requires time, continued observation, and
keenest perception to learn from nature.  When one has thus acquired the
art, others can learn from him in a short while and easily.  Mark
steered and handled the sheet, and brought her round as handily as if he
had been at it all the time.

These lengthened zigzags soon carried them far up the broad water, and
the farther they went the smaller the waves became, having so much the
less distance to come, till presently they were but big ripples, and the
boat ceased to dance.  As the waves did not now oppose her progress so
much, there was but little spray, and she slipped through faster.  The
motive power, the wind, was the same; the opposing force, the waves,
less.  The speed increased, and they soon approached Bevis's island,
having worked the whole distance up against the wind.  They agreed to
land, and Mark brought her to the very spot where they had got out
before.  Bevis doused the mainsail, leaped out, and tugged her well
aground.  After Mark had stepped ashore they careened the boat and baled
out the water.

There was no tree or root sufficiently near to fasten the painter to, so
they took out the anchor, carried it some way inland, and forced one of
the flukes into the ground.  The boat was quite safe and far enough
aground not to drift off, but it was not proper to leave a ship without
mooring her.  Mark wanted to go and look at the place he thought so well
adapted for a cave, so they walked through between the bushes, when he
suddenly remembered that the vessel in which they had just accomplished
so successful a voyage had not got a name.

"The ship ought to have a name," he said.  "Blue boat sounds stupid."

"So she ought," said Bevis.  "Why didn't we think of it before?  There's
Arethusa, Agamemnon, Sandusky, Orient--"

"Swallow, Viking, Saint George--but that won't do," said Mark.  "Those
are ships that sail now and some have steam; what were old ships--"

"Argo," said Bevis.  "I wonder what was the name of Ulysses' ship--"

"I know," said Mark, "Pinta--that's it.  One of Columbus's ships, you
know.  He was the first to go over there, and we're the first on the New

"So we are; it shall be Pinta, I'll paint it, and the island ought to
have a name too."

"Of course.  Let's see: Tahiti?" said Mark.  "Loo-choo?"



"Cyclades?  But those are a lot of islands, aren't they?"

"Formosa is a good name," said Bevis.  "It sounds right.  But I don't
know where it is--it's somewhere."

"Don't matter--call it New Formosa."

"Capital," said Bevis.  "The very thing; there's New Zealand and New
Guinea.  Right.  It's New Formosa."

"Or the Land of Magic."

"New Formosa or the Magic Land," said Bevis.  "I'll write it down on the
map we made when we get home."

"Here's the place," said Mark.  "This is where the cave ought to be,"
pointing at a spot where the sandy cliff rose nearly perpendicular; "and
then we ought to have a hut over it."

"Poles stuck in and leaning down and thatched."

"Yes, and a palisade of thick stakes stuck in, in front of the door."

"So that no one could take us by surprise at night."

"And far enough off for us to have our fire inside."

"Twist bushes in between the stakes."

"Quite impassable to naked savages."

"How high?"

"Seven feet."

"Or very nearly."

"We could make a bed, and sleep all night."

"Wouldn't it be splendid to stop here altogether?"

"First-rate; no stupid sillinesses."

"No bother."

"Have your dinner when you like."

"Nobody to bother where you've been to."

"Let's live here."

"All right.  Only we must have a gun to shoot birds and things to eat,"
said Bevis.  "It's no use unless we have a gun; it's not proper, nor

"No more it is," said Mark; "we _must_ have a gun.  Go and stare at

"But it takes such a time, and then you know how slow Jack is.  It would
take him three months to make up his mind to lend us the rifle."

"So it would," said Mark; "Jack's awful slow, like his old mill-wheel up

"Round and round," said Bevis.  "Boom and splash and rumble,"--swinging
his arm--"round and round, and never get any farther."

"Not an inch," said Mark.  "Stop; there's Tom's gun."  He meant the

"Pooh!" said Bevis, "that's rotten old rusty rubbish.  Isn't there
anybody we could borrow one of?"

"Nobody," said Mark; "they're all so stupid and afraid."


"Awful donks!  Let's sell our watches, and buy one," said Mark.  "Only
they would ask what we had done with our watches."

"I know," said Bevis, suddenly kicking up his heels, then standing on
one foot and spinning round--"I know!"

"What is it!  Quick!  Tell me!"

"Make one," said Bevis.

"Make one?"

"A matchlock," said Bevis.  "Make a matchlock.  And a matchlock is quite
proper, and just what they used to have--"

"But the barrel?"

"Buy an iron tube," said Bevis.  "They have lots at Latten, at the
ironmonger's; buy an iron pipe, and stop one end--"

"I see," said Mark.  "Hurrah!" and up went his heels, and there was a
wild capering for half a minute.

"The bother is to make the breech," said Bevis.  "It ought to screw, but
we can't do that."

"Ask the blacksmith," said Mark; "we need not let him know what it's

"If he doesn't know we'll find out somehow," said Bevis.  "Come on,
let's do it directly.  Why didn't we think of it before."

They returned towards the boat.

"Just won't it be splendid," said Mark.  "First, we'll get everything
ready, and then get shipwrecked proper, and be as jolly as anything."

"Matchlocks are capital guns," said Bevis; "they're slow to shoot with,
you know, but they kill better than rifles.  They have long barrels, and
you put them on a rest to take steady aim, and we'll have an iron ramrod
too, so as not to have the bother of making a place to put the rod in
the stock, and to ram down bullets to shoot the tigers or savages."


"The stock must be curved," said Bevis; "not like the guns, broad and
flat, but just curved, and there must be a thing to hold the match; and
just remind me to buy a spring to keep the hammer up, so that it shall
not fall till we pull the trigger--it's just opposite to other guns,
don't you see?  The spring is to keep the match up, and you pull against
the spring.  And there's a pan and a cover to it--a bit of tin would do
capital--and you push it open with your thumb.  I've seen lots of
matchlocks in glass cases, all inlaid gold and silver."

"We don't want that."

"No all we want is the shooting.  The match is the bother--"

"Would tar-cord do?"

"We'll try; first let's make the breech.  Take up the anchor."

Mark picked up the anchor, and put it on board.  They launched the
Pinta, and set sail homewards, Mark steering.  As they were running
right before the wind, the ship went at a great pace.

"That's the Mozambique," said Bevis, as they passed through the strait
where they had had to make so many tacks before.

"Land ho!" said Mark, as they approached the harbour.  "We've had a
capital sail."

"First-rate," said Bevis.  "But let's make the matchlock."

Now that he had succeeded in tacking he was eager to go on to the next
thing, especially the matchlock-gun.  The hope of shooting made him
three times as ready to carry out Mark's plan of the cave on the island.
After furling the sails, and leaving everything ship-shape, they ran
home and changed their jackets, which were soaked.

Volume Two, Chapter X.


Talking upstairs about the barrel of the gun, they began to think it
would be an awkward thing to bring home, people would look at them
walking through the town with an iron pipe, and when they had got it
home, other people might ask what it was for.  Presently Mark remembered
that John Young went to Latten that day with the horse and cart to fetch
things; now if they bought the tube, Young could call for it, and bring
it in the cart and leave it at his cottage.  Downstairs they ran, and up
to the stables, and as they came near, heard the stamp of a cart-horse,
as it came over.  Mark began to whistle the tune,--

  "John Young went to town
  On a little pony,
  Stuck a feather in his hat,
  And called him Macaroni."

"Macaroni!" said he, as they looked in at the stable-door.  "Macaroni"
did not answer; the leather of the harness creaked as he moved it.

"Macaroni!" shouted Mark.  He did not choose to reply to such a

"John!" said Bevis.

"Eez--eez," replied the man, looking under the horse's neck, and meaning
"Yes, yes."

"Fetch something for us," said Mark.

"Pint?" said John laconically.

"Two," said Bevis.

"Ar-right," ["all right"] said John, his little brown eyes twinkling.
"Ar-right, you."  For a quart of ale there were few things he would not
have done: for a gallon his soul would not have had a moment's
consideration, if it had stood in the way.

Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back When pewter tankard
beckons to come on!

They explained to him what they wanted him to do.

"Have you got a grate in your house?" said Bevis.

"A yarth," said John, meaning an open hearth.  "Burns wood."

"Can you make a hot fire--very hot on it?"

"Rayther.  Boilers."  By using the bellows.  "What could we have for an

"Be you going a blacksmithing?"

"Yes--what will do for an anvil?"

"Iron quarter," said John.  "There's an ould iron in the shed.  Shall I
take he whoam?"  An iron quarter is a square iron weight weighing 28
pounds: it would make a useful anvil.  It was agreed that he should do
so, and they saw him put the old iron weight, rusty and long disused, up
in the cart.

"If you wants anybody to blow the bellers," said he, "there's our Loo--
she'll blow for yer.  Be you going to ride?"

"No," said Bevis; "we'll go across the fields."

Away they went by the meadow foot-path, a shorter route to the little
town, and reached it before John and his cart.  At the ironmonger's they
examined a number of pipes, iron and brass tubes.  The brass looked
best, and tempted them, but on turning it round they fancied the join
showed, and was not perfect, and of course that would not do.  Nor did
it look so strong as the iron, so they chose the iron, and bought five
feet of a stout tube--the best in the shop--with a bore of 5-eighths;
and afterwards a brass rod, which was to form the ramrod.  Brass would
not cause a spark in the barrel.

John called for these in due course, and left them at his cottage.  The
old rogue had his quart, and the promise of a shilling, if the hearth
answered for the blacksmithing.  In the evening, Mark, well primed as to
what he was to ask, casually looked in at the blacksmith's down the
hamlet.  The blacksmith was not in the least surprised; they were both
old frequenters; he was only surprised one or both had not been before.

Mark pulled some of the tools about, lifted the sledge which stood
upright, and had left it's mark on the iron "scale" which lay on the
ground an inch deep.  Scale consists of minute particles which fly off
red-hot iron when it is hammered--the sparks, in fact, which, when they
go out, fall, and are found to be metal; like the meteors in the sky,
the scale shooting from Vulcan's anvil, which go out and drop on the
earth.  Mark lifted the sledge, put it down, twisted up the vice, and
untwisted it, while Jonas, the smith, stood blowing the bellows with his
left hand, and patting the fire on the forge with his little spud of a

"Find anything you want," he said presently.

"I'll take this," said Mark.  "There's sixpence."

He had chosen a bit of iron rod, short, and thicker than their ramrod.
Bevis had told him what to look for.

"All right, sir--anything else?"

"Well," said Mark, moving towards the door, "I don't know,"--then
stopping with an admirable assumption of indifference.  "Suppose you had
to stop up one end of a pipe, how should you do it?"

"Make it white-hot," said the smith.  "Bring it to me."

"Will white-hot shut tight?"

"Quite tight--it runs together when hit.  Bring it to me.  I say,
where's the punt?" grinning.  His white teeth gleamed between his open
lips--a row of ivory set in a grimy face.

"The punt's at the bottom," said Mark, with a louring countenance.

"Nice boys," said the smith.  "You're very nice boys.  If you was
mine--" He took up a slender ash plant that was lying on the bench, and
made it ply and whistle in the air.

Mark tossed his chin, kicked the door open, and walked off.

"I say!--I say!" shouted the smith.  "Bring it to me."

"Keep yourself to yourself," said Mark loftily.

Boys indeed!  The smith swore, and it sounded in his broad deep chest
like the noise of the draught up the furnace.  He was angry with
himself--he thought he had lost half-a-crown, at least, by just swishing
the stick up and down.  If you want half-a-crown, you must control your

Mark told Bevis what the smith had said, and they went to work, and the
same evening filed off the end of the rod Mark had bought.  Bevis's plan
was to file this till it almost fitted the tube, but not quite.  Then he
meant to make the tube red-hot--almost white--and insert the little
block.  He knew that heat would cause the tube to slightly enlarge, so
that the block being cold could be driven in; then as the tube cooled it
would shrink in and hold it tight, so that none of the gas of the powder
could escape.

The block was to be driven in nearly half an inch below the rim; the rim
was to be next made quite white-hot, and in that state hammered over
till it met in the centre, and overlapped a little.  Again made
white-hot, the overlapping (like the paper of a paper tube doubled in)
was to be hammered and solidly welded together.  The breech would then
be firmly closed, and there would not be the slightest chance of its
blowing out.  This was his own idea, and he explained it to Mark.

They had now to decide how long the barrel should be: they had bought
rather more tube than they wanted.  Five, or even four feet would be so
long, the gun would be inconvenient to handle, though with a rest, and
very heavy.  In a barrel properly built up, the thickness gradually
decreases from the breech to the muzzle, so that as the greatest weight
is nearest the shoulder the gun balances.  But this iron tube was the
same thickness from one end to the other, and in consequence, when held
up horizontally, it seemed very heavy at the farther extremity.

Yet they wanted a long barrel, else it would not be like a proper
matchlock.  Finally, they fixed on forty inches, which would be long,
but not too long; with a barrel of three feet four inches they ought,
they considered, to be able to kill at a great distance.  Adding the
stock, say fifteen inches, the total length would be four feet seven.

Next morning, taking their tools and a portable vice in a flag-basket,
as they often did to the boat, they made a detour and went to John
Young's cottage.  On the door-step there sat a little girl without shoes
or stockings; her ragged frock was open at her neck.  At first, she
looked about twelve years old, as the original impression of age is
derived from height and size.  In a minute or two she grew older, and
was not less than fourteen.  The rest of the family were in the fields
at work, Loo had been left to wait upon them.  Already she had a huge
fire burning on the hearth, which was of brick; the floor too was brick.
With the door wide open they could hardly stand the heat till the
flames had fallen.  Bevis did not want so much flame; embers are best to
make iron hot.  Taking off their jackets they set to work, put the tube
in the fire, arranged the anvil, screwed the vice to the deal table,
which, though quite clean, was varnished with grease that had sunk into
the wood, selected the hammer which they thought would suit, and told
Loo to fetch them her father's hedging-gloves.

These are made of thick leather, and Mark thought he could hold the tube
better with them, as it would be warm from one end to the other.  The
little block of iron, to form the breech, was filed smooth, so as to
just _not_ fit the tube.  When the tube was nearly white-hot, Mark put
on the leather gloves, seized and placed the colder end on the anvil,
standing the tube with the glowing end upwards.

Bevis took the iron block, or breech-piece, with his pincers, inserted
it in the white-hot tube, and drove it down with a smart tap.  Some
scale fell off and dropped on Mark's shirt-sleeve, burning little holes
through to his skin.  He drew his breath between his teeth, so sudden
and keen was the pain of the sparks, but did not flinch.  Bevis hastily
threw his jacket over Mark's arms, and then gave the block three more
taps, till it was flush with the top of the tube.

By now the tube was cooling, the whiteness superseded by a red, which
gradually became dull.  Mark put the tube again in the fire, and Loo was
sent to find a piece of sacking to protect his arm from the sparks.  His
face was not safe, but he had sloped his hat over it, and hold his head
down.  There were specks on his hat where the scale or sparks had burnt
it.  Loo returned with a sack, when Bevis, who had been thinking,
discovered a way by which Mark might escape the sparks.

He pulled the table along till the vice fixed to it projected over the
anvil.  Next time Mark was to stand the tube upright just the same, but
to put it in the vice, and tighten the vice quickly, so that he need not
hold it.  Bevis had a short punch to drive the block or breech-piece
deeper into the tube.  Loo, blowing at the embers, with her scorched
face close to the fire, declared that the tube was ready.  Mark drew it
out, and in two seconds it was fixed in the vice, but with the colder
end in contact with the anvil underneath.  Bevis put his punch on the
block and tapped it sharply till he had forced it half an inch beneath
the rim.

He now adjusted it for the next heating himself, for he did not wish all
the end of the tube to be so hot; he wanted the end itself almost
white-hot, but not the rest.  While it was heating they went out of
doors to cool themselves, leaving Loo to blow steadily at the embers.
She watched their every motion as intent as a cat a mouse; she ran with
her naked brown feet to fetch and carry; she smiled when Mark put on the
leather gloves, for she would have held it with her hands, though it had
been much hotter.

She would have put her arm on the anvil to receive a blow from the
hammer; she would have gone down the well in the bucket if they had
asked her.  Her mind was full of this wonderful work--what could they be
making?  But her heart and soul was filled with these great big boys
with their beautiful sparkling eyes and white arms, white as milk, and
their wilful, imperious ways.  How many times she had watched them from
afar!  To have them so near was almost too great a joy; she was like a
slave under their feet; they regarded her less than the bellows in her

Directly the tube was white-hot at the extremity, she called them.  Mark
set the tube up; Bevis carefully hammered the rim over, folding it down
on the breech block.  Another heating, and he hammered the yielding
metal still closer together, welding the folds.  A third heating, and he
finished it, deftly levelling the projections.  The breech was complete,
and it was much better done than they had hoped.  As it cooled the tube
shrank on the block; the closed end of the tube shrank too, and the
breech-piece was incorporated into the tube itself.  Their barrel was
indeed far safer at the breech than scores of the brittle guns turned
out cheap in these days.

Loo, seeing them begin to put their tools in the flag-basket, asked,
with tears in her eyes, if they were not going to do any more?  They had
been there nearly three hours, for each heating took some time, but it
had not seemed ten minutes to her.  Bevis handed the barrel to her, and
told her to take great care of it; they would come for it at night.  It
was necessary to smuggle it up into the armoury at home, and that could
not be done by day.  She took it.  Had he given it in charge of a file
of soldiers it could not have been safer; she would watch it as a bird
does her nest.

Just then John came in, partly for his luncheon, partly out of curiosity
to see how they were getting on.  "Picters you be!" said John.

Pictures they were--black and grimy, not so much from the iron as the
sticks and logs, half burnt, which they had handled; they were, in fact,
streaked and smudged with charcoal.  Loo instantly ran for a bowl of
water for them to wash, and held the towel ready.  She watched them down
the hill, and wished they had kicked her or pulled her hair.  Other boys
did; why did not they touch her?  They might have done so.  Next time
she thought she would put her naked foot so that they would step on it;
then if she cried out perhaps they would stroke her.

In the afternoon they took two spades up to the boat.  The wind had
fallen as usual, but they rowed to New Formosa.  The Pinta being deep in
the water and heavy with ballast, moved slowly, and it was a long row.
Mark cut two sticks, and these were driven into the face of the sand
cliff, to show the outline of the proposed cave.  It was to be five feet
square, and as deep as they could dig it.

They cleared away the loose sand and earth at the foot in a few minutes,
and began the excavation.  The sand at the outside was soft and
crumbled, but an inch deep it became harder, and the work was not
anything like so easy as they had supposed.  After pecking with the
spades for a whole hour, each had only cut out a shallow hole.

"This is no good," said Mark; "we shall never do it like this."

"Pickaxes," said Bevis.

"Yes; and hatchets," said Mark.  "We could chop this sand best."

"So we could," said Bevis.  "There are some old hatchets in the shed;
we'll sharpen them; they'll do."

They worked on another half-hour, and then desisted, and cutting some
more sticks stuck them in the ground in a semicircle before the cliff,
to mark where the palisade was to be fixed.  The New Sea was still calm,
and they had to row through the Mozambique all the way to the harbour.

In the evening they ground two old hatchets, which, being much worn and
chipped, had been thrown aside, and then searched among the quantities
of stored and seasoned wood and poles for a piece to make the stock of
the matchlock.  There was beech, oak, elm, ash, fir--all sorts of wood
lying about in the shed and workshop.  Finally, they selected a curved
piece of ash, hard and well seasoned.  The curve was nearly what was
wanted, and being natural it would be much stronger.  This was carried
up into the armoury to be shaved and planed into shape.

At night they went for the barrel.  Loo brought it, and Bevis, as he
thought, accidentally stepped on her naked foot, crushing it between his
heel and the stones at the door.  Loo cried out.

"O dear!" said he, "I am so sorry.  Here--here's sixpence, and I'll send
you some pears."

She put the sixpence in her mouth and bit it, and said nothing.  She
indented the silver with her teeth, disappointed because he had not
stroked her, while she stood and watched them away.

They smuggled the barrel up into the armoury, which was now kept more
carefully locked than ever, and they even put it where no one could see
it through the keyhole.  In the morning, as there was a breeze from the
westward, they put the hatchets on board the Pinta, and sailed away for
New Formosa.  The wind was partly favourable, and they reached the
island in three tacks.  The hatchets answered much better, cutting out
the sand well, so that there soon began to be two holes in the cliff.

They worked a little way apart, each drilling a hole straight in, and
intending to cut away the intervening wall afterwards, else they could
not both work at once.  By dinner-time there was a heap of excavated
sand and two large holes.  The afternoon and evening they spent at work
on the gun.  Mark shaved at the stock; Bevis filed a touch-hole to the
barrel; he would have liked to have drilled the touch-hole, but that he
could not do without borrowing the blacksmith's tools, and they did not
want him to know what they were about.

For four days they worked with their digging at the cave in the morning,
and making the matchlock all the rest of the day.  The stock was now
ready--it was simply curved and smoothed with sand-paper, they intended
afterwards to rub it with oil, till it took a little polish like the
handles of axes.  The stock was almost as long as the barrel, which
fitted into a groove in it, and was to be fastened in with copper wire
when all was ready.

Bevis at first thought to cut a mortise in the handle of the stock to
insert the lock, but on consideration he feared it would weaken the
stock, so he chiselled a place on the right side where the lock could be
counter-sunk.  The right side of the stock had been purposely left
somewhat thicker for the pan.  The pan was a shallow piece of tin
screwed on the stock and sunk in the wood, one end closed, the other to
be in contact with the barrel under the touch-hole.  In this pan the
priming was to be placed.  Another piece of tin working on a pivot
formed of a wire nail (these nails are round) was to cover the pan like
a slide or lid, and keep the priming from dropping out or being blown
off by the wind.

Before firing, the lid would have to be pushed aside by the thumb, and
the outer corner of it was curled over like a knob for the thumb-nail to
press against.  The lock was most trouble, and they had to make many
trials before they succeeded.  In the end it was formed of a piece of
thick iron wire.  This was twisted round itself in the centre, so that
it would work on an axle or pivot.

It was then, heated red-hot, and beaten flat or nearly, this
blacksmith's work they could do at home, for no one could have guessed
what it was for.  One end was bent, so that though fixed at the side of
the stock, it would come underneath for the trigger, for in a matchlock
trigger and hammer are in a single piece.  The other end curved over to
hold the match, and this caused Bevis some more thought, for he could
not split it like the match-holders of the Indian matchlocks he had seen
in cases.

Bevis drew several sketches to try and got at it, and at last twisted
the end into a spiral of two turns.  The match, which is a piece of cord
prepared to burn slowly, was to be inserted in the spiral, the burning
end slightly projecting, and as at the spiral the iron had been beaten
thin, if necessary it could be squeezed with thumb and finger to hold
the cord tighter, but Bevis did not think it would be necessary to do

Next the spring was fixed behind, and just above the trigger end in such
a way as to hold the hammer end up.  Pulling the trigger you pulled
against the spring, and the moment the finger was removed the hammer
sprang up--this was to keep the lighted match away from the priming till
the moment of firing.  The completed lock was covered with a plate of
brass screwed on, and polished till it shone brightly.  Bevis was
delighted after so much difficulty to find that it worked perfectly.
The brass ramrod had been heated at one end, and enlarged there by
striking it while red-hot, which caused the metal to bulge, and they now
proceeded to prove the barrel before fastening it in the stock.

Volume Two, Chapter XI.


Powder was easily got from Latten; they bought a pound of loose powder
at three halfpence the ounce.  This is like black dust, and far from
pure, for if a little be flashed off on paper or white wood it leaves a
broad smudge, but it answered their purpose very well.  While Bevis was
fretting and fuming over the lock, for he got white-hot with impatience,
though he would and did do it, Mark had made a powder-horn by sawing off
the pointed end of a cow's horn, and fitting a plug of wood into the
mouth.  For their shot they used a bag, and bought a mould for bullets.

The charger to measure the powder was a brass drawn cartridge-case, two
of which Mark had chanced to put in his pocket while they were at
Jack's.  It held more than a charge, so they scratched a line inside to
show how far it was to be filled.  At night the barrel was got out of
the house, and taken up the meadows, three fields away, to a mound they
had chosen as the best place.  Mark brought a lantern, which they did
not light till they arrived, and then put it behind the bushes, so that
the light should not show at a distance.

The barrel was now charged with three measures of powder and two of shot
rammed down firm, and then placed on the ground in front of a tree.
From the touch-hole a train of powder was laid along the dry ground
round the tree, so that the gun could be fired while the gunner was
completely protected in case the breech blew out.

A piece of tar-cord was inserted in a long stick split at the end.  Mark
wished to fire the train, and having lit the tar-cord, which burned
well, he stood back as far as he could and dropped the match on the
powder.  Puff--bang!  They ran forward, and found the barrel was all
right.  The shot had scored a groove along the mound and lost itself in
the earth; the barrel had kicked back to the tree, but it had not burst
or bulged, so that they felt it would be safe to shoot with.  Such a
thickness of metal, indeed, would have withstood a much greater strain,
and their barrel, rude as it was, was far safer than many flimsy guns.

The last thing to be made was the rest.  For the staff they found a
straight oak rod up in the lumber-room, which had once been used as a
curtain-rod to an old-fashioned four-poster.  Black with age it was hard
and rigid, and still strong; the very thing for their rest.  The fork
for the barrel to lie in was a difficulty, till Bevis hit on the plan of
forming it of two pieces of thick iron wire.  These were beaten flat at
one end, a hole was bored in the top of the staff, and the two pieces of
wire driven in side by side, when their flatness prevented them from
moving.  The wires were then drawn apart and hammered and bent into a
half-circle on which the stock would rest.

The staff was high enough for them to shoot standing, but afterwards it
was shortened, as they found it best to aim kneeling on one knee.  When
the barrel was fastened in the stock by twisting copper wire round, it
really looked like a gun, and they jumped and danced about the
bench-room till the floor shook.  After handling it for some time they
took it to pieces, and hid it till the cave should be ready, for so long
a weapon could not be got out of the house very easily, except in
sections.  Not such a great while previously they had felt that they
must not on any account touch gunpowder, yet now they handled it and
prepared to shoot without the least hesitation.  The idea had grown up
gradually.  Had it come all at once it would have been rejected, but it
had grown so imperceptibly that they had become accustomed to it, and
never questioned themselves as to what they were doing.

Absorbed in the details and the labour of constructing the matchlock,
the thinking and the patience, the many trials, the constant effort had
worn away every other consideration but that of success.  The labour
made the object legitimate.  They gloried in their gun, and in fact,
though so heavy, it was a real weapon capable of shooting, and many a
battle in the olden times was won with no better.  Bevis was still
making experiments, soaking cord in various compositions of saltpetre,
to discover the best slow match.

By now the cave began to look like a cave, for every morning, sailing or
rowing to New Formosa, they chopped for two or three hours at the hard
sand.  This cave was Mark's idea, but once started at work Bevis became
as eager as he, and they toiled like miners.  After the two headings had
been driven in about five feet, they cut away the intervening wall, and
there was a cavern five feet square, large enough for both to sit down

They had intended to dig in much deeper, but the work was hard, and,
worse than that, slow, and now the matchlock was ready they were anxious
to get on the island.  So they decided that the cave was now large
enough to be their store-room, while they lived in the hut, to be put up
over the entrance.  Bevis drew a sketch of the hut several times, trying
to find out the easiest way of constructing it.  The plan they selected
was to insert long poles in the sand about three feet higher up than the
top of the cave.  These were to be placed a foot apart; and there were
to be nine of them, all stuck in holes made for the purpose in a row,
thus covering a space eight feet wide and eight high.  From the cliff
the rafters were to slope downwards till the lower and outward ends were
six feet above the ground.  That would give the roof a fall of two feet
in case of rain.

Two stout posts were to be put up with a long beam across, on which the
outer ends of the rafters were to rest.  Two lesser posts in the middle
were to mark the doorway.  The roof was to be covered with brushwood to
some thickness, and then thatched over that with sedges and reed-grass.

The walls they meant to make of hurdles stood on end, and fastened with
tar-cord to upright stakes.  Outside the hurdles they intended to pile
up furze, brushwood, faggots, bundles of sedges--anything, in short.  A
piece of old carpeting was to close the door as a curtain.  The
store-room was five feet square, the hut would be eight, so that with
the two they thought they should have plenty of space.

The semi-circular fence or palisade starting from the cliff on one side,
and coming to it on the other, of the hut was to have a radius of ten
yards, and so enclose a good piece of ground, where they could have
their fire and cook their food secure from wild beasts or savages.  A
gateway in the fence was to be just wide enough to squeeze through, and
to be closed by two boards nailed to a frame.

It took some time to settle all these details, for Bevis would not begin
till he had got everything complete in his mind, but the actual work did
not occupy nearly so long as the digging of the cave.  There were plenty
of poles growing on the island, which Mark cut down with Bevis's own
hatchet, not the blunt ones they had used for excavating, but the one
with which he had chopped at the trees in the Peninsula.

As Mark cut them down, some ash, some willow, and a few alder, Bevis
stripped off the twigs with a billhook, and shortened them to the proper
length.  All the poles were ready in one morning, and in the afternoon
coming again they set up the two stout corner posts.  Next day the
rafters were fitted, they had to bring a short ladder to get at the
cliff over the mouth of the cave.  Then the hurdles were brought and set
up, and the brushwood cut and thrown on the top.

Sedges grew in quantities at the other end of the island, where the
ground sloped till it became level with the water.  In cutting them they
took care to leave an outer fringe standing, so that if any one passed,
or by any chance looked that way from the shore, he should not see that
the sedges had been reaped.  They covered the roof two feet thick with
brushwood, sedges, and reed-grass, which they considered enough to keep
out any ordinary shower.

Of course if the tornadoes common to these tropical countries should
come they must creep into the inner cave.  Against such fearful storms
no thatch they could put up would protect them.  The walls took a whole
day to finish, as it required such a quantity of brushwood, and it had
to be fastened in its place with rods, thrust into the ground, and tied
at the top to the outside rafters.

At last the hut was finished, and they could stand up, or walk about in
it; but when the carpet-curtain was dropped, it was dark, for they had
forgotten to make a window.  But in the daytime they would not want one,
as the curtain could be thrown aside, and the doorway would let in
plenty of light, as it faced the south.  At night they would have a
lantern hung from the roof.

"It's splendid," said Mark; "we could live here for years."

"Till we forgot what day it was, and whether it was Monday or Saturday,"
said Bevis.

"And our beards grow down to our waists."  Their chins were as smooth as

"Ships would be sent out to search for us."

"And when we come home everybody would come to see us," said Mark.
"Just think of all the wonders we shall have to tell them!"

"I wish Ted could see it," said Bevis, "and Charlie, and Val."

"Wouldn't they be jealous if they knew," said Mark.  "They'd kill us if
we did not let them come too."

"It's a great secret," said Bevis; "we must be very careful.  There may
be mines of gold in this island, don't you see."


"There's a pearl fishery, I'm sure."

"Birds of Paradise."

"Spices and magic things."

"It's the most wonderful island ever found out."


"Let's have a sail."

"So we will."

"Not work any more this afternoon."

"No; let's sail up farther--"

"Beyond the island?"

"Yes; unknown seas, don't you know.  Come on."

Away they ran to the Pinta.  The wind lately had blown lightly from the
east, and continued all day.  These light easterly summer breezes are a
delight to those who watch the corn, for they mean fine weather and full
wheat-ears.  Mark took the tiller, and they sailed southwards through
the channel, between New Formosa and Serendib.  Not far beyond, Bevis,
looking over the side, saw the sunken punt.  She was lying in six or
seven feet of water, but the white streak on her gunwale could be
clearly seen.  He told Mark.

"I hope the governor won't get her up yet," said Mark.  "Lucky he's so


"Don't you see," said shrewd Mark, "while the punt's at the bottom
nobody can come to our island to see what we're at."

"Ah!" said Bevis.  "What a jolly good thing I was shipwrecked."

As they went southwards they passed several small islands or sandbanks,
and every now and then a summer snipe flew up and circled round them,
just above the water, returning to the same spot.

"Those are the Coral Isles," said Bevis.  "They're only just above the

"Tornadoes would sweep right over them," said Mark.  "That's why there
are no cocoa-nut trees."

Another sandbank some way on the left they named Grey Crow Island,
because a grey or hooded crow rose from it.

"Do you see any weeds?" said Mark presently.  "You know that's a sign of

"Some," said Bevis, looking over the side into the ripples.  "They are
brown and under water; I suppose it's too deep for them to come to the

The light breeze carried them along pleasantly, though slowly.

"Swallows," said Bevis; "I can see some swallows, high up, there.
That's another sign of land."

"Heave the lead," said Mark.

"We've forgotten it; how stupid!  Mind you remember it next time."

New Formosa was a long way in the rear now.

"That's Pearl Island," said Mark, pointing to a larger sandbank.  "Can't
you see the shells glistening; it's mother-of-pearl."

"So it is."

The crows had carried the mussels up on the islet, and left the shells
strewn about.  The inner part reflected the sunlight.  If examined
closely there are prismatic colours.

"There's that curious wave," said Mark, standing up and pointing to an
undulation of the water on the other side of a small patch of green
weeds.  The undulation went away from them till they lost sight of it.
"What is it?"

"There are all sorts of curious things in the tropic seas," said Bevis.
"Some of them are not found out even yet.  Nobody can tell what it is."

"Perhaps it's magic," said Mark.

"Lots of magic goes on in the south," said Bevis.  "I believe we're very
nearly on the equator; just feel how hot the gunwale is,"--the wood was
warm from the sunshine--"and the sun goes overhead every day, and it's
so, light at night.  We will bring the astrolabe and take an
observation--I say!"

The Pinta brought up with a sudden jerk.  They had run on a shoal.

"Wrecked!" shouted Mark joyfully.  "But there are no waves.  It's no
good with these ripples."

Bevis pushed the Pinta off with a scull, and so feeling the bottom, told
Mark to ease the tiller and sail more to the right.  Two minutes
afterwards they grounded again, and again pushed off.  On the left, or
eastern side, they saw a broad channel leading up through the weeds.
Bevis told Mark to tack up there.  Mark did so, and they slowly advanced
with the weeds each side.  The tacks were short, and as the wind was so
light they made little progress.  Presently the channel turned south;
then they ran faster; next it turned sharp to the east, and came back.
In trying to tack here Mark ran into the weeds.

"Stupe!" said Bevis.

"That I'm not," said Mark.  "You can't do it."

"Can't I?" said Bevis contemptuously.

"Try then," said Mark, and he left the tiller.  Bevis took it and
managed two tacks very well.  At the third he too ran into the weeds,
for in fact the channel was so narrow there was no time to get weigh on
the ship.

"Stupe yourself," said Mark.

He tried to row out, but every time he got a pull the wind blew them
back, and they had to let the mainsail down.

"It wants a canoe," said Bevis.

"Of course it does.  It's no use going on unless you're going to row."

"No; but look!"  Bevis pointed to a small branch which was floating very
slowly past them.

"There's a current," said Mark.

"River," said Bevis.  "In the sedges somewhere."

"What is it?  I know; it's the Orinoco."

"No, I don't think so."




"How can we tell, till we get the astrolabe and take an observation?
Most likely it's a new river, the biggest ever found."

"It must be a new river," said Mark.  "This is the New Sea.  We're
drifting back a little."

"We'll come again in a canoe, or something," said Bevis.

They rowed out of the channel, set the mainsail, and sailed back, past
Pearl Island, Grey Crow Island, the Coral Isles, and approached New
Formosa.  Mark looked over the side, and watched to see the sunken punt.

"It's a wreck," said he presently, as they passed above the punt.  "She

"It's a Spanish galley," said Bevis.  "She's full of bullion, gold and

"Millions of broad gold pieces."




"You can see the skeletons chained at the oar-benches."

"Yes--just as they went down."

"There are strange sounds here at night."

"Bubbles come up, and shouts, and awful shrieks."

"Hope we shan't hear them when we're in our hut."

"No; it's too far."

They sailed between New Formosa and Serendib, and homewards through
Mozambique to the harbour.  The east wind, like the west, was a
there-and-back wind, and they could reach their island, or return from
it, in two or three tacks, sometimes in one stretch.

Volume Two, Chapter XII.


Next day they took an iron bar with them, and pitched the stakes for the
fence or stockade.  Between the stakes they wove in willow rods and
brushwood, so that thus bound together, it was much stronger than it
looked, and no one could have got in without at least making a great
noise.  The two boards, nailed together for the gate, were fastened on
one side to a stouter stake with small chains like rude hinges.  On the
other there was a staple and small padlock.

"It's finished," said Mark, as he turned the key and locked them in.

"No," said Bevis, "there's the bedstead.  The ground's dry," (it was
sand), "but it's not proper to sleep on the ground."

They put off preparing the bedstead till next day, when they approached
on a spanking south east wind--half a breeze--against which they had to
tack indeed, but spun along at a good speed.  The waves were not large
enough to make the Pinta roll, but some spray came over now and then.

"It's almost shipwreck weather," said Mark.  "Just see--" He pointed at
the cliff where there was a little splashing, as the waves swept
sideways along the base of the cliff.  "If you run her against the cliff
the bowsprit will be knocked in.  Would the mast go by the board?"

"Not enough wind," said Bevis, as he steered past, and they landed at
the usual place.  The bedstead was made by placing five or six thick
poles sawn off at four feet on the floor on the left side of the hut,
like the sleepers of a railway.  Across these lengthways they laid
lesser rods, then still more slender rods crossways, and on these again
boughs of spruce fir, one on the other to a foot or more in depth.  The
framework of logs and rods beneath kept the bed above the ground, and
the boughs of the spruce fir, being full of resinous sap, gave out a
slight fragrance.  On this mattress a rug and some old great-coats were
to be thrown, and they meant to cover themselves with more rugs and
coats.  The bedstead took up much of the room, but then it would answer
in the daytime instead of chairs to sit on.

"It's finished now, then," said Mark.

"Quite finished," said Bevis.  "All we have now to do is to bring our

"And get wrecked," said Mark.  "These chips and boughs," pointing to the
heap they had cut from the poles and stakes, "will do for our fire.
Come on.  Let's go up and look at the cliff where we are to be dashed to

They climbed up the cliff to the young oak on the summit, and went to
the edge.  The firm sand bore them safely at the verge.

"It looks very deep," said Bevis.  "The sand goes down straight."

"Fathomless," said Mark.  "Just think how awful.  It ought to happen at
night--pitch black!  I know!  Some savages ought to light a fire up here
and guide us to destruction."

"We could not scramble up this cliff out of the water--I mean if we have
to swim."

"Of course we shall have to swim, clinging to oars."

"Then we must get round that corner, somehow."

"The other side is all weeds; that wouldn't do."

"Very likely the waves would bang us against the cliff.  Don't you
remember how Ulysses clung to the rock?"

"His hands were torn."

"Nearly drowned."

"Tired out."

"Thumped and breathless."


"But I say!  There's one thing we've forgotten," said Bevis.  "If we
smash our ship against a cliff like this she'll go to the bottom--"

"Well, that's just what we want."

"Ah, but it's not like rocks or shoals; she'll go straight down, right
under where we can't get at her--"

"All the better."

"But then our things will go down too--gun, and powder, and provisions,
and everything."

"Put them on the island first and wreck ourselves afterwards."

"So we could.  Yes, we could do that, but then," said Bevis, imagining
what would happen, "when the Pinta was missed from the harbour and did
not come back, there would be a search, and they would think something
had happened to us."

"I see," said Mark, "that's very awkward.  What a trouble it is to get
wrecked!  Why can't people let us be jolly?"

"They must not come looking after us," said Bevis, "else it will spoil

"Perhaps we had better put the wreck off," said Mark, in a dejected
tone.  "Do the island first, and have the wreck afterwards."

"It seems as if we must," said Bevis, "and then it's almost as


"We shall have to come here in the Pinta, and yet we must not keep her
here, else she will be missed."

"The ship must be here and at home too."

"Yes," said Bevis; "she must be at New Formosa on the equator and at
home in the harbour.  It's a very difficult thing."

"Awfully difficult," said Mark.  "But you can do it.  Try!  Think!
Shall I tickle you?"

"It wants magic," said Bevis.  "I ought to have studied magic more; only
there are no magic books now."

"But you can think, I know.  Now, think hard--_hard_."

"First," said Bevis slowly, tracing out the proceedings in his
imagination; "first we must bring all our things--the gun and powder,
and provisions, and great-coats, and the astrolabe, and spears, and
leave them all here."

"Pan ought to come," said Mark, "to watch the hut."

"So he did; he shall come, and besides, if we shoot a wild duck he can
swim out and fetch it."

"Now go on," said Mark.  "First, we bring everything and Pan."

"Tie him up," said Bevis, "and row home in the boat.  Then the thing is,
how are we to get to the island?"

"Swim," said Mark.

"Too far."

"But we needn't swim all up the New Sea.  Couldn't we swim from where we
landed that night after the battle?"

"Ever so much better.  Let's go and look," said Bevis.

Away they went to the shore on that side of the island, but they saw in
a moment that it was too far.  It was two hundred yards to the sedges on
the bank where they had landed that night.  They could not trust
themselves to swim more than fifty or sixty yards; there was, too, the
risk of weeds, in which they might get entangled.

"I know!" said Bevis, "I know!  You stop on the island with Pan.  I'll
sail the Pinta into harbour, then I'll paddle back on the catamaran."

"There!" said Mark, "I knew you could do it if you thought hard.  We
could bring the catamaran up in the boat, and leave it in the sedges
there ready."

"I can leave half my clothes on the island," said Bevis, "and tie the
rest on my back, and paddle here from the sedges in ten minutes.  That
will be just like the savages do."

"I shall come too," said Mark.  "I shan't stop here.  Let Pan be tied
up, and I'll paddle as well."

"The catamaran won't bear two."

"Get another.  There's lots of planks.  I will come--it's much jollier
paddling than sitting here and doing nothing."

"Capital," said Bevis.  "We'll have two catamarans, and paddle here

"First-rate.  Let's be quick and get the things on the island."

"There will be such a lot," said Bevis.  "The matchlock, and the powder,
and the flour, and--"

"Salt," said Mark.  "Don't you remember the moorhen.  Things are not
nice without salt."

"Yes, salt and matches, and pots for cooking, and a lantern, and--"

"Ever so many cargoes," said Mark.  "As there's such a lot, and as we
can't go home and fetch anything if it's forgotten, hadn't you better
write a list?"

"So I will," said Bevis.  "The pots and kettles will be a bother, they
will want to know what we are going to do."

"Buy some new ones."

"Right; and leave them at Macaroni's."

"Come on.  Sail home and begin."

They launched the Pinta, and the spanking south-easterly breeze carried
them swiftly into harbour.  At home there was a small parcel, very
neatly done up, addressed to "Captain Bevis."

"That's Frances's handwriting," said Mark.  Bevis cut the string and
found a flag inside made from a broad red ribbon cut to a point.

"It's a pennant," said Bevis.  "It will do capitally.  How was it we
never thought of a flag before?"

"We were so busy," said Mark.  "Girls have nothing to do, and so they
can remember these sort of stitched things."

"She shall have a bird of paradise for her hat," said Bevis.  "We shall
be sure to shoot one on the island."

"I shouldn't give it to her," said Mark.  "I should sell it.  Look at
the money."

In the evening they took a large box (which locked) up to the boat,
carrying it through the courtyard with the lid open--ostentatiously
open--and left it on board.  Next morning they filled it with their
tools.  Bevis kept his list and pencil by him, and as they put in one
thing it suggested another, which he immediately wrote down.  There were
files, gimlets, hammers, screw-drivers, planes, chisels, the portable
vice, six or seven different sorts of nails, every tool indeed they had.
The hatchet and saw were already on the island.  Besides these there
were coils of wire and cord, balls of string, and several boxes of
safety and lucifer matches.  This was enough for one cargo, they shut
the lid, and began to loosen the sails ready for hoisting.

"You might take us once."

"You never asked us."

Tall Val and little Charlie had come along the bank unnoticed while they
were so busy.

"I wish you would go away," said Mark, beginning to push the Pinta
afloat.  The ballast and cargo made her drag on the sand.

"Bevis," said Val, "let us have one sail."

"All the times you've been sailing," said Charlie, "and all by
yourselves, and never asked anybody."

"And after we banged you in the battle," said Val.  "If you did beat us,
we hit you as hard as we could."

"It was a capital battle," said Bevis hesitatingly.  He had the halyard
in his hand, and paused with the mainsail half hoisted.

"Whopping and snopping," said Charlie.

"Charging and whooping and holloaing," said Val.

"Rare," said Bevis.  "Yes; you fought very well."

"But you never asked us to have a sail."

"Not once--you didn't."

"Well, it's not your ship.  It's our ship," said Mark, giving another
push, till the Pinta was nearly afloat.

"Stop," cried Charlie, running down to the water's edge.  "Bevis, do
take us--"

"It's very selfish of you," said Val, following.

"So it is," said Bevis.  "I say, Mark--"

"Pooh!" said Mark, and with a violent shove he launched the boat, and
leaped on board.  He took a scull, and began to row her head round.  The
wind was north and light.

"I bate you," said Charlie.  "I believe you're doing something.  What's
in that box."

"Ballast, you donk," said Mark.

"That it isn't, I saw it just before you shut the lid.  It's not

"Let's let them come," said Bevis irresolutely.

"You awful stupe," said Mark, under his breath.  "They'll spoil

"And why do you always sail one way?" said Val.  "We've seen you ever so
many times."

"I won't be watched," said Bevis angrily: he, unconsciously, endeavoured
to excuse his selfishness under rage.

"You can't help it."

"I tell you, I won't."

"You're not General Caesar now."

"I hate you," pulling up the mainsail.  Mark took the rope and fastened
it; Bevis sat down to the tiller.

"You're a beast," screamed little Charlie, as the sails drew and the
boat began to move: the north wind was just aft.

"I never thought you were so selfish," shouted Val.  "Go on--I won't ask
you again."

"Take that," said Charlie, "and that--and that."

He threw three stones, one after the other, with all his might: the
third, rising from the surface of the water, struck the Pinta's side

"Aren't they just horrid?" he said to Val.

"I never saw anything like it," said Val.  "But we'll pay them out,

On the boat, Bevis looked back presently, and saw them still standing at
the water's edge.

"It's a pity," he said; "Mark, I don't like it: shall we have them?"

"How can we?  Of course they would spoil everything; they would tell
everybody, and we could never do it; and, besides, the new island would
not be a new island, if everybody was there."

"No more it would."

"We can take them afterwards--after we've done the island.  That will be
just as well."

"So it will.  They will watch us, though."

"It's very nasty of them to watch us," said Mark.  "Why should we take
them for sails when they watch us?"

"I hate being watched," said Bevis.

"They will just make everything as nasty for us as they can," said Mark;
"and we shall have to be as cunning as ever we can be."

"We will do it, though, somehow."

"That we will."

The light north wind wafted the Pinta gently up the New Sea: the red
pennant, fluttering at the mast, pointed out the course before them.
They disposed of their first cargo in the store-room, or cave, placing
the tools in a sack, though the cave was as dry as the box, that there
might not be the least chance of their rusting.  The return voyage was
slow, for they had to work against the wind, and it was too light for
speed.  They looked for Charlie and Val, but both were gone.

Another cargo was ready late in the afternoon.  They carried the things
up in the flag-basket, and, before filling the box, took care to look
round and behind the shed where the sculls were kept, lest any one
should be spying.  Hitherto they had worked freely, and without any
doubt or suspicion: now they were constantly on the watch, and suspected
every tree of concealing some one.  Bevis chafed under this, and grew
angry about it.  In filling the box, too, they kept the lid towards the
shore, and hoisted the mainsail to form a screen.

Mark took care that there should be some salt, and several bags of
flour, and two of biscuits, which they got from a whole tinful in the
house.  He remembered some pepper too, but overlooked the mustard.  They
took several tins of condensed milk.  From a side of bacon, up in the
attic, they cut three streaky pieces, and bought some sherry at the inn;
for they thought if they took one of the bottles in the house, it would
be missed, and that the servants would be blamed.  Some wine would be
good to mix with the water; for though they meant to take a wooden
bottle of ale, they knew it would not keep.

Then there was a pound of tea, perhaps more; for they took it from the
chest, and shovelled it up like sand, both hands full at once.  A bundle
of old newspapers was tied up, to light the fire; for they had found, by
experience, that it was not easy to do so with only dry grass.  Bevis
hunted about till he discovered the tin mug he had when he was a little
boy, and two tin plates.  Mark brought another mug.  A few knives and
forks would never be missed from the basketful in the kitchen; and, in
choosing some spoons, they were careful not to take silver, because the
silver was counted every evening.

They asked if they could have a small zinc bucket for the boat; and when
they got it, put three pounds or more of knob sugar in it, loose; and
covered it over with their Turkish bathing-towels, in which they had
wrapped up a brush and comb.  Just as they were about to start, they
remembered soap and candles.  To get these things together, and up to
the Pinta, took them some hours, for they often had to wait awhile till
people were out of the way before they could get at the cupboards.  In
the afternoon, as they knew, some of the people went upstairs to dress,
and that was their opportunity.  By the time they had landed, and stowed
away this cargo, the sun was declining.

Volume Two, Chapter XIII.


Next morning the third cargo went; they had to row, for the New Sea was
calm.  It consisted of arms.  Bevis's favourite bow, of course, was
taken, and two sheaves of arrows; Mark's spears and harpoon; the
crossbow, throw-sticks, the boomerang and darts; so that the armoury was
almost denuded.

Besides these there were fish-hooks (which were put in the box),
fishing-rods, and kettles; an old horn-lantern, the old telescope, the
astrolabe, scissors and thread (which shipwrecked people always have); a
bag full of old coins, which were to be found in the sand on the shore,
where a Spanish galleon had been wrecked (one of those the sunken galley
had been convoying when the tornado overtook them); a small
looking-glass, a piece of iron rod, six bottles of lemonade, a
cribbage-board and pack of cards, and a bezique pack; a basket of
apples, and a bag of potatoes.  The afternoon cargo was clothes, for
they thought they might want a change if it was wet; so they each took
one suit, carefully selecting old things that had been disused, and
would not be missed.

Then there were the great-coats for the bed; these were very awkward to
get up to the boat, and caused many journeys, for they could only take
one coat each at a time.

"What a lot of rubbish you are taking to your boat," said mamma once.
"Mind you don't sink it: you will fill your boat with rubbish till you
can't move about."

"Rubbish!" said Bevis indignantly.  "Rubbish, indeed!"

They so often took the rugs that there was no need to conceal them.
Mark hit on a good idea and rolled up the barrel of the matchlock in one
of the rugs, and with it the ramrod.  In the other they hid the stock
and powder-horn, and so got them to the boat; chuckling over Mark's
device, by which they removed the matchlock in broad daylight.

"If Val's watching," said Bevis, as they came up the bank with the rugs,
the last part of the load, "he'll have to be smashed."

