The Project Gutenberg eBook of In the Eastern Seas

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Title: In the Eastern Seas

Author: William Henry Giles Kingston

Release date: May 8, 2007 [eBook #21387]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England


W.H.G. Kingston

"In the Eastern Seas"

Chapter One.

The Indiaman.

“Well, Thudicumb, I hope by noon we may at last get a glimpse of the sun,” said Captain Davenport to his first officer, as they walked the deck of the Bussorah Merchant, homeward bound from the East Indies, and at that time rolling on over the long heaving seas of the Atlantic. The sky was overcast, but ever and anon a gleam of light burst forth amid the clouds, playing on the foaming crest of a wave. It was blowing hard, but had evidently been blowing much harder, of which fact the condition of the Indiaman gave evidence. A portion of the starboard bulwarks were stove in, one of her quarter boats was shattered, and other slight damages were visible.

“We must be ready for him, sir, at all events,” said the first officer, looking at his watch. “It is not far off noon now.”

“Tell Oliver to bring me my sextant,” said the captain, as the mate descended from the poop into his cabin.

Mr Thudicumb soon returned, bringing his own instrument, and followed by a boy with the captain’s. Continuing their walk, they looked anxiously every now and then at the spot in the heavens where they expected the sun to appear. They were accompanied by one who seemed to take as much interest as they did in what was going forward. When they turned, he turned; when they looked up at the sky, he looked up also; balancing himself when the ship rolled as they did, by leaning over to the opposite direction to which she was heeling. He, however, could not have afforded them any assistance in their observation, for though his eye and the expression of his countenance exhibited much sagacity, he was of the canine species—a large dog—a magnificent-looking fellow, who could, the crew declared, for he was a great favourite with them, do everything but talk—and, they might have added, take a meridional observation, or a lunar.

Mr Thudicumb again looked at his watch. “There he is, sir,” he exclaimed at length.

He and the captain stopped in their walk; their sextants were quickly at their eyes; and there they stood, their feet planted firmly on the heaving deck, in an attitude long practice alone could have enabled them to maintain. A clear space was seen in the sky, increasing rapidly, and yet not altogether blue, but the vapour which drove across it was not sufficiently thick to prevent the sun’s rays descending upon the sea.

“She has dipped, sir,” said the first officer.

“She has,” observed the captain.

The sun’s elevation was read off on the index, and the instruments were returned to their cases. The calculation was very quickly worked out on a scrap of card.

“Make it noon, Mr Thudicumb,” said the captain, as, returning the case to the young cabin-boy, he directed him to take it below. While the captain and his first officer were making their observation, a group of midshipmen had collected on the deck with their quadrants in their hands, doing their best to shoot the sun, but their less experienced eyes could make but little of it in that heavy sea; and when they came to read off their observations, they were somewhat surprised at the wonderful difference which existed among them. Stopping to listen to a few remarks made to them by the captain, they hurried off the deck to deposit their quadrants in places of safety. The dog all the time stood with his feet firmly planted on the deck, watching the captain, as if he fully understood what was going on. Captain Davenport, as he turned, patted him on the head. “You are a wise dog, Merlin,” he observed; “but you cannot take an observation yet.” Merlin wagged his tail as if he had received a compliment, or, at all events, well pleased at the notice taken of him.

The captain was a tall man of spare figure, his white locks and weather-beaten countenance making him appear considerably older than his firm, yet light and active step, seemed to warrant. His eye, too, was still full of life and fire, and his voice clear and strong, evidence of which had been given when he issued his orders in the late gale, and when, by his promptitude and decision, he had saved the ship, seemingly on the point of destruction.

Scarcely had eight bells been struck, when the voice of the boatswain from the forecastle was heard shouting, “A vessel on the lee bow, sir! A dismasted ship! It can be nothing else!”

Captain Davenport went forward, followed by Merlin.

“Where away is she, Mr Tarbox?” he asked of the boatswain.

“There, sir, you will catch her over the bumkin-head,” answered the boatswain. “I saw her again just as you stepped on the forecastle. She cannot have gone down in the meantime!”

“I hope not indeed,” said the captain, looking out eagerly in the direction towards which the boatswain pointed. At last he too caught sight of a dark object lifted on the top of a sea. “A dismasted ship; no doubt about that,” he observed. “We will keep away for her. There are probably people on board, and although it would be a difficult matter to take them off while this sea is running, we may do so if it goes down, as it has been gradually doing since daylight.”

The Indiaman stood on, now rising to the summit of a sea, now gliding into the valley below, gradually approaching the dark object which had been discovered. The boatswain had gone aloft, and quickly returned.

“No doubt about it, Captain Davenport. She is a big ship—lost her masts, no doubt, in the gale; and from the way she is rolling, I have a notion she has no small amount of water in her. If we had not sighted her, it is my opinion that those on board would be fathoms down in the ocean, as she will be before another sun rises.”

“We will do what we can to save any people on board her,” said Captain Davenport. “Get the life-boat ready for lowering, Mr Tarbox.”

“Ay, ay, sir; I am ready to go in her,” answered the boatswain.

“Perhaps Mr Thudicumb may wish to go, or the second officer; but if not, Tarbox, I would intrust her to you more readily than to anybody.”

The news that a dismasted ship was in sight brought all the passengers who were below on deck, and numerous glasses were now turned towards her. No signs, however, of any one being on board were discovered. She was a complete wreck; the masts had gone by the board, the bulwarks were stove in, the caboose and booms and everything on deck had been swept clear away. The Indiaman stood on, passing close to leeward of her.

“She is deserted, sir; little doubt about that,” said Mr Thudicumb, examining the ship. “The people thought she was going down, and took to their boats. Better have stuck to her in such a sea as they must have had to encounter. Little chance of any boat living.”

“Haul the tacks aboard then, Mr Thudicumb; down with the helm,” said the captain. “Unless for the sake of rescuing any fellow-creatures, I would not risk a boat to board her, while the sea runs as high as it now does.”

As he was speaking, Merlin had been eagerly watching the wreck; and now, stretching out his fore-feet and neck towards her, he uttered a loud mournful howl or wail, which sounded strangely wild and sad to all who heard it.

“What is the matter, Merlin?” asked the captain, bending down and patting the dog’s head.

“That dog has got more sense than many human beings,” observed the boatswain. “Now, I should not be surprised but what he knows there is somebody on board that craft—dead or dying, may be—just as well as if he saw them. If I was our skipper, I would not leave that wreck without an overhauling.”

Just then a human head was seen issuing from the companion-hatch. It was that of a young boy. He sprang on deck and waved a handkerchief wildly, apparently shouting with all his power, though his voice could not be heard amidst the roaring of the sea and the lashing of the ropes as the ship was luffed up close to the wind. Captain Davenport seized his speaking-trumpet and shouted, “We will keep by you! Do not fear!” Just then another head was seen. “A young girl!” cried several of those looking on. A mere child she seemed at that distance, her light hair blowing about in the wind.

“Bless them!” said old Tarbox; “I would go to help them if there was twice the sea there is on.”

Preparations were now made for heaving the ship to, but the captain was anxious to wait, in the hopes of the sea going down still more before night, when there might be less risk in bringing the people from off the wreck. A great risk under similar circumstances is run when those on board a ship on fire or likely to sink leap hurriedly in too great numbers into the boat alongside. In many such instances the boat has been swamped, and the lives of all in her sacrificed. Here, such a danger was not likely to occur, as no crew apparently remained on board. The question, however, was, whether the wreck would float till the sea had sufficiently gone down to enable a boat to board her without risk. As the ship gradually receded from the wreck, the young boy was seen to lift up his hands imploringly, as if to beg for assistance. At length the boatswain came aft and addressed the captain.

“If you will let me have the life-boat, sir, there are six hands ready to go in her; and I will undertake to board that craft, and bring off any people we may find alive. To my mind, from the way she rolls, she has not got many hours longer to swim; and if she was to go down, those young people we saw would have to go down in her, and that’s what my eyes would not like to watch.”

“No indeed, Tarbox,” said the captain. “Mr Thudicumb, what do you say?”

“I was going to volunteer, sir,” said the first officer; “but though I yield to no other man on board in the management of a boat, I acknowledge that Tarbox can handle one in a sea better than any man I have ever met with; and on that account, and not because I am afraid of risking my life, I yield to him.”

“Thank you, Mr Thudicumb,” said the boatswain. “I should have said the same thing of you, sir; but you have a wife and children at home, and it matters little what becomes of old Dick Tarbox.”

Once more the ship was brought up as close as she could be to the wreck, and again being hove to, the life-boat, with the six hands selected by the boatswain, was carefully lowered. And now everybody on board watched her with anxious eyes, as she pulled towards the wreck. The young lad saw her coming, and was observed to be bending down as if to announce the event to some one below. Again the little girl’s head appeared above the deck, but the lad would not allow her to come up further, evidently being afraid of her being jerked overboard—an event but too likely to occur, from the way the ship was rolling. On pulled the boat, now sinking down deep into the trough of the sea, which curled into mountain billows, and seemed about to overwhelm her; now she rose up high on the crest of a wave. Many of those who gazed at her held their breath, scarcely believing that she could possibly live amid the tumult of waters. Slowly she proceeded, guided by the well-practised hand of the old boatswain. She was close to the wreck. Now she seemed to sink far down below the deck, now to rise up, as if the next instant she would be thrown upon it. Could any human being ever manage to gain the wreck from that tossing boat? Yes, yes! a man stands up in the boat. He makes a spring! He has gained the deck, hauling himself up by a rope which he has clutched. He waves off the boat till he is ready to return to her.

Dick Tarbox was the man. He was seen to leap down the hatchway. For some time he did not appear. What could have become of him? “There he is! there he is!” shouted several voices. He came, bearing a young girl in his arms. The boat again drew near the dismasted ship. Those who looked on held their breath, for how could he manage to convey his burden to the tossing boat? He stood for a minute or more waiting, but not irresolute. His eye was watching the boat. He was calculating the rolling of the ship. He made a signal to one of the men to be ready to receive the girl. Then, quick as lightning, he leaped across the deck, and dropped her—so it seemed—into the man’s arms. The boat again kept away from the ship, and the boatswain disappeared once more down the hatchway.

“He will bring the boy this time!” But no; he came up carrying a far heavier burden—a man wrapped in a cloak, and apparently unable to help himself. Dick shouted to one of the crew to go aboard and help him. Together they got the sick man into the boat. The little girl clasped her hands in her anxiety as she saw him lowered down. Sorrowfully she stooped over him, supporting his head in her arms; forgetting, apparently, where she was, and the fearful danger to which she was still exposed. The boy had followed the boatswain, apparently with the intention of leaping into the boat by himself. Dick was seen to hold him back: then he lifted him in his arms, and, waiting for the right moment, sprang into the boat.

No one on board had watched these proceedings with more apparent eagerness than Merlin; and as the boat came alongside the ship, he ran to the gangway to receive those whom she brought. The little girl was first lifted up the side, and received by the captain, Merlin instantly coming up to lick her hands and attract her attention. She had no thought, however, for any one round her, but endeavoured to look down into the boat to watch her companions. The sick man was next hoisted up; the boy, till he was safe, refusing to leave the boat. He then, aided by Dick Tarbox, hauled himself up on deck.

“We will carry him aft, and take him at once to my cabin,” said the captain. “He looks very ill.”

This was done; the young people keeping by the sick man’s side, anxiously gazing on his countenance, apparently scarcely aware where they were, and paying no attention to any one else.

“Is he your father, young gentleman?” asked the captain, as the sick man was placed on the bed.

“Oh yes, yes!” answered the boy. “But can you do nothing for him? He is, I am afraid, very, very ill.”

At that moment the surgeon, who had been attending on a patient below, came up, and entering the cabin, looked at the sick man’s countenance and felt his pulse. The look he gave the captain was observed by the little girl: she seemed to understand it.

“Oh do, sir, tell me what is the matter with him! Will he die?” she asked, bursting into tears.

“There is no time to be lost,” observed the surgeon, hurrying away to his own cabin without answering the question.

“Our lives are in God’s hands, young lady,” said the captain, in a kind tone. “The doctor will do all he can for your papa; be assured of that.”

The surgeon instantly returned with a restorative; after taking which the sick man recovered slightly, and was able to utter a few words in a faint voice. He recognised his children, and beckoned them to approach.

“I am leaving you, I fear,” he whispered; “for I feel as I have never felt before. Walter, take care of Emily; never leave her. Think of your dear mother and me sometimes.” Then he turned his glance towards the captain. “These, sir, will be orphans before many hours have passed,” he said, in a faltering voice. “You, perhaps, are a father, and can feel for me. As a fellow-creature, you can do so. You have been the means of preserving the lives of those children; watch over them, and do what you can for them. They will tell you about themselves. I cannot speak more.”

While he was uttering these words, he seemed about to relapse into a state of insensibility. His eye was growing dim. He stretched out his hands, however, and took those of his children; and thus, almost without uttering another word, his spirit passed away.

“We will leave your father now,” said the surgeon; and made a sign to the captain, who led the boy and girl out of the cabin.

The boy seemed to understand what had happened; but there was an anxious, scared, and inquiring expression on the countenance of the little girl, which showed that even now she was not certain that her father had been taken from her.

Captain Davenport was a father, and a kind, affectionate one, and knew how to sympathise with the bereaved children. He had been in the cabin but a few minutes when a midshipman entered.

“She is sinking, sir!” he exclaimed.

Captain Davenport hurried on deck. The boy had caught the words, and followed him. Just then Merlin uttered a low, mournful howl. They were just in time to see the after-part of the dismasted ship, as, plunging head first, she went down beneath the foaming billows.

“We were but just in time to save you, my lad,” said the captain, turning to the boy, whose hand Merlin was licking, as if to congratulate him on his escape.

“Indeed you were, sir,” answered the boy; “and we are very, very grateful to you, and to that brave sailor who carried my father and Emily out of the ship, and helped me into the boat. I want to thank him more particularly, and so would my father; but oh, sir, do you think he will soon recover out of that fearful swoon? Or do, do tell me, for I did not like to ask you before my sister, is he—is he really—dead?”

The boy’s voice dropped as he spoke.

“I fear, Walter, that he is dead,” answered the captain. “But we will do our best to comfort your little sister; and so, I am sure, will you. You have reason to be thankful that he was permitted thus to die quietly in bed, and to know that your lives were spared.”

“Oh yes, yes! I know,” answered the boy, hiding his face in his hands.

It was some hours before Emily could understand that her father could never again speak to her or caress her. Her brother’s anxiety to console her probably prevented him from so poignantly feeling his own loss.

The captain and all on board treated the young orphans with the greatest kindness and consideration. The following day their father’s body was committed to its ocean grave; and Walter and Emily felt that for the future they must be all in all to each other.

“Yes,” thought Walter, as he gazed at his sister’s fair and gentle countenance, “I will watch over her—and die for her, if needs be—to protect her from harm.”

Chapter Two.

The history of Walter and Emily.

The captain and those on board were naturally anxious to know something about the young orphans, and how it happened that they and their father had been left alone on board the sinking ship.

“The people would not take poor papa in the boat, and we would not leave him,” said Emily, when the captain first spoke on the subject.

“I should think not,” said Walter. “It was very, very sad to have poor papa so ill, and no one to help him except us. The poor captain and the first officer had been washed overboard; and the surgeon was killed by the falling of the masts, when papa was hurt at the same time. He was ill, though, when we sailed; but he thought the change, and the warm climate of the country we were going to, would restore him to health. We had good reason, however, to be thankful we did not go in the boats; for scarcely had they left the ship, as I was watching them from the companion-hatch, than I saw the sea break over one of them, and down she went, the unfortunate people in her struggling for a few instants before they all sank. I was in hopes that the other, which was larger, might escape; but she had got to no great distance when it seemed to me that she went right into a curling sea. Whether she went through it and rose again I could not discover, for I saw no more of her. It was very dreadful; but I had to hurry back to papa, for I heard Emily calling me. I did not tell him what had happened, for I thought it would make him even, more sad than he was.”

The boy, overcome with his feelings, could with difficulty speak, and was for some minutes silent. He then continued:—

“The ship was the Mountaineer. We had been three weeks at sea, and had had frequent calms, when we met with the fearful gale from which she suffered so much. Papa was going out as British Consul to —, in the Brazils; and as mamma died a year ago, and he had no one to leave us with, he determined, to our great joy, that we should accompany him. Emily had been at school; but when mamma was ill she came home to stay with her, and after that papa could not hear the thoughts of again parting with her. I had been at Winchester School, and had intended going into the army; but papa lost his fortune soon after mamma’s death, and told me that I must give up all thoughts of that, as he could not purchase my commission, and I could not be in the army without money. The loss of his property tried him very much. He had to take me away from school; and he used to say he was afraid we should all die of starvation. However, when he got the appointment he was in better spirits, and Emily and I hoped we should see him once more like himself.”

“But have you no relations or friends, young gentleman?” asked the captain, in a kind tone.

“I do not know about friends,” answered Walter; “but I have some relations. Unfortunately, however, my father was not on good terms with them. His elder brother—my uncle—had quarrelled with him. Why, I do not know. But when, before we were leaving England, papa desired to be reconciled to him, he refused; and I know, from what I have heard, that he would on no account have anything to say to Emily or me.”

“But had your mother no relations?” asked Captain Davenport.

“Not many. She had, I know, a brother, and I think I recollect him when I was a little boy; but he left England many years ago, and I know has not for a long time been heard of. Papa, besides his brother, had some cousins. One, I know, is Lord Heatherly; but I never saw him, and I think papa kept up no communication with him. We now and then saw his brother, Mr Tom Heathfield—for the family name is the same as ours. He is a very good-natured, merry person, and used always to try to make us laugh when he called. And our eldest uncle had some sons, but I never met them; indeed, I am sure their papa would never have let them come to the house.”

“From all accounts, then, the only relation you know anything about is your father’s cousin, Mr Tom Heathfield. Do you know where he lives?”

Walter thought a moment. “No,” he answered; “somewhere in London, I know, and I daresay I can find out.”

“Well, we must do our best to discover him when we get on shore,” said the captain.

It was evident to him that the young people had not realised their thoroughly destitute condition. Whatever property their poor father might have had must have been lost in the Mountaineer. “However,” he thought to himself, “if the brother’s heart cannot be moved to take care of the orphans, perhaps this Mr Tom Heathfield or Lord Heatherly will do so. In the meantime, I must look after them.”

The Bussorah Merchant reached the Thames in safety, and went into the docks to discharge her cargo.

“You must come with me, my young friends, till we can find out your cousin,” said the kind captain. “My good wife, Mrs Davenport, will be very glad to see you, as will our little girl Grace. You must be content with such fare as we can offer, and you may be sure of a hearty welcome.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Walter. “Emily and I, I am sure, shall be very happy with you. Do you live in the West End of London?”

“No,” answered the captain, smiling; “I live at Poplar. It is a different sort of locality; but I have had a good many losses, and am not so well off as some masters of ships. But my life has been preserved when others have lost theirs, and I retain my health and strength. I have a good wife and an affectionate little girl, and I have therefore reason to be thankful; and so I am.”

Captain Davenport, as soon as he was at liberty, accompanied by his young charges, set off for his home. It differed, however, greatly from the sort of house Walter and Emily had been accustomed to live in. But it was very neat; with green palings in front, and neatly-painted shutters, and the whitest of stone steps leading up to the hall door. The captain had had no time to tell his wife of the guests she might expect. After, therefore, the first greetings between them were over, and he had embraced his little daughter Grace, Mrs Davenport naturally inquired who the young strangers were. No sooner had she heard their history than she gave an affectionate embrace to Emily.

“Yes, indeed, you are welcome here,” she said; “and if you are content with this house, we shall be glad to have you remain in it. And I am sure Grace will do her best to make you at home, young lady,” she said, placing the girls’ hands in each other’s.

The captain, of course, had a great deal to do on his first arrival after a long absence, and could not, therefore, go in search of Mr Tom Heathfield, Walter’s cousin. Walter acknowledged that he was not likely to find him himself, as he had but seldom been in London, and did not know his way about. All he could tell was, that he lived somewhere in the West End, and he thought he belonged to two or three clubs.

“Very likely, young gentleman,” said the captain, laughing. “However, when I can get hold of one of those books they call Court Guides, I may be able to find him.”

A week passed pleasantly enough away. Grace was very kind to Emily, and Walter was never tired of walking about the docks, and watching the large ships loading and unloading the bales and casks of goods coming and going to all parts of the world. It gave him some idea of the vast amount of commerce of London, when such a stream of merchandise was coming in and going out all day long.

At length the captain told him that he had some hours to spare, and they set off together to try and find Mr Heathfield. They got down at Charing Cross, where a bookseller allowed them to look over a Court Guide.

“Yes, that must be my cousin,” said Walter, seeing the name. “I now remember going there with my father. Yes, and those are the clubs he belongs to.”

Having put down the address, the captain and Walter at once set off to find it. They were not long in getting there. A woman opened the door.

“Mr Heathfield is not in town; he seldom is at this time,” was the answer. “He may come up for a day, or he may not; but letters addressed here will find him.”

“But can you tell me where he is?” asked Walter. “I am a relation of his.”

“As to that, he may be at Newmarket, or some other races. You know he is a sporting gentleman, and is likely to be in one place one day and in another place another. But he sends for his letters, and, as I have told you, if you like to write, one will find him.”

This was not very satisfactory information.

“I am afraid he is not likely to do much for the poor children,” thought Captain Davenport. “However, there is nothing like trying.”

He then bethought him that he would inquire the address of their uncle, whose heart might relent when he heard of the death of his brother. “If not, I will write to Lord Heatherly himself,” said the captain.

The nobleman’s address was easily found, and after some trouble the captain ascertained that of Walter’s uncle, and with this information he returned home.

“You must have patience, my boy,” he said. “If you are not tired of staying with us, we are not tired of you.”

On reaching home, the captain wrote the three letters. Several days passed by, and no answer came. At length two appeared by the same post. One was from the orphans’ uncle, stating that he had children of his own, and that he had long ceased to have any communication with his brother. He must therefore decline interfering in the matter. The other contained the words:—“Lord Heatherly presents his compliments to Mr Davenport, and not having been personally acquainted with the late Mr Heathfield for many years, must decline in any way interfering with regard to any children he may have left.”

“Oh dear me!” said Mrs Davenport, when she saw the letters. “If the poor young orphans are treated in this way by their nearest relative and by the head of their family, I am afraid we can expect very little from the only other relation we have heard of.”

“Well, my dear wife,” said the captain, “if nobody else looks after them, God intends that we shall. We must not decline the charge he has given us, but do the best we can for them.”

The following day a private cab was seen passing along the street with a sporting-looking tiger behind. The gentleman driving stopped once or twice, then turning round, brought up at Captain Davenport’s door. Down jumped the tiger, and out sprang the gentleman. Walter and Emily were in the parlour.

“Why, that is cousin Tom!” exclaimed Walter, and he ran out to open the front door.

Cousin Tom came in, and shook hands with Walter and Emily, and was soon talking away to Mrs Davenport as if he had known her all his life.

“I am very much obliged to you and to your worthy husband for all you have done for these young people,” he said. “And my poor cousin Harry, I little thought he was so soon to be cut off. However, we must not talk about those sort of things. Why, Walter, you are almost a man now. We must see what we can do for you. Your uncle Bob will not help you; I have heard all about that. We will not talk about him; and as for Heatherly, there is no help to be got from him. I am going out of town to-night, or I would have had you, Walter, come and dine with me and talk matters over. However, if your friends will look after you for a day or two longer, I hope we may settle something. I have an idea that my aunt, Lady Di Pierpoint, will take charge of Emily. I must insist upon her doing so. She mixes a good deal in the world, rouges, and is rather addicted to scandal, it is true; but I say, Emily, you must not follow her example, and you will get on very well with her. Look after her lapdogs, feed her parrots, write her notes for her, and all that sort of thing. Well, I think we may consider that settled.—And now, my good madam, I must wish you and the young people good-bye. I hope to be back in a few days with Lady Di’s answer. And as to Walter, I have no doubt about him. In the meantime, I will just beg you to take these two notes, which you will have the kindness to expend as you think best in getting a proper outfit for the young people—as I have no doubt they lost everything when the ship went down; and I should wish, if you will allow me, to repay you for the expense to which you have been put.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Mrs Davenport. “We desire no repayment; but I will gladly expend the money to the advantage of my young friends as you desire.”

“Well, well, do as you like!” exclaimed Mr Tom. “I am very much obliged to you in every way. And now, good-bye, Emily; good-bye, Walter; and I wish you farewell, madam. Present my compliments to your kind husband. I should have liked to have made his acquaintance. I hope to do so another time. I am deeply indebted to him, for I had a great regard for poor Harry. Though he might not have been very wise—none of us are; and his wife, she was an angel. Good-bye, good-bye!”

Thus rattling on, Mr Tom Heathfield ran out at the door, and jumped into his cab; the tiger skipped up behind, and off he drove.

Day after day passed by, and no news came of Mr Tom Heathfield. The packet he had left behind contained a couple of ten-pound notes, with a few words written on the paper surrounding them:—“It is all I have got; but if Constellation wins, I will send another hundred.”

Captain Davenport was now again busily engaged in preparing his ship for another voyage. She required but few repairs, so she was likely to be soon ready. He had resolved to take his wife and daughter with him; and Grace was very full of the thoughts of accompanying her father. Mrs Davenport had made two or three voyages; but Grace had not been at sea since she was a very little girl.

“I wish I was going too,” said Emily; “how delightful it would be!”

“I am sure I wish that I was going!” exclaimed Walter. “I have often thought I should like to be a sailor; and though I once should only have wished to go into the royal navy, I should now like to go anywhere with Captain Davenport.”

Week after week passed by. The Bussorah Merchant was ready for sea. A cabin had been fitted up for Mrs Davenport, and another for Grace. No news came from Mr Tom Heathfield. Captain Davenport wrote: he considered it his duty to do so. The day before he sailed, his letter came back in an enclosure, stating that Mr Tom Heathfield had broken his neck riding a steeple-chase, and that though he had wished to leave his property to his young cousin, as all would be swallowed up in paying his debts, there would be none forthcoming. Walter and Emily felt very sorry when they heard the sad end of their poor cousin, though Emily confessed to Grace she was very glad that she had not to go and live with Lady Di Pierpoint.

“Well, my young friends,” said Captain Davenport, “I have no one with whom I can leave you, and I certainly will not desert you. If, therefore, Emily would like to come and be Grace’s companion, we shall be very glad of her company; and, Walter, if you wish to come to sea and learn to be a sailor, I will undertake to instruct you as if you were my own son.”

Walter was truly glad to accept the kind captain’s offer; indeed, it would be difficult to say what else he could do.

“When we return to England,” said Captain Davenport, “we will make more inquiries about your relations, and if they still persist in refusing to acknowledge you, you will, at all events, have learned a profession, and be independent of them. After all, you will be far better off than had you been brought up in idleness, and dependent on those who might care very little for your true interests and welfare.”

Chapter Three.

Walter Heathfield’s Journal.

The Bussorah Merchant was now ready for sea. Mr Thudicumb was first mate, as he had been on the previous voyage; Dick Tarbox was boatswain; young Oliver Farwell was cabin-boy. Merlin, too, who indeed never left the ship, was on board, and welcomed my sister and me, whom he recognised the moment we appeared with signs of the greatest satisfaction. The ship was bound out to the coast of China and Japan, with a prospect of visiting several other interesting places before she returned home. I was delighted with the thoughts of all I should see, and was very glad to find on board several books descriptive of those regions. The ship came to an anchor at Gravesend, where several passengers joined her. Among them was a gentleman with very broad shoulders, a broad forehead, and light curling hair covered by a very broad-brimmed white hat. His eyes were blue and remarkably keen; he had a nose somewhat turned up; and a firm mouth, with a pleasing smile, showing a set of strong white teeth. He brought with him a number of cases and boxes; among them gun-cases, and fishing-rods, and cases which looked as if they enclosed instruments, with numerous other articles not usually carried by travellers. His business-like, quiet manner showed that he was well accustomed to move about the world. Who he could be I could not tell. Soon after he came on board he called Oliver Farwell to help him arrange his cabin; but as Oliver had other duties to attend to, I offered my services.

“Yes, my lad, I shall be very much obliged to you,” said the gentleman. “I should have liked to have got these things on board before the ship left the docks; but there was no time for that; and it is important that they should be secured before we get into a tumbling sea, from which they may receive damage.”

I observed that Mr Nicholas Hooker was painted on all the cases, and of course concluded that such was the name of the gentleman. He had a number of screws with which he fastened some of the articles to the bulkheads, and lashed others in a seamanlike fashion. There were charts and telescopes; indeed, from the various articles he had with him, I fancied that perhaps the gentleman was a naval officer. Still, as I did not see R.N. at the end of his name, I thought again that he could not be so.

At length Mr Hooker, having unpacked his books, various instruments, and other articles, begged that the cases might be stowed away below. His directions were promptly obeyed, and having surveyed his cabin, he seemed satisfied that all was in perfect order.

“Now, young gentleman,” he said, with a pleasant smile which won my confidence, “I daresay you would like to know what all these things are for. Some are for taking the latitude and longitude, ascertaining the exact position of places on the earth’s surface. Others are for measuring the height of mountains, some the temperature of the air and water, and so on. Then I have cases for creatures which move in the water or fly in the air, which walk or crawl on the earth or burrow beneath it; and I have the means of shooting them or trapping them. Those I can, I hope to preserve alive; and if not, to be able to exhibit to my scientific friends, when I return home, the forms of some perfect, the skins of others, and the skeletons of others. And now, having told you thus much, I must leave you to guess what I profess myself to be. One thing I can tell you, I know very, very little compared to what there is to be known. I hope to gain more knowledge but I am very well aware that, gain all I can, I can but add a very small portion to what is already known, and a still smaller compared to what is to be ascertained. Here comes the captain. We are old friends, and that induced me to select this ship for my voyage. Are you his son?”

“No, sir,” I answered; “but he is a very kind friend of mine; and were it not for him, I know not what would have become of me and my sister.”

The Bussorah Merchant had a fine passage down Channel, and taking her departure from the Land’s End, stood across the Bay of Biscay. Four days afterwards the captain told us that we were in the latitude of Cape Finisterre, but no land was to be seen. Another eight days, with the wind abeam, carried us into the neighbourhood of the island of Madeira.

“Would not it be as well to have a look at it, sir,” I said, “and then we shall better know where we are.”

The captain smiled. “That is not at all necessary,” he answered. “By the observations we are able to take with the perfect instruments we possess, we are able at all times to ascertain our exact position on the ocean; and we might thus sail round either Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope to New South Wales without once sighting land till we were about to enter Port Jackson.”

“It is very wonderful,” I said. “What puzzles me is how you can find the longitude. I know you get the latitude by seeing how high the sun is above the horizon at noon, and then with the aid of the nautical almanac you can easily work out the calculation.”

“With the aid of the chronometer we can as easily ascertain the longitude, though the calculation is a little longer,” answered Captain Davenport. “I can explain it to you more easily. The chronometer shows us the exact time at Greenwich. We know by our nautical almanac that, at a certain hour on a certain day, the sun will have attained at Greenwich a certain altitude. When on that day and that hour we find that the sun is so many minutes behind hand in attaining that altitude, we know we must be a certain distance further to the west, as, the world turning from west to east, the more westerly a place is the longer it will be before the sun appears there. If, on the contrary, we find the sun has gained a fixed altitude some time before it would have gained that altitude at Greenwich, we know that we must be to the east of Greenwich, or have met the sun sooner than the people at Greenwich have done. Thus, the further we sail east day after day, the sooner we see the sun; while the further we sail west, the longer the time which passes before he shines upon us.”

“I think I have an idea about it now, sir,” I exclaimed; “and I should be very much obliged if you will show me how to take an observation and to make use of the books, as well as to work out the calculations. Why, may I ask, do you cry Stop, sir, to the second officer or to Mr Thudicumb, who are watching the chronometer while you are taking an observation?”

“That they may mark the exact moment shown on the chronometer, while I mark the sun’s elevation as shown on the index of the sextant.”

“But then you take observations at night sometimes, sir, looking at the moon or the stars?”

“We do that to discover the distance which one star appears from another at a certain hour, or their elevation above the horizon. The object is the same as that for which we take an observation of the sun, though the calculation is rather more intricate.”

After this I set to work, and whenever the captain and his mates took an observation, I took one also, although I was, I must own, at first very far from correct. Sometimes my observation was imperfect; at other times I made mistakes in the calculation.

At length the ship, which had been favoured with a breeze more or less strong ever since she left England, was becalmed. Sometimes she got a little wind which lasted for an hour or two, and then died away; then light airs came, first from one quarter, then from another, and the crew were constantly employed in bracing up, or squaring away the yards.

“It is always like this in these Horse Latitudes,” said the boatswain as he walked the forecastle, where I had gone to have a talk with him.

“Why do you call them ‘Horse Latitudes?’” I asked, as I listened to his remarks.

“Why, I have heard say that they were so called by the Yankees, or the people of New England, before they were separated from Old England. They used to send out deckloads of horses to the West Indies, and they were very often kept becalmed so long in these latitudes that their water grew scarce, and to save the lives of some of the horses they were obliged to throw the others overboard; so that is how this part of the ocean came to be called the ‘Horse Latitudes.’”

I afterwards told Mr Hooker what Tarbox had said.

“A more scientific name would be the Tropic of Cancer,” he answered. “We had a good breeze before we entered it, but often the wind to the north of where we now are is very variable. After we have passed this belt of calm and light airs we shall get into the regions of the north-east trades, which will carry us along at a fine rate till we get into the very worst part of the ocean for trying a person’s temper, called the Doldrums. Remember to ask me more about it when we get there. You will remember, then, the Variables are to the north of the Tropic of Cancer. The ‘Horse Latitudes’ are on either side of the Tropic. Then we get into the north-east trade-winds, which carry us up to the Doldrums about the Equator; and passing through them with more or less trial of temper, we get into the south-east trade-winds, which we shall have to cross with our tacks aboard. Then we shall probably find calms about the Tropic of Capricorn; after which, without once sighting land, we may very likely find a breeze, more or less favourable, but seldom against us, which will carry us through the Straits of Sunda, between Java and Sumatra, to the west of the great island of Borneo, right away to the north, through the China sea, leaving the Philippine Islands on our right hand, up to Japan. I will have a talk with you another day about those East India Islands, for they are very curious, and are probably less generally known than most parts of the world.”

The events occurred very much as Mr Hooker had predicted. For nearly a whole week our ship lay with her head sometimes one way, sometimes another, the sails flapping against the masts. Then she got a breeze which carried her a few miles further to the south, and people’s spirits began to rise, soon again to fall when once more the sails would give a loud flap, and hang down without a particle of wind in them. At length, however, they once more bulged out. The yards were squared away. The captain walked the deck with a more elastic step than for the last week had been the case, and on the ship went hour after hour, the breeze rather increasing than lessening.

“We are in the north-east trades,” observed Mr Hooker. “Little fear now, for another two weeks or so we shall have a fine run of it.”

Three day after this, a seaman from aloft shouted out, “Land ahead!”

“Ay, ay,” answered Mr Thudicumb, who had charge of the deck. “It is land that will not hurt us, though;” and he continued to let the ship run on in the course she had been steering.

Curious to know what had attracted the man’s attention, I went aloft, and there I saw spread out on the surface of the calm ocean, what looked like a dark field, but little raised, however, above the water. On returning on deck, I told the first officer that I really thought there must be land ahead.

“No, Walter, no fear of that,” answered Mr Thudicumb; “we are crossing the Sargasso Sea. You will observe that it is merely sea-weed and drift-wood collected in this spot from all parts of the ocean. The currents and winds bring it, but why this place is selected I do not exactly know. In a calm it might bother us, but we shall only pass through a small portion of it, and there is wind enough to send us along in spite of the obstruction it may offer. We must get a bucket ready, for Mr Hooker will be anxious to have some of it up on deck, that he may examine the creatures who live upon it. In the Pacific there is a collection of the same sort, and people who could not otherwise for want of fuel inhabit some of the islands in that region, are enabled to do so in consequence of the supply of drift-wood it brings them.”

The ship, soon clear of the Sargasso Sea, glided on proudly, with all sail set below and aloft. The weather was delightful; the passengers constantly on deck. Emily and Grace were very happy together, for everything was new and interesting. They had plenty of employment; for Mrs Davenport, knowing what a sea voyage is, had brought work of all sorts. And then they had books; and they were not above running about the deck, and playing at ball occasionally, and Les Graces, and other games suitable for ship-board.

Thus day after day passed pleasantly by: the sea sparkling, the sky bright, or occasionally mottled with light clouds. One morning, however, when they came on deck expecting to see the blue sky above their heads, they saw only a thick canopy of clouds. The sails were flapping against the masts; the air was oppressive. There the ship lay, her head moving now in one direction, now in another. Those who had before been full of life and spirits began to complain of lassitude and weariness. The seamen no longer moved actively about the decks, but went sauntering along when called upon to perform any duty. The heat grew greater and greater. The iron about the ship was unpleasant to touch. The pitch bubbled in the seams of the deck and stuck to the feet. Emily and Grace no longer wished to play at ball, or Les Graces, or any other game. Even Merlin went disconsolately up and down the decks, as if he thought something serious was going to happen. I felt as I had seldom felt before.

“Are we going to have a storm, sir?” I asked of the captain. “I have read that storms are apt to come on after weather such as we now have.”

“I do not expect one,” answered Captain Davenport, “though we may possibly have a squall of a few hours’ duration; and I should not be sorry for it, if it would carry us out of this region. We are now in the Doldrums.”

“Not a bad name, considering the condition of all us poor mortals on board,” observed Mr Hooker.

“We are now under the cloud ring which encircles this part of the earth. God has placed these clouds above our heads in this region for a particular purpose. You will observe that the thermometer and barometer stand lower under this cloud ring than they do on either side of it. The clouds not only promote the precipitation which takes place in this region, but they also cause the rains to fall on places where they are most required, shading the surface from which the heating rays of the sun are to be excluded, and thus giving tone to the atmospherical circulation of the world and vigour to its vegetation. You have often, when the sun is sending his rays with great heat down on the earth, seen the atmosphere dancing, as it were, and trembling. This appearance is caused by the ascending and descending columns of air. The cloud ring creates on a greater scale this circulation of the atmosphere; indeed, the more we examine the phenomena of Nature, the more we shall discover the hand of a directing Providence, in suiting all things for the convenience and use of the beings placed by Him on the earth.”

Day after day the ship remained in this calm region with a cloudy sky. People began to feel ill; and some fancied that as they were going further south the heat would increase, and could scarcely understand that as they proceeded the atmosphere would again become cold. Captain Davenport and the officers were on the watch to make use of every breath of air which would forward the ship on her course; and at length she once more got the breeze, and those who had before been complaining of lassitude and illness suddenly revived and came on deck to enjoy the renovating and refreshing breeze. The sky was clear; the sea bright and sparkling as before. Cheerful countenances were everywhere visible, instead of the weary, downcast looks which most of those on board had worn for the previous ten days. The only person who never seemed depressed was Mr Hooker. When not taking exercise on deck, he always had a volume in his hand, from which he was constantly making notes into his pocket-book.

“You see, my young friend,” he said to me one day, “I am anxious to ascertain what others have known, because all that man can aim at is to increase the stock of knowledge possessed by his fellow-men.”

The varied changes of the ocean, and the creatures which appeared beneath its surface, and occasionally above it, afforded us an unfailing source of interest. On a bright morning I was engaged with some work by the side of the boatswain when I heard Grace cry out—

“Oh, look—look what funny birds!”

“Why, miss, those are not birds, unless they may be called water birds; those are flying-fish,” said Mr Tarbox, who had come with me to the ship’s side.