"People who spy about ought to be killed," said Mark.  "Everything ought
to be done openly," carefully depositing the concealed barrel in the
stern-sheets.  This was the most important thing of all.  When they had
got the matchlock safe in the cave, they felt that the greatest
difficulty was surmounted.

John Young had brought their anvil, the 28 pound weight, for them to the
bank, and it was shipped.  He bought a small pot for boiling, the
smallest size made, for them in Latten, also a saucepan, a tin kettle,
and teapot.  One of the wooden bottles, like tiny barrels, used to send
ale out to the men in the fields, was filled with strong ale.  Mark drew
it in the cellar which had once been his prison, carefully filling it to
the utmost, and this John got away for them rolled up in his jacket.
The all-potent wand of the enchanter Barleycorn was held over him; what
was there he would not have done for them?

He was all the more ready to oblige them because since Mark's
imprisonment in the cellar, Bevis and Mark had rather taken his part
against the Bailiff, and got him out of scrapes.  Feeling that he had
powerful friends at court, John did not trouble to work so hard.  They
called at the cottage for the pot and the other things, which were in a
sack ready for them.  Loo fetched the sack, and Bevis threw it over his

"I scoured them well," said Loo.  "They be all clean."

"Did you?" said Bevis.  "Here," searching his pocket.  "O!  I've only a
fourpenny piece left."  He gave it to her.

"I can cook," said Loo wistfully, "and make tea."  This was a hint to
them to take her with them; but away they strode unheeding.  The tin
kettle and teapot clashed in the sack.

"I believe I saw Val behind that tree," said Bevis.

"He can't see through a sack though," said Mark.

The wind was still very light, and all the morning was occupied in
delivering this cargo.  The cave or store-room was now crammed full, and
they could not put any more without shelves.

"That's the last," said Mark, dragging the heavy anvil in.  "Except

"And my books," said Bevis, "and ink and paper.  We must keep a journal
of course."

"So we must," said Mark.  "I forgot that.  It will make a book."

"`Adventures in New Formosa,'" said Bevis.

"We'll write it every evening after we've done work, don't you see."

When they got home he put his books together--the Odyssey, Don Quixote,
the grey and battered volume of ballads, a tiny little book of
Shakespeare's poems, of which he had lately become very fond, and
Filmore's rhymed translation of Faust.  He found two manuscript books
for the journal; these and the pens and ink-bottle could all go together
in the final cargo with Pan.

All the while these voyages were proceeding they had been thinking over
how they should get away from home without being searched for, and had
concluded that almost the only excuse they could make would be that they
were going to spend a week or two with Jack.  This they now began to
spread about, and pretended to prepare for the visit.  As they expected,
it caused no comment.  All that was said was that they were not to stop
too long.  Mamma, did not much like the idea of being left by herself,
but then it was quite different to their being away in disgrace.

But she insisted upon Bevis writing home.  Bevis shrugged his shoulders,
foreseeing that it would be difficult to do this as there was no
post-office on New Formosa; but it was of no use, she said he should not
go unless he promised to write.

"Very well," said Bevis.  "Letters are the stupidest stupidity stupes
ever invented."

But now there arose a new difficulty, which seemed as if it could not be
got over.  How were they to tell while they were away on the island, and
cut off from all communication with the mainland, what was going on at
home; whether it was all right and they were supposed to be at Jack's,
or whether they were missed?  For though so intent on deceiving the home
authorities, and so ingenious in devising the means, they stopped at

They did not like to think that perhaps Bevis's governor and mamma, who
were so kind, would be miserable with anxiety on finding that they had
disappeared.  Mark, too, was anxious about his Jolly Old Moke.  With the
usual contradiction of the mind they earnestly set about to deceive
their friends, and were equally anxious not to give them any pain.
After all their trouble, it really seemed as if this would prevent the
realisation of their plans.  A whole day they walked about and wondered
what they could do, and got quite angry with each other from simple

At last they settled that they must arrange with some one so as to know,
for if there was any trouble about them they meant to return
immediately.  Both agreed that little Charlie was the best they could
choose; he was as quick as lightning, and as true as steel.

"Just remember," said Bevis, "how he fetched up Cecil in the battle."

"That just made all the difference," said Mark.  "Now I'll manage it
with him; don't you come, you leave him to me; you're so soft--"

"Soft!--Well, I like that."

"No; I don't mean stupid--so easy.  There, don't look like that.  You
tell me--you think what Charlie must do--and I'll manage him."

Bevis thought and considered that Charlie must give them a signal--wave
a handkerchief.  Charlie must stand on some conspicuous place visible
from New Formosa; by the quarry would be the very place, at a certain
fixed time every day, and wave a white handkerchief, and they could look
through the telescope and see him.  If anything was wrong, he could take
his hat off and wave that instead.  Mark thought it would do very well,
and set out to find and arrange with Charlie.

Being very much offended because he had not been taken for a sail,
Charlie was at first very off-hand, and not at all disposed to do
anything.  But when shrewd Mark let out as a great secret that he and
Bevis were going to live in the wood at the end of the New Sea for a
while like savages, Charlie began to relent, for all his sympathies went
with the idea.

Mark promised him faithfully that when he and Bevis had done it first,
he should come too if he would help them.  Charlie gave in and agreed,
but on condition that he should be taken for a sail first.  Eager as
Mark was for the island, it was no good trying to persuade Charlie, he
adhered to his stipulation, and Mark had to yield.  However, he
reflected that if they took Charlie for a sail he would be certain to do
as he promised, and besides that it would make Val jealous, and he and
Charlie would quarrel, and so they would not be always watching.

So it was settled--Charlie to have a sail, and then every afternoon at
four o'clock he was to stand just above the quarry and wave a white
handkerchief if all was right.  If Bevis and Mark were missed he was to
take off his hat, and wave that.  As he had no watch, Charlie was to
judge the time by the calling of the cows to be milked--the milkers make
a great hullabaloo and shouting, which can be heard a long distance off.

"I said we were going to live in the wood," Mark told Bevis when he came
back.  "Then he won't think we're on the island.  If he plays us any
trick he'll go and try and find us in the wood."

While Mark was gone about the signal, Bevis, thinking everything over,
remembered the letter he had promised to write home.  To post the letter
one or other of them must go on the mainland, if by day some one would
very likely see them and mention it, and then the question would arise
why they came near without going home?  Bevis went up to the cottage,
and told Loo to listen every evening at ten o'clock out of her window,
which looked over the field at the back, and if she heard anybody
whistle three notes, "Foo-tootle-too," to slip out, as it would be them.

"That I will," said Loo, delighted.  "I'll come in a minute."

Charlie had his sail next morning, but they took care not to go near the
island.  Knowing how sharp his eyes were, they tacked to and fro in
Mozambique and Fir-Tree Gulf.  Charlie learned to manage the foresail in
five minutes, then the tiller, and to please him the more they let him
act as captain for a while.  He promised most faithfully to make the
signal every day, and they knew he would do it.

In the afternoon they thought and thought to see if there was anything
they had forgotten, and to try and call things to mind, wandered all
over the house, but only recollected one thing--the gridiron.  There
were several in the kitchen.  They took an old one, much burnt, which
was not used.  With this and Bevis's books they visited New Formosa,
rowing up towards evening, and upon their return unshipped the mast, and
took it and the sails home, else perhaps Val or some one would launch
the Pinta and try to sail in their absence.  They meant to padlock the
boat with a chain, but if the sails were in her it would be a temptation
to break the lock.  There was now nothing to take but Pan, and they were
so eager for the morning that it was past midnight before they could go
to sleep.

The morning of the 3rd of August--the very day Columbus sailed--the long
desired day, was beautifully fine, calm, and cloudless.  They were in
such haste to start they could hardly say "Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said Polly the dairymaid.

"Don't want to see you," said Bevis.  Polly was not yet forgiven for the
part she had taken in hustling Mark into the cellar.  They had got out
into the meadow with Pan, when Bevis's mother came running after.

"Have you any money?" she asked, with her purse in her hand.

They laughed, for the thought instantly struck them that they could not
spend money on New Formosa, but they did not say they did not want any.
She gave them five shillings each, and kissed them again.  She watched
them till they went through the gateway with Pan, and were hidden from

Pan leaped on board after them, and they rowed to the island.  It was so
still, the surface was like glass.  The spaniel ran about inside the
stockade, and sniffed knowingly at the coats on the bedstead, but he did
not wag his tail or look so happy when Bevis suddenly drew his collar
three holes tighter and buckled it.  Bevis knew very well if his collar
was not as tight as possible Pan would work his head out.  They fastened
him securely to the post at the gateway in the palisade, and hastened

When Pan realised that they were really gone, and heard the sound of the
oars, he went quite frantic.  He tugged, he whined, he choked, he rolled
over, he scratched, and bit, and shook, and whimpered; the tears ran
down his eyes, his ears were pulled over his head by the collar, against
which he strained.  But he strained in vain.  They heard his dismal
howls almost down to the Mozambique.

"Poor Pan!" said Bevis.  "He shall have a feast the first thing we

They had left their stockings on the island, and everything else they
could take off so as not to have very large bundles on their backs while
paddling, and took their pocket-knives out of their trouser's pockets
and left them, knowing things are apt to drop out of the pockets.  The
Pinta was drawn up as far as she would come on the shore at the harbour,
and then fastened with a chain, which they had ready, to a staple and
padlocked.  Mark had thought of this, so that no one could go rowing
round, and he had a piece of string on the key with which he fastened it
to a button-hole of his waistcoat that it might not be lost.

This done, they got through the hedge, and retraced the way they had
come home on the night of the battle, through the meadows, the
cornfields, and lastly across the wild waste pasture or common.  From
there they scrambled through the hedges and the immense bramble
thickets, and regained the shore opposite their island.

They went down the marshy level to the bank, and along it to the beds of
sedges, where, on the verge of the sea, they had hidden the catamarans.
There they undressed, and made their clothes and boots into bundles, and
slung them over their shoulders with cord.  Then they hauled their
catamarans down to the water.

Volume Two, Chapter XIV.



"Is it deep?"

"Not yet."

Bevis had got his catamaran in and ran out with it some way, as the
water was shallow, till it deepened, when he sat astride and paddled.
"Come on," he shouted.  Splash!  "I'm coming."

Mark ran in with his in the same manner, and sitting astride paddled
about ten yards behind.

"Weeds," said Bevis, feeling the long rough stalks like string dragging
against his feet.  "Where?  I can't see."

"Under water.  They will not hurt."

"There goes a flapper," (a young wild duck).  "I hope we shan't see the
magic wave."


"My bundle is slipping."

"Pull it up again."

"It's all right now."

"Holloa!  Land," said Bevis, suddenly standing up.

He had reached a shallow where the water was no deeper than his knees.

"A jack struck.  There," said Mark, as he too stood up, and drew his
catamaran along with his hand.


Bevis was off again, paddling in deeper water.  Mark was now close

"There's a coot; he's gone into the sedges."

"Parrots," said Mark, as two wood-pigeons passed over.

"Which is the right channel?" said Bevis, pausing.

They had now reached the great mass of weeds which came to the surface,
and through which it was impossible to move.  There were two channels,
one appeared to lead straight to the island, the other wound about to
the right.

"Which did we come down in the Pinta, when we hid the catamarans?" said

"Stupe, that's just what I want to know."

"Go straight on," said Mark; "that looks clearest."

So it did, and Bevis went straight on; but when they had paddled fifty
yards they both saw at once that they could not go much farther that
way, for the channel curved sharply, and was blocked with weeds.

"We must go back," said Mark.

"We can't turn round."

"We can't paddle backwards.  There I'm in the weeds."

"Turn round on the plank."

"Perhaps I shall fall off."

"Sit sideways first."

"The plank tips."

"Very well, I'll do it first," said Bevis.

He turned sideways to try and get astride, looking the other way.  The
plank immediately tipped and pitched him into the water, bundle and all.

"Ah!" said Mark.  "Thought you could do it so easy; didn't you?"

Bevis threw his right arm over the plank, and tried to get on it; but
every time he attempted to lift his knee over, the catamaran gave way
under him.  His paddle floated away.  The bundle of clothes on his back,
soaked and heavy, kept him down.

Mark paddled towards him, and tried to lift him with one hand, but
nearly upset himself.  Bevis struggled hard to get on, and so pushed the
plank sideways to the edge of the weeds.  He felt the rough strings
again winding round his feet.

"You'll be in the weeds," said Mark, growing alarmed.  "Come on my
plank.  Try.  I'll throw my bundle off."  He began to take it from his
back.  "Then it will just keep you up.  O!"

Bevis put his hands up, and immediately sank under the surface, but he
had done it purposely, to free himself from his bundle.  The bundle
floated, and the cord slipped over his head.  Bringing his hands down
Bevis as instantly rose to the surface, bumping his head against the

"Now I can do it," he said, blowing the water from his nostrils.

He seized the plank, and laid almost all along in the water, so as to
press very lightly on it, his weight being supported by the water, then
he got his knee over and sat up.


The bundle was slowly settling down when Mark seized it.

"Never mind about the things being wet," he said.  "Sit still; I'll
fetch your paddle."

Dragging the bundle in the water by the cord, Mark went after, and
recovered Bevis's paddle.  To come back he had to back water, and found
it very awkward even for so short a distance.  The catamaran would not
go straight.

"O! what a stupe I was," said Bevis.  "I've got on the same way again."

In his hurry he had forgotten his object, and got astride facing the
island as before.

"Well, I never," said Mark.  "Stop--don't."

Bevis slipped off his catamaran again, but this time not being
encumbered with the bundle he was up on it again in half a minute, and
faced the mainland.

"There," said he.  "Now you can come close.  That's it.  Now give me
your bundle."

Mark did so.  Afterwards Bevis took the cord of his own bundle, which
being in the water was not at all heavy.  "Now you can turn."

Mark slipped off, but managed so that his chest was still on the plank.
In that position he worked himself round and got astride the other way.

"Done very well," said Bevis; "ever so much better than I did.  Here."

Mark slung his bundle, and they paddled back to the shallow water, Bevis
towing his soaked dress.  They stood up in the shallow and rested a few
minutes, and Bevis fastened his bundle to his plank just in front of
where he sat.

"Come on."  Off he went again, following the other channel this time.
It wound round a bank grown with sedges, and then led straight into a
broader and open channel, the same they had come down in the boat.  They
recognised it directly, and paddled faster.

"Hark! there's Pan," said Mark.

As they came near the island, Pan either scented them or heard a
splashing, for he set up his bark again.  He had choked himself silent

"Pan!  Pan!" shouted Bevis, whistling.




They ran up on the shore of New Formosa, and began to dance and caper,
kicking up their heels.


"Pan!  I'm coming," said Bevis, and began to run, but stopped suddenly.

Thistles in the grass and trailing briars stayed him.  He put on his wet
boots, and then picking his way round, reached the hut.  He let Pan
loose.  The spaniel crouched at his feet and whimpered, and followed
him, crawling on the ground.  Bevis patted him, but he could not leap up
as usual, the desertion had quite broken his spirit for the time.  Bevis
went into the hut, and just as he was, with nothing on but his boots,
took his journal and wrote down "Wednesday."

"There," said he to Mark, who had now come, more slowly, for he carried
the two bundles, "there, I've put down the day, else we shall lose our
reckoning, don't you see."

They were soon dressed.  Bevis put on the change he had provided in the
store-room, and spread his wet clothes out to dry in the sun.  Pan crept
from one to the other; he could not get enough patting, he wanted to be
continually spoken to and stroked.  He would not go a yard from them.

"What's the time?" said Bevis, "my watch has stopped."  The water had
stopped it.

"Five minutes to twelve," said Mark.  "You must write down, `We landed
on the island at noon.'"

"So I will to-night.  My watch won't go; the water is in it."

"Lucky mine did not got wet too."

"Hang yours up in the hut, else perhaps it will get stopped somehow,
then we shan't know the time."

Mark hung his watch up in the hut, and caught sight of the wooden

"The first thing people do is to refresh themselves," he said.  "Let's
have a glass of ale: splendid thing when you're shipwrecked--"

"A libation to the gods," said Bevis.  "That's the thing; you pour it
out on the ground because you've escaped."

"O!" said Mark, opening the bottle.  "Now just look!  And I filled it to
the brim so that I could hardly get the cork in."

"John," said Bevis.

"The rascal."

"Ships' provisions are always scamped," said Bevis; "somebody steals
half, and puts in rotten biscuits.  It's quite proper.  Why, there's a
quart gone."

John Young, carrying the heavy bottle, could not resist just taking out
the cork to see how full it was.  And his mouth was very large.

"Here's a mug," said Mark, who had turned over a heap of things and
found a tin cup.  They each had a cupful.

"Matchlock," said Bevis.

"Matchlock," said Mark.  For while they drank both had had their eyes on
their gun-barrel.

"Pliers," said Bevis, taking it up.  "Here's the wire; I want the

It was not so easy to find the pliers under such a heap of things.

"Store-room's in a muddle," said Mark.

"Put it right," said the captain.

"I've got it."

Bevis put the barrel in the stock, and began twisting the copper wire
round to fasten it on.  Mark searched for the powder-horn and shot-bag.
Three strands were twisted neatly and firmly round the barrel and
stock--one near the breech, one half-way up, the third near the muzzle.
It was then secure.

"It looks like a real gun now," said Mark.

"Put your finger on the touch-hole," said Bevis.  Mark did so, while he
blew through the barrel.

"I can feel the air," said Mark; "the barrel is clear.  Shall I measure
the powder?"


Bevis shut the pan, Mark poured out the charge from the horn and
inserted a wad of paper, which Bevis rammed home with the brass ramrod.


Up jumped Pan, leaped on them, tore round the hut, stood at the doorway
and barked, ran a little way out, and came back again to the door,
where, with his head over his shoulder, as if beckoning to them to
follow, he barked his loudest.

"It's the gun," said Mark.  Pan forgot his trouble at the sound of the

Next the shot was put in, and then the priming at the pan.  A piece of
match or cord prepared to burn slowly, about a foot and a half long, was
wound round the handle of the stock, and the end brought forward through
the spiral of the hammer.  Mark struck a match and lit it.

"What shall we shoot at?" said Bevis, as they went out at the door.  Pan
rushed before and disappeared in the bramble bushes, startling a pair of
turtle-doves from a hawthorn.

"Parrakeets," said Mark.  "They're smaller than parrots; you can't shoot
flying with a matchlock.  There's a beech; shoot at that."

The sunshine fell on one side of the trunk of a beech, lighting up the
smooth bark.  They walked up till they thought they were near enough,
and planted the staff or rest in the ground.  Bevis put the matchlock on
it, pushed the lid of the pan open with his thumb, and aimed at the
tree.  He pulled the trigger; the match descended on the powder in the
pan, which went puff!  The report followed directly.

"Never kicked a bit," said Bevis, as the sulphury smoke rose; the barrel
was too heavy to kick.

"Hit!" shouted Mark, who had run to the tree.  "Forty dozen shots

Bevis came with the gun, and saw the bark dotted all over with shot.  He
measured the distance back to the rest left standing in the ground, by
pacing steadily.

"Thirty-two yards."

"My turn," said Mark.

The explosion had extinguished the match, so shutting the pan-lid they
loaded the gun again.  Before Mark shot, Bevis went to the tree, and
fastened a small piece of paper to the bark with a pin.  Mark fired and
put three shots through the paper.  Pan raced and circled round to find
the game, and returned with his back covered with cleavers which stuck
to his coat.  After shooting three times each they thought they would
try bullets, but with ball they could do nothing.  Four times they each
fired at the beech and missed it, though every time they took a more
careful aim.

"The staff's too high," said Mark, "I'm sure that's it.  We ought to
kneel, then it would be steadier."

Bevis cut the staff shorter, not without some difficulty, for the old
black oak was hard like iron.  The next was Mark's turn.  He knelt on
one knee, aimed deliberately, and the ball scored the trunk, making a
groove along the bark.  Bevis tried but missed, so did Mark next time;
then again Bevis fired, and missed.

"That's enough," said Bevis; "I shan't have any more shooting with

"But I hit it once."

"But you didn't hit it twice."

"You never hit it once."

"It wants a top-sight," said Bevis, not very well pleased.  "Nobody can
shoot ball without a sight."

"You can't put one," said Mark.

"I don't know."  The sight was the only defect of the weapon; how to
fasten that on they did not know.

"I hit it without a sight," said Mark.


"That it wasn't."

"It's time to have dinner, I'm sure," said Bevis.  "The gun is to be put
away now.  I'll take it in; you get some sticks for the fire."

"O! very well," said Mark shortly.  "But there's plenty of sticks inside
the stockade!"

He followed Bevis and began to make a pile in their enclosed courtyard.
Bevis having left the gun in the hut came out and helped him silently.

"It's very hot here."



"The sun's overhead."


"The fire ought to be made in the shadow."

"There's no shadow here."

"Let us go into the wood then."

"Very well--under the beech."

They went out, and collected a heap of sticks in the shade of the beech
at which they had been shooting.  Mark lit the fire; Bevis sat down by
the beech and watched the flame rise.

"Pot," he said.

"Pot--what?" said Mark, still sulky.

"Fetch the water."


"Fetch the water."

"O!  I'm not Polly."

"But I'm captain."


However, Mark fetched the pot, filled it at the shore, and presently
came back with it, and put it on.  Then he sat down too in the shade.

"You've not finished," said Bevis.

"What else?"

"What else; why the bacon."

"Get it yourself."

"Aren't you going?"


Bevis went to the hut, cut off a slice of bacon, and put it on.

Mark went to the hut, fetched a handful of biscuits and two apples, and
began to eat them.

"You never brought me any," said Bevis.

"You never ordered me, captain."

"Why can't you be agreeable?"

"Why can't you ask anybody, and do something yourself, too."

"Don't be a stupe," said Bevis, "so I will.  But get me a biscuit, now
do."  At this Mark fetched the bag for him.

"We shall have to wait a long time for our dinner," he said.  "They're
just having a jolly one at home."

"While they're at home and comfortable we're on an island seven thousand
miles from anywhere."

"Savages all round."

"Magic things."

"If they only knew, wouldn't they be in a state."

"Ships fitted out to find us.  But they would not know which way to

"No charts."


"Never find us.  I say, get a fork and try the bacon."

"Don't look done."

"Put some more sticks on.  I say; we forgot the potatoes."

"O! bother.  It's hot; don't let's have any.  Let's sit still."


Pan looked from one to the other, ran round and came back, went into the
underwood and came out again, but finding that it was of no use, and
that the gun was really put aside, he presently settled down like them
in the shade, and far enough from the fire not to feel any heat from it.

"Oaks are banyans, aren't they?" said Mark.  "They used to be, you
know," remembering the exploration of the wood.

"Banyans," said Bevis.

"What are beeches?"

"O! teak."

"That's China; aren't we far from China?"

"Ask me presently when I've got the astrolabe."

"What are elms?  Stop, now I remember; there are no elms!"

"How do you know?"

"Didn't I go round the island one day?  Besides, you could see them if
there were, from the cliff."

"So we could; there are no elms.  That shows how different this country
is from any other country ever found."

"Poplars?" said Mark in an interrogative tone.

"Palms, of course.  You can see them miles away like palms in a desert."

"Pictures," said Mark.  "Yes, that's it.  You always see the sun going
down, camels with long shadows, and palm-trees.  Then I suppose it's

"You must wait till we have taken an observation.  We shall see too by
the stars."

"Firs?" said Mark.  "They're cedars, of course."

"Of course.  Willows are blue gums."

"Then it's near Australia.  I expect it is; because, don't you know,
there were no animals in Australia except kangaroos, and there are none
here at all.  So it's that sort of country."

"But there are tigers in the reeds."

"Ah, I forgot them."

"Huge boa-constrictors.  One of them would reach from here to Serendib.
Did you hear that rustling?  Most likely that was one."

"Do elephants swim?  They might come off here."


"A black rhinoceros; they're rogues."


"Giraffes.  They can nibble half-way up the palm-trees."







"Heaps of things on your bed and crawling on the ceiling."


"Fork up the bacon."

Mark forked it up.

"It looks queer," he said, dropping it in again.  "Ought the pot to be
on the ashes?"

"There's an iron rod for the kettle to swing on," said Bevis.  "It's
somewhere in the store-room.  Is it eight bells yet?"

"I expect so," said Mark.  "Rations are late.  A mutton chop now, or a

"Don't grow here," said Bevis.  "You cut steaks from buffaloes while
they're alive, or fry elephants, or boil turkeys.  There are no fowls."

"It seems to me," said Mark, "that we ought to have the gun here.
Suppose some savages were to land from canoes and get between us and the
hut?  It's twenty yards to the stockade; more I should think."

"I never thought of that," said Bevis.  "There may be fifty canoes full
of them in the reeds, and proas flying here almost.  Fetch the gun--

Mark ran and brought it.

"Load with ball," said Bevis.

The ball was rammed home.  Pan set up a joyous bark.

"Kick him," said Bevis, languidly raising himself on one arm.  He had
been lying on his back.  "He'll bring the savages, or the crocodiles."

Pan was kicked, and crouched.

Mark leaned the gun against the teak-tree, and sat down again.

"Awfully hot," he said.

"Always is in the tropics."

"Ought to have an awning," said Mark; "and hammocks."

"So we did," said Bevis, sitting up.  "How stupid to forget the
hammocks.  Did you ever see anything like it?"

"We can make an awning," said Mark.  "Hang up one of the rugs by the
four corners."

"Capital.  Come on."

They fastened four pieces of cord to the corners of the rug, but found
that the trees did not grow close enough together, so they had to set up
two poles near the teak, and tie the cords at one end of the rug to
these.  The others were tied to a branch of the teak.  By the time this
was done they had worked themselves hot again putting up the awning to
get cool.  There was not a breath of wind, and it was very warm even in
the double shadow of the teak and the awning.

"Bacon must be done," said Bevis.

"Must," said Mark.

They could not rest more than a quarter of an hour.  They forked it out,
and Mark held it on the fork, while Bevis ran to the hut for a piece of
board to put it on, as they had forgotten dishes.  Setting the bacon on
the board, they put it on the ground under the awning (Pan wanted to
sniff at it), and tried a slice.  It was not exactly nice, nor
disagreeable, considering that they had forgotten to scrape it, or take
the rind off.  But biscuits were not so good as bread.

"We must make some dampers," said Mark; "you know, flour cakes: we can't
bake, we haven't got an oven."

"Dampers are proper," said Bevis.  "That's gold-mining.  Very likely
there are heaps of nuggets here somewhere--"


"And gold-dust in the river."

"No mustard.  And I recollected the salt!" said Mark.  "I say; is this
bacon quite nice?"

"Well, no; not quite."

"I don't like it."

"No, I don't."

"Wish we could have brought some meat."

"Can't keep meat under the tropics."

"Shall we chuck it to Pan?"

"No, not all.  Here, give him a slice.  Pooh!  He sniff's at it.  Just
see!  He's pampered; he won't eat it.  Here, take the board, Mark, and
put it in the store-room."

Mark took the board with the bacon on it; and went to the hut.  He came
back with a mug full of ale, saying they had better drink it before it
got quite stale.

"We must shoot something," said Bevis.  "We can't eat much of that

"Let's go round the island," said Mark, "and see if there's anything
about.  Parrots, perhaps."

"Pigeon-pie," said Bevis.

"Parrot-pie; just the thing."

"Hammer Pan, or he'll run on first and spoil everything."

Volume Two, Chapter XV.


Bevis lit the match, and they went quietly into the wood.  Pan had to he
hammered now and then to restrain him from rushing into the brambles.
They knew the way now very well, having often walked round while
building the hut looking for poles, and had trampled out a rough path
winding about the thorns.  The shooting at the teak-tree and the noise
of Pan's barking had alarmed all the parrots; and though they looked out
over the water in several places, no wild-fowl were to be seen.

As they came round under the group of cedars to the other side of the
island Mark remembered the great jack or pike which he had seen there,
almost as big as a shark.  They went very softly, and peering round a
blue gum bush, saw the jack basking in the sun, but a good way from
shore, just at the edge of some weeds.  The sunshine illumined the still
water, and they could see him perfectly, his long cruel jaws, his
greenish back and white belly, and powerful tail.

Drawing back behind the blue gum, Bevis prepared the matchlock, blow the
match so that the fire might be ready on it, opened the pan, and pushed
the priming up to the touch-hole, from which it had been shaken as he
walked, and then advanced the staff or rest to the edge of the bush.  He
put the heavy barrel on it, and knelt down.  The muzzle of the long
matchlock protruded through the leafy boughs.

"Ball cartridge," whispered Mark, holding Pan by the collar.  "Steady."

"All right."

Bevis aimed up the barrel, the strands of wire rather interfered with
his aim, and the glance passed from one of these to the other, rather
than along the level of the barrel.  The last strand hid the end of the
barrel altogether.  It wanted a sight.  He looked along, and got the gun
straight for the fish, aiming at the broadest part of the side; then he
remembered that a fish is really lower in the water than it appears, and
depressed the muzzle till it pointed beneath the under-line of the jack.

Double-barrel guns with their hammers which fall in the fiftieth of a
second, driven by a strong spring directly the finger touches the
trigger, translate the will into instant action.  The gunner snatches
the second when his gun is absolutely straight, and the shot flies to
its destination before the barrel can deviate the thirty-second part of
an inch.  When Bevis's finger first pressed the trigger of the matchlock
he had the barrel of his gun accurately pointed.  But while he pulled
the match down to the pan an appreciable moment of time intervened; and
his mind too--so swift is its operation--left the fish, his mark and
object, and became expectant of the explosion.  The match touched the
priming.  Puff!

So infinitely rapid is the mind, so far does it outstrip gunpowder, that
the flash from the pan and its tiny smoke seemed to Bevis to occur quite
a little time before the great discharge, and in that little time his
mind left the barrel, and came to look at the tiny puff of smoke.

Bang! the ball rushed forth, but not now in the course it would have
taken had a hair-trigger and a spring instantly translated his original
will into action.  In these momentary divisions of time which had
elapsed since he settled his aim, the long barrel, resting on the staff
and moving easily on its pivot, had imperceptibly drooped a trifle at
the breech and risen as much at the muzzle.

The ball flew high, hit the water six inches beyond the fish, and fired
at so low an angle ricochetted, and went skipping along the surface,
cutting out pieces of weed till the friction dragged it under, and it
sank.  The fish swished his tail like a scull at the stern of a boat or
the screw of a steamer, but swift as was his spring forward, he would
not have escaped had not the ball gone high.  He left an undulation on
the surface as he dived unhurt.

Bevis stamped his foot to think he had missed again.

"It was the water," said Mark.  "The bullet went duck and drake; I saw

He was too just to recall the fact of his having hit the teak-tree, the
tree was so much larger than the fish.  As he did not recall his success
at the tree, Bevis's irritation went no farther.

"We must have a top-sight," he said.

"We won't use bullets again till we have a sight."

"No, we won't.  But I'm sure I had the gun straight."

"So we had the rifle straight, but it did not hit."

"No, no more did it.  There's something peculiar in bullets--we will
find out.  I wanted that jack for supper."

As they had not brought the powder-horn with them, they walked back to
the hut.

"It's not the gun's fault, I'm sure," said Mark.  "It shoots beautiful;
it's my turn next."

"Yes; you shall shoot.  O! no, it's not the gun.  They can shoot
sparrows in India with a single ball," said Bevis; "and matchlocks kill
tigers better than rifles.  Matchlocks are splendid things."

"Splendid things," said Mark, stroking the stock of the gun, which he
now carried on his shoulder, as if it had been a breathing pet that
could appreciate his affection.

"This is a curious groove," said Bevis, looking at the score in the bark
of the teak where Mark's bullet had struck it.  "Look, it goes a little
round; the bullet stuck to the tree and went a little way round, instead
of just coming straight, so."

"So it did," said Mark.  "It curved round the tree."

"My arrow would have glanced off just the other way," said Bevis, "if it
had hit here."

"The ball goes one way and the arrow the other."

"One sticks to the tree as long as it can and the other shoots aside

Bullets have been known in like manner to strike a man's head in the
front part and score a track half round it, and even then not do much

"We ought to keep the gun loaded," said Mark, as they reached the hut.

"Yes; but it ought to be slung up, and not put anywhere where it might
be knocked over."

"Let's make some slings for it."

After loading the gun this time with a charge of shot, and ramming it
home with the brass ramrod--Mark enjoyed using the ramrod too much to
hurry over it--they set to work and drove two stout nails into the
uprights on the opposite side to the bed.  To one of these nails a loop
of cord was fastened; to the other a similar piece was tied at one end,
the other had a lesser loop, so as to take on or off the nail.  When off
it hung down, when on it made a loop like the other.  The barrel of the
gun was put through the first loop, and the stock then held up while the
other piece of cord was hitched to its nail, when the long gun hung

"It looks like a hunter's hut now," said Bevis, contemplating the
matchlock.  "I'll put my bow in the corner."  He leaned his bow in the
corner, and put a sheaf of arrows by it.

"My spear will go here," said Mark.

"No," said Bevis.  "Put the spear by the bee head."

"Ready for use in the night?"

"Yes; put a knobstick too.  That's it.  Now look."

"Doesn't it look nice?"

"Just doesn't it!"

"Real hunting."

"Real as real."

"If Val, and Cecil, and Ted could see!"

"And Charlie."

"They would go wild."

"The store-room _is_ a muddle."

"Shall we put it straight?"

"And get things ship-shape?"


They began to assort the heaped-up mass of things in the cave, putting
tools on one side, provisions on the other, and odd things in the
centre.  After awhile Mark looked up at his watch.

"Why, it's past five!  Tea time at home."

"I don't know," said Bevis.  "I expect the time's different--it's

"We are hours later, then?"

"While it's tea time here, it's breakfast there."

"When we go to bed, they get up.  Here's the astrolabe.  Take the

"So I will."

The sun was lower now, just over the tops of the trees.  Bevis hung the
circle to the gate-post of the stockade and moved the tube till he could
see the sun through it.  It read 20 degrees on the graduated disc.

"Twenty degrees north latitude," he said.  "It's not on the equator."

"But it's in the tropics."

"O, yes!--it's in Cancer, right enough.  It's better than the Equator:
they are obliged to lie still there all day long; and it's all swamps
and steaming moisture and fevers and malaria."

"Much nicer here."

"O!  Much nicer."

"How lucky!  This island is put just right."

"The very spot!"

"There ought to be a ditch outside the palisade," said Mark.  "Like they
have outside tents to run the water away when it rains.  I've seen them
round tents."

"So there ought.  We'll dig it."

They fetched the spades and shovelled away half an hour, but it was very
warm, and they sat down presently inside the fence, which began to cast
a shadow.

"We ought to have some blacks to do this sort of work," said Mark.

"White people can't slave in the tropics," said Bevis.  "Let's do
nothing now for a while."

"Lemonade," said Mark.  Bevis nodded; and Mark fetched and opened a
bottle, then another.

"There are only four left," he said.

"A ship ought to come every year with these kind of things," said Bevis.

"It ought to be wrecked, and then we could get the best things from the
wreck.  Shall we do some more shooting?"

"Practising.  We ought to practise with ball; but we said we would not
till we had a sight."

"But it's loaded with shot, and it's my turn; and there's nothing for
supper, or dinner to-morrow."

"No more there is.  One thing, though, if we practise shooting, we shall
frighten all the birds away."

"Ducks," said Mark, "flappers and coots, and moorhens, they're all about
in the evening.  The sun's going down: let's shoot one."

"Very well."

Mark got down the matchlock, and lit the match.  He went first, and
Bevis followed, two or three yards behind, with Pan.  They walked as
quietly as possible along the path they had made round the island,
glancing out over the water at intervals.  As they approached the other
end of the island, where the ground was low and thick with reed-grass
and sedges, they moved still more gently.  They saw two young ducks, but
they were too far; and whether they heard or suspected something swam in
among a bed of rushes on a shoal.  Mark stooped, and went down to the
water's edge.  Bevis stooped and followed, and there they set up the gun
on the rest, hidden behind the fringe of sedges and reed-grass they had
left when cutting them for the roof.

The muzzle almost, but not quite, protruded through the sedges, and they
sat down to wait on some of the dry grasses they had reaped, but did not
carry, not requiring all they had cut.  The ground so near the edge was
soft and yielding, and this dry hay of sedge and flag better to sit on.
Bevis held Pan by the collar, and they waited a long time while the sun
sank to the north-westwards, almost in front, of them.

"No twilight in the tropics," whispered Mark.

"But there's the moon," said Bevis.  The moon being about half full, was
already high in the sky, and her light continued the glow of the sunset.
Restless as they were, they sat still, and took the greatest care in
slightly changing their positions for ease not to rustle the dry sedges.
Pan did not like it, but he reconciled himself after awhile.  Presently
Mark, who was nearest the standing sedges, leaned forward and moved the
gun, Bevis glanced over his shoulder and saw a young wild duck among the
weeds by the shoal.  "Too far," he whispered.  It looked a long way.
Mark did not answer; he was aiming.  Puff--bang!  Bow-wow!  Pan was in
the water, dashing through the smoke before they could tell whether the
shot had taken effect or not.  The next moment they saw the duck
struggling and splashing unable to dive.  "Lu--lu!"

"Go on, Pan!"

"Catch him!"

"Fetch him!"

"He's got him!"

"He's in the weeds."

"Look--he can't get back--the duck drags in the weeds."

"Pan!  Pan!  Here--here!"

"He can't do it."

"He's caught."

"He'll sink."

"Not he."

"But he will."


After striving his hardest to bring the duck back through the thick
weeds, Pan suddenly turned and swam to the shoal where the rushes grew.
There he landed and stood a moment with the duck's neck in his mouth:
the bird still flapped and struggled.

"Here--here!" shouted Bevis, running along to attract the spaniel to a
place where the weeds looked thinner.  Mark whistled: Pan plunged in
again; and this time, having learned the strength of the weeds, he swam
out round them and laid the bird at their feet.

"It's a beauty."

"Look at his webbed feet!"

"But he's not very big!"

"But he's a young one."

"Of course: the feathers are very pretty."

"He kicks still."

"Kill him.  There; now we must pluck him this evening.  Some of the
feathers will do for Frances."

"O!  Frances!  She's no use," said Mark, carrying his bird by the legs.

The head hung down, and Pan licked it.  Plucking they found a tedious
business.  Each tried in turn till they were tired, and still there
seemed no end to the feathers.

"There are thousands of them," said Bevis.

"Just as if they could not have a skin."

"But the feathers are prettier."

"Well, you try now."

Bevis plucked awhile.  Then Mark tried again.  This was in the courtyard
of the hut.  The moonlight had now quite succeeded to the day.  By the
watch it was past nine.  Out of doors it was light, but in the hut Bevis
had to strike a match to see the time.

"It's supper-time," he said.

"Now they are having breakfast at home, I suppose."

"I dare say we're quite forgotten," said Bevis.  "People always are.
Seven thousand miles away they're sure to forget us."

"Altogether," said Mark.  "Of course they will.  Then some day they'll
see two strange men with very long beards and bronzed faces."

"Broad-brimmed Panama bats."

"And odd digger-looking dresses."

"And revolvers in their pockets out of sight, come strolling up to the
door and ask for--"

"Glasses of milk, as they're thirsty, and while they're sipping--as they
don't really like such stuff--just ask quietly if the governor's alive
and kicking--"

"And the Jolly Old Moke asleep in his armchair--"

"And if mamma's put up the new red curtains."

"Then they'll stare--and shriek--"

"Recognise and rumpus."

"Huge jollification!"

"Everybody tipsy and happy."

"John Young tumbling in the pond."

"Bells ringing."

"I say, ought we to forgive the Bailiff and Polly?"

"Hum!  I suppose so.  But that's a very long time yet?"

"O! a very long time.  This duck will never be done."

"We forgot to have tea," said Mark.

"So we did; and tea would be very nice.  With dampers like the diggers,"
said Bevis.  "Let's have tea now."

"Finish the horrid duck to-morrow," said Mark.  "I'll hang him up."

"Fire's gone out," said Bevis, looking from the gateway.  "Can't see any

"Gone out long ago," said Mark.  "Pot put it out."

They had left the pot on the ashes.

"It would be a good plan to light a fire inside the stockade now," said
Bevis.  "It will do to make the tea, and keep things away in the night."

"Lions and tigers," said Mark.  "If they want to jump the fence they
won't dare face the fire.  But it's very warm; we must not make it by
the hut."

"Put it on one side," said Bevis, "in the corner under the cliff.  Bring
the sticks."

They had plenty of wood in the stockade, piled up, from the chips and
branches and ends of the poles with which they had made the roof and
fence.  The fire was soon lit.  Bevis got out the iron rod to swing the
kettle.  Mark went down and dipped the zinc bucket full of water.

"Are there any things about over the New Sea?" he said when he came
back.  "It's dark as you go through the wood, and the water looks all
strange by moonlight."

"Very curious things are about I dare say," said Bevis, who had lit the
lantern, and was shaking tea into the tin teapot in the hut.  "Curious
magic things."

"Floating round; all misty, and you can't see them."

"But you know they're there."



"Vampires.  Look, there's a big bat--and another; they're coming back

"That's nothing; everything's magic.  Mice are magic, especially if
they're red.  I'll show you in Faust.  If they're only dun they're not
half so much magic."

"More mousey."

"Yes.  Besides, if you were in the wood you would see things behind the
trees; you might think they were shadows, but they're not: and lights
moving about--sparks--"


"Magic.  Stars are magic.  There's one up there.  And there are things
in trees, and satyrs in the fern, and those that come out of the trees
and out of the water are ladies--very beautiful, like Frances--"

"Frances is very plain."

"That she's not."

"She's so short."

"Well, the tree-ladies are not very large.  If I had a hook of secret
lore, that's the right name--"

"A magic hook?"

"I'd make them come and dance and sing to us."

"But are there no monsters?" said Mark, stirring the fire.

Volume Two, Chapter XVI.


The flames darted up, and mingling with the moonlight cast a
reddish-yellow glare on the green-roofed hut, the yellowy cliff of sand,
throwing their shadows on the fence, and illuming Pan, who sat at the
door of the hut.  The lantern, which Bevis had left on the floor, was
just behind the spaniel.  Outside the stockade the trees of the wood
cast shadows towards them; the moon shone high in the sky.  The weird
calls of water-fowl came from a distance; the sticks crackled and
hissed.  Else all was silent, and the smoke rose straight into the still

"Green eyes glaring at you in the black wood," said Bevis.  "Huge
creatures, with prickles on their backs, and stings: the ground heaves
underneath, and up they come; one claw first--you see it poking through
a chink--and then hot poisonous breath--"

"Let's make a circle," said Mark.  "Quick!  Let's lock the gate."

"Lock the gate!"  Mark padlocked it.  "I'll mark the wizard's foot on
it.  There,"--Bevis drew the five-angled mark with his pencil on the
boards--"there, now they're just done."

"They can't come in."


"But we might see them?"

"Perhaps, yes."

"Let's play cards, and not look round."

"All right.  Bezique.  But the kettle's boiling.  I'll make the tea."
He took the kettle off and filled the teapot.  "We ought to have a
damper," he said.

"So we did: I'll make it."  Mark went into the hut and got some flour,
and set to work and made a paste: you see, if you are busy, you do not
know about things that look like shadows, but are not shadows.  He
pounded away at the paste; and after some time produced a thick flat
cake of dough, which they put in the ashes and covered over.

They put two boards for a table on the ground, in front of the hut door
and away from the fire, and set the lantern at one end of the table.
Bevis brought the teapot and the tin mugs, for they had forgotten cups
and saucers, and made tea; while Mark buttered a heap of biscuits.

"Load the matchlock," said Bevis.  Mark loaded the gun, and leaned it by
the door-post at their backs, but within reach.  Bevis put his bow and
two arrows close at his side, as he sat down, because he could shoot
quicker with his bow in case of a sudden surprise, than with the
matchlock.  The condensed milk took a few minutes to get ready, and then
they began.  The corner of the hut kept off the glow from the fire; they
leaned their backs against the door-posts, one each side, and Pan came
in between.  He gobbled up the buttered biscuits, being perfectly
civilised; now from one, now from the other, as fast as they liked to
let him.

"This is the jolliest tea there ever was," said Mark.  "Isn't it jolly
to be seven thousand miles from anywhere?"

"No bothers," said Bevis, waving his hand as if to keep people at a

"Nothing but niceness."

"And do as you please."

"Had enough?"

"Yes.  Bezique."

"I'll deal."

"No--no; cat."

The cards were dealt on the two rough boards, and they played, using the
old coins they had brought with them as counters.  Pan watched a little
while, then he retired, finding there was nothing more to eat, and
stretched himself a few yards away.  The fire fell lower, flickered,
blazed again: the last sticks thrown on burning off in the middle broke
and half rolled off one side and half the other; the smoke ceased to
rise, the heated vapour which took its place was not visible.  By-and-by
the moon's white light alone filled the interior of the stockade, and
entered in at the doorway of the hut, for the glimmer of the
horn-lantern did not reach beyond the boards of their tables.  At last
the candle guttered and went out, but they played on by the moonlight.

"Ah, ah!" said Bevis presently.

"Double bezique!" shouted Mark; "and all the money's mine!"

Pan looked up at the noise.

"The proper thing is, to shoot you under the table," said Bevis: "that's
what buccaneers do."

"But there were no revolvers when we lived," said Mark; "only

"Shovel them up," said Bevis.  "Broad gold pieces, but you won't have
them long.  I'm tired to-night.  I shall win them to-morrow, and your
estate, and your watch, and your shirt off your back, and your wife--"

"I shan't have a wife," said Mark, yawning as he pocketed the coins,
which were copper.  "I don't want a Frances--O, no! thank you very

"What's the time?"

"Nearly twelve."

"I'm tired."

"Make the bed."

They began to make it, and recollected that one of the rugs was under
the teak-tree, where they had hoisted it up for an awning.  Bevis took
his bow and arrow; Mark his spear.  They called Pan, and thus, well
armed and ready for the monsters, marched across to the teak, glancing
fearfully around, expectant of green blazing eyes and awful coiling
shapes; quite fearless all the time, and aware that there was nothing.
They had to pull up the poles to get the awning down.  On returning to
the stockade, the gate was padlocked and the bed finished.  The lantern,
in which a fresh candle had been placed, was hung to a cord from the
ceiling, but they found it much in the way.

"If there's an alarm in the night," said Mark, "and anybody jumps up
quick, he'll hit his head against the lantern.  Let's put it on the

"Chest," said Bevis; "it's always chest."

Mark dragged the chest to the bed-side, and put the lantern on it, and a
box of matches handy.  The matchlock was hung up; the teapot and mugs
and things put away, and the spear and bow and knobstick arranged for
instant use.  Bevis let down the carpet at the doorway, and it shut out
the moonlight like a curtain.  They took off their boots and got on the
bed with their clothes on.  Just as Bevis was about to blow out the
candle, he remembered something.

"Mark--Lieutenant, how's the barometer?"

"Went down in the ship, sir."

"How's the weather then?  Look out and see if a tornado's brewing."

"Ay, ay, sir."

Mark stepped under the curtain, looked round, and came in again.

"Sky's clear," he said.  "Only the moon and a little shooting star, a
very little one, a mere flicker just like striking a lucifer when it
doesn't light."

"Streak of light on the wall."


"No tornado?"


"Thirty bells," said the captain.  "Turn in.  Lights out."  He blew out
the candle and they made themselves comfortable.

"What's that?" said Mark in a minute.  A corner of the curtain was
lifted, and let the moonlight in on the floor.

"Only Pan."

Finding he was alone outside, Pan came in and curled up by the chest.



"Good-night, Pan," said Bevis, putting out his hand and touching Pan's
rough neck.  Almost before he could bring his hand back again they were
both firm asleep.  Quite tired out by such a long, long day of exertion
and change, they fell asleep in a second, without any twilight of
preliminary drowsiness.  Change wearies as much as labour; a journey,
for instance, or looking up at rows of pictures in different colours.
They slept like buccaneers or humming-tops, only unconsciously throwing
the covering rug partly off, for the summer night was warm.  The
continuance of easterly breezes had caused the atmosphere to become so
dry that there was no mist, and the morning opened clear, still, and

After a while Pan stretched himself, got up, and went out.  He could not
leap the fence, but looking round it found a place where it joined the
cliff, not quite closed up.  They knew this, but had forgotten all about
it.  Pan pushed his head under, struggled, and scratched, till his
shoulders followed as he lay on his side, and the rest followed easily.
Roaming round, he saw the pot in which the bacon had been boiled still
on the grey ashes of the fire under the teak.  The lid was off, thrown
aside, and he ran to the pot, put his paws on the rim, and lapped up the
greasy liquor with a relish.

Loo, the cottage girl, could she have seen, would have envied him, for
she had but a dry crust for breakfast, and would have eagerly dipped it
in.  Pan roamed round again, and came back to the hut and waited.  In an
hour's time he went out once more, lapped again, and again returned to
watch the sleepers.

By-and-by he went out the third time and stayed longer.  Then he
returned, thrust his head under the curtain and uttered a short bark of
impatient questioning, "Yap!"

"The genie," said Mark, awaking.  He had been dreaming.

"What's the time?" said Bevis, sitting up in an instant, as if he had
never been asleep.  Pan leaped on the bed and barked, delighted to see
them moving.

"Three o'clock," said Mark.  "No; why it's stopped!"

"It's late, I know," said Bevis, who had gone to the doorway and lifted
the curtain.  "The sun's high; it's eight or nine, or more."

"I never wound it up," said Mark, "and--well I never!  I've left the key
at home."

"It was my key," said Bevis.  One did for both in fact.

"Now we shan't know what the time is," said Mark.  "Awfully awkward when
you're seven thousand miles from anywhere."

"Awful!  What a stupe you were; where did you leave the key?"

"On the dressing-table, I think; no, in the drawer.  Let's see, in my
other waistcoat: I saw it on the floor; now I remember, on the
mantelpiece, or else on the washing-stand.  I know, Bevis; make a

"So I will.  No, it's no use."

"Why not?"

"I don't know when to begin."

"When to begin?"

"Well the sundial must have a start.  You must begin your hours, don't
you see."

"I see; you don't know what hour to put to the shadow."

"That's it."

"But can't you find out?  Isn't the sun always south at noon?"

"But which is quite south?"

"Just exactly proper south?"

"Yes, meridian is the name.  I know, the north star!"

"Then we must wait till night to know the time to-day."

"And then till the sun shines again--"

"Till to-morrow."


"I know!" said Mark; "Charlie.  You make the sundial, and he'll wave the
handkerchief at four o'clock."

"Capital," said Bevis.  "Just the very thing--like Jupiter's satellites;
you know, they hide behind, and the people know the time by seeing them.
Charlie will set the clock for us.  There's always a dodge for
everything.  Pan, Pan, you old rascal."

Bevis rolled him over and over.  Pan barked and leaped on them, and ran
out into the sunshine.

"Breakfast," said Mark; "what's for breakfast?"

"Well, make some tea," said Bevis, putting on his boots.  "That was
best.  And, I say, we forgot the damper."

"So we did.  It will do for breakfast."

The damper was raked out of the ashes, and having been left to itself
was found to be well done, but rather burned on one side.  When the
burnt part had been scraped off, and the ashes blown from it, it tasted
very fair, but extremely dry.

"The butter won't last long," said Mark presently, as they sat down to
breakfast on the ground at their two boards.  "We ought to have another

"Tables without legs are awkward," said Bevis, whose face was heated
from tending the fire they had lit and boiling the kettle.  "The
difficulty is, where to put your knees."

"Or else you must lie down.  We could easily make some legs."

"Drive short stakes into the ground, and put the boards on the top,"
said Bevis.  "So we will presently.  The table ought to be a little one
side of the doorway, as we can't wheel it along out of the way."

"Big stumps of logs would do for stools," said Mark.  "Saw them off
short, and stand them on end."

"The sun's very warm," said Bevis.

The morning sunshine looked down into their courtyard, so that they had
not the least shade.

"The awning ought to be put up here over our table."

"Let's put it up, then.  I say, how rough your hair looks."

"Well, you look as if you had not washed.  Shall we go and have a swim?"

"Yes.  Put the things away; here's the towels."

They replaced their breakfast things anywhere, leaving the teapot on the
bed, and went down to the water, choosing the shore opposite Serendib,
because on that side there were no weeds.

As they came down to the strand, already tearing off their coats, they
stopped to look at the New Sea, which was still, smooth, and sunlit.
Though it was so broad it did not seem far to-day to the yellow cliff of
the quarry, to the sward of the battlefield, and the massive heads of
the sycamores under which the war had raged.

There was not a breath of wind, but the passage of so much air coming
from the eastwards during the last week or so had left the atmosphere as
clear as it is in periods of rain.  The immense sycamores stood out
against the sky, with the broad green curve of their tops drawn along
the blue.  Except a shimmer of uncertain yellow at the distant shore
they could not see the reflection of the quarry which was really there,
for the line of vision from where they stood came nearly level with the
surface of the water, so that they did not look into it but along it.

Beneath their feet they saw to the bottom of the New Sea, and slender
shapes of fish hovering over interstices of stones, now here, now gone.
There was nothing between them and the fish, any more than while looking
at a tree.  The mere surface was a film transparent, and beneath there
seemed nothing.  Across on Serendib the boughs dipped to the boughs that
came up under to meet them.  A moorhen swam, and her imago followed
beneath, unbroken, so gently did she part the water that no ripple
confused it.  Farther the woods of the jungle far away rose up, a
mountain wall of still boughs, mingled by distance into one vast

Southwards, looking seawards, instead of the long path of gold which
wavelets strew before him, the sun beamed in the water, throwing a
stream of light on their faces, not to be looked at any more than the
fire which Archimedes cast from his mirrors melting the ships.  All the
light of summer fell on the water, from the glowing sky, from the clear
air, from the sun.  The island floated in light, they stood in light,
light was in the shadow of the trees, and under the thick brambles;
light was deep down in the water, light surrounded them as a mist might;
they could see far up into the illumined sky as down into the water.

The leaves with light under them as well as above became films of
transparent green, the delicate branches were delineated with finest
camel's hair point, all the grass blades heaped together were apart, and
their edges apparent in the thick confusion; every atom of sand upon the
shore was sought out by the beams, and given an individual existence
amid the inconceivable multitude which the sibyl alone counted.  Nothing
was lost, not a grain of sand, not the least needle of fir.  The light
touched all things, and gave them to be.

The tip of the shimmering poplar had no more of it than the moss in the
covert of the bulging roots.  The swallows flew in light, the fish swam
in light, the trees stood in light.  Upon the shore they breathed light,
and were silent till a white butterfly came fluttering over, and another
white butterfly came under it in the water, when looking at it the
particular released them from the power of the general.

"Magic," said Bevis.  "It's magic."

"Enchantment," said Mark; "who is it does it--the old magician?"

"I think the book says its Circe," said Bevis; "in the Ulysses book, I
mean.  It's deep enough to dive here."

In a minute he was ready, and darted into the water like an arrow, and
was sent up again as an arrow glances to the surface.  Throwing himself
on his side he shot along.  "Serendib!" he shouted, as Mark appeared
after his dive under.

"Too far," said Mark.

"Come on."

Mark came on.  The water did not seem to resist them that morning, it
parted and let them through.  With long scoops of their arms that were
uppermost, swimming on the side, they slipped on still between the
strokes, the impetus carrying them till the stroke came again.  Between
the strokes they glided buoyantly, lifted by the water as swallows glide
on the plane of the air.  From the hand thrust out in front beyond the
head to the feet presently striking back--all the space between the
hands and feet they seemed to grasp.  All this portion of the water was
in their power, and its elasticity as their strokes compressed it threw
them forward.

At each long sweep Bevis felt a stronger hold, his head shot farther
through above the surface like the stem of the Pinta when the freshening
breeze drove her.  He did not see where he was going, his vision was
lost in the ecstasy of motion; all his mind was concentrated in the full
use of his limbs.  The delicious delirium of strength--unconsciousness
of reason, unlimited consciousness of force--the joy of life itself
filled him.

Presently turning on his chest for the breast-stroke he struck his knee,
and immediately stood up:


Fortunately there were no stones, or his knee would have been grazed;
the bottom was sand.  Hearing him call Mark turned on his chest and
stood up too.  They waded some way, and then found another deep place,
swam across that more carefully, and again walked on a shallow which
continued to the shore of Serendib, where they stood by the willow


Volume Two, Chapter XVII.


Pan had sat on the strand watching them till they appeared about to land
on the other side, then at the sound of his name he swam to them.  Now
you might see how superior he was, for the two human animals stood there
afraid to enter the island lest a rough bough should abrade their skins,
a thorn lacerate, or a thistle prick their feet, but Pan no sooner
reached the land than he rushed in.  His shaggy natural coat protected

In a minute out came a moorhen, then another, and a third, scuttling
over the surface with their legs hanging down.  Two minutes more and Pan
drove a coot out, then a young duck rose and flew some distance, then a
dab-chick rushed out and dived instantaneously, then still more
moorhens, and coots.

"Why, there are hundreds!" said Mark.  "What a place for our shooting!"

"First-rate," said Bevis.  "It's full of moorhens and all sorts."

So it was.  The island of Serendib was but a foot or so above the level
of the water, and completely grown over with willow osiers (their blue
gum), the spaces between the stoles being choked with sedges and
reed-grass, vast wild parsnip stalks or "gix," and rushes, in which mass
of vegetation the water-fowl delighted.  They had been undisturbed for a
very long time, and they looked on Serendib as theirs; they would not
move till Pan was in the midst of them.

"We must bring the matchlock," said Mark.  "But we can't swim with it.
Could we do it on the catamarans?"

"They're awkward if you've got anything to carry," said Bevis,
remembering his dip.  "I know--we'll make a raft."

"Then we can go to all the islands," said Mark, "that will be ever so
much better; why we can shoot all round them everywhere."

"And go up the river," said Bevis, "and go on the continent, the
mainland, you know, and see if it's China, or South America--"

"Or Africa or Australia, and shoot elephants--"

"And rabbits and hares and peewits, and pick up the pearls on Pearl
Island, and see what there is at the other end of the world up there,"
pointing southwards.

"We've never been to the end yet," said Mark.  "Let's go back and make
the raft directly."

"The catamaran planks will do capital," said Bevis, "and some beams, and
I'll see how Ulysses made his, and make ours like it--he had a sail

"We could sail about at night," said Mark, "nobody would see us."

"No; Val or Charlie would be sure to see in the daytime; the stars would
guide us at night, and that would be just proper."

"Just like they used to--"

"Yes, just like they used to when we lived three thousand years ago."

"Capital.  Let's begin."

"So we will."

"Pan!  Pan!"

Pan was so busy routing out the hitherto happy water-fowl that he did
not follow them until they had begun to swim, having waded as far as
they could.  The shoals reduced the actual distance they had to swim by
quite half, so that they reached New Formosa without any trouble, and
dressed.  They went to the hut that Bevis might read how Ulysses
constructed his ship or raft, and while they were looking for the book
saw the duck which they had plucked the evening before.

This put them in mind of dinner, and that if they did not cook it, it
would not be ready for them as it used to be at home.  They were
inclined to let dinner take its chance, but buttered biscuits were
rather wearisome, so they concluded to cook the dinner first, and make
the raft afterwards.  It was now very hot in the stockade, so the fire
was lit under the teak-tree in the shade, the duck singed, and hung on a
double string from a hazel rod stuck in the ground.  By turning it round
the double string would wind up, and when left to itself unwind like a

The heat of the huge fire they made, added to that of the summer sun,
was too great--they could not approach it, and therefore managed to turn
the duck after a fashion with a long stick.  After they had done this
some time, working in their shirtsleeves, they became impatient, and on
the eve of quarrelling from mere restlessness.

"It's no use our both being here," said Mark.  "One's enough to cook."

"One's enough to be cooked," said Bevis.  "Cooking is the most hateful
thing I ever knew."

"Most awful hateful.  Suppose we say you shall do it to-day and I do it
to-morrow, instead of being both stuck here by this fire?"

"Why shouldn't you do it to-day, and _I_ do it to-morrow?"

"Toss up, then," said Mark, producing a penny.  "Best two out of three."

"O! no," said Bevis.  "You know too many penny dodges.  No, no; I know--
get the cards, shuffle them and cut, and who cuts highest goes off and
does as he likes--"

"Ace highest?"


The pack was shuffled, and Mark cut a king.  Bevis did not got a
picture-card, so he was cook for that day.

"I shall take the matchlock," said Mark.

"That you won't."

"That I shall."

"You won't, though."

"Then I won't do anything," said Mark, sulking.  "It's not fair; if you
had cut king you would have had the gun."

Bevis turned his duck, poking it round with the stick, then he could not
help admitting to himself that Mark was right.  If he had cut a king he
would have taken the gun, and it was not fair that Mark should not do

"Very well," he said.  "Take it; mind it's my turn to-morrow."

Mark went for the matchlock, and came out of the stockade with it.  But
before he had gone many yards he returned into the hut, and put it up on
the slings.  Then he picked out his fishing-rod from the store-room, and
his perch-line and hooks, mixed some mustard and water in his tin mug,
and started off.  Bevis, who had sat down far enough from the fire to
escape the heat, did not notice him the second time.

Mark walked into the wood till he found a moist place, there he poured
his mixture on the ground, and the pungent mustard soon brought some
worms up.  These he secured, but he did not know how to carry them, for
the mug he used for drinking from, and did not like to put them in it.
Involuntarily feeling his pockets as people do when in difficulty, he
remembered his handkerchief; he put some moss in it, and so made a
bundle.  He had but one mug, but he had several handkerchiefs in the
store-room, and need not use this one again.

Looking round the island for a place to fish, he came to a spot where a
little headland projected on the Serendib side, but farther down than
where they had bathed.  At the end of the headland a willow trunk or
blue gum hung over the water, and as he came near a kingfisher flew off
the trunk and away round Serendib.  Mark thought this a likely spot, as
the water looked deep, and the willow cast a shadow on one side, and
fish might come for anything that fell from the boughs.  He dropped his
bait in, and sat down in the shade to watch his blue float, which was
reflected in the still water.

He had not used his right to take the matchlock, because when he came
out with it and saw Bevis, whose back was turned, he thought how selfish
he was, for he knew Bevis liked shooting better than anything.  So he
put the gun back, and went fishing.

Against his own wishes Bevis acknowledged Mark's reason and right;
against his own wishes Mark forbore to use his right that he might not
be selfish.

While Mark watched his float Bevis alternately twisted up the duck, and
sat down under the teak-tree with the Odyssey, in which he read that--

  On the lone island's utmost verge there stood
  Of poplars, pines, and firs a lofty wood,

from which Ulysses selected and felled enough for his vessel, and,--

  At equal angles these disposed to join;
  He smooth'd and squared them by the rule and line.

  Long and capacious as a shipwright forms
  Some bark's broad bottom to outride the storms,
  So large he built the raft: then ribb'd it strong
  From space to space, and nail'd the planks along;
  These form'd the sides: the deck he fashioned last;
  Then o'er the vessel raised the taper mast,
  With crossing sailyards dancing in the wind,
  And to the helm the guiding rudder join'd.

Pondering over this Bevis planned his raft, intending to make it of six
or eight beams of poplar, placed lengthways; across these a floor of
short lesser poles put close together; thirdly, a layer of long poles;
and above these the catamaran planks for the deck.  He had not enough
plank to make the sides so he proposed to fix uprights and extend a
railing all round, and wattle this with willows, which would keep off
some of the wash of the waves, like bulwarks.  Even then, perhaps, the
sea might flush the deck; so he meant to fasten the chest in the
store-room on it as a locker, to preserve such stores as they might take
with them.

A long oar would be the rudder, working it on the starboard side, and
there would be a mast; but of course such a craft could only sail before
the wind--she could not tack.  In shallow water--they could pole along
like a punt better than row, for the raft would be cumbrous.  Arranging
this in his mind, he let the duck burn one side; it had a tendency to
burn, as he could not baste it.  Soon after he had sat down again he
wondered what the time was, and recollected the sundial.

This must be made at once, because it must be ready when Charlie made
the signal.  He looked up at the sun, whose place he could distinguish,
because the branches sheltered his eyes from the full glare.  The sun
seemed very high, and he thought it must be already noon.  Giving the
duck a twist, he ran to the hut, and fetched a piece of board, his
compasses, and a gimlet.  Another twist, and then under the teak-tree he
drew a circle with the compasses on the board, scratching with the steel
point in the wood.

With the gimlet he bored two holes aslant to each other, and then ran
for two nails and a file.  In his haste, having to get back to turn the
roast, he did not notice that the matchlock was hung up in the hut.  He
filed the heads off the nails, and then tapped them into the gimlet
holes; they wanted a little bending, and then their points met, forming
a gnomon, like putting the two forefingers together.

Then he bored two holes through the board, and inserted other nails half
through, ready for hammering into the post.  The post he cut from one of
the poles left from the fence; it was short and thick, and he sharpened
it at one end, leaving the top flat as sawn off.  Fetching the iron bar,
he made a hole in the ground, put the post in, and gave it one tap; then
the duck wanted turning again.

As he returned to his work he remembered that in the evening the teak
and the other trees of the wood cast long shadows towards the hut, which
would blot out the time on the sundial.  It ought to be put where the
full beams would fall on it from sunrise to sunset.  The cliff was the
very place.  He ran up and chose a spot which he could see would be free
from shadow, pitched the post, and ran down to the duck.

Next he carried up the dial, and nailed it to the top of the post; the
two nails kept it from moving if touched, and were much firmer than one.
The gnomon at once cast a pointed shadow on that side of the circle
opposite the sun, but there were as yet no marks for the hours.  He
could not stay to look at his work, but went down to the teak, and began
to wonder why he did not hear Mark shoot, though very likely in the heat
of the day the water-fowl did not cross the open water to the island.

Thinking of shooting reminded him of the sight so much wanted at the top
of the barrel.  He could not solder anything on, nor drill a hole, and
so fix it, nor was it any use to file a notch, because nothing would
stick in the notch, as iron is not like wood.  Perhaps sealing-wax
would--a lump of sealing-wax--but he had none in the store-room; it
would not look proper either, and was sure to get chipped off directly.
Could he tie anything on?  The barrel was fastened into the stock with
wire, why not twist two pieces of wire round, and put a nail head (the
nail filed off very short) between them, very much as hats are hung with
the brim between two straps.

That would do, but presently he thought of a still easier way, which was
to put a piece of wire round the barrel and fasten it, but not tight, so
that it was like a loose ring.  Then with the pliers seize the part at
the upper side of the barrel and twist it, forming a little loop of the
loose wire; this would tighten the ring, then twisting the upper loop
round it would make a very short and tiny coil upon itself, and this
coil would do capitally for a sight.

He wished Mark would come with the matchlock, that he might put the
sight on at once.  He looked at the duck; it seemed done, but he was not
certain, and sat down to rest again in the shadow.  A cooing came from
the wood, so there were doves which had not yet finished nesting.  Bevis
was very tired of turning the roast, and determined to try if they could
not make an earth oven.  The way he thought was to dig a hole in the
ground, put in a layer of hot embers, then the meat; then another layer
of hot embers; so that the meat was entirely surrounded with them: and
finally, a cover of clay placed over to quite confine the heat.

One little hole lets out the steam or gas: it is made by standing a
small stick in the oven, and then when all is finished, drawing it out
so as to leave a tube.  He was not certain that this was quite right,
but it was all he could remember, and it would be worth trying.  This
horrible cooking took up so much time, and made him so hot and
uncomfortable: shipwrecked people wanted a slave to do the cooking.  But
he thought he should soon whistle for Mark.  Pan had gone with him, but
now came back, as Bevis supposed, weary of waiting in ambush; but, in
fact, with an eye to dinner.

Mark's float did not move: it stood exactly upright, it did not jerk,
causing a tiny ripple, then come up, and then move along, then dive and
disappear, going down aslant.  It remained exactly upright, as the
shot-weight on the line kept it.  There was no wind, so the line out of
the water did not blow aside and cause the float to rotate.  Long since
he had propped his rod on a forked stick, and weighted the butt with a
flat stone, to save himself the trouble of holding it.

He sat down, and Pan sat by him: he stroked Pan and then teased him; Pan
moved away and watched, out of arm's reach.  By-and-by the spaniel
extended himself and became drowsy.  Mark's eyes wearied of the blue
float, and he too stretched himself, lying on his side with his head on
his arm, so that he could see the float, if he opened his eyes, without
moving.  A wagtail came and ran along the edge of the sand so near that
with his rod he could have reached it.  Jerking his tail the wagtail
entered the still water up to the joints of his slender limbs, then came
out, and ran along again.

Mark's head almost touched the water: his hair (for his hat was off, as
usual) was reflected in it, and a great brown water-beetle passed
through the reflection.  A dove--his parrakeet--came over and entered
the wood; it was the same Bevis afterwards heard cooing.  Mark half
opened his eyes, and thought the wagtail's tiny legs were no thicker
than one of Frances's hair-pins.

The moorhens and coots had now recovered from the fright Pan had given
them.  As he gazed through the chinks of his eyelids along the surface
of the water, he could see them one by one returning towards Serendib,
pausing on the way among the weeds, swimming again, with nodding heads,
turning this side and that to pick up anything they saw; but still,
gradually approaching the island opposite.  They all came from one
direction, and he remembered that when Pan hunted them out, they all
scuttled the same way.  So did the wild duck; so did the kingfisher.  "I
believe they all go to the river," Mark thought; "the river that flows
out through the weeds.  Just wait till we have got our raft."

Something swam out presently from the shore of New Formosa; something
nearly flush with the water, and which left a wake of widening ripples
behind it, by which Mark knew it was a rat: for water-fowl, though they
can move rapidly, do not cause much undulation.  The rat swam out a good
way, then turned and came in again.  This coasting voyage he repeated
down the shore several times.

To look along the surface, as Mark did, was like kneeling and glancing
over a very broad and well polished table, your eyes level with it.  The
slightest movement was visible a great way--a little black speck that
crossed was seen at once.  The little black speck was raised a very
small degree above the surface, and there was something in the water not
visible following it.

The water undulated, but less than behind the rat; now the moorhens nod
their heads to and fro, as you or I nod: but this black speck waved
itself the other way, from side to side, as it kept steadily onwards.
Mark recognised a snake, swimming swiftly, its head (black only from
distance and contrast with the gleam of the crystal top of the polished
table) just above the surface, and sinuous length trailing beneath the
water.  He did not see whence the snake started, but he saw it go across
to the weeds at the extreme end of Serendib, and there lost it.

He thought of the huge boa-constrictors hidden in the interior of New
Formosa, they would be basking quite still in such heat, but he ought to
have brought his spear with him.  You never ought to venture from the
stockade in these unknown places without a spear.  By now the shadows
had moved, and his foot was in the sunshine: he could feel the heat
through the leather.  Two bubbles came up to the surface close to the
shore: he saw the second one start from the sand and rise up quickly
with a slight wobble, but the sand did not move, and he could not see
anything in it.

His eyes closed, not that he slept, but the gleam of the water inclined
them to retire into the shadow of the lids.  After some time there was a
shrill pipe.  Mark started, and lifted his head, and saw the kingfisher,
which had come back towards his perch on the willow trunk.  He came
within three yards before he saw Mark; then he shot aside, with a shrill
whistle of alarm, rose up and went over the island.

In starting up, Mark moved his foot, and a butterfly floated away from
it: the butterfly had settled in the sunshine on the heated leather.
With three flutters, the butterfly floated with broad wings stretched
out over the thin grass by the shore.  It was no more effort to him to
fly than it is to thistledown.

The same start woke Pan.  Pan yawned, licked his paw, got up and wagged
his tail, looked one way and then the other, and then went off back to
Bevis.  The blue float was still perfectly motionless.  Mark sat up,
took his rod and wound up the winch, and began to wander homewards too,
idly along the shore.  He had gone some way when he saw a jack basking
by a willow bush aslant from him, so that the markings on his back were
more visible than when seen sideways, for in this position the
foreshortening crowded them together.  They are like the water-mark on
paper, seen best at a low angle, or the mark on silk, and somewhat
remind you of the mackerel.

Volume Two, Chapter XVIII.


So soon as he was sure the jack had not noticed him, Mark drew softly
back, and with some difficulty forced a way between the bramble thickets
towards the stockade.  He thus entered a part they had not before
visited, for as the trees and bushes were not so thick by the water,
their usual path followed the windings of the shore.  Trampling over
some and going round others, Mark managed to penetrate between the
thickets, having taken his rod to pieces, as it constantly caught in the

Next he came to a place where scarcely anything grew, everything having
been strangled by those Thugs of the wood, the wild hops, except a few
scattered ash-poles, up which they wound, indenting the bark in spirals.
The ground was covered with them, for, having slain their supports,
they were forced to creep, so that he walked on hops; and from under a
bower of them, where they were smothering a bramble bush, a nightingale
"kurred" at him angrily.

He came near the nightingale's young brood, safely reared.  "Sweet
kur-r-r!"  The bird did not like it.  These wild hops are a favourite
cover with nightingales.  A damp furrow or natural ditch, now dry, but
evidently a watercourse in rain, seemed to have stopped the march of
this creeping, twining plant, for over it he entered among hazel-bushes;
and then seeing daylight, fancied he was close to the stockade; but to
his surprise, stepped out into an open glade with a green knoll on one

The knoll did not rise quite so high as the trees, and there was a
quantity of fern about the lower part, then an open lawn of grass, a
little meadow in the midst of the wood.  He saw a white tail disappear
among the fern--there were then rabbits here.

"Bevis!" said Mark aloud.  In his surprise he called to Bevis, as he
would have done had Bevis been present.  He ran to the knoll, and as he
ran, more white tails--little ones--raced into the fern, where he saw
burries and sand-heaps thrown out.

On the top of the knoll there were numerous signs of rabbits--places
worn bare, and "runs," or footpaths, leading down across the grass.  He
looked round, but could see nothing but trees, which hid the New Sea and
the cliff at home.

Eager to tell Bevis of the discovery, and especially of the rabbits,
which would furnish them with food, and were, above all, something fresh
to shoot at, he ran down the hill so fast that he could not stop
himself, though he saw something white in the grass.  He returned, and
found it was mushrooms, and he gathered between twenty and thirty in a
few minutes--"buttons," full grown mushrooms, and overgrown ketchup
ones.  How to carry them he did not know, having used his handkerchief
already, and left his coat at home, till he thought of his waistcoat,
and took it off and made a rough bundle of them in it.  Then he heard
Bevis's whistle, the well-known notes they always used to call each
other, and shouted in reply, but the shout did not penetrate so far as
the shrill sound had done.

The whistle came from a different direction to that in which he supposed
the cave to be, for in winding in and out the brambles he had lost the
true course and had forgotten to look at the sun.  He found he could not
go straight home, for the brambles were succeeded by blackthorn, through
which nothing human can move, and hardly a spaniel, when thick as it was
here.  He had to go all round by the opposite shore of the island, the
weed-grown side, and so to the fire under the teak-tree.

"Where's the gun?" said Bevis, coming to meet him.

"I left it at home."

"No, you had it."

"I put it back as you were not coming."

"I never saw it."

"It's in the hut."

"Didn't you really take it?"

"No--really.  We'll both go with the gun--"

"So we will."  Bevis regretted now that he had made any difficulty.
"No, it's your turn; you shall have it."

"I shan't," said Mark.  "Look here,"--showing the mushrooms--"splendid
for supper, and I've found some rabbits!"


"And a little green hill, and a kingfisher, and a jack.  Come and get
the gun, and let's shoot him.  Quick."

Mark began to run for the matchlock, and they left the duck to itself.
Bevis ran with him, and Mark told him all about it as they went.

They talked so much by sign and mere monosyllables in this short run to
the hut that I cannot transcribe it in words, though they understood
each other better than had they used set speech.  For two people always
together know the exact meaning of a nod, the indication of a glance,
and a motion of the lip means a page of conversation.

Having got the gun as they came back, Mark said perhaps Pan would eat
the duck.  Bevis called him, but he did not need the call.  Gluttonous
epicure as he was, Pan, at a whistle from Bevis, would have left the
most marrowy bone in the world; but Bevis with a gun! why, Polly with a
broom-stick could not have stopped him.

Before they got to the willow bush it had been settled that Mark should
shoot at the jack, as the matchlock was loaded with shot, and Bevis
wanted to shoot with ball, and reserved his turn for the time when he
had made the new sight.  Bevis held Pan while Mark went forward.  The
jack was there, but Mark could not get the rest in a position to take a
steady aim, because the willow boughs interfered so.

So Bevis knelt down, still holding Pan, and Mark rested the long heavy
barrel on his shoulder.  The shot plunged into the water, and the jack
floated, blown a yard away, dead on his back; his head shattered, but
the long body untouched.  Pan fetched him out, and they laughed at the
spaniel, he looked so odd with the fish in his mouth.  Bevis wanted to
see the glade and the rabbit's burries, but Mark said, if the duck was
done, it would burn to a cinder, so they went home to their dinner.  By
the time they reached the teak-tree, the duck was indeed burned one

It was dry and hard for lack of basting, when they cut it up, but not
unsavoury; and what made it nicer was, that every now and then they
found shots--which their teeth had flattened--shots from their own gun.
These they saved, and Mark put them in his purse; there were six
altogether.  Mark gloried in the number, as it was a long shot at the
duck, and they showed that he had aimed straight.  The ale in the wooden
bottle was now stale, so they drank water, with a little sherry in it;
and then started to see the discovery Mark had made.  Pan went with
them.  The old spaniel had been there long before, for he found out the
rabbits the first stroll he took after landing from the Pinta, but could
not convey his knowledge to them.

Bevis marked out a tree, behind which they could wait in ambush to shoot
at the rabbits, as it was within easy range of their burries; and then,
as they felt it was now afternoon, they returned to the stockade, got
the telescope and went up on the cliff to watch for Charlie's signal.
The shadow of the gnomon on the dial had moved a good way since Bevis
set it up.  They had not the least idea of the hour, but somehow they
felt that it was afternoon.

Long habit makes us clocks, if we pause, or are forced to consult
ourselves.  Slow changes in the frame proceed till they are recognised
by the mind, or rather by the subtle connexion between the mind and the
body; for there seems a nexus, or medium, which conveys this kind of
eighth sense from the flesh to the mental consciousness.  Birds and
animals know the time without a clock or dial, and the months or seasons
almost to a day; and so, too, the human animal, if driven from the
conveniences of civilisation, which save him the trouble of thinking
soon reverts to these original and indefinable indications.

For instance (though in a different way), you can set the clock of your
senses to awake exactly at any hour you choose in the morning.  If you
put your watch aside, reversing the process, and listen to the senses,
they will tell you when it is afternoon.

The sandy summit of the cliff was very warm, and the bramble bushes were
not high enough to give them any shade; so that, to escape the sun, they
reclined on the ground in front of the young oak-tree, and between it
and the edge.  Bevis looked through the telescope, and could see the
sand-martins going in and out of their holes in the distant quarry.

Charlie was not on the hill, or, if so, he was behind a sycamore and out
of sight; but they knew he had not yet made the signal, because the herd
of cows was down by the hollow oak, some standing in the water.  They
had not yet been called by the milkers.  Sweeping the shore of Fir-Tree
Gulf, and down the Mozambique to the projecting bluff which prevented
farther view, he saw a crow on the sand, and another perched on a rail;
another sign that there was no one about.

"Any savages?" said Mark.

"Not one."

"Proas hauled up somewhere out of sight."

Mark carefully felt his way to the very verge, and there sat with his
legs dangling over.  He said the cliff was quite safe; and Bevis joined
him.  Underneath they could see deep into the water; but though so
still, they could not distinguish the bottom.  Clear at the surface, the
water seemed to thicken to a dense shadow, which could not be seen
through.  It was deep there; they thought they should like a dive, only
it was too far for them to plunge.  There was a ball of thistledown on
the surface, floating on the tips of its delicate threads; the spokes
with which it flies as a wheel rolls.

"How did the rabbits--I mean the kangaroos--get here?" said Bevis
presently.  "I don't think they could swim so far."

"Savages might bring them," said Mark.  "But they don't very often carry
pets with them: they eat everything so."

"Nibbling men like goats nibbling hedges," said Bevis.  "We must take
care: but how did the kangaroos get on the island?"

"It is curious," said Mark.  "Perhaps it wasn't always an island--joined
to the mainland and the river cut a way through the isthmus."

"Or a volcano blew it up," said Bevis.  "We will see if we can find the

"But it will be gone out now."

"O! yes.  All those sort of things happened when there was no one to see

"Before we lived."

"Or anybody else."

A large green dragon-fly darted to and fro now under their feet and
between them and the water; now overhead, now up to the top of the oak,
and now round the cliff and back again; weaving across and across a warp
and weft in the air.  As they sat still he came close, and they saw his
wings revolving, and the sunlight reflected from the membrane.  Every
now and then there was a slight snap, as he seized a fly, and ate it as
he flew: so eager was he that when a speck of wood-dust fell from the
oak, though he was yards away, he rushed at it and intercepted it before
it could reach the ground.  It was rejected, and he had returned whence
he started in a moment.

"The buffaloes are moving," said Mark.  "They're going up the hill.  Get
ready.  Here, put it on my shoulder."

The herd had begun to ascend the green slope from the water's edge,
doubtless in response to the milker's halloo which they could not hear
on the island.  Bevis rested the telescope on Mark's shoulder, and
watched.  In point of fact it was not so far but that they could have
seen any one by the quarry without a glass, but the telescope was

"There he is," said Mark.

Bevis, looking through the telescope, saw Charlie come out from behind a
sycamore, where he had been lying in the shadow, and standing on the
edge of the quarry, wave his white handkerchief three times, with an
interval between.

"It's all right.  White flag," said Bevis.  "He's looking.  He can't see
us, can he?"

"No, there are bushes behind us.  If we stood up against the sky perhaps
he might."

"I'll crawl to the dial," said Bevis, and he went on hands and knees to
the sundial, where he could stand up without being seen, as there were
brambles and the oak between him and the cliff.  He drew a line with his
pencil where the shadow of the gnomon fell on the circle, that was four
o'clock.  Mark came after, creeping too.

"We won't sit there again," said Mark, "when it's signal-time.  He keeps
staring.  You can see his face through the telescope.  We will keep
behind the tree."

"There ought to be a crow's nest up in it," said Bevis.  "Suppose we
make one.  Lash a stout stick across two boughs, or tie cords across and
half round, so as to be able to sit and watch up there nicely."

"So we will.  Then we can see if the savages are prowling round."

"The sedges are very thick that side," said Bevis, pointing to the
eastern shore where they had had such a struggle through them.  "They
would hide five thousand savages."

They went down to the hut, and Bevis made the sight for the matchlock.
The short spiral of copper wire answered perfectly, and he could now
take accurate aim.  But after he had put the powder in, and was just
going to put a bullet, he recollected the kangaroos.  If he shot off
much at a target with bullets at that time in the afternoon it would
alarm everything on the island, for the report would be heard all over
it.  Kangaroos and water-fowl are generally about more in the evening
than the morning, so he put off the trial with ball and loaded with

It was of no use going into ambush till the shadows lengthened, so he
set about getting the tea while Mark sawed off two posts, and drove them
into the ground at one side of the doorway of the hut.  Each post had a
cross-piece at the top, and the two boards were placed on these, forming
a table.  Bevis made four dampers, and at Mark's suggestion buried a
number of potatoes in the embers of the fire, so as to have them baked
for supper, and save more cooking.

The mushrooms were saved for breakfast, and the jack, which was about
two pounds' weight, would do for dinner.  When he had finished the
table, Mark went to the teak-tree, and fetched the two poles that had
been set up there for the awning.  These he erected by the table, and
stretched the rug from them over the table, fastening the other two
edges to the posts of the hut.

They had found the nights so warm that more than one rug was
unnecessary, and the other could be spared for a permanent awning under
which to sit at table.  Some tea was put aside to be drunk cold, miner
fashion, and it was then time to go shooting.  Mark was to have the gun,
but he would not go by himself, Bevis must accompany him.

They had to go some distance round to get at the glade, and made so much
noise pushing aside branches, and discussing as to whether they were
going the right way, that when they reached it if any kangaroos had been
out feeding, they had all disappeared.

"I will bring the axe," said Bevis, "and blaze the trees, then we shall
know the way in a minute."

Fixing the rest so that he could command the burries on that side of the
knoll, Mark sat down under the ash-tree they had previously selected,
and leaned the heavy matchlock on the staff.  They chose this tree
because some brake fern grew in front of it and concealed them.  Pan had
now come to understand this manner of hunting, and he lay down at once,
and needed no holding.  Bevis extended himself at full length on his
back just behind Mark, and looked up at the sky through the ash

The flies would run over his face, though Mark handed him a frond of
fern to swish them with, so he partly covered himself with his
handkerchief.  The handkerchief was stretched across his ear like the
top of a drum, and while he was lying so quiet a fly ran across the
handkerchief there, and he distinctly heard the sound of its feet.  It
was a slight rustle, as if its feet caught a little of the surface of
the handkerchief.  This happened several times.

The sun being now below the line of the tree-tops, the glade was in the
shadow, except the top of the knoll, up which the shadow slowly rose
like a tide as the sun declined.  Now the edge of the shadow reached a
sand-heap thrown out from a burrow; now a thicker bunch of grass; then a
thistle; at last it slipped over the top in a second.

Mark could see three pairs of tiny, sharp-pointed ears in the grass.  He
knew these were young rabbits, or kangaroos, too small for eating.  They
were a difficulty, they were of no use, but pricked up and listened, if
he made the least movement, and if they ran in would stop larger ones
from coming out.  There was something moving in the hazel stoles across
the glade which he could not make out, and he could not ask Bevis to
look and see because of these minute kangaroos.

Ten minutes afterwards a squirrel leaped out from the hazel, and began
to dart hither and thither along the sward, drawing his red tail softly
over the grass at each arching leap as lightly as Jack drew the tassel
of his whip over his mare's shoulder when he wished to caress and soothe
her.  Another followed, and the two played along the turf, often hidden
by bunches of grass.

Mark dared not touch Bevis or tell him, for he fancied a larger rabbit
was sitting on his haunches at the mouth of a hole fringed with fern.
Bevis under his handkerchief listened to Pan snapping his teeth at the
flics, and looked up at the sky till four parrots (wood-pigeons) came
over, and descended into an oak not far off.  The oak was thick with
ivy, and was their roost-tree, though they did not intend to retire yet.

Presently he saw a heron floating over at an immense height.  His wings
moved so slowly he seemed to fly without pressure on the air--as slowly
as a lady fans herself when there is no one to coquet with.  The heron
did not mean to descend to the New Sea, he was bound on a voyage which
he did not wish to complete till the dusk began, hence his deliberation.
From his flight you might know that there was a mainland somewhere in
that direction.

Bang!  Mark ran to the knoll, but Pan was there before him, and just in
time to seize a wounded kangaroo by the hindquarter as he was paddling
into a hole by the fore paws.  Mark had seen the rabbit behind the
fringe of fern move, and so knew it really was one, and so gently had he
got the matchlock into position, moving it the sixteenth of an inch at a
time, that Bevis did not know he was aiming.  By the new sight he
brought the gun to bear on a spot where he thought the rabbit's shoulder
must be, for he could not see it, but the rabbit had moved, and was
struck in the haunch, and would have struggled out of reach had not Pan
had him.

The squirrel had disappeared, and the four parrots had flown at the

"This island is full of things," said Bevis, when Mark told him about
the squirrel.  "You find something new every hour, and I don't know what
we shan't find at last.  But you have had all the shooting and killed

"Well, so I have," said Mark.  "The duck, and the jack, and the
kangaroo.  You _must_ shoot something next."


End of Volume Two.

Volume Three, Chapter I.


They returned to the hut and prepared the kangaroo and the fish for
boiling on the morrow; the fish was to be coiled up in the saucepan, and
the kangaroo in the pot.  Pan had the paunch, and with his great brown
eyes glaring out of his head with gluttony, made off with it to his own
private larder, where, after eating his full, he buried the rest.  Pan
had his own private den behind a thicket of bramble, where he kept some
bones of a duck, a bacon bone, and now added this to his store.  Here he
retired occasionally from civilisation, like the king of the Polynesian
island, to enjoy nature, away from the etiquette of his attendance at
court on Bevis and Mark.

Next, Mark with one of the old axes they had used to excavate the
store-room, cut a notch in the edge of the cave, where it opened on the
hut, large enough to stand the lantern in, as the chest would be
required for the raft.  They raked the potatoes out of the ashes, and
had them for supper, with a damper, the last fragment of a duck, and
cold tea, like gold-diggers.

Bevis now recollected the journal he had proposed to keep, and got out
the book, in which there was as yet only one entry, and that a single
word, "Wednesday."  He set it on the table under the awning, with the
lantern open before him.  Outside the edge of the awning the moon filled
the courtyard with her light.

"Why, it's only Thursday now," said Mark.  "We've only been here one
full day, and it seems weeks."

"Months," said Bevis.  "Perhaps this means Wednesday last year."

"Of course: this is next year to that.  How we must have altered!  Our
friends would not know us."

"Not even our mothers," said Bevis.

"Nor our jolly old mokes and governors."

"Shot a kangaroo," said Bevis, writing; "shot a duck and a jack--No.
Are they jacks?  That's such a common name?"

"No; not jacks: jack-sharks."

"No; sun-fish: they're always in the sun."

"Yes; sun-fish."

"Shot a sun-fish: saw two squirrels, and a heron, and four parrots--"

"And a kingfisher--"

"Halcyon," said Bevis, writing it down--"a beautiful halcyon; made a
table and a sun-dial.  I must go up presently and mark the meridian by
the north star."

"Saw one savage."

"Who was that?"

"Why, Charlie."

"O yes, one savage; believe there are five thousand in the jungle on the

"Seven thousand miles from anywhere.  Put it down," said Mark.

"Twenty degrees north latitude; right.  There, look; half a page

"We ought to wash some sand to see if there's any gold," said Mark--"in
a cradle, you know."

"So we did.  We ought to have looked in the duck's gizzard; tiny nuggets
get in gizzards sometimes."

"Everything goes to the river beyond the weeds," said Mark; "that ought
to be written."

"Does everything go to the river?"

"Everything.  While I was fishing I saw them all come back to Serendib
from it."

"We must make haste with the raft."

"Like lightning," said Mark.

"Let me see," said Bevis, leaning his arm on the table and stroking his
hair with the end of the penholder.  "There are blue gum trees, and
palms, and banyans."

"Reeds--they're canes."

"Sedges are papyrus."

"The big bulrushes are bamboos."  He meant the reed-mace.

"Yes, bamboos.  I've put it down.  There ought to be a list of
everything that grows here--cedars of course; that's something else.
Huge butterflies--"

"Very huge."

"Heaps of flies."

"And a tiger somewhere."

"Then there ought to be the names of all the fossils, and metals, and if
there's any coal," said Bevis; "and when we have the raft we must dredge
up the anemones and pearl oysters, and--"

"And write down all the fish."

"And everything.  The language of the natives will be a bother.  I must
make a new alphabet for it.  Look! that will do for A,"--he made a tiny
circle; "that's B, two dots."

"They gurgle in their throats," said Mark.

"That's a gurgle," said Bevis, making a long stroke with a dot over and
under it; "and they click with their tongues against the roofs of their
mouths.  No: it's awkward to write clicks.  I know: there, CK, that's
for click, and this curve under it means a tongue--the way you're to put
it to make a click."

"Click!  Click!"


"Then there's the names of the idols," said Mark.  "We'd better find

"You can cut some," said Bevis; "cut them with your knife out of a
stick, and say they're models, as they wouldn't let you take the real
ones.  The names; let's see--Jog."


"Hick-kag; I've put it down.  Jog and Hick-kag are always quarrelling,
and when they hit one another, that's thunder.  That's what they say."


"Natives are always noodles."

"But they can do one thing capital though."

"What's that?"

"Stick up together."

"How?  Why?"

"If you take a hatchet and chop a big notch in them, they stick up
together again directly."

"Join up."

"Like glue."

"Then the thing is, how did the savages get here?  Nobody has ever been
here before us; now where did they come from?  There are sure to be
grand ruins in the jungle somewhere," said Bevis, "all carved, and
covered with inscriptions."

"Huge trees growing on the top."

"Magic signs chipped out on stones, and books made of string with knots
instead of writing."

Kaak! kaak!  A heron was descending.  The unearthly noise made them look

"Are there any tidal waves?" said Mark.

"Sometimes--a hundred feet high.  But the thing is how did they get
here?  How did anybody ever get anywhere?"

"It's very crooked," said Mark, "very crooked: you can't quite see it,
can you?  Suppose you go and do the sun-dial: I'm sleepy."

"Well, go to bed; I can do it."

"Good-night!" said Mark.  "Lots of chopping to do to-morrow.  We ought
to have brought a grindstone for the axes.  You have got the plan ready
for the raft?"

"Quite ready."

Mark went into the hut, placed the lantern in the niche, and threw
himself on the bed.  In half a minute he was firm asleep.  Bevis went
out of the courtyard, round outside the fence, and up on the cliff to
the sun-dial.  The stars shone brighter than it is usually thought they
do when there is no moon; but in fact it is not so much the moon as the
state of the atmosphere.  There was no haze in the dry air, and he could
see the Pole Star distinctly.

He sat down--as the post on which the dial was supported was low--on the
southern side, with it between him and the north.  He still had to stoop
till he had got the tip of the gnomon to cover the North Star.  Closing
one eye, as if aiming, he then put his pencil on the dial in the circle
or groove scratched by the compass.  The long pencil was held upright in
the groove, and moved round till it intercepted his view of the star.
The tip of the gnomon, the pencil, and the Pole Star were in a direct
line, in a row one behind the other.

To make sure, he raised his head and looked over the gnomon and pencil
to the star, when he found that he had not been holding the pencil
upright; it leaned to the east, and made an error to the west in his
meridian.  "It ought to be a plumb-line," he thought.  "But I think it's
straight now."

He stooped again, and found the gnomon and pencil correct, and pressing
on the pencil hard, drew it towards him out of the groove a little way.
By the moonlight when he got up he could see the mark he had left, and
which showed the exact north.  To-morrow he would have to draw a line
from that mark straight to the gnomon, and when the shadow fell on that
line it would be noon.  With the fixed point of noon and the fixed point
of four o'clock, he thought he could make the divisions for the rest of
the hours.

The moonlight cast a shadow to the east of the noon-line, as she had
crossed the meridian.  Looking up, he saw the irregular circle of the
moon high in the sky, so brilliant that the scored relievo work enchased
upon her surface was obscured by the bright light reflected from it.

Behind him numerous lights glittered in the still water, near at hand
they were sharp clean points, far away they were short bands of light
drawn towards him.  Bevis went to the young oak and sat down under it.
Cassiopeia fronted him, and Capella; the Northern Crown, was faint and
low; but westward great Arcturus shone, though the moon had taken the
redness from him.  The cross of Cygnus was lying on its side as it was
carried through the eastern sky; beneath it the Eagle's central star
hung over the Nile.  Low in the south, over the unknown river Antares,
too, had lost his redness.

Up through the branches of the oak he saw Lyra, the purest star in the
heavens, white as whitest and clearest light may be, gleaming at the
zenith of the pale blue dome.  But just above the horizon northwards
there was a faint white light, the faintest aurora, as if another moon
was rising there.  By these he knew his position, and that he was
looking the same way as if he had been gazing from the large northern
window of the parlour at home, or if he had been lying on the green path
by the strawberries, as he sometimes did in the summer evenings.

Then the North Star, minute but clear--so small, and yet chosen for the
axle and focus of the sky, instead of sun-like Sirius--the North Star
always shone just over the group of elms by the orchard.  Summer and
winter, spring and autumn, it was always there, always over the elms--
whether they were reddening with the buds and flowers of February,
whether they were dull green now in the heats of August, whether they
were yellow in October.

Dick and his Team, whose waggon goes backwards, swung round it like a
stone in a sling whirled about the shoulders.  Sometimes the tail of the
Bear, where Dick bestrides his second horse, hung down behind the elms
into the vapour of the horizon.  Sometimes the Pointers were nearly
overhead.  If they were hidden by a cloud, the Lesser Bear gave a point;
or you could draw a line through Cassiopeia, and tell the North by her
chair of stars.

The comets seemed to come within the circle of Bootes--Arcturus you
always know is some way beyond the tail of the Bear.  The comets come
inside the circle of the stars that never set.  The governor had seen
three or four appear there in his time, just over the elms under the
Pole.  Donati's, which perhaps you can remember, came there--a tiny
thing twelve inches long from nucleus to tail to look at, afterwards the
weird sign the world stood amazed at.  Then there was another not long
after, which seemed to appear at once as a broad streak across the sky.

Like the sketches in old star-maps, it did indeed cross the whole sky
for a night or two, but went too quickly for the world to awake at
midnight and wonder at.  Lately two more have come in the enchanted
circle of the stars that never set.

All the stars from Arcturus to Capella came about the elms by the
orchard; as Arcturus went down over the place of sunset in autumn,
Capella began to shine over another group of elms--in the meadow to the
north-east.  Capella is sure to be seen, because it begins to become
conspicuous just as people say the sky is star-lit as winter sends the
first frost or two.  But Capella is the brightest star in the northern
sky in summer, and it always came up by the second or north-east group
of elms.

Between these two groups of tall trees--so tall and thick that they were
generally visible even on dark nights--the streamers of the Aurora
Borealis shot up in winter, and between them in summer the faint
reflection of the midnight sun, like the lunar dawn which precedes the
rising of the moon always appeared.  The real day-dawn--the white foot
of Aurora--came through the sky-curtain a little to the right of the
second group, and about over a young oak in the hedge across the road,
opposite the garden wall.

When the few leaves left on this young oak were brown, and rustled in
the frosty night, the massy shoulder of Orion came heaving up through
it--first one bright star, then another; then the gleaming girdle, and
the less definite scabbard; then the great constellation stretched
across the east.  At the first sight of Orion's shoulder Bevis always
felt suddenly stronger, as if a breath of the mighty hunter's had come
down and entered into him.

He stood upright; his frame enlarged; his instep lifted him as he
walked, as if he too could swing the vast club and chase the lion from
his lair.  The sparkle of Orion's stars brought to him a remnant of the
immense vigour of the young world, the frosty air braced his sinews, and
power came into his arms.

As the constellation rose, so presently new vigour too entered into the
trees, the sap moved, the buds thrust forth, the new leaf came, and the
nightingale travelling up from the south sang in the musical April
nights.  But this was when Orion was south, and Sirius flared like a
night-sun over the great oak at the top of the Home Field.

Sirius rose through the young oak opposite the garden wall, passed
through a third group of elms, by the rick-yard, gleaming through the
branches--hung in the spring above the great oak at the top of the Home
Field, and lowered by degrees westwards behind the ashes growing at that
end of the New Sea by the harbour.  After it Arcturus came, and lorded
the Midsummer zenith, where now lucent Lyra looked down upon him.

Up, too, through the little oak came Aldebaran the red Bull's-Eye, the
bent rod of Aries, and the cluster of the Pleiades.  The Pleiades he
loved most, for they were the first constellation he learned to know.
The flickering Pleiades, the star-dusted spot in Cancer, and Leo, came
in succession.  Antares, the harvest-star, scarcely cleared the great
oak southwards in summer.  He got them all from a movable planisphere,
the very best star-maps ever made, proceeding step by step, drawing
imaginary lines from one to the other, as through the Pointers to the
Pole, and so knew the designs on our northern dome.

He transferred them from the map to the trees.  The north group of elms,
the north-east group, the east oak, the south-east elms, the southern
great oak, the westward ashes, the orchard itself north-west,--through
these like a zodiac the stars moved, all east to west, except the
enchanted circle about the Pole.  For the Bear and the Lesser Bear
sometimes seemed to move from west to east when they were returning,
swinging under to what would have been their place of rising.

Fixing them thus by night, he knew where many were by day; the Pole Star
was always over the north elms--when the starlings stayed and whistled
there before they flew to the housetop, when the rooks called there
before the sun set on their way home to the jungle, when the fieldfares
in the gloomy winter noon perched up there.  The Pole Star was always
over the elms.

In the summer mornings the sun rose north of east, between the second
group of elms and the little oak--so far to the north that he came up
over the vale instead of the downs.  The morning beams then lit up the
northern or outer side of the garden wall, and fell aslant through the
narrow kitchen window, under the beam of the ceiling.  In the evening
the sun set again northwards of the orchard, between it and the north
elms, having come round towards the place of rising, and shining again
on the outside of the garden wall, so that there seemed but a few miles
between.  He did not sink, but only dipped, and the dawn that travelled
above him indicated his place, moving between the north and north-east
elms, and overcoming the night by the little oak.  The sun did not rise
and sink; he travelled round an immense circle.

In the winter mornings the sun rose between the young oak and the third
group of elms, red and vapour hung, and his beams presently shot through
the window to the logs on the kitchen hearth.  He sank then between the
south-westerly ashes and the orchard, rising from the wall of the Downs,
and sinking again behind it.  At noon he was just over, only a little
higher than the great southern oak.  All day long the outer side of the
garden wall was in shadow, and at night the northern sky was black to
the horizon.  The travelling dawn was not visible: the sun rose and
sank, and was only visible through half of the great circle.  The cocks
crowed at four in the afternoon, and the rooks hastened to the jungle.

But by-and-by, when the giant Orion shone with his full width grasping
all the sky, then in the mornings the sun's rising began to shift
backwards--first to the edge of the third group of elms, then straight
up the road, then to the little oak.  In the afternoon, the place of
setting likewise shifted backwards to the north, and came behind the
orchard.  At noon he was twice as high as the southern oak, and every
day at noontide the shadows gradually shortened.  The nightingale sang
in the musical April night, the cowslips opened, and the bees hummed
over the meadows.