Others, with Mr Hooker, came also, looking on at the curious sight. Numbers of fish with wings, or more properly fins, as long as their bodies, were rising out of the water and darting along for a considerable distance above the surface, again, however, to fall helplessly into their native element. Directly after them, in pursuit, appeared several large fish—now one of the latter leaped half out of the water, now another, seldom failing to catch one of the beautiful creatures in its huge jaws.

“The dolphins are getting a fine banquet,” I heard Mr Hooker remark. “The poor dactylopteri are the sufferers; but they do not fall a prey to their persecutors without a brave attempt to escape. See, no sooner have they wetted their wings than they are out of the water again, and will lead them a long chase, till the dolphins are wearied out.”

We watched the pursuers and pursued till they were lost to sight in the distance.

The ship once clear of the Doldrums, met the steady trade-wind blowing from the south-east. With her tacks aboard, she stood away towards the South American coast. When I went on deck at night, I observed a change in the appearance of the constellations; and now the beautiful one of the Southern Cross became every day clearer, rising as it were in the sky. The magellhenic clouds also came in sight, showing that the ship was now in the southern hemisphere. Frequently patches of light were passed in the water; caused, Mr Hooker told me, by the pyrosoma. They exhibited a beautiful pale silvery light; but when they were taken out of the water the light disappeared, till any particular part of the creature was touched, when the light again burst forth at that point, pervading the whole animal mass.

The Bussorah Merchant did not, however, as many ships do, touch at Rio de Janeiro; but passing through another belt of calms at the Tropic of Capricorn, kept away eastward towards the Cape of Good Hope. One evening, while I was keeping watch under the first officer—for I was considered fit to take regular duty on board—the ship running at the rate of four or five knots an hour through the water, I heard a sound as if substances were falling upon the deck. As I went to windward, a large dark object, wet and cold, struck me on the shoulder, and then fell down. I instantly sung out; when the boatswain, who was on deck, brought a lantern; and there, to the surprise of all of us, a dozen or more cuttle fish were found, which had sprung over the weather bulwark.

“Well,” exclaimed Mr Tarbox, “I never did see such a thing as this before.”

Mr Hooker, however, said that he had heard of it, as the creatures can spring an immense distance. “I have known some,” he said, “to spring right over a ship; though, certainly, to look at them, it is difficult to ascertain their means of rising out of the water.”

The island of Tristan da Cunha was sighted, looming in the evening light like some huge monster rising out of the ocean. Looking over the sides the water appeared unusually clear; and I could see, far down, the fish swimming about by the side of the ship. Even Mr Hooker, however, did not succeed in catching any. The stormy petrel now made its appearance; and I and Emily and Grace were delighted soon afterwards to see a magnificent white bird with outstretched wings following the ship. “An albatross! an albatross!” I shouted, for I guessed at once what it was. Mr Hooker said he wished to catch two or three and prepare them to send back to England by the Bussorah Merchant. He accordingly made preparations to catch them.

“I should not like to shoot one though,” I remarked. “You remember what became of the ‘Ancient Mariner’ who shot an albatross; how his ship floated all alone on the ocean day after day, and week after week, and month after month, till all on board had died and he alone remained.”

“Oh no; pray don’t!” exclaimed Emily, “lest so dreadful a fate should overtake us.”

“It is only a fancy of the poet’s, perhaps,” I remarked. “At the same time I like to try and believe it.”

“I hope the same fate does not overtake those who catch the bird with a bait. It is his own fault, recollect, if he swallows it,” said Mr Hooker, who had now got a strong line with a hook and a piece of meat on it, with a float to keep it from sinking. This he now veered astern. I could not help admiring the wondrous power exhibited by the bird as it glided on without flapping its wings. Now one was seen to dash down at a piece of refuse which the cook had thrown overboard, slowly again to rise and then to follow the ship, apparently without the slightest exertion.

“That gives me an idea,” said Mr Hooker, throwing a large piece of fat overboard before he let go his baited hook. Again the albatross darted down on it; and then, without rising again, swam vigorously after the baited hook.

“There—he has snapped it up!” I exclaimed.

Instantly the bird found the obstruction. When the sailors who had come aft began to attempt to haul him in, out went his wings, with which he endeavoured to hold himself back, offering a powerful resistance to the line. Although three men were pulling away with might and main, yet the bird could not be drawn nearer the stern; and, at length, crack went the line, and off it flew with the hook and the remainder of the line in its mouth.

“Poor creature! I am afraid it will die a miserable death, instead of speedily being put out of its sufferings, as it would have been had it more wisely come on board,” observed Mr Hooker. “However, we must get another line and take care there is no flaw in it.”

The passengers now amused themselves by throwing bits of meat overboard, and seeing the albatrosses pounce down and snap up the tempting morsels. At last Mr Hooker’s fresh line was got ready. No sooner had the bait reached the water than down pounced a bird upon it, rising immediately with the hook in his mouth. This time the sailors, instead of pulling the line up, had to haul it down, just as a paper kite is hauled down from the sky; and, at length, by running forward, the huge bird was brought on deck. Still it fought bravely with its wings, which it would have been dangerous for any one to have approached. At length Mr Hooker put an end to its sufferings by a blow from a boat’s stretcher. The other albatrosses, in no way disconcerted by the disappearance of their companion, still followed the ship. Two more were caught; one hauled out of the water, the other hauled on deck like the first.

A young gentleman going out to Japan then made his appearance with a gun in his hand; and in spite of my warnings of what might be our fate should he kill one, began firing away at the birds. Even a practised marksman would not have found it easy to hit one of them, although they were in no way scared by the report of the gun. At length, however, a bullet struck one of them on the head, just as he descended into the water. In an instant down pounced his companions, driving their beaks into the dead body; and in a few minutes, while it still remained in sight, they had torn it almost to pieces.

“I hope no harm will come of that shot of yours,” I said to the young civilian; “but look out!”

The young gentleman laughed, and said he did not believe in such nonsense. Mr Hooker was soon busily employed in skinning his albatrosses and preparing the skins for stuffing.

Chapter Four.

I perform a satisfactory exploit.

Scarcely had the albatross been shot, than the wind, which had hitherto been moderate, increased considerably, and in a short time we had two reefs in our topsails. The weather, however, was in other respects fine, and away the ship went, careering over the foaming seas like a high-bred hunter, dashing them aside as she rushed onward on her course. There was something very exhilarating in the movement. The air, too, was bracing, and everybody seemed in high spirits. As I happened to pass the caboose, however, I heard Potto Jumbo, the black cook, grumbling greatly. Some one had told him that he would have to roast one of the albatrosses for dinner. Although generally a very merry, good-natured fellow, this had made him excessively irate.

“No good ever came from shooting albatross!” I heard him exclaim. “Dey like to live as much as man. Dey love freedom. Soar high, high up in de sky, den swoop down, and fly along de foaming waves. Ah, if I had wings like dem, I no peel potatoes and boil soup for ship’s company!”

He looked up, as he spoke, towards the magnificent birds which ever and anon appeared high above the ship’s bulwarks, as they darted forward as if to show at how far greater a rate they could dart through the air than she could glide over the ocean.

“Ah, you once slave, Potto Jumbo! Fancy you flying with white wings! Ha, ha, ha!”

This remark was made by a dark-skinned native of the East, who was standing at the time near the caboose. He was the serang of the Lascars, of whom we had a dozen on board. Ali Tomba was his name. He and Potto Jumbo could not abide each other, so it seemed. His dark countenance, with high cheek-bones and fierce eyes, was far from prepossessing, though his figure was well-formed; his shoulders broad, with a small waist, and muscular arms and legs, denoting great strength and activity. His hands and feet were wonderfully small, considering the work to which they had been put from his earliest days. He and his men wore their Eastern dress, consisting of shirt and jacket, and a sort of kilt formed from a circular piece of plaid, a scarf worn over the shoulders, which served as a covering in bad weather, or could be wrapped round the arm for a shield in battle. A red cotton handkerchief, generally well stiffened, was their usual head-dress. They were remarkably active fellows aloft, and few things which an English sailor could do they would not venture to undertake. However, neither Ali nor his men were favourites on board. They obeyed the superior officers readily enough, but I observed that when Mr Tarbox directed them to do anything, they did it in a sulky way. Why this was I could not make out.—Ali stood by, bantering the cook about his remark. Potto Jumbo had taken a liking to me. He had been on board the ship in her former voyage, and I believe knew my history. He himself was deserted—without friends in the world—and this gave him a fellow feeling, as he considered that his case was similar to mine. I had an idea, indeed, that there was more in Potto Jumbo than appeared. Though he had a warm and quick temper, he was evidently kind-hearted I judged it by the way he treated the animals on board. Merlin, especially, was a favourite of his, and he took good care that he should never be without a plentiful dinner. Even in the way he put the dog’s food down he showed his kind disposition; and while he was mixing up the mess and Merlin stood by wagging his tail and licking his lips, Potto Jumbo always cast a kind glance downwards at his four-footed friend, and generally had a pleasant word to give him into the bargain.

For Oliver Farwell, however, he had a greater regard than for anybody on board. I rather think because he more than any one else seemed to require sympathy and protection. Though the boy had plenty of spirit, he seemed scarcely fitted for the rough life on board ship. The other boys, when they could do so without being seen by Potto Jumbo, amused themselves by ridiculing and teasing Oliver. They seemed to delight in playing him all sorts of tricks, and very often pretty rough ones too. I had never spoken much to Oliver, though I observed that whenever Mr Hooker was describing anything, Oliver, if he could do so without impropriety, stopped and listened, and seemed to take great interest in what was said. When work was over, I often saw him in the pantry reading. Not only on Sundays, but every day nearly, it seemed to me, he read the Bible at odd moments; indeed, a sailor at sea, unless he takes odd moments for reading, may never read at all. Oliver had not only his duties as a cabin-boy to attend to, but as he wished to become a sailor, and the captain desired that he should become one, he was frequently employed on deck.

At the moment I am describing, Oliver Farwell had gone forward, and with several other boys was in the fore-rigging. What they were about I do not remember, but, looking up, I saw they were skylarking, and it seemed as if the others were trying to play Oliver some trick. Be that as it may, all of a sudden I saw one of them fall from aloft. I thought it was Oliver. Of course it ought not to have made any difference to me who it was. I expected that he would be killed, but he struck the hammock nettings, and bounded overboard. I did not stop a moment to think. It did not occur to me that it would take a long time to heave the ship to, and to lower a boat, and with the heavy sea running the operation would be a difficult and dangerous one, and that it would be equally difficult to pick anybody out of the water. I had been noted at school for being a good swimmer, and had, just before I left, saved the life of a school-fellow who had got out of his depth, and been carried out a good way by the current. I had followed him, dived after he had sank, and brought him to the surface, and then hauled him on to the bank of the river where we were bathing. I remembered this, or perhaps I should say I did not think about anything but the one idea of saving the life of a fellow-creature. I was lightly clad. Throwing off my jacket, before Potto Jumbo could cry out, or any one else attempt to stop me, I was overboard. I was in the water almost as soon as the cry of “A man overboard!” was raised.

A glance aloft showed me that it was Oliver Farwell who had fallen. As I reached the water I could see him on the top of a wave, just as the ship’s quarter glided past me. I shouted out to him, and swam forward. I now found how different it was swimming in smooth water and swimming in the heavy sea there was running. At the same time I had been accustomed to fresh water, which is less buoyant than salt, and thus I felt myself greatly supported.

The instant the cry of “A man overboard!” was raised, a life-buoy was let go. It fell some distance from me. I doubted whether I should swim to that and tow it to Oliver, or go to Oliver first and try to get him up to it. My fear was that Oliver would sink before I could reach him. I determined to get hold of Oliver. I could hear the cries of the people on board as they watched me, encouraging me in my attempt. I had scarcely been in the water ten minutes when I heard a peculiar rushing sound, and turning round my head saw the long wings of an enormous albatross passing close above me. A blow from its beak would have been fatal. I looked towards Oliver more anxiously than ever, fearing that, passing me, it might strike him. I shouted to him, and told him to shout too, hoping that the noise might scare off the bird. Others, however, came sweeping by. Again a wing almost touched my head. Diving, I knew, would have been of no use, for the creature might have followed me far lower than I could have sunk. Still I swam on.

I heard another shout, and as I rose to the top of a wave I saw just astern of the ship a black head and face—it was Potto Jumbo. Above his head he waved a long knife. He intended it as a signal that he was coming to my assistance. At the same instant a loud bark came from the stern of the ship, and I saw Merlin, who appeared one moment at the taffrail, and the next leaped over into the foaming ocean. Nearer and nearer he approached. I was more anxious for him than for my human friend, as I was afraid the albatrosses would attack him, and he had no means of defending himself. Although I had followed Oliver almost immediately into the water, it seemed a long time before I could get up to him. A curling wave rolled towards him; he was buried beneath it. I thought he had sunk for ever. I darted forward, and caught sight of him just beneath the surface. I seized him by the collar of his jacket, and together we rose to the surface. He was still conscious.

“Throw yourself on your back!” I cried. I helped him to do so. And now I struck out for the life-buoy. A sea providentially threw it towards us. Sooner than I could have expected I had hold of it, and had placed one of the beckets in Oliver’s hands. Not a moment too soon. I turned my glance upward for an instant at the bright blue sky, out of which the hot sun shone on the sparkling waters. Suddenly a dark shadow seemed to intervene. I heard a rushing sound, distinct amid the roar of the waves, and, to my horror, I saw close above me a huge pair of white wings, from which projected the head and formidable beak of a bird. He was darting towards me. A blow from that beak might have struck either of us senseless. The only means of defence I could think of was my shoe. I pulled it from my foot to ward off the blow. The bird seized it, and, as if content with his prize, off he flew. A shout of applause from Potto Jumbo reached us, and in another minute he and Merlin got up to the life-buoy. A sea was on the point of taking off Oliver, but Merlin seized him by the collar, and dragged him back within my reach. Satisfied for the moment, he kept swimming round and round us, as if prepared to render any assistance which might be required. I was indeed thankful that he had come, for I could with difficulty help Oliver to hold on to the life-buoy. Another, and another bird flew towards us, but whether frightened at our shouts, or the flourish of Potto Jumbo’s sharp blade, I do not know, but, circling round, they flew off again as if in search of other prey.

We could now see the ship hove to. A boat was lowered, but so long was she before shoving off, so it seemed to me, that we were afraid some accident had happened. One idea occurred to me while in the water. Should I be lost, what would become of Emily? I thought of the prayer of the sinking master of the ship in Falconer’s “Shipwreck,” and I prayed for her I loved best on earth, as many a seaman undoubtedly has prayed, when tossing on the foaming waves. Still I had no fears; I knew that that prayer would be heard.

“Keep up, Massa Walter! Keep up!” cried Potto Jumbo, as he helped me to hold our companion on to the life-buoy, and saw that I indeed required aid myself. “Keep up, Massa Walter! boat soon come. See, see! dere she is away from the ship! Hurrah! Never say die! See, she comes! Joe Tarbox or the first mate in her. Never fear! Hurrah, hurrah!”

Thus he continued shouting, for the double purpose of keeping up our spirits, and of scaring away the albatrosses. Now, at length, I saw that the boat was clear of the ship. On she came. Now she appeared on the summit of a foaming sea, now she was hid from view in the trough below it; then again she came in sight, for when she was sinking we at the same time were rising in most instances, and could therefore look over the intervening seas. Still the time seemed very long. It required careful management to get near the life-buoy without striking us. To pick up one person was difficult, but to take up three the risk was far greater.

“You go first!” cried Potto Jumbo, as the boat approached.

“No, no,” I said; “let Oliver be taken in. He is almost drowned as it is.”

We could see the boat’s bows almost above us. It seemed as if the next instant she would come down like a huge hammer upon our heads. But Joe Tarbox knew well what he was about, and turned her head aside, while a strong arm stretched forth, seized hold of Oliver as Potto Jumbo held him up, and he was safe on board. My companion insisted on my going next. Again the boat, which had been driven off by the sea, approached us.

“Quick! quick!” cried Joe. “Have them both in at once!”

I was nearest my friend, and seizing hold of me he hauled me in over the quarter, while Potto sprang to the side, and was dragged in by the other men. Merlin waited till he saw us both on board, and not till then did he push for the boat, with his snout lifted up as if asking for assistance. Ready hands were stretched out to him, and with their help he quickly scrambled on board, and made his way aft to the stern-sheets, where he looked into my face as if to inquire whether I was all right.

“We must have the life-buoy, though,” cried Joe; “for another of us may be falling overboard before long.”

As there was no danger of injuring the life-buoy, that was quickly got on board. And now commenced our return to the ship. It required careful steering to make our way amid those heavy seas, and still more dangerous was it to get alongside. Oliver, who was scarcely conscious, was first hoisted up. I was very glad of assistance to get up too; for though I did not feel fatigued, my strength had really almost gone. No sooner had I reached the deck than I found myself in Emily’s arms.

“Dear, dear Walter!” she exclaimed; “you brave boy; and yet—” and she burst into tears.

Mrs Davenport and Grace were close behind her. “You must come below, Walter—come below and get off your wet things!” they exclaimed.

Merlin followed Potto Jumbo on deck, and, giving himself a thorough shaking, came aft, wagging his tail, to receive the approving pats of his friends; while the black cook, casting a look behind him, which seemed to say that he was indifferent to the compliments which might have been paid him, made his way forward into the fore-peak to shift his wet clothes.

I will not repeat the complimentary things which were said to me by the passengers. Mr Hooker wrung my hand.

“It was well and bravely done, Walter,” he exclaimed. “I am glad to see that you have got it in you.”

“Oh! I did not think about it,” I answered honestly. “I once before picked a fellow out of the water, so I thought I ought to try to do it again. I know there are a good many people who cannot swim, and I hoped that I could do it.”

I quickly had my wet things off, and made my appearance again on deck, not much the worse for my exertions, though perhaps my hand did tremble a little; and I was not sorry when the captain asked me into the cuddy-cabin, and gave me a glass of wine.

“I am thankful that you saved that poor boy, Walter,” he said, giving me one of his kind looks. “I should be deeply grieved to lose him. He is the only son of a widowed mother, and her heart would have been broken had he been lost. He had shipped on board a vessel bound for the coast of Africa, when I found him, and persuaded the captain to let him come aboard my ship; for the crew were a rough lot, and he would have learned no good among them, while the risk of losing his life on the coast would have been very great. His poor mother had seen better days, I found. I do not know much of her history, but I know she brought up two daughters, and gave them a good education, and she had done in the same way all she could for this boy; but I believe that her means failed her, and she was then unable to pay for his instruction, so that he only got what she herself could give him. The boy’s whole heart had been set on going to sea, little knowing, of course, what he would have to go through.”

Soon after we came on board, it began to blow much harder; and we had good reason to be thankful that the accident had not happened later in the day. I was, after this event, made a good deal of on board. The captain observed that I ran a considerable risk of being spoiled. It was not fair, indeed, that I should get all the praise, when the black cook had also behaved in a gallant manner. Indeed, if it had not been for him, I suspect that the albatrosses would have finished both Oliver and me before the boat could have got up to us.

“Very glad you escaped, Massa Walter,” said Potto Jumbo, the following day. “Dear me! I jump overboard twice as much sea as dat!” he added, when I told him how thankful I was to him. “Me fight shark with one big knife, and cut him under the t’roat and kill him. Potto Jumbo one ’phibious animal, so doctor once say to me. I swim in de water like porpoise, and climb tree like monkey. Ah! you see de monkeys when we get out dere,” and Potto Jumbo pointed eastward. “Ah! dat one fine country, only little too hot sometimes for lily-white skins;” and Potto Jumbo grinned from ear to ear, as if congratulating himself that his own dark covering was impervious to the sun’s rays of that or any other region.

Potto Jumbo’s chief friend was an English seaman—Roger Trew by name. Roger was short and stout, with wonderfully long arms, and of immense strength; but he never put it forth except in the way of duty, and was on ordinary occasions as mild and gentle as a lamb. I believe Potto Jumbo admired him because he had the power of knocking any man down on board who might offend him, and yet did not use it. The captain considered Trew a good seaman; and so, I know, did Joe Tarbox. His figure did not appear well suited for going aloft, and yet no man could more quickly overhaul the weather earing in a heavy gale than he could. I have said sufficient about the ship’s company for the present. I do not mention others, because there was nothing very remarkable about them. I had been doing my best to become a seaman ever since I stepped on board, both by making myself acquainted with every manoeuvre performed, and learning the arts of knotting and splicing, reefing and steering, as well as studying navigation. The captain told me that he was well pleased with my progress, and this encouraged me to persevere. My great ambition was to learn a profession, and thus to be independent. It is what all boys should aim at. I had originally no particular taste for the sea; but having chosen it, I was determined to be a thorough sailor. How many among my schoolfellows could not make up their minds what to be, or did not seem to think that it was necessary to be something or other. Now my idea was, and is stronger now, that every person ought to possess some especial knowledge of a profession, calling, or trade, by the practice of which he can maintain himself. If all boys and lads were impressed with this important practical truth, how many might be saved from ruin, from “going to the dogs,” as the phrase is, simply because they have no honest means of supporting themselves. I say this here, because I may otherwise forget to say it elsewhere, and I am very anxious to impress it on the minds of my readers. We had two men on board the Bussorah Merchant who had been at good schools, and at a university, but had failed to benefit by their advantages. They had had money—one, indeed, several hundreds a year—but they had dissipated the whole of it, and had been wandering about the streets of London for several months utterly penniless, till they shipped as seaman before the mast on board a ship bound round Cape Horn. After knocking about in the Pacific for some years, they had returned home no richer than when they went out, and were glad immediately to ship aboard us. From their appearance and manners I should not have suspected what they had been, till one day I heard one of them quoting “Horace” to the other. He was rather surprised when I capped the verse; and by degrees, having gained their confidence, they gave me the account I now repeat, with a great many more circumstances which I do not consider it necessary to narrate. Poor fellows, they had been so thoroughly accustomed to the rough ways of the roughest of seamen, that I suspect they had lost all taste for a more refined style of life. So I say to my young readers, whatever you do, fix upon a profession, and try to make yourself thoroughly competent to fill it. Do not rest or flag till you have done so; and never for a moment suppose that you will have any permanent enjoyment in an idle life.

We had got nearly half-way across the Indian Ocean, when, one day as I was aloft, I saw in the far distance an object which looked like a log of wood, with a tiny white sail appearing above it. I hailed the deck, and Mr Thudicumb bringing his glass, came up to look at it. After some time it was reported to the captain, and the ship was kept away towards it. As we approached, Mr Thudicumb said it appeared to him like a canoe; but though she seemed to be steering steadily before the wind, no one could be seen aboard her.

Chapter Five.

Suspicious behaviour of the Lascars.

Numerous telescopes were turned towards the object I have described. “I see a man’s head!” cried one. “Yes; and his shoulders!” exclaimed another. “He is leaning back in the stern of the canoe, steering with a paddle.” He had not discovered us, though, for on he went careering over the seas as unconcernedly as if he were not some hundreds of miles away from land.

In a short time we were abreast of the canoe, passing her to leeward. A dark-skinned man, lightly clad, sat in the stern steering with an oar. His sail was a piece of calico spread on a slender yard, the mast being scarcely thicker than the yard. Not till we were close to him did he perceive us. Lifting up his hands towards the ship, he pointed to his mouth, making an imploring gesture at the same time. Apparently he was trying to speak, but his voice was too weak to be heard. Still he sat as before, not attempting to rise and lower the sail; but on went the light canoe, dancing from wave to wave, now gliding down from the top of one, quickly to mount to the summit of another.

“I doubt, sir, whether he has got the strength to move,” said Mr Thudicumb to the captain. “Or he is afraid of his canoe broaching to, should he attempt to leave the helm.”

“We must run on, and heave to for him,” said Captain Davenport. “We can then lower a boat and pick him up. It is as you suppose, Thudicumb; I have no doubt about it.”

The poor occupant of the canoe made a gesture of despair as he saw the ship leaving him astern. Apparently he did not understand the meaning of the words addressed to him through the captain’s speaking-trumpet. Still he sat as before, his eyes kept constantly ahead, while with one arm he directed the course of his canoe. She flew so fast that we had to get a considerable distance ahead before we hove to. A boat was then lowered, into which Mr Tarbox and six stout hands jumped for the purpose of intercepting the approaching canoe. The boat had only just time to get ready, with her head in the direction towards which the canoe was sailing, when she was up to her. We watched her anxiously from the ship. She was soon alongside the boat. Several strong hands seized her, while the occupant was lifted out and placed in the stern-sheets of the boat. Quick as lightning the canoe was passed astern and secured, and the boat pulled back towards the ship. With the heavy sea there was running, it was a difficult matter to get alongside, and still more so to lift up a helpless person without risk of injury. By the management of the boatswain, however, helped by those above, the dark-skinned stranger was soon lifted up on deck. He was too weak to speak, but he had still consciousness sufficient to point to his lips. Soup for the passengers’ luncheon was just being brought aft. A little was immediately poured down his throat. It had the effect of reviving him somewhat, and he uttered a few words, but none of those standing round were able to comprehend their meaning. The canoe was safely got on board and examined. Not a particle of food was found, but in the bottom of a small cask there remained about half a pint of water. The wood, however, from the sides of the canoe had been scraped off.

“That is what the poor fellow has been living on,” observed Tarbox. “Hard fare, to be sure. It would not help much to keep an Englishman’s soul in his body; but it is wonderful what these black fellows can live on.”

The canoe was about eighteen feet long, cut out of a single log, worked very fine, with wash-boards nailed on above. It seemed surprising that she could have gone through the heavy sea which had been running for some days past. Her owner was carried below, and after a little more food had been given him, he fell fast asleep.

When he awoke, he appeared to be perfectly recovered, sitting up and looking round him with an air of astonishment, as if he had not been aware how he had been brought on board. I had accompanied the surgeon to visit him. He again uttered some of the strange words we had before heard, but finding no one understood him, he stopped, and appeared to be collecting his senses. He then said something which sounded like French. It was very bad French, to be sure; but we shortly made out that he was expressing his thanks to us for having rescued him.

The next day he was up and dressed, and though somewhat weak, perhaps, apparently as well as anybody on board. He now came aft, when, in his broken language, helped out with a word or two of English, he gave us a strange story. I cannot pretend to give his account in his own language—indeed it would not be very clear if I did so, as it was only after he had been on board some time that we gained all the particulars. He told us that his name was Macco, that he was born in Madagascar, at a village in the north of that large island. With several lads from the same village he had gone on board a vessel which had carried them to the Mauritius. There he had worked as a field-labourer for some time, and though not a slave, treated very little better than one. He had learned something about Christianity, but not much, I am afraid. He knew that some of his countrymen had become Christians; but as large numbers of them had been murdered, he was afraid, should he ever go back to Madagascar, that he might be treated in the same way, and was therefore unwilling to acknowledge that he was a Christian. After a time he had engaged with several other people from Madagascar, as well as Creoles of the Mauritius, to accompany a person to the island of Rodrigez, to be employed under him as fishermen. They were at once embarked on board a small colonial vessel, which conveyed them to that island, where they were hired out to different masters. It appeared, however, that the Creoles were very jealous of the Malagasys, and poor Macco found himself very ill-treated by them. Frequently they beat him, and often threatened his life. Several times he complained of their conduct to his master; but the man was hard-hearted, and only laughed at his complaints, telling him to go and thrash the Creoles, and they would soon cease to torment him. Poor Macco, however, was a mild-tempered young man, and probably thought that he would only be treated worse if he made any such attempt. At length, to avoid the persecutions to which he was subjected, he determined to run away from the island, and endeavour to reach the Mauritius. He mentioned his determination to one of his fellow-countrymen, who advised him to put it into execution. He, however, had to wait some time before he could carry out his project. He began, however, at once to store up a supply of food to support himself during his projected voyage. At first he contemplated building a canoe for himself, but as that might raise suspicions of his intentions, he resolved to take one belonging to his master. He had some scruples about stealing it, but at the same time he persuaded himself that as his master would not redress his grievances, he was justified in doing so. He probably was unacquainted with the golden rule of never doing wrong that good might come of it. It was a subject, indeed, on which casuists might differ. Be that as it may, Macco fixed on a canoe which he thought would answer his purpose. His countrymen assisted him, and he procured a piece of calico to serve as a sail, and soon cut a mast and spar on which to spread it. The only food he was able to provide for supporting existence was eight pounds of uncooked rice, and a small barrel of water.

One evening as it was growing dark he stole down to the shore, and the wind being as he thought fair, shoved off the canoe, hoisted a sail, and with an oar for steering, which he secured to the stern of the canoe, stood away from the land. The weather at first was very fine, and he glided smoothly over the sea, hoping before long to reach either the Mauritius or Bourbon. He was unable to restrain his hunger, which the uncooked rice could have done little to appease, and therefore ate up nearly a pound a day. Thus at the end of eight or nine days he had finished the whole of his provisions. He had still some water left, however, and he knew very well that he could go without food for a day, hoping before the end of it to have land in sight. He scarcely stirred from his seat in the stern of the canoe. When he dropped off to sleep, the movement of the oar very soon awoke him. Few Europeans on such fare would have lived beyond the first ten days. Macco, however, when his rice was expended, began to scrape away the wood from the inside of his canoe. This, cut up fine, he ate, washing it down with water. Day after day passed by, and still no land, no sail appeared. Often he slept, steering instinctively, it must have been, before the wind, and waking up to feel the gnawing of hunger. This he satisfied with the scraped wood. Incredible as it may appear, such was the only food on which he supported existence for thirteen days. We had many opportunities of testing the man’s honesty and had no reason to doubt his veracity. He was of course little more than skin and bone when he was brought on board. He had actually been twenty-two days at sea when we found him.

Note. The narrative is true, and is given exactly as described in the original account.

In the course of a few days he had completely recovered his strength, and seemed very well satisfied with his lot. As he was a smart, active fellow, he was entered as one of the seamen of the Bussorah Merchant. He knew a little English already, and quickly picked up more. He was thus well able to understand the orders given him. He did not appear to be a favourite with the men. He was evidently retiring and unsociable. Perhaps he had been so long subjected to ill-treatment from others, that he was unwilling to place confidence in those among whom he was cast, until he had ascertained that they were well-disposed towards him. I observed, however, that Ali was constantly speaking to him, but I rather doubt that their words were very intelligible to each other, as English was the only common language they possessed. Ali knew it very imperfectly, and Macco still less. More than once I observed Ali’s quick, piercing, fierce eyes fixed on him attentively, as he appeared to be endeavouring to impress some matter on his mind. Macco’s look all the time was passive, and he either did not comprehend what was said, or was uninfluenced by it.

One night, when it was my watch on deck, I had been standing looking out on the forecastle, when I heard a voice near me say, “When you step aft, Massa Walter, I got word to whisper in your ear.” It was Potto Jumbo who spoke. I had thought that he had been in his bunk asleep.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I tell presently—not here, though,” he answered, gliding away from me, and going over to the other side of the deck, where he stood, as if looking up and admiring the stars which glittered above our heads.

As soon as I could leave the forecastle, I went and stood near the gangway, where the black cook soon joined me.

“I no like what going forward on board, forward there,” and he pointed to the fore-peak. “Dat Ali Tomba one big rascal. He go talky talky to de men, and try to make dem mutinous like hisself.”

“But what can he have to complain of?” I observed; “the crew seem all well treated.”

“Dere it is dat make me angry,” said Potto. “He come to me one day, he say, ‘Potto Jumbo, you black slave, you peel potato for white men; dey make you do what dey like. Why not strike one blow for freedom?’ I say, ‘I free as any man on board. I come here because I like come here. I go away when voyage over, and live ashore like one gentleman till money gone, and den come to sea again. No man more free dan I.’”

“I think you are right, Potto,” I observed, “on that point; but surely Ali fancies that he has some cause of complaint. Why does he not speak out like a man, and say what it is? Have you any idea?”

“Just dis, Massa Walter,” he answered; “in de last ship Ali sailed in, de captain was one big tyrant. He flogged de men, he stopped de men’s wages, he feed dem badly, and treat dem worse dan de dogs in de street without masters. One day dis Captain Ironfist—dat was his name—go to flog Ali, but Ali draw his knife and swear he die first or kill de captain; but de captain knocked him down wid one handspike, and put Ali in irons, and den flog him, and den put him back in irons; and den carried him to port, and den put him into prison. Captain Ironfist sailed away in another ship, and Ali not find him; so Ali swore dat he would have his revenge on de next captain he sailed wid. He no find opportunity to do harm to Captain Davenport as yet, but he wait like snake in de grass to spring up and sting him when he can. Now he and his men want to go to Calcutta, and dey thought when de ship sailed dat dey were going dere. Now dey find dat we go to Japan, dey bery angry, and all swear dat de ship shall go to Calcutta in spite of de captain. Dere are some bad Englishmen on board as well as demselves, and dey up to any mischief, and Ali tink he count on dem. He tink too he count on Potto Jumbo, but he make one big mistake. I no say anything when he talk to me, but shrug my shoulders, and make one ugly face at him, and so he tink all right. He tink too he got Macco, but Potto not so certain of dat.”

“But, surely,” I observed, “he and his Lascars would not attempt to take the ship from the captain and officers, with the larger number of the white crew, who would certainly side with us?”

“Don’t know,” said Potto. “He one daring fellow, and he try anyting; but if he find he no strong enough, he try to burn de ship or to scuttle her. At all events, he try to do some mischief.”

“This is, indeed, a serious matter,” I observed; “and I am grateful to you, Potto, for telling me. At the same time, however, bad as Ali’s intentions may be, I really do not think we have much cause for alarm. Still, I am sure the captain also will be grateful to you for the warning you give him; but I am afraid he will be very much annoyed when he hears of it. I think I must first tell Mr Thudicumb, and he can arrange the best way of letting the captain know.”

“Dat’s it, Massa Walter. Tell de first officer. He wise man. He no put out by dis or any oder matter. I now go forward, lest Ali come on deck, or any of his people, and see me talking to you.”

“Do so,” I said; “but, Potto, I think you will assist us if you would pretend to be more ready to listen to what Ali has to say to you, and you can give me information of his plans.”

Potto did not answer immediately.

“I not certain dat Ali speak de truth to me,” he answered. “At first he did; but he big, cunning rogue, and he suspect dat I no love his plans. Still, Massa Walter, I do as you wish, dough Potto Jumbo no like to act spy over any one, even big rascal like Ali. Potto Jumbo once prince in his own country, before de enemies of his people came and burnt his village, and kill his fader, and moder, and broders, and sisters, and carry off him and all dey did leave alive on board de slave-ship. Den de British cruiser take her, and Potto Jumbo enter on board de man-of-war, and dere became boy to de cook, and now Potto Jumbo is cook hisself on board de Bussorah Merchant. Dere, Massa Walter, you have my history. You see I do not wish to do anything derogatory to my family and my rank;” and Potto Jumbo drew himself up, as if he was again the monarch of half-a-dozen bamboo-built cottages, and their unclothed, dark-skinned inhabitants. “Now, good-night, Massa Walter, again; I go forward.”

Potto Jumbo glided away to the fore-peak, and I walked aft. I had, however, some little time to wait before my watch was over. I then hurried into the first mate’s cabin. He was about to leave it to take charge of the deck.

“Will you let me have a word with you, sir,” I said, “before you leave the cabin. I have something somewhat unpleasant to communicate, and I do not like to delay doing so.”

“Let me have it out then at once, Walter,” he said. “Nothing like the present moment; and, for my part, I always like to know the worst, if I can get at it.”

I at once told him in a low voice the information I had received from Potto Jumbo. The light of the lamp in his cabin fell on his weather-beaten countenance, but I saw no change in it.

“Very likely,” he observed; “that serang has a hang-dog look, which shows that he is capable of attempting any atrocity; but I do not think he will succeed notwithstanding. I will tell the captain in the morning, but there is no necessity to do so now. For his own sake, he will not set the ship on fire, or scuttle her, at this distance from land; and as to his hope of overpowering us, or the English part of the crew, the idea is absurd. However, I will warn the other officers. You go and tell Mr Tarbox I wish to speak to him. Take care the Lascar fellows do not see you; and then go back to your berth and turn in.”

I made my way to the boatswain’s cabin, and, rousing him up, told him that the first officer wished to see him on a matter of importance.

“I need ask no questions, Walter,” he observed. “Do you know what it is about?”

“Mr Thudicumb will tell you all about it,” I replied; keeping to my resolution of not speaking to any one else about the matter.

I then went to my berth, and feeling sure that all would be managed wisely by the first officer, was in less than a couple of minutes fast asleep. In my dreams, however, I heard fearful noises. I fancied I saw the mutineers rushing aft; but instead of ten Lascars, there were fifty or one hundred dark-skinned fellows, with sharp krisses in their hands, threatening destruction to all who opposed them.

Chapter Six.

The ship in danger.

I was awoke by the cry of “All hands, shorten sail.” Slipping on my clothes, I sprang on deck. The sea was running high, the ship was heeling over to a strong breeze. I flew to the rigging, and my station in the mizzen-top. It was daylight. The crew were swarming up the rigging, and I could distinguish the Lascars forward among the most active. Whatever might have been their intentions for evil, they seemed as eager as any one in taking in the reefs. The serang himself lay out on the weather yard-arm, and I saw him, earing in hand, working away actively with the rest. The dream was still vivid on my mind; and I could not help feeling surprised at seeing him thus engaged, when I had expected to be struggling in a deadly conflict with him and his companions. The ship was soon brought under snug sail, and standing on her course to the eastward. The watch below returned to their bunks to take the remainder of their short night’s rest, and I was quickly asleep.

Again the same dream came back to me. Once more the Lascars made their way aft, but this time stealthily. I fancied I saw Ali leading them through the gloom of night, whilst the captain was unconscious of their approach, gazing over the taffrail, as if watching some object astern. I tried to warn him, but could not make my voice heard. Ali was close to him, with his kriss ready to strike, when I heard the watch below called.

In a moment I was awake. My dream was at an end. I dressed as usual for the morning work of washing down decks, and in another minute was paddling about with my bare feet on the planks, among idlers holy-stoning, and topmen dashing buckets of water here and there on every side, often into the face of some unhappy wight to whom they owed a grudge. The wind did not increase, but there was sufficient sea on to keep many of the passengers below. Mrs Davenport, however, with Emily and Grace, came on deck. They required, however, assistance to move about, which I and the third mate, and a young civilian going out to Singapore, had the satisfaction of rendering them. Emily and Grace sat watching the high, tossing, foaming seas with delight.

“How grand!” exclaimed Emily. “I quite envy the huge fish which can swim about unconcerned in these tumbling waves, or the sea-fowl which fly over them from ridge to ridge bathing in the spray.”

Grace admired the masses of white foam which flew off from the summits of the seas as they rolled grandly by. Mr Hooker was the merriest of the party, and seemed well pleased with the delight the girls exhibited at the new aspect the ocean had put on. He only regretted that he could not read as much as usual, as he was tempted, like them, to remain on deck and observe it.

I had not forgotten what I had heard from Potto Jumbo about Ali and his companions. I observed them on deck going about their duty as quietly and orderly as any one. Mr Thudicumb had not again alluded to the subject, and I could not tell whether or not he had informed the captain. I could not, however, help suspecting that Ali had seen Potto speaking to me, and that he might therefore be acting as he was doing for the purpose of throwing us off our guard. I resolved to mention my suspicion to Mr Thudicumb as soon as I had an opportunity, and in the meantime to watch Ali, and try to find out what he was about. I had no opportunity of speaking, unobserved, to the black cook; for whenever I went forward either Ali himself, or one of the Lascars, were near the caboose. I suspected that they went there purposely.

For three days the gale continued. At last, one evening Mr Thudicumb called me into his cabin.

“I have not been asleep, Walter,” he said. “The captain knows all about the matter. He does not think that the Lascars will really carry out their plans, and suspects that Ali was merely attempting to frighten the black cook. Still, as a matter of precaution, he has directed all the officers, as well as most of the gentlemen passengers, to carry arms; and has warned Mr Tarbox, and three or four of the most trustworthy of the men, to be on the alert. However, while the gale blows, there is little fear that they will attempt anything; but if we were to have a long calm, their courage would get up, as they would believe that they could navigate the ship in smooth water, should they be able to gain possession of her.”

That night the sea had gone down, and the weather appeared mending. While I was on deck, I found Potto Jumbo by my side.

“Well, Potto,” I said, “do you think our friends have given up their kind intentions?”

“No, Massa Walter,” he answered. “Me tink dey cut your t’roat, and my t’roat, and de captain’s t’roat, and de mate’s t’roat, and everybody’s t’roat who no side wid dem.”

“Then would it not be better to get them all put in irons at once?” I observed. “I wonder the captain does not secure them.”

“Dey done nothing,” answered Potto. “Dey good, obedient seamen. What for de captain put dem in irons? I only try and find out, and tink and guess what dey want to do.”

“True,” I observed; “then all we can do is to watch till they commit some overt act, as the lawyers call it.”

“I don’t know what overt act is,” observed my friend; “but I know dat if dey stick de kriss into me, or de mate, or Massa Tarbox, dey no stop dere. When dey begin, I know what dese fellows are.”

“Then, what we must do, is to watch them narrowly,” I observed.

“Ay, ay, Massa Walter, I got my eyes about me; neber fear of dat. Dey tink me go to sleep. When cunning Lascar talk and plot, and say what he will do, Potto lies wid one eye just little open, peeping out of de bunk and awake, and snore all the time like de big animal you call ’nosorous in my country. Dey say, ‘Dat black cook is fast asleep—he no understand what we say.’—Now, good-night, Massa Walter; me go below and talk of de tree glass of grog I got, and den lie down, and go off to sleep and snore. Ha, ha, ha! Potto Jumbo no sleep when his friends in danger, and their enemies plotting.”

He said this in his usual low voice, and leaving me, dived below. By the next forenoon the sea had almost completely gone down. The reefs had been shaken out of the sails, and under our usual canvas we were making good speed across the ocean. Passing near the caboose, Potto Jumbo popped out his head.

“Tell de first mate to be on de watch. Dey going to do something—mischief—never fear dat; me know not what dough, dey so quiet; but dey intend to take away a boat, dat I heard dem say.”

Having thus delivered himself, Potto drew his head in within his den. As soon as I could return aft, I found an opportunity of telling Mr Thudicumb what Potto had said.

“Not much fear of their getting off,” observed the first mate. “It would be difficult for the serang and his men to lower a boat without being discovered. We must, however, keep a strict watch over him. He probably supposes that we are near some land which he hopes to reach. Still, whatever may be his intentions, we will be even with him.”

The sun had set in a glorious glow of red. The passengers were on deck enjoying the coolness of evening, though the shades of night quickly came down over the ocean. Suddenly there was a startling cry of “Fire, fire!” and a thin wreath of dark smoke was seen ascending up the fore-hatchway.

“Strike the fire-bell!” cried the captain. “No rushing, my men! Steady! Mr Thudicumb will lead the way below. Be ready with the buckets.—Mr Martin,” to the second officer, “rig a pump overboard! Mr Tarbox, come aft!”

The captain whispered a few words to him. The men obeyed all the orders promptly. A line was formed to pass the buckets as they were filled down the hold. The first officer and several men descended. The passengers joined the party to pass the buckets. Among the most active of the people appeared Ali, and two or three of his men. I observed, however, that the remainder kept together on one side of the ship. The smoke increased, in spite of the water which was now hove down on the spot whence it was supposed to proceed. Faster and faster we passed the buckets. Presently there was a cry, and first one man and then another was hauled up almost suffocated with smoke. Mr Thudicumb came last: he could scarcely stand; indeed, he appeared almost senseless. He quickly recovered, however, and insisted on again going below, though the other officers begged to take his place.

“No, no,” he shouted. “Bring wet blankets, wet bedding—anything by which we may smother the flames!”

Once more he and his companions descended with wet blankets in their arms. The seat of the fire was evidently far down.

“We must get at the cargo!” cried Mr Thudicumb, from below, to the captain, who was standing over the hatchway.

A crane was rigged, and whips rove, and bales and packages hauled up, several more men jumping below to assist. I was passing the buckets when Mr Tarbox came near me.

“Keep an eye on Ali and his people,” he said. “I have a notion this is their doing. For all they appear so active, they mean mischief, depend on it.”

Still Ali was working away, now passing along a bucket, now hoisting up a bale of merchandise. Presently, however, I saw him slip away and glide off. His men, who had apparently been watching him, directly afterwards also made their way up to the starboard quarter boat; and I observed that each man carried a package of some sort. I ran round to where the boatswain was assisting in hoisting up the cargo; and he and several men, whom he summoned, instantly sprang aft, where we found Ali and his companions in the act of lowering the boat. Two were already in her. “Hold fast, you villains!” cried Tarbox, giving a blow to Ali, which knocked him over.

His companions drew their sharp knives, which they had concealed in their trousers, and made a rush at the boatswain, who was, however, too quick for them, and drawing a pistol from his pocket, presented it at the head of the first; while the men, seizing some boat-stretchers which had been placed ready for use by the boatswain, laid about them with so much energy that they quickly knocked over several of the Lascars, though two or three were wounded in the scuffle. Ali had again sprung to his feet, but instead of attempting to attack Mr Tarbox, he only cried out—

“What do you mean? I lowered a boat to save the ladies! Suppose fire gain on ship, what you do then with them?”

“Oh! is that it, my hearty!” answered Tarbox. “However, the fire is not going to gain on the ship, I hope. Do you tell your men to come out of the boat quickly, and make fast the falls again, and just you come along with me.”

Saying this, the boatswain made a rush at the Lascar, and quickly passed a rope behind his arms. Two other men were seized at the same time, their knives being taken from them. They were then dragged into one of the cabins, and a seaman with a loaded pistol placed as a guard over them.

“Now, the rest of you go forward!” cried the boatswain to the Lascars; and, without attempting resistance, they obeyed the order.

Oliver Farwell was sent aft by the captain to assist the seamen in watching the prisoners, while I again joined the gangs in passing the buckets. The smoke continued to ascend as quickly as before; and, as the cargo was removed, flames burst up, rising through the hatchway. Again Mr Thudicumb and his companions had to come on deck.

“Never fear, though,” he cried out, as soon as he had recovered from the effects of the smoke. “We are getting at the seat of the fire! More volunteers for below! Come, lads!”

He had not to make any further appeal. A dozen fresh hands, led by Mr Hooker, each carrying sails or blankets or bedding well saturated, sprang below; and I could not resist the feeling that I could do more good there than on deck. Meantime water came rushing down round us, preventing our clothes from catching fire. Happily the ship was steady, or the danger would have been greatly increased.

I shall never forget that scene. The lurid glare of the fire cast a ruddy glow over the figures of the men as they gathered round the crater-like opening which had been made, while dark wreaths of smoke hung over the deck above us, and curled up towards the hatchway. Scarcely, however, had a fresh supply of sails and bedding been thrown over the hole, aided by the streams of water which came rushing into it, than the flames suddenly subsided.

“Hurrah!” shouted Mr Thudicumb, and the cry was taken up by Mr Hooker and the rest of us. “More water! more water!”

Bucket after bucket was handed down and dashed into the opening, and again hauled up. We were now left in almost total darkness: not a glimmer of light remained. The smoke entirely disappeared, though the strong smell of it remained. The first officer called for lanterns, and they were quickly brought by the boatswain and his mates. He now descended into the lower hold, and the blankets and bedding were hoisted up out of it.

“It is as well we got out these bales,” I heard him observe to the boatswain. “Here, Tarbox; what do you say to this?”

It was evident on examination that a space had been cleared out under the cargo, and filled with straw and shavings and other light matter. This had caused the smoke, though until the bales above it had been removed the flames were kept down. When the superincumbent bales were lifted off, the flames quickly rose up; but the material which fed them being light, had speedily burned out before they had time to ignite the surrounding cargo, which, fortunately being very tightly packed, did not easily catch fire. A thorough examination having been made, no further signs of fire could be discovered. A couple of trusty hands were placed to watch the hold, and those who were drenched to the skin retired to put on dry garments.

I soon afterwards met Mr Tarbox, and asked him if he suspected the cause of the fire.

“Of course I do,” he answered. “Depend upon it, that fellow Ali and his gang have had a hand in it; but how they managed to get below without being discovered is more than I can say.”

The captain and officers held now a consultation, and the rest of the Lascars were seized, and the whole of the party put in irons. I will not describe the scenes which took place in the cabin after it was known that the fire had been thoroughly put out, and that we were once more in safety. The passengers exhibited their feelings in a variety of ways. Some wept, others laughed; and many, I am glad to say, knelt down and returned thanks to Heaven for the protection which had been afforded us. I kissed my dear sister Emily, and told her how thankful I was that she was safe; for, indeed, my thoughts had been of her all the time, more than of anything else.

The next morning Ali and his companions were brought up for trial before the captain and officers and several passengers. Suspicions were evidently strong against them, and yet no one could prove that they had placed the combustible matter in the hold, or had set it on fire. Ali himself declared, with many oaths, that he was innocent of the charges brought against him; his air, indeed, was that of a much injured person. As to his attempt to lower a boat, he asserted positively, and his men corroborated his statement, that the order had been given by the second officer. When Martin declared he had issued no such order, Ali shrugged his shoulders, and could only say that he must have been mistaken, and that the error arose in consequence of his slight knowledge of English. When asked how they came to have arms in their hands, they said they had brought their knives for ordinary use; and in the same way they had secured some provisions, knowing that should they have to go in the boats they would be required, as they could not eat the food cooked by the Christians.

Now, if my kind friend Captain Davenport had a fault, it was that of being too lenient. Instead of keeping Ali and his gang in irons, he at once liberated them, warning them that though suspicions were strongly against them, he was willing to believe the best. I do not think either the officers or passengers were particularly well pleased with his decision. I afterwards heard Mr Thudicumb tell the boatswain to keep as bright a look-out as possible on Ali and the other Lascars.

“I doubt whether that fellow has got any gratitude in his breast; and if he is determined to do mischief, he will bide his time and do it, depend on that,” he observed.

“Ay, ay, Mr Thudicumb, I have no doubt about it,” observed Tarbox. “I only wish the captain would have kept them in irons till we get to Singapore, and would then hand them over to justice. That fellow Ali deserves hanging, to my mind, as much as any pirate who has ever swung in chains, or mutineer who has been run up to the yard-arm. It was no fault of his that this fine ship and all on board were not burned or sent to the bottom.”

Ali perhaps knew that he was watched; at all events, his whole conduct was changed. No man could behave more respectfully to the officers, or could more carefully see that those under him did their duty, while he himself worked away as hard as any one. He seemed to bear no ill-will against Tarbox or any of the other men, while he appeared to have positively a kindly feeling towards Potto Jumbo, and to be especially patronising to Macco. Indeed, after this everything went on smoothly and pleasantly among the men, while perhaps the dangers they had gone through made the passengers even more sociable and pleasant than before.

Chapter Seven.

We enter the Eastern Seas.

Land was in sight, stretching out on either hand. On the port side was the island of Sumatra; on the starboard, the north end of Java. The Bussorah Merchant, with a light wind, was standing through the Straits of Sunda. Mr Hooker walked the deck, in spite of the heat, rubbing his hands with pleasure. He was now approaching the region he had long desired to examine; and he was pleasing himself with the thoughts of the wonders of Nature which would be revealed to his sight. Soon the straits were passed, and numerous low-lying shores of various islands, large and small, appeared in sight, covered with the richest vegetation, which seemed to flourish under the fearful heat which oppressed the spirits of us poor mortals who had come from so much cooler a region. It had been hot when passing the tropics: it was hotter still now; for no clouds overhead tempered the sun’s rays. The pitch, as before, in the sides and seams of the deck, melted and oozed out. The tar dropped from the rigging, and none of us willingly touched any piece of metal for fear of burning our fingers. Merlin wisely kept in the shade, and the young ladies followed his example. I, however, being now stationed in the mizzen-top, had to go aloft. I could not help often wishing, as I looked down into the clear sea, that I might take a leap overboard, and dive down into the depths below.

Singapore—that wonderful emporium of the commerce of the East, established by the sagacious foresight of Sir Stamford Raffles—was now reached. It was the first time our anchor had been dropped since we quitted the Thames. The only land sighted till Sumatra and Java were seen, was the small island of Tristan da Cunha.

“You see, my boy, the result of a sound knowledge of navigation,” observed Mr Hooker to me. “But the captain has to thank the astronomers, and the inventors and the manufacturers of his instruments, or he could not have thus easily found his way half round the world, as he has done. You see we depend upon each other; and that is what I want to impress upon you. You may not have much scientific knowledge yourself, but if you have observation, you can accurately note the various phenomena you meet with, and give your descriptions to those who will make good use of them. I had contemplated leaving the ship at Singapore; but I have made up my mind to go with you to Japan, and then to return in her to one of the ports in these Eastern islands which Captain Davenport purposes visiting.”

I was very glad to hear of Mr Hooker’s determination, for I should have been very sorry to have lost his society.

The town and island of Singapore exhibit a variety of Eastern races and different religions and modes of life. The ruling class are of course English, but the Chinese are the most numerous, and among them are found many wealthy merchants, most of the mechanics and labourers, and also agriculturalists. The sea-faring population are mostly Malays. There are a good many Portuguese, who act as clerks and shop-keepers. There are also Arabs and Klings of Western India, who are Mohammedans. There are also Parsee merchants, while the grooms and washermen are mostly Bengalees. These, with numerous Javanese sailors, as well as traders from Celebes, Bali, and numerous other islands of the East, make up this curiously mixed population. Then in the harbour are found men-of-war, merchant vessels of numerous European nations, large numbers of Chinese junks and Malay praus, with hundreds of little fishing and passenger boats. Chinese josshouses, Indian temples, Mohammedan mosques, rise up on either side with Christian churches. The warehouses are substantial, the residences of the Europeans large and commodious, contrasting with the long rows of queer little Malay and Chinese cottages, among which are found Kling and Chinese bazaars, where everything can be bought, from a reel of cotton to a sword or razor. Numberless vendors of various articles throng the streets with water, fruit, vegetables, soup, and a sort of jolly made of sea-weed. Here a man comes running along with a pole, having a cooking apparatus on one end and a table on the other, from which he will immediately furnish a meal of shell-fish, vegetables, and rice at a small cost.

The island of Singapore is covered with a number of small hills, some nearly 400 feet high, covered to the summits with forest trees. In these forests the Chinese settlers are employed in cutting timber. Tigers are very numerous on the island, as they have but a short distance to cross over from the Malay peninsula, and frequently wood-cutters are carried away by them.

I accompanied Mr Hooker several times on shore. The naturalist was delighted with the great variety of beetles and other crawling creatures which he was able to collect. We were struck by the enormous size of the trees and the variety of large ferns, as well as the number of climbing ratan palms. One day we were walking along, Mr Hooker being in advance, when I saw him suddenly sink into the ground. I ran forward to help my friend, who fortunately having a long pole in his hand, kept hold of it.

“Quick, quick, Walter!” he shouted. “Help me out or I shall be impaled.”

Not without difficulty I got hold of his hand, and by main force dragged him up. When at length on firm ground, the naturalist, after resting a moment, pulled away a quantity of brushwood and disclosed a large pit. On looking into it we found that it was formed with the top narrower than the bottom, and in the centre was stuck a pointed stake. A person falling in, had he escaped impalement, would have found it impossible, unaided, to get out again.

“This is a tiger-pit,” exclaimed Mr Hooker; “and a very effectual way of catching a tiger should one attempt to cross it. I really believe that I have narrowly escaped a fearful death; for see, had I gone through, I should very probably have fallen on the stake.”

After this, as we proceeded, we carefully avoided the spots covered over by fallen brushwood, lest they should conceal pits of a similar description. Still Mr Hooker was too eager a naturalist to give up his search, and, aided by me, quickly filled his boxes and cases. Evening was coming on, and we were thinking of returning, sorry to leave the cool shade of the trees for the still hot, open ground, when we saw a creature at no great distance moving through the jungle.

“What can that be?” I exclaimed.

“A tiger, and it will be as well to put a bullet into my gun in case he should think fit to follow us. I am told that seldom a day passes that an unfortunate Chinaman is not carried away by one of these beasts. I am afraid they are too wary, like rats in England, to be caught in traps, or there would not be so many of them in the island.”

As we walked along I could not help looking over my shoulder every now and then in expectation of seeing the tiger. Mr Hooker, too, kept his gun ready for use in case we were pursued. We left the forest, however, and took our way over the open, dry ground without again catching sight of the tiger.

We got back to Singapore and returned on board that night, as the ship was to sail the following morning. Emily turned pale when she heard the account I gave her of the tiger, and all the party were greatly interested in hearing the account of Mr Hooker’s escape from the tiger-pit.

The ship’s course was now directly through the China Sea—a region in which every variety of weather is encountered, from a dead calm to a furious typhoon. The northern end of the Philippine Islands was sighted on the starboard hand, and afterwards the Bashee Islands to the north of them.

“There is a large island lies away there on our right hand, called Formosa,” said the captain. “The inhabitants are Chinese. They seem even more cruel and treacherous than the rest of their countrymen. Not long ago two vessels were wrecked, and their crews made prisoners. The natives marched them off to their capital, somewhere in the middle of the island, several days’ journey from the coast, and there they kept them prisoners for many months. Some were Englishmen, others Lascars, to the number of forty or fifty. The lives of a few were saved, but they cut off the heads of all the others, declaring they were those of barbarians killed in warfare; and it is said that the chief officers who commanded this massacre gained great credit, and many rewards for their bravery. The others were carried away to Nangking, and were there going to be killed; but the English expedition came out, and were just in time to save their lives.—I don’t like the Chinese,” continued the captain. “They are treacherous, conceited, inhospitable to strangers, grossly superstitious, heartless, and cruel, though perhaps they may not be said to be bloodthirsty. Their streets are dirty in the extreme, and their houses are not much better. However, it cannot be denied that they are very industrious and persevering, and that a Chinaman will make a living where a man of another nation will starve.”

Note. The English have now a settlement in Formosa.

“Perhaps, when we come to know them better, we may find exceptions to this description,” observed Mr Hooker. “Probably we shall discover noble and high-minded men, according to the light that is in them, in China as elsewhere. I do not know that all English towns are models of cleanliness; and certainly, if left to the care of the ordinary inhabitants, many would be found as bad as those in China.”

At length the high land of the south end of Japan hove in sight. As the ship stood on towards the harbour of Nagasaki, we were all eagerly looking out on the beautiful scenery which presented itself. In many parts the coast is bold, in other places it rises from the beach in gentle hills covered with apparently impenetrable forests. The narrow entrance to the harbour now appeared, between lofty overhanging hills covered with rich vegetation. As Captain Davenport had been there before, and the wind was fair, we stood boldly on till a pilot appeared, when sail was shortened to allow him to come on board. On either side, wherever the ground would allow it, the land seemed cultivated to the summit of the highest hills. Here and there, however, the muzzles of guns were seen protruding from amidst green shrubs and trees, ready to destroy any unwelcome intruder.

As the ship advanced the harbour widened out. On one side appeared the beautiful little island of Pappenberg, so named by the Dutch, though the Japanese call it Tacabooco. Its sides rise directly out of the water in lofty precipitous cliffs, their summits crowned with dark luxuriant cedars. It was to this island that a large number of the Japanese who had been converted to Christianity by the celebrated Roman Catholic missionary Xavier were carried when they refused to abjure the religion they had adopted. Conducted up to the summits of the cliffs, they were cast over the edge, bound hand and foot, at low water, meeting certain death as they reached the rocks below. Here the mangled remains lay till the tide coming in carried them off to sea. In late years many hundred Christians were treated in a similar manner in Madagascar. We looked with sad interest at the spot, having just before read an account of the massacre.

The ship continued her progress up the inlet or gulf, which is four miles long, till at length she came to an anchor off the town of Nagasaki. On either side were towering cliffs, precipitous peaks with green and shady groves below, amid which appeared prettily-painted picturesque cottages, not altogether unlike those of Switzerland. Many small bays were passed, in which were moored little boats, kept scrupulously clean, though unpainted. The sails consisted of three stripes of sailcloth or matting, united by a kind of lacework, thus forming one whole sail for light winds. By unlacing one portion, the sail can quickly be reduced in size. The boatmen, unlike the natives of the places lately visited, were almost as fair as Europeans. They wore, however, scarcely more clothing than their brethren in more southern regions. A Japanese boat is moved by a scull in the stern, with which she is steered when under sail—no oars being used: the passengers always sit in the fore part.

As soon as the ship dropped her anchor the Japanese officials came on board, one who spoke a little English acting as interpreter. They were dressed in long flowing robes confined at the waist by a band wound round the body, in which is suspended a case containing a pipe, a tobacco-pouch, an ink-horn, and a small brush used when they write. Over this is worn a transparent dark coat with a white mark on the arms and back. On grand occasions public officials wear a similar dress of a light fawn or dove tint. A person of the rank of a gentleman invariably wears two swords stuck in his girdle. On sitting down he removes the longest, and places it against some piece of furniture at his side; but he never parts with the smaller one, which is kept sharp, and in readiness to kill himself should any accusation of a crime, false or true, be brought against him. The questions put to the captain having been satisfactorily answered, we were informed that we might discharge our cargo. The officers were then invited down into the cabin to partake of cake and wine, which they seemed greatly to enjoy. They then, bowing politely, took their departure, leaving one of their number on board, who was to remain while the ship was anchored in the harbour.

Mr Hooker had a friend here, a merchant, who came on board to see him. Emily and I were introduced; and he invited us, and Grace also, to come and stay at his house with Mr Hooker, while the ship remained off the place. The residence of the merchant was situated on a platform on the side of a hill surrounded by trees, at a little distance from the town. The house had broad verandahs, every door sliding backwards and forwards in grooves, instead of opening and shutting in the ordinary fashion. In the garden were quantities of lovely flowers, and it had a pond in the centre. The pond was full of wonderfully large gold and silver fish, which were always ready to exhibit their lovely tints when bits of bread were thrown in to them. The girls especially were delighted with the beauty of the wild flowers in the surrounding woods, many of them such as would be valued in a garden in England. Surpassing all others, however, were the camelia trees, some fully thirty feet high, their lovely flowers shining out amid their dark-green foliage. We were told that the camelia is so called in honour of a Spanish Jesuit—Camel—who brought it to Europe, where it is known as the Camelia japonica. From one kind, the oleifera, a large amount of oil is extracted, used in Japan for domestic purposes. The beautiful lotus also is common; the Japanese using the root when young for food. When thoroughly boiled, it is very palatable. Mr Hooker was well pleased with the cleanliness of the streets; so superior in that respect to those of China. They are nearly all paved in the centre, which is slightly raised, and have drains running down close to the houses on either side. Thus all impurities are carried away, and they soon become dry, even after the heaviest shower of rain. Large plantations of tea exist in the neighbourhood, the leaf being prepared in the Chinese fashion. The trade in this article alone has greatly increased since the ports of the country have been opened. I give a drawing of a Chinese tea-plantation, which is very similar to those we saw in Japan. The house seen in the sketch is the drying-house. The tea-plant is produced from seed which is dropped into holes, several together, four inches deep and four feet apart, in December. When the rain comes on, the plants spring up and form bushes. In about three years they yield their first crop of leaves. In about eight years they are cut down, that fresh shoots may spring up. The leaves are gathered singly with great care—in three gatherings: the first, when they just open; the last, when fully expanded. When gathered, they are first partially dried in the sun, and then placed on flat iron pans above furnaces in the drying-house. They require frequent shifting and turning. When sufficiently dried, they are removed with a shovel on to a mat or basket to cool, and then to a table to be rolled. This process is repeated, and they are then sifted and sorted. As far as we could learn, both black and green teas are the produce of the same plant, but prepared in a somewhat different way.

I was, of course, very eager to learn all I could about the country; but there seemed so much to learn, and so little time to learn it in, that I was frequently almost in despair. The Japanese, although idolaters, and very unlike Europeans, are evidently a very civilised people. They have had for centuries their manners and customs unchanged, and their ideas are peculiar, according to our notions. Soon after we arrived, our new friend had to pay a visit to the Governor of Nagasaki. The heat was great; but Mr Hooker begged that we might belong to the party. The Japanese, like wise people, except in cases of necessity, do not leave their cool houses during the heat of the day. The town appeared therefore almost deserted. The main street is broad and clean, the inhabitants being generally government officials and retainers of the chiefs, called Daimios. At about every hundred yards there is a barrier gate. These gates are closed every evening, when a light is suspended from the beam above, or a paper lantern is hung from one of the side posts.

As China and Japan had become civilised long before the mode of constructing an arch was discovered, and the inhabitants of neither are addicted to change, they still retain their original style of building bridges; and I give a sketch of one we crossed on our way. It is similar to those generally found in the country. Some of their gateways are very curious; and though they make their bridges with vast slabs of stone or long wooden rafters, they take the trouble of hewing out of the rock huge circles, or segments of circles, which are afterwards put together to form ornamental gateways to their pleasure-grounds.

At length our party arrived before a handsome flight of steps, with two magnificent camphor-trees on either side. The gate at the top being thrown open, we all entered the unpretending yet clean abode of the governor. A few inferior officers were sitting or standing about in the vestibule. They saluted us with a careless air, and one of them then announced our arrival, when the vice-governor, or one of the principal officers, came forward, and shaking hands, led us into another room. Here the governor himself was seated. After the proper number of bows had been made and returned, he requested to know the object of our visit. While the merchant was explaining this we had time to look about the room. All round it, with the exception of one side, which opened on the garden, were suspended screens of white grass-cloth, with a design which looked like a trefoil worked on them. Over it we caught sight of several sparkling pairs of eyes—the sex of the owners could not be doubted. In the garden was a pond in which water-lilies and other aquatic plants grew, with the usual ornaments of temples and bridges, artificial rocks being scattered about, and a considerable amount of invention displayed in the arrangement. While speaking of flowers, I must not forget the magnificent lily of Japan, which, in point of size, must be similar I should think to those of Palestine pointed out by our Lord when he said, “Consider the lilies of the field.” But to return to our visit.

After the official interview was over, tea, pipes, and cake were served, with a variety of other dishes. The great man’s wife having expressed a desire to see the strangers, we were introduced to her. She was a very handsome person; her hair, jet-black, ornamented with amber and tortoise-shell combs, with a large quantity of hair on the top mixed with flowers and ribbons. Her costume was magnificent—sky-blue crape, embroidered with gold and silver, and a profusion of flowers. It was lined with a bright scarlet silk wadding, which formed a train on the ground. Only a part, however, was visible, as the silken belt round the waist allowed it only very slightly to open. She wore a very broad sash, also of black silk, tied behind in an immense knot. The sleeves of her dress reached only to the elbow. She had no other ornaments; and her feet were encased in white cotton socks. Alas! however, her skin was completely covered with rice-powder, damped, so that it might the better adhere. Her eyebrows were shaven, as those of all married ladies are. Her lips were dyed of a bright red colour, and her teeth were black and polished as ebony. Yet we could judge of what she would have been by her exquisitely-chiselled nose, and black expressive eyes. We saw also several of her children, the younger ones dressed in crape of various colours, the others dressed much as their mother; but their teeth were beautifully white, their eyebrows unshorn; and very pretty little creatures they were. We remained for another repast, which commenced by the servants bringing in, and placing before each person on the table, which was eighteen inches high, a handsome gold and black lacquered cup and saucer, with a pair of chop-sticks. Some very nice chicken soup, with vegetables, were in the cup. After this came a similar bowl, containing venison, duck, and sweet jelly, all mixed up together. We found it very difficult eating with the chop-sticks, and Emily and Grace could not help looking up every now and then and laughing at each other as they made the attempt. We managed better with some harder things, such as fish. The last dish contained boiled chestnuts, peeled. This was placed in the centre of the table, so that each person could help himself.

The lady afterwards came to pay a return visit to our friend’s wife. She and her elder children arrived each in a norimon. This is a sort of litter slung to a bamboo pole, each end of which is carried on a man’s shoulder. A cushion is placed at the bottom, so as to come up at one end for the back, at the other for the knees; and the person sits crouched up in rather an awkward position. There is a flat covering, on which the lady’s slippers, fan, smoking apparatus, and other articles are carried. The bearers have each a pole, on which they can rest the norimon.

The ladies, I should say, are great smokers, though their pipes are small and their tobacco of a delicate description.

I need not describe the entertainment our friends gave their guests, as it was similar in many respects to that of the Japanese, though with certain English dishes. Each of their attendants, when they set out on their return, lighted a paper lantern, which is universally carried after dusk in all the towns of Japan.

The Japanese appear to be very fond of their children, and very indulgent. In our excursions we often stopped and looked into the cottages, which were invariably neat and clean in the extreme. I remember one day hearing youthful voices, and looking in, we saw a couple of children seated by the side of their father on a cushion on the floor. One of them apparently was ill, and the other was pouring out some physic from a bottle into a bowl to give to it. The expression on their countenances amused us. The little invalid was turning away his head, unwilling to take the potion; while the other seemed to be entreating that he might not have too much of it. It was a family picture, however, which gave us a very fair idea of the terms on which parents and their children exist.

Generally speaking, the women of Japan are as fair as many Europeans, and were it not for their peculiar sandals, which give them an awkward manner in walking, they would be graceful. Their hair is bound up into thick masses at the back of the head, through which a number of gold and silver or ivory arrows are placed, much in the manner of the peasant girls in some parts of Germany. The unmarried women have good eyebrows and beautiful teeth; but when they marry they blacken their teeth and shave off their eyebrows, to show their affection for their husbands, and that they no longer wish to win the admiration of others. The men have a curious way of saluting each other, passing their hands down the knee and leg, when they give a strong inhalation indicative of pleasure; and it is curious to hear these whistling sounds going on while people are paying each other compliments. When women of the same rank meet, they bend nearly double, and remain in the same position some time in conversation, occasionally giving a bob for every compliment that is paid. When they get up to go away, the same bobbing and bowing goes on for some time. When an inferior meets a superior, the former makes a low bow till the fingers almost touch the ground. Both sexes, both at home and abroad, go with the head uncovered, and to protect them from the sun they use large fans or paper umbrellas. The military, however, wear hats.

The Japanese are fond of field-sports, and the nobles go out shooting on their estates much in the same way that gentlemen in England do on theirs. They, as do the Chinese, also hunt game with hawks and falcons. The birds are trained much as they were in England in former days, when the gentle craft, as it was called, was fashionable among the nobles and gentry of the land. The accompanying drawing, which was given to me to put into my journal, gives a good idea of the Chinese way of hunting with the falcon.

The houses we visited were very curious. They are chiefly of unpainted wood; even the outsides are formed of sliding panels. There is generally an inside lining at a distance of about six feet or so, the space forming a sort of balcony. All the rooms are formed in the same way, with sliding panels. The windows are composed of oiled paper, fastened to neat frames with a glue which water cannot melt. The panels which divide the chambers are ornamented with paintings of various animals—tortoises, cranes, butterflies, and wonderfully unreal monsters. Mats, about half an inch thick, cover the floors. In the centre is a square place for a wood fire, when a brazero is not used. No chairs or tables are employed in ordinary houses, as the inhabitants sit on the mats round their trays at dinner or when drinking tea; and at night, mattresses are spread on the floor, covered with cotton, crape, or silk. The day garment is then thrown off, and a wadded dressing-gown put on for the night. The Japanese pillow is a little lacquered box with drawers in it, in which the ladies keep various small articles for their toilet—paper, hair-arrows, pins, etcetera. In the top of this curious box is a concavity with a little cushion wrapped in clean paper, and on this the back of the head is rested. Thus their head-dresses are not tumbled at night. The inhabitants of the Fiji Islands use a similar pillow for the same object of preventing their elaborately-dressed hair from being disarranged. The Japanese, however, only sleep for a short period at a time, as they have the custom of having trays with sweetmeats by their bed-sides, which they eat occasionally; or they take a few whiffs from their pipes, their tobacco-boxes, with live embers, and other necessaries for smoking, being always at hand.

They are very cleanly in their habits, bathing-houses being everywhere found; but it struck us as very odd to see men, women, and children bathing together. Sometimes as we passed a house we saw the master or mistress seated in a tub, up to the neck in water. The men, except when they wear gala costume, are very simply dressed: their sandals are of straw, and they use a plain fan of white paper and bamboo. They, however, possess fine dresses, which are kept in their richly-ornamented lacquered chests. They live chiefly on fish and rice, with various vegetables, vermicelli, eggs, sea-weed, while cakes and sweetmeats vary their diet. Tea, sugar-water, saki, are their chief beverages.

Their paper is one of the most interesting articles which they manufacture. Some, of a thick sort, is made of bamboo and oil. This is used for umbrellas, and water-proof coats, coverings for palanquins and boxes, etcetera. The finer sort is made from the bark of the mulberry-tree—the Morus papyfira—such as is used in Tahiti and other South Sea islands. It is employed instead of a pocket-handkerchief for blowing the nose, wiping the fingers, and wrapping up articles. Every person has a long sleeve pocket filled with it. Printing is very general, and all sorts of works are produced. Books are printed from wooden blocks on a particularly fine silken paper, on one side only, the blank sides being gummed together. The lacquer work is very fine. They also manufacture silks, and crapes, and linen, and cotton cloth, which, though coarse, is very soft. Many fruits of temperate and tropical climes are grown. The lacquer-tree—the Rhus vernix—which is used in the well-known lacquer work, is a handsome tree. The leaf is something like that of the beech, but broader. The lacquer is drawn from its milky sap and mixed with the oil of the bignonia. The camphor-tree—the Laurus camphora—is another very fine tree, with red and black berries. The camphor comes from it in white fragrant drops, which, when they harden, require but slight purifying to give them the appearance which the camphor we see in England presents. Everywhere we met with the tea-tree or tea-plant. It is as common in Japan as our privet or hawthorn. Japanese money is very thin. Some of the coins are oblong, some square, and others round. The chief circulating coins are of copper or iron. The workmen are very skilful: they manufacture cutlery and sword-blades to perfection. They show great skill also in gold and silver work. Their mirrors are of bronze, the reflecting surface being of silver, and polished, the back and handle ornamented with various devices. Everything, indeed, that a Japanese artisan produces, exhibits a neatness and elegance which speaks well for the taste of the people.

We had a great deal of fine scenery in the excursions we made. There are dense forests, and lofty mountains covered almost to their summits with trees. No country has ever been subject to a more absolute despotism than that which exists in Japan. There are two emperors—the Mikado, who is the religious chief of the empire, the head of the Sintoo religion; and the Tykoon, or Siokoon, who is the temporal emperor, and the real source of all political power. His residence is at Yedo. He has under him various great princes or chiefs, many of whom are very powerful. Then there are noblemen of different ranks, who are chiefly employed as officers under the crown, or governors of imperial domains. Next to them are the Sintoo and Buddhist priests, the latter of whom are under a vow of celibacy. The soldiers come after the priests in rank. Their dress is very similar to that of civilians, but they wear the embroidered badge of their respective chiefs. The fifth class consist of medical men and literati, as also inferior government officers. They are allowed, however, to wear swords and trousers. Below them again are the merchants, who are despised by the superior ranks, and are never allowed to wear swords. Mechanics rank the seventh class, and the eighth and last is composed of farmers, serfs, and the servants or feudal retainers.

I might mention many more things concerning Japan, but I should occupy too much space, and I am anxious to give an account of the adventures we ultimately encountered. We had enjoyed our visit so much to this strange and beautiful country, that we were sorry when the time came for quitting it, though we were about to visit still stranger and less known regions. Bidding our kind friends farewell, we returned on board the Bussorah Merchant. The next morning, having gone through the usual formalities, we sailed down the magnificent harbour of Nagasaki and steered a course for the Philippine Islands. Nothing of importance occurred during this part of our voyage.

The next port we touched at was Manilla, the capital of the Philippine Islands, which belong to Spain. On approaching the anchorage we passed the naval arsenal of Caveti, situated in the bay about nine miles south of the capital. Having come to an anchor, Mr Hooker invited us to accompany him on a visit to Caveti. It cannot boast much of its present glory, but it contained a curiosity—a Spanish galleon—probably one of the last in existence, then rotting in the basin. We gazed with interest at the high, ornamented, carved stern with its great lanterns, its bow adorned in the same manner with carved work. We wondered how such cumbersome-looking craft could get through with safety the long voyages they performed. Returning to the ship in the cool of the evening, we rowed up to Manilla, which is well situated at the mouth of the river Pasig. This river runs down from a number of lakes, one beyond another, the nearest of which is about three leagues eastward of the city. We spent that night on shore at a hotel, and the following day accompanied Mr Hooker on an expedition to the lakes. We engaged a curious canoe paddled by Indians, who sat in the bow and stern, while we occupied the centre. Part of this was covered over with mats, supported on arched bamboos, which sheltered us at night from the dews, and in the day-time from the sun. On either side of the river were the country houses and gardens of the inhabitants. The river was very muddy and the scenery not particularly interesting, so that we began to be somewhat disappointed. It was growing dark when we approached the entrance to the lakes. Sleep then overcame us, but our canoe-men continued paddling on at a slow pace during the night.

When we awoke in the morning we found ourselves in a scene so totally different that it seemed almost like enchantment. The mountains came sloping down from the sky to the very water’s edge, while numberless picturesque Indian villages, built of the very useful bamboo, lined the shores. Earthquakes prevailing in this region, has prevented the people erecting any lofty edifices, while a bamboo hut will stand any amount of shaking without being brought to the ground. By a hurricane, however, they are easily overthrown. Over the wide expanse of water, which was blue and clear like that of the ocean, fish of various sorts were rising to the surface, as if to look out for the appearance of the glorious sun over the mountain tops. As we pulled on, passing lofty headlands, or winding our way amid groups of islands, fresh expanses of the lake opened out before us. On the level spots, cornfields waved with grain, surrounded by cocoa-nut trees, affording shelter from the noonday sun. Numerous canoes were passing, with their white sails shining brightly over the blue expanse.

We landed at the head of the lake, into which other rivers ran, opening up a communication with the far-off parts of the island. Advancing, we passed through some shady lanes, bordered by hedges of bamboo, the graceful tops of which bent inwards, forming a complete arch overhead. In a little time we reached a neat village, the houses, with thatched roofs, looking clean and well-built. All, however, we learned, “is not gold that glitters.” We were advised not to proceed much further, as a body of banditti were said to be lurking in the neighbourhood, composed of deserters from the army and native Indians, and they would have considered us a rich prize. Probably they would have murdered us for the money we had about our persons, or for our clothes; or they might have adopted the more civilised plan, followed in Greece and Italy, of demanding a ransom.

“Oh, but they would not dare to attack Englishmen!” observed Emily.

“I am not so sure of that, young lady,” answered Mr Hooker. “They would probably make very little distinction between Englishmen and Spaniards, except, perhaps, that they might demand a higher ransom; and though it might be very romantic to be carried off among those mountains, and kept there till Captain Davenport could pay the required sum, I am afraid that none of us would find it very pleasant. However, as ‘discretion is the best part of valour,’ we will keep near our canoe, and make the best of our way, with the favourable breeze now blowing, back to the City of Cheroots.”

As we afterwards glided over the calm water, we saw some huge objects resting on a sand-bank. They looked like logs of wood; but as we came near, one of them began to move, and presently a huge pair of jaws were opened, as if the monster—for it was an alligator—was taking a yawn after his siesta.