Last of all, the sweet turtle-doves cooed and wooed; beauteous June
wearing her roses came, and the sun shone at the highest point of his
great circle.  Then you could not look at him unless up through the
boughs of a tree.  Round the zodiac of the elms, and the little oak, the
great oak, the ashes, and the orchard, the sun revolved; and the house,
and the garden path by the strawberries--the best place to see--were in
the centre of his golden ring.

The sward on the path on which Bevis used to lie and gaze up in the
summer evening, was real, and tangible; the earth under was real; and so
too the elms, the oak, the ash-trees, were real and tangible--things to
be touched, and known to be.  Now like these, the mind, stepping from
the one to the other, knew and almost felt the stars to be real and not
mere specks of light, but things that were there by day over the elms as
well as by night, and not apparitions of the evening departing at the
twittering of the swallows.  They were real, and the touch of his mind
felt to them.

He could not, as he reclined on the garden path by the strawberries,
physically reach to and feel the oak; but he could feel the oak in his
mind, and so from the oak, stepping beyond it, he felt the stars.  They
were always there by day as well as by night.  The Bear did not sink,
the sun in summer only dipped, and his reflection--the travelling dawn--
shone above him, and so from these unravelling out the enlarging sky, he
felt as well as knew that neither the stars nor the sun ever rose or
set.  The heavens were always around and with him.  The strawberries and
the sward of the garden path, he himself reclining there, were moving
through, among, and between the stars; they were as much by him as the
strawberry leaves.

By day the sun, as he sat down under the oak, was as much by him as the
boughs of the great tree.  It was by him like the swallows.

The heavens were as much a part of life as the elms, the oak, the house,
the garden and orchard, the meadow and the brook.  They were no more
separated than the furniture of the parlour, than the old oak chair
where he sat, and saw the new moon shine over the mulberry-tree.  They
were neither above nor beneath, they were in the same place with him;
just as when you walk in a wood the trees are all about you, on a plane
with you, so he felt the constellations and the sun on a plane with him,
and that he was moving among them as the earth rolled on, like them,
with them, in the stream of space.

The day did not shut off the stars, the night did not shut off the sun;
they were always there.  Not that he always thought of them, but they
were never dismissed.  When he listened to the greenfinches sweetly
calling in the hawthorn, or when he read his books, poring over the
Odyssey, with the sunshine on the wall, they were always there; there
was no severance.  Bevis lived not only out to the finches and the
swallows, to the far-away hills, but he lived out and felt out to the

It was living, not thinking.  He lived it, never thinking, as the
finches live their sunny life in the happy days of June.  There was
magic in everything, blades of grass and stars, the sun and the stones
upon the ground.

The green path by the strawberries was the centre of the world, and
round about it by day _and_ night the sun circled in a magical golden

Under the oak on New Formosa that warm summer night, Bevis looked up as
he reclined at the white pure light of Lyra, and forgot everything but
the consciousness of living, feeling up to and beyond it.  The earth and
the water, the oak, went away; he himself went away: his mind joined
itself and was linked up through ethereal space to its beauty.

Bevis, as you know did not think: we have done the thinking, the
analysis for him.  He felt and was lost in the larger consciousness of
the heavens.

The moon moved, and with it the shadow of the cliff on the water
beneath, a planet rose eastwards over their new Nile, water-fowl clucked
as they flew over.

Kaak!  Kaak!  Another heron called and his discordant piercing yell
sounded over the water, seeming to penetrate to the distant and shadowy
shores.  The noise awoke him, and he went down to the hut.  Mark was
firm asleep, the lantern burned in the niche; Pan had been curled up by
the bedside, but lifted his head and wagged his tail, thumping the floor
as he entered.  Bevis let down the curtain closing the doorway, put out
the lantern, and in three minutes was as firm as Mark.  After some time,
Pan rose quietly and went out, slipping under the curtain, which fell
back into its place when he had passed.

Volume Three, Chapter II.


They did not get up till the sun was high, and when Mark lifted the
curtain a robin flew from the table just outside, where he had been
picking up the crumbs, across to the gate-post in the stockade.  The
gate had not been shut--Pan was lying by it under the fence, which cast
a shadow in the morning and evening.

"Pan!" said Mark; the lazy spaniel wagged his tail, but did not come.

"I shall go and finish the sun-dial while you get the breakfast," said
Bevis.  It was Mark's turn to-day, and as he went out at the gate he
stooped and patted Pan, who looked up with speaking affection in his
eyes, and stretched himself to his full length in utter lassitude.

Bevis drew the line from the gnomon to the mark he had made the night
before, this was the noon or meridian.  Then he drew another from the
mark where the shadow had fallen at four o'clock in the afternoon.  The
space between the two he divided into four equal divisions and drew
lines for one, two, and three o'clock.  They were nearly two inches
apart, and having measured them exactly he added four more beyond, up to
eight o'clock, as he thought the sun set about eight; and then seven
more on the other side where the shadow would fall in the morning, as he
supposed the sun rose about five.

His hours, therefore, ranged from five till eight, and he added half
lines to show the half-hours.  When it was done the shadow of the gnomon
touched the nine, so he shouted to Mark that it was nine o'clock.  He
knew that his dial was not correct, because the hour lines ought to be
drawn so as to show the time every day of the year, and his would only
show it for a short while.

How often he had drawn a pencil-mark along the edge of the shadow on the
window-frame in the south window of the parlour!  In the early spring,
while the bitter east wind raged, he used to sit in the old oak chair at
the south window, where every now and then the warm sunshine fell from a
break in the ranks of the marching clouds.  Out of the wind the March
sun was warm and pleasant, and while it lasted he dreamed over his
books, his Odyssey, his Faust, his Quixote, his Shakespeare's poems.

About eleven the sunshine generally came, and he drew a line on the
frame to mark the hour.  But in two days the verge of the shadow had
gone on, and at eleven left the pencil-mark behind.  He marked it again
and again, it went on as the sun, coming up higher and higher, described
a larger ring.  So with his pencil-lines on the window-frame he measured
the spring and graduated the coming of summer, till the eggs in the
goldfinch's nest in the apple-tree were hard set.  From this he knew
that his sun-dial was not correct, for as the sun now each day described
a circle slightly less than before, the shadow too would change and the
error increase.  Still the dial would divide the day for them, and they
could work and arrange their plans by it.

Had they had the best chronometer ever made it would have been of no
further use.  All time is artificial, and their time was correct to

Mark shouted that breakfast was ready, so he went down, and they sat at
the table under the awning.

"Pan's been thieving," said Mark.  "There was half a damper on the table
last night, and it was gone this morning, and two potatoes which we
left, and I put the skin of the kangaroo on the fence, and that's

"He couldn't eat the skin, could he?" said Bevis.  "Pan, come here,

"Look at him," said Mark, "he's stuffed so full he can hardly crawl--if
he was hungry he would come quick."

"So he would.  Pan, you old rascal!  What have you done with the
kangaroo skin, sir?"

Pan wagged his tail and looked from one to the other; the sound of their
voices was stern, but he detected the goodwill in it, and that they were
not really angry.

"And the damper?"

"And the potatoes?  And just as if you could eat leather and fur, sir!"

Pan put his fore-paws on Bevis's knee, and looked up as if he had done
something very clever.

"Pooh!  Get away," said Bevis, "you're a false old rascal.  Mark, cut
him some of that piece of bacon presently."

"So I will--and I'll put the things higher up," said Mark.  "I'll drive
some nails into the posts and make a shelf, then you'll be done, sir."

Pan, finding there was nothing more for him to eat, walked slowly back
to the fence and let himself fall down.

"Too lazy to lie down properly," said Bevis.

After breakfast they put up the shelf, and placed the eatables on it out
of Pan's reach, and then taking their towels started for their bath.

"It might have been a rat," said Mark; "that looks gnawn."  He kicked
the jack's head which had been cut off, being shattered with the shot,
and thrown down outside the gate.  "But Pan's very full, else he would
come," for the spaniel did not follow as usual.  So soon as they had
gone the robin returned to the table, took what he liked, ventured into
the hut for a minute, and then perched on the fence above Pan before
returning to the wood.

Bevis and Mark swam and waded to Serendib again.  There was a light
ripple this morning from the south-east, and a gentle breeze which
cooled the day.  They said they would hasten to construct the raft, so
as to be able to shoot the water-fowl, but Bevis wanted first to try the
matchlock with ball now he had fitted it with a sight.  He fired three
times at the teak-tree, to which Mark pinned a small piece of paper as a
bull's-eye, and at thirty yards he hit the tree very well, but not the
paper.  The bullets were all below, the nearest about four inches from
the bull's-eye.  Still it was much better shooting.

He then loaded the gun with shot, and took it and a hatchet--the two
were a good load--intending to look in the wood for suitable timber, and
keep the gun by him for a possible shot at something.  But just as he
had got ready, and Pan shaking himself together began to drag his idle
body after him, he thought Mark looked dull.  It was Mark's turn to
cook, and he had already got the fire alight under the teak.

"I won't go," he said; "I'll stop and help you.  Things are stupid by

"Fishing is very stupid, by yourself," said Mark.

"Let's make a rule," said Bevis.  "Everybody helps everybody instead of
going by themselves."

"So we will," said Mark, only too glad, and the new rule was agreed to,
but as they could not both shoot at once, it was understood that in this
the former contract was to stand, and each was to have the matchlock a
day to himself.  The pot and the saucepan, with the kangaroo and the
jack were soon on, and they found that boiling had one great advantage
over roasting, they could pile on sticks and go away for some time,
instead of having to watch and turn the roast.

They found a good many small trees and poles such as they wanted not far
from home, and among the rest three dead larches which had been snapped
by a tornado.  These dry trees were lighter and would float better than
green timber.  For the larger beams, or foundation of the raft, they
chose aspen and poplar, and for the cross-joists firs, and by
dinner-time they had collected nearly enough.

It was half-past one by the sun-dial when Mark began to prepare the
table; Bevis had gone to haul the catamaran planks up to the place where
the raft was to be built.  Under one of the planks, as he turned it
over, there was a little lizard; the creature at first remained still as
if dead, then not being touched ran off quickly, grasping the grass
sideways with its claws as a monkey grasps a branch.  With the end of a
plank under each arm Bevis hauled these across to the other materials.

This time they had a nicer meal than any they had prepared: fish and
game; the kangaroo was white and juicy, almost as white as a chicken, as
a young summer rabbit is if cooked soon after it is shot.  It is the
only time indeed when a rabbit does not taste like a rabbit.  If you
tasted a young one fresh shot in summer, you would not care to eat them
in winter, and discover that the frost improvement theory is an
invention of poulterers who cannot keep their stock unless it is
bitterly cold.  There was sufficient left for supper, and a bone or two
for Pan.  The chopping they had done made them idle, and they agreed not
to work again till the evening; they lounged about like Pan till the
time appointed to look for Charlie's signal.

When they went up on the cliff it was a quarter-past three by the dial,
so they sat down in the shade of the oak where the brambles behind would
prevent their being seen against the sky line.  After awhile Mark crept
on all fours to the sun-dial, and said it was half-past three, and
suddenly exclaimed that the time was going backwards.

The shadow of the gnomon slipped the wrong way; he looked up and saw a
light cloud passing over the sun.  Bevis had often seen the same thing
in March, sitting by the southern window, when the shadow ran back from
his pencil-line on the window-frame as the clouds began again to cover
up the blue roof.  Charlie was rather late to-day, but he gave the
signal according to promise: they saw him look a long while and then
move away.

Presently, while Mark was preparing the tea, Bevis got the matchlock to
practise again.  They were always ready for tea, and it is a curious
fact that those who live much out of doors and work hard, like
gold-diggers abroad, and our own reapers at home labouring among the
golden wheat, prefer it to anything while actually engaged and in the
midst of their toil; but not afterwards.

Bevis set up the rest in the gateway of the stockade, and took aim at
the piece of paper pinned on the teak-tree, which was between fifty and
sixty yards distant.  Twice he fired and missed the teak: then he let
Mark try, and Mark also missed; and a third time he fired himself.  None
of the four bullets struck either the tree or the branches; so, though
they could hit it at thirty yards, they could not rely on their gun at

Directly after tea they began to work again at the preparations for the
raft, cutting some more poles and sawing up those they had already into
the proper lengths.  Sawing is very hard work, causing a continual
strain upon the same muscles, with no change of position as possible
while chopping, and they were obliged to do it by shifts, one working so
long and then the other.  The raft was to be twelve feet long and five
wide.  The beams for the foundation gave them most trouble to procure,
being largest, and not every tree was exactly the size they wished.

They laboured on into the moonlight, which grew brighter every night as
the moon increased, and did not cease till all the materials were ready;
the long beams of aspen and poplar placed side by side (on rollers) and
near these short cross-pieces of fir with holes bored for the nails,
then a row of long fir poles, and the short lengths of plank to form the
deck.  Everything was just ready for fitting together.  It cost them
some self-denial to wait till all was thus prepared instead of at once
beginning to nail the frame together.

There is something in driving in a nail tempting to the wrist; when the
board is ready, the gimlet-hole made, and the hammer at hand, the
physical mind desires to complete the design.  They resisted it, because
they knew that they should really complete the raft much quicker by
getting every portion of the frame ready before commencing to fix it.
They did not recognise how tired they were till they started for the
hut; their backs, so long bent over the sawing, had stiffened in that
position, and pained them as they straightened the sinews to stand
upright; their fingers were crooked from continually grasping the
handles; they staggered about as they walked, for their stiff limbs were
not certain of foothold, and jerked them where the ground was uneven.

Mark sat down to light the fire in the courtyard, for they wanted some
more tea; Bevis sat by him.  They were dog-tired.  Looking in the larder
to lay out the supper, Mark saw the mushrooms which had been forgotten;
he hunted out the gridiron, and put two handsful of them on.  Now the
sight of these savoury mushrooms raised their fainting spirits more than
the most solid food, and they began to talk again.  While these were
doing, Bevis cut Pan a slice of the cooked bacon on the shelf; it was
rather fat, and pampered Pan, after mumbling it over in his chops,
carried it just outside the fence, and came back trying to look as if he
had eaten it.

With the mushrooms they made a capital supper, but they were still very
tired.  Bevis got out his journal, but he only wrote down "Friday," and
then put it away, remarking that he must soon write a letter home.  Even
cards could not amuse them, they were so tired; but the cry of a heron
roused Bevis a little, and he took the matchlock and loaded it with
shot, to see if he could shoot it and get the plumes.

"Heron's plumes were thought a good deal of in our day where we lived,
you know.  Didn't the knights use to wear them?" he said.  "Herons are
very hard to shoot."

Mark came with him and the spaniel, and they walked softly down the
path, now well-worn, and peered over the moonlit water, but the heron
was not on the island, nor in sight.  He was probably on some of the
lesser islets among the shallows, so they returned home and immediately
went to bed, quite knocked up.  Pan curled round by the bedside for
about an hour, then he got up and slipped out under the curtain into the

In the morning when they went to bathe there was a mist over the water,
which curled along and gathered thicker in places, once quite hiding
Serendib, and then clearing away and drawing towards the unknown river.
The water was very warm.

They then began to nail the raft together.  On the long thick beams they
placed short cross-pieces of fir close together and touching; over these
long poles of fir lengthways, also touching; lastly, short planks across
making the deck.  There were thus four layers, for they knew that rafts
sink a good deal and float deep, especially when the wood is green, as
you may see a bough, or a tree-trunk in the brook quite half immersed as
it goes by on the current.  It was built on rollers, because Bevis,
consulting his book, read how Ulysses rigged his vessel:--

  And roll'd on levers, launch'd her in the deep.

And, reflecting, he foresaw that the raft being so heavy would be
otherwise difficult to move.

The spot where they had built her was a little below where Bevis leaped
on shore on the evening of the battle.  The ground sloped to the water,
which was rather deep.  By noon the raft was ready--for they had decided
to complete the rigging, bulwarks, and fittings when she was afloat--and
with levers they began to heave her down.

She moved slowly, rumbling and crushing the rollers into the sward.  By
degrees with a "Yeo!  Heave-ho!" at which Pan set up a barking, the raft
approached the water, and the forward part entered it.  The weight of
the rest prevented the front from floating, forcing it straight under
the surface till the water rose a third of the way along the deck.

"Yeo!  Heave-ho!"

Yow-wow-wow!  Pan, who had been idle all the morning lying on the
ground, jumped round and joined the chorus.

"Now!  Heave-ho!  She's going!  Now!"



"She'll slip away--right out!"

"So she will."

"Run for a rope."

"All right."

Mark ran for a piece of cord from the hut.  The raft as it were hung on
the edge more than half in and heaving up as the water began to float
her, and they saw that if they gave another push she would go out and
the impetus of her weight would carry her away from the shore out of
reach.  Mark soon returned with the cord, which was fastened to two
stout nails.



One strong heave with the levers and the raft slid off the last roller,
rose to the surface, the water slipping off the deck each side, and
floated.  Seizing the cord as it ran out, they brought her to, and Mark
instantly jumped on board.  He danced and kicked up his heels--Pan
followed him and ran round the edge of the raft, sniffing over at the
water.  The raft floated first-rate, and the deck, owing to the three
layers under it, was high above the surface.  These layers, too, gave
the advantage that they could walk to the very verge without depressing
it to the water.  Mark got off and held the cord while Bevis got on,
then they both shouted, "Serendib!"

They pushed off with long poles, like punting, Pan swam out so soon as
they had started, and was hauled on board.  A short way from shore the
channel was so deep the poles would not reach the bottom, but the raft
had way on her and continued to move, and paddling with the poles they
kept up the slow movement till they reached the shallows.  Thence to
Serendib they poled along, one each side.  The end of the raft crashed
in among the willow boughs, and the jerk as it grounded almost threw
them down.  Pan leaped off directly, and they followed, fastening the
raft by the cord or painter to the willows.

"Nothing but blue gums," said Mark, who led the way.  "What are these?"
pointing to the wild parsnips or "gix" which rose as high as their
heads, with hollow-jointed stalks and broad heads of minute white

"It's a new kind of bamboo," said Bevis.  "Listen!  Pan's hunting out
the moorhens again.  This is some kind of spice--you sniff--the air is
heavy with the scent, just as it always is in the tropics."

As they pushed along they shook the meadowsweet flowers which grew very
thickly, and the heavy perfume rose up.  In a willow stole or blue gum
Mark found the nest of a sedge bird, but empty, the young birds hatched
long since.

"Mind you don't step on a crocodile," said Mark, "you can't see a bit."

The ground was so matted with vegetation that their feet never touched
the earth at all, they trampled on grasses, rushes, meadowsweet, and
triangular fluted carex sedges.  Sometimes they approached the shore and
saw several empty nests of moorhens and coots, but just above the level
of the water.  Sometimes their uncertain course led them in the interior
to avoid thickets of elder.  If they paused a moment they could hear the
rustling as water-fowl rushed away.  Pan had gone beyond hearing now.
Presently they came on a small pool surrounded with sedges--a
black-headed bunting watched them from a branch opposite.

"No fish," said Bevis: they could see the bottom of the shallow water.
"Herons and kingfishers have had them of course."

Crashing through the new bamboos they at last reached the southern
extremity of the island, where the shallow sea was covered with the
floating leaves of weeds, over which blue dragon-flies flew to and fro.

"Everything's gone to the river again," said Mark; "and where's Pan?
He's gone too, I dare say."

A short bark in that direction in a few minutes made them look at an
islet round which reed-mace rose in a tall fringe, and there was Pan
creeping up out of the weeds, dragging his body after him on to the firm
ground.  He set up a great yelping on the islet.

"Something's been there," said Bevis.  "Perhaps it's the thing that
makes the curious wave.  Pan!  Pan!"--whistling.  Pan would not come: he
was too excited.  "We must come here in the evening," said Bevis, "and
make an ambush.  There's heaps of moorhens."

As there was nothing else to see on Serendib they worked a way between
the blue gums back to the raft, and re-embarked for New Formosa.  Just
before they landed Pan dashed into the water from Serendib and swam to
them.  He did not seem quite himself, he looked as if he had done
something out of the common and could not tell them.

"Was it a crocodile?" said Mark, stroking him.  Pan whined, as much as
to say, "I wish I could tell you," and then to give vent to his
excitement he rushed into the wood.

Volume Three, Chapter III.


After fastening the raft they returned towards the hut, for they were
hungry now, and knew it was late, when Pan set up such a tremendous
barking that they first listened, and then went to see.  The noise led
them to the green knoll where the rabbit burries were, and they saw Pan
running round under the great oak thickly grown with ivy, in which Bevis
had seen the wood-pigeons alight.

They went to the oak, it was very large and old, the branches partly
dead and hung with ivy; they walked round and examined the ground, but
could see no trace of anything.  Mark hurled a fragment of a dead bough
up into the ivy, it broke and came rustling down again, but nothing flew
out.  There did not seem to be anything in the tree.

"The squirrels," said Bevis, suddenly remembering.

"Why, of course," said Mark.  "How stupid of us--Pan, you're a donk."

They left the oak and again went homewards: now Pan had been quite quiet
while they were looking on the ground and up into the tree, but directly
he understood that they had given up the search he set up barking again
and would not follow.  At the hut Bevis went in to cut some rashers from
the bacon which had not been cooked and Mark ran up on the cliff to see
the time.

It was already two o'clock--the work on the raft and the voyage to
Serendib had taken up the morning.  Bevis showed Mark where some mice
had gnawed the edge of the uncooked bacon which had been lying in the
store-room on the top of a number of thing's.  Mark said once he found a
tomtit on the shelf pecking at the food they had left there, just like a
tomtit's impudence!

"Rashers are very good," said Bevis, "if you haven't got to cook them."
It was his turn, and he was broiling himself as well as the bacon.

"Macaroni eats his raw," said Mark.  They had often seen John Young
eating thick slices of raw bacon in the shed as he sat at luncheon.
"Horrible cannibal--he's worse than Pan, who won't touch it cooked."

He looked outside the gate--there was the slice of the cooked bacon
Bevis had cut for the spaniel lying on the ground.  Pan had not even
taken the trouble to put it in his larder.  But something else had
gnawed at it.

"A rat's been here," said Mark.  "Don't you remember the jack's head?"

"And mice in the cave," said Bevis.

"And a tomtit on the shelf."

"And a robin on the table."

"And a wagtail was in the court yesterday."

"A wren comes on the stockade."

"Spiders up there," said Mark, pointing to the corner of the hut where
there was a web.

"Tarantulas," said Bevis, "and mosquitoes in the evening."

"Everything comes to try and eat us up," said Mark.

The moment man takes up his residence all the creatures of the wood
throng round him, attracted by the crumbs from his hand, or the spoil
that his labour affords.  Hawks dart down on his poultry, weasels creep
in to the hen's eggs, mice traverse the house, rats hasten round the
sty, snakes come in for the milk, spiders for the flies, flies for the
sugar, toads crawl into the cellar, snails trail up the wall, gnats
arrive in the evening, robins, wrens, tomtits, wagtails enter the
courtyard, starlings and sparrows nest in the roof, swallows in the
chimney, martins under the eaves, rabbits in the garden among the
potatoes--a favourite cover with all game--blackbirds to the
cherry-trees, bullfinches to the fruit-buds, tomtits take the very bees
even, cats and dogs are a matter of course, still they live on man's

The sandy spot by the cliff had not been frequented by anything till the
cave was made and the hut built, and already the mice were with them,
and while Mark was saying that everything came to eat them up a wasp
flew under the awning and settled on the table.

"Frances ought to do this," said Bevis, hot and cross, as amateur cooks
always are.  "Here, give me some mushrooms, they'll be nice.  Don't you
wish she was here?"

"Frances!" said Mark in a tone of horror.  "No, that I don't!"

In the afternoon they did nothing but wait for Charlie's signal, which
he faithfully gave, and then they idled about till tea.  Pan did not
come back till tea, and then he wagged his tail and looked very

"What have you been doing, sir?" said Bevis.  Pan wagged and wagged and
gobbled up all the buttered damper they gave him.

"Now, just see," said Mark.  He got up and cut a slice of the cold
half-cooked bacon from the shelf.  Pan took it, rolled his great brown
eyes, showing the whites at the corners, wagged his tail very short like
the pendulum of a small clock, and walked outside the gate with it.
Then he came back and begged for more buttered damper.

After tea they worked again at the raft, putting in the bulwarks and
carried the chest down to it for the locker.  For a sail they meant to
use the rug which was now hung up for an awning, and to put up a roof
thatched with sedges in its place.  The sun sank before they had
finished, and they then got the matchlock--it was Mark's day--and went
into ambush by the glade to see if they could shoot another rabbit.  Pan
had to be tied and hit once or twice, he wanted to race after the

They sat quiet in ambush till they were weary, and the moon was shining
brightly, but the rabbits did not venture out.  The noise Pan had made
barking after the squirrels had evidently alarmed them, and they could
not forget it.

"Very likely he's been scratching at the burries too," whispered Bevis,
as the little bats flew round the glade, passing scarcely a yard in
front of them like large flies.  "He shan't leave us again like he did
this afternoon."

It was of no use to stay there any longer, so they went quietly round
the shore of the island, and seeing something move at the edge of the
weeds, though they could not distinguish what, for the willow boughs
hung over, Mark aimed and fired.  At the report they heard water-fowl
scuttling away, and running to the spot Pan brought out two moorhens,
one quite dead and the other wounded.

"There," said Bevis, "you've shot every single thing."

"Well, why don't you use shot?--you'll never kill anything with

"But I will," said Bevis; "I will hit something with bullets.  The
people in India can hit a sparrow, why can't I?  It's my turn

But after supper, bringing out his journal, he found to-morrow was

"No, I can't shoot till Monday.  Mamma would not like shooting on

"No--nor chopping."

"No," said Bevis, "we mustn't do any work."

All the while they were on the island they were, in principle,
disobedient, and crossing the wishes of the home authorities.  Yet they
resolved not to shoot on the Sunday, because the people at home would
not like it.  When Bevis had entered the launching of the raft and the
voyage to Serendib in the journal, they skinned the moorhens and
prepared them for cooking.

"This cooking is horrible," said Mark.

"Hateful," said Bevis; "I told you we ought to have Frances."

"O! no; she would want her own way.  She wants everything just as she
likes, and if she can't have it, she won't do anything."

"There, it's done," said Bevis.  "What we want is a slave."

"Of course--two or three slaves, to work and chop wood, and fetch the

"Hit them if they don't," said Bevis.

"Like we hit Pan."

"Tie them to a tree and lash them."



"Great marks on their backs."



They played two games at bezique under the awning, and drank the last
drop of sherry mixed with water.

"Everything's going," said Bevis.  "There's no more sherry, and more
than half the flour's gone, and Pan had the last bit of butter on the
damper at tea--"

"There ought to be roots on the island," said Mark.  "People eat roots
on islands."

"Don't think there are any here," said Bevis.  "This island is too old
for any to grow; it's like Australia, a kind of grey-bearded place with
nothing but kangaroos."

Soon afterwards they drew down the curtain and went to sleep.  As usual,
Pan waited till they were firm asleep, and then slipped out into the
moonlight.  He was lounging in the courtyard when they got up.  By the
sun-dial it was eight, and having had breakfast, and left the fire
banked up under ashes--wood embers keep alight a long time like that--
they went down to bathe.

"How quiet it is!" said Mark.  "I believe it's quieter."

"It does seem so," said Bevis.

The still water glittered under the sun as the light south-east air drew
over it, and they could hear a single lark singing on the mainland,
somewhere out of sight.

"Somehow we can swim ever so much better here than we used to at home,"
said Mark, as they were dressing again.

"Ever so much," said Bevis; "twice as far."  This was a fact, whether
from the continuous outdoor life, or from greater confidence now they
were entirely alone.

"How I should like to punch somebody!" said Mark, hitting out his fist.

"My muscles are like iron," said Bevis, holding out his arm.

"Well, they are hard," said Mark, feeling Bevis's arm.  So were his own.

"It's living on an island," said Bevis.  "There's no bother, and nobody
says you're not to do anything."

"Only there's the potatoes to clean.  What a nuisance they are!"

They began to dimly perceive that, perhaps, after all, women might be of
some use on the earth.  They had to go back to the hut to get the dinner

"The rats have been at the potatoes," said Bevis.  "Just look!"

Mark came, and saw where something had gnawed the potatoes.

"And lots are gone," he said.  "I'm sure there's a lot gone since

"Pan, why don't you kill the rats?" cried Bevis.  Pan looked up, as much
as to say, "Teach me my business, indeed."

"Bother!" said Mark.

"Bother!" said Bevis.


"Yah!"  They flung down knives and potatoes.

"Would the raft be wrong on Sunday?"

"Not if it was only a little bit," said Bevis.

"Just to Pearl Island?"

"No--that wouldn't hurt."

"Let the cooking stop."

"Come on."

Away they ran to the raft, and pushed off, making Pan come with them,
that he should not disturb the rabbits again.  The spaniel was so lazy,
he would not even follow them till he was compelled.  He sat gravely on
the raft by the chest, or locker, while they poled along the shore, for
it was too deep to pole in the middle of the channel.  But at the
southern end of New Formosa the water shoaled, and they could leave the
shore.  One standing one side, and one the other, they thrust the raft
along out among the islets, till they reached Pearl Island, easily
distinguished by the glittering mussel shells.

A summer snipe left the islet as they came near, circled round, and
approached again, but finding they were still there, sought another
strand.  Pan ran round the islet, sniffing at the water's edge, and
then, finding nothing, returned to the raft and sat down on his
haunches.  The water on one side of Pearl Island was not more than four
or five inches deep a long way out, and it was from this shelving sand
that the crows got the mussels.  They carried them up on the bank and
left the shells, which fell over open, and the wind blew the sand into
them.  They found one very large shell, a span long, and took it as

There was nothing else but a few small fossils like coiled snakes turned
to stone.  Next they poled across to the islet off the extremity of
Serendib, where Pan had made such a noise.  To get there they had to go
some distance round, as it was so shallow.  They poled the raft in among
the reed-mace or bamboos, which rose above their heads out of the water
besides that part of the stalk under the surface.  The reed-mace is like
a bulrush, but three times as tall, and larger.  They cut a number of
these as spoils, and then landed.  Pan showed a little more activity
here, but not much.  He sniffed round the water's edge, but soon
returned and stretched himself on the raft.

"He can't smell anything here to-day," said Bevis.  "There's a halcyon."

A kingfisher went by, straight for New Formosa.  The marks of moorhens'
feet were numerous on the shore and just under water, showing how calm
it had been lately, for waves would have washed up the bottom and
covered them.  The islet was very small, merely the ridge of a bank, so
they pushed off again.  Passing the bamboos, they paused and looked at
them--the tall stalks rose up around as if they were really in a thicket
of bamboo.


They spoke together.  It was the stern and solemn note of a bell
tolling.  It startled them in the silence of the New Sea.  The sound
came from the hills, and they knew at once it was the bell at the church
big Jack went to.  The chimes, thin perhaps and weak, had been lost in
the hills, but the continuous toll of the five minutes bell penetrated
through miles of air.  So in the bush men call each other by constantly
repeating the same hollow note, "Cooing," and in that way the human
voice can be heard at an extraordinary distance.  Each wave of sound
drives on its predecessor, and is driven by the wave that follows, till
the widening circle strikes the shore of the distant ear.

"Ship's bell," said Bevis presently, as they listened.  "In these
latitudes the air is so clear you hear ships' bells a hundred miles."


"No; pirates would not make a noise."


"Most likely."

"Any chance of our being taken off and rescued?"

"Not the least," said Bevis.  "These islands are not down on any chart.
She'll be two hundred miles away by tea-time.  Bound for Kerguelen,

"We shall never be found," said Mark.  "No hope for us."

"No hope at all," said Bevis.  They poled towards Serendib, intending to
circumnavigate that island.  By the time they had gone half-way, the
bell ceased.

"Now listen," said Mark.  "Isn't it still?"

They had lifted their poles from the water, and there was not a sound
(the lark had long finished), nothing but the drip, drip of the drops
from the poles, and the slight rustle as the heavy raft dragged over a
weed.  They could almost hear the silence, as in the quiet night
sometimes, if listening intently, you may hear a faint rushing, the
sound of your own blood reverberating in the hollow of the ear; in the
day it needs a shell to collect it.

"It is very curious," said Bevis.  "But we have not heard a sound of
anybody till that bell."

"No more we have."

There had been sounds quite audible, but absorbed in their island life
they had not heard them.  To-day they were not busy.  The recognition of
the silence which the bell had caused seemed to widen the distance
between them and home.

"We are a long way from home--really," said Bevis.

"Awful long way."

"But really?"

"Of course--really.  It feels farther to-day."

They could touch the bottom with their poles all the way round Serendib,
but as before, in crossing to New Formosa, had to give a stronger push
on the edge of the deep channel, to carry them over to the shallower
water.  It was too late now to cook the moorhens, and they resolved to
be contented with rashers, and see if they could not get some more
mushrooms.  Directly they got near the hut, Pan rushed inside the fence
and began barking.  When they reached the place he was sniffing round,
and every now and then giving a sharp short bark, as if he knew there
was something, but could not make it out.

"Rats," said Mark, "and they've taken the bacon bits Pan left outside
the gate."

Pan did not trouble any more when they came in.  After preparing the
rashers, and looking at the sun-dial, by which it was noon, Bevis went
to look for mushrooms on the knoll, while Mark managed the dinner.
Bevis had to go round to get to the knoll, and not wishing to disturb
the rabbits more than necessary, made Pan keep close to his heels.

But when he reached the open glade, Pan broke away, and rushing towards
the ivy-clad oak, set up a barking.  Bevis angrily called him, but Pan
would not come, so he picked up a stick, but instead of returning to
heel, Pan dashed into the underwood, and Bevis could hear him barking a
long way across the island.  He thought it was the squirrels, and looked
about for mushrooms.  There were plenty, and he soon filled his
handkerchief.  As he approached the hut, Mark came to meet him, and said
that happening to look on the shelf he had missed the piece of cooked
bacon left there,--had Bevis moved it?

Volume Three, Chapter IV.


"No," said Bevis.  "I left it there last night; don't you remember I cut
a piece for Pan, and he would not eat it?"

"Yes; well, it's gone.  Come and see."  They went to the shelf--the
cooked bacon was certainly gone; nor was it on the ground or in any
other part of the hut or cave.

"Pan must have dragged it down," said Bevis; "and yet it's too high, and
besides, he didn't care for it."

"He could not jump so high," said Mark.  "Besides, he has been with us
all the time."

"So he has."  They had kept Pan close by them, ever since he disturbed
the kangaroos so much.  "Then, it could not have been Pan."

"And I don't see how rats could climb up, either," said Mark.  "The
posts," (to which the shelf was fixed) "are upright--"

"Mice can run up the leg of a chair," said Bevis.

"That's only a short way; this is--let me see--why it's higher than your

"If it was not Pan, nor rats, what could it be?" said Bevis.

"Something's been here," said Mark; "Pan could smell it when he came

"Something was up in the oak," said Bevis, "and now he's gone racing
light to the other end of the island."

"Something took the bit of bacon on the ground."

"And gnawed the jack's head."

"And had the piece of damper."

"And took the potatoes."

"Took the potatoes twice--the cooked ones and the raw ones."

"It's very curious."

"I don't believe Pan could have jumped up--he would have shaken the
other things off the shelf, too, if he had got his great paws on."

"It must have been something," said Bevis; "things could not go off by

"There's something in the island we don't know," said Mark, nodding his
head up and down, as was his way at times when upset or full of an idea.

"Lions!" said Bevis.  "Lions could get up."

"We should have heard them roar."


"They would have killed Pan."

"But you think there's one in the reeds."

"Yes, but he did not come here."





"Something out of the curious wave you saw?"

"Perhaps.  Well, it _is_ curious now, isn't it?" said Mark.  "Just
think; first, Pan could not have had it, and then rats could not have
had it, but it's gone."

"Pan, Pan," shouted Bevis sternly, as the spaniel came in at the gateway
hesitatingly; "come here."  The spaniel crouched, knowing that he should
have a thrashing.

"See if anything's bitten him," said Mark.  "What have you been after,

He examined Pan carefully; there were no signs of a fight on him--
nothing but cleavers or the seeds of goose-grass clinging to his coat.
Bang--thump--thump! yow!  Pan had his thrashing, and crept after them to
and fro, not even daring to curl himself up in a corner, but dragging
himself along on the ground behind them.

"Think," said Mark, as he turned the mushrooms on the gridiron; "now,
what was it?"

"Not a fox?" said Bevis.

"No; foxes would not swim out here; there are plenty of rabbits for them
in the jungle on the mainland."

"Nor eagles?"


"Might be a cat."

"But there are no cats on the island, and, besides, cats would not take
bacon when there were the two moorhens on the shelf."

"No; Pan would have had the moorhens too, if it had been him."

"So would anything, and that's why it's so curious."

"Nobody could have come here, could they?" said Bevis.  "The punt's at
the bottom, and the Pinta's chained up--"

"And we must have seen them if they swam off."

"Nobody can swim," said Bevis, "except you and me and the governor."

"No," said Mark, "no more they can--not even Big Jack."

"Nobody in all the place but us.  It could not have been the governor,
because if he found the hut he would have stopped to see who lived in

"Of course he would.  And besides, he could not have come without our
knowing it; we are always about."

"Always about," said Bevis, "and we should have seen footsteps."

"Or heard a splashing."

"And Pan would not bark at him," said Bevis.  "No, it could not have
been any one; it must have been something."

"Something," repeated Mark.

"And very likely out of your magic wave."

"But what _could_ it be out of the wave?"

"I can't think; something magic.  It doesn't matter."

They had dinner, and then, as usual, went up on the cliff to wait for
Charlie's signal.

"I shall try and catch some perch to-morrow," said Mark, "if there's any
wind.  We're always eating the same thing."

"Every day," said Bevis, "and the cooking is the greatest hatefulness
ever known."

"Takes up so much time."

"Makes you hot and horrid."


"It wants Frances, as I said."

"No, thank you; I wish Jack would have her."

Mark looked through the telescope for Charlie, and then swept the shores
of the New Sea.

"How could anything get to our island?" he said.  "Nothing could get to

From the elevation of the cliff they saw and felt the isolation of their
New Formosa.

"It was out of your magic wave," said Bevis; "something magic."

"But you put the wizard's foot on the gate?"

"So I did, but perhaps I did not draw it quite right; I'll do it again.
But rats are made to gnaw the lines off sometimes, and let magic things

"Draw another in ink."

"So I will.  There's a sea-swallow."

"There's two."

"There's four or five."

The white sea-swallows passed them, going down the water, coming from
the south.  They flew a few yards above the surface, in an irregular
line--an easy flight, so easy they scarcely seemed to know where each
flap of the wing would carry them.

"There will be a storm."

"A tornado."

"Not yet--the sky's clear."

"But we must keep a watch, and be careful how we sail on the raft."

The appearance of the sea-swallow or tern in inland waters is believed,
like that of the gull, to indicate tempest, though the sea-swallows
usually come in the finest of weather.

"There's Charlie.  There are two--three," said Mark, snatching up the
telescope.  "It's Val and Cecil.  Charlie's waving his handkerchief."

"There, it's all right," said Bevis.

"They are pointing this way," said Mark.  "They're talking about us.
Can they see us?"

"No, the brambles would not let them."

"I dare say they're as cross as cross," said Mark.

"They want to come.  I don't know," said Bevis, as if considering.

"Know what?" said Mark sharply.

"That it's altogether nice of us."

"Rubbish--as if they would have let _us_ come."

"Still, we are not them, and we might if they would not."

"Now, don't you be stupid," said Mark appealingly.  "Don't _you_ go

"No," said Bevis, laughing; "but they must come after we have done."

"O! yes, of course.  See, they're going towards the firs: there, they're
going to cross the Nile.  I know, don't you see, they're going round the
New Sea, like we did, to try and find us--"

"Are they?" said Bevis.  "They shan't find us," resentfully.  The moment
he thought the rest were going to try and force themselves on his plans,
his mind changed.  "We won't go on the raft this afternoon."

"No," said Mark; "nor too near the edge of the island."

"We'll keep out of sight.  Is there anything they could see?"

"The raft."

"Ah!  No; you think, when they get opposite so as to be where they could
see the raft, then Serendib is between."

"So it is.  No, there's nothing they can see; only we will not go too
near the shore."


"What shall we do this afternoon?" said Mark, as they went down to the
hut.  Pan was idly lying in the narrow shade of the fence.

"We mustn't shoot," said Bevis, "and we can't go on the raft, because
the savages are prowling round, and we mustn't play cards, nor do some
chopping; let's go round the island and explore the interior."

"First-rate," said Mark; "just the very thing; you take your bow and
arrows--you need not shoot, but just in case of savages--and I'll take
my spear in case of the tiger in the reeds, or the something that comes
out of the wave."

"And a hatchet," said Bevis, "to blaze our way.  That would not be

"No, not proper chopping.  Make Pan keep close.  Perhaps we shall find
some footmarks of the Something--spoor, you know."

"Come on.  Down, sir."  Pan accordingly walked behind.

First they went and looked at the raft, which was moored to an alder,
taking care not to expose themselves on the shore, but looking at it
from behind the boughs.  They said they would finish fitting it up
to-morrow morning, and then tried to think of a name for it.  Bevis said
there was no name in the Odyssey for Ulysses' raft, but as Calypso gave
him the tools to make it, and wove the sail for him with her loom, they
agreed to call the raft the Calypso.  Then they tried to find a shorter
way in to the knoll, which they called Kangaroo Hill, but were stopped
by the impenetrable blackthorns.

As these were "wait-a-bit" thorns, Mark thought the island could not be
far from Africa.  Skirting the "wait-a-bits," they found some more hazel
bushes, and discovered that the nuts were ripe, and stopped and filled
their pockets.  After all their trouble they had to go round the old way
to get to Kangaroo Hill, and as they went between the trees Bevis cut
off a slice of bark from every other trunk, so that in future they could
walk quickly guided by the blaze, which would show too in the dusk.

From the knoll they walked across to the ivy-grown oak, and Bevis gave
Mark a "bunt" up into it.  Mark found a wood-pigeon's nest (empty, of
course), but nothing else.  The oak was large and old, not very tall,
and seemed decaying; indeed, there was a hollow into which he thrust his
spear, but did not rouse any creature from its lair.  There was nothing
in the oak.  Bevis looked at the bark of the trunk, to see if any wild
beast had left the marks of its claws in climbing up, just as cats do,
but there was no trace.

They then went farther into the wood in the direction Pan had run away
from Bevis, and found it sometimes open and sometimes much encumbered
with undergrowth.  Nothing appeared to them to be trampled, nor did they
find any spoor.  Pan showed no excitement, simply following, from which
they supposed that whatever it had been it had gone.

After awhile they found the trees thinner and the ground declined, and
here in a hollow ash, short and very much decayed within, there was a
hive, or rather a nest of bees.  There was a shrill hum round it as the
bees continually went in and out, returning in straight lines, radiating
to all parts of the compass, so that they did not care to venture too
near.  They appeared to be the hive-bees, not wild bees, but a swarm
that had wandered from the mainland.

How to take the honey was not so easily settled, till they thought of
making a powder-monkey, and so smoking them out, or rather stupefying
them in the same way as the hives were taken at home with the brimstone
match.  By damping gunpowder and forming it into a cake it would burn
slowly and send up dense fumes, which would answer the same as sulphur.
Then they could chop a way into the honeycomb.  Seeing a tomtit on a
bough watching for a chance to take a bee if one alighted before he went
in, they considered it a sign they were off the mainland of Africa, as
this was the honey-bird.

Several tall spruce firs grew lower down, and under these they could see
over the New Sea to the south-east towards the unknown river.  Here they
sat down in the shade and cracked their nuts.  One or two bees came to a
burdock which flowered not far from their feet, but besides the hum as
they passed there was no sound, for the light south-east air, playing in
the tops of the firs, was too idle to sing.  Yet the motion of the air,
coming off the water, was just sufficient to cool them in the shade.
Far away between the trunks they could see the jungle on the mainland.

Just below, on the shore of the island, a large willow-tree had been
overthrown by the tempest on the day of the battle, and lay prone in the
water, but still attached to the land by its roots.  The nuts were juicy
and sweet, but the day was so pleasant that Bevis presently put the nuts
down and extended himself on his back.  High above hung the long brown
cones of the fir, and the dark green of its branches seemed to deepen
the blue of the sky.  With half-closed eyes he gazed up into the azure,
till Mark feared he would go to sleep.

"Tell me a story," he said.  "I'll tickle you, and you tell me a story.
Here's a parrot's feather."

It was a wood-pigeon's, knocked out as the bird struck a branch in his
rude haste.  Mark tickled Bevis's face and neck.  "Tell me a story," he

"My grandpa is the man for stories," said Bevis.  "If you ask him to
tell you the story of his walking-stick, he'll tell you all about it,
and then two or three more; only you must be careful to ask him for the
walking-stick one first, and then he'll give you five shillings."

"Regular moke," said Mark.  "He stumped into London with the stick and a
bundle, didn't he, and made five millions of money?"

"Heaps more than that."

"Now tell me a story."

"Tickle me then--very nicely."

"Now go on."

Volume Three, Chapter V.


"Once upon a time," said Bevis, closing his eyes now, "there was a great
traveller who went sailing all round every sea--"

"Except the New Sea," said Mark.  "Yes, except the New Sea which we
found, and went riding over all the lands and countries, and climbing up
all the mountains, and tramping through all the forests, and shooting
the elephants and Indians and sticking pigs, and skinning
boa-constrictors, and finding magicians--"

"What did the magicians do?"

"O! they did nothing very particular, one turned himself into a tree and
was chopped up and burned in a bonfire and walked out of the smoke, and
little things like that; and he went spying everywhere, and learned
everything, and--"

"Go on--what next?"

"He went on till he said it was all no good, because if you went into
the biggest forest that ever was you walked through it in about three

"Like they did through Africa?"

"Just like it; and if you climbed up a mountain, after a day or two you
got to the top; and if you sailed across the sea, if it was the greatest
sea there ever was, you came to the other side in six months or so; so
that it did not matter what you did, there was always an end to it."

"Very stupid."

"Very stupid, very; and he got tired of it always coming to the other
side.  He did so hate the other side, and he used to dawdle through the
forests and lose his way, and he used to pull down the sails and let the
ship go anyhow, and never touch the helm.  But it was no use he always
dawdled through the forest after awhile, and--"

"The wind always took the ship somewhere."

"Yes, to the hateful other side, and he got so miserable and what to do
he did not know, and he could not stop still very well--nobody can stop
still--and that's why people have got a way of spinning on their heels
in some countries, I forget their names--"


"Dervishes of course; well, he became a Dervish, and used to spin round
and round furiously, but you know a top always runs down, and so he got
to the other side again."


"Awful stupid.  Now tell me what else he did and could not help coming
to the other side?" said Bevis.

"But it's you who are telling the story."

"O! but you can put some of that in."

"Well," said Mark, "if you walk across this island, you come to the
other side, or sail down the New Sea in the Pinta, or if you swim out to
Serendib, or if you climb up the fir-tree to the cones--"

"Always the other side," continued Bevis, "and so he said that this was
such a little world he hated it, you could go all round the earth and
come back to yourself and meet yourself in your own house at home in no

"It's not very big, is it?" said Mark.  "Nothing is very big that you
could go round like that."

"No, and the quicker you get round the smaller it is, though it's
thousands and thousands of miles, so he said; and so he set out again to
find a place where he could wander and never get to the other side, and
after he had walked across Persia and Khorasan and Beloochistan--"

"And Afghanistan?"

"Yes, and crossed the Indus and Ganges, and been over the Himalayas, and
inquired at every temple and of all the wise men who live in caves and
hang themselves up with hooks stuck through their backs--"


"At last a very old man took pity on him, seeing how miserable he was,
and whispered to him where to go, and so he went on--"


"To Thibet."

"But nobody is allowed to enter Thibet."

"No; but he had the pass-word, which the aged man whispered to him, and
so they let him come in, and then he wandered about again for a long
while, and by this time he was getting very old himself and could not
walk so fast, so that it took longer and longer to get to the other side
each time.  Till at last, inquiring at all the temples as he went, they
promised to show him a forest to which there was no other side.  But he
had to bathe and be purified first, and they burned incense and did a
lot of magical things--"

"In circles?"

"I suppose so.  And then one night in the darkness, so that he should
not see which way they went, they led him along, and in the morning he
was in a very narrow valley with a wall across so that you could not go
any farther down the valley, nor could you climb up, because the rocks
were so steep.  Now, when they came to the wall he saw a little narrow
bronze door in it--very low and very narrow--and the door was all
covered with carvings and curious inscriptions--"


"Yes, very magic.  And the man who showed it to him, and who wore a
crimson robe, over which his white beard flowed nearly down to the
ground--I am sure that is right, flowed nearly down to the ground, that
is just what my grandpa said--the old man went to the door and spoke to
it in some language he did not understand and a voice answered, and then
he saw the door open a little way, just a chink.  Then he had to go on
his hands and knees, and press his head and neck through the chink
between the bronze door and the wall, and he could see over the country
which has no other side to it.  Though you may wander straight on for a
thousand years, or ten thousand years, you can never get to the other
side, but you always go on, and go on, and go on--"

"And what was it like?"

"Well, the air was so clear that he was certain he could see over at
least a hundred miles of the plain, just as you can see over twenty
miles of sea from the top of a cliff.  But this was not a cliff, it was
a level plain, and he could see at least a hundred miles.  Now, behind
him he had left the sun shining brightly, and he could feel the hot
sunshine on his back--"

"Just as I did on my foot while I was fishing in the shadow?"

"Very likely--he could feel the hot sunshine on his back.  But inside
the wall there was no sun--"

"No sun?"

"No.  Ever so far away, hung up as our sun looks hung up like a lamp
when you are on the hill by Jack's house--ever so far away and not so
very high up, there was an opal star.  It was a very large star and so
bright that you could see the beams of light shooting out from it, but
so soft and gentle and pleasant that you could look straight at it
without hurting your eyes, and see the flashes change exactly like an
opal--a beautiful great opal star.  All the air seemed full of the soft
light from the star, so that the trees and plants and the ground even
seemed to float in it, just like an island seems to float in the water
when it is very still, and there was no shadow--"

"_No_ shadow?"

"No.  Nothing cast any shadow, because the light came all round
everything, and he put his hand out into it and it did not cast any
shadow, but instead his hand looked transparent, and as if there was a
light underneath it--"

"Go on."

"And among the trees," said Bevis, pouring out the story from his memory
word for word, exactly as he had heard it, like water from a pitcher
filled at the spring, "among the trees the blue sky came down and they
stood in it, just close by you could not see it, but farther off it was
blue like a mist in the forest, only you could see through it and it
shimmered blue like the blue-bells in the copse.