The principal inhabitants of the capital are Spaniards or their descendants. The officers of the army are also Europeans. The rank and file, amounting to about eight thousand men, are natives. The aboriginal inhabitants are called Tagals. They are somewhat idle, though a good-natured, pleasure-loving race; are nominally Roman Catholics, but very superstitious and insincere. Their houses are formed of bamboo raised on piles, the interior covered by mats, on which the whole family sleep, with a mosquito curtain over them. The ornaments in their houses are generally a figure of the Virgin Mary, a crucifix, and their favourite game-cock. The men wear a pair of trousers of cotton or grass-cloth, with a shirt worn outside them, generally of striped silk or cotton, embroidered at the bosom. Cock-fighting is their chief amusement, as it is, indeed, among most of the people in all parts of the archipelago. It is a brutal sport, if sport it can be called. These people seem to treat their birds better than they do their wives; and so great is their passion for this abominable proceeding, that they will cheat and pilfer and commit all sorts of crimes in order to indulge it.

We visited a manufactory of cheroots, for which Manilla is celebrated. We were told that four thousand women, and half that number of men, were employed in this manufactory alone, while in the neighbourhood as many as nine thousand women and seven thousand men find employment in producing cigars. This will give you some idea of the immense amount of tobacco consumed in various parts of the world, as, of course, only a comparatively small quantity comes from Manilla. As we entered the building, our ears were almost deafened by the noise made by some hundreds of women seated on the floor, and hammering the tobacco leaves on a block with a mallet, to polish them for the outside leaf of cigars. In other rooms they were employed in rolling them up into the proper shape. Tobacco is a strict monopoly, and great care is taken, when the harvest is being gathered, to prevent any being carried off by the people. The leaves, when picked, are first placed undercover in heaps to ferment, then sorted into five classes, according to their size, and suspended in a current of air to dry. From the plantations it is sent under an escort to the factories round Manilla. It is there wet with water, or sometimes rum and vinegar, and made up as we first saw it, into rough cigars, and afterwards rolled into a more perfect form, and finished by another set of women. The refuse is made into cigarettes. Nearly the whole population—men, women, and children—smoke.

We saw the sugar-cane growing. Coffee also is almost wild, and large quantities of rice are exported to China. The cocoa-palm and the bamboo, as well as cacao, beans, indigo, silk, and cotton are produced. We were shown a species of banana, called abaca, the finer filaments of which, mixed with silk, are manufactured into native cloth. A rougher sort, called Manilla hemp, is made into rope, which, with the raw material, is largely exported. The most curious manufacture we saw, however, was that from the pine-apple leaf, which produces a fibre so fine and light, that the weaving operation must be carried on under water, as the least current of air will break it. The Tagal girls work it into handkerchiefs, which they richly embroider. These are greatly valued. A more substantial manufacture is produced from the thicker fibres, for dress pieces, which are also considered of great value. We saw also some beautiful mats made from strips of bamboo, and leaves of various trees, used for boat-sails, beds, or carpets. The hats and cigar-cases of Manilla are also of a beautiful style of manufacture.

Although I might have written a more interesting account of the country, I prefer giving this brief extract from my journal, that I may have more space to narrate the numerous adventures through which we afterwards passed.

Chapter Eight.

Cross the Sea of Celebes.

Once more we were free of islands, crossing the wide Celebes Sea. After the bracing climate of Japan, we felt the heat considerably. We had done so even when there was a breeze; it now fell calm. I scarcely before knew what a real calm at sea was. The ocean was literally as smooth as a sheet of glass—not the slightest swell was perceptible—not the faintest cat’s-paw played over the water. Some chips thrown overboard floated exactly where they had fallen; and hour after hour, as I looked over the side, there they were. Even a light vane of feathers fastened in the mizzen-rigging hung down. The smoke from the galley fire curled up in a thin blue wreath towards the sky, gradually growing thinner and thinner, but still visible to a great height. Far as the eye could reach, in the circle in the centre of which we floated, there was the same shining, unbroken surface; except when here and there some flying-fish leaped out of the translucent sea, or the fin of some monster of the deep appeared as he swam near the surface.

It was hot below—hotter even than on deck, where at all events we had the advantage of the open air. The smell of the cooking going forward in the caboose pervaded the ship; and we could easily guess how it would be under such circumstances when a fever breaks out on board—how impossible it must be to get rid of the infected atmosphere, unless perhaps by powerful and general fumigation. The seams in the deck began to splutter and hiss, and the pitch stuck to our feet as we walked about; while any piece of iron we touched seemed almost as hot as if it had been put in a furnace. We had a good supply of water on board; but it seemed, at the rate we drank it, we should soon consume our stock if this sort of weather continued.

The only person who seemed to enjoy himself thoroughly was Potto Jumbo. He smiled complacently as he looked about him when he came out of his sooty den, the hot sun striking down on his uncovered woolly pate, without having power to injure him. The Lascars appeared to suffer even more than the Englishmen from the heat. Merlin, wise dog, kept in the shade; but when he had to change his position, he went about with his mouth open, his tongue hanging out. A tub of water was placed for him in a shady spot, where he could go to quench his thirst as he might fancy—a wise arrangement for him, poor dog, and he did not fail to take advantage of it. He was not like some human beings, who turn up their noses when their friends take trouble to arrange matters for their convenience.

The English seamen went listlessly about the decks, clothed only in shirt and duck trousers. Though the human beings on board were oppressed with the beat, their caricatures and imitators, the monkeys, seemed thoroughly to enjoy themselves. Perhaps they were aware that nobody would take the trouble to go after them; so they had the rigging to themselves, and were now climbing and leaping about every part of it, now and then descending to the end of a rope to try to carry off a seaman’s hat, swinging themselves close to his head. Now two or three of them would make their way aft, and come and look down at Mr Hooker, whom most of them seemed to recognise as their master and owner. Their great pleasure, however, appeared to be to try and teaze Merlin. The old fellow, whenever they approached, opened his eyes and watched them with looks of astonishment, in no way offended at the tricks they tried to play him. Now one would come down and endeavour to catch hold of his tail; a second would jump down on his back, but would be off again before he had time almost to turn his head. Had he chosen, I am sure he could have caught one or two of the most daring, and would soon with his powerful jaws have made an end of them; but he disdained to take offence at their puny efforts to annoy him, and continued to treat them with the greatest good humour.

The Lascars were below, or asleep in the shade under the topgallant-forecastle. I made my way to the caboose, where Potto Jumbo was singing merrily, though the heat was sufficient to cook the dinner, one would suppose, without the aid of the fire. Macco had been appointed to attend on him as cook’s mate. The arrangement appeared to please both parties, for Potto was always good-natured, and Macco obedient, and apparently anxious to learn his duties.

“Dere, Macco, you go get bucket of water, and scrape dem ’tatoes, and wash dem well,” he said, pointing to the shady side of the ship, or rather what was then the shady side, for as she was continually moving round, that was as often shifting; indeed, so directly almost over our heads was the sun, that there was very little shade at all. “I want to tell you someting, Massa Walter,” said Potto; “so I send dat black fellow away.” (Macco was many shades lighter than the cook; still he always persisted in calling him “dat black fellow.”) “I wish de captain had put Ali and his people on shore at Singapore. Dey again plot mischief. I hear dem talky, talky, when dey no tink I listen, just as before. What dey intend to do I do not ’xactly know; but it is mischief, I know dat. Dey no set de ship on fire again; but perhaps dey try to cast her away, or to scuttle her, or some oder ting. Massa Walter, dare are many pirate ships out in dese parts; and de last place we touch at, I know Ali talky wid some black fellows, and me tink he told dem to follow de ship, and dat he will help to let dem come on board and take her.”

“But why did you not tell Mr Thudicumb or the captain this?” I said.

“Dey tink I fond of finding mares’ nests,” he answered. “De captain believe Ali when he say before dat he took boat to help ladies; and he no believe dat he set de ship on fire,” was the black’s answer.

“Well, Potto, I will tell Mr Thudicumb what you say, as before, and I am very sure he will attend to your advice. I think the captain believed you before more than you supposed; though, had he been persuaded that Ali had set fire to the ship, he would decidedly have got him and those who assisted him punished. He has been somewhat over-lenient, however; there can be little doubt about that.”

“De captain good man, no doubt about dat; too good for dis world, and for manage such rascal as Ali Tomba and his people.”

“Well, Potto,” said I, “I believe you, at all events; but if you have nothing more to say, I must try to find a cooler spot than this. I am almost roasted, and feel that I could not stand it many minutes longer.”

“No; I have told all I know,” said Potto. “But you just say to Mr Thudicumb, he be wise man, and keep his weather eye open.”

As I began to move off, Potto shouted out,—“Come here, Macco, you black rascal; be quick wid dem ’tatoes.” They were the sweet potato roots of which he spoke, by the by.

On going aft, I told Mr Thudicumb what I had heard. He thought for a few minutes.

“I suspect, Walter,” he observed, “the black is right. However, twelve men, let them be ever so cunning, cannot do us much harm, unless they again attempt to set the ship on fire. I never doubted that Ali had a hand in that before, though the captain would not believe it. At all events, if I had had my way, I should have got rid of him and his crew at the first opportunity.”

Soon after this the mate was engaged in conversation with the captain. I saw that my kind friend looked somewhat annoyed. He had made up his mind that Ali was honest, and that Potto Jumbo was fanciful, and I suspect did not like to be compelled to alter his opinion. He soon afterwards called me up, and cross-questioned me on the subject. He had a good deal to make him anxious. The navigation of the seas through which we were sailing is as difficult as that of any part of the world. Pirates also swarmed in all directions; and though they might not venture to attack so large a ship as ours while we were under sail, they might perhaps, should they find her at anchor, and be able to get round us in sufficient force to give them a prospect of success. There were also considerable difficulties in carrying on the trade in the places we were to visit, as both the Spaniards and Dutch were sure to throw every impediment in our way, their policy being to monopolise as far as they could the whole of the trade of these regions. Several times the captain went into his cabin to examine the barometer.

“Thudicumb,” he said, when he came out, “the glass is falling slowly and regularly. Depend upon it, this calm is not going to last. We will shorten sail at once. There is no use in having all this canvas hanging from the yards; and when the breeze does come, it will come quick and sharp. It may be only an ordinary gale, but I rather think it will be something considerably heavier.”

Mr Thudicumb immediately issued the order to the watch on deck to shorten sail. Some of the men looked about them with an astonished glance; but, accustomed to obey orders, they asked no questions, and the ship was soon under her three topsails, closely reefed, and jib.

“Whatever comes now, we shall be ready for it,” observed the captain.

Still the calm continued, and the heat, if anything, was greater than ever. The ladies were sitting on deck, keeping as cool as they could under their sun-shades, when Mr Hooker returned from below, and spread a map out before them.

“Here, Walter,” he said, turning to me, as I was standing near him, “it being my watch on deck, I am going to give a lecture; you may as well come and benefit by it. Here is a chart of the seas through which we are sailing. See bow vast is this Malayan Archipelago! Putting out Australia, it covers an area far larger than the whole of Europe; indeed, from east to west it is fully 4000 miles in length, and 3200 miles from north to south. Look at Borneo: the whole of the British Isles might be put down inside it, and yet leave a wide extent of country on every side. New Guinea is even larger; and Sumatra is fully equal to Great Britain. Then we have Java, Luzon, and Celebes, each as large as Ireland. I think we could pick out eighteen or more the size of Jamaica; and a hundred, of which none are smaller and many considerably larger than the Isle of Wight. Now, some people hold to the opinion that all these islands were at one time joined to the continent of Asia. I, however, believe that though a portion of them were, that the eastern part was united to Australia, and appeared above the surface of the water at a later period, forming a vast Pacific continent. We have thus three regions—Borneo, Java, and Sumatra—that have only a shallow sea separating them from each other and from Asia. Between Borneo and Celebes there is, however, a deep sea; as there is between Celebes and numerous islands to the east and south of it, including Sumbowa, Flores, Timor, Gilolo, Seram, Bouro, and many others of smaller size. New Guinea, again, with the Aru Islands, are separated from Australia by a very shallow sea; and it is remarkable that the animals found in these three regions differ considerably from each other. Many of those found in Australia and New Guinea are different from those found in Celebes, and the other islands surrounded by deep water. They, again, differ from the animals found in Borneo, Java, and Sumatra, which are mostly identical with those of Asia.

“A striking contrast will also be found in the scenery of the islands of volcanic and non-volcanic origin. A volcanic belt passes from the north, through the Philippine Islands, down to the north end of Celebes. There is then a break; and again it commences in the island of Gilolo, passing through Borneo, Seram, and Banda, down to Timor; then through Flores, sweeping round to Java, where there is an immense number of volcanoes. The island of Java contains more volcanoes, active and quiescent, than any other known district of equal extent. There exist forty-five at least, averaging 10,000 feet in height. Volcanoes, you must understand, have been raised up by the accumulation of matter ejected by themselves, consisting of mud, ashes, and lava. Frequently, although a mountain has been thrown up by volcanic action, no opening appears, though probably one will be found in the neighbourhood. Thus Java is entirely volcanic. In most instances volcanoes are found near the sea, when the materials of the mighty mound have been drawn from the surrounding surface, and into the hollow below formed by their abstraction the water has rushed: thus, although the sea might not have been there previously, a strait or gulf has been produced. At the very centre of the great curve of volcanoes I have described, is found the large island of Borneo; and yet there no sign of recent volcanic action has been observed, while earthquakes are entirely unknown. In New Guinea, also, no sign of volcanic action is known to exist: except at the east end of Celebes, the whole island is free from volcanoes. In my opinion, this volcanic action did not commence till a comparatively late period, so that it has not succeeded in obliterating altogether the traces of a more ancient distribution of land and water.

“I must now give you a short description of the contrasts in the vegetation of this interesting region. We shall find a great portion of the islands clothed with a rich forest vegetation almost to the summit of their highest mountains. This is the rule with regard to all the islands on the west. When we reach Timor, however, we find the eucalypti, and other trees characteristic of Australia. In Timor they seldom reach any great height, being dried up by the hot wind which, lasting for nearly two-thirds of the year, blows from the northern parts of that vast island. In New Guinea, the trade-winds blow from the Pacific. New Guinea, however, is freer from their influence, and is therefore covered by a rich and damp vegetation, the forest trees growing to a great height and size.

“By examining the zoology of these countries, we find evidence that the islands we have been speaking about must at one time have formed a part either of Asia or of a vast southern continent which embraced New Guinea and Australia. In Borneo we find the elephant and tapir; and in Sumatra both these animals, as well as the rhinoceros, and the wild cattle which are known to inhabit some part or other of Southern Asia: showing that at one time there must have been land communication with that continent, as those animals could not possibly have swam over the straits which now separate them. A large number of the smaller mammals are common to each island as well as to the continent. Birds and insects also found on the islands exist on the Asiatic continent. It might be supposed that birds would easily pass over narrow arms of the sea; but this is not so. With the exception of the aquatic tribes, what are called the perching birds will never cross the sea; and thus it is certain that they, as well as animals, must have existed on those islands before they were separated from the continent. The Philippine Islands possess many of the birds which are found in Asia; but at the same time there are other indications which show that they must have been separated from the continent at an earlier period than the other islands to the west.

“Now I wish you to observe that the numerous islands to the east of Celebes and Lombok have a strong resemblance to Australia and New Guinea, as much indeed as the western islands have to Asia. Australia is a very remarkable country. It is, indeed, in several respects, unlike any other part of the world. It possesses no tigers or wolves or bears or hyenas; no elephants, squirrels, or rabbits; nor, indeed, any mammals, except such as have been introduced almost within the memory of man, such as horses, sheep, or oxen. It has, however, what are called marsupials: kangaroos, opossums, wombats, and the duck-billed platypus. Instead also of the various birds which exist in other parts of the world, it has the mound-making brush-turkeys, the cockatoos, and the brush-tongued lories, as well as honey-suckers, to be found in no other part of the world. These peculiarities are discovered in the other islands I have mentioned, forming the Austro-Malayan division of the archipelago. Looking down to the south-east of Java, we shall find the small island of Bali. It is divided from the east part of the island of Lombok by a narrow strait, where the water is very deep, showing, as I have said, that the separation must have taken place at an early period of the world’s existence. Now in Bali we find woodpeckers, fruit-thrushes, barbets, and other Asiatic birds. Crossing this narrow strait to Lombok, the birds I have mentioned are no longer to be found; but instead of them there are brush-turkeys, cockatoos, honey-suckers, and other Australian birds. These birds again are not to be found in Java or any region to the west. Crossing from Borneo to Celebes, there is a very great difference in the animals. In Borneo, a vast number of various species of monkeys exist, as well as wild cats, deer, otters, civets, and squirrels. In Celebes, wild pigs are found, and scarcely any other terrestrial mammal, besides the prehensile-tailed cuscus.

“Thus, when we pass from the western to the eastern islands, we feel ourselves almost in a new region, so greatly do the four-footed and feathered tribes we find in the one differ from those we have left in the other. The Aru Islands and others in the neighbourhood agree in many respects with New Guinea, from which vast island a shallow sea alone separates them. Possessing this knowledge, a naturalist would soon be able to learn whether he had landed on one of the islands of the Asiatic or Australian portion of the archipelago, judging alone by the animals he might discover.”

Mr Hooker’s lecture, of which I have only given a brief outline, was suddenly interrupted by the voice of the captain shouting, “Up with the helm!—square away the yards!” I flew to my station. Looking astern, there appeared a long line of white foam, rushing forward over the hitherto calm surface of the ocean at a rapid rate, while clouds came rising out of the horizon, and chasing each other across the blue sky, over which a thick veil of mist seemed suddenly to have been drawn. In a few seconds a fierce blast struck the ship, making her heel over to starboard in a way which seemed as if it was about to take the masts out of her. Mrs Davenport clung to the cabin skylight, on which she was sitting. It was with difficulty we could save Emily and Grace from being carried away to leeward; indeed, they both cried out with terror, so suddenly had the gale broken on us.

Down, down the tall ship lay. It seemed as if she would never rise. The watch below rushed up on deck, looks of dismay on the countenances of many. The captain shouted to Mr Thudicumb, “Get the axes ready!” and pointed significantly to the mizzen-mast. The first officer repeated the order; and Mr Tarbox was seen coming along, axe in hand, followed by the carpenter and several of his crew. There was no time to be lost, it seemed. I could not help dreading lest another similar blast should send the ship over, and the sea, rushing up her decks, carry her to the bottom. The rudder had lost its power, being nearly out of the water, so that no means but the desperate one to which we were about to have recourse remained for getting the ship before the wind. The risk of those on deck being injured by the falling of the mast was very great. I made my way up to where my sister, with Mrs Davenport and Grace, were clinging to the cabin skylight, in order to conduct them below. The captain shouted to Mr Hooker, and signed to him to assist me. Unless, however, I had been aided by the second mate, I could scarcely have done so.

As soon as I had seen them into the cabin, I sprang again on deck. The sharp sound of the axe as it struck the mizzen-mast was heard at that moment. The shrouds on either side were cut, and over the mast fell into the foaming water. Still the ship lay as before. “It must be done, Thudicumb!” the captain cried, and this time the mate himself approached the mast, and stood with gleaming axe uplifted, ready to strike. The hurricane howled round us. Every instant the seas increased in height and fury, the spoon-drift from their summits driving in showers over our deck. The sea came rushing up every instant higher and higher over the lee bulwarks, up almost to the hatchways. The captain gave another glance to windward. Still the rudder did not act. “Cut!” he shouted, his voice sounding high above the roar of the blast. Mr Thudicumb’s glancing axe descended, while at the same moment the boatswain cut the weather shrouds; and as the mast fell over, several brave fellows sprang to leeward to divide those on the lee side. Still the ship lay helpless on the foaming water.

One more hope remained—the foremast must go; should the ship then be unable to rise, our doom must be sealed. Anxiously we all watched the captain. Again he looked to windward, carrying his glance round on every side. His hand was raised to his mouth, apparently about to give the same ominous order as before, when suddenly the ship rose up from her dangerous position; and now, feeling the power of the helm, away she flew before the fierce hurricane. Hour after hour we continued our course, wherever the wind sent us—chiefly, however, towards the east. It was impossible, with the fearful sea there was then running, to attempt to raise jury-masts. Should land appear ahead, we knew too well that there was every probability of our being cast on it. We might anchor, and with the masts gone, the anchors might possibly hold, but we could scarcely indulge in that hope—indeed, few on board had any expectation of escaping shipwreck.

Again and again the captain examined his chart. It could not, however, be entirely depended on. A bright look-out was, of course, kept ahead, that whatever danger there might be in our course might be discovered as soon as possible, and such efforts made as good seamanship might dictate to avoid it. The time was a very trying one. I should have been anxious had I no one I cared for on board, but I dreaded the danger to which my dear sister Emily might be exposed, and I felt, too, for Mrs Davenport and Grace. Men can more easily escape from shipwreck, and if cast on a desert island are better able to rough it, than females; but what hope would there be of two young girls escaping with their lives, should we be cast on shore? I had not forgotten either the remarks Potto Jumbo had made about the Lascars. I could not help fancying that they all had a more than usually sulky manner. When ordered to do any duty, they generally gave a scowling glance towards the officers, and performed it in a slovenly, indifferent manner.

Darkness came on, and still the wind blew as hard as ever, and the ship flew on before it. I had been on deck for many hours, and it was my watch below, and in spite of the danger we were in, I could scarcely keep my eyes open. Even, however, when I laid my head on the pillow, I knew that any moment I might be awakened by the fearful crashing of the ship striking on a coral reef, with the sound of our remaining mast going by the board. Before going to sleep, however, I went into the cabin, and entreated the ladies to lie down. Emily and Grace said they would, and Mrs Davenport urged them to do so, but I found that she had no intention herself of sleeping. She would, I guessed, sit up, and watch and pray for her young charges. I, however, was scarcely in my berth before I was fast asleep, in spite of the loud roaring of the seas, the wild motion of the ship, and the howling of the wind in the fore-rigging.

Chapter Nine.

The Moluccas.

Wonderful was the change which I found had taken place when I returned on deck. The sun was shining brightly, the wind had fallen to a moderate breeze. The sea, though heaving and dancing, sparkling brightly in the sunbeams, had gone down considerably, but still blew from the same quarter as before. The ship was standing to the east.

“We have passed through the Straits of Banca, and are crossing the Molucca passage,” said Mr Thudicumb, of whom I asked whereabouts we were. “The captain proposes making for Ternate, which belongs to the Dutch. We may hope there to get new masts—at all events, it is the nearest place which we can reach with the wind as it is at present, and have any hope of getting the ship put to rights.”

All day long we were busily employed in repairing damages as far as we could. I had but little time to exchange a word with Emily. I was thankful to find, however, that she and Grace had quite recovered their spirits, though they owned that they had been greatly frightened during the hurricane.

“Still it is a comfort, Walter, to know that there is One who always watches over us, and does everything for the best. If he had thought fit to allow the ship to founder, I am very sure he would have had good reason for so doing. Still, as I know he wishes us to pray for blessings, I was praying all the time that we might be preserved, and especially that no accident might happen to you, my dear brother. Oh, how I thought of you when you were on deck, and the storm was blowing and the masts being cut away, knowing the fearful danger to which you were exposed.”

It was soon after sunrise one morning, when, a light mist clearing away, before us appeared, at some distance from each other, several lofty conical mountains rising as it were directly out of the sea, while beyond them was seen a line of blue land, extending north and south as far as the eye could reach.

“You see that peak ahead, Walter,” said Captain Davenport to me. “That is the island of Ternate, to which we are bound. To the right of it is Tidore. All those peaks are volcanic; and some of them, I believe, occasionally throw up flames. The land we see beyond is the large island of Gilolo—a strange land, I believe, but very little is known about it.”

A light breeze carried us on over the calm blue sea; when at length, entering between the two islands I have mentioned, the town of Ternate appeared in sight, stretching along the shores at the very base of the mountain.

“This is indeed beautiful!” exclaimed Emily, who just then came on deck, as she gazed up at the rugged promontories and the lofty volcanic cone of Tidore on one side, with the high mountain of Ternate on the other, while numerous other peaks rose on the neighbouring islands, as well as on the larger island in the distance. Immediately behind the town appeared thick groves of forest trees; indeed, vegetation was seen rising to the very summit of the cone, and it was difficult to believe that, from that calm and beautiful mountain, occasionally lava, streams burst forth; and produced destruction on every side.

A large amount of sago, massoi bark, tortoise-shell, tripang, and paradise birds are brought over from Papua, and shipped at Ternate. A tax, however, is placed on the exportation of paradise birds, which is paid to the Sultan of Tidore, whose predecessors ruled these islands. The paradise birds are chiefly sent to China, where they are highly valued. Above our heads, as we looked up, we saw the lofty summit of the mountain of Ternate, from whence, amid the luxuriant vegetation which surrounds its sides, columns of smoke are for ever rising towards the blue sky above—indeed, the whole island is simply a lofty volcano, the base of which is beneath the ocean. Its circumference at the shore line is about six miles, and its height 5400 feet. Several severe and destructive eruptions have taken place at different times. The last occurred only a short time before we were there. The lava poured forth and flowed down its sides into the sea, loud thunders were heard, smoke and ashes rose up, and hot stones fell like hail on every side, setting fire to the dead wood which, after so long a rest, had completely grown over the ground, and causing it at night to assume the appearance of one vast mountain of flame. For fifteen hours the solid ground rolled like a wave of the sea. Fort Orange, which had withstood numberless earthquakes for two centuries and a quarter, was almost overwhelmed. The people betook themselves to their boats, for the ocean and land seemed to have exchanged natures; the water being calm, while the land was heaving and gaping like a stormy sea.

Captain Davenport had been unwell for some time. He was acquainted with a wealthy Dutch merchant in the place, who invited him and his wife and daughter to take up their residence at his country house while the ship remained in the harbour. They of course said they could not leave Emily, who therefore accompanied them. Mr Hooker also went on shore, but engaged a house at a little distance from the town, where he could pursue his researches in natural history more uninterruptedly than in the town. He lost no time in sending out hunters in all directions to procure specimens. The various specimens which he already possessed were landed, that he might also re-arrange them. I paid him one or two visits, and found him enjoying his existence excessively. His house had of course only one floor: the walls for five feet were of stone; the roof was supported above them on strong squared posts, the interval being filled in with the leaf-stems of the sago-palm fitted in wooden framings. The ceilings were of the same material. The floor was of stucco. There was a centre hall, with three rooms opening off it on one side and one on the other; while on two other sides were broad verandahs, serving as cool drawing-rooms, or sleeping-places, perhaps, in the hotter months.

This island was at one time in possession of the Portuguese, who were said to have tyrannised over the natives. They were driven out by the Dutch, who are themselves accused of not being over careful of the well-being of the people they conquered. This island and several in a line to the south of it are known as the Moluccas, or Spice Islands. It was the original country of the clove, and here alone it was cultivated. Although the early visitors procured nutmegs and mace from the inhabitants, these were brought over from New Guinea, and the neighbouring islands, where they grew wild. The early voyagers made such enormous profits by their cargoes of spices from these regions, that they were able to give in exchange, jewels, gold, and the richest manufactures, which they brought from Europe or India. When, however, the Dutch took possession of the country they determined to confine the production to one or two islands, over which they could keep a strict watch, in order completely to confine the monopoly to themselves. They chose the island of Banda for the cultivation of nutmegs, and fixed on Amboyna for the production of the clove. The cultivation of the nutmeg in Banda has been eminently successful, but that of the clove in Amboyna has scarcely paid its expenses; the soil and climate of that island not suiting it as well as the regions where it was first found. The object of the Dutch has been to keep the monopoly of the sale of spices in their own hands, and thus to raise the price. They have therefore compelled the native chiefs to destroy the spice trees growing in their territories wherever they have been able to do so. To induce them to do this, they paid to each a fixed subsidy, the chiefs indeed being therefore somewhat the gainers. Formerly their sultan kept the trade solely in his own hands, and he was far more tyrannical than the Portuguese or Dutch. When our own circumnavigator Drake visited these islands, he purchased his cargo from the sultan, not from the native cultivators. As I walked about Ternate I felt satisfied that I should not at all wish to take up my abode there, for in every direction were seen the ruins of massive stone or brick buildings of every description which had been overwhelmed by earthquakes; indeed, considering the frequency of their occurrence, it is surprising that people should be willing to remain in the island. I, of course, was not able to see much of the country, as I was compelled to be on board, the more so as several of the crew were ill, and had been removed on shore, where the merchant I spoke of had them kindly looked after. We had great difficulty in getting a mast of sufficient size to replace the mainmast we had lost. At length, however, we got both our lower masts in, and we hoped, in the course of a week, should Captain Davenport and the rest of the crew be sufficiently recovered, to continue our voyage.

One evening when work was over, Mr Thudicumb, with the second mate and several of the men, went on shore, leaving the ship under charge of the boatswain, with about a dozen Englishmen and the Lascars. I, having been on shore several times, agreed also to remain to assist Mr Tarbox. The weather had for some time been threatening, but the clouds had passed away, and the sky again become serene. That evening the same appearances occurred. I should say that at Ternate a number of people of different nations are collected together. The most numerous, probably, are the Chinese, and their curious little boats are seen skimming about in all directions. There are traders from all parts of the East, so that the harbour at times presents a very animated appearance. I was on deck with Mr Tarbox, when looking out we saw a thick mass of clouds come rolling up suddenly on every side of the mountains.

“I wish Mr Thudicumb and the mate were on board,” he said to me; “I don’t like the look of things. We must veer away more cable and get another anchor over the bows. See, the Chinamen begin to think there is something in it.”

As he spoke, a number of Chinese and other boats were seen pulling in for the land; before, however, they could reach it, a loud roaring sound was heard, and in an instant the whole ocean seemed torn up by some mighty power, and a fierce blast broke down upon us. The vessels in the harbour were seen endeavouring to secure themselves as well as they could; but in a few minutes numbers were driven together, grinding and striking against each other, while they were sent by the fury of the sea towards the shore. The boats, tossed like cockle-shells, appeared every instant as if about to be overwhelmed by the ocean; many were capsized close to us, but we could render no assistance. Every instant the sea rose higher and higher, till we could scarcely see the shore beyond it. The ship, however, held well to her anchors. It was fortunate for us we had no top gear aloft, or the case might have been different.

“I only hope Mr Thudicumb and the rest are safe on shore,” I observed to Dick Tarbox.

“They will not attempt to come off while this gale is blowing.”

In a short time, a fearful havoc was made with the various craft in the harbour. Around us wrecks strewed the sea in every direction; here and there poor fellows swimming for their lives, some holding on to pieces of planks and spars. Many sank before our eyes. Boat after boat was upset. Some, however, rode over the seas in gallant style, the men on board pulling bravely. The fury of the gale increased. We veered out more cable. Night at length coming on, added to the wild horrors of the scene. Now, as a vessel drove past us, we could hear the shrieks and cries of the unhappy crew as they were carried to destruction. Such, in spite of the size of our stout ship, might be our fate should the anchors not hold.

Suddenly the wind dropped; still the sea continued to leap and foam around us.

“It will be all right, I hope,” I said to Mr Tarbox. “These hurricanes seldom last long, I fancy.”

“Not quite so certain of that, Walter,” he observed. “I don’t like the look of the sky even now.” Once more examining the cables, he walked with me aft, from whence we could better see the shore.

“Hark! what is that roaring?” I said. It seemed as if a blast was sweeping over the land, hurling down trees and buildings and all impediments in its course. “Can it be an earthquake? Oh! what will become of my sister and those on shore?”

“No, it is no earthquake,” answered the boatswain; “it is the hurricane shifting its quarter.”

As he spoke, the wind struck the ship with redoubled force. She swung round before it; still, knowing that our anchors had been holding, and our cables strong, we had little fear of receiving damage, as the sea, at all events, with the change of wind, would subside instead of being increased. Suddenly, however, a peculiar sound was heard, as of a chain running out. The boatswain rushed forward, and I followed him; but we were only just in time to see the end of the chain cables flying through the hawse-holes, and away the ship drifted out of the harbour.

“That did not happen by chance,” exclaimed Tarbox; “it is the work of those Lascars. Quick, lads, for your lives!” shouted the boatswain. “Range our spare cable! Get the second bower-anchor from the hold!—Now you, Ali Tomba, see that your men work,” he added, turning to the serang.

The English seamen worked away energetically; but in the dark it was a difficult business to get up the heavy anchor and chain cable. The Lascars were apparently assisting as zealously as the rest of the crew. Some accident or other was, however, continually occurring; and before the anchor could be got up and the cable ranged, the ship was in the centre of the channel, driving away at a rapid rate out to sea. At length the anchor was got ready for letting go. Scarcely, however, had it been got over the bows than with a loud splash it fell into the water free of the chain.

“Ali Tomba, you or your people have played us that trick!” exclaimed the boatswain.

The serang made no answer, but a cry of mocking laughter was heard from several quarters. Roger Trew, lead in hand, flew to the chains. He gave one heave. “No bottom,” he cried. “We cannot bring up even if we wish!”

I asked the boatswain what he proposed doing. “We ought to punish those Lascars, for they have played us that trick,” I observed.

“Little use to attempt to do that, Walter,” he answered. “If I was a navigator I might know more about it, but my only notion is to let the ship drive. When the hurricane is over, we must try to do our best to regain the harbour.”

“I am not much of a navigator yet,” I observed, “but I will look at the captain’s chart, and see whereabouts we are going. We shall, at all events, better know then what to do.”

“Ah, there’s nothing like learning,” observed Tarbox; “I wish I had more of it. What a seaman can do I will do, and with your help, Walter, we may still weather this gale.”

I hurried into the cabin, and soon found the chart. It afforded me but little satisfaction, however. We were driving to the southward, but several islands were in our course. We might escape them, but if driven against them, our destruction would be certain. With sails unbent, and short-handed as we were, we could scarcely hope to be able to get under the lee of one of the islands.

“We must try it, though,” said Tarbox. “We have another anchor and cable, and that will hold us well enough in a moderate breeze with land to windward, unless these Lascar fellows play us another trick. I should like to clap them all in irons at once.”

I agreed with him, but as we only mustered twelve men besides ourselves, and they numbered eleven, it would be no easy matter to do so, especially as they would probably be prepared for an attack. I, however, advised the boatswain to keep all our people together, that in case the Lascars purposed our destruction, we might not, at all events, be cut off in detail. He agreed to the wisdom of this caution, and sent Roger Trew to get the people together.

Our position was indeed a very fearful one. The hurricane seemed rather to increase in strength than to cease. On, on we drove. The helm was put up, and we scudded before it, the dark seas rising on either hand hissing and foaming, and every moment seeming about to overwhelm us. I could not help feeling also great anxiety about those we had left on shore. Even should they have escaped injury, I felt how anxious Captain Davenport would be when he found that the ship had disappeared; and Emily, too, how great would be her grief at the thought that I was probably lost. What the Lascars were about, I could not tell. Our people remained aft, while they kept forward. I have gone through many trying scenes, but that was decidedly one of the most trying. We felt it the more because we were personally safe. We could walk about and take our food, but at the same time we were every moment expecting destruction. I was soon to be in a far more dangerous position, but then I was looking out, hoping to be saved.

The morning at length broke. We saw the Lascars clustered forward. What they were about to do we could not tell. Still we drove on. Land appeared on either hand in the far distance. It was evident that we were between two islands. The chart showed me that one was Gilolo, and the other the island of Batchian. The want of sails prevented our taking the ship into some sheltered place which we might hope to find on one side or the other.

“We must either compel the Lascars to assist us in bending sails and getting the anchor ready, or attack them and drive them overboard,” said the boatswain to me.

“That cannot be done without bloodshed, I fear,” I answered, “for they are armed as well as we are.”

Thus the two parties remained watching each other. Our men were eager to make a dash forward and attack the Lascars, but the boatswain restrained them.

“Wait a bit, lads,” he said; “maybe they will attack us, and then, if we beat them, as I am very sure we shall, we shall not have their blood on our hands. Depend upon it, if they slipped the cables—and I am very sure they did—they did not expect the hurricane to continue so long as it has done. They wish it over as much as we do; and, like many other villains, in attempting to work us injury they are likely enough to bring destruction on their own heads.”

Hour after hour passed by, and once more the land seemed to recede from us, and we were in the open sea. The wind had slightly gone down, but still it blew with fearful violence. Again darkness was stealing over us. Our deck presented a strange appearance—a very sad one, in truth. The small number of human beings there collected, instead of helping each other, stood prepared for a desperate fight. Possibly, if it had not been for the Lascars, we might long since have been anchored in safety. I saw by the chart that several small islands, rocks, and shoals lay ahead. Should we escape them? There was the question. Several times the boatswain, or Roger Trew, or one of the other men, had ascended the main rigging to look ahead in search of land. However, so high did the sea run, that we might be close upon an island, unless it was a high one, without discovering it.

The increasing darkness now prevented us seeing beyond the bowsprit. All we could do, therefore, was to steer as we had hitherto done before the sea, to escape its breaking on board us. We had scarcely eaten anything for some hours, when the boatswain advised us to take some food. “Whatever happens, we have work before us; and we must keep the strength in our bodies,” he observed. Fortunately there was a good supply in the cabin, and half our party went down at a time to sup, leaving the others on guard on deck. All hands had just taken a hearty meal, when, as we were collected together on the quarter-deck, just below the poop, the sound a seaman most dreads—the roar of breakers—struck our ears. We all listened attentively. There could be no doubt about it. It was far deeper and louder than the roaring of the sea against our sides. I held my breath; so I suspect did every one round me.

“What is it, Mr Walter?” asked Oliver, who was standing close to me.

“Some of us will meet with watery graves before many minutes are over,” said the boatswain, “unless Providence works a miracle to save the ship.”

Scarcely had he spoken when we felt the ship rising to a heavy sea, then down she came with a crash which made every timber in her quiver and shake.

“To the main rigging!” cried the boatswain, seizing me by the collar. I saw Roger Trew seize Oliver in the same way. “Quick, quick, lads! or the next sea will wash you off the deck,” cried the boatswain.

We sprang into the shrouds, and climbed up, up, up into the pitchy darkness. Scarcely were we off the deck than a huge sea came rolling up, sweeping everything before it. The Lascars had done as we had set them the example, and numbers of dark forms were seen swarming up the rigging into the fore-top. Another and another sea followed. No longer could we distinguish the deck below us, so completely overwhelmed was it by the raging waters. Higher and higher they rose. The masts swayed about as if on the point of falling. Fearful, indeed, was the scene. The boatswain, getting into the top, helped me up, and I found myself seated with Oliver by my side. We could just distinguish the foremast through the gloom, the sea rising almost to cover the top to which the Lascars were clinging, curling over them as if to drag them from their perches.

Perilous as was our position, a cry escaped our men as we saw the foremast begin to totter. Another sea came and over it went, carrying the shrieking wretches clinging to it away in its embrace. Though good swimmers, in vain they attempted to reach the mainmast. The next sea swept them away to leeward. Their fate might be ours, however, any moment. We all knew that very well. With what desperate energy did we cling to that lone mast in the midst of the raging ocean. As we looked round our eyes could not pierce the thick gloom, nor ascertain whether any land was near. Oliver Farwell was clinging on next to me. The other men had secured themselves round the mast, others to the top. No one spoke; indeed it seemed to all of us that our last moments had arrived. Every instant we expected to be hurled off from our unstable resting-place, as the seas dashed with redoubled fury against the wreck. We could hear the vessel breaking up below us, and we all well knew that in a short time the mast itself must go for want of support.

Scarcely had one roaring wave passed under us than another followed. Above our heads was a dark, murky sky, below and around the foaming sea. Even the best manned life-boat could scarcely have lived amid that foaming mass of water.

“It is very terrible!” I could not help exclaiming.

“Trust in God,” said a voice near me.

Oliver Farwell spoke.

“I do, Oliver, I do,” I answered.

“Right, Mr Walter,” he said. “If he thinks fit he can find a way for us to escape.”

“Hold on, lads, even though the mast gives way!” shouted the boatswain. “The mast will float us, and maybe carry us to some pleasant shore. Daylight will come in time, and show us whereabouts we are. Never fear, lads.”

“Ay, ay,” answered several voices. “We will cling to the mast as long as our fingers can gripe hold of it.”

“Hold on, Oliver, hold on!” I said. “Don’t you feel as if the mast was going?”

Scarcely had I uttered the words when another sea came rolling up. It struck the shattered wreck like a huge hammer. In an instant it seemed as if all her timbers had parted. A cry rose from many of the sturdy men on the top. Over bent the mast. Now it swayed on one side, now on the other, and then with a crash down it sunk into the boiling ocean. I thought that I had been holding on securely, but at that instant a sea swept by, catching the end to which I clung. I felt myself torn from my grasp, and was carried far away off amid the seething waters.

Chapter Ten.

A desert island is reached.

As I was washed away from the mainmast a cry from Oliver reached my ears. I knew by this that he too had been carried off by the sea. I sprang towards him. “I will save him or perish!” I thought, “as I did once before.” He had not been idle since his first accident, and had done his best to become a swimmer. He kept up boldly. I urged him to try and recover the mast, but when we looked round we could discover it on neither side. Now I felt myself carried to the summit of a sea, to be hurled over again on the other side. I had little hope of escape, but still I resolved to struggle to the last. Oliver swam bravely by my side, but I knew from the exertions he was making that he could not long continue them.

“Oh, I am sinking! I am sinking!” he cried out suddenly. I caught him by the collar. At that instant, as I put out my hand, I felt it grasp a hard object. It was a large spar. I threw myself on it, dragging Oliver with me. With great difficulty I hauled him on to it, but so violent was the agitation of the sea that we could scarcely retain our hold. It seemed to me that we were driving onwards, carried perhaps by some current, but that might have been fancy. Again and again I looked out, in the hopes of seeing the mast. Every instant I feared that Oliver would again be washed off, but the foaming sea around and the dark sky above was all I could discern. I put out my hand, and caught hold of a rope which was secured to the spar. The end of this I passed round Oliver’s body, fastening myself with another portion. Still, though I kept my head well out of water, the sea was so continually breaking over us that we were almost drowned, even though clinging to the spar. I do not pretend that I thought of much at the moment but my own safety and that of my companion, but the thoughts of my old friend, Dick Tarbox, and Roger Trew, as well as indeed of the other men, did come across my mind. I felt very sad, for I was afraid that they had been washed off, and had not been so fortunate as we were, in getting hold of a spar. Strange as it may seem, I scarcely for a moment expected to lose my own life. In a cold climate I do not think I could have held on as I did, but the sea was warm, and I did not feel in any way benumbed.

The previous part of the night had appeared very long; this, however, seemed far longer. I often felt very sleepy, but I was afraid, if I gave way to sleep, that I should lose my hold, and resisted the influence. Had I been alone, I felt that I should not have held on, neither perhaps could Oliver Farwell, but we encouraged each other. We did not say much, but not a minute during the whole night passed without our exchanging a word or two.

At length I began to hope that the sea was going down: indeed, after a little time it appeared evident that the water was calmer. It did not break over our heads so frequently as at first. I thought with what joy we should welcome the first streaks of day. At length, as we rose to the top of a sea, we caught sight of the sun himself rising above the horizon. The clouds had cleared away, the wind had almost completely fallen. How gloriously the sun shot upwards in the clear blue sky. Still the ocean rose and fell considerably. As we again reached the top of a billow, I caught sight of an object at no great distance. At first I thought it was a rock just above the water, but on looking again, I saw it was a piece of wreck, and on it was seated a human being. I looked again and again, and so did Oliver. We were certain that we could not be mistaken. We shouted at the top of our voices. We saw the person look round. Again we shouted. He stood up. He had not discovered us. At length I managed to get my knees on the spar, and to kneel and wave my hand above my head, shouting at the same time. He now saw us, and waved his hand in return. At first I thought he was one of the Lascars, but now I saw that it was Macco. The raft on which he floated afforded far more security than did our spar, but how to reach it was the question. In smooth water I might have pushed the spar before me with the help of Oliver. Presently we saw Macco slip off the raft and strike out towards us. He swam beautifully. I did not think a human being could make such rapid way through the water. In a short time we saw his dark-skinned face close to us.

“Ah! ah! Bery glad, Massa Walter. Bery glad to see you safe.”

“What has become of the other poor fellows, Macco?”

“I not know. Come now, I help you to get on my raft.” Saying this he swam round, and began pushing the spar before him, one end first, by which means it was easily driven through the water. It took us some time to reach the piece of wreck, which appeared to be part of the poop-deck. Getting on it himself, he hauled up Oliver first at my request, and then assisted me, making fast the spar to one side. The deck, under which were some beams, floated well, and supported us completely. We were thankful that our lives had been thus far preserved; but yet here we were, out in mid-ocean as far as we could see, without land in sight, and with no provisions, not even a drop of water to support life. We all too well knew that unless help should come, our lives had only been preserved to suffer a more lingering death than the one we had escaped. One of my first impulses was to stand up and look round, in the hope of seeing the mast, with some of my companions clinging to it, but though several pieces of wreck were visible, nothing of the mast could we discover. Macco could give very little account of the way he had escaped. He had, I found, been in the top, and a sea striking him had washed him away; but being a good swimmer, he struggled manfully for life, now floating on his back, now looking round in the hopes of seeing something to which he might cling. At last he found himself close to the deck; which, indeed, was on the point of being thrown over him, when, had he been struck, his fate would have been sealed. Darting away from it, however, he escaped the danger, and then swimming round, succeeded in placing himself upon it.

“I so glad,” he exclaimed, “dat I saved my life, because now I try to help save yours.”

Oliver and I thanked him very much, though I said that I could not exactly see how that was to be.

“A way will be found,” observed Oliver, quietly. “Let us trust in God; he knows how to bring all things about.”

As the sun rose higher in the sky, the heat became very great, striking down upon our unprotected heads. Fortunately we had all eaten a good supper; but after a time we began to feel hungry, and thirst especially assailed us. Oh, what would we not have given for a glass of water! My companions were inclined to drink the salt water; but I had heard of the danger of so doing, and urged them to refrain from the dangerous draught. Oliver and I had fortunately on our jackets. These were soon dried, and covering up our heads with them, we lay down to sleep on the raft. In an instant, it seemed to me, my eyes closed, and I forgot all that had occurred, and the fearful position in which we were still placed. I suspect that Macco must have slept too, though when we lay down he said that he should keep on the watch. I was still dreaming, with my head covered up, thinking that I was seated at dinner at my old school, and that a number of fellows suddenly burst in, shouting out that it was to be a half-holiday. The noises grew louder and louder; and presently a voice shouted close to me. It sounded strangely like that of Macco; but how he came to be at school I could not tell. Throwing the jacket off my head, I started up, and there I saw close to us a large native prow. She was full of fierce-looking people, whose voices I had at first heard. Macco, who had been asleep, had not till just before perceived them. Oliver rose at the same time that I did.

“If they are human beings, they will treat us kindly,” he observed, standing up, and waving his hand.

Macco seemed far from satisfied with their appearance. “Me no like dem fellows,” he said; “dey cut t’roat—eat! eat!”

“No fear of that,” I observed. “She looks to me like a trading prow, though her men certainly would suit the deck of a pirate.”

However, we had no choice. It was now perfectly calm, and the prow rowed up to the raft, the men in her making signs to us to come on board. As the vessel’s side touched the raft, ropes were thrown to us, and we soon clambered up on her deck. The people began to shout to us, evidently asking us questions; which, of course, we were not able to answer, not understanding a word that was said. The vessel was a strange-looking craft, with large mat-sails, her deck sloping from the stern down to the bows, which were by far the lowest part. In the after-part was a poop-deck; under which there was a sort of cabin, while a small house of bamboo in front of it formed another cabin. She was steered by two rudders, one on either quarter, the tiller ropes coming in through ports in the sides, and being worked by men who sat on the deck under the poop. Her crew were brown-skinned men, in the usual dress of Malay seamen; that is to say, a pair of trousers fastened round the waist, a handkerchief encircling the head, and a thin cotton jacket, which, however, was thrown off when they were at work. Their captain, however, wore a handsome costume. He was seated on a cushion just before the poop, enjoying the luxury of an evening smoke, a long pipe with a bowl being in his hand. We were now taken up before him; and he again put questions to us, which of course, as before, we were unable to answer. At length we heard him shouting out to the men forward. One of them came aft, and the chief said a few words to him. On this he turned round to us, and said, “Talky Inglis?” I nodded. “Where you come from?” he asked, pretty quickly. I told him we had been wrecked at no great distance, and had been floated away from the place. After I had put my explanation in several different ways, he seemed to understand me. He explained what I had said to the chief, who seemed greatly delighted, and immediately issued some orders to his men. They forthwith got out their sweeps, and began pulling away in the direction, we supposed, of the wreck. I was very glad of this, as I thought there was a possibility, should any of our companions have escaped drowning, of finding them.

I now told our interpreter that we were very hungry and thirsty. He understood me more by the signs I made than the words, I suspect; and, nodding, made me understand that some food would be brought us. “But we are thirsty, thirsty!” I exclaimed. Indeed, my parched tongue made me feel that without a draught of water I could scarcely swallow food. On this our interpreter, going into the hold, brought up a thick cane of bamboo, and pulling a stopper out of the top, showed us, to our great satisfaction, that it was full of water. I never enjoyed a more delicious draught. I thought of my companions, however, and handed it to Oliver, who passed it on to Macco, after which I took another pull at it; and so we continued passing it round, till we had drained the contents.

We were ready by this time for dinner, and were thankful to see several dishes brought out of the little building which formed the cook-house on deck. The chief signed to us to sit down and fall to. One was rice; of that there was no doubt. Another, too, I soon discovered to be that most valuable production of the East, the bread-fruit: this was cut in slices and fried. The third, however, puzzled me excessively, and its appearance was far from attractive. There was, besides, a little saucer with red pepper. Oliver and I at once attacked the bread-fruit, when Macco pointed to the other dish.

“Eat, eat; good!” he said.

“Do you take some of it,” I observed, unwilling to begin.

He immediately did so, swallowing a good portion.

“What is it?” I asked.

“You know; what sailor call ‘squid,’” he answered. “Dem very good.”

I now guessed that it was octopus, or ink-fish, the favourite food of the sperm whale. I would rather have kept to the bread-fruit and rice; but Oliver was not so particular, and took a little with some red pepper. On his pronouncing it very good, I followed his example, and found it far more palatable than I had expected, and I doubt not very nutritious. I remembered having heard that it was dangerous, after a long fast, to eat much, and I therefore took but little. Oliver also was equally abstemious. Macco, however, laughed at my warning, and very soon finished off the contents of the dishes.

We hoped, from the hospitable way we were entertained, that we should continue to be treated equally well. After we had finished our repast, Oliver and I felt very sleepy. The chief seeing this, made signs to us that we might go into the bamboo house and rest. It was very clean and neat; a sort of sofa being on one side, on which there was room for Oliver and me to lie down, one at one end, and one at the other—with our legs somewhat drawn up, to be sure, as the whole length was not more than six feet. We must have slept there the whole night; for when we got up we found the sun just rising, while the chief and his crew were turning their faces towards Mecca—or where they supposed it to be—and offering up their morning prayers. By this we knew that they were Mohammedans: such, indeed, is the religion of a large number of the people of the archipelago inhabiting the sea-coasts.

We had time to look about us, and examine the strange craft we had got on board. She had no masts, but the sails were hoisted on huge triangles, which could be lowered at pleasure. Her anchor, too, was of curious construction: it consisted of a tough, hooked piece of timber, which served as the fluke or hook, being strengthened by twisted ratans, which bound it to the shank; while the stock was formed of a large flat stone, also secured by ratans to the shank. I observed that all the crew were armed; and on a small piece of timber in the bows a small swivel gun was placed, a similar piece being fixed in the after-part of the vessel. The cable also was formed of ratan, which, though strong, could easily, I suspected, be cut by rocks.

We found, on seeing Macco, that the vessel had made but little progress during the night, having anchored near a reef in order not to pass the spot where the wreck was supposed to have occurred. Little notice of us was taken by the chief or his men: they all seemed eagerly looking out for the expected wreck. We also kept our eyes about us in every direction, earnestly hoping that she might appear; but not a sign of her was visible. I thought I saw a sail in the far distance. I pointed it out to Oliver. He was of the same opinion; so was Macco: but whether the natives saw it or not, we could not tell.

We continued our course, the breeze being light. After a time the prow was steered first to the right, then to the left. Then she made a traverse to the south as near to the wind as she could lay (which, by-the-by, was not very near, even with the aid of her oars); but though several reefs were seen, on one of which probably the ship had struck, she was nowhere to be discovered. We saw, however, pieces of timber and various articles floating about. At length we caught sight of a long object in the water. We steered towards it. Yes; it was the very mast to which we had clung! So it seemed to me, and so Oliver thought. If so, what had become of our unfortunate companions? Shortly afterwards another mast was seen. A human form was entangled in the rigging. We eagerly looked down on it as we passed. The dark skin showed that it was the body of one of the Lascars. The mast was undoubtedly the foremast to which they had clung. A light boat was launched from the deck of the prow, and three hands went into it to the mast. I saw that they were taking off the girdle of the dead man. As they lifted him up I distinguished the features—so I thought—of Ali Tomba, who had been the cause of the destruction of the Bussorah Merchant. Leaving the body, the men returned with the sash and clothes. They were examined, and found to contain a considerable number of coins, at which the natives gazed with eager eyes.

Their whole conduct now changed towards us. The chief had seated himself in his usual place on the deck, when we were dragged up to him, and he made signs to us to empty our pockets. Oliver and Macco had, of course, but a few small coins: I had rather more, but no great sum, in Dutch money, which Captain Davenport had given me to make some purchases in the town of Ternate. I suppose they had treated us with civility at first, not understanding that our ship was entirely lost, and perhaps expecting that our countrymen would have punished them had they behaved ill to us. The chief seemed very angry at finding we had so little of value about us. He now made us a sign that we were to be gone from his presence. We sat down in the shade before the house, in the centre of the deck, where Macco began to bewail our hard fate, observing that he was sure the natives would kill and eat us. I endeavoured to comfort him by saying, that as they were Mohammedans they certainly would not eat us, though I could not be answerable for their not taking our lives; and, as far as I could, I endeavoured to persuade him to be prepared for whatever might happen.

“The great thing, Macco,” said Oliver, joining in the conversation, “is to be sure that He who lives up there,”—(and he pointed to the blue sky)—“who made this world, and all those stars we see, loves us, his creatures whom he has placed on the earth; and if we trust him, he will do everything that is best for us.”

“But how I know he does love us?” asked Macco. “He let many people die; many be drowned; many be killed with blow up mountain or shake of earth; many die fever, plague; many kill each other.”

“Very true,” answered Oliver. “Sometimes he lets those who love him best die. He does not say that he will keep even his friends alive; but if he takes them out of a bad world and puts them into a good one, does not that show his love? Some of those who are killed in the terrible way you say, are not his friends; but we know he loves us, because he gave One he loves better than anything else, to die for us, to be punished instead of us. We deserve punishment; we all feel that. He has told us, too, that he loves us; and if we believe the Bible, we must believe that. If man had not sinned, but had always been good and obedient, we might have reason to doubt God’s Word; but we are sure that man has sinned, and continues sinning, and it was sin which brought all this suffering on man. Besides, again, as I said, we must not look upon death—the mere death of the body—as a punishment. It may be a great blessing; it is indeed so to many. But then, again, Macco, we cannot pretend to understand all God’s dealings with us.”

I listened very attentively to these remarks made by Oliver. A new light seemed to break on me. God’s love! God’s love!—oh, how little do we understand that! It is only a knowledge of that which can enable us in any way to comprehend his dealings with man.

“You see, Macco,” continued Oliver, “that God is just as well as loving. He punishes those who continue to refuse his offers of mercy. With many he tries loving-kindness first. Sometimes his love makes him afflict people for the sake of bringing them to him, making them feel their own helplessness. The great thing of all, however, is to know for a certainty that he loves us, and that whatever he does is for the best. When a man is sure of this, he trusts to God, whatever happens. I have a loving mother, who taught me this. I am very sure it is the most valuable knowledge she could have given me. Though we know that we are sinners, and deserve punishment, yet we also know that when God’s Son became man and died on the cross, being sacrificed for our sins, he took away the sins of all those who trust to him; and so, instead of being sinners in God’s sight, when we thus trust to him we are made pure and holy, and fit to go to heaven—nay, sure of going to heaven when we die. If you believe this, Macco, you will not be afraid even though the people round us should suddenly jump up and kill us all, and throw us overboard.”

Macco was silent for some time. At length he looked up, and said,—“Bless you, Oliver; you tell me great truth. I no fear to die now.”

I felt indeed grateful to my young companion. His words had given me a courage I could scarcely have expected to possess; and though I did not feel indifferent as to our fate, yet I was prepared, at all events, far better than I should otherwise have been for whatever might happen.

The native seamen sat round in the bow of the vessel, eating from a huge dish of rice, with some dried fish of some sort, seasoned with red pepper. After they had eaten their fill, they put down the remains of the dish—into which they had all plunged their unclean fingers—before us, much in the way they would have put it before a hungry dog, and made us a sign to eat it if we chose. At first I could scarcely bring myself to touch the food; but Macco urged me to do so, and he and Oliver at length beginning their repast, I could no longer resist the desire to eat.

I could not make out exactly whether we were on board a trader or a pirate; perhaps a mixture of both. If she was a trader, I concluded she was bound to the coast of New Guinea for tripang, or sea-slug—considered a great delicacy by the Chinese and other people to the north; perhaps for pearls to the Aru Islands, or for other productions of the southern part of the archipelago. We found, at all events, that they were steering to the south. For several days they stood on, not altering their course. We were treated in the same manner as we had been since they had failed to discover the wreck of which we had told them. They gave us but scanty food, and allowed us but little water. The interpreter no longer came near us, while scowling looks were cast at us from every side. At length an island appeared on our port-bow, towards which the prow was steered. It was thickly wooded, down to the very water’s edge. A variety of strange-looking shrubs were seen, with lofty and elegant palms rising above them. What they were going to do we could not surmise. Having got close in, the sails were lowered, and the anchor let go. A boat was then launched. As we were standing looking towards the shore, the chief touched me on the shoulder, and made signs that I was to get into the boat. I knew that resistance would be useless. Two men then stepped in. I also did as I was ordered. He then signed to Oliver and Macco to follow; Macco going forward, and Oliver and I sitting in the stern. We endeavoured to ascertain from the chief why we were to be carried to the island; but he did not answer, making only an impatient gesture to us to be off. Without wasting further words, we took our seats, and the two men began to pull away towards the shore.

Chapter Eleven.

Our Island.

A ledge of rocks running out from the land formed a small natural harbour, into which the boat ran, and soon reached the sandy beach. Here the crew made signs to us to land. We obeyed, for resistance, of course, was useless. I jumped on shore, followed by my two companions, and scarcely wetting our feet, we reached the dry beach. The men, then giving a shove with their oars, pulled away, leaving us on what appeared to be an uninhabited island. Why we were thus treated we could not comprehend.

“I do not see that we have any great reason to complain,” observed Oliver. “We should have been very thankful had we reached this island on the raft, and we ought to be very much obliged to those people for carrying us here. They might have taken us to some place and sold us for slaves, or might have creesed us and thrown us overboard.”

“You are right, Oliver,” I answered; “and we must try to make the best of it. I only hope we may find food and water. Unless they were less than human, they could scarcely have placed us on an island which they knew was destitute of water.” We made these remarks as we watched the boat rowing away toward the prow. She soon reached the vessel, was hoisted up, and the prow made sail to the southward. We now sat down on the beach, to see what was best to be done. Macco had his sailor’s knife, fortunately, secured with a lanyard round his neck. I had a large clasp-knife in my pocket, which, though, like my clothes, somewhat the worse for having been wetted with salt water, was still serviceable and sharp.

The first thing was to survey our island, we agreed, and to try to find water. The shore was lined in many places with the curious pandanus, or screw-palm, which may well be described as a trunk with branches at both ends; or rather the roots seem to have lifted the trunk into the air and to have assumed the appearance of branches. Its woody fruit, about five inches in diameter, is in the form of a sphere, and is regularly divided by projections of a diamond shape.

The jungle was so thick that we could penetrate but a very little way through it, with great difficulty. Walking along the beach, we reached a small opening—a miniature gulf, as it were, into which apparently a stream of water had at some time flowed, though at present the bed was perfectly dry. Looking up it, we discovered a high hill some little distance inland; we agreed that if we could make our way to that, we might thence have a better view of the surrounding country. We had not gone far when we came to a grove of bamboos. We each of us cut down a couple: one we pointed to serve as a weapon of defence; and the other we formed into the shape of a gouge to serve as a spade, with which we intended to dig for water, should we not find any stream or pool. Still, from the rich vegetation which appeared on every side, we had little doubt that water would be found. Proceeding up the dry water-course, we approached the hill; but it grew narrower and narrower, till at length the trees and underwood, with numberless creepers, so completely blocked up the way, that we could scarcely force a road through it. Still, to the top of the hill we had determined to go. Making use of our knives, we cut away the creepers, sometimes crawling under the trees, sometimes climbing over the stems which bent across our course. Once more we saw the summit of the hill. It appeared much higher than we at first supposed it to be. At length we were rewarded for our exertions by finding that we were actually ascending the side. On we went, the underwood becoming less dense as we rose higher and higher. We now had little difficulty in making our way, the trees and shrubs indeed assisting us in climbing the steep sides. When, however, we got to the top, we found that what we had supposed to be small shrubs were, in reality, large trees, covering it so thickly that the view on every side was shut out.

“I am afraid we have had all our toil for nothing,” I observed.

“I am afraid so, too,” said Oliver.

“Stay, Massa Walter,” observed Macco. “I climb to top of dis tree, and den see what I can see.”

He pointed to the lofty palm under which we were standing. Descending a little way, he cut a quantity of creepers, which he soon twisted into a strong hoop round the tree and his own body. He now began, by placing the hoop a little way above him and leaning back, to climb upwards, and with wonderful rapidity reached the summit. We asked him what he saw.

“We on good big island!” he shouted out. “Plenty of wood; but no see water. Dere oder islands.” And then pointing to the south-east, he cried out,—“Dere more land, long, long away dere!”

“Do you make out any vessel?” I asked.

“No; only prow go away to de south.”

“That must be the coast of New Guinea,” I observed to Oliver. “I only hope none of the inhabitants may come over to this island, for they are terrible savages.”

“If they come, we must keep out of their way,” said Oliver. “It would be better to remain here than to be carried off and eaten by them.”

Macco, having ended his survey, descended the tree. I tried to get up the same way, wishing to take a look round myself; but I found that, though not a bad climber, I could not manage it. Seeing no great use in persisting in the attempt, I gave it up. We could find no other way down to the shore, besides the one up which we had come. Having cleared away some impediments, we had less difficulty in returning than we had found in going upwards. Macco led; indeed, his knowledge of woodcraft in his native country was of great service to us, for I believe without him we should very easily have lost our way, even though we had left the marks of our knives on the creepers as we went up. As we were pushing on, my eye caught sight of some trees in a hollow on one side, which I at once knew to be sago-trees, from the description Mr Hooker had given me of them.

“See!” I exclaimed to Oliver, “there is a supply of food sufficient to last us for months, or years, indeed, if we can manage to manufacture the sago; and I think we shall have little difficulty in doing that.”

I pointed it out to Macco. He knew them at once.

“Yes, yes!” he said; “dey bery good. I make food from dem. Come to look for water dere.”

Following him, we proceeded to the hollow I have mentioned. The ground was low and soft, and gave us some hopes of finding water. We instantly set to work, digging with our bamboo spades. We dug and dug in the soft earth; but though it was somewhat moist, not a thimbleful of water appeared. Still we did not despair. Oliver proposed that we should look for another spot at a lower level, where we might hope to be more successful. We accordingly set to work to force our way through the jungle towards the shore. Even with sharp axes we should have found some difficulty; but it was very heavy work with our knives. Still, it had to be done. Water was the first thing we required. We had progressed a hundred yards or less, though it had appeared to us upwards of a mile, when we heard close to us a peculiar cry, which sounded something like, “Wawk—wawk—wawk!—Wok—wok—wok!” loud and shrill above our heads. On looking up we caught sight of a magnificent bird, with rich crimson wings, and a long pendant tail like strips of satin. The head, and back, and shoulders were covered with the richest yellow, while the throat was of a deep metallic-green. The end of the side plumes had white points. I had little difficulty in recognising the bird of paradise, and I remembered Mr Hooker speaking of one which he called the red bird of paradise. This, I had little doubt, was the bird before us. Away he flew, however, followed by a smaller bird of a sombre brown plumage, which I could scarcely have supposed was his mate, had I not known that the wives of these gay-plumaged gentlemen are nearly always robed in Quaker-like simplicity. As he went, he appeared to be pecking away at the fruit of various trees over which he passed. It seemed surprising, too, that his long ribbon-like tail should have escaped catching in the thick foliage through which he rapidly flew. We, poor creatures, scrambling through the lower part of the forest, had a difficulty in making our way, without losing our close-fitting garments; indeed, as it was, they were sadly torn by the underwood. We were rewarded for our exertions, by reaching another hollow in which a number of the sago-palms grew.

The sago-palm has a creeping root-stem, like a nipa-palm, and Mr Hooker had told me that when it is nearly fifteen years old it sends up an immense terminal spike of flowers, after which it dies. It is not so tall as the cocoa-nut tree, but is thicker and larger. The mid-ribs of its immense leaves are twelve or fifteen feet long, and sometimes the lower part is as thick as a man’s leg. They are excessively light, consisting of a firm pith, covered with a hard rind. They are frequently used instead of bamboo; entire houses, indeed, are built of them. They serve for the roofs of houses, as also for the floors; and when pegged together, side by side, they form the centre part of the panels of frame houses. As they do not shrink, but look clean and nice, without requiring varnish, they serve better for walls and partitions than do ordinary boards. Boxes, also, are made of them; indeed, it would be difficult to describe the numberless uses to which they are put. The trunk, however, is the more valuable part, as the pith of the interior is the staple food of large numbers of the inhabitants of these regions. I will not stop here to describe how the sago is made; but I will do so shortly.

We again set to work with our bamboo spades, and dug away most energetically. Some moisture on the ground encouraged us to proceed, while the burning thirst from which we were suffering increased our anxiety for success. As we dug lower the ground became soft, and more and more moist, when Macco, putting down his hand, brought it up full of liquid mud. “Water come soon,” he exclaimed, digging away more energetically than before.

“Hurrah!” I shouted. “A spring! a spring! We are indeed lucky!”

“Let us rather say that God is merciful,” said Oliver, though in so low a voice that it seemed scarcely as if he intended me to hear him.

“You are right,” I answered; “I do feel grateful.” Some bamboos grew a short way off, and Macco, running to them, soon cut several pieces, leaving the knots at the ends to serve as bottoms; we thus in a few minutes were each supplied with a serviceable cup. By this time the thick mud had settled down, though the water was far from limpid. We each of us eagerly took a draught to quench our thirst. Thus, then, we were supplied with the first necessary of life. By this time we had all become very hungry; though we felt sure we could manufacture some sago out of the sago-palms, yet it would be a work of time. Our chief hope of obtaining food immediately was on the sea-shore—we might at all events find shell-fish. Macco told us he was sure he could manufacture some fishing-lines and hooks; the latter out of the bones of birds, and the lines from some of the numerous creepers with which the island abounded. While this was being done, however, we should be starved; we therefore made the best of our way round through the path we had already made to the shore. I had often thought the matter over, and I was sure that many persons had lost their lives from not immediately setting to work to try and find the means of subsistence. I had read of two parties being cast away on the same island at a short distance from each other: the one perishing; the other, from their energy and perseverance, existing for many months, and ultimately escaping.

Oliver needed no urging, and Macco especially seemed ready to exert his faculties in obtaining food. We looked along the beach, but the water was up, and no shells with live creatures in them could we find. There was no lack of empty shells, however, some of them of great size and beauty, such as would fetch a high price in England.

“They are of very little use to us,” I observed.

Macco heard me. “Not so sure of dat, Massa Walter,” he said, for I should remark that, having learned his English from Potto Jumbo, he spoke very much in his way. “Here dis big shell make good cook-pot; here clean out dis, make good cup; here plates, and here dis make good spoon,” and he picked up shells of different shapes.

“I wish, however, we could find something to put into them and cook,” I could not help saying.

Soon after, we had reached the beach where we had landed. We found the sand soft and fine. Macco looked about, and then exclaimed, “Ha, ha! here’s somet’ing;” and he began digging away with the bamboo spade. In a short time he produced a couple of turtle’s eggs: we hunted, and soon found several more. “Dese do till tide go down and we find shell-fish,” he observed.

Though very hungry, I had no fancy for eating turtle’s eggs raw. “We must try and find the means of lighting a fire,” I observed. “Do you think, Macco, you could produce a flame with two pieces of wood, as is done in some countries?”

“Not so sure,” he answered; “but if we had flint, I soon find pith to set on fire.”

From the character of the island, which appeared to be entirely volcanic, I had no hope of finding flints. Just then it flashed across me that a few days before I had been using a glass from my telescope as a burning-glass, and I recollected putting it in my pocket on being called off suddenly to attend to some duty; I had little hope, however, of finding it unbroken. I put my hands into my trowsers pockets, and then into my jacket pockets, but it was not there; neither was it in my waistcoat pockets, but there was a hole in one of them, and after feeling about, I found it had worked its way round into the corner of the waistcoat by my side. It had thus escaped being broken, or discovered by the Malays when they took away our money. I produced it with great satisfaction. Macco ran off immediately, and came back with some dried pith and a bundle of sticks. We soon produced a flame and had a fire burning. Macco then made a collection of round stones, which he put on the fire, at the same time filling one of the shells with water. “Too much water,” he observed, turning some of it out. He then transferred the hot stones to the water, which began bubbling and hissing as if it were boiling. “Put in the eggs,” he observed; “soon boil dem.” We followed his advice, and in four or five minutes the eggs were boiled thoroughly, quite as well as if they had been put into a pot on the fire. We had now no danger of starving, for the present at all events; and indeed, if we could manufacture the sago, we might supply ourselves with food sufficient to last for any length of time.

The tide had, meantime, been going out, and here and there where the rocks were exposed we caught sight of shell-fish. I, however, knowing even in that climate the danger of sleeping entirely exposed to the night air without a roof over the head, advised my companions at once to set to work and build a hut. We accordingly went back to the sago-palm grove, and cut down as many of the leaves as we could carry. With these we returned to the beach, on the highest part of which, just under the trees, we proposed putting up a temporary hut, till we could get a more permanent building. We soon had an edifice erected, something like a North American Indian wigwam, into which we could all creep and lie conveniently at full length. By this time the tide had gone down, and by crawling along the rocks, Macco was able to capture a number of shell-fish. This he did by cutting them off the rock with the bamboo spear: our only fear was lest they should be poisonous. We asked him what he thought about the matter. “All right,” he answered; “dem good for eat.” He had brought an ample supply for our supper; some were roasted, but others were boiled as we had done the turtle’s eggs. After this, commending ourselves to One whom we knew would watch over us, we lay down in our small hut to sleep.

The sun was just rising out of the horizon when we awoke; the sea was calm and blue, and the sky was beautifully clear. Our first discussion while at breakfast on turtle’s eggs, was the best means of manufacturing the sago. If we could get a tree cut down, there would not be much difficulty; but how to fell it with our clasp-knives was the question.

“Perseverance conquers all difficulties,” observed Oliver. “I remember the story of the mouse letting the lion out of the net by nibbling away at the meshes. We can work away at the stem with our knives, and do a little every day, in the meantime subsisting on the eggs and the shell-fish.”

“Yes, yes,” said Macco; “we choose small tree, enough for us to live on for many days, and we soon have him down.”

Before starting, however, the tide being still low, we collected a further supply of shell-fish. As we were proceeding along the beach, we saw, just rising as it were out of the water, a small ridge. “What can that be?” I said, drawing nearer to it. I saw, as I got close to the water’s edge, that it was a huge bivalve. As far as I could judge, it was alive. I called my companions, and catching hold of it, we dragged it up, though our united strength could with difficulty accomplish our object.

“Take care no put hand inside,” said Macco, “or he bite bery hard!”

I am certain that I am right when I say that it could not have weighed much less than a hundredweight. It would afford us not only one, but several meals probably, if the creature inside bore any proportion to his house. I did not know the name at the time, but I afterwards learned that it must have been a specimen of the Tridacna gigas. I have since heard that the shells themselves, without the mollusc, weigh even more than that; indeed, I afterwards saw some in use of larger size. Having captured our prize, however, we found that there was some chance of our not being able to get at the mollusc inside; for when the difficulty of opening an ordinary oyster-shell is remembered, the force required to get at the inside of so large a shell as this would be no easy task. It was important, however, to get the creature out at once, for if it were exposed to the sun, it would, in all probability, not be fit to eat by the evening. Macco, ever fertile in resource, ran off, and soon returned with a supply of bamboos, which he split up into fine long wedges. He hunted about on every side till he found a small opening; into this he instantly inserted the fine point of a piece of bamboo, and going round the shell, placed another in a similar position. There was no lack of pieces of coral rock lying about which had been broken off by the sea, and thrown up on the beach; these served as hammers. “Now,” he cried out, “strike! strike altogether!” We did so, but Oliver’s instrument and mine made no impression; Macco’s, however, went right in, and seemed to cut some part of the creature; for directly afterwards, by using the wedges as levers, we lifted up one of the valves, and exposed to view a huge mass of blubber-like flesh. Macco seemed highly delighted. “Dat bery good, bery good!” he exclaimed, and soon cut the whole away from the shell, and held it up to let the water run out.

“I should be very hungry before I could eat that,” I observed.

“Ah, Massa Walter,” he answered, “you will be bery hungry if you no eat dis, and many oder curious t’ings. De great t’ing is, if good to eat. If good, no mind looks; better to eat dis dan starve.”

With some powerful blows, he separated the two shells, and now begged us to carry them up to the hut. “Dey hold water,” he observed; “and we soon have all we want to live well.” Having made up the fire, he cut three very long bamboo stakes, with which he made a triangle over it, so high that the flames could not reach the poles to burn them. From the centre he hung down the huge mollusc, so that the smoke might circle round it. “Dere,” he said, “dis now dry, and keep well till we want eat it.”

Chapter Twelve.

Our life on the island.

The success we had already met with in finding food raised our spirits; but I knew the risk we should run of losing our health if we could not obtain vegetables was very great. I therefore urged my companions to set to work at once and try to get the sago manufactured.

“Come directly,” said Macco, collecting a quantity of half-dried leaves. These he placed on the fire. He then covered them up with green twigs, thereby preventing the flames bursting out, at the same time producing an abundant smoke. “Dere, dat do bery well,” he observed. “No creature come to carry off de fish, and he well dry when we come back.”

I cannot say I felt any great confidence in the success of his experiment; and I thought it of no great importance even should it fail, as I began to hope that we should have a sufficient supply of food. We soon found a palm of moderate dimensions, which we might hope, even with our knives, to cut down in the course of a day or two by working away assiduously. What, however, would take us several days, a sharp axe would accomplish almost in the course of almost as many minutes. However, we could all three work at once.

“You take one side, Oliver; Macco, you take another; and I will take a third,” I observed.

“Stay, Massa Walter,” he answered; “you no want to break head. Do dis first. You cut here; Oliver cut here; and I go make rope.”

Some ratans were growing not far off; he immediately began cutting them away, and having collected a large supply, twisted them ingeniously into a rope. Oliver and I had made apparently but little impression in the tree by the time he had done so. Taking the rope, he climbed up as before, to a considerable height, where he fastened it, and then carried the other end to another tree at some little distance, so that it might fall to the ground clear of its companions.

“Now,” he said, “do bery well;” and taking out his knife, he began to work away with great energy. So dexterously did he ply his instrument, that he soon had made almost as much impression as we had done, who had been working so much longer a time. The ratans I speak of, though allied to palms, are creepers. They grow from the ground, climbing up a tree, and then running along the branches, and descending again, mount up another tree, or sometimes climb from branch to branch. They often encircle a tree, which, in time, is completely destroyed; while they survive, forming an extraordinary intricate mass of natural cordage on the ground. In some places the original trunk had entirely disappeared, leaving only the ratan. They greatly ornament the forest as they hang in graceful festoons from branch to branch, or adorn their summits with feathery crowns of leaves, their highest points being erect leafy spikes which rise up above all the other foliage.

Macco had collected several lengths of this curious creeper, each perhaps of fifty fathoms; and having twisted them together, had formed a very strong rope. The natives make their cables of them, as well as the standing rigging of their masts; indeed, they are used for all sorts of stout cordage. While we were working away, looking up, I saw on the branch of a tree, at no great distance, as if watching our proceedings, an animal with a small head and very large bright eyes. He was covered, apparently, with very thick fur, and, I soon saw, had also a long tail, which was curled on a branch below him. As we did not move, he began eating away in a fearless manner the leaves from a branch which hung near his snout. He reminded me somewhat of the opossum, covered with thick, pure white fur, on which appeared a few black spots of various shapes. I pointed him out at length to Macco. “He good eat,” he whispered. “I catch him.” Several pieces of small ratan lay near us, and taking one of them, he formed a noose, with which in his hand he crept towards the tree. On considering what the animal could be, I recollected one called the cuscus, a picture of which I had seen in one of Mr Hooker’s books. “Yes, I am sure that must be a cuscus. It is a marsupial, or pouch-possessing animal, like the kangaroo,” I said to Oliver. Macco quickly climbed the tree, and reached a branch just above the cuscus. Not till then did the creature catch sight of him, and began moving along the branch, but at a very slow pace. Macco immediately climbed down towards us and followed it. Just, however, as he was approaching, cuscus let go his hold, hanging down by his tail. It was a fatal manoeuvre, for Macco’s noose was immediately let drop, and quickly drawn over the head of poor cuscus, who in vain tried to liberate himself with his claws. He was now a captive, and Macco, keeping the noose tight, descended the tree. Cuscus held on by his long prehensile tail; but Macco pulled and pulled, and down the animal came with a flop to the ground. His claws were so sharp, that it was rather difficult to take hold of him without the risk of being severely scratched. Macco called out to us to bring him one of the bamboo spears. With this he transfixed the poor creature to the ground; but even then it struggled, and not till he had made use of his knife, half severing the head from the body, did the creature die. It looked somewhat, in its white, woolly covering, like a small, fat lamb; but it had short legs, hand-like feet, with large claws.

“He make bery good dinner for us,” observed Macco. “No fear of our starving. Dat good t’ing.”

Oliver and I were very glad, and thanked him very much for catching the creature. However, I urged him to go back at once, that we might continue our work on the sago-tree, for I was sure that, though by eating flesh and fish we might support our lives, we should not retain our health without bread, or a substitute for it, which the sago would afford. From the height of the sun, in addition to the hints of our own appetites, we guessed that it was already past noon. We therefore proposed returning with the cuscus to our hut. Tying up the legs of our prize with the ratan, we passed a piece of bamboo through them, and took our way by the path we had cut to the beach. Our fire was out, and the number of flies collected round our mollusc made us doubtful whether we were not too late to preserve it from destruction.

“Soon drive dem away,” said Macco, and bringing fresh fuel, he piled it up under the triangle. “I get fire dis time,” he said. “I see man on board de prow do it de oder day.”