"He could see thousands of flowers, but he forgot what they were like
except one which was like a dome of gold and larger than any temple he
had ever seen.  The grass grew up round it so tall he could not see the
stalk, so that it looked as if it hung from the sky, and though it was
gold he could see through it and see the blue the other side which
looked purple through the gold, and the opal star was reflected on the
dome.  Nor could he remember all about the trees, having so much to look
at, except one with a jointed stem like a bamboo which grew not far from
the bronze door.  This one rose up, up, till he could not strain his
neck back to see to the top, and it was as large round as our round
summer-house at home, but transparent, so that you could see the sap
bubbling and rushing up inside in a running stream, and a sweet odour
came down like rain from the boughs above.

"Now, while he was straining his neck to try and see the top of this
tree, as his eyes were turned away from the opal sun, he could see the
stars of heaven, and immediately heard the flute of an organ.  For these
stars--which were like our stars--were not scattered about, but built up
in golden pipes or tubes; there were twelve tubes, all of stars, one
larger than the other, and behind these other pipes, and behind these
others tier on tier.  Only there were twelve in front, the rest he could
not count, and it was from these that the flute sound came and filled
him with such transport that he quite forgot himself, and only lived in
the music.  At last his neck wearied of looking up, and he looked down
again, and instantly he did not hear the starry organ, but saw instead
the opal sun, and the shimmering sky among the trees.

"From the bronze door there was a footpath leading out, out, winding a
little, but always out and out, and so clear was the air, that though it
was only a footpath, he could trace it for nearly half the hundred miles
he could see.  The footpath was strewn with leaves fallen from the
trees, oval-pointed leaves, some were crimson, and some were gold, and
some were black, and all had marks on them.

"One of these was lying close to the bronze door, and as he had put his
hand through, as you know, he stretched himself and reached it, and when
he held it up the light of the opal sun came through it--it was
transparent--and he could see words written on it which he read, and
they told him the secret of the tree from which it had fallen.

"Now, all these leaves that were strewn on the footpath each of them had
a secret written on it--a magic secret about the trees, and the plants,
and the birds, and the stars, and the opal sun--every one had a magic
secret on it, and you might go on first picking up one and then another,
till you had travelled a hundred miles, and then another hundred miles,
a thousand years, or ten thousand years, and there was always a fresh
secret and a fresh leaf.

"Or you might sit down under one of the trees whose branches came to the
ground like the weeping ash at home, or you might climb up into
another--but no matter how, if you took hold of the leaves and turned
them aside, so that the light of the opal sun came through, you could
read a magic secret on every one, and it would take you fifty years to
read one tree.  Some of the leaves strewed the footpath, and some lay on
the grass, and some floated on the water, but they did not decay, and
the one he held in his hand went throb, throb, like the pulse in your

"And from secret to secret you might wander, always a new secret, till
you went beyond the horizon, and then there was another horizon, and
after that another, and you could go on and on, and on, and though you
could walk for ever without weariness, because the air was so pure and
delicious, still you could never, never, never get to the other side.

"Some have been walking there these millions of years, and some have
been sitting up in the trees, and some have been lying under the golden
dome flowers all that time, and never found and never will find the
other side, which is why they are so happy.  They do not sleep, because
they never feel sleepy; they just turn over from the opal sun and look
up at the stars and then the music begins, and as it plays they become
strong, and then they go on again gathering more of the leaves, and
travelling towards the opal sun, and the nearer they get the happier
they are, and yet they can never get to it.

"While he looked he felt as if he must get through and go on too, and he
struggled and struggled, but the bronze door was hard and the wall hard,
so that it was no use.  His mind though and soul had gone through; and
he saw a white shoulder, like alabaster, pure, white, and transparent
among the grass by the golden dome flower, and a white arm stretched out
towards him, so white it gleamed polished, and a white hand, soft,
warm-looking, delicious, transparent white, beckoning to him.  So he
struggled and struggled till it seemed as if he would get through to his
soul, which had gone on down the footpath, when the aged man behind
dragged him back, and the bronze door shut with an awful resonance--"

"What was that?"



Mark seized his spear; Bevis his bow.

"Is it something coming from the wave?"

"No, it's in the sky."


There was a whirr above like wheels in the air, and a creaking sound
with it.  They stood up, but could not see what it was, though it grew
louder and came nearer with a rushing noise.  Suddenly something white
appeared above the trees which had concealed its approach, and a swan
passed over descending.  It was the noise of its wings and their
creaking which sounded like wheels.  The great bird descended aslant
quite a quarter of a mile into the water to the south in front of them,
and there floated among the glittering ripples.

"I thought it was the roc," said Mark, sitting down again.

"Or a genie," said Bevis.  "What a creaking and whirring it made!"
Rooks' wings often creak as they go over like stiff leather, but the
noise of a swan's flight is audible a mile or more.

"Go on with the story," said Mark.

"It's finished."

"But what did he do when they pulled him back?  Didn't he burst the door

"He couldn't.  When he was pulled back it was night on that side of the
wall, and the sudden change made him so bewildered that they led him
away as if he was walking in his sleep down to the temple."

"What did he do with the magic leaf he had in his hand?"

"O! the wind of the bronze door as it slammed up blew it out of his
hand.  But when he came to himself and began to reproach them for
pulling him away before he had had time even to look, they told him he
had been looking three days and that it was the third night when the
door was shut--"

"I see--it went so quick."

"It went so quick, like when you go to sleep and wake up next minute,
and it's morning.  But when he came to himself he found that his right
hand which he had put through and which had cast no shadow was changed,
it was white and smooth and soft, while the other hand and his face (as
he was so old) was wrinkled and hard, so he was quite sure that what he
had seen was real and true."

"Didn't he try to go back and find the door."

"Of course he did.  But there was nothing but jungle, and he could not
find the narrow valley; nor would they show him the way there again.
They told him that only one was let through about every thousand years,
and the reason they are so careful people shall not enter Thibet is that
they may not stumble on the bronze door."

"And what became of him?"

"O! he lived to be the oldest man there ever was, which was because he
had breathed the delicious air, and his hand was always white and soft
like Frances's.  Every night when he went to sleep, he could hear some
of the star flute music of the organ, and dreamed he could see it; but
he could hear it plainly.  At last he died and went to join his soul,
which had travelled on down the footpath, you know, towards the opal

"How stupid to keep the door shut, and never let any one find it!"

"Ah, but don't you see the reason is because if it was open and people
could find it, they would all run there and squeeze through, one after
the other, like sheep through a gap, till the world was left empty
without anybody in it, and they told him that was the reason.  Grandpa
says it is a pleasant thought that at least one goes through in a
thousand years; if only one, that is something.  My grandpa told me the
story, and the son of the man told him--I mean the man who just looked
through, or else it was his grandson or his great-great-grandson, for I
know it was a long time ago.  And there is no other side to that place."

"Let's go there," said Mark, after a pause, "you and me, and take some
powder and blow the door open."

"If we could find it."

"O! we could find it; let's go to Thibet."

"So we will."

"And blow the bronze door open."

"And read the magic leaves."

"And go on down the footpath."

"And talk to the people under the golden dome flowers."

"I'm sure _we_ could find the door."

"We _will_ find it."

"Very soon."

"Some day."

Watching the swan among the glittering ripples, they cracked the rest of
the nuts, and did not get up to go till the sun was getting low.  It was
not a wild swan, but one whose feathers had not been clipped.  The wind
rose a little, and sighed dreamily through the tops of the tall firs as
they walked under them.  They returned along the shore where the weeds
came to the island, and had gone some way, when Mark suddenly caught
hold of Bevis and drew him behind a bush.

Volume Three, Chapter VI.


"What is it?" said Bevis.

"I saw a savage."


"In the sedges on the shore there," pointing across the weeds.  "I saw
his head--he had no hat on."

"Quite sure?"  Bevis looked, but could not see anything.

"Almost very nearly quite sure."

They watched the sedges a long time, but saw nothing.

"Was it Charlie, or Val, or Cecil?"

"No, I don't think so," said Mark.

"They could not get round either," said Bevis.  "If they crossed the
Nile like we did, they could not get round."


"It could not have been anybody."

"I thought it was; but perhaps it was a crow flew up--it looked black."

"Sure to have been a crow.  The sedges do not move."

"No, it was a mistake--they couldn't get here."

They went on again and found a wild bullace.

"This is the most wonderful island there ever was," said Bevis; "there's
always something new on or about it.  The swan--I shall shoot the swan.
No, most likely it's sacred, and the king of the country would have us
hunted down if we killed it."

"And tied to a stake and tortured."

"Melted lead poured into our mouths, because we shot the sacred swan
with leaden bullets."

"Awful.  No, don't shoot it.  There are currant-trees on the island
too--I've seen them, and there's a gooseberry bush up in the top of an
old willow that I saw," said Mark.  "Of course there are bananas; are
there any breadfruit-trees here?"

"Certain to be some somewhere."

"Melons and oranges."

"Of course, and grapes--those are grapes," pointing to bryony-berries,
"and pomegranates and olives."

"Yams and everything."

"Everything.  I wonder if Pan will bark this time--I wonder if anything
is gone," said Bevis as they reached the stockade.  Pan did not bark,
and there was nothing missing.

They set to work now to make some tea and roast the moorhens, having
determined to have tea and supper together.  The tea was ready long
before the moorhens, and by the time they had finished the moon was
shining brightly, though there were some flecks of cloud.  They could
not of course play cards, so Bevis got out his journal; and having put
down about the honey-bird, and the swan, and the discoveries they had
made, went on to make a list of the trees and plants on the island, and
the birds that came to it.  They had seen a small flock of seven or
eight missel-thrushes pass in the afternoon, and Mark said that all the
birds came from the unknown river, and flew on towards the
north-north-west.  This was the direction of the waste, or wild pasture.

"Then there must be mainland that way," said Bevis; "and I expect it is
inhabited and ploughed, and sown with corn, for that's what the birds
like at this time of the year."

"And the other way--where they come from--must be a pathless jungle,"
said Mark.  "And they rest here a moment as they cross the ocean.  It is
too far for one fly."

"My journal ought to be written on palm leaves," said Bevis, "a book
like this is not proper: let's get some leaves to-morrow and see if we
can write on them."

"Don't shipwrecked people write on their shirts," said Mark, "and people
who are put in prison?"

"So they do--of course: but our shirts are flannel, how stupid!"

"I know," said Mark, "there's the collars."  He went into the hut and
brought out their linen collars, which they had ceased to wear.  Bevis
tried to write on these, but the ink ran and sank in, and it did not do
at all.

"Wrong ink," he said, "we must make some of charcoal--lampblack--and
oil.  You use it just like paint, and you can't blot it, you must wait
till it dries on."

"No oil," said Mark.  "I wanted to rub the gun with some and looked, but
there is none--we forgot it."

"Yellow-hammers," said Bevis, turning to his journal again; "what are

"Unknown birds," said Mark.  "We don't know half the birds--nobody has
ever put any name to them, nobody has ever seen them: call them, let's
see--gold-dust birds--"

"And greenfinches?"

"Ky-wee--Ky-wee," said Mark, imitating the greenfinches' call.

"That will do capital--Ky-wees," said Bevis.

"There's a horse-matcher here," said Mark.  The horse-matcher is the
bold hedge-hawk or butcher bird.  "The one that sticks the humble-bees
on the thorns."

"Bee-stickers--no, bee-killers: that's down," said Bevis.  Besides which
he wrote down nettle-creepers (white-throats), goldfinch, magpie,
chaffinch, tree-climber, kestrel-hawk, linnets, starlings, parrots, and
parrakeets.  "I shall get up early to-morrow morning," he said.  "I'll
load the matchlock to-night, I want to shoot a heron."

He loaded the matchlock with ball, and soon afterwards they let the
curtain down at the door, and went to bed, Bevis repeating "Three
o'clock, three o'clock, three o'clock," at first aloud and then to
himself, so as to set the clock of his mind to wake him at that hour.
Not long after they were asleep, Pan as usual went out for his ramble.

Bevis's clock duly woke him about three, and lifting his head he could
see the light through the chinks of the curtain, but he was half
inclined to go to sleep again, and stayed another quarter of an hour.
Then he resolutely bent himself to conquer sleep, slipped off the bed,
and put on his boots quietly, not to wake Mark.  Taking the matchlock,
he went out and found that it was light, the light of the moon mingling
with the dawn, but it was misty.  A dry vapour, which left no dew,
filled the wood so that at a short distance the path seemed to go into
and lose itself in the mist.

Bevis went all round the island, following the path they had made.  On
the Serendib side he neither saw nor heard anything, but as he came back
up the other shore, a lark began to sing far away on the mainland, and
afterwards he heard the querulous cry of a peewit.  He walked very
cautiously, for this was the most likely side to find a heron, but
whether they heard his approach or saw him, for they can see almost as
far as a man when standing, by lifting their long necks, he did not find
any.  When he reached the spot where the "blaze" began that led to
Kangaroo Hill, he fancied he saw something move in the water a long way
off through the mist.

He stopped behind a bush and watched, and in a minute he was sure it was
something, perhaps a cluck.  He set up the rest, blew the match, opened
the lid of the pan, knelt down and looked along the barrel till he had
got it in a line with the object.  If the gun had been loaded with shot
he would have fired at once, for though indistinct through the vapour he
thought it was within range, but as he had ball, he wanted to see if it
would come nearer, as he knew he could not depend on a bullet over
thirty yards.  Intent on the object, which seemed to be swimming, he
began to be curious to know what it was, for it had now come a little
closer, and he could see it was not a duck, for it had no neck; it was
too big for a rat: it must be the creature that visited the island and
took their food--the idea of shooting this animal and surprising Mark
with it delighted him.

He aimed along the barrel, and got the sight exactly on the creature,
then he thought he would let it get a few yards closer, then he
depressed the muzzle just a trifle, remembering that it was coming
towards him, and if he did not aim somewhat in front the ball would go

Now it was near enough he was sure--he aimed steadily, and his finger
began to draw the match down when he caught sight of the creature's eye.
It was Pan.

"Pan!" said Bevis.  He got up, and the spaniel swam steadily towards

"Where have you been, sir?" he said sternly.  Pan crouched at his feet,
not even shaking himself first.  "You rascal--where have you been?"

Bevis was inclined to thrash him, he was so angry at the mistake he had
almost made, angry with the dog because he had almost shot him.  But Pan
crouched so close to the ground under his very feet that he did not
strike him.

"It was you who frightened the herons," he said.  Pan instantly
recognised the change in the tone of his voice, and sprang up, jumped
round, barked, and then shook the water from his shaggy coat.  It was no
use evidently now to think of shooting a heron, the spaniel had alarmed
them and Bevis returned to the hut.  He woke Mark, and told him.

"That's why he's so lazy in the morning," said Mark.  "Don't you
recollect?  He sleeps all the morning."

"And won't eat anything."

"I believe he's been home," said Mark.  "Very likely Polly throws the
bones out still by his house."

"That's it: you old glutton!" said Bevis.

Pan jumped on the bed, licked Mark, then jumped on Bevis's knees,
leaving the marks of his wet paws, to which the sand had adhered, then
he barked and wagged his tail as much as to say, "Am I not clever?"

"O! yes," said Mark, "you're very knowing, but you won't do that again."

"No, that you won't, sir," said Bevis.  "You'll be tied up to-night."

"Tight as tight," said Mark.  "Just think," said Bevis.  "He must have
swum all down the channel we came up on the catamaran.  Why it's a
hundred and fifty yards--"

"Or two hundred--only some of it is shallow.  Perhaps he could bottom
some part--"

"But not very far--and then run all the way home, and then all the way
back, and then swim off again."

"A regular voyage--and every night too."

"You false old greedy Pan!"

"To leave us when we thought you were watching while we slept."

"To desert your post, you faithless sentinel."  Pan looked from one to
the other, as if he understood every word; he rolled up the whites of
his eyes and looked so pious, they burst into fits of laughter.  Pan
wagged his tail and barked doubtfully; he had a shrewd suspicion they
were laughing at him, and he did not like it.  In fact, it was not only
the flesh-pots that had attracted Pan from his post and led him to
traverse the sea and land, and undergo such immense exertion, it was to
speak to a friend of his.

They thought it of no use to go to sleep again now, so they lit the
fire, and prepared the breakfast.  By the time it was ready the mist had
begun to clear; the sky became blue overhead, and while they were
sitting at table under the awning, the first beams shot along over
Serendib to their knees.  Bevis said after breakfast he should practise
with the matchlock, till he could hit something with the bullets.  Mark
wanted to explore the unknown river, and this they agreed to do, but the
difficulty, as usual, was the dinner, there was nothing in their larder
but bacon for rashers, and that was almost gone.  Rashers become
wearisome, ten times more wearisome when you have to cook them too.

Bevis said he must write his letter home--he was afraid he might have
delayed too long--and take it to Loo to post that night, then he would
write out a list of things, and Loo could buy them in the town, potted
meats, and tongues, and soups, that would save cooking, only it was not
quite proper.  But Mark got over that difficulty by supposing that they
fetched them from the wreck before it went to pieces.

So having had their swim, Bevis set up his target--a small piece of
paper with a black spot, an inch in diameter, inked in the centre--on
the teak, and fired his first shot at forty yards.  The ball missed the
teak-tree altogether, they heard it crash into a bramble bush some way
beyond.  Bevis went five yards nearer next time, and the bullet hit the
tree low down, two feet beneath the bull's-eye.  Then he tried at thirty
yards, and as before, when he practised, the ball hit the tree five or
six inches lower than the mark.  He tried four times at this distance,
and every time the bullet struck beneath, so that it seemed as if the
gun threw the ball low.

Some guns throw shot high, and some low, and he supposed the matchlock
threw low.  So he aimed the fifth time above the centre, and the ball
grazed the bark of the tree on the right-hand side very much as Mark's
had done.  Bevis stepped five yards nearer, if he could not hit it at
twenty-five yards, he did not think it would be his fault.  He aimed
direct at the piece of paper, which was about five inches square, but
the bullet struck three inches beneath, though nearly in a line, that
is, a line drawn down through the middle of the paper would have passed
a little to the left of the bullet hole.

This was better, so now he tried five yards closer, as it appeared to
improve at every advance, and the ball now hit the paper at its lower
right-hand edge.  Examining the bullet holes in the bark of the tree,
and noticing they were all low and all on the right-hand side, Bevis
tried to think how that could be.  He was quite certain that he had
aimed perfectly straight, and as he was now so accustomed to the puff
from the priming, that did not disconcert him.  He kept his gaze
steadily along the barrel till the actual explosion occurred, and the
smoke from the muzzle obscured the view.  It must be something in the
gun itself.

Bevis put it on the rest unloaded, aimed along, and pulled the trigger,
just as he would have done had he been really about to shoot.  Nothing
seemed wrong.  As the heavy barrel was supported by the rest, and the
stock pressed firm to his shoulder, pulling the trigger did not depress
the muzzle as it often does with rifles.

He aimed again, and all at once he saw that the top sight must be the
cause.  The twisted wire was elevated about an eighth of an inch, and
when he aimed he got the tip of the sight to bear on the paper, so that,
instead of his glance passing level along the barrel, it rose slightly,
from the breech to the top of the sight.  The barrel was more than a
yard long, so that when the top of the sight was in a line with the
object, the muzzle was depressed exactly an eighth of an inch.  An
eighth of an inch at one yard, was a quarter at two yards, three eighths
at three yards, at four half an inch, at eight it was an inch, at
sixteen two inches, and at twenty-four three inches.  This was very
nearly enough of itself to account for the continual misses.  In a gun
properly made, the breech is thicker than the muzzle, and this greater
thickness, like a slight elevation, corrects the sight; the gun, too, is
adjusted.  But the matchlock was the same thickness from end to end, and
till now, had not been tried to determine the accuracy of the shooting.

Bevis got a file and filed down the sight, till it was only a sixteenth
of an inch high, and then loading again, he aimed in such a way that the
sight should cover the spot he wished to strike.  He could see both
sides of the sight, but the exact spot he wanted to hit was hidden by
it.  He fired, and the ball struck the paper about an inch below and two
inches to the right of the centre.  Next time the bullet hit very nearly
on a level with the centre, but still on the right side.

This deflection he could not account for, the sight was in the proper
position, and he was certain he aimed correctly.  But at last he was
compelled to acknowledge that there was a deflection, and persuaded
himself to allow for it.  He aimed the least degree to the left of the
bull's-eye--just the apparent width of the sight--and so that he could
see the bull's-eye on its right, the sight well up.  He covered the
bull's-eye first with the sight, then slightly moved the barrel till the
bull's-eye appeared on the right side, just visible.  The ball struck
within half an inch of the bull's-eye.  Bevis was delighted.

He fired again, and the ball almost hit the very centre.  Next time the
bullet hit the preceding bullet, and was flattened on it.  Then Mark
tried, and the ball again went within a mere trifle of the bull's-eye.
Bevis had found out the individual ways of his gun.  He did not like
allowing for the deflection, but it was of no use, it had to be done,
and he soon became reconciled to the concession.  The matchlock had to
be coaxed like the sailing-boat and our ironclads, like fortune and

Bevis was so delighted with the discovery, that he fired bullet after
bullet, Mark trying every now and then, till the paper was riddled with
bullet holes, and the teak-tree coated with lead.  He thought he would
try at a longer range, and so went back to thirty-five yards, but though
he allowed a little more, and tried several ways, it was of no use, the
bullet could not be relied on.  At twenty yards they could hit the
bull's-eye, so that a sparrow, or even a wren, would not be safe; beyond
that, errors crept in which Bevis could not correct.

These were probably caused by irregularities in the rough bore of the
barrel, which was only an iron tube.  When the powder exploded, the
power of the explosion drove the ball, by sheer force, almost perfectly
straight--point-blank--for twenty or twenty-five yards.  Then the twist
given by the inequalities of the bore, and gained by the ball by rubbing
against them, began to tell; sometimes one way, sometimes another, and
the ball became deflected and hardly twice the same way.

Bevis was obliged to be content with accuracy up to twenty, or at most
twenty-five yards.  At twenty he could hit an object the size of a
sparrow; at twenty-five of a blackbird, after twenty-five he might miss
his straw hat.  Still it was a great triumph to have found out the
secret, and to be certain of hitting even at that short range.

"Why, that's how it was with Jack's rifle!" he said.  "It's only a dodge
you have to find out."

"Of course it is; if he would lend it to us, we should soon master it,"
said Mark.  "And now let's go to the unknown river."

Volume Three, Chapter VII.


The matchlock was slung up in the hut, and away they went to the raft;
Pan did not want to come, he was tired after his journey in the night,
but they made him.  Knowing the position of the shoals, and where they
could touch the bottom with the poles, and where not, they got along
much quicker, and entered the channel in the weeds, which they had
discovered beyond Pearl Island in the Pinta.

The channel was often very narrow, and turned several ways, but by
degrees trended to the south-eastwards, and the farther they penetrated
it, the more numerous became the banks, covered with a dense growth of
sedges and flags.  Some higher out of the water than others, had bushes
and willows, so that, after awhile, their view of the open sea behind
was cut off.  They did not see any wild-fowl, for as these heard the
splash of the poles, they swam away and hid.  Winding round the
sedge-grown banks, they presently heard the sound of falling water.

"Niagara!" said Mark.

"No, Zambesi.  There are houses by Niagara, so it's not so good."

"No.  Look!"

The raft glided out of the channel into a small open bay, free from
weeds, and with woods each side.  Where it narrowed a little stream fell
down in two short leaps, having worn its way through the sandstone.  The
water was not so much as ran over the hatch of the brook near home, but
this, coming over stone or rock, instead of dropping nearly straight,
leaped forward and broke into spray.  The sides of the worn channel were
green with moss, and beneath, but just above the surface of the water,
long cool hart's-tongue ferns grew, and were sprinkled every moment.

The boughs of beech-trees met over the fall, and shaded the water below.
They poled up so near that the spray reached the raft; Mark caught hold
of a drooping beech bough, and so moored their vessel.  They could not
see up the stream farther than a few yards, for it was then overhung
with dark fir boughs.  On the firs there were grey flecks of lichen.

"How sweet and clear it looks!" said Bevis.  "Shall we call it Sweet

"And Sweet River Falls?"

"Yes.  It comes out of the jungle," Bevis looked over the edge of the
raft, and saw the arch of water dive down unbroken beneath the surface
of the pool, and then rise in innumerable bubbles under him.  The
hart's-tongue ferns vibrated, swinging slightly, as the weight of the
drops on them now bore them down and now slipped off, and let them up.

By the shore of the pool the turquoise studs of forget-me-nots, with
golden centres, were the brighter for the darkness of the shade.  So
thick were the boughs, that the sky could not be seen through them;
there was a rustle above as the light south-east wind blew, but
underneath the leaves did not move.

"I like this," said Mark.  He sat on the chest, or locker, holding the
beech bough.  "But the birds do not sing."

The cuckoo was gone, the nightingale silent, the finches were in the
stubble, there might be a chiff-chaff "chip-chipping," perhaps deep in
the jungle, one pair of doves had not quite finished nesting on New
Formosa, now and then parties of greenfinches called "ky-wee, ky-wee,"
and a single lark sang in the early dawn.  But the jungle here was
silent.  There was no song but that of the waterfall.

Though there was not a breath of wind under the boughs, yet the sound of
the fall now rose, and now declined, as the water ran swifter or with
less speed.  Sometimes it was like a tinkling; sometimes it laughed;
sometimes it was like voices far away.  It ran out from the woods with a
message, and hastening to tell it, became confused.

Bevis sat on the raft, leaning against the willow bulwark; Pan crept to
his knee.

The forget-me-nots and the hart's-tongue, the beeches and the firs,
listened to the singing.  Something that had gone by, and something that
was to come, came out of the music and made this moment sweeter.  This
moment of the singing held a thousand years that had gone by, and the
thousand years that are to come.  For the woods and the waters are very
old, that is the past; if you look up into the sky you know that a
thousand years hence will be nothing to it, that is the future.  But the
forget-me-nots, the hart's-tongue, and the beeches, did not think of the
ages gone, or the azure to come.  They were there _now_, the sunshine
and the wind above, the shadow and the water and the spray beneath, that
was all in all.  Bevis and Mark were there now, listening to the
singing, that was all in all.

Presently there was a sound--a "swish"--and looking up, they saw a
pheasant with his tail behind like a comet, flying straight out to sea.
This awoke them.

Bevis held out the palm of his hand, and Pan came nearer and put his
chin in the hollow of it, as he had done these hundreds of times.  Pan
looked up, and wagged his tail, thump, thump, on the deck of the raft.
If we could put the intelligence of the dog in the body of the horse,
size, speed, and grace, what an animal that would be!

"Lots of perch here," said Mark; "I shall come and fish.  Suppose we
land and go up the Sweet River?"

"It belongs to the king of this country, I expect," said Bevis.  "He
sits on a throne of ebony with a golden footstool, and they wave fans of
peacocks' feathers, and the room is lit up by a single great diamond
just in the very top of the dome of the ceiling, which flashes the
sunshine through, down from outside.  The swan belongs to him."

"And he keeps the Sweet River just for himself to drink from, and
executes everybody who dares drink of it," said Mark.

Just then a bird flew noiselessly up into the beech over them, they saw
it was a jay, and kept quite still.  The next instant he was off, and
they heard him and his friends, for a jay is never alone, screeching in
the jungle.  Looking back towards the quiet bay, it appeared as if it
was raining fast, but without a sound, for the surface was dimpled with
innumerable tiny circlets like those caused by raindrops.  These were
left by the midges as they danced over the water, touching it now and

"Did you hear that?"  It was the sound of a distant gun shorn of the
smartness of the report by the trees.

"The savages have matchlocks," said Bevis.  "They must be ever so much
more dangerous than we thought."

"Perhaps we'd better go," said Mark, casting off the beech bough.

The current slowly drifted the raft out into the bay, and then they took
their poles, and returned along the channel between the reeds and sedge
banks.  It took some time to reach New Formosa.

"I wonder if the creature out of the wave has been," said Mark.
"Suppose we go very quietly and see what it is."

"So we will."

Keeping Pan close at their heels, they stole along the path to the
stockade, then crept up behind it to the gateway, and suddenly burst in.

"Here he is."


"O! it's the pheasant!"

"Only the pheasant!"

The pheasant, flying straight out to sea for the cornfields, halted on
New Formosa, attracted by the glimpse he caught of the fence and hut.
The enclosure seemed so much like that in which he had been bred, and in
which he had enjoyed so much food, that he came down and rambled about
inside, visiting even the cave, and stepping on the table.

When they came in so unexpectedly on him, he rose up rocket-like, and at
first made towards the jungle, but in a minute, recovering himself, he
swept round and went to the mainland by the Waste.  He did not want to
return to the preserves--anywhere else in preference.

While the dinner was preparing, Mark got out his fishing-rod, and fitted
up the spinning tackle for pike, for he meant to angle round the island,
and also some hooks for trimmers, if he could catch any bait, and hooks
for nightlines, in case there should be eels.  These trimmers and
nightlines put them in mind of traps for kangaroos, they had no traps,
but determined to set up some wires at a good distance from the knoll,
so as not, in any case, to interfere with their shooting.

After dinner, as Mark wanted to go fishing, Bevis watched for Charlie,
and looking through the telescope, saw the herd of buffaloes on the
green hill under the sycamore-trees.  One cow held her head low, and a
friend licked her poll.  A flock of rooks were on the slope, and had he
not known, he could have told which way the wind blew, as they all faced
in one direction, and always walk to meet the breeze.  When they flew up
he knew Charlie was approaching.  Charlie did not stay after making the
signal, so Bevis went down and walked round the island till he found

As yet, Mark had had no success, but he had fixed on a spot to set the
nightlines.  Returning along the other shore, fishing as he went, Bevis
with him, they remembered that that night the letter must be taken to
Loo to post, and thought they had better have a look at the channel
through the weeds, or else by moonlight they might not get to the
mainland so easily.

The best tree to climb was a larch which grew apart from the wood, and
rose up to a great height, balanced each side with its long slender
branches.  The larch, when growing alone, is a beautiful tree.  It is
too often crowded into plantations which to it are like the `Black Hole'
of Calcutta to human beings.  Up they went, Mark first, as quickly as
sailors up the ratlins, for the branches, at regular intervals, had
grown on purpose for climbing, only they had to jam their hats on, and
not look higher than the bough they were on, because of the dust of the
bark they shook down.

"There's the reapers," said Mark; "what a lot they have cut."

They could see the sheaves stacked, and the stubble, which was of a
lighter hue than the standing wheat.  Every now and then dark dots came
to the golden surface of the wheat like seals to breathe.  These dots
were the reapers' heads.

"There's the pheasant," said Bevis, pointing to the Waste.  The bird was
making his way zigzag round the green ant-hills, towards the stubble.
Sometimes he walked, sometimes he ran, now and then he gave a jump in
his run.  They lost sight of him behind a great grey boulder-stone,
whose top was visible above the brambles and rush-bunches which
surrounded its base.

"Jack's busy now up in the hills," said Mark, looking the other way
towards the Downs.  "He might just as well let us have the rifle while
he's busy with the harvest."

"Just as well.  I say, let's explore the Waste to-morrow.  It is a
wilderness--you don't know what you may not find in a wilderness."

"Grey stones," said Mark.  "They're tombs--genii live in them."

"Serpents guarding treasures, and lamps burning; they have been burning
these ages and ages--"

"Awful claps of thunder underground."

"We will go and see to-morrow--I believe there are heaps of kangaroos
out there."

"There's the channel."

They could trace its windings from the tree, and marked it in their
minds.  At that height the breeze came cool and delicious; they sat
there a long while silent, soothed by the rustle and the gentle sway of
the branches.  They could feel the mast-like stem vibrate--it did not
move sufficiently to be said to bend, or even sway--so slight was the
motion the eye could not trace it.  But it did move as they could feel
with their hands as the wind came now with more and now with less force.

When they descended, Mark continued fishing till they came to the raft.
They embarked and poled it round the island to the other side ready to
start in the evening.  Then Bevis wrote the letter dating it from Jack's
house up in the hills.  It was very short.  He said they were very well,
and jolly, and should not come back for a little while yet, but would
not be very long--this was in case any one should go up to see them.
But when he came to read it through for mistakes, the deceit he was
practising on dear mamma stood out before him like the black ink on the

"I don't like it," he said.  "It's not nice."

"No; it's not nice," said Mark, who was sitting by him.  "But still--"

"But still," repeated Bevis, and so the letter was put in an envelope
and addressed.  In the evening as the sun sank Mark tried for bait and
succeeded in catching some, these were for the trimmers.  Then they laid
out the night-line for eels far down the island where the edge looked
more muddy.  To fill up the time till it was quite moonlight, they
worked at a mast for the raft, and also cut some sedges and flags for
the roof of the open shed, which was to be put up in place of the

They supposed it to be about half-past nine when they pushed off on the
raft, taking with them the letter, a list of things to be got from the
town to save the labour of cooking, and the flag-basket.  The trimmers
were dropped in as they went.  Mark was going to wait by the raft till
Bevis returned under the original plan, but they agreed that it would be
much more pleasant to go together, the raft would be perfectly safe.
They found the channel without difficulty, the raft grounded among the
sedges, and they stepped out, the first time they had landed on the

As they walked they saw a fern owl floating along the hedge by the
stubble.  The beetles hummed by and came so heedlessly over the hedge as
to become entangled in the leaves.  They walked close to the hedge
because they knew that the very brightest moonlight is not like the day.
By moonlight an object standing apart can be seen a long distance, but
anything with a background of hedge cannot be distinguished for certain
across one wide field.  That something is moving there may be
ascertained, but its exact character cannot be determined.

As they had to travel beside the hedges and so to make frequent detours,
it occupied some time to reach the cottage, which they approached over
the field at the back.  When they were near enough, Bevis whistled--the
same notes with which he and Mark called and signalled to each other.
In an instant they saw Loo come through the window, so quickly that she
must have been sleeping with her dress on; she slipped down a lean-to or
little shed under it, scrambled through a gap in the thin hedge, and ran
to them.

She had sat and watched and listened for that whistle night after night
in vain.  At last she drew her cot (in which her little brother also
slept) across under the window, and left the window open.  Her mind so
long expecting the whistle responded in a moment to the sound when it
reached her dreaming ear.  She took the letter (with a penny for the
stamp) and the list and basket, and promised to have the things ready
for them on the following evening.

"And remember," said Bevis, "remember you don't say anything.  There
will be a shilling for you if you don't tell--"

"I shouldn't tell if there wurdn't no shilling," said Loo.

"You mind you do not say a word," added Mark.  "Nobody is to know that
you have seen us."

"Good-night," said Bevis, and away they went.  Loo watched them till
they were lost against the dark background of the hedge, and then
returned to her cot, scrambling up the roof of the shed and in at the

They got back to the island without any difficulty, and felt quite
certain that no one had seen them.  Stirring up the embers of the fire,
they made some tea, but only had half a cold damper to eat with it.
This day they had fared worse than any day since they arrived on New
Formosa.  They were too tired to make a fresh damper (besides the time
it would take) having got up so early that morning, and Bevis only
entered two words in his journal--"Monday--Loo."

Then they fastened Pan to the door-post, allowing him enough cord to
move a few yards, but taking care to make his collar too tight for him
to slip his head.  Pan submitted with a mournful countenance, well he
understood why he was served in this way.

Volume Three, Chapter VIII.


In the morning, after the bath, Mark examined the night-line, but it was
untouched; nor was there a kangaroo in the wires they had set up in
their runs.  Poling the raft out to the trimmers they found a jack of
about two pounds on one, and the bait on another had been carried off,
the third had not been visited.  Bevis wanted to explore the Waste, and
especially to look at the great grey boulder, and so they went on and
landed among the sedges.

Making Pan keep close at their heels, they cautiously crept through the
bramble thickets--Pan tried two or three times to break away, for the
scent of game was strong in these thickets--and entered the wild
pasture, across which they could not see.  The ground undulated, and
besides the large ant-hills, the scattered hawthorn bushes and the
thickets round the boulders intercepted the view.  If any savages
appeared they intended to stoop, and so would be invisible; they could
even creep on hands and knees half across the common without being seen.
Pan was restless--not weary this morning--the scent he crossed was
almost too much for his obedience.

They reached the boulder unseen--indeed there was no one to see them--
pushed through the bushes, and stood by it.  The ponderous stone was
smooth, as if it had been ground with emery, and there were little
circular basins or cups drilled in it.  With a stick Bevis felt all
round and came to a place where the stick could be pushed in two or
three feet under the stone, between it and the grass.

"It's hollow here," he said; "you try."

"So it is," said Mark.  "This is where the treasure is."

"And the serpent, and the magic lamp that has been burning ages and

"If we could lift the stone up."

"There's a spell on it; you couldn't lift it up, not with levers or

Pan sniffed at the narrow crevice between the edge of the boulder and
the ground--concealed by the grass till Bevis found it--but showed no
interest.  There was no rabbit there.  Such great boulders often have
crevices beneath, whether this was a natural hollow, or whether the
boulder was the capstone of a dolmen was not known.  Whirr-rr!

A covey of partridges flew over only just above the stone, and within a
few inches of their heads which were concealed by it.  They counted
fourteen--the covey went straight out across the New Sea, eastwards
towards the Nile.  From the boulder they wandered on among the ant-hills
and tall thistles, disturbing a hare, which went off at a tremendous
pace, bringing his hind legs right under his body up to his shoulder in
his eagerness to take kangaroo bounds.

Presently they came to the thick hedge which divided the Waste from the
cornfields.  Gathering a few blackberries along this, they came to a
gate, which alarmed them, thinking some one might see, but a careful
reconnaissance showed that the reapers had finished and left that field.
The top bar of the gate was pecked, little chips out of the wood, where
the crows had been.

"It's very nice here," said Mark.  "You can go on without coming to the
Other Side so soon."

After their life on the island, where they could never walk far without
coming in sight of the water, they appreciated the liberty of the
mainland.  Pan had to have several kicks and bangs with the stick, he
was so tempted to rush into the hedge, but they did not want him to
bark, in case any one should hear.

"Lots of kangaroos here," said Bevis, "and big kangaroos too--hares you
know; I say, I shall come here with the matchlock some night."

"So we will."

There was a gap in the corner, and as they came idling along they got up
into the double mound, when Bevis, who was first, suddenly dropped on
his knees and seized Pan's shaggy neck.  Mark crouched instantly behind

"What is it?" he whispered.

"Some one's been here."

"How do you know?"


Mark sniffed.  There was the strong pungent smell of crushed nettles.
He understood in a moment--some one had recently gone through and
trampled on them.  They remained in this position for five minutes,
hardly breathing, and afraid to move.

"I can't hear any one," whispered Mark.


"Must have gone on."

Bevis crept forward, still holding Pan with one hand; Mark followed, and
they crossed the mound, when the signs of some one having recently been
there became visible in the trampled nettles, and in one spot there was
the imprint of a heel-plate.

"Savages," said Bevis.  "Ah!  Look."

Mark looked through the branches and a long way out in the stubble,
moving among the shocks of wheat, he saw Bevis's governor.  They watched
him silently.  The governor walked straight away; they scarcely breathed
till he had disappeared in the next field.  Then they drew back into the
Waste, and looked at one another.

"Very nearly done," said Mark.

"We won't land again in daylight," said Bevis.

"No--it's not safe; he must have been close."

"He must have got up into the mound and looked through," said Bevis.
"Perhaps while we were by the gate."

"Most likely.  He came across the stubble, why he was that side while we
were this."

"Awfully nearly done; why it must have been the governor who startled
the partridges!"

"Stupes we were not to know some one was about."

"Awful stupes."

They walked back to the raft, keeping close to the hedge, and crept on
all fours among the ant-hills so as to pass the gateway without the
possibility of being seen, though they knew the governor was now too far
to observe them.

The governor had been to look at the progress made by the reapers, and
then strolled across the stubble, thinking to see what birds were about,
as it was not such a great while till the season opened.  Coming to the
mound, he got up and looked through into the Waste, over which (as over
the New Sea) he held manorial rights.  At the moment he was looking out
into the pasture they were idly approaching him along the hedge, and had
he stopped there they would have come on him.  As it was, he went back
into the stubble, and had gone some fifty yards with his back turned
when they entered the gap.

"We might have been tortured," said Mark, as they stepped on the raft.
"Tied up and gimlets bored into our heads."

"The king of this country is an awful tyrant," said Bevis.  "Very likely
he would have fixed us in a hollow tree and smeared us with honey and
let the flies eat us."

"Unless we could save his daughter, who is ill, and all the magicians
can't do her any good."

"Now they are hoping we shall soon come with a wonderful talisman.  We
must study magic--we keep on putting it off; I wonder if there really is
a jewel in the toad's head."

"You have not inked the wizard's foot on the gateway," said Mark.

When they got home Bevis inked it on the boards of the gate; he could
not do it on the rough bark of the gate-post.  They then worked at the
shed, and soon put it up in place of the awning, which was taken down
and carried to the raft.  Next the mast was erected, and sustained with
stays; it was, however, taken down again, so as to be out of the way
till required, and stowed at the side by the bulwarks.

The jack was cooked for dinner, and though not enough for such hungry
people it was a pleasant change from the perpetual rashers and damper.
After Charley had given the signal, they parted; Mark took his perch
tackle and poled the raft out near Pearl Island, where he thought he
might catch some perch.  Bevis loaded the matchlock with ball, and went
into ambush behind the ash-tree by Kangaroo Hill, to try and shoot a

Mark took Pan and worked the raft along till he was within forty or
fifty yards of Pearl Island, and on the windward side.  The wind had
been changeable lately, showing that the weather was not so settled as
it had been; it blew from the eastward that afternoon, just strong
enough to cause a ripple.  When he had got the raft into the position he
wished, Mark put the pole down and took his rod.

The raft, as he had designed, floated slowly, and without the least
disturbance of the water (such as his pole or oars would have caused)
before the wind, till it grounded on a shoal ten yards from Pearl
Island.  Mark knew of the shoal, having noticed the place before when
they were visiting the islets, and thought it would be a likely spot to
find perch.  The ripples breaking over the ridge of the shoal made a
miniature surf there.

On the outer or windward side the perch would be on the watch for
anything that might come along on the wavelets, and inside for whatever
might be washed from the shoal.  There were weeds at a short distance,
but none just there, and such places with a clear sandy bottom are the
favourite haunts of perch in waters like these.  First he fished outside
to windward, and his blue float went up and down on the ripples till
presently down it went at a single dive, drawn under at once by an eager

In a minute he had a perch on board about half a pound weight, and
shortly afterwards another, and then a third, for when perch are on the
feed they take the bait directly as fast as it can be put in to them.
Now Mark, though excited with his luck, was cool enough to observe one
little precaution, which was to use a fresh clean worm every time, and
not to drop in one that had been in the least degree mauled.  This
required some self-control, for several times the bait was scarcely
damaged, but it was a rule that he and Bevis had found out, and they
always adhered to it.

For fish have likes and antipathies exactly the same as other creatures,
and if one approaches a bait and turns disdainfully away it is quite
probable that three or four more may check their advance, whether from
imitation, or taking the opinion of the first as a guide to themselves.
So Mark always had a fresh, untainted bait for them, and in a very short
time he had six perch on the raft.  He put them in the locker.

There was then a pause, he had exhausted that school.  Next he tried
fishing out towards the nearest weeds, a small bunch at the utmost limit
of his throw, but as half an hour elapsed and he had no nibble he tried
inside the shoal to leeward.  In five minutes he landed a fine one,
quite two pounds and a half, whose leaps went thump, thump on the deck
like Pan's tail.  Ten minutes more and he caught another, this time
small, and that was his last.  There were either no more fish, or they
had no more credence.

He sat on the locker and watched his float till the sun grew low, but it
was no use.  He knew it was no use long before, but still he lingered.
Gold-diggers linger though they know their claim is exhausted.  The mind
is loth to acknowledge that the game is up.  Mark knew it was up; still
he waited and let his float uselessly rise and fall, till he heard the
report of the matchlock from the island, and then he poled homewards to
see what Bevis had shot.

In ambush, under the ash-tree, and behind the fringe of fern--one frond
was scorched where Mark had fired through it--Bevis watched with the gun
ready on the rest.  He had purposely gone a little too soon, that is,
before the shadow stretched right out across the glade, because if you
do not arrive till the last moment a kangaroo may be already out, and
will be alarmed.  Then it is necessary to wait till the others recover
from their fear; for if one runs in, the sound of his hasty passage
through the tunnels in the ground conveys the information to all in the

Not far from him there was a bunch of beautiful meadow geraniums; some
of their blue cups had already dropped, leaving the elongated
seed-vessel or crane's bill, something like the pointed caps worn by
mediaeval ladies.  The leaves are much divided; perhaps the wind-anemone
leaves (but these had withered long since) are most finely divided, and
if you will hold one so that its shadow may be cast by the sun on a
piece of white paper, you cannot choose but admire it.  While he sat
there, now and then changing the position of a limb with the utmost care
and deliberation, not to rustle the grass or to attract attention by
moving quickly (for kangaroos do not heed anything that moves very
slowly), he saw a brown furze-chat come to a tall fern and perch
sideways on the flattened yellow stalk.

Half an hour afterwards there came a sound like "top-top" from an oak on
his left hand--not the ivy-grown one--and when he had by great exertion
turned himself round, it is difficult to turn and still occupy the same
space, he followed up all the branches of the oak cautiously till he
found the bird.  If you glance, as it were, broadcast up into a tree
when it is in leaf, you see nothing, though the bird's note may fall
from just overhead.  Bevis first looked quickly up the larger leading
branches, letting his glance run up them; then he caused it to travel
out along the lesser boughs of one great branch, then of another, till
he had exhausted all.  Still he could not find it, though he heard the
"top-top."  But as he had now got a map of the tree in his eye, the
moment the bird moved he saw it.

It ran up a partly dead branch, then stopped and struck it with its
beak, and though the bird was no larger than a sparrow the sound of
these vehement blows could have been heard across the glade.  He saw
some white and red colour, but the glimpse he had was too short to
notice much.  The spotted woodpecker is so hasty that it is not often he
is in sight more than half a minute.  Bevis saw him fly with a flight
like a finch across to the ivy-grown oak, and heard his "top-top" from
thence.  One of the tits has a trick of tapping branches so much in the
same manner that if he is not seen the sound may be mistaken.

There was now a little rabbit out, but not worth shooting.  Restless as
Bevis was, yet the moment he fixed his mind to do a thing his will
magnetised the nerves and sinews.  He became as still as a tree and
scarcely heeded the lapse of time.  Bees went by, which reminded him of
the honey in the hollow ash, and he heard mice in the fern.  The shadows
had now deepened, and there were two thrushes and a blackbird out in the
grass.  Another little kangaroo appeared, and a third, and a long way
off, too far to shoot, there was one about three parts grown, which he
hoped would presently feed over within range.

After a while, as this did not happen, he began to think he would try
and shoot two of the smaller ones at once.  With shot this could have
been easily done, for they were often close together.  As he was
watching the young rabbits, and asking himself whether the ball would
strike both, a sense of something moving made him glance again up into
the oak on his left hand.  He did not actually see anything go up into
it, but the corner of his eye--while he was consciously gazing straight
forward--was aware that something had passed.

In a moment he saw it was a jay, which had come without a sound, for
though the jay makes such a screech when he opens his bill, his wings
are almost as noiseless as an owl's.  A wood-pigeon makes a great
clatter, hammering the air and the boughs; a jay slips into the tree
without a sound.  The bird's back was turned, and the white bar across
it showed; in a moment he moved, and the blue wing was visible.

"Frances would like it," Bevis thought, "to put in her hat."  The ferns
hid him on that side, and careless of the rabbits, he gently moved
himself round; the little kangaroos lifted their heads, the larger one
ran to his bury, for to bring his gun to bear on the oak Bevis was
obliged to expose himself towards the knoll.  Now he was round there was
this difficulty, the jay was high in the oak, and the rest was too low.

To aim up into the tree he must have extended himself at full length
with his chest on the ground, that would be awkward, and most likely
while he was doing it he should startle the bird.  He gently lifted the
heavy matchlock, sliding the barrel against the bark of the ash till he
had it in position, holding it there by pressing it with his left hand
against the tree.  This gave some support while his wrist was fresh, but
in a minute he knew it would feel the weight, and perhaps tremble.  It
was necessary to shoot quick for this reason, and because the jay never
stays long in any one tree; yet he wanted to take a steady aim.  He had
not shot anything with the matchlock, though he had designed it.

Bevis brought the barrel to bear, covered the jay with the sight, then
moved it the merest trifle to the left, so that he could just see the
bird, and drew the match down into the priming.  The bird was struck up
into the air by the blow of the ball and fell dead.  The wing towards
him and part of the neck had been carried away by the bullet, which,
coming upwards, had lifted the jay from the bough.  On the side away
from him the wing was uninjured; this was for Frances.  There was no
chance of getting a rabbit now, so he returned towards the hut, and had
not been there many minutes before Mark came running.

When the jay and the perch had been talked about enough, they made some
tea, and sat down to wait till it was moonlight.  Bevis got out his
journal and recorded these spoils, while the little bats flew to and fro
inside the stockade, and even under the open shed and over the table
just above their heads, having little more fear than flies.

Later on, having landed on the mainland, as they were going through the
stubble to meet Loo, they saw something move, and keeping quite still by
the hedge, it came towards them, when they knew it was a fox.  He came
down the furrow between the lands, and several times went nosing round
the shocks of wheat, for he looks on a plump mouse as others do on a
kidney for breakfast.  He did not seem to scent them, for when they
stepped out he was startled and raced away full speed.  At the whistle
Loo brought the flag-basket, heavy with the tinned tongues and potted
meats they had ordered.  She was frequently sent into the town on
errands from the house, so that there was no difficulty at the shop.
Bevis inquired how all were at home; all were well, and then wished her
good-night after exacting another promise of secrecy.  Loo watched them
out of sight.

That evening they had a splendid supper on New Formosa, and sat up
playing cards.

"How ought we to know that your governor and the Jolly Old Moke are all
right," said Mark, "as we're on an island seven thousand miles away?  Of
course we do know, but how _ought_ we to find out?  There was no
telegraph when we lived."

"Well, it's awkward," said Bevis--"it's very awkward; perhaps we had a
magic ring and looked through it and saw what the people were doing, or,
I know! there's the little looking-glass in the cave, don't you

"We brought it and forgot to hang it up."

"Yes; we saw them in a magic mirror, don't you see?"

"Of course--like a picture.  First it comes as a mist in the mirror, as
if you had breathed on it; then you see the people moving about, and
very likely somebody going to be married that you want, and then you cry
out, and the mist comes again."

"That's right: I'll put it down in the journal.  `Made magic and saw all
the blokes at home.'"

They fastened Pan up as before at the door-post before going to bed, and
gave him several slices of rolled tongue.  They slept the instant they
put their heads on the hard doubled-up great-coats which formed their

Volume Three, Chapter IX.


About the middle of the night Pan moved, sat up, gave a low growl, then
rushed outside to the full length of his cord, and set up a barking.

"Pan!  Pan!" said Bevis, awakened.

"What is it?" said Mark.