Taking a piece of bamboo sharpened like a knife in one hand, he held another piece in the other, split in two, with the convex part uppermost, in which he had cut a small notch. He began passing the sharp piece slowly over the other, as a fiddler does his bow over his fiddle—strings, increasing in rapidity, till, in a very short time, the powder produced by the friction ignited, and fell down upon the ashes. This he quickly blew up, and even more rapidly than I could have done with my burning-glass, a flame was produced. The smoke which ascended soon sent some of the flies to a distance, while the others fell down into the fire. This gave us a hint that we must not leave any of our food exposed, or that it would very quickly be destroyed.

“Cuscus better for dinner dan dis,” he said, for he had heard me name the creature; and he at once began to draw off the skin; then cutting some slices off the animal, he soon had them toasting on forked sticks before the fire.

“I wish I had some salt,” I observed, pointing to the large shell in which we had boiled our eggs. The water had evaporated, leaving the sides and stones covered with saline particles. By scraping this off, we had an ample supply of salt for our meat.

“It strikes me, Mr Walter,” said Oliver, “that we may be able to manufacture enough salt to preserve the animals we kill, for the time may come when we may not be able to obtain any, and possibly it might be a better way of preserving them than by drying them in the smoke.”

“In dry, cool weather we might do so,” I observed; “but in this hot climate I doubt whether we could get the salt in with sufficient rapidity to stop putrefaction. However, of course, it would assist in preserving the meat.”

“I am afraid you are right, Mr Walter,” he answered. “At all events, it is satisfactory to know that we can procure salt for our daily use.”

“Oliver,” I said, “I must ask a favour of you—it is, not to call me Mr Walter. A common misfortune has made us brothers, and as a brother, I am sure, I shall ever look upon you.”

“I will do what you wish,” said Oliver, “for I owe my life to you; yet, though I regard you as a brother, I do not feel myself your equal.”

“Do not talk of that, my dear fellow,” I said. “We will not bandy compliments. I should have been very miserable had I been left on this island by myself, or even with so honest a fellow as our dark-skinned friend here; for though we two might have been like Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday, I have often thought that Crusoe must have passed many dull and melancholy hours, without a companion with whom he could exchange ideas on equal terms.”

I felt much more at my ease after I had said this to Oliver. I had long looked upon him as a very superior lad. His earnest piety, his courage and his coolness, had made me greatly respect him. Had I been told to choose a companion in the situation in which I was placed, I certainly should have selected him. Our meal over, we went back to our sago-tree, and commenced our work. We made some progress, but still clasp-knives were very inadequate tools for the work we had undertaken. Every now and then, as we were labouring on silently, we heard the same cry of Wawk—wawk—wawk!—Wok—wok—wok! and caught sight of magnificent birds flitting among the higher branches of the trees, but so rapidly did they move, that we could scarcely distinguish their forms. We knew them, however, to be birds of paradise, which Mr Hooker had fully described to us. I knew from this that we must be on an island very close to the shores of New Guinea, as Mr Hooker had told me these birds are only found in that vast country, or in the surrounding islands. When Europeans first arrived at the Moluccas to obtain cloves and nutmegs, which were then supposed to be rare, and considered of great value, they saw, in the possession of the natives, dried skins of birds of beautiful plumage and unusual shape. On inquiring their name, they were told that they were God’s birds. As the bodies shown them had neither feet nor wings, they easily believed the story they heard, that they had fallen from the sun, and the Portuguese therefore called them birds of the sun. The Dutch, who came afterwards, gave them the name of birds of paradise. One of their early writers declared that no one had ever seen them alive, that they existed only in the air, invariably keeping their heads towards the sun, and never reaching earth till they died. Even as late as 1760 they were supposed to have no feet, and Linnaeus calls them footless birds of paradise. Another account says that they come to some of the spice islands of the East to eat nutmegs, which so intoxicate them, that they fall down senseless, and are then killed. Mr Hooker, however, assured me that they were found only in New Guinea, and in a few groups of islands in its immediate neighbourhood. There is a considerable number of species of this bird, all of which have a magnificent plumage. They are of moderate size, and are allied in their habits and structure to crows, starlings, and to the Australian honey-suckers. I longed to get some of these beautiful birds; but at present we had too much important work on which our existence might depend to allow me to make an attempt to obtain them.

We laboured on till the sun nearly reached the horizon, and then hurried back to our hut. As may be supposed, as we passed along the shore we took an anxious look-out in every direction to ascertain if any sail was in sight; but the distant horizon still remained unbroken, as it had been since the prow which had brought us to the island had disappeared across it.

I was still unwilling to attack the mollusc; but Macco, cutting off some slices, toasted them before the fire, and declared them very good. I preferred supping on the remainder of the turtle’s eggs, as did Oliver. He, however, tried a bit of the mollusc, but agreed that, unless more perfectly cooked, it was likely to prove very indigestible. Having finished our repast, we crept into our hut. I should have said we had strewn it thickly with leaves to serve as a mattress. The nights were warm, and as there was no wind, we required no covering beyond that afforded us by the roof. We agreed, however, that as soon as we could manufacture some sago, we would build a more substantial mansion, in which we might be able to live should the rains come on.

I cannot describe the incidents of each day; for having no note-book, they are somewhat mixed up in my memory. For two days we laboured on at the tree, and had now begun to make some progress. I became somewhat eager at length, and hacked away incautiously with my knife. In so doing, I caught it in the wood; and in drawing it out again, snapped the blade across. Here was indeed a misfortune.

“O Massa Walter,” exclaimed Macco, “dat bad!”

“It is indeed,” I said; “for though you and Oliver may in time get through the trunk with your knives, it will certainly take much longer.”

“Not so certain of dat,” said Macco. “An idea strike me. You take my knife—don’t break it, though—and I come back by-and-by and see what I can do.”

Saying this, he handed me his knife, and with greater caution I continued my task.

“We must be content to chop out a little at a time,” observed Oliver. “Perseverance will succeed in the end. It might even be done with a penknife, if we did not attempt to work too quickly.”

Macco, after being absent an hour, returned with several articles in his hand. One was a thick flat shell, something like an oyster-shell, only very much larger. He had also brought some pieces of wood, with some fibre to serve as string, and some small sticks of bamboo. He sat down near us, and taking the shell, formed with the bamboo a small drilling machine. With wonderful rapidity he worked away, drilling first one hole and then another in the shell, till he had formed a line completely across it. He now asked for his knife, and shaped away the wood he had brought. Placing two pieces, one on each side of the shell, with another at the back, he secured the whole together by means of the fibre, binding it round and round through the holes, till he had formed a serviceable-looking axe.

“Dere,” he said, lifting the weapon.

“Let me have it!” I exclaimed. “I will work away gladly with it.”

“No, no, Massa Walter,” he answered. “I make de axe, I use it; if you make it, you use it.”

Macco, lifting his newly-made axe, advanced to the tree, and began chopping away with careful and delicate strokes. He cut off only very thin slices at a time, but by degrees he increased the rapidity of his strokes, and I soon saw would produce far greater effect than we could do with our knives. When he stopped, we set to work again. By the end of the day, we calculated that we had got through more than half of the trunk. It showed, at all events, what perseverance could do; and in good spirits we returned to the shore. It was some time before sunset, but we were anxious to try and find some more turtles’ eggs. In vain, however, we searched; and thinking that we might possibly find some more further on, we continued our walk along the shore. We had gone some distance without meeting with any success, when, the brushwood appearing somewhat lighter, we determined to proceed a little way inland. We had not gone far when we found a large mound fully six feet high, and, I daresay, not less than twelve feet across. What it could be, we could not at first tell. It seemed as if a building of some sort had stood there, and the whole had tumbled down and been broken to atoms. We had our bamboo spades with us, so we took it into our heads to dig into the mound. It appeared to be composed, on examination, of dead leaves, stones, earth, and rotten wood, and sticks of all sorts—indeed, every variety of rubbish. At first I thought it might possibly be an ant’s nest, as I had read of the curious buildings formed by those creatures. I had begun on one side; but Oliver went to the very top, and began digging away. Macco could not assist us, as he said he had seen nothing of the sort before. One thing we were certain of, that the mound was artificial.

“I am afraid we are only wasting our time,” I observed; “and it will be better to go back to the shore to look for turtles’ eggs; and perhaps we may catch a turtle itself.”

I had already begun to walk away, expecting my companions to follow, when Oliver cried out, “Stay!—stay!—see here!” and he lifted up a large egg of a light brick-red colour, fully as large as that of a swan. I hurried back, and now, assisting him to dig, we uncovered a considerable number—two or three dozen at least. I now recollected having heard from Mr Hooker of a bird called the megapodius, which lays its eggs in large heaps. It is said that a number of birds make these mounds together. For this purpose they are furnished with large feet and long curved claws, to enable them to scrape up the dirt and rubbish. This they are supposed to do by labouring together; and they then, making a hole in the centre, lay their eggs in it and cover them up. The heat caused by the fermenting leaves is sufficient to hatch the eggs; and the young birds then work their own way out of the mound, and run off in a most independent manner into the woods, picking up their food as they go. They are quite independent of parental control, and seem at once to obtain all the knowledge they are ever likely to possess. We determined to watch for the birds themselves, when we had time, to learn more about them. Of the fact that they thus lay their eggs, we now had a very pleasant proof.

“Stay,” said Macco; “I make baskets to carry de eggs.”

Ascending a tall palm-tree, he cat from the top some fan like leaves, and descending, speedily wove them into three baskets, sufficient to carry away our prize. We left, however, a portion to be hatched, not liking to take the whole—indeed, there were more than we should probably require while they remained good. We had not got far with them, when a dreadful idea struck me.

“Suppose they are nearly hatched,” I said; “I am afraid they would be uneatable!”

Macco understood me, and laughed heartily. “Oh, dem bery good,” he answered. “Little bird better dan big, bird.”

However, I could not agree with him. To satisfy myself, I at once broke one. Greatly to my delight I found that it was perfectly fresh; and probably, had we approached the mound more cautiously, we might have found the parent birds in the neighbourhood, for it was evident that the eggs could only just have been laid.

As may be supposed, we made a hearty supper. On examining our larder, we found that the flesh of the cuscus was still perfectly fresh. At first I had some repugnance to eating a new animal. However, the steaks which Macco cut from the creature’s fat sides looked so tempting that I did not refuse the portion he offered me, and found it very delicate. As the eggs were more likely to keep than the flesh of the animal, we agreed to preserve it for our morning’s meal, cooking only one, which we divided amongst us. A couple we agreed would be sufficient for a hearty meal; indeed, one was almost enough to satisfy a moderate appetite. While we were eating it, we discussed the best plan for keeping our eggs.

“What do you say to trying to hatch some of them?” said Oliver. “We may then have some poultry about us, as I suppose, if we were to begin when the birds are first hatched, we might tame them, and then, in case of necessity, we may kill them for food.”

There appeared to be no great difficulty in imitating the parents’ way of building. We therefore constructed a mound, similar in character to the one we had discovered, and placed half-a-dozen eggs at the same depth that we had found them. And, as far as we could recollect, in the same position. The others were hung up in the air on the branch of a tree in baskets, that they might be kept as cool as possible, hoping thus that they would remain fit for food till they were exhausted.

“What cause we have to be thankful!” said Oliver. “See tow bountifully we are supplied with food; and the care thus taken of us by a kind Providence should make us trust that we may some day be rescued from our position, and restored to our friends.”

Chapter Thirteen.

The treasures of our island.

The next morning, as we took our way to the sago wood, our ears were saluted by the loud cries of some of the birds of paradise; and looking up, we saw a vast number of them collected on the tops of some lofty trees in the forest, having immense heads of wide-spreading branches with scanty foliage, though with large leaves. Suddenly the birds began to move about in the most extraordinary manner, stretching out their necks, raising their beautifully-tinted plumes, and elevating their wings, which they kept in a continual state of vibration. Now they flew from branch to branch backwards and forwards, so that the trees appeared filled with waving plumes, and every variety of form and colour. “Why, they are dancing in the air!” exclaimed Oliver; and truly it seemed as if they were expressly performing a dance for our entertainment. The wings appeared to be raised directly over the back. The head was stretched out, bending downwards; and the long hinder feathers were elevated and expanded, forming two superb golden fans, striped with deep red at the base, and fading away into the pale brown tint of the body. Their heads were yellow, their throat emerald-green—though even the bright tints were scarcely perceptible amid the rich golden glory which waved above them. They appeared to be of the size of crows, the bodies being of a rich coffee brown. Their long gold and orange feathers, which form their most conspicuous ornament, spring from the sides beneath each wing; and I found afterwards, when I examined one of the birds, that when in repose they are partly concealed by them.

We could scarcely move from the spot, so delighted were we with the beautiful appearance of these magnificent birds. Now and then, also, superb butterflies of gorgeous colours flew by us; while here and there, as the sunlight penetrated amongst the branches of the trees, we saw, creeping along the ground or up the stems, numbers of glittering beetles, of equally beautiful tints.

At length, however, we repaired to our sago-tree. Macco used his newly-formed axe with as much judgment as at first; we as before working away at intervals with our knives. At length he exclaimed, “Me t’ink tree fall now. You go to end of rope and haul, haul. Take care far enough off; and I cut, cut.”

Macco again shouted; and Oliver and I hauling with all our might, we saw the lofty tree bending forward. We ran back even further than was necessary, and down it came with a crash upon the ground, which echoed through the forest, and startled several creatures, which went flying or leaping, it seemed to us, among the branches or over the ground. One, however, in a little time came back again, and we saw a curious black face looking down upon us. “A monkey or baboon!” I cried out. A chattering cry was the answer, and the black face disappeared among the branches.

We could do little more towards preparing the sago that evening. On passing through a more open part of the forest, our eyes were gladdened by seeing some large fruit hanging from the top of some palm-trees. “Cocoa-nut!—cocoa-nut!” cried Macco. Yes; there was the long-coveted cocoa-nut; and apparently mature. Macco, as may be supposed, was very quickly at the top of the tree, and engaged in throwing down the nuts.

“Stay!” I cried out; “don’t pick more than are necessary, and we may have them fresh.”

We had soon torn off the fibrous covering, and knocked a hole in one of the eyes. How deliciously cool and sweet did the juice inside them taste!

“That is refreshing!” exclaimed Oliver. “I am glad we have begun on the sago-tree, or we might have been lazy, and not have taken the trouble to cut it down.”

“Yes, indeed,” I answered; “and remember the cocoa-nuts will only last for a time, whereas the sago will keep as long as we require it.” Here was another addition to our store of provisions, for which we had truly cause to be thankful.

Next morning we set to work to cut off the leaves and leaf-stalks, and we then took off a strip of bark from the upper part of the trunk. We now had the pithy matter exposed, which in the upper part is of snowy whiteness, and of the consistency of a hardish pear, with woody fibres running through it, a quarter of an inch from each other. We had seen, the pith removed by means of a club, with which it is pounded while still in the trunk. Our next work, accordingly, was to form a couple of clubs for the purpose. It was a difficult matter, however, to cut a piece of hard wood suitable for our object. After hunting about for some time, we could find nothing to suit us. At last it occurred to me that we might load the end of a stout piece of bamboo, which might, at all events, do better than nothing. We accordingly cut some pieces, and going to the shore, fixed in the bottom of each a lump of coral rock, which Macco managed to secure in a neat and at the same time thorough manner. With these we commenced operations, and though the process was slower than it might otherwise have been, we found that we could manage to beat out a considerable quantity of sago pith.

While Oliver and I were proceeding with this work, Macco who was far more ingenious than we were, commenced the operation of the washing machine. This he formed of the large sheathing bases of the leaves, in the shape of a trough. The object is to strain the sago pith. With the fibrous covering from the leaf-stalks of the cocoa-nuts he soon twisted a net-like strainer. The trough, I should say, is deep in the centre and very shallow at the end; thus the starch which is dissolved sinks down to the bottom of the trough, while the water runs away from the upper part. Macco made also some baskets out of the sheathing bases of the leaves, in which we might carry the sago.

We now set out with our materials to our spring. There was not as much water as we should have desired, but still it seemed to come bubbling up in sufficient quantity for our purpose, without fear of exhausting the supply. Macco, having formed a number of trestles of pieces of bamboo sticks, rested the trough between the forks, the straining place being placed on higher trestles than the strainer in the centre, so that the water might run down into the trough below. The strainer was now stretched across the upper part of the trough, and putting in our sago, Macco began to pour the water from the shell which he had brought for the purpose. We eagerly watched the process. In a short time a good deal of thick matter seemed to run off, leaving only refuse in the net. This refuse we threw aside, and supplied its place with fresh sago. This we continued doing till our trough was nearly full, and the water being allowed to run off, we found a fine mass of sago starch with a slightly red tinge. We now made this up into thick cylindrical masses, as we had seen done before, and covered them up with the sago leaves.

Truly thankful for our success, we carried off the sago we had thus manufactured to our encampment. We agreed, however, before commencing any other operation, to turn all the pith we had obtained into sago, as we might not otherwise have time to manufacture a further supply. Our difficulty was to cook it. We had seen it eaten boiled with water. It then forms a thick glutinous mass, and salt is mixed with it to give it flavour, as it is of a somewhat astringent taste. We tried boiling some in one of our shells; but before the sago was sufficiently boiled the shell caught fire. We, however, managed to eat it, and mixing it with salt, found it palatable. We then determined to try and make some bread of it. To do this, however, we had to build an oven. This, without difficulty, we formed in the earth. We then filled it with hot embers. Having pounded our sago in a shell, we mixed it with water, and made it into small cakes. These we placed on stones in the oven. In our first experiment we burned up our cakes, as we kept them too long in. We then agreed that we would try and make a baking-pan, such as we had seen formed. This is a square box made of clay, with several divisions, into each of which a cake is placed sideways. The difficulty, however, was to form this oven; and we agreed that we would try and find some clay and manufacture one. At the next attempt we kept the cakes in a much shorter time, and found them sufficiently palatable. We were occupied for more than a week in manufacturing our sago. It was probably very inferior to what is made by more experienced persons. At the same time it was wholesome, and would be a great addition to the animal food we were likely to procure.

One evening, as we approached our hut, after our day’s work was over, we heard a noise inside. We approached noiselessly, with our bamboo spears ready for use, thinking, probably, that wine animal had got inside. Just as we were within ten yards of the entrance, out popped a large black creature, which turned round chattering and grinning at us, and then bolted off as fast as it could, with a lump of sago in its paws. “Monkey! monkey!” cried Macco, giving chase with his spear. The creature was, however, I saw, a baboon, from having no tail, or an imperceptible tail if he had one, the part he turned towards us being bare of hair, and of a ruddy hue. He was far too nimble, however, even for Macco to overtake him, and up he sprang into a tree, going chattering among the branches, dropping the sago, however, in his flight. I recognised, as he turned round, the face I had seen watching us when we were making the sago.

We agreed that we must secure our provisions, or he, having discovered our store, would perhaps return with many companions to pilfer it. I heard afterwards that only one species of baboon is found thus far east, probably introduced by Malay seamen, who constantly carry baboons and monkeys on board their vessels. We agreed, indeed, that it was now time to begin a hut, in which we could sit more comfortably during the evening, and which would shelter us from the rains, which I knew were likely to occur before long. The rich vegetation which covered the island would not, I knew, exist, unless frequently watered by heavy showers.

We agreed to call our house Bamboo Villa. We first stuck into the ground a number of stout bamboos, and then secured, at about six feet from the ground, to the uprights, horizontally, some bamboos almost of the same thickness. These formed the beams on which we rested our floor. The floor was composed of the mid-ribs of the sago-palm, split in two, and supported beneath by poles. The sides were of the same material. Our work, the framework of which was of bamboo, was thatched with the smaller mid-ribs, and with the leaves of the sago-palm foliage, tied in bundles, side by side. These, however, being very thick, formed a covering which kept out the heat of the sun as well as the rain, a very important consideration in that climate. A ladder of bamboo enabled us to reach the door of our house.

In this abode we hoped better to preserve our provisions, and to be free also from insects or any reptiles which might exist on the island. We had frequently caught sight in the distance of creatures moving about among the thickly-growing trees, but had been unable to tell what they were. We had also seen movements amongst the dense mass of leaves which covered the ground, and had supposed them to be lizards and snakes, or other crawling things.

As soon as our house was finished we manufactured a sago oven, which we baked in the sun. It was, however, of a very fragile nature, and we feared would not answer very well for our cakes—to use it, indeed, we were obliged to increase its size. When all was ready, we prepared some cakes. This we did by drying the sago thoroughly in the sun, then pounding it in a shell into a fine powder. Keeping some of the powder to sprinkle the oven with, we made the rest into cakes. Having got the oven heated, we put in our baking-pan, with a piece of palm-leaf over it, and then closed up the hole with stones and earth. In a short time we again opened the mouth of the oven, when lo, and behold, our pan had burst asunder, and though the cakes were pretty well done, pieces of clay were sticking to them on every side. It took us some time to pick them out before the cakes were at all fit to eat; indeed, an epicure would certainly not have considered them palatable. What would we not have given for a good pot in which to boil our water, and a well-made pan for baking our cakes!

“There is no use wishing for them,” exclaimed Oliver; “we must make the best use of the materials at hand.”

We determined not to be defeated, and our next pan was made of clay, and strengthened with pieces of bamboo in the inside. We began baking it in the sun, and then carried it to our oven, which was only slightly heated. We then added more fuel, and closed it up. On opening it we only let in a little air at a time, and this allowed it to cool slowly. On taking it out, not a crack was perceptible. On examining it, when it was thoroughly cool, we had hopes that it would answer better than its predecessor. The next time we made some cakes we pounded some cocoa-nut with them. We then heated our oven, and put in our pan full of cakes. In about five or six minutes we again opened it, and drawing out the pan, we saw the cakes well cooked, and the pan unbroken.

We had been too busy to go hunting; but we determined, as soon as our house was completed in every respect, to do so systematically. We hoped to have no difficulty in procuring a cuscus occasionally, and as there were evidently many birds on the island, to trap them or kill them in some other way. We talked of forming cross-bows, and we hoped to find some elastic wood for the purpose. Still, we had a longing for vegetables. We found a delicate-looking plant, which had nothing suspicious about it, for I knew the appearance of several of the noxious plants. On digging down we discovered a root to it. Macco said he thought that it was wholesome, and volunteered to try it. We agreed that it would be better for one person to do so, and to take only a little at a time, that, should it have any bad qualities, we might discover them before serious injury was done to any of us. We accordingly boiled some in a shell with some hot stones, and Macco, taking a little, declared it very good. Next day he ate rather more of it, and in a short time took a considerable quantity mixed with some shell-fish, which we had just before procured. Its wholesome nature was now satisfactorily ascertained, and we had thus another article of food on which we could depend.

Among the many beautiful objects in our way were the groups of bamboos. Botanically, the bamboo is looked upon as grass, but, practically, it is a tree, as it sometimes attains the height of seventy or eighty feet. In many of the places we had visited we found the native huts built of it. For this purpose the people split it open, and press it out flat. To strengthen the walls, other perpendicular and horizontal pieces are fixed to it. The masts of small vessels are made of it, as well as spars, and drinking-cups and vessels of all sorts. The more savage tribes still make their weapons of bamboo, as, when slightly burned, a sharp edge like a knife can be given to it; indeed, the pointed end of a bamboo makes a formidable spear, which an unarmed man would not wish to encounter.

I cannot give a full account of our residence on the island. We were never without an ample supply of provisions, both vegetable and animal. A fortnight had passed since we had buried the eggs in the mound, and had almost forgotten all about them, when, as Oliver and I were seated in our hut, we heard Macco shouting out, “Come!—see! see!” We hurried out, and remarked a curious commotion on the top of the mound we had thrown up. Presently, one head popped out from the earth, and then another, and another, and a curious half-fledged bird emerged, and pointing its head inland, began to run away towards the wood. Macco made chase, and brought it back. We, in the meantime, seized the remainder of the little creatures as they emerged from their curious hatching-ground, and carried them off to the hut. They seemed very unwilling to stay there, till we placed some sago flour and other food before them. They instantly began pecking it up, as if they had been long accustomed to feeding. Nothing seemed to satisfy them, and we were surprised at the quantity of food they managed to swallow. I never saw such independent little creatures. It was satisfactory to know that we were not depriving an affectionate hen of her offspring. As we were anxious to preserve them, we made a pen of bamboo sticks closely stuck in the ground, in a circle of about a couple of yards in diameter. It took us some time to do this. As soon as the pen was finished we put the brush-turkeys—for such we supposed they were—inside it, throwing in at the same time a supply of food. The little creatures ran round and round, but finding they could not get out, began to peck away at the food. Supposing that, as they took to the woods, they would require some shelter, we threw in a quantity of leaves, and small branches, and twigs. Under these, when they could eat no more, they went to roost, apparently very well contented with their quarters.

Well satisfied with our success, we searched for some time, but without finding another mound; indeed, the birds which made them did not appear to be very common in the island. However, we could not make much way into the interior on account of the thick jungle, though here and there were a few open glades through which we could pass along with tolerable ease. We had reached one of these glades when we saw directly before us a brown animal jumping along over the ground. “A kangaroo! a kangaroo!” exclaimed Oliver. “It is so like the pictures of one.” We, of course, made chase, but the kangaroo—for a species of that animal it was—soon caught sight of us. Greatly to our surprise, however, when it came to the end of the glade, instead of forcing its way through the thicket, or turning round to stand at bay, it began to climb up the nearest tree. It did not climb very fast, however, and had we been somewhat nearer we might have struck it with our spears. By the time we got up it had climbed above our reach. I then remembered reading of a tree kangaroo which is supplied with powerful claws on the fore-feet. Once up in the tree, it did not appear to be much frightened at us, and we had time more particularly to observe it. It had a hairy tail, much finer than the ordinary kangaroo, and we observed as it went over the ground that it had not used it as a support, as the Australian kangaroo does.

Macco proposed climbing the tree to attack it, but we thought it would be dangerous for him to make the attempt, as the creature might seize him in its claws, and tear his skin. He laughed at the notion, and remarked, “If he do dat, he tumble down. No, no; you let me alone. You go away, I kill kangaroo!”

Saying this, he made a circuit through the thick forest, so as to get the tree between himself and the branch on which the kangaroo was sitting. We, meantime, retired down the glade. As soon as the animal saw that we were at a distance, he began tearing away the leaves from a branch and eating them voraciously. Macco, hanging the spear about his neck, climbed up a neighbouring tree, which was united to the one on which the kangaroo was sitting by a strong band of ratan. Along this, finding it secure, he cautiously climbed, till he gained a branch directly above the kangaroo. We watched him anxiously, afraid to move lest we should disturb the animal. He seemed to be considering whether his spear was long enough to reach it. Then we saw him cautiously stoop down over the branch. The moment the kangaroo stopped eating, he drew back and remained still as death. When the animal again commenced tearing off the twigs, he cautiously approached. At length he seemed satisfied that he was in a good position, and raising his spear, he darted it down directly on the animal’s neck. It must have pierced the spine, for the creature instantly dropped off the branch and lay without moving on the ground. We ran up as fast as our legs could carry us, but Macco was on the spot before us, and examining the creature. He seemed satisfied that it was perfectly dead. It had a graceful, mild-looking head, and, except in the points I have mentioned, was in all respects like an ordinary kangaroo, though not so large as the animals I had read of in Australia. It was indeed a prize to us, for we had not killed a cuscus for some time, and had been living on shell-fish, sago, and cocoa-nuts, with now and then a few turtle’s eggs. Fastening the legs of our prize round a piece of the universally useful bamboo, we bore it off in triumph to our mansion, and very soon had some delicious steaks cooking before our fire.

Chapter Fourteen.

Carried off by savages.

I do not know whether a more than usually substantial supper made us sleep sounder than we were wont to do, but the sun had already risen when, the next morning, I started up, hearing as I fancied some strange noises near us. My two companions were still asleep on their bamboo couches on either side of the hut. The noises seemed to me like human voices. Oliver and Macco must have heard them also, for directly afterwards they also started up, and looked about them with a somewhat startled expression of countenance.

We sprang to the door of the hut. On opening it, we saw directly below it a number of dark-skinned savages, almost destitute of clothing, some of them having huge black mop heads, while others had simply thick woolly hair. From this I knew them at once, as well as from their strongly-marked, ferocious features, to be Papuans, or inhabitants of New Guinea. They seemed as much surprised at seeing us as we were at seeing them, and shouted out to us in a language we of course could not understand. By their signs, however, we knew that they were telling us to come down to them. This, from their unprepossessing appearance, we were not well-disposed to do. Probably they supposed we possessed fire-arms, and were therefore unwilling to approach nearer. They had just landed, we knew, from seeing two long, low canoes with high stems and sterns rudely carved and surmounted by plumes of feathers. A row of mother-of-pearl shells apparently ornamented each side of the gunwale. The men were armed with bows and arrows and huge clubs. Some of them also had spears in their hands, but we saw no guns among them. This was satisfactory. However, from their numbers we knew too well that they could easily overpower us, if they had evil intentions.

Again they shouted to us, and we shouted in return, putting out our hands, and making other signs to show that we desired to be friends. They only answered by still louder shouts, some of them apparently laughing at our appearance. They now began to approach, one party coming up on one side, one on another, and a third in the centre. We still held our post, hoping that they might not come to extremities. We thought, too, that perhaps, seeing three people at the door, they might suppose others were within, and not be aware of how far superior they were in force to us. As they advanced they discovered our brush-turkey pen, and, greatly to our distress, some of them instantly stooped over, and began to seize the birds, and to fasten them by their legs round their waists. Others rushed at the body of the kangaroo, which hung by the legs to the branch of a tree, and immediately began cutting it up, each man appropriating a portion.

“I hope they will be content with robbing us, and go away,” said Oliver.

“I am afraid not,” I answered. “They will soon find how few we are to oppose them, and will not be content until they carry off everything we possess, even if they do not kill us. They mean mischief, depend on that.”

The savages having searched about, and finding nothing else on which to lay their hands, approached still nearer our hut.

“If they attack us we will sell our lives dearly,” I said to Oliver.

“I am afraid we must do so,” he answered. “I wish to fight for your sake, though for myself I scarcely think I should do so.”

Thinking that possibly, after all, they might go away without further molesting us, we lifted up our ladder and shut the door. Scarcely had we done so, than we felt the house violently shaken, and on looking out once more I found that a number of men had got hold of the posts on which it rested, and seemed attempting to shake it down. They shook, and shook, and shook; but it was so strongly secured in the ground, that their united strength could not pull it down. All the time they were shouting and crying to each other, every now and then giving way to hoarse laughter, which occasionally broke into shrieks of merriment. “Bery good fun for dem, but bad for us,” observed Macco, as the violent shocks made us expect every instant to be hurled to the ground. At length they stopped, and there was an ominous silence. We felt as people do during the lull of a hurricane, when they know it will come back with tenfold force. Presently we heard the savages crying out louder than ever, and directly afterwards thin wreaths of smoke began to ascend through the flooring. They were about, we dreaded, to burn us out. Soon the crackling flames ascended. We had no help for it; so, throwing open the door, we sprang to the ground. We were each of us instantly surrounded by a number of savages. One black fellow, with a huge head of frizzled-out hair, and a dark heavy club in his hand, seized hold of me, and I thought he was about to dash my brains out with his weapon. Others, in like manner caught my companions. I thought my last moment had come, and expected every instant to see my friends struck to the ground. No sooner had we jumped down than they began to rake out the fire and to pull down the burning portions, though they were only just in time to save the hut from destruction. Immediately a number of them rushed up, and began to bring out our stores of sago and dried mollusc, our cocoa-nuts, and other articles of food. They seemed well pleased with their prize. These they quickly divided among themselves.

The big man with a mop head now gave certain orders to several of his companions, who hurried off into the wood. They soon returned with some fine pieces of ratan, with which they immediately bound our arms behind us, and our legs so close together, that we could with difficulty walk. This being done, they all sat down and began to consume our provisions, a large portion of which they quickly devoured. On seeing water in one of our shells, they made signs to Macco to ask where we got it from, and ordered him to lead a party to the spot. Going to their canoes, they returned with a number of long jars and small casks, made of the thick ends of large bamboos. The savages had apparently touched at our island for the sake of getting food or water. Having supplied themselves with this necessary article, they unceremoniously dragged us on board their canoes. Oliver and I were taken to one, and poor Macco to the other. He looked very disconsolate when he saw that he was to be separated from us. I confess I felt very uncomfortable at the thoughts of being in their power, for I had heard that they were not only fierce and treacherous, but addicted to cannibalism, if they were not regular cannibals. Still Oliver and I agreed that we would endeavour to show no signs of fear. They seemed very well satisfied with the provisions with which our stores had supplied them. Before shoving off, however, a party of them again landed, and went to the cocoa-nut grove, of the produce of which they brought back a quantity. They now, getting out their paddles, began to glide away from the island where we had spent so many weeks. Looking back at it, we admired the numberless beauties it possessed—beauties which no change of season in that latitude could possibly mar. There was one enemy, however, which might quickly scatter destruction around. It was likely to proceed from the conical mountain in the centre of the island. Already there appeared to be a white smoke ascending from the summit.

“Perhaps, after all,” said Oliver, “we are taken away in time to be saved from destruction. See, our captors are watching the top of the mountain; they too seem to think that something is likely to happen. Let us be thankful, then, that we have been removed in time; for had the mountain burst forth while we were on the island, we could not possibly have escaped, if the lava or ashes had come down on our side of it.”

While he was speaking I was looking towards the mountain. Instead of the volumes of smoke which had hitherto been issuing forth, there spouted out a bright sheet of flame, which, expanding as it rose towards the sky, spread around like a vast fan, arching over and forming a canopy of fire above the island. Thus for an instant it hung suspended, threatening destruction to the smiling landscape below it. At the same moment sounds like the loudest peals of rolling thunder rent the air, almost deafening us with their roar. Even our captors, not unaccustomed to such a spectacle, stood aghast, clutching each other’s arms, and gazing with horror-stricken countenances at the mountain. “See, see!” cried Oliver; “how mercifully we have been preserved!”

Indeed we had; for down the mountain’s side, half covering it, flowed a river of burning liquid, setting fire to the trees and shrubs, the conflagration spreading far and wide, fanned by the breeze among the easily ignited timber, while from the sky above there rained down dense showers of glowing stones and hot cinders, till the late green island became enveloped in flame, amid which the tall palms waved to and fro, as if struggling to escape from impending destruction. At the same time, a shower of fine ashes began to fall on our heads. Thicker and thicker they came, obscuring the atmosphere, till we could merely distinguish the pyramid of fire with its fanlike summit, and the wide circle of leaping flames which raged around it. In a short time the canoe was thickly covered with ashes, which penetrated also through our clothes, and filled our ears and nostrils, making even breathing painful. The savages at length aroused themselves, and seizing their paddles, began with desperate strokes to urge their canoe away from the ill-fated island.

“O Walter, let us return thanks to our merciful Father in Heaven, that what we thought so great a misfortune has been the means of our preservation,” said Oliver; “and never let us mistrust the kind providence with which he watches over us.”

We knelt down in the bottom of the canoe, and I joined Oliver in the prayer he offered up, the savages looking at us with surprise, unable probably to comprehend in the remotest degree what we were about.

I should say that some time had been spent after the events I have briefly described had taken place. We had got to a distance from the burning island, and were once more in safety. Having become very hungry, we made signs to our captors that we should like to have some food. With a careless air they handed us some lumps of our own sago, and some pieces of cocoa-nut. We were compelled to take it, uncooked as it was; for though we showed by signs that we should like to have some bread made of it, they laughed at our request, and seemed to tell us that it was good enough for such white-skinned slaves as we were.

These New Guinea men had apparently been on a voyage to the northward, and were returning to their native land, which lay, we judged, somewhere to the south. We ate our hard sago-cake, which we could scarcely have got down without the aid of the cocoa-nut. We again made signs that we should like an entire cocoa-nut, that we might drink the juice. They pointed in return to the water alongside, and mockingly, by signs, intimated that we might drink that. In vain we entreated that they would give us some fresh water or a cocoa-nut. Our distress seemed to amuse them amazingly; for both, the chief and his men indulged in most uproarious shouts of laughter, rolling about as if they were thoroughly tipsy. At length, however, when they had amused themselves sufficiently at our expense, one of them threw a cocoa-nut, which hit Oliver on the head. He could not help exhibiting some signs of suffering, which made them again burst into fits of laughter; indeed, they appeared to be the merriest fellows, though savage in their merriment, that I had ever met with. The juice, however, which we got from the cocoa-nut, Oliver declared, made ample amends for the treatment we had received.

“I do not think they can intend to kill and eat us,” he observed, “or they would feed us better than they are doing. We must see how we can best win their good graces. If we could but do something to prove that we would be useful to them, we might obtain better treatment.”

“Very true,” I answered; “I will do my best to help you, if you can think of anything.”

We could distinguish Macco sitting near the stern of the other canoe by the different shape of his head, as well as by the seaman’s woollen shirt he wore. He seemed to be sitting quietly, as if listening to the conversation of those around him. However, it was not likely that he could comprehend anything of their language. Hour after hour the savages paddled on, till at length we approached some rocky islets, towards which they steered. Here they landed, and lighting a fire, rudely cooked the remainder of our kangaroo. Not till we petitioned very hard did they condescend to give us any portion of it. At length, however, they made signs that we might cut off what flesh we required, and we eagerly took advantage of the permission they granted. At the same time, finding a bamboo cask of water at hand, we soon drained its contents, and afterwards felt very much refreshed. The meal over, they again took to their canoes, and continued their voyage. How they could manage to cook their food on a long voyage, I could not discover. Oliver suggested that they perhaps lived on those occasions on cold provisions; indeed, their sago-cakes would provide them with sufficient food, if they ever did make long voyages, which, however, I suspected they did not.

At length, however, we got close in with the coast, which we took to be that of New Guinea. On either side, as far as the eye could reach, it was covered with tall forest trees and dense brushwood. They were considerably taller than those on our island—some of the most lofty being draped with festoons of the creeping ratans, which gave them a peculiarly graceful appearance. The sands, unlike many of those of the volcanic islands we had passed, were white and glittering, and the water of the most transparent nature, so that, looking over the side, we could see far down into the depths of the ocean. In the distant interior rose up ranges of lofty mountains, appearing one beyond another, and extending, till lost to view by distance, both to the north and south. Altogether the country appeared magnificent in the extreme. Under other circumstances I should have been delighted to visit it; but the idea of having to live among such fierce-looking savages was terrible, especially when we could not help thinking that if they did not kill and eat us, they would at all events make us labour as slaves.

Our captors, instead of landing, continued to proceed towards the south. As night approached, they ran into a little sandy bay, where, hauling up their canoes, which, notwithstanding their large size, were very light, they all assembled on shore. We were now on that mysterious coast of New Guinea. Macco was allowed to come near us. I asked him whether he thought we could manage to run away while our captors were asleep.

“Dey run faster dan we,” he answered, “and if dey catchy dey kill, and if dey kill dey eat. No, no, Massa Walter; we stay and try and make friends. I tell dem big ship come soon and bring cloth, and knives, and hatchets, and all sorts of good t’ings for dem, if dey no hurt us.”

How Macco had contrived to explain this I could not understand, but he seemed very confident that they had comprehended him. Some of the party, armed with bows and arrows, started away into the woods, while the others collected sticks and lighted a fire. The hunters soon returned, bringing with them a tree kangaroo and a cuscus, with several large bats. The latter creatures I had seen before, and heard them called flying-foxes. They were very ugly, and one of them; which I took up had a rank, powerful, foxy odour. One of the natives who saw me thought I was going to eat it raw, I suppose, for he shouted out, and I quickly dropped it. They immediately set to work to skin these creatures, and cutting them up, roasted them on sticks before the fire. Some rough sago, which they baked on the embers, was also produced.

We sat apart from them, and they commenced their feast without intending apparently to give us any. Macco, however, after waiting a few minutes, observed, “Dis no do;” and getting up, approached the savage-looking group. Pointing to his mouth, he quietly stooped down, and was carrying off one of the bats.

“No, no,” I shouted; “bring us a piece of kangaroo or the other animal.”

The savages looked somewhat astonished at his audacity, but yet no one prevented him. Throwing down the half-roasted bat, he placed several pieces of the other meat on leaves, which served them as plates, and came back to us with them in triumph. He then returned for some sago. With this food we made a tolerably hearty meal, and certainly felt our spirits a little the better for it. The savages then, again going into the thicket, brought out a number of bamboos, with some tall ferns, with which they constructed some rude huts, sufficient to hold all the party. We, imitating their example, did the same, and commending ourselves to Him who had hitherto so mercifully watched over us, lay down to sleep.

By dawn the next morning the savages were on foot, and having consumed the remains of their supper, began to shove off their boats. Macco managed to get hold of a little more sago and meat, with which we made a scanty breakfast. We were in hopes that they were going to leave us behind, but they had no such intentions; and as soon as the boats were in the water, their mop-headed chief made signs to us to go on board—an order we obeyed with as good a grace as we could command. The canoes paddled on the whole of the next day, the coast scenery being very similar to what we had previously passed. Towards evening we entered a large bay completely sheltered from the sea. On one side of it, towards which they directed their course, we came in sight of what appeared to be a village built out on the water.

Their dwellings, if such they were, were curious, dilapidated edifices. They stood on platforms supported by posts, placed apparently without any attempt at regularity. Many of the posts were twisted and crooked, and looked as if they were tumbling down. The houses were very low, the roofs being in the shape of boats turned bottom upwards. They were connected with the land by long rude bridges, which seemed as if they could scarcely support the weight of a person going over them. As we drew nearer, we saw that the fronts of these dwellings were ornamented with rude carving, sometimes of the human figure, such as the grossest savages alone could wish to exhibit. Under the roofs of the houses were hung as decorations rows of human skulls; trophies, we concluded, of their combats with neighbouring tribes.

The canoes were received with loud shouts from the inhabitants of the village, who came out on the platforms to welcome them, lowering down some roughly made ladders to enable them to ascend. Alongside the platforms were a number of canoes of various sizes, some capable only of containing one person, with outriggers to prevent them going over. Our captors made a sign to us to follow them, and we now had to stand in a row and be inspected by their friends. We were arranged on the platform, for the houses were far too low to allow of our standing upright in them.

Fierce as the savages looked, they were most of them remarkably fine men, tall and athletic. The women, however, except a few who appeared to be very young, were most unattractive. Their features were strongly-marked, and their dress coarse and disgusting. It consisted of stripes of palm-leaves, worn tightly round the body, and reaching to the knees, and dirty in the extreme. Their hair, frizzled-out, was tied in a huge bunch at the back of the head. We saw them, while they were talking and looking at us, forking it out with large wooden forks, having four or five prongs: indeed, an ordinary comb would have been of little service in such a mass of cranial vegetation. The women wore ear-rings and necklaces arranged in a variety of ways. Some of them had two necklaces, made of white beads or kangaroo teeth, which looked well on their dark glossy skins. The ear-rings were composed of thick silver or copper wire, in hoops, the ends crossing each other. Some of them had the ends of their necklaces attached to their ear-rings, and then looped up to the chignon behind, which had a very elegant appearance, if anything could look elegant on such unprepossessing dames.

The men had a far greater number of ornaments than the women, most of them composed of the teeth of small animals. They had finger-rings as well as necklaces and ear-rings, and also bracelets. Some, too, wore bands round the arm, just beneath the shoulder, with bunches of bright-coloured feathers or hair attached to them. Others, also, wore anklets and bands, made of shell or brass-wire, below the knee. All the chiefs, and those who wished to be exquisites, carried a huge forked comb, which they continually employed in passing through their hair, much as I have seen people with large whiskers keep pulling at them when they had nothing better to do.

We only hoped that our captors had formed a better opinion of us than we had of them. They appeared undecided what to do with us. At last, however, the chief, whom we called Frizzlepate, made us a sign to enter one of the houses, and pointed to a little box-like room, into which we could just manage to creep. The partition walls of the house were formed of a sort of thatch, and the only articles of furniture we saw within were rude wooden plates and basins, with one or two metal cooking-vessels apparently, and a number of baskets and mats. Their weapons were spears, bows, and clubs. The mats were evidently used for sleeping on. They were made of the broad leaves of the pandanus, sewn together, with their usual neatness, in three layers. One end is sewn-up, so that when used for sleeping it forms a kind of sack, serving at the same time for mattress and coverlid. We saw them also used in rainy weather, worn over the head, the sewn-up end being uppermost, serving thus the purpose of umbrella and greatcoat. Most of the men wore in their belts a chopping-knife and axe. Some of them had besides smaller knives, and a skin pouch, with a bamboo case, containing betel-root, tobacco, and lime. The mats, however, were certainly the most useful articles in their possession. They could be folded up in a very small space for travelling, both as a protection from rain and as bedding at night: indeed, they were equal in most respects to the Mackintosh rugs used by our officers in campaigning.

We were expecting to go supperless to our cramped-up bed, when a woman, with a more pleasing expression of countenance than most of those we had seen, came to our room with a basket containing some plantains and yams, with a few cooked fish. She signed to us to take the contents and give her back the basket, with which she immediately disappeared. Anxiety for the future would have kept us awake, had not our ears been assailed by the loud chattering and laughter of the natives in the hut in which we were located, as well as in those around us. Even in that small hut there must have been a dozen or twenty people, which was not surprising, if they were contented with the small space they had awarded us.

Chapter Fifteen.

Our adventures in New Guinea.

Next morning, at an early hour, the whole community was on foot. The men came out, and sat themselves down on their platforms, where they began to smoke very curious pipes, made of a single piece of wood, with an upright stalk under the bowl, which either rested on the ground or on their knees. The tube was at right angles with this, and the bowl shaped like a cup on the top of the stalk, a knot of wood at the outer end of the tube serving to balance it. The women were seen going along the beach to the shore, or descending into the small canoes, we concluded either to fish, or to collect limpets or other molluscs from the rocks for food. Not knowing exactly what to do, we got up and were about to follow them, when a shout from Prince Frizzlepate, as we now called him (for he seemed to be the chief of this delectable community), reached our ears. He made signs to us that we were to take two of the canoes and go into the bay to fish, as the women were doing.

“Dat bery good,” observed Macco. “Me know how to catch more fish dan dem.”

We found a number of lines, with hooks made of the bones of birds, hung up in the house. When we offered to take them, Prince Frizzlepate nodded his permission. Macco also borrowed one of their knives, with which to cut some shell-fish from the rocks to serve as bait. We had fortunately not consumed all our sago or fish; and these, hidden in our pockets, we took with us, for our masters apparently had no intention of providing us with food. We quickly got the bait, and, guided by Macco—he being in one of the canoes, and Oliver and I in the other—we paddled off to a point near where the women were fishing. Soon after we let down our lines, Macco hauled up a fine fish. He caught double as many as Oliver and I together.

We naturally talked of the possibility of making our escape in the canoe; but where to go to was the difficulty. We saw also that we were observed from the huts, a large canoe being apparently kept ready to make chase should we attempt to paddle off. After a little time, we ate the provisions we had brought with us, turning our backs towards the shore as we did so, for fear our masters might observe it. We were already beginning to practise some of the arts of slaves. Having caught a good supply of fish, we paddled back towards the shore.

“I vote we land on the beach, instead of going back to those dirty huts,” I observed. And Oliver agreed with me. Macco, however, seemed rather doubtful that we should bring down on our heads the displeasure of our masters. The women had landed some time before. Either the men were sleeping, or they did not think it worth while to call us, and, reaching the beach, we landed and hauled up our canoes.

Oliver proposed that we should light a fire and cook some of our fish. A flame was soon produced by Macco, in his usual way, with two pieces of bamboo; and we soon had our fish cooking before it. Having finished our meal, we walked a little way into the country. We had not gone far when we observed a small hut, raised from the ground, somewhat like those on the beach. Near it, leaning on a bank, we saw a woman who appeared very like the kind person who had brought us our provisions on the previous evening. She was stooping forward, with a small branch in her hand. On getting nearer, we saw that she was playing with a little child, who was seated in a large bivalve shell full of water. It made a magnificent bath for the little black fellow, and it was larger even than the shells we had found on our island, a magnificent, specimen of the Tridacna gigas. The woman was younger and far pleasanter-looking than most of the women in the huts.

“Yes, I am sure it is her,” said Oliver, when we approached. She seemed somewhat startled at seeing us, and instinctively lifted her little boy out of the bath, and held him, dripping as he was, in her arms. That did not signify, however, as she was clothed in very scanty garments. We stopped short, not further to alarm her; and then, recovering herself, she signed to us that we might come nearer. She pointed to the huts on the beach, and seemed to intimate that we had better go back, lest the chief should be angry at our wandering about the shore without his leave. She then patted us on our heads, which we took to signify that she wished us well. Of this, indeed, from her previous kind conduct, we had no doubt.

“We will give her some of our fish,” I said. “It will show her that we are grateful to her for her kindness.”

Macco, hearing my proposal, ran back to the boat, and returning with several fine fish, placed them at her feet. Having done this, we hurried back to the canoe, and paddled away to the huts. On climbing up the ladders, we found that the men had been sleeping, which had been the reason, probably, we had been allowed so much liberty. As we were bringing the fish up to the platform, the chief awoke, and seemed well pleased with our success, for he nodded his head, and graciously gave each of us a fish.

For two or three days we were sent out in the same manner, and each time Macco was successful. We, however, discussed all sorts of plans for making our escape; for although we were not especially ill-treated, we yet could not tell how soon the mood of our savage masters might change.

I was very anxious to see something of the interior. An opportunity arrived sooner than I had expected. Early one morning, the chief awoke us, and signified that he wanted us to attend him on shore. It appeared, that having found us so useful as fishermen, he expected that we should be equally successful as hunters. Having put bows and arrows into our hands, he signified that we should attend him. About a dozen men were collected together, armed also with bows and arrows and spears. On the ground were several baskets, and just as we were beginning to march, some of the men lifted them up, and, without asking our leave, strapped them on over our shoulders—an unmistakable hint that they expected us to carry them. I, feeling indignant at this proceeding, let the basket drop; on which the chief, casting an angry glance at me, gave me a blow across the shoulder with his spear, which made me feel so faint that I nearly fell to the ground. My companions wisely took the hint, and, just as they were about to follow my example, re-secured the baskets. I saw that there was no help for it; so, again lifting up mine, I followed the party as fast as I could.

“You see, Massa Walter,” observed Macco, “dem can make us do what dey like, so no use cry out. ‘Grin and bear it,’ as Potto Jumbo say to me bery often.”

As we passed through the forest we caught sight of numerous beautiful birds flying among the trees, and countless numbers of lovely butterflies flitting to and fro, and beetles crawling over the grass or climbing the trunks of the trees. “What would not Mr Hooker give to be here!” I could not help exclaiming.

I was going to put my foot on what I thought a large leaf, when I saw it suddenly rise and spring forward. A little way on I saw another creature—for a creature it was—of the same description; and, looking at it more narrowly, I saw that it was an enormous grasshopper. The wing covers, which were fully nine inches across, were of a fine green colour, looking exactly like one of the large shining leaves which hung from the trees above. The thorax was covered by a large triangular sheath of a horny nature. Its serrated edges, and a somewhat wavy hollow surface, with a line down the centre, made it also look very like a leaf. At a guess, for I could not measure it, I should say that it was between two and three inches long. The body was short, but the legs were very long and strongly spined. It did not move very fast, so that I could examine it easily. Though only at a very short distance, I could not have distinguished it from the number of fallen leaves among which it moved. Overhead were numbers of cockatoos, parrots, and other birds of gay plumage, while now and then we caught sight of a brush-turkey running along rapidly over the ground. Many of the butterflies we saw were of magnificent size, and all richly adorned with the most brilliant colours.

At length the savages stopped under some high trees with wide-spreading branches, though thinly clothed with leaves. Several of them then ascended, carrying with them bows, and a number of arrows with round weighted heads, while each man also carried a large piece of roughly-formed matting at his side. Ascending the trees, they stretched out the matting across the branches, just above a convenient fork on which they took their seats. In a short time, as the sun was tingeing the lofty tops of the trees, we heard the well-known sound of “Wawk—wawk—wawk!—Wok—wok—wok!” Soon afterwards we caught sight of a flight of the most magnificent birds of paradise assembled on the branches, and immediately they began the curious dance we had before seen, spreading out their brilliant feathers, which glittered like masses of gold thread in the sunlight above our heads. The hunters meantime lay hid under their palm-leaf shelter. Presently, one let fly an arrow, which stunned a bird, and it fell to the ground. Another and another arrow was shot, few failing to bring down a bird. The lovely creatures, unconscious of the fate of their companions, continued their dance, seeming too much interested in themselves to think of the rest. At length an arrow whizzed by one of the birds, which it failed to strike. This seemed to astonish the rest; and, looking about, it discovered one of the hunters. Immediately, with loud cries, the whole rose from the tree, and flew away with rapid wings from the spot. The savages then got down the tree to secure their prizes.

Satisfied with their success, they now took out some food, which they commenced eating. Macco, as before, in spite of their angry looks, carried off a small portion for us and himself. As soon as their meal was hastily concluded, they began cutting off the wings and feet of the birds. When the skin was taken off the body, a stout stick was run through it, coming out at the mouth. Round this a number of leaves, were stuffed, and the skin was then wrapped up in a palm-spathe. I saw at once how it was that the legend of their having no wings or feet had arisen. The beautiful flowing plumage appeared to great advantage, but the body, by this process, was greatly reduced and shortened, and gave a very erroneous idea of the real shape of the bird. While speaking of the birds of paradise, I should like to describe the great variety which exists. Those I have described are very different from the ordinary bird of paradise, with which ladies were accustomed to ornament their hats and bonnets. That is a very beautiful little bird, but not to be compared to the Great Paradise bird, or the Red Paradise bird, or the King Paradise bird, or, indeed, to several others which I saw brought from various parts of New Guinea, or from the neighbouring islands. One of the most curious and beautiful is the Red Paradise bird, which is said to be only found in the island of Waigiou. In the same island, another bird, called the Red Magnificent, is found.

The birds having been prepared for travelling, the savages now roused themselves, and signified to us that we must continue hunting. We kept close to Macco, knowing that he was more likely to be successful than we were. We urged him to try and get away from them, that we might be by ourselves.

“But we get lost; we no find our way back,” he answered.

“But I thought you were accustomed to your native forests, and that you could easily find your way,” I observed.

“Dis forest not like my forest,” he answered. “I dere know de signs. Here bery different. I live here one year, two year, and den I find my way about.”

“I thought you could find your way by instinct,” I said, “through the forest.”

“Macco not know what ’stinct mean,” he answered. “Me know de signs on de trees, de way de rivers run or de streams run, where de mountains are, where de sun rise, where de sun set. Den know de way.”

However we managed, while our masters started off in one direction, to take an opposite one; and before long, as we moved cautiously through the wood, we caught sight of a cuscus. Macco was quickly up a tree, and soon captured the poor beast. Not long after we came up with a tree kangaroo, to which we gave chase. We caught him as we had done the other on our island, and had now two animals to take to our masters. We hung them by their feet over a bamboo, and carried them along in the direction we believed would lead to the coast. We had gone some distance when we began to doubt whether we were going right. The forest was far too thick to allow us to get a glimpse of the sea, by which we might have guided our steps. At length, fatigued with carrying our heavy burden, we stopped to rest. On a piece of fallen timber on which we sat, I observed some curious flies with slender bodies, and wonderfully long legs, which raised their bodies high above the surface on which they stood; but the remarkable thing about them was the large horns which projected from below their eyes, very nearly as long as the animals themselves, something in shape like the horns of a stag. Their eyes were violet and green, and the bodies and legs yellowish brown, and their horns black. We had been silent for some time, each of us occupied in his own thoughts, when, looking up, we saw a long snouted animal approaching slowly and rubbing his nose into the soft ground as he advanced. “Pig, pig,” cried Macco, starting up and giving chase, spear in hand. The pig, however, was far too quick for him, more active considerably than the cuscus or the tree kangaroo, and though Macco ran fast, piggy, who knew the country, ran faster; and in a short time Macco returned, somewhat crestfallen at his want of success. “If we kill three animals dey tink we great hunters,” he exclaimed. “We look for another piggy, and try cachy.”

We now thought it time to continue our journey. We had not got far, however, when we heard shouts behind us, and turning round, we saw a number of black fellows, their countenances expressive of rage, pursuing us with clubs uplifted. To fly through that jungle would have been folly, so we stopped and faced the savages. I fully believed from their gestures that our last moments had arrived. They were within a dozen yards of us, and in another moment our brains would have been dashed out on the ground, when a cry was heard coming from one side, and in an instant afterwards a young woman burst through the thicket, and threw herself between us and our enemies. We recognised her as the kind person we had seen bathing her baby in the large shell. She held up a branch between us and the men, and appeared to be expostulating earnestly with them. She used much gesture and spoke with vehemence. Gradually their countenances somewhat calmed, and their clubs, which had been raised, slowly descended to the ground. As they stood leaning on them she pointed to the animals we had killed. Macco had been watching both parties attentively.

“Dey tink we run away. She say no,” he observed. “We take dem and give dem to her.”

On this we lifted up the kangaroo and cuscus, which we had placed behind the trunk of a tree, and exhibited them to the savages, laying them afterwards at the feet of the young female; I cannot say our fair friend, for she was almost as dark as a sloe berry. We then lifted them up again, and inquired of her by signs what we were to do with them. She told us in the same dumb language that we were to accompany her, and pointing to the path up which we had come, she bade us go before, walking herself between us and the men, as if to protect us from them. We went on and on, and now found from the time we took to reach her hut, that we must have been going inland instead of towards the village on the sea-shore. This naturally made the savages suppose we were attempting to run away.

On arriving at the hut she again addressed the men, who thereon began to cut up the animals.

They carried away the whole of the cuscus and part of the kangaroo. The other part we supposed she had claimed as her perquisite. She then made signs to us that we were to remain. Who she was we could not tell, but we concluded that she was a chief’s daughter, or, at all events, a person of great influence and probably of rank among them. As soon as the men had gone, she lighted a fire and cooked the remaining part of the kangaroo, placing a savoury piece before us on some palm-leaves, to which she added some well-made cakes of sago, far superior in flavour to those we had manufactured.

She now signified to us that we were to build a hut for ourselves in which to pass the night, and took us to a spot where we found an abundance of bamboos, and the large palm leave? I have before described. She seemed much amused at our awkwardness in putting up the building, and quickly set to work to show us the way, so that in a short time we had a comfortable little hut for a sleeping place.

“I wish we knew her name!” observed Oliver. “I have often read of acts like these, and of the way in which women have saved the lives of people as, I am sure, she has done ours. They are the same all the world over. We have now a proof of it.”

We were in hopes that after this we should be employed entirely by the kind lady, for lady she was in her look and manner, though she had but few garments and no ornaments.

The next day, however, Prince Frizzlepate made his appearance, and ordered us to go off fishing. She nodded to us as much as to tell us that we had better do so, and accordingly we entered the canoes which we had used before. We had even more than our usual success, and returned with a number of fine fish. On landing we took up the finest to our friend.

“I have thought of a name for her,” I exclaimed, as we walked along. “I remember reading of a Princess Serena of some island in the Pacific, and I doubt if she could have been more amiable than this lady; so I propose we call her Princess Serena.”

Oliver agreed with me. Macco only grinned. Probably he saw nothing like a princess about her—only a kind-hearted girl, who had taken compassion on three unfortunate strangers.

We presented our fish in due form to the princess, and she graciously received them, being indeed highly pleased with the present. With the remainder we returned to our masters. They received the fish as a matter of course, not deigning in any way to thank us. Without asking their leave we slipped back into our canoes, and paddled away towards the hut of the princess. The men called after us, but we pretended not to hear them, and were soon afterwards seated round a fire roasting several fish we had lately caught.

For several days we were employed in the same manner. At length, however, the fish would not bite, or they had left the bay—at all events, we caught but few. Each time we returned we were received with scowling looks by our masters; and it was very evident that though their disposition towards us had been far from amiable when we first encountered them, it was now considerably worse.

Chapter Sixteen.

Our perilous escape.

We had returned one evening from an unsuccessful fishing. When we reached the hut we found the Princess Serena in an evident state of agitation. Looking cautiously around, she made signs to us that some one was about to kill us, lifting up her hands as if they were holding a club for the purpose of breaking our heads. There was no mistaking the signs. We inquired of her what we were to do. She stopped to consider, first pointing to the canoes. Then she seemed to advise a different plan. Hurrying into her house, she brought us out some bows, and a considerable supply of arrows. She then went in, and returned with three baskets, which she showed us were full of sago, as also some dried fish. She then made signs to us to eat as much as we could, putting some kangaroo meat and sago-cakes before us.

We followed her advice. As soon as we had finished, going into her hut, she returned with her child in her arms, wrapped up in a piece of matting, which was secured round her waist, assisting to support the little creature. She then beckoned to us to follow her. We did so in Indian file, proceeding along the coast towards the south. As soon as we had got well out of sight of the village, she led us along the beach close to the water, where the tide would obliterate our footmarks. The moon soon rose, and gave us ample light to see our way. It was a lovely night. The water rippled brightly on the sand, while the moonbeams played softly over the calm ocean. On the other side rose up the dark forests with their curious tracery of creepers. Here and there our feet struck against shells of rare beauty, such as would delight a collector in England. Just then, however, we thought of little but making our way as rapidly as we could from our captors. I asked Macco if he could make out where the princess was leading us.

“Not know,” he answered. “S’pose to friends.”

“I suspect,” observed Oliver, “that, from her appearance, she belongs to some other tribe, and has been married to the chief of the people who captured us, and that she is going to take us to her own relations.”

This seemed the most probable explanation of her conduct.

“She can scarcely wish to lead us away, and then leave us to our own devices,” said I. “Perhaps she thinks we are such good hunters that we should be able to support ourselves.”

We travelled on the whole night as rapidly as we could move, close to the edge of the water, which, rising, soon covered the impress of our feet. Just before the sun rose, a thick mist came over the land, completely hiding all objects, except those in our immediate neighbourhood. Still the princess led on. Daylight at length stole over the world; but the mist yet hung down upon us as much as ever. Our conductress at length stopped. She was evidently somewhat weary, and although Macco offered to carry her child, she would not allow it out of her arms. She now made signs that we had better rest, putting her head upon her hands as if to go to sleep. We were too glad to follow her advice, for having been on foot the whole of the previous day, we were completely worn out, and could not have gone many miles further. In spite of the exercise we had taken, the damp air made us feel very cold. She observed that we shivered, and instantly leading the way into the woods, took us to a place where we could cut a quantity of long leaves—a sort of fern, apparently, of gigantic size. With these, she intimated, we could cover ourselves up while we slept, pointing to a sheltered place under a bank which had been worn away into a sort of cavern.

I suppose we had slept some time, though we felt very unwilling to get up when the princess roused us, and made us understand that we should take some food, and then proceed on our journey. We, of course, obeyed her implicitly, and we proceeded on as we had done during the night. Several times, when we came to an elevation of any sort, she looked back, examining the line of coast along which we had come, as if to ascertain whether we were pursued. Then, again, she came down with a look of satisfaction on her countenance, and proceeded on as before. It was towards the afternoon when she again stopped, the ground before us rising, and jutting out into the sea, forming a lofty headland. She now led the way inland, and showed us another hollow, signifying by her gestures that she wished us to occupy it. As we, however, felt anxious to explore the country, we continued wandering about. This seemed to cause her much annoyance. First she caught hold of Oliver and led him back, and then me, and then ran after Macco. At length, observing that we did not seem disposed to keep quiet, she came and took me by the hand, and led me cautiously up towards the top of the height, looking round on either side, and keeping as much as possible under cover. On reaching the summit, she pointed down below, where I saw, in a sheltered bay, another collection of huts somewhat similar to the one we had left. This at once accounted for her unwillingness to allow us to wander about, lest we should be seen by the inhabitants. I expressed my thanks to her as well as I could, and at once returned to the cavern.

She now, as before, made us collect a supply of fern leaves, as well as a number of branches; and we having again taken some food, she covered us up inside the cavern, fastening the branches in front, so as to conceal the entrance, she herself going to a little distance, and sitting down under a bank with her child. As we had had but little rest the previous morning, we quickly fell asleep.

The shades of night had again stolen over the world, when we heard the gentle voice of our conductress calling us; and once more she set out, we following her in Indian file as before. We made a circuit, apparently to avoid the village, and then descended to the sea-shore. All night long, indeed, we went on. The journey was almost a repetition of that of the previous night. The moon was still shining brightly over the waters, when Macco uttered an exclamation of surprise, and putting his hand on my shoulder, cried out,—“O Massa Walter, look dere!”

He pointed seaward, and there, just under the moonbeams, I caught sight of a white object. I looked more and more earnestly. Yes, I was almost convinced that it was the sail of a vessel. The shape of her canvas convinced me that she must be European, and not one of the mat-sail craft of those seas. Oliver thought I was right also. “Yes, yes!” exclaimed Macco; “no doubt, dat brig!”

Our conductress stopped when she heard our exclamations, and also looked towards the sea. The vessel was standing towards the south, the direction we were going. I observed that she walked, after this, more slowly, as if her thoughts were engaged on some matter of importance.

“Oh, if we could but manage to get off to her, or make some signal!” I exclaimed.

“I am afraid that will be very difficult,” said Oliver.

As may be supposed, our thoughts were occupied after this with all sorts of plans for getting off to the vessel. The fog, however, which constantly comes over the land before sunrise, concealed her entirely from our sight. We rested, by the desire of the princess, among some fallen trees in the forest, she having examined the place first, apparently to ascertain if there were any snakes, or other creatures, to hurt us. We, however, could scarcely go to sleep for thinking of how we could reach the vessel we had seen. Still, sleep at length overcame us.

We were awoke by the voice of the princess, evidently in a state of great agitation. Pointing to the sea-shore, she led the way there. She took us down to the beach of a small bay, in which a canoe was hauled up. It was barely sufficient to hold two people, and would certainly not contain three.

“Jump in, Massa Walter—jump in, Oliver!” exclaimed Macco. “Shove off; me find other canoe, and follow.”

Though it was broad daylight, the mist still hung over the ocean, and we could not see to any distance. The princess urged us by her gestures to follow the advice which Macco gave us.

“But where is there another canoe?” I asked, not seeing one near.

“Never mind, Massa Walter,” he answered; “shove off—shove off, I say;” and running the canoe down to the water, he forced us both into it, putting a paddle into the hand of each. “Dere, dere, you go off; I come off in ’noder canoe! Go, go! I say, go!”

Hitherto we had been unable to ascertain the cause of the alarm exhibited by the princess. At that moment we learned it too well, by hearing some shouts in the distance. They became louder and louder, and as they did so, her agitation increased. We endeavoured to thank her for her kindness, but she seemed too anxious to get us off to take any notice of our gestures. Trusting that we might discover the brig we had seen on the previous night, we paddled away with might and main. My heart misgave me, though, as to what would become of Macco. We saw him still on the beach waving an adieu, till both his form and that of the princess were almost hidden by the mist. The shouts increased in loudness, and just then, glancing over our shoulders, we saw a number of gigantic looking forms—gigantic they looked through the mist—rushing down with uplifted clubs towards where our friends were standing. Life was sweet to us; we could not help our friends, and we paddled away. A shriek reached our ears, but the shadowy forms were no longer visible—indeed, the whole land was concealed by the mist. On we paddled for our lives. Every instant we expected to be pursued, for though our canoe was the only one we had seen, we could not help fearing that there must be others in the neighbourhood, into which the savages would certainly get, and come in chase of us. As far as we could judge, we were pulling directly out to sea. The shouts had died away. They had assisted us somewhat in directing our course through the mist. We again heard them; they seemed to be approaching.

“We are pursued,” cried Oliver.

“Then we must pull away faster,” said I.

Again louder and louder grew the shouts. Our hopes of escape began to vanish.

“I am afraid we shall again be made prisoners,” I observed to Oliver.

“Don’t let us despair,” he answered. “We have been preserved hitherto. The same Power can still take care of us. See, see! What is that?” Just then, the mist breaking, we saw appearing above it the topgallant sails of a square-rigged vessel.

“The brig, the brig!” I shouted.

We paddled on with redoubled vigour. She was still at a considerable distance. Behind us rose the fierce cries of the savages. The surface of the water, which had hitherto been calm, now became somewhat agitated. The mist rose. Before us appeared the brig, and turning round our heads, we saw at almost an equal distance a couple of canoes. On we dashed, shouting at the same time at the top of our voices. The people on board the brig apparently heard us, for a boat was lowered. The wind was moderate; but still a heavy surf rolled in on the shore. At that moment the fragile canoe was lifted up by a sea, and then down she came upon a bed of rocks, almost splitting in two.

“On, on!” I cried to Oliver, throwing off my jacket; “we must swim for it!” and seizing him by the arm, I helped him to wade across the reef, and then plunging into the sea, we swam off towards the boat. Her crew perceived our danger, and with sturdy strokes pulled towards us. A glance I cast behind showed me that one of the canoes of the savages had met with the same accident that we had, and several dark heads were seen floating in the water, and getting fearfully near us. One of our pursuers, I saw, held a club in his hand. Had I been alone, I might easily have kept ahead of the savages, as we had so much the start of them; but Oliver not being so good a swimmer as I was, made but slow progress. The other canoe, avoiding the reef on which we had struck, made for an opening in it, and was only a short distance behind the swimmers. I looked up. Oh, how long the boat appeared to be coming! Still she was coming; and I urged Oliver to persevere. He redoubled his efforts. How grateful I felt when at length the boat reached us. I looked up, and there I saw the countenance of Dick Tarbox, of Roger Trew, and the dark features of Potto Jumbo, expanded by excitement in the most wonderful manner. There also were several others of my shipmates. Was it a dream, or was it a reality? For an instant I thought the whole must be a strange dream. Still, no, it must be a reality, I said to myself; and crying out, urged my friends to take Oliver on board, I meantime treading water alongside. They lifted him up, and had just time to stow him in the bottom of the boat, when the savages were upon us. One fierce fellow was close to me with uplifted dagger. Roger Trew knocked it out of his hand with his oar, which the savage then seized. Another savage was coming on with his club raised in one hand, while with the other he tried to catch the stem of the boat, when Dick Tarbox came down on his cranium with the blade of an oar with such force, that the savage sunk beneath the sea. The others, meantime, began to let fly their arrows; but Tarbox, settling the other man who had hold of Roger’s oar, in the same way as he had done the first, and I being taken on board, the boat pulled rapidly towards the brig.

I still could scarcely believe that I was not dreaming. “What!” I exclaimed, looking up at Tarbox, “are you really alive, or is this all fancy? I thought you were all lost when the mast went over.”

“It is no fancy, but we are all alive and jolly,” answered Tarbox. “Thank Heaven, Roger Trew and I, and a few others of us, were able to cling on to the mast. We thought you had been lost; and thankful I am to find that we were wrong about you, as you were about us.”

However, as may be supposed, there was no time to ask questions or get answers. I was satisfied that I was really awake, and had providentially escaped from the savages. The brig, for fear of the reefs, had been unable to get nearer. Numerous other canoes were seen coming off from the shore. The savages appeared determined to recapture us; and, perhaps, finding that the brig did not fire, hoped to take her also. Before, however, they could reach the boat, we were alongside.

I quickly sprang up on deck, and there, with open arms, stood to welcome me, my dear sister Emily. Grace and Mr Hooker were behind her. They greeted me cordially. As may be supposed, they had many questions to ask me, and so had I to ask them. The brig, I found, had been fitted up by Mr Hooker and Captain Davenport. The captain, I was sorry to hear, was unable to come in her, and Mrs Davenport had remained behind at Ternate to nurse him. Mr Thudicumb had come in command, with those of the crew of the Bussorah Merchant who had been left on shore.

The captain’s object was to search for his lost ship. Mr Hooker had the same object in view, as also to examine the various islands we were likely to call at, for the sake of gaining information in natural history. Emily had entreated to be allowed to come; and the captain, after some hesitation, thinking that his daughter’s health might be benefited by the voyage, allowed her to accompany Grace. An old Dutch woman, Frau Ursula she was called, who spoke a little English, and to whom I was presently introduced, came as a sort of nurse, or governante.

The savages meantime were approaching; and Mr Thudicumb and his men were making preparations for their reception, getting all the arms on board loaded, including a couple of small brass swivel guns and two six-pounders, which we carried on our quarters for making signals. The land-breeze, however, freshened considerably, just before the leading canoes got within bow-shot.

“Don’t fire, Thudicumb, as long as we can help it,” said Mr Hooker. “I have no wish to injure these poor savages; and if we can avoid doing so, it will be much better, both for ourselves and for any who may come after us. I believe that many of the murders which have been committed by the savages, on these and other coasts, have been caused by some insult or injury, first inflicted by the white men, and they have simply retaliated, fully believing themselves justified in so doing.”

The sails were trimmed, and away we stood from the coast. I seized a glass, and tried to examine the shore, in the hope of seeing either our kind protectress or Macco; but neither were visible, and it seemed too likely that both had been killed by the savages. When I had time to tell Mr Hooker about Macco, he proposed standing back to try and hear something of him, and to bring him off if he had escaped. The savages, finding they could not overtake us, at length pulled back to the shore.

“And now, my good boys,” said Mr Hooker, “you may as well rig yourselves decently. You have been living so long among savages, that you are scarcely aware of the uncivilised figure you cut.”

I had nearly forgotten my scanty garments in the excitement of what was taking place. Mr Hookers shirts were certainly rather large for Oliver or me; but he insisted on our taking one apiece, as also a pair of duck-trowsers. “I have no doubt that Roger Trew, and one of the other men, will cut a pair for you into proper dimensions by to-morrow,” he said, laughing, as he handed us the garments. Some spare jackets, which more nearly fitted us, were found among the men’s things; and we were thus able to appear in the cabin in rather more civilised costume than we had come off in, and be presented to the Frau. She was a somewhat portly dame, with a most good-humoured countenance, her little round blue eyes appearing to be always laughing, while her mouth was constantly wreathed in what Mr Hooker used to call full-blown smiles. She had kind, sympathising feelings, and wept heartily when she heard of the fate of the Princess Serena, which we described to her. Emily and Grace, too, were much moved by it, and very sorry to hear that the faithful Macco had also too probably lost his life in his anxiety to save ours.

“I am so glad to see you, Massa Walter,” said Potto Jumbo, as he shook my hand when I went forward to the caboose, in which, in spite of its small size, he appeared quite as happy as in the large one on board the Bussorah Merchant; “only bery sorry to lose cook-mate. Poor Macco! He bery good cook-mate!”

“Yes, indeed; he was a very excellent and sensible fellow,” I observed. “I trust he may have escaped, and that we may get him on board again.”

I could not bear the idea of thinking that poor Macco had been murdered. Potto Jumbo, however, said he had very little hopes on the subject, as evidently, from the conduct of the savages, they were fierce, revengeful fellows, and were certain to have wreaked their vengeance on those who were still in their power.

Next day, we again stood in towards the coast, with a white flag flying, hoping that the savages might understand it. No canoes, however, came off. In my eagerness to try and recover Macco, I volunteered to go off in a boat; but to this Mr Thudicumb would not consent. He said he was sure that the savages would pursue us; and that the only two boats we had in the brig were too heavy to give us any chance of escape. I scanned the coast with a telescope all day long, on the chance of seeing some signal from the shore, but none appeared; and at length, with much sorrow, I gave up all expectation of recovering poor Macco.

The brig then made sail to the southward, to visit the Aru Islands, which Mr Hooker was desirous of exploring. Some time passed before I had an opportunity of asking Dick Tarbox how he and his companions had escaped.

“Why, you see, Master Walter,” he said, “after supper that day, some of us old hands thought of putting some biscuits and ham in our pockets, though we did not remember them till we were beginning to get very peckish. When the mast fell, we still clung to it, except two poor fellows, who were washed off much at the time that you were; and as they have not turned up, I am afraid they must have perished. The rest of us clung on for dear life. As you remember, soon afterwards the sea went down, and we were able to stand up on the mast and look about us. It was now we recollected the food we had stuffed into our pockets, and lucky it was that we had done so, or we should have been starved: as it was, we nearly died of thirst. Still, though we had a hard matter to get the food down, with our throats so dry, yet we did manage it, and held on to dear life. We were, howsomedever, almost giving up, when we caught sight of a sail coming over the water to us. She was a native craft; but whether or not the people on board her might knock us on the head, we could not tell. Still, anything was better than staying where we were. We had not our choice, though, for the people aboard the prow caught sight of us, and came up to the mast. They were pretty peaceable-looking fellows, though their skins were brown enough. We managed to make them understand that our ship had been cast away: indeed, our mast showed them that; and we were not long in tumbling on board, and making our salaams to an old chap, who seemed to be their captain. He was rather vexed when he could not understand what we said, or we understand what he said to us. However, he observed that we might rig ourselves in mats while our clothes were drying, and had some dishes of rice and smoked fish put before us. When the sea went down, they got out their sweeps, and pulled round where they supposed the ship had struck, in the hopes of getting something up from her; and there were some fellows on board who seemed to be well up to diving. However, they were not successful; and suddenly they got out their sweeps, and pulled away to the northward. A strange sail which appeared some little way off was, we supposed, the cause of their doing this. Probably they took her for a pirate.”

“Very likely that was the craft we were on board,” I observed. “It would have been curious if we had come up with you.”

“Well, for your sakes, I am rather glad you did not,” said the boatswain. “In a little time, our friends, who seemed bound to a distance, began to think that our room would be pleasanter than our company. They had a strange cargo on board,—bales of that nasty-looking stuff, the sea-slug, and birds’ nests, and mother-of-pearl shell, and I do not know how many other odd things. Two or three days afterwards, coming in sight of an island, they quietly made signs to us to get into a boat; and though we at first talked of showing fight, and declaring we would do no such thing, yet at last we agreed, seeing we had no arms to fight with except our fists, that it would be better to obey. To make a long story short, we were shoved on shore on a desolate island; we supposing that we were to find some houses, and people to look after us, but not a human being or a hut could we discover. There was water and there were cocoa-nuts; and as we had our knives, we had a chance of getting some shell-fish, if we could not find anything else. Now, as it happened, not one of us had been on a desolate island before; and there we were, six stout fellows, very little better off than babes in the wood. We had short commons, I can tell you, Master Walter. There were birds enough, and some of them with gay feathers, but we could not catch them; and there were animals, but they got away from us. At first we thought we were not going to find any water; but we did come up to a spring, which bubbled up out of the earth—the only one that we could discover on the island. That kept our throats moist. We had a hard job to get a light. We hunted about for tinder out of the rotten trees; but, then, there was the flint to be found: and no flint could we fall in with. You may be sure we hunted in our pockets, and looked about with our noses on the ground wherever we went. At last, what should we see but a bit of a broken tea-cup. At first I thought it was a bit of shell. How it could have come there I do not know, except it was thrown overboard from some Chinese craft and washed up there. Well, that bit of china was of more use to us than its weight in gold. Taking it in my hand, and beginning to strike it against the back of my knife, what was my joy to see a spark fly from it. It was but one; but one little spark was, I knew, enough to kindle a great fire. Well, we dried our tinder in the sun, and then began to strike away with the flint and china. Roger Trew took it in hand first, and struck and struck away; but though the sparks came, not one could he make go down to the tinder. At last I took it; and didn’t I feel pleased when I saw there was a spark resting on the tinder. We blew, not too hard, you may depend on it, and blew and blew, and the spark began to grow larger and larger, and the whole of the tinder was on fire. Did not we bring dried leaves in a hurry!—and, blowing them, up there sprung a flame in no time. We soon collected a whole load of sticks, and in a few minutes there we had a fire blazing away. We felt inclined to join hands and dance round it. We did not, though. We quickly got our shell-fish, and began roasting them. We thought them very good, though they were not much for keeping body and soul together. Well, we did prize that piece of old china, and I kept it carefully in one pocket, with my knife in the other; and we made up a big fire, almost enough to roast an ox, though we had nothing but a few cockles to cook by it. However, the food, such as it was, put a little more spirit into us, and we set out to see what sort of a country we had been left on. It was not very large; but we saw a number of parrots and parroquets up in the trees, and many other birds, but we had not much chance of getting them. Still, we all agreed we would do our best.