Hearing their voices and feeling himself supported, Pan increased his
uproar.  Bevis ran outside with Mark and looked round the stockade.  It
was still night, but night was wending to the morn.  The moon was low
behind the trees.  The stars shone white and without scintillating.
They could distinctly see every corner of the courtyard; there was
nothing in it.

"It's the something," said Mark.  Together they ran across to the
gateway in the stockade, though they had no boots on.  They looked
outside; there was nothing.  Everything was perfectly still, as if the
very trees slept.

"We left the gate open," said Bevis.

"I don't believe it's ever been locked but once," said Mark.

Neither had it.  On the boards the wizard's foot was drawn to keep out
the ethereal genii, but they had neglected to padlock the door to keep
out the material.  They locked it now, and returned to the hut.  Pan
wagged his tail, but continued to give short barks as much as to say,
that _he_ was not satisfied, though they had seen nothing.

"What can it be?" said Mark.  "If Pan used to swim off every night, he
could not have had all the things."

"No.  We'll look in the morning and see if there are any marks on the

They sat up a little while talking about it, and then reclined; in three
minutes they were firm asleep again.  Pan curled up, but outside the hut
now; once or twice he growled inwardly.

In the morning they remembered the incident the moment they woke, and
before letting Pan loose, carefully examined every foot of the ground
inside the stockade.  There was not the slightest spoor.  Nor was there
outside the gate; but it was possible that an animal might pass there
without leaving much sign in the thin grass.  When Pan was let free he
ran eagerly to the gate, but then stopped, looked about him, and came
back seeming: to take no further interest.  The scent was gone.

"No cooking," said Mark, as they sat down to breakfast.  "Glad I'm not a
girl to have to do that sort of thing."

"I wish there was some wind," said Bevis, "so that we could have a

There was a little air moving, but not sufficient to make sailing
pleasant in so cumbrous a craft as the Calypso.  They had their bath,
but did not cross to Serendib, lest Pan should follow and disturb the
water-fowl.  So soon as they had dressed, the matchlock was loaded--it
was Mark's day--and they brought the raft round.

Mark sat on the deck in front with the match lit, and the barrel
balanced on a fixed rest they had put up for it, not the movable staff.
Bevis poled the raft across to Serendib, and then very quietly round the
northern end of that island, where the water was deep enough to let the
raft pass close to the blue gum boughs.  Coming round to the other side,
Mark moved his left hand, which was the signal that they had agreed on,
when Bevis kept his pole on the ground, dragging so as to almost anchor
the Calypso.

In a quarter of a minute Mark fired, and Pan instantly jumped overboard.
The force of his fall carried him under water, but he rose directly and
brought the moorhen back to them.  Bevis dragged him on board--the
moorhen in his mouth--by the neck, for he could not climb over the
bulwarks from the water.  After the gun was loaded Bevis pushed on again
slowly, but the report had frightened the others, and there were no more
out feeding.  They stayed therefore under the blue gum boughs and
waited.  Pan wanted to leap ashore and play havoc, but they would not
let him, for it was impossible to shoot flying with their heavy gun.

Some time passed, and then Bevis caught sight of a neck and a head;
there was nothing more visible, near the shore along which they had
come.  It was a dab-chick or lesser grebe.  At that, the stern end of
the raft, there was no rest, but Mark sat down and put the barrel on the
bulwarks.  Bevis whispered to him to wait till the dab-chick turned its
head, for this bird, which swims almost flush with the water, goes under
in an instant, having only to get his head down to disappear.  He will
dive at the faintest sound or movement that he does not recognise, but
soon comes up again, and will often duck at the flash of a gun too quick
for the shot to strike him.  Mark waited his chance and instantly fired,
and Pan brought them the grebe.

They waited what seemed a very long time, but nothing appeared, so Pan
was thrown ashore by his neck crash in among the "gix" and meadowsweet.
He did not care for that, he went to work in an instant.  Mark got
ready, for though he could not shoot flying he thought some of them
would perhaps swim off.  This happened, two moorhens came rushing out,
one flew, the other swam as hastily as he could, and Mark shot the
latter.  But before he could load again Pan had disturbed the whole
island, some went this way, some that, and all the fowl were scattered.

It was some time before they could get the excited spaniel on board; so
soon as they could, Bevis poled the raft along to Bamboo Island, where
several coots and moorhens had taken refuge.  As they came near these
being now on the alert began to move off.  Mark aimed at one, but he was
he thought not quite near enough: Bevis poled faster, when the moorhen
at the splash began to rise, scuttling and dragging the long hanging
legs along the surface.

Mark drew the match down into the priming, the shot widening as it went,
struck up the water like a shower round the moorhen, which though only
hit by one pellet, fell and dived: Pan following.  The bird came up to
breathe.  Pan saw her, and yelped.  He touched ground and ran plunging
in the water, cantering, lifting his fore-paws and beating the water,
for he could not run in the same way as ashore.  He caught another
glimpse of the bird, dashed to the spot, and thrust his nose and head
right under, but missed her.  By now the raft had come up, and they beat
the weeds with their poles.  The moorhen doubled into the bamboos and
sedges, but they were so thick they hindered her progress, and Pan
snapped her up in a moment.

From Bamboo Island, Bevis poled round to five or six banks covered with
sedges, and Mark had another shot, but this time, perhaps a little too
confident, he missed altogether.  There did not seem any probability of
their shooting any more, so they returned towards New Formosa, when Mark
wanted to have one more look round the lower and more level end of that
island.  Bevis poled that way, and Mark, seeing something black with a
white bill moving in the weeds, fired--a very long shot--and felt sure
that he had wounded the bird, though for a minute it disappeared.
Presently Pan brought them a young coot.

Mark had now shot three moorhens, a coot, and a dab-chick, but what
pleased him most was the moorhen he had hit while flying, though but one
shot had taken effect.  He could not have shot so many with so cumbrous
a gun had not the water-fowl been nearly all young, and had not some
time gone by since the last raid had been made upon these sedgy covers;
so that, as is the case on all uninhabited islands, the birds were easy
to approach.

Finding that the sun-dial still only gave the time as half-past twelve,
Mark wanted to try spinning again for jack if Bevis was not too tired of
poling on the raft.  Bevis was willing, so they started again, and he
poled slowly along the edge of the broad bands of weeds, while Mark drew
the bait through the water.  He had one success, bringing a jack of
about two pounds on deck, but no more.

Then, returning to New Formosa, they visited the wires set for
kangaroos, which had been forgotten.  One had been pushed down, but
nothing was caught.  The wires were moved and set up in other runs, with
more caution not to touch the grass or the run--the kangaroo's
footpath--with the hand, and the loops were made a little larger.  If
the loop is too small the rabbit pushes the wire aside; so that it had
better be just a little too large, that the head may be certain to go
through, when the shoulders will draw the noose tight.  They did not sit
down to dinner till past two o'clock, having had a long morning, no part
of which had been lost in cooking.

Watching for Charlie in the afternoon, they reclined on the cliff under
the oak, resting, and talking but little.  The light of the sun was
often intercepted, not entirely shut off, but intercepted by thin white
clouds slowly drifting over, which like branches held back so much of
the rays that the sun could occasionally be looked at.  Then he came out
again and lit up the waters in gleaming splendour.  There was enough
ripple to prevent them from seeing any basking fish, but the shifting,
uncertain air was not enough to be called a breeze.

Lying at full length inside the shadow of the oak, Bevis gazed up at the
clouds, which were at an immense height, and drifted so slowly as to
scarcely seem to move, only he saw that they did because he had a fixed
point in the edge of the oak boughs.  So thin and delicate was the
texture of the white sky-lace above him that the threads scarcely hid
the blue which the eye knew was behind and above it.  It was warm
without the pressure of heat, soft, luxurious; the summer like them
reclined, resting in the fulness of the time.

The summer rested before it went on to autumn.  Already the tips of the
reeds were brown, the leaves of the birch were specked, and some of the
willows dropped yellow ovals on the water; the acorns were bulging in
their cups, the haws showed among the hawthorn as their green turned
red; there was a gloss on the blue sloes among the "wait-a-bit"
blackthorns, red threads appeared in the moss of the canker-roses on the
briars.  A sense of rest, the rest not of weariness, but of full growth,
was in the atmosphere; tree, plant, and grassy things had reached their
fulness and strength.

The summer shadow lingered on the dial, the sun slowed his pace, pausing
on his way, in the rich light the fruits filled.  The earth had listened
to the chorus of the birds, and as they ceased gave them their meed of
berry, seed, and grain.  There was no labour for them; their granaries
were full.  Ethereal gold floated about the hills, filling their hollows
to the brim with haze.  Like a grape the air was ripe and luscious, and
to breathe it was a drowsy joy.  For Circe had smoothed her garment and
slumbered, and the very sun moved slow.

They remained idle under the oak for some time after Charlie had made
the usual signal; but when the shadow of the wood came out over the
brambles towards the fence Mark reloaded the matchlock, and they went
into ambush by Kangaroo Hill among the hazel bushes this time on the
opposite side.  The hazel bushes seemed quite vacant, only one bird
passed while they were there, and that was a robin, come to see what
they were doing and if there was anything for him.  In the butchery of
the Wars of the Roses, that such flowers should be stained with such
memories! it is certain as the murderers watched the robin perched hard
by.  He listened to the voice of fair Rosamond; he was at the tryst when
Amy Robsart met her lover.  Nothing happens in the fields and woods
without a robin.

Mark had a shot at last at a kangaroo, but though Pan raced his hardest
it escaped into the bury.  It was of no use to wait any longer, so they
walked very slowly round the island, waiting behind every bush, and
looking out over the water.  There was nothing till, as they returned
the other side, they saw the parrots approach and descend into the
ivy-grown oak.  Bevis held Pan while Mark crept forward from tree-trunk
to tree-trunk till he was near enough, when he put the heavy barrel
against a tree, in the same way Bevis had done.  His aim was true, and
the parrot fell.

It had been agreed that Bevis should have the gun at night, for he
wished to go on the mainland and see if he could shoot anything in the
Waste, but still unsatisfied Mark wanted yet another shot.  The thirst
of the chase was on him; he could not desist.  Since there was nothing
else he fired at and killed a thrush they found perched on the top of
the stockade.  Mark put down the gun with a sigh that his shooting was

Bevis waited till it was full moonlight, putting down a few things in
his journal, while Mark skinned three of his finest perch, which he
meant to have for supper.  To be obliged to cook was one thing, to cook
just for the pleasure of the taste was a different thing.  He skinned
them because he knew the extreme difficulty of scraping the thickset
hard scales.  Presently Bevis loaded the gun; he was going to do so with
ball, when Mark pointed out that he could not be certain of a perfectly
accurate aim by moonlight.  This was true, so he reluctantly put shot.
Mark's one desire was to fetch down his game; Bevis wished to kill with
the precision of a single bullet.

They poled the raft ashore, and both landed, but Mark stayed among the
bramble thickets holding Pan, while Bevis went out into the Waste.  He
did not mean to stay in ambush long anywhere, but to try and get a shot
from behind the bushes.  Crouching in the brambles, Mark soon lost sight
of him, so soon that he seemed to have vanished; the ant-hills, the tall
thistles, and the hawthorns concealed him.

Bevis stepped noiselessly round the green ant-hills, sometimes startling
a lark, till, when he looked back, he scarcely knew which way he had
come.  In a meadow or a cornfield the smooth surface lets the glance
travel at once to the opposite hedge, and the shape of the enclosure or
one at least of its boundaries is seen, so that the position is
understood.  But here the ant-hills and the rush-bunches, the thickets
of thistles and brambles gave the ground an uneven surface, and the
hawthorn-trees hid the outline.

There was no outline; it was a dim uncertain expanse with shadows, and a
grey mist rising here and there, and slight rustlings as pads pressed
the sward, or wings rose from roost.  Once he fancied he saw a light
upon the ground not so far off; he moved that way, but the thistles or
bushes hid it.  A silent owl startled him as it slipped past; he stamped
his foot with anger that he should have been startled.  Twice he caught
a glimpse of white tails, but he could not shoot running with the

Incessantly winding round and round the ant-hills, he did not know which
way he was going, except that he tried to keep the moon a little on his
left hand, thinking he could shoot better with the light like that.
After some time he reached a boulder, another one not so large as that
they had examined together; this was about as high as his chest.

He leaned against it and looked over; there was a green waggon track the
other side, which wound out from the bushes, and again disappeared among
them.  Though he knew that Mark could not be far, and that a whistle
would bring him, he felt utterly alone.  It was wilder than the island--
the desolate thistles, the waste of rushes, the thorns, the untouched
land which the ants possessed and not man, the cold grey boulder, the
dots of mist here and there, and the pale light of the moon.  Something
of the mystery of the ancient days hovers at night over these untilled
places.  He leaned against the stone and looked for the flicker of light
which he had seen, and supposed must be a will-o'-the-wisp, but he did
not see it again.

Suddenly something came round the corner of the smooth green waggon
track, and he knew in an instant by the peculiar amble that it was a
hare.  The long barrel of the matchlock was cautiously placed on the
stone, and he aimed as well as he could, for when looked at along a
barrel objects have a singular way of disappearing at night.  Then he
paused, for the hare still came on.  Hares seem to see little in front;
their eyes sweep each side, but straight ahead they are blind till the
air brings them the scent they dread.

All at once the hare sat up--he had sniffed Bevis, and the same minute
the flash rushed from the muzzle.  Bevis ran directly and found the hare
struggling; almost as soon as he had lifted him up Pan was there.  Then
Mark came leaping from ant-hill to ant-hill, and crushing through the
thistles in his haste.  As Mark had come direct from the shore he knew
the general direction, and they hurried back to the raft, fearing some
of the savages might come to see who was shooting on the mainland.  Once
on the island, as the perch were cooking, the game was spread out on the
table--three moorhens, a coot, a dab-chick, a wood-pigeon, a hare, and
the jack Mark had caught.

Of all the hare, or rather leveret, for it was a young one, was the
finest.  His black-tipped ears, his clean pads, his fur--every separate
hair with three shades of colour--it was a pleasure to smooth his fur
down with the hand.

"This is the jolliest day we've had," said Mark.  "All shooting and
killing and real hunting--real island--and no work and no cooking,
except just what we like.  It's splendid."

"If only Val and Cecil could see," said Bevis, handling the ears of his
hare for the twentieth time.  "Won't they go on when we tell them?"

"Don't talk about that," said Mark; "don't say anything about going
home; that's the Other Side, you know."

"So it is.  No, we won't say anything about it.  Isn't he a beauty!"

"A real beauty," said Mark.  "Now let's see how we can shoot a lot more
to-morrow; it's your turn; will you let me shoot once?"

"Of course; twice."

"Hurrah!  First let's get up very early and see if a kangaroo is out;
then let's go round Serendib; and, I say, let's go nearly up to Sweet
River Falls--not quite, not near enough for the savages--and, I say!
there must be heaps of things in all those sedges we tried to walk
through once!"

"We could pole across to them."

"Of course; and then get in ambush on the mainland in the evening, and
shoot another parrot, and fish--no, fishing is slow, rather.  Suppose we
make a fish-spear and stick them! and stick it into the mud for eels.
Could you think how to make a fish-spear, not my bone harpoon, an iron

"I'll try."

"O! you can do it; and let's put up some more wires, and--I do declare,
I forgot to put in some more trimmers; we might put twenty trimmers and

"And build a hut on Serendib to wait in in winter when the ducks come--
don't you remember last winter--hundreds of them?"

"First-rate!  But now to-morrow.  How stupid we never brought any nets!"

"Well, that was stupid," said Bevis, still stroking his hare; he loved
the creature he had slain.  "I can't think how we forgot the nets."

"There's thousands of fish; we could haul out a boatful.  Let's see,
isn't there anything else we could do?  Wish we had some ferrets!  It's
not the right time, but still it doesn't matter."

"Perhaps we could build a fence-net," said Bevis.  "I forget the proper
name; it's a stockade like a V, and you drive all the animals in with

"And a pit with strong spikes at the bottom in the corner.  The perch
are ready; move the things."

Bevis hung the hare up in the cave, but yet remained a moment to stroke
the unconscious creature.  The perch were very good indeed; as they were
not in a hurry the fish had been cooked better.  They played cards
afterwards, discussing in the meantime various ways of killing the
animals and birds about them.

Already in one day they had got more than enough to serve them for three
or four, yet they were not satisfied.  Like savages, they were hurried
on by the thirst of the chase, like the thirst for wine; their tongues
were parched with the dry sulphur fumes of powder; they hungered to
repeat the wild excitement when the game was struck and hunted down.
Had it been the buffaloes of the prairie, it would have been just the
same; had it been the great elephants of inner Africa, they would have
shot them down without even a thought of the ivory.

As they were fastening up Pan at the doorway before lying down they
recollected the visit of the unknown creature on the previous night, and
went out and padlocked the gate.  The matchlock was loaded with shot,
which did not require so accurate an aim, and was therefore best for
shooting in a hurry, and instead of being hung up it was leaned against
the wall as more accessible, and the priming seen to.  A long candle was
put in the lantern on the niche and left burning, so that if awakened
they could see to get the gun at once.  The creature went off so quickly
that not a moment must be lost in shooting if it came again, and they
said to each other (to set the clock of their minds) that they would not
stop to listen, but jump up the second they awoke if Pan barked.  This
time they thought they should be sure to see the animal at least, if not
shoot it.

Volume Three, Chapter X.


Pan did bark.  It seemed to them that they had scarcely closed their
eyes; in reality they had slept hours; and the candle had burned short.
The clock of their minds being set, they were off the bed in an instant.
Bevis, before his eyes were hardly open, was lighting the match of the
gun; Mark had darted to the curtain at the door.

There was a thick mist and he could see nothing: in a second he snatched
out his pocket-knife (for they slept in their clothes), and cut the cord
with which Pan was fastened up just as Bevis came with the gun.  Pan
raced for the aperture in the fence at the corner by the cliff--he
perfectly howled with frantic rage as he ran and crushed himself
through.  They were now under the open shed outside the hut, and heard
Pan scamper without; suddenly his howl of rage stopped, there was a
second of silence, then the dog yelled with pain.  The next moment he
crept back through the fence and before he was through something hurled
itself against the stockade behind him with such force that the fence

"Shoot--shoot there," shouted Mark, as the dog crept whining towards
them.  Bevis lifted the gun, but paused.

"If the thing jumps over the fence," he said.  He had but one shot, he
could not load quickly: Mark understood.

"No--no, don't shoot.  Here--here's the bow."

Bevis took it and sent an arrow at the fence in the corner with such
force that it penetrated the willow-work up to the feather.  Then they
both ran to the gate and looked over.  All this scarcely occupied a

But there was nothing to see.  The thick white mist concealed everything
but the edge of the brambles near the stockade, and the tops of the
trees farther away.

"Nothing," said Mark.  "What was it?"

"Shall we go out?" said Bevis.

"No--not till we have seen it."

"It would be better not--we can't tell."

"You can shoot as it jumps the fence," said Mark, "if it comes: it will
stop a minute on the top."

Unless they can clear a fence, animals pause a moment on the top before
they leap down.  They went back to the open shed with a feeling that it
would be best to be some way inside the fence, and so have a view of the
creature before it sprang.  Mark picked up an axe, for he had no weapon
but a second arrow which he had in his hand: the axe was the most
effective weapon there was after the gun.  They stood under the shed,
watching the top of the stockade and waiting.

Till now they had looked upon the unknown as a stealthy thief only, but
when Pan recoiled they knew it must be something more.

"It might jump down from the cliff," said Bevis.

While they watched the semi-circular fence in front the creature might
steal round to the cliff and leap down on the roof of the hut.  Mark
stepped out and looked along the verge of the sand cliff.  He could see
up through the runners of the brambles which hung over the edge, and
there was nothing there.  Looking up like this he could see the pale
stars above the mist.  It was not a deep mist--it was like a layer on
the ground, impenetrable to the eye longitudinally, but partially
transparent vertically.  Returning inside, Mark stooped and examined
Pan, who had crept at their heels.  There were no scratches on him.

"He's not hurt," said Mark.  "No teeth or claws."

"But he had a pat, didn't he?"

"I thought so--how he yelled!  But you look, there's no blood.  Perhaps
the thing hit him without putting its claws out."

"They slip out when they strike," said Bevis, meaning that as wild
beasts strike their claws involuntarily extend from the sheaths.  He
looked, Pan was not hurt; Mark felt his ribs too, and said that none
were broken.  There were no fragments of fur or hair about his mouth, no
remnants of a struggle.

"I don't believe he fought at all," said Bevis.  "He stopped--he never
went near."

"Very likely: now I remember--he stopped barking all at once; he was

"That was it: but he yelled--"

"It must have been fright," said Mark.  "Nothing touched him: Pan, what
was it?"

Pan wagged his tail once, once only: he still crouched and kept close to
them.  Though patted and reassured, his spirit had been too much broken
to recover rapidly.  The spaniel was thoroughly cowed.

"It came very near," said Bevis.  "It hit the fence while he was getting

"It must have missed him--perhaps it was a long jump.  Did you hear
anything rush off."


"No more did I."

"Soft pads," said Bevis, "they make no noise like hoofs."

"No, that was it: and it's sandy too."  Sand "gives" a little and
deadens the sound of footsteps.

"Let's go and look again."

"So we will."

They went to the gate--Pan, they noticed did not follow--and looked over
again: this time longer and more searchingly.  They could see the ground
for a few yards, and then the mist obscured it like fleece among

"Pan's afraid to come," said Mark, as they went back to the shed.

"The fire ought to be lit," said Bevis.  "They are afraid of fire."

"You watch," said Mark, "and I'll light it."

He drew on his boots, and put on his coat--for they ran out in waistcoat
and trousers--then he held the gun, while Bevis did the same; then Bevis
took it, and Mark hastily gathered some sticks together and lit them,
often glancing over his shoulder at the fence behind, and with the axe
always ready to his hand.  When the flames began to rise they felt more
at ease; they knew that wild beasts dislike fire, and somehow fire warms
the spirit as well as the body.  The morning was warm enough, they did
not need a fire, but the sight of the twisted tongues as they curled
spirally and broke away was restorative as the heat is to actual bodily
chill.  Bevis went near: even the spaniel felt it, he shook himself and
seemed more cheerful.

"The thing was very near when we first went out," said Bevis.  "I wish
we had run to the gate directly without waiting for the gun."

"But we did not know what it was."


"And I cut Pan loose directly."

"It had only to run ten yards to be out of sight in the mist."

"And it seems so dark when you first run out."

"It's lighter now."

"There's no dew."

"Dry mist--it's clearing a little."

As they stood by the fire the verge of the cliff above the roof of the
hut came out clear of vapour, then they saw the trees outside the
stockade rise as it were higher as the vapour shrunk through them: the
stars were very faint.

"Lu--lu!" said Mark, pointing to the crevice between the fence and the
cliff, and urging Pan to go out again: the spaniel went a few yards
towards it, then turned and came back.  He could not be induced to
venture alone.

"Lions _do_ get loose sometimes," said Bevis thoughtfully.  He had been
running over every wild beast in his mind that could by any possibility
approach them.  Cases do occur every now and then of vans being
overturned, and lions and tigers escaping.

"So they do, but we have not heard any roar."

"No, and we must have come on it if it stops on the island," said Bevis.
"We have been all round so many times.  Or does it go to and fro--do
lions swim?"

"He would have no need to," said Mark.  "I mean not after he had swum
over here, he wouldn't go away for us--he could lie in the bushes."

"Perhaps we have gone close by it without knowing," said Bevis.
"There's the `wait-a-bit thorns.'"

They had never been through the thicket of blackthorn.

"Pan never barked though.  He's been all round the island with us."

"Perhaps he was afraid--like he was just now."

"Ah, yes, very likely."

"And we hit him too to keep him quiet, not to startle the kangaroos."

"Or the water-fowl--so we did: we may have gone close by it without

"In the `wait-a-bits' or the hazel."

"Or the sedges, where it's drier."

"Foxes lie in withy beds--why should not this?"

"Of course: but I say--only think, we may have gone within reach of its
paw ten times."

"While we were lying down too," said Bevis, "in ambush It might have
been in the ferns close behind."

"All the times we walked about and never took the gun," said Mark; "or
the bow and arrow, or the axe, or anything--and just think!  Why we came
back from the raft without even a stick in our hands."

"Yes--it was silly: and we came quietly too, to try and see it."

"Well, we just were stupid!" said Mark.  "Only we never thought It could
be anything big."

"But It must be."

"Of course It is: we won't go out again without the gun, and the axe--"

"And my bow to shoot again, because you can't load a matchlock quick."

"That's the worst of it: tigers get loose too sometimes, don't they? and
panthers more often, because there are more of them."

"Yes, one is as dangerous as the other.  Panthers are worse than lions."

"More creepy."

"Cattish.  They slink on you; they don't roar first."

"Then perhaps it's a panther."

"Perhaps.  This is a very likely place, if anything has got loose;
there's the jungle on the mainland, and all the other woods, and the
Chase up by Jack's."

"Yes--plenty of cover: almost like forest."

Besides the great wood in which they had wandered there were several
others in the neighbourhood, and a Chase on the hills by Jack's, so that
in case of a beast escaping from a caravan it would find extensive cover
to hide in.

"Only think," said Bevis, "when we bathed!"

"Ah!"  Mark shuddered.  While they bathed naked and unarmed, had it
darted from the reeds they would have fallen instant victims, without
the possibility of a struggle even.

"It _is_ horrible," said Bevis.

"There are reeds and sedges everywhere," said Mark.  "It may be

"It's not safe to move."

"Especially as Pan's afraid and won't warn us.  _If_ the thing had seen
us bathing; It could not, or else--ah!"

"They tear so," said Bevis.  "It's not the wound so much as the

"Like bramble hooks," said Mark.  The curved hooks of brambles and
briars inflict lacerated hurts worse than the spikes of thorns.  Flesh
that is torn cannot heal like that which is incised.  "O! stop! panthers
get in trees, don't they?  It may have been up in that oak that day!"

"In the ivy: we looked!"

"But the ivy is thick and we might not have seen!  It might have jumped
down on us."

"So it might any minute in the wood."

"Then we can't go in the wood."

"Nor among the sedges round the shore."

"Nor the brambles, nor fern, nor hazel."

"Nowhere--except on the raft."

"Then we must take care how we come back."

"How shall we sleep!"

"Ah!--think, it might have come any night!"

"We left the gate open."

"O! how stupid we have been."

"It could kill Pan with one stroke."

"And Pan was not here: he used to swim off."

"Directly he was tied up, you recollect, the very first night, he
barked--no, the second."

"It may have come _every_ night before."

"Right inside the stockade--under the awning."

"Into the hut while we were away--the bacon was on the shelf."

"If It could jump up like that, it could jump the fence."

"Of course; and it shows it was a cat-like creature, because it could
take one thing without disturbing another.  Dogs knock things down, cats

"No, panthers are a sort of big cat."

"That's what gnawed the jack's head."

"And why there was no mark on the ground--their pads are so soft, and
don't cut holes like hoofs."

"The kangaroos too, you remember: very often they wouldn't come out.
Something was about."

"Of course.  How could we have been so stupid as not to see this

"Why, we never suspected."

"But we ought to have suspected.  You thought you saw something move in
the sedges on Sunday."

"So I did--it was this thing: it must have been."

"Then it swims off and comes back."

"Then if we hunt all over the island and don't find It--we're no safer,
because it may come off to us any time."

"Any time."

"What _shall_ we do?"

"Can't go home," said Bevis.

"Can't go home," repeated Mark.

They could not desert their island: it would have been so like running
away too, and they had so often talked of Africa and shooting big game.
Then to run away when in its presence would have lowered them in their
own estimation.

"Can't," said Bevis again.

"Can't," again repeated Mark.  They _could_ not go--they must face It,
whatever it was.

"We shall have to look before every step," said Bevis.  "Up in the
trees--through the bushes--and the reeds."

"We must not go in the reeds much: you can't tell there--"

"No, not much.  We must watch at night.  First one, and then the other."

"And keep the fire burning.  There ought to be a fence along the top of
the cliff."

"Yes--that's very awkward: you can't put stakes in hard sand like that."

"We must drive in some--and cut them sharp at the top."

"What a pity the stockade is not sharp at the top!--Nails, that's it: we
must drive in long nails and file the tops off!"

"And put some stakes with nails along the cliff--the thing could not get
in quite so quick."

"The gate is not very strong: we must barricade it."

"Wish we could lock the door!"

"I should think so!"

Now they realised what is forgotten in the routine of civilised life--
the security of doors and bolts.  Their curtain was no defence.

"Barricade the door."

"Yes, but not too close, else we can't shoot--we should be trapped."

"I see!  Put the barricade round a little way in front.  Why not have
two fires, one each side!"

"Capital.  We will fortify the place!  Loop-holes.  The weak spot will
be the edge of the cliff up there.  If we put a fire there people may
see it--savages--and find us."

"That won't do."

"No: we must fortify the edge somehow, stakes with nails for one thing.
Perhaps a train of gunpowder!"

"Ah, yes.  Lucky we've got plenty to eat.  It won't be nice not to have
the gun loaded.  I mean while loading the thing might come."

"We've got plenty to eat."

"And I wanted a lot of shooting to-day," said Mark.

"All that's spoiled."

"Quite spoiled."

Yesterday they had become intoxicated with the savage joy of killing,
the savage's cruel but wild and abandoned and unutterable joy: they had
planned slaughter for to-day.  To-day they were themselves environed
with deadly peril.  This is the opposite side of wild life: the forest
takes its revenge by filling the mind with ceaseless anxiety.

"The sun!" said Bevis with pleasure as the rays fell aslant into the
open shed.  The sun had been above the horizon some little while but had
been concealed by the clouds and thick vapour.  Now that the full bright
light of day was come there seemed no need of such intense watchfulness.
It was hardly likely that they would be attacked in their stockade in
broad daylight; the boldest beasts of prey would not do that unless
driven very hard by hunger.

But when they began to prepare the breakfast, there was no water to fill
the kettle: Mark generally went down to the shore for water every
morning.  Although they had no formal arrangement, in practice it had
gradually come about that one did one thing and one another: Mark got
the water, Bevis cut up wood for the fire.  Mark had usually gone with
the zinc bucket, whistling down to the strand merry enough.  Now he took
up the bucket, but hesitated.

"I'll come," said Bevis.  "One can't go alone anywhere now."

"The other must always have the matchlock ready."

"Always," said Bevis, "and keep a sharp lookout all round while one does
the things.  Why the gun is only loaded with shot, now I remember!"

"No more it is: how lucky It did not jump over!  Shot would have been of
no use."

"I'll shoot it off," said Bevis--"our ramrod won't draw a charge--and
load again."

"Yes, do."

Bevis fired the charge in the air, and they heard the pellets presently
falling like hail among the trees outside.  Then he loaded again with
ball, blew the match, and looked to the priming; Mark took the axe in
one hand and the bucket in the other, and they unlocked the gate.

"We ought to be able to lock it behind us," he said.

"We'll put in another staple presently," said Bevis.  "Step carefully to
see if there are any marks on the ground."

They examined the surface attentively, but could distinguish no
footprints: then they went to the fence where the creature had sprung
against it.  The arrow projected, and near it, on close investigation,
they saw that a piece of the bark of the interwoven willow had been torn
off as if by a claw.  But look as intently as they would they could not
trace it further on such ground, the thin grass and sand would not take
an imprint.

"Pads," said Bevis, "else there would have been spoor."

"Tiger, or panther then: we must take care," said Mark.  "Pan's all
right now, look."

Pan trotted on before them along the well-known path to the shore,
swinging his tail and unconcerned.  As they walked they kept a watch in
every direction, up in the trees, behind the bushes, where the surface
was hollow, and avoided the fern.  When Mark had dipped, they returned
in the same manner, walking slowly and constantly on the alert.

Volume Three, Chapter XI.


Entering the stockade, they locked the gate behind them, a thing they
had never done before in daylight, that they might not be surprised.
After breakfast Bevis began to file off the heads of the nails, which
was slow work, and when he had done five or six, he thought it would be
handier to drive them into the posts first, and file them off
afterwards, as they could both work then instead of only one.  They had
but one vice to hold the nail and only one could use it at a time.  So
the nails, the longest and largest they had, were driven into the stakes
of the stockade about a foot apart--as near as the stakes stood to each
other--and thus, not without much weariness of wrist, for filing is
tedious, they cut off the heads and sharpened them.

Had these spikes been nearer together it would have been better, but
that they could not manage; the willow-work split if a large nail was
driven into it.  Next they got together materials for barricading the
door of the hut, or rather the open shed in front of it.  To cut these
they had to go outside, and Mark watched with the matchlock while Bevis

Poles were nailed across the open sides from upright to upright, not
more than six inches asunder right up to the beam on two sides.  This
allowed plenty of space to shoot through, but nothing of any size could
spring in.  On the third, the poles were nailed across up to three feet
high, and the rest prepared and left ready to be lashed in position with
cords the last thing at night.

When these were put up there would be a complete cage from within which
they could fire or shoot arrows, and be safe from the spring of the
beast.  Lastly, they went up on the cliff to see what could be done
there.  The sand was very hard, so that to drive in stakes the whole
length of the cliff edge would have taken a day, if not two days.

They decided to put up some just above the hut so as to prevent the
creature leaping on to the roof, and perhaps tearing a way through it.
Bevis held the matchlock this time and watched while Mark hewed out the
stakes, taking the labour and the watching in turn.  With much trouble,
these were driven home and sharpened nails put at the top, so that the
beast approaching from behind would have to leap over these before
descending the perpendicular cliff on to the hut.  The fortification was
now complete, and they sat down to think if there was anything else.

"One thing," said Mark, "we will take care and fill the kettle and the
bucket with water this evening before we go to sleep.  Suppose the thing
came and stopped just outside and wouldn't go away?"

"Besieged us--yes, that would be awkward; we will fill all the pots and
things with water, and get in plenty of wood for the fires.  How
uncomfortable it is without our bath!"

"I feel horrid."

"I _must_ have a bath," said Bevis.  "I _will_ have a swim."

"We can watch in turn, but if the panther sees any one stripped it's
more likely to try and seize him."

"Yes, that's true: I know!  Suppose we go out on the raft!"

"Right away."

"Out to Pearl Island and swim there: there are no sedges there."

"Hurrah!  If he comes we should see him a long way first."

"Of course, and keep the gun ready."

"Come on."

"First drive in the staple to lock the gate outside."

This was done, and then they went down to the raft, moving cautiously
and examining every likely place for the beast to lie in ambush before
passing.  The raft was poled round and out to Pearl Island, on which no
sedges grew, nor were there any within seventy or eighty yards.  Nothing
could approach without being seen.

Yet, when they stood on the brim ready to go into the water the sense of
defencelessness was almost overpowering.  The gun was at hand, and the
match burning, the axe could be snatched up in a moment, the bow was
strung and the sharp arrows by it.

But without their clothes they felt defenceless.  The human skin offers
no resistance to thorn or claw or tusk.  There is nothing between us and
the enemy, no armour of hide, his tusk can go straight to our lives at
once.  Standing on the brink they felt the heat of the sun on the skin:
if it could not bear even the sunbeams, how could so sensitive and
delicate a covering endure the tiger's claw?

"It won't do," said Mark.  "No."

"Suppose you watch while I swim, and then you swim and I watch?"

"That will be better."

Bevis stopped on board the raft, threw his coat loosely round his
shoulders,--for the sun, if he kept still, would otherwise redden and
blister, and cause the skin to peel,--and then took up the matchlock.
So soon as Mark saw he had the gun ready, he ran in, for it was too
shallow to plunge, and then swam round the raft keeping close to it.
When he had had his bath, he threw the towel round his shoulders to
protect himself from the heat as Bevis had with his coat and took the
gun.  Bevis had his swim, and then they dressed.

Poling the raft back to the island, they observed the same precautions
in going through the trees to the hut.  Once Mark fancied there was
something in the fern, but Pan innocently ran there before they could
call to him, and as nothing moved they went to the spot, and found that
two fronds had turned yellow and looked at a distance a little like the
tawny coat of an animal.  Except under excitement and not in a state of
terrorism they would have recognised the yellow fern in an instant; but
when intent on one subject the mind is ready to construe everything as
relating to it, and disallows the plain evidence of the senses.  Even
"seeing" is hardly "believing."

They reached the hut without anything happening, and as they could not
now wander about the island in the careless way they had hitherto done,
and had nothing else to do, they cooked two of the moorhens.  The gate
in the stockade was locked, and the gun kept constantly at hand.  A good
deal of match was consumed, as it had to be always burning, else they
could not shoot quickly.  Soon the sense of confinement became irksome:
they could not go outside without arming to the teeth, and to walk up
and down so circumscribed a space was monotonous, indeed they could not
do it after such freedom.

"Can't move," said Mark.

"Chained up like dogs."

"I hate it."

"Hate it!  I should think so!"

"But we can't go out."


They had to endure it: they could not even go up to see the time by the
dial without one accompanying the other with the gun as guard.  It was
late when they had finished dinner, and went up to watch for the signal.
On the cliff they felt more secure, as nothing could approach in front,
and behind the slope was partly open, still one had always to keep watch
even there.  Mark sat facing the slope with the gun: Bevis faced the New
Sea with the telescope.  The sky had clouded over and there was more
wind, in puffs, from the south-east.  Charlie soon came, waved the
handkerchief, and went away.

"I wish he was here," said Bevis.

"So do I now," said Mark, "and Val and Cecil--"

"And Ted."

"Yes.  But how could we know that there was a panther here?"

"But it serves us right for not asking them," said Bevis.  "It was
selfish of us."

"Suppose we go ashore and send Loo to tell Charlie and Val--"

"Last night," said Bevis, interrupting, "why--while I was out in the
wilderness and you were in the thicket the thing might have had either
of us."

"No one watching."

"If one was attacked, no one near to help."


"But we could both go together, and tell Loo, and get Charlie and Val
and Cecil and Ted.  If we all had guns now!"

"Five or six of us!"

"Perhaps if we told the people at home, the governor would let me have
one of his: then we could load and shoot quick!"

"And the Jolly Old Moke would let me have his! and if Val could get
another and Ted, we could hunt the island and shoot the creature."

Mark was as eager now for company as he had been before that no one
should enjoy the island with them.

"We could bring them all off on the raft," said Bevis.  "It would carry
four, I think."

"Twice would do it then.  Let's tell them!  Let's see Loo, and send her!
Wouldn't they come as quick as lightning!"

"They would be wild to help to shoot it."

"Just to have the chance."

"Yes; but I say! what stupes we should be!" said Bevis.

"Why?  How?"

"After we have had all the danger and trouble, to let them come in and
have the shooting and the hunt and the skin."

"Triumph and spoils!"

"Striped skin."

"Or spotted."

"Or tawny mane--we don't know which.  Just think, to let them have it!"

"No," said Mark.  "That we won't: we must have it."

"It's _our_ tiger," said Bevis.

"All ours."

"Every bit."

"The claws make things, don't they?" said Mark: he meant the reverse,
that things are made of tiger's claws as trophies.

"Yes, and the teeth."

"And the skin--beautiful!"




"We'll have him!"

"Kill him!"


Pan caught their altered mood and leaped on them, barking joyously.
They went down into the stockade and considered if there was anything
they could do to add to their defences, and at the same time increase
the chances of shooting the tiger.

"Perhaps he won't spring over," said Mark; "suppose we leave the gate
open? else we shan't get a shot at him."

"I want a shot at him while he's on the fence," said Bevis, "balanced on
the top, you know, like Pan sometimes at home."  In leaping a fence or
gate too high for him they had often laughed at the spaniel swaying on
the edge and not able to get his balance to leap down without falling
headlong.  "I know what we will do," he continued, "we'll put out some
meat to tempt him."


"Hang up the other birds--and my hare--no--shall I?  He's such a beauty.
Yes, I will.  I'll put the hare out too.  Hares are game; he's sure to
jump over for the hare."

"Drive in a stake half-way," said Mark, meaning half-way between the
cage and the stockade.  "Let's do it now."

There were several pieces of poles lying about, and the stake was soon
up.  The birds and the hare were to be strung to it to tempt the beast
to leap into the enclosure.  The next point was at what part should they
aim?  At the head, the shoulders, or where? as the most fatal.

The head was the best, but then in the hurry and excitement they might
miss it, and he might not turn his shoulder, so they decided that
whoever was on the watch at the moment should aim at the body of the
creature so as to be certain to plant a bullet in it.  If he was once
hit, his rage and desire of revenge would prevent him from going away;
he would attack the cage, and while he was venting his rage on the bars
there would be time to load and fire again.

"And put the muzzle close to his head the second time," said Mark.

"Certain to kill then."

They sat down inside the cage and imagined the position the beast would
be in when it approached them.  Mark was to load the matchlock for the
second shot in any case, while Bevis sent arrow after arrow into the
creature.  Pan was to be tied up with a short cord, else perhaps the
tiger or panther would insert a paw and kill him with a single pat.

"But it's so long to wait," said Mark.  "He won't come till the middle
of the night."

"He's been in the day when we were out," said Bevis.  "Suppose we go up
on the cliff, leave the gate open, and if he comes shoot down at him?"

"Come on."

They went up on the cliff, just behind the spiked stakes, taking with
them the gun, the axe, and bow and arrows.  If the beast entered the
enclosure they could get a capital shot down at him, nor could he leap
up, he would have to go some distance round to get at them, and meantime
the gun could be reloaded.  They waited, nothing entered the stockade
but a robin.

"This is very slow," said Mark.

"Very," said Bevis.  "What's the use of waiting?  Suppose we go and hunt
him up."

"In the wood?"

"Everywhere--sedges and fern--everywhere."


Up they jumped full of delight at the thought of freedom again.  It was
so great a relief to move about that they ignored the danger.  Anything
was better than being forced to stay still.

"If he's on the island we'll find him."

"Leave the gate open, that we may run in quick."

"Perhaps he'll go in while we're away, then we can just slip up on the
cliff, and fire down--"


"Look very sharp."

"Blow the match."

They entered among the trees, following the path which led round the
island.  Bevis carried the matchlock, Mark the bow and arrows and axe,
and it was arranged that the moment Bevis had fired he was to pass the
gun to Mark, and take his bow.  While he shot arrows, Mark was to load
and shoot as quick as he could.  The axe was to be thrown down on the
ground, so that either could snatch it up if necessary.  All they
regretted was that they had not got proper hunting-knives.

First they went down to the raft moored to the alder bough as usual,
then on to the projecting point where Mark once fished; on again to
where the willow-tree lay overthrown in the water, and up to the firs
under which they had reclined.  Then they went to the shore at the
uttermost southern extremity and sent Pan into the sedges.  He drove out
a moorhen, but they did not shoot at it now, not daring to do so lest
the beast should attack them before they could load again.

Coming up the western side of the island, they once thought they saw
something in the bushes, but found it to be the trunk of a fallen tree.
In going inland to Kangaroo Hill they moved more slowly as the wood was
thicker, and intent on the slightest indication, the sudden motion of a
squirrel climbing a beech startled them.  From the top of the green
knoll they looked all round, and thus examined the glade.  There was not
the slightest sign.  The feathers of a wood-pigeon were scattered on the
grass in one place, where a hawk had struck it down.  This had happened
since they were last at the glade.  It was probably one of the pigeons
that roosted in the ivy-grown oak.

Crossing to the oak, they flung sticks up into the ivy; there was no
roar in response.  While here they remembered the wires, and looked at
them, but there was nothing caught, which they considered a proof that
the rabbits were afraid to venture far from their burries while the
tiger, or whatever beast it was, was prowling about at night.

Returning to the shore, they recollected a large bed of sedges and
reed-grass a little way back, and going there Bevis shot an arrow into
it.  The arrow slipped through the reed-grass with a slight rustle till
it was lost.  The spaniel ran in and they heard him plunging about.
There was nothing in the reed-grass.

Lastly they went to the thicket of "wait-a-bit" blackthorn.  Pan did go
in, and that was as much, he soon came out, he did not like the
blackthorn.  But by throwing stones and fragments of dead branches up in
the air so that they should descend into the midst of the thicket they
satisfied themselves that there was nothing in it.  It was necessary to
cast the stones and sticks up into the air because they would not
penetrate if thrown horizontally.

The circuit of the island was completed, and they now crept up quietly
to the verge of the cliff behind the spiked stakes.  The stockade was
exactly as they had left it; Pan looked over the edge of the cliff into
it, and did not even sniff.  They went down and rested a few minutes.

There never was greater temerity than this searching the island for the
tiger.  Neither the bullet nor their arrows would have stayed the
advance of that terrible beast for a moment.  Inside their stockade and
cage they might withstand him; in the open he would have swept them down
just as a lady's sleeve might sweep down the chessmen on the board.
Thus in his native haunts he overthrows a crowd of spear-armed savages.

"He can't be on the island," said Mark.

"It's curious we did not see any sign," said Bevis.  "There are no marks
or footprints anywhere."

"If there was some clay now--wet clay," said Mark, "but it's all sandy;
his claws would show in clay like Pan's."

"Like a crab."  Pan's footprint in moist clay was somewhat crab-shaped.

"Is there no place where he would leave a mark?"

"Just at the edge of the water the moorhens leave footprints."

"That would be the place, only we can't look very close to the edge

"There's the raft; we could on the raft."

"Shall we go on the raft?"

"Suppose we go all round the island?" said Bevis, "on the raft."

"We never have been," said Mark.  "Not close to the shore."

"No; let us pole round close to the shore--all round, and see if we can
find any spoor in the shallows."

They went to the raft and embarked.  As they started a crimson glow shot
along under the clouds, the sun was sinking and the sky beamed.  The
wind had risen and the wavelets came splash, splash against the edge of
the raft.  Some of the yellow leaves of the willows floated along and
fell on the deck.  They poled slowly and constantly grounded or struck
the shore, so that it occupied some time to get round, especially as at
the southern extremity it was so shallow they were obliged to go a long
way out.

In about an hour they reached the thick bed of reed-grass into which
Bevis had shot his arrow, and as the raft slowly glided by Mark suddenly
exclaimed, "There it is!"

There it was--a path through the reed-grass down to the water's edge--
the trail of some creature.  Bevis stuck his pole into the ground to
check the onward movement of the raft.  The impetus of the heavy vessel
was so great though moving slowly that it required all his strength to
stay it.  Mark came with his pole, and together they pushed the raft
back, and it ran right up into the reed-grass and grounded.  Pan
instantly leapt off into the path, and ran along it wagging his tail; he
had the scent, though it seemed faint as he did not give tongue.  They
stood at the bulwark of the raft and looked at the trail.

Volume Three, Chapter XII.


At the water's edge some flags were bent, and then the tall grass, as
high as their chests, was thrust aside, forming a path which had
evidently been frequently trodden.  There was now no longer the least
doubt that the creature, whatever it was, was of large size, and as the
trail was so distinct the thought occurred to them both at once that
perhaps it had been used by more than one.  From the raft they could see
along it five or six yards, then it turned to avoid an alder.  While
they stood looking Pan came back, he had run right through and returned,
so that there was nothing in the reed-bed at present.

Bevis stepped over the bulwark into the trail with the matchlock; Mark
picked up the axe and followed.  As they walked their elbows touched the
grass each side, which showed that the creature was rather high than
broad, lean like the whole feline tribe, long, lean, and stealthy.  The
reed-grass had flowered and would soon begin to stiffen and rustle dry
under the winds.  By the alder a bryony vine that had grown there was
broken and had withered, it had been snapped long since by the creature
pushing through.

The trail turned to the right, then to the left round a willow stole,
and just there Pan, who trotted before Bevis, picked up a bone.  He had
picked it up before and dropped it; he took it again from habit, though
he knew it was sapless and of no use to him.  Bevis took it from his
mouth, and they knew it at once as a duck's drumstick.  It was polished
and smooth, as if the creature had licked it, or what was more probable
carried it some distance, and then left it as useless.  They had no
doubt it was a drumstick of the wild duck Mark shot.

The trail went straight through sedges next, these were trampled flat;
then as the sedges grew wider apart they gradually lost it in the thin,
short grass.  This was why they had not seen it from the land, there the
path began by degrees; at the water's edge, where the grasses were thick
and high, it was seen at once.  Try how they would, they could not
follow the trail inland, they thought they knew how to read "sign," but
found themselves at fault.  On the dry, hard ground the creature's pads
left no trail that they could trace.  Mark cut off a stick with the axe
and stuck it up in the ground so that they could find the spot where the
path faded when walking on shore, and they then returned to the raft.
On the way they caught sight of Bevis's arrow sticking in the trunk of
the alder, and withdrew it.

At the water's edge they looked to see if there was any spoor.  In
passing through the reed-grass the creature had trampled it down, and so
walked on a carpet of vegetation which prevented any footprints being
left on the ground though it was moist there.  At the water's edge
perhaps they might have found some, but in pushing the raft up the beams
had rubbed over the mud and obliterated everything.  When they got on
the raft they looked over the other bulwark, and a few yards from the
shore noticed that the surface of the weeds growing there appeared

The raft was moved out, and they found that the weeds had been trampled;
the water was very shallow, so that the creature in approaching the
shore had probably plunged up and down as the spaniel did in shallow
water.  Like the reed-grass the trampled weeds had prevented any
footprints in the ooze.  They traced the course the creature had come
out for fully thirty yards, and the track pointed straight to the shore
of the mainland so that it seemed as if it started at no great distance
from where they used to land.

But when they had thrust the raft as far as this, not without great
difficulty, for it dragged heavily on the weeds and sometimes on the
ground, the marks changed and trended southwards.  The water was a
little deeper and the signs became less and less obvious, but still
there they were, and they now pointed directly south.  They lost them at
the edge of the weeds, the water was still shallow, but the character of
the bottom had changed from ooze to hard rock-like sand.  Here they met
the waves driven before the southerly wind, and coming from that part of
the New Sea they had not yet explored.  The wind was strong enough to
make it hard work to pole the raft against it, and the spray dashed
against the willow bulwark.

These waves prevented them from clearly distinguishing the bottom,
though the water was very shallow, but then they thought if it had been
calm the creature's pads would have left no marks on such hard sand.  It
was now more than an hour after sunset, and the louring clouds rendered
it more dusky than usual so soon.  The creature had evidently come from
the jungle southwards, but it was not possible to go there that night in
the face of the rising gale.  The search must be suspended till morning.

Letting the raft drive before the wind, and assisting its progress by
poling, they managed to get it by sheer force through the weeds into the
clear deep water by the cliff, there they paddled it round, but unable
to touch bottom, the waves drifted them over to Serendib.  With
continual labour they poled it along the shore of Serendib, nearly to
the end of the island, and then half-way across, and paddling hard with
the poles contrived to get over aslant.  By the time they had moored it,
it was quite dusk, and they were tired with the exertion of forcing the
unwieldy craft in the face of the gale.

Hastening home they found the stockade just as it had been left, and
lost not a moment in lighting the fires, one on each side of the hut,
the wood for which had already been collected.  The gate was padlocked,
the kettle put on, and they sat down to rest.  A good supper and strong
tea restored their strength.  They sat inside the cage at the table, and
needed no lantern, for the light of the two fires lit up the interior of
the stockade.

As it became later the hare and the birds were fastened to the stake for
a bait, more wood was heaped on the fires, and last of all the remaining
poles were lashed to the uprights of the shed, forming a complete cage
with horizontal bars.  The matchlock was placed handy, the bow and
arrows laid ready, and both axes, so that if the beast inserted his paw
they could strike it.

Cards were then drawn to see who should go to sleep first, and as Bevis
cut highest, he went into the hut to lie down.  But after he had been
there about a quarter of an hour he jumped up, quite unable to go to
sleep.  Mark said he did not feel the least sleepy either, so they
agreed that both should sit up.  Till now they had been in the outer
shed or cage, but Mark thought that perhaps the creature would not come
if it saw them, so they went inside the hut, and made Pan come too.  The
curtain was partly let down and looped aside, so that they had a view of
the stockade, and the lantern lit and set in the niche.

They could hear the wind rushing over the trees outside, and every now
and then a puff entered and made the lantern flicker.  The fires still
burned brightly, and as nothing came the time passed slowly.  Bevis did
not care to write up his journal, so at last they fell back on their
cards and played bezique on the bed.  After a time this too wearied.
The tea and supper had refreshed them; but both had worked very hard
that day--a long day too, as they had been up so early--and their
interest began to flag.  The cards were put down and they stood up to
recover their wakefulness, and then went out into the cage.

The fires still flickered, though the piles of wood were burnt through,
and the sticks had fallen off, half one side half the other.  The wind
had risen and howled along, carrying with it a few leaves which blew
against the bars.  It was perfectly dark, for the thick clouds hid the
moon, and drops of rain were borne on the gale.  They would have liked
to replenish the fires, but could not get out without unlashing several
of the bars, and as Mark said the creature would be more likely to come
as the fires burned low.  Weary and yawning they went back into the hut
and sat down once more.

"One thing," said Mark, "suppose he were to stay just outside the
stockade--I mean if he comes and we shoot and hit him till he is savage,
and don't kill him, well then if he can't get in to us, don't you see,
when it is day he'll go outside the stockade and lie down."

"So that we can't go out."

"And there he'll stay, and wait, and wait."

"And stay till we are starved."

"We could not shoot him through the stockade."

"No.  Or he could go up on the cliff and watch there and never let us
out.  Our provisions would not last for ever."

"The water would go first."

"Suppose he does that, what shall we do then?" said Mark.

"I don't know," said Bevis languidly.

"But, now you think."

"Bore a tunnel through the cliff to the sea," said Bevis, yawning.  "I
am so sleepy, and one get out and swim round and fetch the raft."

"Tunnel from the cave right through?"

"Straight right through."

"We shall beat him any way," said Mark.

"Of course we shall.  Wish he'd come!  O!"--yawning--"Let us go to
sleep; Pan will bark."

"Not both," said Mark.



Mark would not agree to this.  In the end they cut cards again and Mark
won.  He stretched himself out on the bed and asked Bevis what he was
going to do.  Bevis took one of the great-coats (his pillow), placed it
on the floor by the other wall of the hut, sat down and leaned back
against the wall.  In this position, with the curtain looped up, he
could see straight out across to the gateway of the stockade, which was
visible whenever the embers of the fires sent up a flash of light.  Pan
was close by curled up comfortably.  He put the matchlock by his side so
that he could snatch it up in a moment.  "Good-night," he said; Mark was
already firm asleep.

Bevis put out his hand and stroked Pan; the spaniel recognised the touch
in his sleep, and never moved.  Now that it was so still, and there was
no talking, Bevis could hear the sound of the wind much plainer, and
once the cry of a heron rising harsh above the roar.  Sometimes the
interior of the stockade seemed calm, the wind blew over from the tops
of the trees to the top of the cliff, and left the hollow below in
perfect stillness.  Suddenly, like a genie, the wind descended, and the
flames leapt up on each side from the embers.  In a moment the flames
fell and the enclosure without was in darkness.

All was still again except the distant roar in the wood.  A fly kept
awake by the lantern crawled along under the roof, became entangled in a
spider's web and buzzed.  The buzz seemed quite loud in the silent hut.
Pan sighed in his slumber.  Bevis stretched his legs and fell asleep,
but a gnat alighted on his face and tickled him.  He awoke, shook
himself, and reproached himself for neglecting his duty.  The match of
the matchlock had now burned almost away; he drew the last two inches up
farther in the spiral of the hammer, and thought that he would get up in
a minute and put some more match in.  Ten seconds later and he was
asleep; this time firmly.

The last two inches of the match smouldered away, leaving the gun
useless till another was lit and inserted.  Down came the genie of the
wind, whirling up the grey ashes of the fires and waking a feebler
response.  The candle in the lantern guttered and went out.  As the dawn
drew on above them the clouds became visible, and they were now
travelling from the north-north-west, the wind having veered during the

A grey light came into the hut.  The strong gusts of the gale ceased,
and instead a light steady breeze blew.  The clouds broke and the sky
showed.  A crow came and perched on the stockade, then flew down and
picked up several fragments; it was the crow that had pecked the jack's
head.  He meditated an attack on the hare and the birds strung to the
stake, when Pan woke, yawned and stretched himself.  Instantly the crow
flew off.

Sunbeams fell aslant through the horizontal bars on to the table.  Pan
got up and went as far as the short cord allowed him; there was a crust
under the table; he had disdained it last night at supper, when there
was meat to be had, now he ate it.  He gave a kind of yawning whine, as
much as to say, "Do wake up;" but they were sleeping far too sound to
hear him.

Mark woke first, and sat up.  Bevis had slept a long time with his back
to the wall, but had afterwards gently sunk down, and was now lying with
his head on the bare ground of the floor.  Mark laughed.  Pan wagged his
tail and looked at Bevis as if he understood it.  Mark touched Bevis,
and he instantly sat up, and felt for the gun as if it was dark.


"It's morning."

"He hasn't been?"


They unlashed the bars, let Pan loose, and went out into the courtyard.
It was a beautiful fresh morning.  There were no signs whatever of the
creature having visited the place, neither outside nor in.  They were
much disappointed that it had not come, but supposed the wind and the
roughness of the waves had deterred it from venturing across.

After breakfast, on looking at the sun-dial, they were surprised to find
it ten o'clock.  Then taking the matchlock, bow, and axe, as before,
they started for the bed of reed-grass, thinking that the creature might
possibly have come to the island without approaching the stockade.  The
danger had now grown familiar, and they did not care in the least; they
walked straight to the place without delay or reconnoitring.  The trail
had not apparently been used during the night, a small branch of ash had
been snapped off and blown on to it, and the waves and wind had smoothed
away the disturbed appearance of the weeds.

As the wind was favourable and not rough, they at once resolved to sail
to the south and examine the shore there, and if they could hit upon the
trail to follow it up.  But first they must have their bath at Pearl
Island.  They returned to the hut, put the hare and birds that had been
hung on the stake inside the hut, and lashed up the bars, determined
that the creature at all events should not have the game in their

Then locking the gate of the stockade, they went to the raft, and bathed
at Pearl Island.  The mast was then stepped, the stays fastened, and the
sail set.  Bevis took the rudder and put it in the water over the
starboard quarter, it was like a long, broad oar, the sail filled, and
the heavy craft began to drive before the wind.  Mark knelt in front to
keep a sharp look-out for the shoals which they knew existed.  As the
Calypso drew so little water they passed over several without touching,
where the Pinta, deep with ballast, had struck, and were soon past the
farthest point they had reached in the boat.

Volume Three, Chapter XIII.


Surging along the Calypso sought the south, travelling but little faster
than the waves, but smoothing a broad wake as she drove over them.
Bevis held the oar-rudder under his right arm, with his hand on the
handle, and felt the vibration of the million bubbles rising from the
edge of the rudder to the surface.  Piloting the vessel Mark sometimes
directed him to steer to the right, and sometimes to the left.

There were four herons standing in a row on one sand-bank, they rose and
made off at their approach; Bevis said he must have a heron's plume.
They could just see the swan a long, long way behind in the broad open
water off Fir-Tree Gulf.  Not long after passing the heron's sand-bank,
Mark said he was sure the water was deeper, as there were fewer weeds,
but there was a long island in front of them which would soon bar their
progress.  It stretched from one mass of impenetrable weeds to another,
and they began to think of lowering sail, when suddenly the raft stopped
with a jerk, then swung round, and hung suspended.

"A snag," said Bevis, recovering himself.

Mark had been pitched forward, and had it not been for the
willow-plaited bulwark would have gone overboard.  They had the sail
down in a moment, fearing that the mast would snap.  As they moved on
the deck the raft swung now this way now that like a platform on a

"If it had been the Pinta," said Mark, "there would have been a hole
knocked in the bottom."

The thin planking of the boat would have been crushed like an egg-shell;
the thick beams at the bottom of the Calypso could not be damaged.  The
only difficulty was to get her off.  They tried standing at one edge,
and then the other, depressing it where they stood and lightening it at
the other part, and at last by moving everything heavy on deck to one
corner, she floated and bumped off.  Looking over the bulwark they saw
the snag, it was the top of a dead and submerged willow.  Had they had a
large sail, or had the wind been rough the mast would have snapped to a
certainty; but the wind had been gradually sinking for some hours.  They
did not hoist sail again, being so near the long and willow-grown
island, but let the raft drift to the shore.

The willows were so thick that it did not appear any use to carry the
matchlock with them as the long barrel would constantly catch in the
boughs.  Bevis took his bow and arrows, Mark his axe, and they climbed
ashore through the blue gums, compelling Pan by threats to keep close
behind.  The island they soon found was nothing but a narrow bank, and
beyond it the water recommenced, but even could they have dragged the
raft over and launched it afresh the part beyond would not have been
navigable.  It was plated with pond-weed, the brown leaves overlapping
each other like scale-armour on the surface.

There seemed indeed more weed than water, great water-docks at the
margin with leaves almost a yard long, branched water plantains with
palm-like leaves and pale pink flowers; flags already a little brown,
then sedges and huge tussocks; these last--small islets of tall grass--
were close together in the shallow water like the ant-hills in the
Waste.  No course could be forced through or twisted in and out such a
mass, and beyond it were beds of reed-grass, out of which rose the
reddish and scaling poles of willow.  At the distant margin they could
see the tops of the trees of the jungle on the mainland.  Where the
water was visible it had a red tinge and did not look good to drink,
very different from that at New Formosa.  This was stagnant.

The current, slight as it was, from Sweet River Falls, passed between
New Formosa and Serendib, hence the deep channel, and rendered the water
there always fresh and pure.  Over the pond-weed blue dragon-flies were
hovering, and among the willows tits called to each other.

"It's South America," said Mark.  "It's a swamp by the Amazon."

"I suppose it is," said Bevis.  "We can't go any farther."

Without wading-boots it was impossible to penetrate the swamp, and even
then they could not have gone among the black-jointed horse-tails, the
stems of which were turning yellowish, for they would have sunk in ooze
to the waist.  It would have been the very haunt of the bearded-tit had
not that curiously marked bird been extinct on the shores of the New
Sea.  They had never even heard of the bearded-tit, so completely had it
died out there.

They moved a few yards along the bank, but found it was a ceaseless
climb from stole to stole, and so went back to the raft, and poled close
to the shore looking for traces of the creature.  They poled from one
end to the other, up to the banks of weeds and flags, but without seeing
any sign.  So far as they could tell the creature had not started from
this place, but it might have swum out from any other part of the shore.

"He's not here," said Bevis.  "We shall never hunt him out of all these
sedges; I think we had better set a trap for him."

"In the reeds at home,"--New Formosa was home now.

"In his trail."

"Dig a pit," said Mark.  "They dig pits for lions."

"Or set up a big beam to fall and crush him when he pushes a twig."

"Or a spring gun; would the matchlock do?"

"Only then we want another gun when we go to find him.  He might sham

"Wires are not strong enough."

"No; the pit's best," said Bevis.  "Yes; we'll dig a pit and stick up a
sharp spike in it, and put a trap-door at the top--just a slight frame,
you know, to give way with his weight--"

"And strew it over with grass."

"And put the hare to tempt him."

"And shoot him in the pit!"

"Won't he glare!"


"Gnash his grinders!"

"Won't his teeth gleam!"

"Red tongue and foam!"

"Hot breath--in such a rage!"

"Lash his tail!"

"Tear the sides of the pit!"

"Don't let's kill him quick.  Let's make a spear and stick him a

"Come on."

They seized the poles, all eagerness to return and dig the pit.

"Stupes we were not to do it before."

"Awful stupes."

"We never think of things till so long."  Such has been the case with
the world since history began.  How many thousands of years was it after
primeval man first boiled water to the steam-engine?  How long from the
first rubbing of electron or amber, and a leaping up of little particles
to it, to the electric tramway?

They had sailed to the swamp quickly, but it occupied more than an hour
to pole back to New Formosa, so that it was the afternoon when they
moored the Calypso in the usual place.  They were hungry and hastened to
the hut, intending to begin the pit directly after dinner, when as they
came near, Pan ran on first and barked by the gate.  "Ah!"

"He's been!"

They ran, forgetting even to look at the match of the gun.  There was
nothing in the enclosure; but Pan sniffed outside, and gave two short
"yaps" as much as to say, "I know."

"Reeds," said Bevis.  "He's in the reeds."

"He heard us coming and slipped off--he's hiding."

"We shall have him!  Now!"

"Now directly!"

"This minute!"

With incredible temerity they ran as fast as they could go to the bed of
reed-grass in which they had discovered the trail.  Pan barked at the
edge; Bevis blew the match.

"Lu--lu--lu! go in!"

"Fetch him out."

"Hess--ess--go in!"

"Now!  Have him!"

Pan stopped at the edge and yapped in the air, wagging his tail and

"He's there!" said Bevis.

"As sure as sure," said Mark.  Their faces were lit up with the wild joy
of the combat; as if like hounds they could scent the quarry.

"Go in," shouted Bevis to the spaniel angrily.  Pan crouched, but would
not go.  Mark kicked him, but he would not move.

"Hold it," said Bevis, handing the matchlock to Mark.  He seized the
spaniel by his shaggy neck, lifted and hurled him by main force a few
yards crash among the sedges.  Pan came out in an instant.

"Go in, I tell you!" shouted Bevis, beside himself with anger; the
spaniel shivered at his feet.  Again Bevis lifted him, swung him, and
hurled him as far this time as the reed-grass.  The next instant Pan was
at his feet again.  Encouragement, persuasion, threats, blows, all
failed; it was like trying to make him climb a tree.  The dog could not
force his nature.  Mark threw dead sticks into the reed-grass; Bevis
flung some stones.

"You hateful wretch!"  Bevis stamped his foot.  "Get away."  Pan ran
back.  "Give me the gun--I'll go in."

If the dog would not, he would hunt the creature from its lair himself.

"O! stop!" said Mark, catching hold of his arm, "don't--don't go in--you
don't know!"

"Let me go."

"I won't."

"I will go."

They struggled with each other.

"Shoot first," said Mark, finding he could not hold him.  "Shoot an
arrow--two arrows.  Here--here's the bow."

Bevis seized the bow and fitted the arrow.

"Shoot where the path is," said Mark.  "There--it's there,"--pointing.
Bevis raised the bow.  "Now shoot!"

"O!" cried a voice in the reeds, "don't shoot!"

Bevis instantly lowered the bow.

"What?" he said.

"Who's there?" said Mark.

"It's me--don't shoot me!"

"Who are you?"


They rushed in and found Loo crouching behind the alder in the
reed-grass; in her hand was a thick stick which she dropped.

"How dare you!" said Bevis.

"How did you get here?" said Mark.  "Don't you be angry!" said Loo.
"But how dare you!"

"On our island!"

"Don't you--don't you!" repeated Loo.  "You!"

"You!"  One word but such intense wrath.  "O!" cried Loo, beginning to
sob.  "You!"


"O!  Don't!  He were so hungry."  Sob, sob.



"Yow--wow!" barked Pan.  "He--he," sobbed Loo.  "He--he--"


"He were so hungry."  Sob, sob.  "Who?"


"Who's Samson?"


"Then you took our things?" said Mark.  "He--he--kept on crying."

"You had the damper--"

"And the potatoes--"

"And the bacon--"

"You didn't--didn't care for it," sobbed Loo.  "Did you take the
rabbit-skin?" said Mark.  "Yes--es."

"But Samson didn't eat that; did he?"

"I--I--sold it."

"What for?"

"Ha'-penny of jumbles for Samson."  Jumbles are sweets.

"How did you get here?"

"I come."


"I come."

"It's disgusting," said Bevis, turning to Mark; "spoiling our island."

"Not a tiger," said Mark.  "Only a girl."

"It's not proper," said Bevis in a towering rage.  "Tigers are proper,
girls are not proper."

"No; that they're not."

"Girls are--Foo!--"

"Very--foo!"  Contemptuous puffing.  "It's not the stealing."

"No; it's the coming--"

"Where you're not wanted--"



"What shall we do?"

"Can't kill her."

"Nor torture her."

"Nor scalp her."




"Tie her up."

"If we were savages we'd cook you!"

"Limb at a time."

"What _can_ we do with her?"

"Let me stop," said Loo pleadingly.  "Let _you_ stop!  You!"

"I can cook and make tea and wash things."

"Stop a minute," said Mark.  "Perhaps she's a native."

"Ah!"  This was more proper.  "She looks brown."

"Copper coloured."

"Are you a savage?"

"If you says so," said Loo penitently.  "Are you very sorry?"

"You're sure you're a savage?"

"Will she do?"

"You're our slave."

"Ar-right," [all-right], said Loo her brown eyes beginning to sparkle
through her tears.  "I'll be what you wants."

"Mind you're a slave."

"So I be."

"You'll be thrashed."

"Don't care.  Let I bide here."

"I suppose we must have her."

"You're a great nuisance."


"Slave!  Carry that."  Mark gave her the axe.  "And that."  Bevis gave
her the bow.  Loo took them proudly.

"You're to keep behind--Pan's to go before you."

"Dogs first, slaves next."

"Make her fetch the water."

"Chop the wood."

"Turn the spit."

"Capital; we wanted a slave!"

"Just the thing."


"But it's not so nice as a tiger."

"O!  No!"

"Nothing like."

They marched out of the reed-grass, Pan and the slave behind.

"But how did you get here?" said Bevis, stopping suddenly.

"I come, I told you."

"Can you swim?"


"There's no boat."

"Did you have a catamaran?"

"What be that?"

"Why don't you tell us how you got here?"

"I come--a-foot."

"Waded?  You couldn't."

"I walked drough't,"--i.e. through it.

They would not believe her at first, but she adhered to her story, and
offered to wade back to the mainland to prove that it was possible.  She
pointed out to them the way she had come by the shoals and sedge-grown
banks; the course she had taken curved like half a horse-shoe.  First it
went straight a little way, then the route or ford led to the south and
gradually turned back to the west, reaching the mainland within sixty or
seventy yards of the place where they always disembarked from the raft.
It took some time for Loo to explain how she had done it, and how she
came to know of it, but it was like this.

Once now and then in dry seasons the waters receded very much, and they
were further lowered by the drawing of hatches that the cattle might get
water to drink low down the valley, miles away.  As the waters of the
New Sea receded the shallower upper, or southern end, became partly dry.
Then a broad low bank of sand appeared stretching out in the shape of
half a horse-shoe the extremity of which being much higher was never
submerged, but formed the island of New Formosa.  At such times any one
could walk from the mainland out to New Formosa dryshod for weeks

This was how the island became stocked with squirrels and kangaroos; and
it was the existence of the rabbits in the burries at the knoll that had
originally led to Loo's knowledge of the place.  Her father went there
once when the water was low to ferret them, and she was sent with his
luncheon to and fro.  That was some time since, but she had never
forgotten, and often playing about the shore, had no difficulty in
finding the shoal.  The route or ford was, moreover, marked to any one
who knew of its existence by the tops of sand-banks, and sedge-grown
islets, which were in fact nothing but high parts of the same long,
curved bank.

There was not more than a foot deep of water anywhere the whole
distance, and often not six inches.  This was in August, in winter there
would be much more.  Tucking up her dress she had waded through easily,
feeling the bottom with a thick stick to guide her steps.  The worst
place was close to the island, by the reed-grass, where she sunk a
little in the ooze, but it was only for a few yards.

At the hut the weapons were laid aside, and the slave put out the dinner
for them.  Bevis and Mark sat, one each side of the table, on their
stools of solid blocks, Pan sat beside Bevis on his haunches expectant;
the slave knelt at the table.

She was bare-headed.  Her black hair having escaped, fell to her waist,
and her neck was tawny from the harvest sunshine.  The torn brown frock
loosely clung about her.  Her white teeth gleamed; her naked feet were
sandy like Pan's paws.  Her brown eyes watched their every movement; she
was intent on them.  They were full of their plans of the island; she
was intent on them.

She ate ravenously, more eagerly than the spaniel.  Seeing this, Bevis
kept cutting the preserved tongue for her, and asked if Samson was so
very hungry.  Loo said they were all hungry, but Samson was most hungry.
He cried almost all day and all night, and woke himself up crying in
the morning.  Very often she left him, and went a long way down the
hedge because she did not like to hear him.

"But," objected Bevis, "my governor pays your father money, and I'm sure
my mamma sends you things."

So she did, but Loo said they never got any of them; she twisted up her
mouth very peculiarly to intimate that they were intercepted by the
ale-barrel.  Bevis became much agitated, he said he would tell the
governor, he would tell dear mamma, Samson should not cry any more.  Loo
should take home one of the tins of preserved tongue, and the potatoes,
and all the game there was--all except the hare.

Now Bevis had always been in contact almost with these folk, but yet he
had never seen; you and I live in the midst of things, but never look
beneath the surface.  His face became quite white; he was thoroughly
upset.  It was his first glance at the hard roadside of life.  He said
he would do all sorts of things; Loo listened pleased but dimly
doubtful, she could not have explained herself, but she, nevertheless,
knew that it was beyond Bevis's power to alter these circumstances.  Not
that she hinted at a doubt; it was happiness enough to kneel there and

Then they made her tell them how many times she had been to the island,
and all about it, and as she proceeded recognised one by one, little
trifles that had previously had no meaning till now they were connected
and formed a continuous strand.  In her rude language it occupied a long
time, and was got at by cross-questioning from one and the other.  Put
into order it was like this.

Volume Three, Chapter XIV.


They arrived on Wednesday; Wednesday night Pan stayed in the hut with
them, and nothing happened.  Thursday night, Pan swam off to the
mainland, and while he was away Loo made her first visit to the island,
coming right to the hut door or curtain.  Till she reached the permanent
plank table under the awning and saw the remnants of the supper
carelessly left on it, she had had no thought of taking anything.

The desire to share, if ever so secretly, in what they were doing alone
led her there.  So intense was that desire that it overcame her fear of
offending them; she must at least see what they were doing.  From the
sedges she had watched them go to the island in the Pinta so many times
that she was certain that was the place where they were.  In wading off
to the island by moonlight she caught a glimpse of the sinking fire
inside the stockade, the glow thrown up on the cliff, and so easily
found her way to the hut.  Had Pan been there he would have barked, but
he was away; so that she came under the awning and saw all their works--
the stockade, the hut, and everything, increasing her eagerness.

After she had examined the place and wondered how they could build it,
she saw the remnants of the supper on the table, and remembering Samson,
took them for him.  The rabbit's skin was hung on the fence, and she
took it also, knowing that it would fetch a trifle; in winter it would
have been worth more.  She thought that these things were nothing to
them, that they did not care about them, and threw them aside like

The second time she came was on Saturday morning, while they were
exploring Serendib.  When they were on Serendib she could cross to New
Formosa in broad daylight unseen, because New Formosa lay between, and
the woods on it concealed any one approaching from the western side.
Her mother and elder sisters were reaping in the cornfields beyond the
Waste, and she was supposed to be minding the younger children, instead
of which she was in the sedges watching New Formosa, and directly she
saw Bevis and Mark pole the raft across to Serendib she waded over.

She visited the hut, took a few potatoes from the store in the cave, and
spent some time wondering at everything they had there.  As she was
leaving they landed from the raft, and Pan sniffing her in the wood ran
barking after her.  He knew her very well and made no attempt to bite,
still he barked as if it was his duty to tell them some one was on the
island.  Thinking they would run to see what it was, she climbed up into
the ivy-grown oak, and they actually came underneath and looked up and
did not see her.

They soon went away fancying it must be a squirrel, but Pan stopped till
she descended, and then made friends and followed her to the reed-grass,
whence so soon as she thought it safe she waded across to the mainland.
Busy at the hut they had no idea that anything of the kind was going on,
for they could not see the water from the stockade.  On Sunday morning
she came again, for the third time, crossing over while they were at
Bamboo Island, and after satiating her curiosity and indulging in the
pleasure of handling their weapons and the things in the hut, she took
the cold half-cooked bacon from the shelf, and the two slices that had
been thrown to Pan and which he had left uneaten.

When they returned Pan knew she had been; he barked and first ran to the
ivy-grown oak, but finding she was not there he went on and discovered
her in the reed-grass.  He was satisfied with having discovered her, and
only licked her hand.  So soon as everything was quiet she slipped
across to the mainland, but in the afternoon, being so much interested
and eager to see what they were doing, she tried to come over again,
when Mark saw her head in the sedges.  Loo crouched and kept still so
long they concluded there was no one there.

It was the same afternoon that they looked at the oak for marks of
claws, but her naked feet had left no trace.  She would very probably
have attempted it again on Monday night, but that evening they came with
the letter and list of provisions, and having seen them and spoken to
them, and having something to do for them, her restless eagerness was
temporarily allayed.  That night was the first Pan was tied up, but
nothing disturbed him.

But Tuesday night, after they had been for the flag-basket, the
inclination to follow them became too strong, and towards the middle of
the night, when, as she supposed, Pan was on shore (for she had seen him
swim off other nights), she approached the hut.  To her surprise Pan,
who was tied up, began to bark.  Hastening away, in her hurry she
crossed the spot where Pan hid his treasures and picked up the duck's
drumstick, but finding it was so polished as to be useless dropped it
among the reed-grass.

Wednesday night she ventured once more, but found the gate in the
stockade locked; she tried to look over, when Pan set up his bark.  She
ran back a few yards to the bramble bushes and crouched there, trusting
in the thick mist to hide her, as in fact it did.  In half a minute,
Mark having cut the cord, Pan rushed out in fury, as if he would fly at
her throat, but coming near and seeing who it was, he dropped his howl
of rage, and during the silence they supposed he was engaged in a deadly

Whether she really feared that he would spring at her, he came with such
a bounce, or whether she thought Bevis and Mark would follow him and
find her, she hit at Pan with the thick stick she carried.  Now Pan was
but just touched, for he swerved, but the big stick and the thump it
made on the ground frightened him, and he yelped as if with pain and ran
back.  As he ran she threw a stone after him, the stone hit the fence
and shook it, and knocked off the piece of bark from the willow which
they afterwards supposed to have been torn by the claw of the tiger.

Hearing them talking and dreading every moment that they would come out,
she remained crouched in the brambles for a long time, and at last crept
away, but stayed in the reed-grass till the sun shone, and then crossed
to the mainland.  Thursday she did not come, nor Thursday night,
thinking it best to wait awhile and let a day and night elapse.  But on
Friday morning, having seen them sail to the south in the Calypso, while
they were exploring the swamp, she waded over, and once more looked at
the wonderful hut and the curious cage they had constructed about the
open shed.

She was so lost in admiring these things and trying to imagine what it
could be for, that they had returned very near the island before she
started to go.  She got as far as the reed-grass and saw them come up
poling the raft.

On the raft while facing the island they could not have helped seeing
her, so she waited, intending to cross when they had entered the
stockade and were busy there.  But Pan recognised that she had been to
the stockade; they ran at once to the reed-grass, as they now knew of
the trail there, and discovered her.  The reason Pan would not enter the
reeds, even when hurled among them, was his fear of the thick stick.

"Stupes we were!" said Bevis.

"Most awful stupes!"

"Not half Indians!"

"Not a quarter!"

The whole thing was now so clear to them they could not understand why
they had not rightly read the indications or "sign" that at last
appeared so self-evident.  But they were not the first who have wondered
afterwards that they had not been wise _before_ the event.  It is so
easy to read when the type is set up and the sentences printed in proper
sequence; so difficult to decipher defaced inscriptions in an unknown
language.  When the path is made any one can walk along it and express
disdainful surprise that there should ever have been any difficulty.

"But it's not proper," said Bevis.  "I wish it had been a tiger."

"It would have been so capital.  But _we've_ got a slave."

"Where's she to sleep to-night?"

"Anywhere in the wood."

"Slave, you're to cook the hare for supper."

"And mind you don't make a noise when we're out hunting and frighten the

Loo said she would be as quiet as a mouse.

"We shall want some tea presently.  I say!" said Mark, "we've forgotten

He ran up on the cliff, but it was too late; Charlie had been and waved
his cap three times, in token that all was not quite right at home.
Mark looked at the sun-dial; it was nearly five.  They had not had
dinner till later than usual, and then Loo's explanation and
cross-examination had filled up the time.  Still as Loo told them she
was certain every one was quite well at home, they did not trouble about
having missed Charlie.  Mark wished to go shooting again round Serendib,
and they started, leaving the slave in charge of the hut to cook their

Mark had the matchlock, and Bevis poled the raft gently round Serendib,
but the water-fowl seemed to have become more cautious, as they did not
see any.  Bevis poled along till they came to a little inlet, where they
stopped, with blue gum branches concealing them on either hand.  Mark
knelt where he could see both ways along the shore; Bevis sat back under
the willows with Pan beside him.

They were so quiet that presently a black-headed reed-bunting came and
looked down at them from a willow bough.  Moths fluttered among the tops
of the branches, the wind was so light that they flew whither they
listed, instead of being borne out over the water.  The brown tips of a
few tall reeds moved slightly as the air came softly; they did not bow
nor bend; they did but just sway, yielding assent.

Every now and then there was a rush overhead as five or six starlings
passed swiftly, straight as arrows, for the firs at the head of Fir-Tree
Gulf.  These parties succeeding each other were perhaps separate
families gathering together into a tribe at the roosting-trees.  Over
the distant firs a thin cloud like a black bar in the sky spread itself
out, and then descended funnel-shaped into the firs.  The cloud was
formed of starlings, thousands of them, rising up from the trees and
settling again.  One bird as a mere speck would have been invisible;
these legions darkened the air there like smoke.

But just beyond the raft the swallows glided, dipping their breasts and
sipping as they dipped; the touch and friction of the water perceptibly
checked their flight.  They wheeled round and several times approached
the surface, till having at last the exact balance and the exact angle
they skimmed the water, leaving no more mark than a midge.

Bevis watched them, and as he watched his senses gradually became more
acute, till he could distinctly hear the faint far off sound of the
waterfall at Sweet River.  It rose and fell, faint and afar; the flutter
of a moth's wings against the greyish willow leaves overbore and
silenced it.  As he listened and watched the swallows he thought, or
rather felt--for he did not think from step to step upwards to a
conclusion--he felt that all the power of a bird's wing is in its tip.

It was with the slender-pointed and elastic tip, the flexible and finely
divided feather point that the bird flew.  An artist has a cumbrous
easel, a heavy framework, a solid palette which has a distinct weight,
but he paints with a tiny point of camel's hair.  With a camel's hair
tip the swallow sweeps the sky.

That part of the wing near the body, which is thick, rigid, and contains
the bones, is the easel and framework; it is the shaft through which the
driving force flows, and in floating it forms a part of the plane or
surface, but it does not influence the air.  The touch of the wing is in
its tip.  There where the feathers fine down to extreme tenuity, so that
if held up the light comes through the filaments, they seem to feel the
air and to curl over on it as the end of a flag on a mast curls over on
itself.  So the tail of a fish--his one wing--curls over at the extreme
edge of its upper and lower corners, and as it unfolds presses back the
water.  The swallow, pure artist of flight, feels the air with his
wing-tips as with fingers, and lightly fanning glides.

Over the distant firs a heron came drifting like a cloud at his
accustomed hour; from over the New Nile the call of a partridge,
"caer-wit--caer-wit," sounded along the surface of the water.  There was
a slight movement and Bevis saw the match descending, an inverted cone
of smoke darted up from the priming, and almost before the report Pan
leaped overboard.  Mark had watched till two moorhens were near enough
together, one he shot outright and Pan caught the other.

At the report the heron staggered in the air as if a bullet had struck
him, it was his sudden effort to check his course, and then recovering
himself he wheeled and flew towards the woods on the mainland.  Bevis
said he must have a heron's plume.  To please Mark he poled the raft to
Bamboo Island, and then across to the sedgy banks at the southern
extremity of New Formosa, but Mark did not get another shot.  They then
landed and crept quietly to Kangaroo Hill, the rabbits had grown
suspicious, and they did not see one, but Pan suddenly raced across the
glade--to their great annoyance--and stopped on the verge of the wood.

There he picked up a rabbit in his mouth, and they recollected the wires
they had set.  The rabbit had been in a wire since the morning.  "It
will do for Samson," said Bevis.

When they returned to the hut the full moon--full but low down--had
begun to fill the courts of the sky with her light, which permitted no
pause of dusk between it and the sunset.  The slave's cheeks were red
and scorched from the heat of the fire, which she had tended on her
knees, and her chin and tawny neck were streaked with black marks.
Handling the charred sticks with her fingers, the fingers had
transferred the charcoal to her chin.  The hare was well cooked
considering the means, or rather the want of means at her command,
perhaps it was not the first she had helped to prepare.  Searching in
the store-room she found a little butter with which she basted it after
a manner; they had thought the butter was all gone, they were too
hasty--impatient--to look thoroughly.  There was no jelly, and it was
dry, but they enjoyed it very much sitting at the plank table under the

They had removed the poles on one side of the shed as there was nothing
now to dread, but on the other two sides the bars remained, and the
flames of the expiring fire every now and then cast black bars of shadow
across the table.  The slave would have been only too glad to have
stayed on the island all night--if they had lent her a great-coat or rug
to roll up in she would have slept anywhere in the courtyard--but she
said Samson would be so wretched without her, he would be frightened and
miserable.  She must go; she would come back in the morning about ten.

They filled the flag-basket for her with the moorhens, the rabbit, the
dab-chick and thrush, and a tin of preserved tongue.  There were still
some fragments of biscuit; she said Samson would like these best of all.
Thus laden, she would have waded to the mainland, but they would not
let her--they took the raft and ferried her over, and promised to fetch
her in the morning if she would whistle, she could whistle like a boy.
To Loo that voyage on the raft, short as it was, was something beyond
compare.  Loo had to pass the prickly stubble fields with her bare
feet--stubble to the naked foot is as if the broad earth were a
porcupine's back.  But long practice had taught her how to wind round at
the edge where there was a narrow and thistly band of grass, for
thistles she did not care.

"Good-night, slave."

They poled back to the island, and having fastened Pan up, were going to
bed, when Bevis said he wanted the matchlock loaded with ball as he
meant to rise early to try for a heron.  Mark fired it off, and in the
stillness they heard the descending shot rattle among the trees.  The
matchlock was loaded with ball, and Bevis set the clock of his mind to
wake at three.  It was still early in the evening, but they had had
little or no rest lately, and fell asleep in an instant; they were
asleep long before the slave had crept in at her window and quieted
Samson with broken biscuits.

The alarum of his mind awoke Bevis about the time he wished.  He did not
wake Mark, and wishing to go even more quietly than usual left Pan
fastened up; the spaniel gave a half-whine, but crouched as Bevis spoke
and he recognised the potential anger in the tones of his voice.  From
the stockade Bevis went along that side of the island where the weeds
were, and passed the Calypso which they had left on that side the
previous evening.  He went by the "blazed" trees leading to Kangaroo
Hill, then past the reed-grass where they had captured the slave, but
saw nothing.  Thence he moved noiselessly up through the wood to the
more elevated spot under the spruce firs where he thought he could see
over that end of the island without being seen or heard.

There was nothing, the overthrown willow trunk lay still in the water
flush with the surface, and close to it there was a little ripple coming
out from under a bush, which he supposed was caused by a water-rat
moving there.  Till now he had been absorbed in what he was doing, but
just then, remembering the cones which hung at the tops of the tall
firs, he looked up and became conscious of the beauty of the morning,
for it was more open there, and he could see a breadth of the sky.

The sun had not yet stood out from the orient, but his precedent light
shone through the translucent blue.  Yet it was not blue, nor is there
any word, nor is a word possible to convey the feeling unless one could
be built up of signs and symbols like those in the book of the magician,
which glowed and burned to and fro the page.  For the blue of the
precious sapphire is thick to it, the turquoise dull, these hard
surfaces are no more to be compared to it than sand and gravel.  They
are but stones, hard, cold, pitiful, that which gives them their lustre
is the light.  Through delicate porcelain sometimes the light comes, and
it is not the porcelain, it is the light that is lovely.  But porcelain
is clay, and the light is shorn, checked, and shrunken.  Down through
the beauteous azure came the Light itself, pure, unreflected Light,
untouched, untarnished even by the dew-sweetened petal of a flower,
descending, flowing like a wind, a wind of glory sweeping through the
blue.  A luminous purple glowing as Love glows in the cheek, so glowed
the passion of the heavens.

Two things only reach the soul.  By touch there is indeed emotion.  But
the light in the eye, the sound of the voice! the soul trembles and like
a flame leaps to meet them.  So to the luminous purple azure his heart

Bevis, the lover of the sky, gazed and forgot; forgot as we forget that
our pulses beat, having no labour to make them.  Nor did he hear the
south wind singing in the fir tops.

I do not know how any can slumber with this over them; how any can look
down at the clods.  The greatest wonder on earth is that there are any
not able to see the earth's surpassing beauty.  Such moments are beyond
the chronograph and any measure of wheels, the passing of one cog may be
equal to a century, for the mind has no time.  What an incredible marvel
it is that there are human creatures that slumber threescore and ten
years, and look down at the clods and then say, "We are old, we have
lived seventy years."  Seventy years!  The passing of one cog is longer;
seven hundred times seventy years would not equal the click of the
tiniest cog while the mind was living its own life.  Sleep and clods,
with the glory of the earth, and the sun, and the sea, and the endless
ether around us!  Incredible marvel this sleep and clods and talk of
years.  But I suppose it was only a second or two, for some slight
movement attracted him, and he looked, and instantly the vision above
was forgotten.

Upon the willow trunk prone in the water, he saw a brown creature larger
than any animal commonly seen, but chiefly in length, with
sharp-pointed, triangular ears set close to its head.  In his excitement
he did not recognise it as he aimed.  Behind the fir trunks he was
hidden, and he was on high ground--animals seldom look up--the
creature's head too was farthest from him.  He steadied the long, heavy
barrel against a fir trunk, heedless of a streak of viscous turpentine
sap which his hand pressed.

The trigger was partly drawn--his arm shook, he sighed--he checked
himself, held his breath tight, and fired.  The ball plunged and the
creature was jerked up rebounding and fell in the water.  He dashed
down, leaped in--as it happened the water was very shallow--and seized
it as it splashed a little from mere muscular contraction.  Aimed at the
head, the ball had passed clean through between the shoulders and buried
itself in the willow trunk.  The animal was dead before he touched it.
He tore home and threw it on the bed: "Mark!"

"O!" said Mark.  "An otter!"

Their surprise was great, for they had never suspected an otter.  No one
had ever seen one there that they had heard of, no one had even supposed
it possible.  These waters were far from a river, they were fed by
rivulets supporting nothing beyond a kingfisher.  To get there the otter
must have ascended the brook from the river, a bold and adventurous
journey, passing hatches and farmhouses set like forts by the water's
edge, passing mills astride the stream.

The hare had been admired, but it was nothing to the otter, which was as
rare there as a black fox.  They looked at its broad flat head--hold a
cat's head up under the chin, that is a little like it--the sharp,
triangular ears set close to the head, the webbed feet, the fur, the
long tail decreasing to a blunt point.  It must be preserved; they could
skin it, but could not stuff it; still it must be done.  The governor
must see it, mamma, the Jolly Old Moke, Frances, Val, Cecil, Charlie,
Ted, Big Jack--all.  Must!

This was the cause then of the curious wave they had seen which moved
without wind--no, Mark remembered that once being near the wave he had
seen something white under the surface.  The wave was not caused by the
otter, but most likely it was the otter Pan had scented on Bamboo Island
when he seemed so excited, and they could see no reason.  The otter must
be preserved--must!

While they breakfasted, while they bathed, this was the talk.  Presently
they heard the slave's whistle and fetched her on the raft.  Now, Loo,
cunning hussy, waited till she was safely landed on the island, and then
told them that dear mamma and Frances were going that day up to Jack's
to see them.  Loo had been sent for to go to the town on an errand, and
she had heard it mentioned.  Instead of going on the errand she ran to
play slave.

Charlie had had some knowledge of this yesterday, and waved his cap
instead of the white handkerchief as a warning, but they did not see it.
If mamma and Frances drove up to Jack's to see them, of course it would
be at once discovered that they were not at Jack's, and then what a
noise there would be.

"Hateful," said Mark.  "It seems to me we're getting near the hateful
`Other Side.'"

Volume Three, Chapter XV.


Now, at the Other Side, i.e. at home, things had gone smoothly for them
till the day before, in a measure owing to the harvest, and for the rest
to the slow ways of old-fashioned country people.  When they had gone
away to Jack's before in disgrace, Bevis's mother could not rest, the
ticking of the clock in the silent house, the distant beat of the
blacksmith's hammer, every little circumstance of the day jarred upon
her.  But on this occasion they had, she believed, gone for their own
pleasure, and though she missed them, they were not apart and separated
by a gulf of anger.

Busy with the harvest, there was no visiting, no one came down from
Jack's, and so the two slipped for the moment out of the life of the
hamlet.  Presently Bevis's short but affectionate letter arrived, and
prevented any suspicion arising, for no one noticed the postmark.  Mamma
wrote by return, and when her letter addressed to Bevis was delivered at
Jack's you would have supposed the secret would have come out.  So it
would in town life--a letter would have been written saying that Bevis
was not there, and asking where to forward it.

But not so at the old house in the hills.  Jack's mother put it on the
shelf, remarking that no doubt Bevis was coming, and would be there
to-morrow or next day.  As for Jack he was too busy to think about it,
and if he had not been he would have taken little notice, knowing from
former experience that Bevis might turn up at any moment.  The letter
remained on the shelf.

On the Saturday the carrier left a parcel for Bevis--at any other time a
messenger would have been sent, and then their absence would have been
discovered--but no one could be spared from the field.  The parcel
contained clean collars, cuffs, and similar things which they never
thought of taking with them, but which mamma did not forget.  Like the
letter the parcel was put aside for Bevis when he did come; the parcel
indeed was accepted as proof positive that he was coming.  Jack's mother
never touched a pen if she could by any means avoid it, old country
people put off letter-writing till absolutely compelled.

On the Sunday afternoon while Bevis and Mark were lying under the
fir-trees in New Formosa, dear mamma, always thinking of her boy and his
friend, was up in her bedroom turning over the yellowish fly-leaves at
the end of an old Book of Common Prayer, too large to go to and fro to
church, and which was always in the room.  Upon these fly-leaves she had
written down from time to time the curious little things that Bevis had
said.  In the very early morning (before he could talk) he used to sit
up in the bed while she still slept, and try to pick her eyelids open
with finger and thumb.  What else could a dumb creature do that wished
to be looked at with loving eyes and fondled?

There it was entered, too, how when he was a "Bobby," all little boys
are "Bobbies," he called himself Bobaysche, and said mejjible-bone for
vegetable marrow.  Desiring to speak of wheat, and unable to recall its
proper term, he called it bread-seed; and one day stroking his favourite
kitten asked "If God had a pussy?"  It was difficult for him to express
what time he meant, "When that yesterday that came yesterday went away,"
was his paraphrase for the day before yesterday.

One day in the sitting-room he fancied himself a hunter with a dart, and
seizing the poker balanced it over his head.  He became so excited he
launched his dart at the flying quarry, and it went through the
window-pane.  In a day or two--workmen are not to be got in a hurry in
the country--an old glazier trudged out to put in fresh glass, and while
he cut out the dry putty and measured his glass, and drew the diamond
point across, Bevis emptied his tool-basket and admired the chisels and
hammers.  By and by, tired of things which he was not permitted to use
lest he should cut himself, he threw them in and handed the basket to
the workman: "Here," he said, "Here--take your toys!"

Toys indeed.  The old man had laboured fifty years with these toys till
his mind had become with monotony as horny and unimpressionable as his
hand.  He smiled: he did not see the other meaning that those childish
words convey.

Nothing then pleased Bevis so much as moving furniture, the noise and
disturbance so distasteful to us was a treat to him.  It was
"thunder-boy" and "cuckoo-boy," as the thunder rolled or the cuckoo
called; he could not conceive anything being caused unseen without human

The Deity was human.

"Ah!" said he thoughtfully, "He got a high ladder and climbed up over
the hedges to make the thunder."

"Has He got any little Bobbies?"


"I suppose He had when He was down here?"


"No," (with pity) "He didn't have no peoples."  The pleasure of refusal
was not to be resisted.

"Now do, Bobby, dear?"

"I san't: say it again."

"O! _do_ do it."

"I san't: say it again."

"Now, _do_."

"I san't," shaking his head, as much as to say it's very dreadful of me,
but I shan't.  They could not explain to him that the glowing sunset was
really so far away, he wanted to go to it.  "It's only just over the
blackberry hedge."  Some one was teaching him that God loved little
boys; "But does he love ladies too?"

As for papa he had to tell stories by the hour, day after day, and when
he ceased and said he could not remember any more, Bevis frowned.  "Rack
your brains! rack your brains!" said he.  A nightingale built in the
hedge near the house, and all night long her voice echoed in the bed
room.  Listening one night as he was in bed he remarked, "The
nightingale has two songs: first he sings `Sir-rup--sir-rup,' and then
he sings `Tweet.'"

For his impudence he had a box on the ear: "Pooh!  It went pop like a
foxglove," he laughed.

At Brighton he was taken over the Pavilion, and it was some trouble to
explain to him that this fine house had been built for a gentleman
called a king.  By-and-by, in the top stories, rather musty from old
carpets and hangings: "Hum!" said he; "seems stuffy.  I can smell that
gentleman's dinner," i.e. George the Fourth's.

Visiting a trim suburban villa, while the ladies talked they sent him
out on the close-mown lawn to play.  When he came in, "Well, dear, did
you enjoy yourself?"

"Don't think much of _your_ garden," said Bevis; "no buttercups."

At prayers: "Make Bobby a good boy, and see that you do everything I
tell you."

"You longered your promise," did not fulfil it for a long time.
"Straight yourselves," when out walking he wished them to go straight on
and not turn.  "Round yourselves, round yourselves," when he wanted them
to take a turning.  When he grew up to be a big man he expressed his
determination to "knock down the policeman and kill the hanging-man,"
then he could do as he liked.  "Tiffeck" was the cat's cough.

Driving over Westminster Bridge the first time, and seeing the Houses of
Parliament, which reminded him of his toy bricks, he inquired "If there
was anything inside?"  Older people have asked that of late years.  As
he did not get his wishes quickly, it appeared to him there were "too
many perhapses in this place:" he wanted things done "punctually at
now."  A waterfall was the "tumbling water."

They told him there was one part of us that did not die.  "Then," he
said directly, "I suppose that is the thinking part."  What more, O!
Descartes, Plato, philosophers, is there in your tomes?  The crucifixion
hurt his feelings very much, the cruel nails, the unfeeling spear: he
looked at the picture a long time, and then turned over the page,
saying, "If God had been there He would not have let them do it."

"What are you going to be when you're a man?" asked grandpa.  "An
engineer, a lawyer?"

"Pooh!  I'm going to be a king, and wear a gold crown!"

A glowing March sunset made the tops of the elms, red with flower before
the leaf, show clear against the sky.  "They look like red seaweed
dipped in water," he said.

Such were some of the short and disconnected jottings in mamma's
prayer-book: mere jottings, but well she could see the scene in her mind
when the words were said.  Latest of all, the second visit to the
seaside, where, after rioting on the sands and hurling pebbles in the
summer waves, suddenly he stopped, looked up at her and said, "O! wasn't
it a good thing the sea was made!"  It was indeed.

Every one being so much in the field, mamma was left alone, and wearying
of it, asked Frances to come up frequently to her: Frances was willing
enough to do so, especially as she could talk unreservedly of Big Jack,
so that it was a pleasure to her to come.  At last, on the Friday, as
Bevis did not write again, his mother proposed that they should drive up
to Jack's, and see how the boys were on the morrow.  Frances was
discreetly delighted: Jack could not come down to see her just now, and
with Bevis's mother she could go up and see him with propriety.  So it
was agreed that the dog-cart should be ready early on Saturday
afternoon.  Charlie learned something of this--he played in and out the
place, and waved his cap thrice as a warning.

Now, in the kitchen on Friday evening there was a curious talk of Bevis
and Mark.  Had it not been for the harvest something would have crept
out about them among the cottagers.  Such inveterate gossipers would
have sniffed out something, some one would have supposed this, another
would have said they were not at Big Jack's, a third might have caught a
glimpse of them when on the mainland.  But the harvest filled their
hands with work, sealed their eyes, and shut their mouths.  An
earthquake would hardly disturb the reapers.  So soon as they had
completed the day's work they fell asleep.  Pan's nocturnal rambles
would have been noticed had it not been for this, though he might have
come down from Jack's.

However, as it chanced, not a word was said till the Friday evening,
when there came into the kitchen a labouring man, sent by his master to
have some talk with the Bailiff respecting a proposed bargain.  Every
evening the Bailiff took his quart in the kitchen, and though it was
summer always in the same corner by the hearth.  He had no home, an old
and much-crusted bachelor: he had a dim craving for company, and he
liked to sit there and sip while Polly worked round briskly.

A deal of gossip was got through in that kitchen.  Men came in and out,
they lingered on the door-step with their fingers on the latch just to
add one more remark.  That evening when the bargain, a minor matter, had
been discussed, this man, with much roundabout preliminary solemnly
declared that as he had been working up in Rushland's field (about half
a mile from the New Sea), he had distinctly heard Bevis and Mark talking
to each other, and it seemed to him that the sound came over the water.

Sometimes he said he could hear folk talk at a great distance, four or
five times as far off as most could, and had frequently told people what
they had been conversing about when they had been a mile or more away.
He could not hear like this always, but once now and then, and he was
quite sure that he had heard Master Bevis and Master Mark talking
something about shooting, and that the sound came from over the water.
He did not believe they were at Jack's, there was "summat" (something)
very curious about it.

The Bailiff and Polly and the visitor turned this over and over, and
gossiped, and discussed it for some time, till the man had to go.  They
never for a moment doubted the perfect truth of what he had stated.
Half-educated people are always ready to believe the marvellous, nor was
there anything so unusual in this claim to a second sight of hearing, so
to say.  Once now and then, in the country, you meet with people who lay
serious claim to possess the power, and most astonishing instances are
related of it.

Whether being so much in the open air sharpens the senses, whether the
sound actually did travel over the water, it is not possible to say, or
whether some little suspicion of the real facts had got out, and this
fellow cunningly devised his story knowing that sooner or later
confirmation of his wonderful powers of hearing would be derived in the
discovery of what Bevis had been doing.  The only persons who could tell
were John Young and Loo: the one was spell-bound by the bribe he knew he
should obtain, Loo was much too eager to share the game to breathe a
word.  Poachers, however, get about at odd hours in odd places, and see
things they are not meant to.

Still in the country the belief lingers that here and there a person
does possess the power, and the story so worked upon the Bailiff and
Polly, that at last Polly ventured in to tell her mistress.  Her
mistress at once dismissed it as ridiculous.  She was too well educated
to dream dreams.  Yet when she retired, do you know! she sat a little
while and thought about it, so contagious is superstition.  In the
morning she sent down to Frances to come an hour earlier--she wanted to
see Bevis.

Frances came, and the dog-cart was at the door when Loo (who had been
sent on an errand to the town--a common thing on Saturdays) rushed up to
the door, thrust a letter into mamma's hand, and darted away.

"Why!" said she.  "It's Bevis--why!" she read aloud, Frances looking
over her shoulder:--"Dear Mamma, Please come up to the place where the
boats are kept directly you get this and mind you come this very
minute," (twice dashed).  "We are coming home from New Formosa in our
ship the Calypso, and want you to be there to see the things we have
brought you, and to hear all about it.  Mind and be sure and come this
very minute, please."

Wondering and excited with curiosity, the two ladies ran as fast as they
could up the meadow footpath, and along the bank of the New Sea, till
they came to a clear place where the trees did not interfere with the
view.  Then, a long way up, they saw a singular-looking boat with a
black sail.

"There they are!"

"They're coming!"

"What _can_ they have been doing?"

"That is not the Pinta!"

"This has a black sail!"

The sail was black because it was the rug, an old-fashioned one, black
one side and grey the other.  After long discussion Bevis and Mark had
decided that the time had come when they must return from the island,
for if Bevis's mother went to Jack's and found they were not there, her
anxiety would be terrible, and they could not think of it.  So Bevis
wrote a letter and sent Loo back with it at once, and she was to watch
and see if his mother did as she was asked.  If she started for the
shore Loo was to raise a signal, a handkerchief they lent her for the

Some time after Loo went they embarked on the raft, and drifted slowly
down before the south wind till they reached the Mozambique, where they
stayed the raft's progress with their poles till Loo displayed the
signal.  The sail was then hoisted, and they bore down right before the

With dark sail booming out the Calypso surged ahead, the mariners saw
the two ladies on the shore, and waved their hands and shouted.  Bevis
steered her into port, and she grounded beside the Pinta.  The first
caress and astonishment over: "Where are your hats?" said Frances.

"Where are your collars?" said his mother.  "And gracious, child! just
look at his neck!"

As for hats and collars they had almost forgotten their existence, and
having passed most of the time in shirt sleeves like gold-miners, with
necks and chests exposed, they were as brown as if they had been in the
tropics.  Mark especially was tanned, completely tanned: Bevis was too
fair to brown well.  The sun and the wind had purified his skin almost
to transparency with a rosy olive behind the whiteness.  There was a
gleam in his eye, the clear red of his lips--lips speak the state of the
blood--the easy motion of the limbs, the ringing sound of the voice, the
upright back, all showed primeval health.  Both of them were often
surprised at their own strength.

In those days of running, racing, leaping, exploring, swimming, the skin
nude to the sun, and wind and water, they built themselves up of steel,
steel that would bear the hardest wear of the world.  Had they been put
in an open boat and thrust forth to sea like the viking of old, it would
not have hurt them.

Frances played with Bevis's golden ringlets, but did not kiss him as she
had used to do.  He looked too much a man.  She placed her hand on her
brother's shoulder, but did not speak to him as once she had done.
Something told her that this was not the boy she ordered to and fro.

They could not believe that the two had really spent all the time on an
island.  This was the eleventh morn since they had left--it could not
be: yet there was the raft in evidence.

"Let us row them up in the Pinta," said Mark.

"In a minute," said Bevis.  "Get her ready; I'll be back in a minute--
half a second."  He ran along the bank to a spot whence he knew he could
see the old house at home through the boughs.  He wanted just to look at
it--there is no house so beautiful as the one you were born in--and then
he ran back.

There was a little water in the boat but not much, they hauled out some
of the ballast, the ladies got in and were rowed direct to New Formosa.
The stockade--so well defended, the cage before the door, the hut, the
cave, their interest knew no bounds.

"But you did not really sleep on this," said Bevis's mother in a tone of
horror, finding the bed was nothing but fir branches: she could not be
reconciled to the idea.

The matchlock, the niche for the lantern, the marks where their fires
had been, the sun-dial, there was no detail they did not examine: and
lastly they went all round the island by the well-worn path.  This
occupied a considerable time, it was now too late to drive up to Jack's
and the object was removed, but Bevis's mother, ever anxious for others'
happiness, whispered to Frances that she would write and send a
messenger, and ask Jack to come down to-morrow--surely he could spare
Sunday--to bring back the parcel, and see the wonderful island.

When at last they landed the ladies, there was Charlie on the bank, and
Cecil and Val, who had somehow got wind of it--they were wild with
curiosity not unmingled with resentment.  These had to be rowed to New
Formosa and they stayed longer even than the ladies, and insisted on a
shot each with the matchlock.  So it was a most exciting afternoon for
these returned shipwrecked folks.  In the evening they had the dog-cart,
and drove in to Latten with the otter to have it preserved.

They did not see much or think much of the governor till towards
supper-time--Mark had snatched half an hour to visit his Jolly Old Moke
and returned like the wind.  The governor was calmly incredulous: he
professed to disbelieve that they had done it all themselves, there must
have been a man or two to help them.  And if it was true, how did they
suppose they were going to pay for all the damage they had done to the
trees on the island?

This was a difficult question, they did not know that the governor could
cut the trees if he chose, indeed they had never thought about it.  But
having faced so many dangers they were not going to tremble at this.
They could not quite make the governor out, whether he was chaffing
them, or whether he really disbelieved, or whether it was a cover to his
anger.  In truth, he hardly knew himself, but he could not help admiring
the ingenuity with which they had effected all this.

He was a shrewd man, the governor, and he saw that Bevis and Mark had
the ladies on their side; what is the use of saying anything when the
ladies have made up their minds?  Besides, there was this about it at
any rate: they had gained the primeval health of the primeval
forest-dwellers.  Before gleaming eyes, red lips, sun-burned and yet
clear skin, ringing voices and shouts of laughter, how could he help but
waver and finally melt and become as curious as the rest.

In the end they actually promised, as a favour, to row him up to their
island to-morrow.

Volume Three, Chapter XVI.


The governor having been rowed to the island, examined the
fortifications, read the journal, and looked at the iron-pipe gun, and
afterwards reflecting upon these things came to the conclusion that it
would be safer and better in every way to let Bevis have the use of a
good breech-loader.  He evidently must shoot, and if so he had better
shoot with a proper gun.  When this decision was known, Mark's governor
could do nothing less, and so they both had good guns put into their

In truth, the prohibition had long been rather hollow, more traditional
than effectual.  Bevis had accompanied his governor several autumns in
the field, and shot occasionally, and he had been frequently allowed to
try his skill at the starlings flying to and fro the chimney.  Besides
which they shot with Jack and knew all about it perfectly well.  They
were fortunate in living in the era of the breech-loader which is so
much safer than the old muzzle-loading gun.  There was hardly a part of
the muzzle-loader which in some way or other did not now and then
contribute to accidents.  With the breech-loader you can in a moment
remove the very possibility of accident by pulling out the cartridges
and putting them in your pocket.

Bevis and Mark knew very well how to shoot, both from actual if
occasional practice, and from watching those who did shoot.  The
governor, however, desirous that they should excel, gave them a good
drilling in this way.

Bevis had to study his position at the moment when he stopped and lifted
the gun.  His left foot was to be set a little in front of the other,
and he was to turn very slightly aside, the left shoulder forwards.  He
was never to stand square to the game.  He was to stand upright,
perfectly upright like a bolt.  The back must not stoop nor the
shoulders be humped and set up till the collar of the coat was as high
as the poll.  Humping the shoulders at the same time contracts the
chest, and causes the coat in front to crease, and these creases are apt
to catch the butt of the gun as it comes to the shoulder and divert it
from its proper place.

There is no time to correct this in the act of shooting, so that the
habit of a good position should be acquired that it may be avoided.  He
had, too, to hold his head nearly upright and not to crane his neck
forward till the cheek rested on the stock while the head was aside in
the manner of the magpie peering into a letter.  He was to stand
upright, with his chest open and his shoulders thrown back, like Robin
Hood with his six foot yew drawing the arrow to his ear.

Bevis was made to take his double-barrel upstairs, into the best
bedroom--this is the advantage of the breech-loader, take the cartridges
out and it is as harmless as a fire-iron--where there was a modern
cheval-glass.  The mirrors down stairs were old and small, and the glass
not perfectly homogeneous so that unless the reflection of the face fell
just in the centre a round chin became elongated.  Before the
cheval-glass he was ordered to stand sideways and throw up the gun
quickly to the present, then holding it there, to glance at himself.

He saw his frame arched forward, his back bent, his shoulders drawn
together, the collar of his coat up to his poll behind, the entire
position cramped and awkward.  Now he understood how unsightly it
looked, and how difficult it is to shoot well in that way.  Many good
sportsmen by dint of twenty years' cramping educate their awkwardness to
a successful pitch.  It needs many years to do it: but you can stand
upright at once.

He altered his posture in a moment, looked, and saw himself standing
easily, upright but easily, and found that his heart beat without
vibrating the barrel as it will if the chest be contracted, and that
breathing did not throw the gun out of level.  Instead of compressing
himself to the gun, the gun fitted to him.  The gun had been his master
and controlled him, now he was the master of the gun.

Next he had to practise the bringing of the gun to the shoulder--the act
of lifting it--and to choose the position from which he would usually
lift it.  He had his free choice, but was informed that when once he had
selected it he must adhere to it.  Some generally carry the gun on the
hollow of the left arm with the muzzle nearly horizontal to the left.
Some under the right arm with the left hand already on the stock.  Some
with the muzzle upwards aslant with both hands also.  Now and then one
waits with the butt on his hip: one swings his gun anyhow in one hand
like an umbrella: a third tosses it over his shoulder with the hammers
down and the trigger-guard up, and jerks the muzzle over when the game
rises.  Except in snap-shooting, when the gun must of necessity be held
already half-way to the shoulder, it matters very little which the
sportsman does, nor from what position he raises his gun.

But the governor insisted that it did matter everything that the
position should be habitual.  That in order to shoot with success, the
gun must not be thrown up now one way and now another, but must almost
invariably, certainly as a rule, be lifted from one recognised position.
Else so many trifling circumstances interfere with the precision
without which nothing can be done, a crease of the coat, a button, the
sleeve, or you might, forgetting yourself, knock the barrel against a

To avoid these you must take your mind from the game to guide your gun
to the shoulder.  If you took your mind from the game the continuity of
the glance was broken, and the aim snapped in two, not to be united.
Therefore, he insisted on Bevis choosing a position in which he would
habitually carry his gun when in the presence of game.

Bevis at once selected that with the gun in the hollow of his left arm,
the muzzle somewhat upwards; this was simply imitation, because the
governor held it in that way.  It is, however, a good position, easy for
walking or waiting for ground game or for game that flies, for hare or
snipe, for everything except thick cover or brushwood, or moving in a
double mound, when you must perforce hold the gun almost perpendicular
before you to escape the branches.  This being settled, and the governor
having promised him faithfully that if he saw him carry it any other way
he would lock the gun up for a week each time, they proceeded to
practise the bringing of the gun up to the shoulder, that is, to the

The left hand should always grasp the stock at the spot where the gun
balances, where it can be poised on the palm like the beam of weights
and scales.  Instead of now taking it just in front of the
trigger-guard, now on the trigger-guard, now six or seven inches in
front, carelessly seizing it in different places as it happens, the left
hand should always come to the same spot.  It will do so undeviatingly
with a very little practice and without thought or effort, as your right
hand meets your friend's to shake hands.

If it comes always to the same spot the left hand does not require
shifting after the butt touches the shoulder.  The necessary movements
are reduced to a minimum.  Grasping it then at the balance lift it
gently to the shoulder, neither hastily nor slowly, but with quiet ease.
Bevis was particularly taught not to throw the butt against his
shoulder with a jerk, he was to bring it up with the deliberate motion
of "hefting."

"Hefting" is weighing in the hands--you are asked to "heft" a thing--to
take it and feel by raising it what you think it weighs.

With this considerate ease Bevis was to "heft" his gun to the shoulder,
and only to press it there sufficiently to feel that the butt touched
him.  He was not to hold it loosely, nor to pull it against his shoulder
as if he were going to mortice it there.  He was just to feel it.  If
you press the gun with a hard iron stiffness against the shoulder you
cannot move it to follow the flying bird: you pull against and resist
yourself.  On the other hand, if loosely held the gun is apt to shift.

The butt must touch his shoulder at the same place every time.  Those
who have not had this pointed out to them frequently have the thick or
upper part of the butt high above the shoulder, and really put nothing
but the narrow and angular lower part against the body.  At another
time, throwing it too low, they have to bend and stoop over the gun to
get an aim.  Or it is pitched up to the chest, and not to the shoulder
at all--to the edge of the chest, or again to the outside of the
shoulder on the arm.  They never bring it twice to the same place and
must consequently change the inclination of the head at every shot.  A
fresh effort has, therefore, to be gone through each time to get the
body and the gun to fit.

Bevis was compelled to bring the butt of his gun up every time to the
same spot well on his shoulder, between his chest and his arm, with the
hollow of the butt fitting, like a ball in its socket.  One of the great
objects of this mechanical training was that he should not have to pay
the least attention to the breech of the gun in aiming.  All that he had
to do with was the sight.  His gun, when he had thus practised, came up
exactly level at once.

It required no shifting, no moving of the left hand further up or lower
down the stock, no pushing of the butt higher up the shoulder, or to
this side or that.  His gun touched his shoulder at a perfect level, as
straight as if he had thrust out his hand and pointed with the index
finger at the bird.  Not the least conscious effort was needed, there
was nothing to correct, above all there was not a second's interruption
of the continuity of glance--the look at the game.  The breech was level
with the sight instantly; all he had further to do with was the sight.

With both eyes open he never lost view of the bird for the tenth of a
second.  The governor taught him to keep his eyes, both open, on the
bird as it flew, and his gun came up to his line of sight.  The black
dot at the end of the barrel--as the sight appears in the act of
shooting--had then only to cover the bird, and the finger pressed the
trigger.  Up to the moment that the black dot was adjusted to the mark
all was automatic.

The governor's plan was first to reduce the movements to a minimum;
secondly, to obtain absolute uniformity of movement; thirdly, to secure
by this absolute uniformity a perfect unconsciousness of effort of
movement at all; in short, automatic movement; and all this in order
that the continuity of glance, the look at the game, might not be
interrupted for the merest fraction of a second.  That glance was really
the aim, the gun fitted itself to the gaze just as you thrust out your
index finger and point, the body really did the work of aiming itself.

All the mind had to do was to effect the final adjustment of the black
dot of the sight.  Very often when the gun was thus brought up no such
adjustment was necessary, it was already there, so that there was
nothing to do but press the trigger.  It then looked as if the gun
touched the shoulder and was discharged instantaneously.

He was to look at the bird, to keep both eyes on it, to let his gun come
to his eyes, still both open, adjust the dot and fire.  There was no
binocular trouble because he was never to stay to run his eyes up the
barrels--that would necessitate removing his glance from the game, a
thing strictly forbidden.  Only the dot.  He saw only the dot, and the
dot gave no binocular trouble.  The barrels were entirely ignored; the
body had already adjusted them.  Only the dot.  The sight--this dot--is
the secret of shooting.

The governor said if you shut the left eye you cannot retain your glance
on the bird, the barrels invariably obscure it for a moment, and the
mind has to catch itself again.  He would not let Bevis take his eyes
off it--he would rather he missed.  Bevis was also to be careful not to
let his right hand hang with all the weight of his arm on the stock, a
thing which doubles the labour of the left arm as it has to uphold the
weight of the gun and of the right arm too, and thus the muzzle is apt
to be depressed.

He was not to blink, but to look through the explosion.  Hundreds of
sportsmen blink as they pull the trigger.  He was to let his gun
smoothly follow the bird, even in the act of the explosion, exactly as
the astronomer's clockwork equatorial follows a star.  There was to be
continuity of glance; and thus at last he brought down his snipes right
and left, as it seemed, with a sweep of the gun.

The astronomers discovered "personal equation."  Three men are set to
observe the occultation of a satellite by Jupiter, and to record the
precise time by pressing a lever.  One presses the lever the hundredth
of a second too soon, the second the hundredth of a second too late, the
third sometimes one and sometimes the other and sometimes is precisely
accurate.  The mean of these three gives the exact time.  In shooting
one man pulls the trigger a fraction too soon, another a fraction too
late, a third is uncertain.  If you have been doing your best to shoot
well, and after some years still fail, endeavour to discover your
"personal equation," and by correcting that you may succeed much better.
It is a common error and unsuspected, so is blinking--you may shoot for
years and never know that you blink.

Bevis's personal equation was a second too quick.  In this, as in
everything, he dashed at it.  His snipes were cut down as if you had
whipped them over: his hares were mangled; his partridges smashed.  The
dot was dead on them, and a volley of lead was poured in.  The governor
had a difficulty to get him to give "law" enough.

He acquired the mechanical precision so perfectly that he became
careless and shot gracelessly.  The governor lectured him and hung his
gun up for a week as a check.  By degrees he got into the easy quiet
style of finished shooting.

The two learned the better and the quicker because there were two.  The
governor went through the same drill with Mark, motion for motion, word
for word.  Then when they were out in the field the one told the other,
they compared their experiences, checked each other's faults, and
commended success.  They learned the better and the quicker because they
had no keeper to find everything for them, and warn them when to expect
a hare, and when a bird.  They had to find it for themselves like Pan.
Finally, they learned the better because at first they shot at anything
that took their fancy, a blackbird or a wood-pigeon, and were not
restricted to one class of bird with the same kind of motion every time
it was flushed.

Long before trusted with guns they had gathered from the conversation
they constantly heard around them to aim over a bird that flies straight
away because it usually rises gradually for some distance, and between
the ears of the running hare.  If the hare came towards them they shot
at the grass before his paws.  A bird flying aslant away needs the sight
to be put in front of it, the allowance increasing as the angle
approaches a right angle; till when a bird crosses, straight across, you
must allow a good piece, especially if he comes with the wind.

Two cautions the governor only gave them, one to be extremely careful in
getting through hedges that the muzzles of their guns pointed away, for
branches are most treacherous, and secondly never to put the forefinger
inside the trigger-guard till in the act of lifting the gun to the

For awhile their territory was limited as the governor, who shot with
Mark's, did not want the sport spoiled by these beginners.  But as
September drew to a close, they could wander almost where they liked,
and in October anywhere, on promise of not shooting pheasants should
they come across any.

Volume Three, Chapter XVII.


Meantime they taught Big Jack to swim.  He came down to look at the cave
on New Formosa, and Frances so taunted and tormented him because the
boys could swim and he could not, that at last the giant, as it were,
heaved himself up for the effort, and rode down every morning.  Bevis
and Mark gave him lessons, and in a fortnight he could swim four or five
strokes to the railings.  Directly he had the stroke he got on rapidly,
for those vast lungs of his, formed by the air of the hills, floated him
as buoyantly as a balloon.  So soon as ever he could swim, Frances
turned round and tormented him because the boys had taught him and not
he the boys.

Bevis and Mark could not break off the habit of bathing every morning,
and they continued to do so far into October, often walking with bare
feet on the hoar-frost on the grass, and breaking the thin ice at the
edge of the water by tapping it with their toes.  The bath was now only
a plunge and out again, but it gave them a pleasant glow all day, and
hardened them as the smith hardens iron.

Up at Jack's they tried again with his little rifle, and applying what
they had learnt from the matchlock while shooting with ball, soon found
out the rifle's peculiarities.  It only wanted to be understood and
coaxed like everything else.  Then they could hit anything with it up to
sixty yards.  Beyond that the bullet, being beaten out of shape when
driven home by the ramrod, could not be depended upon.  In October they
could shoot where they pleased on condition of sparing the pheasants for
their governors.  There were no preserved covers, but a few pheasants
wandered away and came there.  October was a beautiful month.

One morning Tom, the ploughboy, and some time bird-keeper, came to the
door and asked to see them.  "There be a pussy in the mound," he said,
with the sly leer peculiar to those who bring information about game.
He "knowed" there was a hare in the mound, and yet he could not have
given any positive reason for it.  He had not actually seen the hare
enter the mound, nor found the run, nor the form, neither had he Pan's
intelligent nostrils, but he "knowed" it all the same.

Rude as he looked he had an instinctive perception--supersensuous
perception--that there was a hare on that mound, which twenty people
might have passed without the least suspicion.  "Go into the kitchen,"
said Bevis, and Tom went with a broad smile of content on his features,
for he well knew that to be sent into the kitchen was equivalent to a
cheque drawn on the cellar and the pantry.

Bevis and Mark took their guns, Pan followed very happily, and they
walked beside the hedges down towards the place, which was at some
distance.  The keenness of the morning air, from which the sun had not
yet fully distilled the frost of the night, freshened their eagerness
for sport.  A cart laden with swedes crossed in front of them, and
though the sun shone the load of roots indicated that winter was
approaching.  They passed an oak growing out in the field.

Under the tree there stood an aged man with one hand against the hoary
trunk, and looking up into the tree as well as his bowed back, which had
stiffened in its stoop, and his rounded shoulders would let him.  His
dress was old and sober tinted, his smock frock greyish, his old hat had
lost all colour.  He was hoary like the lichen-hung oak trunk.  From his
face the blood had dried away, leaving it a dull brown, the tan of
seventy harvest fields burned into the skin, a sapless brown wrinkled
face like a withered oak leaf.

Though he looked at them, and Bevis nodded, his eyes gave no sign of
recognition; like a dead animal's, there was no light in them, the glaze
was settling.  In the evening it might occur to him that he had seen
them in the morning.  His years pressed heavy on him, very heavy like a
huge bundle of sticks; he was lost under his age.  All those years
"Jumps" had never once been out of sight of the high Down yonder (not
far from Jack's), the landmark of the place.  Within sight of that hill
he was born, within such radius he had laboured, and therein he was
decaying, slowly, very slowly, like an oak branch.  James was his real
name, corrupted to "Jumps;" as "Jumps" he had been known for two
generations, and he would have answered to no other.

One day it happened that "Jumps" searching for dead sticks came along
under the sycamore-trees and saw Jack, and Bevis and Mark swimming.  He
watched them some time with his dull glazing eyes, and a day or two
afterwards opened his mouth about it.  "Never seed nobody do thuck
afore," he said, repeating it a score of times as his class do,
impressing an idea on others by reiteration, as it takes so much
iteration to impress it on them.  "Never saw any one do that before."

For seventy harvests he had laboured in that place, and never once gone
out of sight of the high Down yonder, and in all that seventy years no
one till Bevis and Mark, and now their pupil Jack, had learned to swim.
Bevis's governor was out of the question, he had crossed the seas.  But
of the true country-folk, of all who dwelt round about those waters, not
one had learned to swim.  Very likely no one had learned since the
Norman conquest.  When the forests were enclosed and the commonalty
forbidden to hunt, the spirit of enterprising exercise died out of them.
Certainly it is a fact that until quite recently you might search a
village from end to end and not find a swimmer, and most probably if you
found one now he would be something of a traveller and not a
home-staying man.

Tom, the ploughboy and bird-keeper, with his companions, the other
plough-lads and young men, sometimes bathed in summer in the brook far
down the meadows, splashing like blackbirds in the shallow water,
running to and fro on the sward under the grey-leaved willows with the
sunshine on their limbs.  I delight to see them, they look Greek; I wish
some one would paint them, with the brimming brook, the willows
pondering over it, the pointed flags, the sward, and buttercups, the
distant flesh-tints in the sunlight under the grey leaves.  But this was
not swimming.  "Never saw any one do that before," said the man of
seventy harvests.

Under the oak he stood as Bevis and Mark passed that October morning.
His hand was like wood upon wood, and as he leaned against the oak, his
knees were bent one way and his back the other, and thus stiff and
crooked and standing with an effort supported by the tree, it seemed as
if he had been going as a beast of the field upon all fours and had
hoisted himself upright with difficulty.  Something in the position, in
the hoary tree, and the greyish hue of his dress gave the impression of
an arboreal animal.

But against the tree there leaned also a long slender pole, "teeled up"
as "Jumps" would have said, and at the end of the pole was a hook.  The
old man had permission to collect the dead wood, and the use of his
crook was to tear down the decaying branches for which he was now
looking.  A crook is a very simple instrument--the mere branch of a tree
will often serve as a crook--but no arboreal animal has ever used a
crook.  Ah!  "Jumps," poor decaying "Jumps," with lengthened narrow
experience like a long footpath, with glazing eyes, crooked knee, and
stiffened back, there was a something in thee for all that, the unseen
difference that is all in all, the wondrous mind, the soul.

Up in the sunshine a lark sung fluttering his wings; he arose from the
earth, his heart was in the sky.  Shall not the soul arise?

Past the oak Bevis and Mark walked beside the hedge upon their way.
Frost, and sunshine after had reddened the hawthorn sprays, and already
they could see through the upper branches--red with haws--for the grass
was strewn with the leaves from the exposed tops of the bushes.  On the
orange maples there were bunches of rosy-winged keys.  There was a gloss
on the holly leaf, and catkins at the tips of the leafless birch.  As
the leaves fell from the horse-chestnut boughs the varnished sheaths of
the buds for next year appeared; so there were green buds on the
willows, black tips to the ash saplings, green buds on the sycamores.
They waited asleep in their sheaths till Orion strode the southern sky
and Arcturus rose in the East.

Slender larch boughs were coated with the yellow fluff of the decaying
needles.  Brown fern, shrivelled rush tip, grey rowen grass at the verge
of the ditch showed that frost had wandered thither in the night.  By
the pond the brown bur-marigolds drooped, withering to seed, their dull
disks like lesser sunflowers without the sunflower's colour.  There was
a beech which had been orange, but was now red from the topmost branch
to the lowest, redder than the squirrels which came to it.  Two or three
last buttercups flowered in the grass, and on a furze bush there were a
few pale yellow blossoms not golden as in spring, but pale.

Thin threads of gossamer gleamed, the light ran along their loops as
they were lifted by the breeze, and the sky was blue over the buff oaks.
Jays screeched in the oaks looking for acorns, and there came the
muffled tinkle of a sheep-bell.  A humble-bee buzzed across their path,
warmed into aimless life by the sun from his frost-chill of the night--
buzzed across and drifted against a hawthorn branch.  There he clung and
crept about the branch, his raft in the sunshine, as men chilled at sea
cling and creep about their platform of beams in the waste of waves.
His feeble force was almost spent.

The sun shone and his rays fell on red hawthorn spray, on yellow larch
bough, on brown fern, rush tip, and grey grass, on red beech and yellow
gorse, on broad buff oaks and orange maple, and on the gleaming pond.
Wheresoever there was the least colour the sun's rays flew like a bee to
a flower, and drew from it a beauty as they drew the song from the lark.

The wind came from the blue sky with drifting skeins of mist in it like
those which curled in summer's dawn over the waters of the New Sea, the
wind came and their blood glowed as they walked.  King October reigned,
and the wind of his mantle as he drew it about him puffed the leaves
from the trees.  June is the queen of the months, and October is king.
"Busk ye and bowne ye my merry men all:" sharpen your arrows and string
your bows; set ye in order and march, march to the woods away.

The wind came and rippled their blood into a glow, as it rippled the
water.  A lissom steely sense strung their sinews; their backs felt like
oak-plants, upright, sturdy but not rigid; their frames charged with
force.  This fierce sense of life is like the glow in the furnace where
the draught comes; there's a light in the eye like the first star
through the evening blue.

Afar above a flock of rooks soared, winding round and round a
geometrical staircase in the air, with outstretched wings like leaves
upborne and slowly rotating edge first.  The ploughshare was at work
under them planing the stubble and filling the breeze with the scent of
the earth.  Over the ploughshare they soared and danced in joyous

Upon the tops of the elms the redwings sat--high-flying thrushes with a
speck of blood under each wing--and called "kuck--quck" as they
approached.  When they came to the mound Bevis went one side of the
hedge and Mark the other.  Then at a word Pan rushed into the mound like
a javelin, splintering the dry hollow "gix" stalks, but a thorn pierced
his shaggy coat and drew a "yap" from him.

At that the hare waited no longer, but lightly leaped from the mound
thirty yards ahead.  Bound!  Bound!  Bevis poised his gun, got the dot
on the fleeting ears, and the hare rolled over and was still.  So they
passed October, sometimes seeing a snipe on a sandy shallow of the brook
under a willow as they came round a bend.  The wild-fowl began to come
to the New Sea, but these were older and wilder, and not easy to shoot.

One day as they were out rowing in the Pinta they saw the magic wave,
and followed it up, till Mark shot the creature that caused it, and
found it to be a large diving bird.  Several times Bevis fired at herons
as they came over.  Towards the evening as they were returning homewards
now and then one would pass, and though he knew the height was too much
he could not resist firing at such a broad mark as the wide wings
offered.  The heron, perhaps touched, but unharmed by the pellets whose
sting had left them, almost tumbled with fright, but soon recovered his
gravity and resumed his course.

Somewhat later the governor having business in London took Bevis and
Mark with him.  They stayed a week at Bevis's grandpa's, and while
there, for Bevis's special pleasure, the governor went with them one
evening to see a celebrated American sportsman shoot.  This pale-face
from the land of the Indians quite upset and revolutionised all their
ideas of how to handle a gun.

The perfection of first-rate English weapons, their accuracy and almost
absolute safety, has obtained for them pre-eminence over all other
fire-arms.  It was in England that the art of shooting was slowly
brought to the delicate precision which enables the sportsman to kill
right and left in instantaneous succession.  But why then did this one
thing escape discovery?  Why have so many thousands shot season after
season without hitting upon it?  The governor did not like his
philosophy of the gun upset in this way; his cherished traditions

There the American stood on the stage as calm as a tenor singer, and
every time the glass ball was thrown up, smash! a single rifle-bullet
broke it.  A single bullet, not shot, not a cartridge which opens out
and makes a pattern a foot in diameter, but one single bullet.  It was
shooting flying with a rifle.  It was not once, twice, thrice, but tens
and hundreds.  The man's accuracy of aim seemed inexhaustible.

Never was there any exhibition so entirely genuine: never anything so
bewildering to the gunner bred in the traditionary system of shooting.
A thousand rifle-bullets pattering in succession on glass balls jerked
in the air would have been past credibility if it had not been witnessed
by crowds.  The word of a few spectators only would have been

"It is quite upside down, this," said the governor.  "Really one would
think the glass balls burst of themselves."

"He could shoot partridges flying with his rifle," said Mark.

Bevis said nothing but sat absorbed in the exhibition till the last shot
was fired and they rose from their seats, then he said, "I know how he
did it!"


"I'm sure I do: I saw it in a minute."

"Well, how then?"

"I'll tell you when we get home."


"Wait and see."

Nothing more was said till they reached home, when half scornfully they
inquired in what the secret lay?

"The secret is in this," said Bevis, holding out his left arm.  "That's
the secret."

"How?  I don't see."

"He puts his left arm out nearly as far as he can reach," said Bevis,
"and holds the gun almost by the muzzle.  That's how he does it.  Here,
see--like this."

He took up his grandfather's gun which was a muzzle-loader and had not
been shot off these thirty years, and put it to his shoulder, stretching
out his left arm and grasping the barrels high up beyond the stock.  His
long arm reached within a few inches of the muzzle.

"There!" he said.

"Well, it was like that," said Mark.  "He certainly did hold the gun
like that."

"But what is the difference?" said the governor.  "I don't see how it's
done now."

"But I do," said Bevis.  "Just think: if you hold the gun out like this,
and put your left arm high up as near the muzzle as you can, you put the
muzzle on the mark directly instead of having to move it about to find
it.  And that's it, I'm sure.  I saw that was how he held it directly,
and then I thought it out."

"Let me," said Mark.  He had the gun and tried, aiming quickly at an
object on the mantelpiece.  "So you can--you put the barrels right on

"Give it to me," said the governor.  He tried, twice, thrice, throwing
the gun up quickly.

"Keep your left hand in one place," said Bevis.  "Not two places--don't
move it."

"I do believe he's right," said the governor.

"Of course I am," said Bevis in high triumph.  "I'm sure that's it."

"So am I," said Mark.

"Well, really now I come to try, I think it is," said the governor.

"It's like a rod on a pivot," said Bevis.  "Don't you see the left hand
is the pivot: if you hold it out as far as you can, then the Long part
of the rod is your side of the pivot, and the short little piece is
beyond it--then you've only got to move that little piece.  If you shoot
in our old way then the long piece is the other side of the pivot, and
of course the least motion makes such a difference.  Here, where's some
paper--I can see it, if you can't."

With his pencil he drew a diagram, being always ready to draw maps and
plans of all kinds.  He drew it on the back of a card that chanced to
lie on the table.

"There, that long straight stroke, that's the line of the gun--it's
three inches long--now, see, put A at the top, and B at the bottom like
they do in geometry.  Now make a dot C on the line just an inch above B.
Now suppose B is where the stock touches your shoulder, and this dot C
is where your hand holds the gun in our old way at home.  Then, don't
you see, the very least mistake at C, ever so little, increases at A--
ratio is the right word, increases in rapid ratio, and by the time the
shot gets to the bird it's half a yard one side."

"I see," said Mark.  "Now do the other."

"Rub out the dot at C," said Bevis.  "I haven't got any indiarubber, you
suppose it's rubbed out: now put the dot, two inches above B, and only
one inch from the top of the gun at A.  That's how he held it with his
hand at this dot, say D."

"I think he did," said the governor.

"Now you think," said Bevis.  "It takes quite a sweep, quite a movement
to make the top A incline much out of the perpendicular.  I mean if the
pivot, that's your hand, is at D a little mistake does not increase
anything like so rapidly.  So its much more easy to shoot straight

They considered this some while till they got to understand it.  All the
time Bevis's mind was working to try and find a better illustration, and
at last he snatched up the governor's walking-stick.  The knob or handle
he held in his right hand, and that represented the butt of the gun
which is pressed against the shoulder.  His right hand he rested on the
table, keeping it still as the shoulder would be still.  Then he took
the stick with the thumb and finger of his left hand about one third of
the length of the stick up.  That was about the place where a gun would
be held in the ordinary way.

"Now look," he said, and keeping his right hand firm, he moved his left
an inch or so aside.  The inch at his hand increased to three or four at
the point of the stick.  This initial error in the aim would go on
increasing till at forty yards the widest spread of shot would miss the

"And now this way," said Bevis.  He slipped his left hand up the stick
to within seven or eight inches of the point.  This represented the new
position.  A small error here--or lateral motion of the hand--only
produced a small divergence.  The muzzle, the top of the stick, only
varied from the straight line the amount of the actual movement of the
left hand.  In the former case a slight error of the hand multiplied
itself at the muzzle.  This convinced them.

"How we shall shoot!" said Mark.  "We shall beat Jack hollow!"

They returned home two days afterwards, and immediately tried the
experiment with their double-barrels.  It answered perfectly.  As Bevis
said, the secret was in the left arm.

When about to shoot grasp the gun at once with the left hand as high up
the barrel as possible without inconveniently straining the muscles, and
so bring it to the shoulder.  Push the muzzle up against the mark, as if
the muzzle were going to actually touch it.  The left hand aims,
positively putting the muzzle on the game.  All is centred in the left
hand.  The left hand must at once with the very first movement take hold
high up, and must not be slid there, it must take hold high up as near
the muzzle as possible without straining.  The left hand is thrust out,
and as it were put on the game.  Educate the left arm; teach it to
correspond instantaneously with the direction of the glance; teach it to
be absolutely stable for the three necessary seconds; let the mind act
through the left wrist.  The left hand aims.

This is with the double-barrel shot gun; with the rifle at short
sporting ranges the only modification is that as there is but one pellet
instead of two hundred, the sight must be used and the dot put on the
mark, while with the shot gun in time you scarcely use the sight at all.
With the rifle the sight must never be forgotten.  The left hand puts
the sight on the mark, and the quicker the trigger is pressed the
better, exactly reversing tradition.  A slow deliberative rifleman was
always considered the most successful, but with the new system the fire
cannot be delivered too quickly, the very instant the sight is on the
mark, thus converting the rifleman into a snap-shooter.  Of course it is
always understood that this applies to short sporting ranges, the method
is for sporting only, and does not apply to long range.

One caution is necessary in shooting like this with the double-barrel.
Be certain that you use a first-class weapon, quite safe.  The left hand
being nearly at the top of the barrel, the left hand itself, and the
whole length of the left arm are exposed in case of the gun bursting.  I
feel that some cheap guns are not quite safe.  With a good gun by a
known maker there is no danger.

The American has had many imitators, but no one has reached his degree
of excellence in the new art which he invented.  Perhaps it is fortunate
that it is not every one who can achieve such marvellous dexterity, for
such shooting would speedily empty every cover in this country.

Big Jack learned the trick from them in a very short time.  His strong
left arm was as steady as a rock.  He tried it with his little rifle,
and actually killed a hare, which he started from a furze bush, as it
ran with a single bullet.  But the governor though convinced would not
adopt the new practice.  He adhered to the old way, the way he had
learned as a boy.  What we learn in youth influences us through life.

But Bevis and Mark, and Big Jack used it with tremendous effect in
snap-shooting in lanes where the game ran or flew across, in ferreting
when the rabbits bolted from hole to hole, in snipe shooting, in
hedge-hunting, one each side--the best of all sport, for you do not know
what may turn out next, a hare, a rabbit, a partridge from the dry
ditch, or a woodcock from the dead leaves.

Volume Three, Chapter XVIII.


The winter remained mild till early in January when the first green
leaves had appeared on the woodbine.  One evening Polly announced that
it was going to freeze, for the cat as he sat on the hearthrug had put
his paw over his ear.  If he sat with his back to the fire, that was a
sign of rain.  If he put his paw over his ear that indicated frost.

It did freeze and hard.  The wind being still, the New Sea was soon
frozen over except in two places.  There was a breathing-hole in
Fir-Tree Gulf about fifty or sixty yards from the mouth of the Nile.
The channel between New Formosa and Serendib did not "catch," perhaps
the current from Sweet River Falls was the cause, and though they could
skate up within twenty yards, they could not land on the islands.  Jack
and Frances came to skate day after day; Bevis and Mark with Ted, Cecil,
and the rest fought hockey battles for hours together.

One afternoon, being a little tired, Bevis sat on the ice, and presently
lay down for a moment at full length, when looking along the ice--as he
looked along his gun--he found he could see sticks or stones or anything
that chanced to be on it a great distance off.  Trying it again he could
see the skates of some people very nearly half a mile distant, though
his eyes were close to the surface, even if he placed the side of his
head actually on the ice.  The skates gleamed in the sun, and he could
see them distinctly; sticks lying on the ice were not clearly seen so
far as that, but a long way, so that the ice seemed perfectly level.

As the sun sank the ice became rosy, reflecting the light in the sky;
the distant Downs too were tinted the same colour.  After it was dark
Bevis got a lantern which Mark took five or six hundred yards up the
ice, and then set it down on the surface.  Bevis put his face on the ice
as he had done in the afternoon and looked along.  His idea was to try
and see for how far the lantern would be visible, as the sticks and
skates had been visible a good way, he supposed the light would be
apparent very much farther.

Instead of which, when he had got into position and looked along the ice
with his face touching it, the lantern had quite disappeared, yet it was
not so far off as he had seen the skates--skates are only an inch or so
high, and the candle in the lantern was four or five.  He skated two
hundred yards nearer, and then tried.  At this distance, with his eyes
as close to the ice as he could get them, he could not see the light
itself, but there was a glow diffused in the air where he knew it was.

This explained why the light disappeared.  There was a faint and
invisible mist above the ice--the iceblink--which at a long distance
concealed the lantern.  If he lifted his head about eighteen inches he
could see the light so that the stratum of mist, or iceblink, appeared
to be about eighteen inches in thickness.  When he skated another
hundred yards closer he could just see the light with his face on the
ice as he had done the skates by day.  So that after sunset it was
evident this mist formed in the air just above the ice.  Mark tried the
same experiment with the same result, and they then skated slowly
homewards, for as it was not moonlight they might get a fall by coming
against a piece of twig half-sunk in and frozen firmly.

Suddenly there was a sound like the boom of a cannon, and a crack shot
across the broad water from shore to shore.  The "who-hoo-whoop" of the
noise echoed back from the wood on the hill, and then they heard it
again in the coombes and valleys, rolling along.  As the ice was four or
five inches thick it parted with a hollow roar: the crack sometimes
forked, and a second running report followed the first.  Sometimes the
crack seemed to happen simultaneously all across the water.
Occasionally they could hear it coming, and with a distinct interval of
time before it reached them.

Up through these cracks or splits a little water oozed, and freezing on
the surface formed barriers of rough ice from shore to shore, which
jarred the skates as they passed over.  These splits in no degree
impaired the strength of the ice.  Later on as they retired they opened
the window and heard the boom again, weird and strange in the silence of
the night.

One day a rabbit was started from a bunch of frozen rushes by the shore,
and they chased it on the ice, overtaking it with ease.  They could have
knocked it down with their hockey sticks, but forebore to do so.  From
these rush-bunches they now and then flushed dab-chicks or lesser grebes
which, when there is open water, cannot be got to fly.

Till now the air had been still, but presently the wind blew from the
south almost a gale, this was straight down the water, so keeping their
skates together and spreading out their coats for sails they drove
before the wind at a tremendous pace, flying past the trees and
accumulating such velocity that their ankles ached from the vibration of
the skates.  Nor could they stop by any other means than describing a
wide circle, and so gradually facing the wind.  Bevis began to make an
ice-raft to slide on runners and go before the wind with a sail like the
ice-yachts on the American lakes.

But by the time the frame was put together, and the blacksmith had
finished the runners, a thaw set in.  It is just the same with sleighs,
directly the sleigh is got to work, the snow goes and leaves the
heaviest and muddiest road of the year.  The ice-yachts of America must
give splendid sport; it is said that they sometimes glide at the rate of
a mile a minute, actually outstripping the speed of the wind which
drives them.  This has been rather a puzzle why it should be so.

May it not be the same as it was with Bevis and Mark when they spread
their coats like sails and flew before the gale with such speed that it
needed some nerve to stand upright--till the vibration of the skates
caused a peculiar numblike feeling in the ankles?  They either did or
seemed to go faster than the wind, and was not this the accumulation of
velocity?  As a bullet dropped from a window falls so many feet the
first second, and a great many more the next second, increasing its
pace, so as they were thrust forwards by the wind their bodies
accumulated the impetus and shot beyond it.  Possibly it is the same
with the swift ice-yacht.  The thaw was a great disappointment.

The immense waves of ocean rise before the wind, and so the wind rushing
over the ice no longer firm and rigid quickly broke up the surface, and
there was a tremendous grinding and splintering, and chafing of the
fragments.  For the first few days these were carried down the New Sea,
but presently the wind changed.  The black north swooped on the earth
and swept across the waters.  Fields, trees, woods, hills, the very
houses looked dark and hard, the water grey, the sky cold and dusky.
The broken ice drifted before it and was all swept up to the other end
of the New Sea and jammed between and about the islands.  They could now
get at the Pinta, and resolved to have a sail.  "An arctic expedition!"

"Antarctic--it is south!"

"All right."

"Let us go to New Formosa."

"So we will.  But the ice is jammed there."

"Cut through it."

"Make an ice-bow."

"Be quick."

Up in the workshop they quickly nailed two short boards together like a
V.  This was lashed to the stem of the Pinta to protect her when they
crashed into the ice.  They took a reef in the mainsail, for though the
wind does not seem to travel any swifter, yet in winter it somehow feels
more hard and compact and has a greater power on what it presses
against.  Just before they cast loose, Frances appeared on the bank
above, she had called at the house, and hearing what they were about,
hastened up to join the expedition.  So soon as she had got a
comfortable seat, well wrapped up in sealskin and muff, they pushed off,
and the Pinta began to run before the wind.  It was very strong, much
stronger than it had seemed ashore, pushing against the sail as if it
were a solid thing.  The waves followed, and the grey cold water lapped
at the stern.

Beyond the battle-field as they entered the broadest and most open part
the black north roared and rushed at them, as if the pressure of the sky
descending forced a furious blast between it and the surface.  Angry and
repellent waves hissed as their crests blew off in cold foam and spray,
stinging their cheeks.  Ahead the red sun was sinking over New Formosa,
they raced towards the disc, the sail straining as if it would split.
As the boat drew near they saw the ice jammed in the channel between the
two islands.

It was thin and all in fragments; some under water, some piled by the
waves above the rest, some almost perpendicular, like a sheet of glass
standing upright and reflecting the red sunset.  Against the cliff the
waves breaking threw fragments of ice smashed into pieces; ice and spray
rushed up the steep sand and slid down again.  But it was between the
islands that the waves wreaked their fury.  The edge of the ice was torn
into jagged bits which dashed against each other, their white saw-like
points now appearing, now forced under by a larger block.

Farther in the ice heaved as the waves rolled under: its surface was
formed of plates placed like a row of books fallen aside.  As the ice
heaved these plates slid on each other, while others underneath striving
to rise to the surface struck and cracked them.  Down came the black
north as a man might bring a sledge-hammer on the anvil, the waves
hissed, and turned darker, a white sea-gull (which had come inland) rose
to a higher level with easy strokes of its wings.

Splinter--splanter!  Crash! grind, roar; a noise like thousands of
gnashing teeth.

"O!" said Frances, dropping her muff, and putting her hands to her ears.
"It is Dante!"

Bevis had his hand on the tiller; Mark his on the halyard of the
mainsail; neither spoke, it looked doubtful.  The next instant the Pinta
struck the ice midway between the islands, and the impetus with which
she came drove her six or seven feet clear into the splintering
fragments.  They were jerked forwards, and in an instant the following
wave broke over the stern, and then another, flooding the bottom of the
boat.  Mark had the mainsail down, for it would have torn the mast out.

With a splintering, grinding, crashing, roaring, a horrible and
inexpressible noise of chaos--an orderless, rhythmless noise of chaos--
the mass gave way and swept slowly through the channel.  The impact of
the boat acted like a battering-ram and started the jam.  Fortunate it
was for them that it did so, or the boat might have been swamped by the
following waves.  Bevis got out a scull, so did Mark, and their
exertions kept her straight; had she turned broadside it would have been
awkward even as it was.  They swept through the channel, the ice at its
edges barking willow branches and planing the shore, large plates were
forced up high and dry.

"Hurrah!" shouted Mark.


At the noise of their shouting thousands of starlings rose from the
osiers on Serendib with a loud rush of wings, blackening the air like a
cloud.  They were soon through the channel, the ice spread in the open
water, and they worked the boat under shelter of New Formosa, and

"You are wet," said Bevis as he helped Frances out.

"But it's jolly!" said Frances, laughing.  "Only think what a fright
_he_ would have been in if he had known!"

Having made the boat safe--there was a lot of water in her--they walked
along the old path, now covered with dead leaves damp from the thaw, to
the stockade.  The place was strewn with small branches whirled from the
trees by the gales, and in the hut and further corner of the cave were
heaps of brown oak leaves which had drifted in.  Nothing else had
changed; so well had they built it that the roof had neither broken down
nor been destroyed by the winds.

During the frost a blackbird had roosted in a corner of the hut under
the rafters, sparrows too had sought its shelter, and wrens and
blue-tits had crept into the crevices of the eaves.  Next they went up
on the cliff, the sun-dial stood as they had left it, but the sun was
now down.

From the height, where they could hardly stand against the wind, they
saw a figure afar on the green hill by the sycamores, which they knew
must be Big Jack waiting for them to return.  Walking back to the Pinta
they passed under the now leafless teak-tree marked and scored by the
bullets they had fired at it.

Before embarking they baled out the water in the boat, and then inclined
her, first one side and then the other, to see if she had sprung a leak,
but she had not.  The ice-bow was then hoisted on board, as it would no
longer be required, and would impede their sailing.  Frances stepped in,
and Bevis and Mark settled themselves to row out of the channel.  With
such a wind it was impossible to tack in the narrow strait between the
islands.  They had to pull their very hardest to get through.  So soon
as they had got an offing the sculls were shipped, and the sails
hoisted, but before they could get them to work they were blown back
within thirty yards of the cliff.  Then the sails drew, and they forged

It was the roughest voyage they had ever had.  The wind was dead against
them, and no matter on which tack every wave sent its spray, and
sometimes the whole of its crest over the bows.  The shock sometimes
seemed to hold the Pinta in mid-career, and her timbers trembled.  Then
she leaped forward and cut through, showering the spray aside.  Frances
laughed and sang, though the words were inaudible in the hiss and roar
and the rush of the gale through the rigging, and the sharp, whip-like
cracks of the fluttering pennant.

The velocity of their course carried them to and fro the darkening
waters in a few minutes, but the dusk fell quickly, and by the time they
had reached Fir-Tree Gulf, where they could get a still longer "leg" or
tack, the evening gloom had settled down.  Big Jack stood on the shore,
and beckoned them to come in: they could easily have landed Frances
under the lee of the hill, but she said she should go all the way now.
So they tacked through the Mozambique, past Thessaly and the bluff, the
waves getting less in size as they approached the northern shore, till
they glided into the harbour.  Jack had walked round and met them.  He
held out his hand, and Frances sprang ashore.  "How _could_ you?" he
said, in a tone of indignant relief.  To him it had looked a terrible

"Why it was splendid!" said Frances, and they went on together towards
Longcot.  Bevis and Mark stayed to furl sails, and leave the Pinta
ship-shape.  By the time they had finished it was already dark: the
night had come.

On their way home they paused a moment under the great oak at the top of
the Home Field, and looked back.  The whole south burned with stars.
There was a roar in the oak like the thunder of the sea.  The sky was
black, black as velvet, the black north had come down, and the stars
shone and burned as if the wind reached and fanned them into flame.

Large Sirius flashed; vast Orion strode the sky, lording the heavens
with his sword.  A scintillation rushed across from the zenith to the
southern horizon.  The black north held down the buds, but there was a
force in them already that must push out in leaf as Arcturus rose in the
East.  Listening to the loud roar of the oak as the strength of the
north wind filled them,--

"I should like to go straight to the real great sea like the wind," said

"We _must_ go to the great sea," said Bevis.  "Look at Orion!"

The wind went seawards, and the stars are always over the ocean.


The End.

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