“Well, we walked and walked along the shore, and now and then went inland; but we could not make much way there, on account of the trees. At last, looking up, I saw some tall palm-trees, and at the top of them there were some cocoa-nuts. You may be sure we set to work to get up at them; but it is pretty hard work climbing a cocoa-nut tree without ropes, not like swarming up a mast. However, Roger Trew did haul himself up; but then, you see, there are not many men who have got arms like his, and they are better by half than legs for climbing trees. That is why the monkeys have them so strong, I suppose. To be sure, some of them have got tails to help them. Do you know, I have often thought what convenient things tails would be to sailors, if they could catch hold by them as monkeys do. Howsomedever, Roger got to the top at last, and then he sent thundering down a dozen cocoa-nuts or more. Some of our fellows thought they were to be eaten husk and all, and cried out they did not think that would do them much good. At last we got them broken open, and sucked away at the juice inside, which had begun to turn almost into milk. They were more than ripe. It is said that young cocoa-nuts have far more juice and are far better than the old ones. Still, you may be sure, we were very glad to get these at any price; and having found some trees, we had fair hopes of finding more. Still, cocoa-nuts and shell-fish, though they may keep body and soul together, after a time do little more than that; and we all became thinner and thinner. I am not at all sure that we should have lived many weeks longer, so thin and wretched did we get, when at last a sail appeared in sight. Our hearts beat pretty quick when we thought that after all she might not come near the island. Oh! how eagerly we watched her. Now she seemed to be standing away; now, once more, she tacked, and stood towards the island. There was a high rock near, running out into the sea. We made our way to it; and one of our people tearing off his shirt, we made it fast to it, to serve as a signal. You may be sure we gave a shout of joy when up went a flag in return, and the brig stood towards the island. She was no other than this little Dugong, as they call her, and Mr Thudicumb, and your friend Mr Hooker, come to look for us. We were all very glad to see each other; but we felt very sorry when we thought that you and Oliver had been lost. And now, I’ll tell you, Master Walter, it was about the happiest moment in my life when I got hold of you, and helped you into the boat safe from those savages.”

Chapter Seventeen.

The Aru islands visited.

Leaving the coast of New Guinea, the Dugong stood across to the Aru Islands, which Mr Hooker was anxious to visit. I may as well say that the dugong is a large fish found in these waters, from ten to twelve feet in length, of the whale species. They swim in flocks, often coming into shallow water.

The natives prize them for food. We speared one, and got it on board; and we all agreed, when the fish was cooked, that we had seldom tasted a more delicate dish. However, the look of the dugong is not attractive. Mr Hooker told me that the female dugong is remarkable for the affection which she has for her young, of which she produces only one at a time. If the young dugong is speared, she will never leave it, but is sure to be taken also.

We approached the Aru Islands from the southward. The sea between them and New Guinea is very shallow, considerably under fifty fathoms in many places. There are about eighty of them, mostly very low, and forming a chain about a hundred miles in length, and half that distance in width. They belong to the Dutch. The inhabitants are very mixed. There is a larger number of Papuans than any other race among the population. Two or three native Christian schoolmasters have been sent over from Amboyna to teach the inhabitants. We could just see these islands in the far distance, when we found ourselves approaching a fleet of large native boats at anchor. Two or three vessels were also at anchor near them. With our glasses we could see a number of figures standing up in the boats, and then suddenly disappearing overboard. Others were seen climbing up over the sides. What they could be about I could not at first guess. On pointing them out to Mr Hooker, however, he said at once that they must be pearl-divers; and as the wind was very light, and we passed close to them, we had an opportunity of observing their proceedings. There appeared to be about a dozen men in each boat, half of whom were evidently, from their want of dress, the divers, while two other men we took to be the chief and an assistant. A large sugar-loaf stone was let down overboard by a thick rope. A diver stepped on the gunwale, holding on by the rope, and apparently placing his toe in a loop or hole to keep his foot in its place. On the other foot a net was fastened. With this apparatus the diver began to descend. Before, however, his head reached the water I saw that he held his nose very tightly with his hand. This was, I understood, to prevent the water getting into his nostrils. We calculated that about four from each boat were down at a time, and we judged that each man remained from two to three minutes below the water. Up he came again at the end of that time, apparently very little exhausted, although he must have been making active exertions to collect the shells. After he had come to the top, the net containing the oysters was drawn up, and in that time he had collected from a hundred to a hundred and fifty.

We watched them with great interest, and were anxious to procure some of the oysters, but the chiefs would not sell them; indeed, they all belong to merchants who have rented the fishing for the season. Some of the men, we observed, suffered far more than others, and discharged water from their mouths and ears and nostrils, and some even blood; but, notwithstanding this, the same men were ready to go down again when their turn came. We learned that most of them will make from forty to fifty plunges in one day, and that a few of the most experienced and strongest remain down nearly five minutes. Their greatest danger is from the ground shark, which lies in wait at the bottom. However, some of these men will face even the shark, with knives in their hands, and come off victorious. To secure themselves still further, some of the boats carry conjurers or priests on board, who, by their incantations, are supposed to preserve them from the attacks of the shark. Of course, if a diver is picked off by a shark, the conjurer asserts that he has not properly obeyed his directions, and thus does not lose his credit. The saw-fish is another of the diver’s foes, more dangerous, because more difficult to attack than the shark.

The merchants have to keep a very strict look-out on the divers on their return to the shore, as frequently when the oyster is in the boat, and left alive undisturbed for some time, it opens its shell. A pearl may then easily be discovered, and, by means of a piece of wood, the shell be prevented from again closing till the diver has an opportunity of picking out the prize. Sometimes they will even swallow the pearls to conceal them. As soon as the boats arrive on the shore the oysters are put in holes or pits dug in the ground to the depth of about two feet, fenced carefully round to guard them from depredation. Mats are first spread below them to prevent them touching the earth. Here the oysters are left to die and rot. As soon as they have passed through a state of putrefaction and become dry, they can be easily opened without the danger of injuring the pearl, which might be the case if they were opened when fresh. The shell is then carefully examined for pearls. Sometimes one is found in the body of the mollusc itself, but it is generally in the shell. We afterwards, on going on shore, had a specimen of the horrid odour which arises from these pits, but the people who are accustomed to it do not appear to suffer; indeed, we saw people groping about on the sands where the oyster pits had existed, and learned that they were seeking for stray oysters, frequently pearls of some value being thus discovered.

Emily and Grace, as well as Oliver and I, took great interest in watching the proceedings I have described. I asked Mr Hooker how pearls come to exist.

“Oh, I have read somewhere,” exclaimed Emily, “that they are produced by a kind of dew which falls from heaven into the salt water, where the oyster swallows it, when it hardens and forms the beautiful white object we call a pearl.”

“A very poetical notion, Miss Emily,” observed Mr Hooker; “but in reality pearls are identical with the substance which we call mother-of-pearl, which lines the shell of the oyster. It is, indeed, the result of disease. When any substance intrudes into the shell the animal puts forth a viscous liquor, which agglomerates and hardens till the pearl is formed. It is said, indeed, in some places, that the divers pierce the shells of the oysters, and thus increase the number of pearls. It has also been discovered that oysters which have been pierced by a certain small marine worm have invariably pearls within them. The oyster, to defend itself from the worm, covers the hole with a substance which becomes as hard as the shell, and brilliant as mother-of-pearl.”

A breeze springing up towards evening, we proceeded on our voyage, followed by the boats, which also shaped a course for the Aru Islands. In the course of the next day we came in sight of a small rocky island with high cliffs, off which we espied a couple of Chinese junks at anchor. As the island was not much out of our course, we stood towards it, keeping the lead going for fear of reefs. The water, however, was deep close up to the rocks. The cliffs completely overhung the sea, and we observed within them numerous hollows and caverns. On getting nearer, we saw that several boats belonging to the junks were lying directly under the cliffs. As the wind fell, we came to an anchor, for the sea over which we were now sailing was so shallow, that we could anchor in calm weather in almost any part of it.

A boat was lowered, and Mr Hooker invited us to accompany him. As we passed near the Chinese junk the crew hailed us, and Mr Hooker, who understood a little Chinese, remarked that they seemed very angry with us.

“They think, probably, that we have come to search for edible birds’ nests, which they themselves are now collecting,” he observed.

“Edible birds’ nests?” exclaimed Emily and Grace together. “Do you mean to say, Mr Hooker, by that, that there are birds’ nests fit to eat?”

“The Chinese not only think them fit to eat, but esteem them great delicacies,” observed Mr Hooker. “These junks have come all the way from China to collect them, and if they manage to get back without being plundered by pirates, or sent to the bottom by storms, they will make an enormous profit by the voyage.”

Mr Hooker hailed the junk in return, and told the men that they need not be alarmed; that we did not come to interfere with them, but only prompted by curiosity to see what they were about. As we got nearer we saw the entrance to a cavern, into which we pulled. A far from pleasant odour issued from it, while ahead there was an inky darkness, which the keenest eye could not penetrate. As we proceeded, however, we observed a bright light coming from the interior, which showed us a boat with a couple of Chinese in her, one of whom was holding a torch; while another man, by means of a ladder, was mounting up a narrow ledge of rock on the side. Overhead huge bats flitted round us, while on every side the tiny chirp of innumerable birds was taken up and echoed from seemingly a thousand voices throughout the cavern. Above the head of the Chinese appeared a number of nests, something in the shape of large deep spoons without handles, split in half longitudinally, smaller than the ordinary swallow’s nest. They were placed, without any order apparently, on every spot where a slight projection of the rock afforded a foundation. The Chinese, like their friends on board the junk, began to abuse us for coming to interfere with their occupation. Mr Hooker, however, soon pacified them, and offered them some money for a few of the nests, that we might examine them. This brought them at once into good humour, and they very readily sold us a dozen or more of the nests, though I thought the price for birds’ nests a very high one. A number of birds like swallows were flying in and out of the cavern. They had the flight of swallows; indeed, Mr Hooker said they were a species of swallow. They were about the size of robins or sparrows; their breasts white, their wings grey, and their backs and the feathers of their tails shining black. On examining the nests which we had purchased, we found that they were composed of a gelatinous substance something like isinglass.

“This is the substance,” Mr Hooker told us, “that the Chinese make into broth. They are packed, however, just as they are cut from the rock, and carried to China. There they are cleansed from all extraneous substances, and are then boiled or stewed, every particle of dirt being thus more completely removed; and then, with a mixture of spices, they make a transparent, delicate-looking jelly, although, without the spices, they have little or no flavour.”

“But where can they obtain this jelly-like substance?” asked Emily.

“I believe it is produced from a mollusc of some sort, on which the birds feed. When they require to build their nests, they disgorge the gelatinous portion for the purpose; and as this substance possesses the nutritive qualities of animal matter, I have little doubt that it is produced from these molluscs,” said Mr Hooker.

Not only within the cavern, but on all available and tolerably sheltered spots outside, we saw a number of the sea-swallows’ nests. We pulled close under one cliff, where we could distinguish clearly a bird sitting in its nest—we concluded on its eggs—and looking very much at its ease. Another little bird was standing watching its nest. We supposed therefore that its young had been hatched; and as they were in an inaccessible part of the cliff, we hoped they would escape the Chinaman’s grasp.

As we had given a good price for the first nests, the Chinese willingly sold us another dozen, with which, wishing them a successful bird’s-nesting expedition, we returned on board the Dugong. The Malays assert that the bird feeds upon insects and other minute creatures floating on the surface of the sea; and on further examining the nests, we perceived long filaments resembling very fine vermicelli, coiled one part over the other, without any regularity, and glued together by transverse rows of the same material. Mr Hooker told us that the trade in birds’ nests employs a large amount of capital and men. However, the loss of life arising from accidents and exposure is very great. It has been asserted that, on an average, two out of every five men employed in bird’s-nesting meet with a violent death. In China a “catty” or one pound and a quarter English, of the best nests, sells at about 9 pounds sterling. Their value depends chiefly upon their translucent whiteness. Those which have not been lined or used by the birds obtain the highest prices.

Frau Ursula made a small dish of a few of the birds’ nests, which, when first put before us, were perfectly tasteless. When, however, she had added certain seasoning, it was pronounced as delicate as any food could be. The Chinese use them chiefly for thickening their soups and ragouts.

The sea-swallow is found along the northern coast of Australia, as well as on the rocks and islands of the sea which we were now navigating. A large number of Chinese junks come every year to procure the nests, which are greatly prized in China.

As we neared the Aru Islands we passed close to a number of boats at anchor, the people from which were continually jumping overboard, diving, and returning to the surface with some creatures in their hands. As on the previous day, the wind was light, and we were able to accompany Mr Hooker, and pulled off in the boat to see what they were about.

“What can they be getting?” I asked.

“The creatures the natives are collecting are the holothurians, or sea-cucumbers,” answered the naturalist. “There are a great many species of these creatures; but, I believe, those found on banks of coral sand are the most valued.”

Emily and Grace, however, when they saw the creatures, could not help expressing exclamations of disgust at their appearance. They were like gigantic slugs, or long black bags with frills at the top. Mr Hooker purchased a basket full of the creatures, which he wished to examine more at his leisure.

“But of what use can those ugly things be?” asked Emily, as we pulled back to the vessel.

“Our omnivorous friends the Chinese would be very much surprised at your asking the question,” answered Mr Hooker. “They look upon them as one of their most delicate articles of food, though greatly inferior to the birds’ nests we found yesterday. I see it stated that from Macassar alone these creatures are shipped to China to the value of 150,000 pounds; and this is only a very small portion of those used, not only by the Chinese, but the natives of many other parts of the shores of those seas. When taken on shore, their intestines are removed, and they are then boiled in sea-water: in some places with the leaves of the papaw, and in others with the bark of the mangrove-tree, which gives them a bright red colour. After they have been boiled, they are buried in the ground till the next day, when they are spread out to dry in the sun. They are now considered fit for shipment to China, to which the larger number are sent. In some places, however, they are not buried, but smoked over the fire on a framework formed of bamboo. The Chinese make them into soups, sometimes boiling pieces of sugar-cane with them, which is said to neutralise their rank flavour.”

Sailing round the north end of the group, we approached its capital, or chief trading settlement, situated off the north-west end. It is called Dobbo. Just as we came off it we sighted a Dutch man-of-war brig, and stood towards her. The wind was light, and she had, apparently, fishing-lines overboard. Mr Hooker hailed her, and asked her where she was bound for. Her commander, who spoke English, replied, “For Ternate.”

“How fortunate!” I exclaimed. “We can then write to Captain Davenport, and tell him of our safety.”

The commander at once politely offered to convey a letter. “He might however,” he observed, “be some little time on the passage, as he was in search of pirates, whose vessels had lately been heard of in those seas, and had committed depredations on the islands under protection of the Dutch.”

We all hurried down into the cabin to write our letters, as, of course, I was anxious to give an account of what had occurred to my kind friend. Emily wished to write to Mrs Davenport, as did also Grace to her mother. As there was not much time, we described our adventures as briefly as possible. Mr Hooker had proposed to proceed through the Java Seas to Singapore; while Captain Davenport had arranged, should he be able to obtain a vessel, to go there by way of the Sooloo Archipelago, round the north of Borneo. On returning on deck we saw a great commotion on board the brig—all the sailors rushing aft, and hauling away at a rope overboard. In a short time the snout of a huge fish appeared above the water, struggling violently, and it seemed very likely he would break away. “A shark! a shark!” cried our men. I had scarcely supposed so enormous a creature existed. He was fully twenty-six feet long, and looked capable of swallowing not only a man’s leg, but the whole of his body at a gulp. It made me shudder at the thought of falling overboard, and I felt thankful that while struggling in the water no such monster had found me out. “O Walter! how terrible!” exclaimed Emily. The same idea seemed to have crossed her mind. One of the officers stood, harpoon in hand, ready to strike the creature as he was drawn up under the vessel’s counter. A “whip” was immediately rigged, and the crew hauling away, the shark, in spite of his struggles, was hoisted up on deck. Scarcely had he reached it, however, than we saw the crew scattering right and left; and it looked as if he had taken the deck from them, so violent were the lashes he gave with his tail as he floundered up and down, and turned and twisted on every side. At length the most daring of the men returned aft, armed with capstan bars and hatchets; but it was not till after many blows, and jumping and leaping to get out of the way of the monster’s tail, that he was seen to lie quiet on the deck.

I then went in the boat with our despatches on board the brig. The commander received me very politely, and undertook to deliver them. He warned us to keep a sharp look-out for pirates, as our brig being only slightly armed, they were very likely to attack us should we meet them. He kindly offered me some slices of the shark; but I laughingly declined the gift, saying that we were going on shore, where we might find plenty of beef and mutton. He laughed, however, at that notion, and observed that we were more likely to find pig and kangaroo, as beef and mutton were articles unknown in that region. I bid him and his officers farewell, and returned to the Dugong, I felt greatly relieved at the thought that Captain Davenport would now hear of our safety, and hoped before long to meet him and his kind wife at Singapore. I told Mr Hooker that I had been offered some of the shark’s flesh, but had declined receiving it.

“Had he presented a Chinese with the fins, he would have been overwhelmed with gratitude, as they are considered almost as delicate morsels as the edible birds’ nests,” said Mr Hooker. “The creature in many parts is caught for the sake of his fins alone, which are sent to China in large quantities, where they are used in the same way that the birds’ nests and tripang are employed, though they rank next to birds’ nests in value. They are of the same gelatinous consistency, and are made into soups and ragouts.”

Dobbo, being exposed, to the sea-breezes, is healthy, and a good anchorage is found close to it. The place presented an animated appearance, as traders from all parts of the archipelago assemble there. The buildings they inhabited were not, however, pretentious, being composed of bamboo and reeds; while many of the traders considered clothes somewhat superfluous. On the shore a number of prows were hauled up and being refitted for sea. Caulkers were at work on some; painters on others, who were covering them with a thick white lime plaster, making them look very clean and bright. Sailmakers, who looked, however, more like mat-makers, were at work in some places. The tripang—black ugly lumps—was being exposed to the sun to be prepared for loading. In another spot people were busy tying up bundles of mother-of-pearl shell. Carpenters were engaged in squaring timber for repairing vessels; while boats from the islands of Goram and Ceram were unloading their cargoes of sago-cake, with which the traders supply themselves for their homeward voyage. We were amused with the vast number of different cockatoos, lories, and parrots, which were secured by strings on bamboo perches in front of the numerous reed huts, all chattering and talking together, as if carrying on some important consultation; while beautiful metallic-green or white fruit-pigeons were uttering their pleasing coos in all directions. These people are evidently fond of tame creatures, for we saw several beautiful little kangaroos hopping about, quite as tame and as elegant as fawns. Young cassowaries also, striped with black and brown, ran about as tame as barn-door fowls. This is a wingless bird, the body of which is about double the size of that of a large turkey, but its long legs make it five or six feet in height. It is covered with long, coarse, black, hair-like feathers. The skin of the neck is bare, and is of a bright blue and red. Instead of wings it has a group of horny black spines, like porcupine quills. The species I have described is found in the neighbourhood of the island of Ceram. Mr Hooker told us that it feeds chiefly on fallen fruits, and on insects or Crustacea. The female lays from three to five large eggs of a shagreen-green colour, upon a bed of leaves. The male and female sit alternately for about a month upon them. The articles we saw exposed for sale in the fair were chiefly pearl shell and the tripang, known also as the bêche-de-mer; as also tortoise-shell, edible birds’ nests, pearls, and birds of paradise, or rather their stuffed skins. The Malay traders had brought for sale, or to exchange with these articles, guns, swords, knives, choppers, tobacco, plates and basins, handkerchiefs, sarongs, calicoes, and arrack in bottles. Tea, coffee, sugar, and wine, were also to be seen; and even fancy goods, such as china ornaments, pipes and purses; umbrellas, razors, and looking-glasses; indeed, it is curious what a number of articles are found in this out-of-the-way spot, and many of them costing no more than they did in England.

These articles are exchanged for English calico, crockery, cutlery, fire-arms, gunpowder, gongs, and elephants’ tusks. They not only buy muskets, but small brass guns, on which they set a high value. They also prize tobacco for chewing. We always slept on board, and the sound of the Malays’ songs came across the water to a late hour of the night. The musical instruments we heard were tom-toms, Jews’-harps, and frequently fiddles. The Malays are a merry, vivacious people, and fond of several games. The most interesting was a game at football, which was generally played in the evening. The ball is small, made of ratan, hollow, elastic, and light. One of the players dances it for a short time on his foot, sometimes on his arm or thigh, and then striking it with the hollow of his foot, sends it flying high into the air. A player from the opposite side rushes forward, catches it on his foot in the same way, and returns it. The rule appeared to be that the ball should never be touched by the hand, but that the arms, shoulder, or knee may be employed. Far less satisfactory was their custom of cock-fighting. Steel spurs are used, as they were formerly in civilised England; and the spectators, who stand round in a ring, show their savage character by their fearful yells and leaps as they see their cocks likely to win or lose.

We saw shells used here for every purpose. Some of the magnificent volute shells were employed as baskets; while gigantic helmet shells, suspended by ratan handles, formed the vessels in which fresh water was brought from house to house.

I was delighted to find that Mr Hooker had resolved to make an excursion into the interior of the mainland for the sake of obtaining some birds of paradise. As the fatigue might be too great for the young ladies, they remained on board under charge of Frau Ursula; Oliver and I only accompanying him, with two native hunters, a trustworthy guide, and an interpreter who spoke Dutch. The natives of these islands, I should say, are Papuans, and in some parts are said to be very savage. They are expert archers, and are never seen without their bows and arrows. They shoot pigs and kangaroos with them, as well as all sorts of birds. We met some of the natives who came from the south islands, who were even more savage in appearance and manners than the rest. They wore a number of rude ornaments—one of comb, shaped like a horse-shoe, on their foreheads, the ends resting on the temples. The end of this ornament is fastened into a piece of wood, plated in front with tin; above it waves a plume of feathers of a cock’s tail.

In the Aru Islands are found a number of birds of paradise, some, indeed, of the most beautiful, which I will describe shortly.

Chapter Eighteen.

A search for birds of paradise.

I must give a very brief account of our excursion, which we had just before projected. A native boat carried us across to the mainland, and landing, we were amused with the number of sea-shells which we found on the ground away from the beach. They were of a variety of shapes and kinds, which had been taken possession of by those curious creatures, the hermit crabs, who wander into the forest in search of food. Sometimes, however, they become food themselves to huge spiders, and we saw one monster carry away a fair-sized shell, and devour its unhappy occupant. We came upon several little parties of hermit crabs, whom, breaking through their custom, we found assembled round some delicate morsel; but as soon as they heard us, away they scrambled as fast as they could crawl. The spiders were huge spotted monsters, with bodies two inches long, and legs in proportion. They form thick glutinous threads across the path, which are very unpleasant to meet, and really cost a great deal of trouble to get rid of. Sometimes, indeed, we ran our faces directly against one of the monsters, though in most cases the creature was as glad to get off as we were to get rid of him. We met also numerous lizards, of various shades of green, grey, and brown, every rotten trunk being alive with them, as they ran about seeking for insects. Our native hunters had arrows with heads as large as a small tea-cup, for the purpose of shooting the birds of paradise.

Among the most beautiful vegetable productions are the tree-ferns. We were never tired of admiring them, and Mr Hooker said they were superior in size and beauty to any he had before seen. There were also beautiful palms with slender smooth stems, perfectly straight, reaching to the height of a hundred feet, and surmounted by a crown of gracefully drooping leaves.

Our men carried sleeping mats for us to wrap ourselves in at night, with a small kettle for boiling our tea, and a pot for cooking our meat or soup. When resting at night we quickly formed an impromptu hut of boughs. I could not help wishing that my sister and Grace had been with us, to admire the beautiful forests and magnificent birds we saw. Rising in the morning, we witnessed another dance of the birds of paradise in some trees close to us, and our native hunters shot several of them.

“It is strange,” said Mr Hooker, “that the only inhabitants of this region, where the most graceful of trees and the most beautiful of birds in the universe exist, should be inhabited by races utterly incapable of appreciating them.”

“Perhaps, sir, it may be that God has thus arranged it, that civilised man should be led to the spot to make His name known among those savages. Had it not been for these birds of paradise, perhaps these very islands might not have been heard of.”

“Ah, Oliver, I like that idea. I think you are right,” said Mr Hooker, and he was silent for some minutes. I too was struck by it.

“Yes, sir,” said Oliver, “God has a reason for all His arrangements, and I think it is allowable for us to conjecture what that reason may be; but though we cannot find it out, we may be very sure the reason exists.”

We had been walking on through the forest, when one of our hunters made a sign to us to stop, and he advanced cautiously. We saw him raise his bow and let fly an arrow. Down fell a small bird rather larger than a thrush, the plumage as we saw it falling being of the most intense cinnabar red with the softest and most lovely gloss. Mr Hooker ran forward in the greatest state of agitation I had ever seen him exhibit, and kneeling down, gradually lifted up the bird. Had he discovered a nugget of gold of the same size, he could not have appeared more delighted. The feathers of the head were short and velvety, and shaded into a rich orange beneath. From the breast downwards the body was like the softest white gloss silk, while across the breast a band of deep metallic-green separated it from the red throat. Above each eye was a round spot, also of metallic-green. The bill was yellow, and the feet and legs were of a fine cobalt-blue, forming a striking contrast with the other parts of the body. On each side of the breast, concealed under the wings, were tufts of grey feathers, about two inches in length, terminated by a broad band of deep emerald-green. These plumes are raised, as in the other species we saw, into a pair of elegant fans when the wings are elevated. Besides these beautiful ornaments, there were in the middle of the tail two feathers like slender wires, about five inches long, diverging into a double curve. The end of these wires are webbed on the outer side, and covered with a fine metallic-green; so that the bird appears to have two elegant glittering circles hanging about five inches from the body, and the same distance apart.

It was some time before our kind friend could recover himself.

“Is it not beautiful? is it not beautiful?” he kept exclaiming as he held it up, still kneeling on the ground and exhibiting its various beauties. “Walter, I tell you that this is the most beautiful of the eight thousand different kinds of birds which our beneficent Creator has placed on this earth, to adorn it for the sake of us mortals. Not one of them possesses these spiral-tipped tail wires nor these beautiful breast fans. Then look at the colours. What art can in any way approach them! This is the King Bird of Paradise—the Paradisea Regia, we naturalists call it. Well worthy is it of the name.” When we stopped for the night, our attendants quickly built some leafy sheds, into which we crept, wrapped up in our mats, after we had partaken of our supper—consisting of a parrot pie, which we had brought with us, and also of some sago biscuit, washed down with arrack and water. Our guides would have preferred the spirit undiluted, as they are fond of potent liquors as well as of strong-tasted food. At early morn, before the sun rose, we heard the well-known cry of “Wawk—wawk—wawk!—Wok—wok—wok!” resounding through the forest, and continually changing its direction. Looking up, we caught sight of nights of the great bird of paradise, going to seek their breakfasts on the fruit-bearing trees. Lories and parroquets soon afterwards flew off from their perches, uttering shrill cries. King hunters croaked and barked; and cockatoos, black and white, screamed loudly through the woods; while numerous smaller birds, many also of the most lovely plumage, chirruped and whistled as they saluted the dawn. Our hunters, one with a gun, the other with a bow and arrows, started forth while we lighted our fire and made other preparations for breakfast. One of them soon came back with a large black bird having an enormous bill. Mr Hooker jumped up, almost letting drop the saucepan which he held in his hand, in his eagerness at the sight of the bird.

“A superb black cockatoo!” he exclaimed. “This is indeed a prize.”

All thoughts of eating were abandoned, while he expatiated on the beauty of the bird and its peculiar mode of living. Compared to its largely developed head, which was ornamented with a superb crest, its body appeared weak and small. It had long slender legs and large wings, its head being armed with a sharp-pointed hooked bill of prodigious size and strength. The plumage was quite black, and had over it the peculiar powdery white secretion which characterises cockatoos. The cheeks were bare, and of an intense blood-red colour. We had heard its voice the evening before, which, unlike the harsh scream of the white cockatoo, is that of a plaintive whistle. The tongue was a slender fleshy cylinder of a deep red colour, terminated by a black horny plate, furred across, and possessing prehensile power. We afterwards saw several of them, mostly one at a time, though now and then we caught sight of two or three together. They were flying slowly and noiselessly, and our hunter told us that a very slight wound would kill them.

“See here, Walter and Oliver; observe its powerful beak. This bird lives upon the kernel of the kanary-nut. We passed several of those lofty trees as we came along. This bill is evidently formed for the purpose of eating this kanary-nut, which no other bird can do. By-the-by, I picked up one. Here it is. See! it is so hard that a heavy hammer alone can crack it.”

The outside of the nut Mr Hooker showed us was quite smooth, and of a somewhat triangular shape.

“However, the birds are hungry, and we will try and catch flight of one of our black friends taking his breakfast, and see how he manages.”

We quickly discussed our breakfast, and immediately afterwards set off in search of a kanary-tree. On one of the lower branches we were fortunate enough to see a black cockatoo perched. He had just taken one of the nuts end-ways into his bill, where he kept it firm by the pressure of the tongue. He then cut a transverse notch, so Mr Hooker declared, by the lateral sawing motion of the lower mandible. He next took hold of the nut by his foot, and biting off a piece of a neighbouring leaf, retained it in the deep notch of the upper mandible. Again seizing the nut, which was prevented from slipping by the elastic tissue of the leaf, he fixed the edge of the lower mandible in the notch, and by a powerful nip broke off a piece of the shell. Once more taking it in his claws, he inserted the very long and sharp point of his bill and picked out the kernel, which he seized hold of, morsel by morsel, with his curiously formed, extensible tongue. As no other bird in existence can compete with him in eating these nuts, he has always an abundance of food. Mr Hooker called this species the Microglossum aterrimum.

Soon afterwards, a native brought us a king-fisher with an enormously long tail, such as no other king-fisher possesses. It was the racket-tailed king-fisher. It had been caught sleeping in the hollow of the rocky banks of a neighbouring stream. It had a red bill, and Mr Hooker observed that he doubted whether it lived upon fish, for, from the earth clinging to its beak, he suspected rather that it preys on insects and minute shells which it picks up in the forests. Its shape was very graceful, the plumage being of a brilliant blue and white.

We caught also another cuscus, which Mr Hooker showed us was of the marsupial order; that is, having a pouch in which it carries its young, as does the kangaroo. There are several other marsupial animals in these islands, such as are found also in Australia and New Guinea, where alone they exist, some as small as mice. Though no mice exist in those regions, these little animals are about as mischievous—entering into houses, and eating their way through all sorts of materials, just in the manner that mice do. I cannot attempt to describe the numerous other birds which we shot or caught. Among them were many of brilliant plumage—pigeons, little parroquets, and numerous other small birds, similar to those found in Australia and New Guinea.

We spent three or four days in a native house, at which, at a rental of a few yards of cloth, some tobacco, and one or two other articles, we engaged rooms. It was raised on a platform seven feet high on posts; the walls were about four feet more, with a high pitched roof. The floor was composed of split bamboo, and a part of the sloping roof could be lifted and propped up, so as to admit light and air. Our apartments—for I have dignified them by that name—were divided from the rest of the house by a thatched partition. At one end of it was a cooking-place, with a clay floor, and shells for crockery. Several families occupied the other parts of the house, which was very extensive. There were generally half-a-dozen or more visitors in addition to the families. They led very easy idle lives, only working when it was absolutely necessary for the sake of obtaining food; and from morning till night the people were laughing, shouting, and talking without cessation. Such screams of laughter, such loud shouts—the women and children vying with the men—I have never elsewhere heard. They seemed to live very well, as the men and boys are capital archers, and never went out without their bows and arrows. With these they shot all sorts of birds, and sometimes kangaroos and pigs. Besides this, they had a variety of vegetables, although they grew no rice nor the cocoa-nut tree. They had plantains, yams, and, above all, the sugar-cane. They were continually eating it. It grows on the black vegetable soil to a great height and thickness. At all times of the day we found the people eating it, generally four or five together, each one with a yard of cane in one hand, and a knife in the other, and a basket between their legs. There they sat paring away at it, chewing, and throwing the refuse into the basket.

Mr Hooker was highly pleased with the collection of birds and insects which he had made. Engaging the services of two more natives to carry them, we returned to the boat, in which, in the course of a day’s sail, we reached the Dugong.

Chapter Nineteen.

Voyage continued.

Sailing from Dobbo, a number of our mop-headed friends accompanied us to sea in their long canoes—curious, savage-looking boats, the bow and stern rising up six or seven feet high, decorated with shells and waving plumes of cassowary’s feathers. They were all talking, laughing, and shouting at once, and when they at length, after receiving a few farewell presents, bid us good-bye, we felt as if we had passed out of a tempest of noise into a calm, so apparently deep was the silence which reigned round us. In two days, passing the Key Islands, the inhabitants of which are very much like those of Aru, we arrived in sight of a lofty volcano, from the summit of which wreaths of white smoke were even then ascending. On approaching more closely, we saw that there were two other mountains near it, clothed with vegetation to their very summits. A fair breeze enabled us to enter the land-locked harbour of Banda. The water below our keel was so transparent, that we could see, at a depth of seven or eight fathoms, the smallest objects on the sand, and watch the living corals at work. We sailed on through narrow channels, having on one side lofty cliffs rising out of the sea.

Besides three large islands, there are several others, which form what are known as the Banda group. The largest is Lontar, or Great Banda—a crescent-shaped island, about six miles long and a mile and a half wide. Within the circle of which this island and two others joined to it form an arc, lie three more, the highest and most remarkable of which is the Grunong Api, or the Burning Mountain. It is an ever active volcano, about two thousand three hundred feet in height. We passed close under its base, and looking up, saw cloud-like masses of steam and sulphureous acid gas rising from its summit. On the Lontar shore rose up perpendicular crags from two to three hundred feet high, but everywhere covered with the most luxuriant vegetation, the trees and shrubs having their roots in the crevices, and hanging down in broad sheets of the brightest green. As we sailed on we perceived lofty palms rising amid the matted mass of vegetation, and from their crests hung long feathered leaves, silently and gracefully oscillating in the light air which filled our sails.

On the top of one of the heights appeared the dazzling white walls of Fort Belgica, with another fort below it; and along the shore on every hand extended the chief village, called Neira, with rows of wide-spreading trees shading the streets and bordering the bay. Opposite the village were a number of prows from Ceram—strange-looking vessels, high at the stem and low at the bow, having, instead of a single mast, a tall tripod, which can be raised and lowered at pleasure. There was a number of other craft—Bugis traders, mostly square topsail schooners, but ill-fitted apparently to contend with the storms which occasionally rage in those seas. Among the most beautiful trees was the lontar or palmyra palm—Borassus flabelliformis. Mr Hooker told us that its leaves were formerly used as parchment all over the archipelago before the Chinese introduced paper. In some places, even at the present time, it is used for that purpose. In every direction we could see spreading out over the island a continuous forest of nutmeg-trees, shaded by the lofty kanary-trees. The nutmeg-tree is from twenty to five-and-twenty feet high, though sometimes its lofty sprays are fifty feet high. A foot above the ground the trunk is from eight to ten inches in diameter. The fruit before it is quite ripe greatly resembles a peach. This, however, is only a fleshy outer rind—epicarp—which, as it ripens, opens into two equal parts, when within is seen a spherical polished nut, surrounding an aril, the mace, which is of a bright yellow colour. No fruit can then surpass it in beauty. The people who pick it use a small basket at the end of a long bamboo, into which it drops as they hook it off. The outer part, which we should call the fruit, being removed, the mace is carefully taken off, and dried on large shallow bamboo baskets in the sun. Its bright colour now changes to a dark yellow. The black part seen within the vermilion mace is a shell, and inside this is the nutmeg. When the mace is removed, the nuts are spread out on shallow trays of open basket-work in a drying-room. A slow fire is made beneath the floor, where the nuts remain for three months. By this time the nutmeg has shrunk so much that it rattles in its shell. The shell is then broken, and the nutmegs are sorted and packed in casks for shipment.

We took a stroll with Mr Hooker through the beautiful groves of nutmeg-trees, which were heavily laden with fruit. It is picked twice in the year, though some is obtained throughout the whole year. A beautiful carpet of green grass is spread out beneath the trees, while high above them tower the lofty kanary-trees, which stretch out their gnarled arms as if to defend their more tender sisters committed to their charge. At a distance, indeed, the nutmeg-trees are completely hidden from view by the kanary-trees. The roots of these latter are very curious, looking like enormous snakes with their heads caught in the trunk of the tree. As we strolled through the forest, sheltered from the direct rays of the sun by the thick foliage, we caught distant views of the blue ocean sparkling in the sunlight, the white surf breaking in masses of foam on the rocks beneath us, while at a distance appeared the varied forms of the other islands.

These groves of nutmegs are divided into what are called parks, belonging to different proprietors, who are known as perkeniers. By far the greater proportion of nutmegs used throughout the world are grown on these small islands, though wild nutmegs are found in New Guinea and in a few other places. As the nutmeg is among the most beautiful of fruits, so are the trees superior to almost any other cultivated plant. They are well-shaped, and have glossy leaves, bearing small yellowish flowers. On examining the fruit, we compared it in size and colour to a peach, only rather more oval. It is of a tough fleshy consistency till it becomes ripe, when, as I have before said, it splits open and shows a dark brown nut within covered with the crimson mace. We saw a most beautiful bird flying among the trees; it was the Banda pigeon, which feeds upon the nutmeg fruit. It digests the mace, but casts up the nut with its seed uninjured. By this means it has undoubtedly carried the seed to all parts of the group, and perhaps to other islands in the neighbourhood. In one part of Lontar we heard that the mace, instead of being red, is white—probably owing to some peculiarity of the soil. The deer and pig are found in the islands, and also a species of cuscus.

A proprietor, to whom Mr Hooker had an introduction, invited us to climb the burning mountain; but after considering the matter, our friend declined the honour, from hearing that the ascent was very difficult and dangerous, and that we should gain very little more knowledge about it than we should by gazing up at it from the base.

While sleeping on shore, the house we occupied was one night so shaken that we thought it would fall about our heads; but the inhabitants seemed to take it as a thing of course, and we heard that nearly every month an earthquake occurs. Several most disastrous eruptions of the mountain have taken place, causing great destruction of life and havoc among the plantations.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans who took possession of the Bandas. They were driven out by the Dutch, who exterminated the aboriginal inhabitants, and then had to import slaves to cultivate the plantations. Since slavery was abolished by Holland, convicts have been sent there for the purpose; and now, people from various neighbouring regions have been collected to perform the part of labourers. The Bandas are not properly included in the Moluccas. The cultivation of the clove-tree is now chiefly confined to Amboyna, and the surrounding islands, to which we were now bound.

A day’s sail took us off Amboyna, the capital of the Moluccas. It is one of the oldest European settlements in the East. The island is divided into two parts by the sea, a narrow sandy isthmus alone joining them. We sailed up the western inlet, the shores of which were lined by groves of cocoa-nut palm-trees, furnishing food and shade to the natives who dwell in the rude huts beneath them. We came to an anchor off the town of Amboyna. In few places we visited was the forest vegetation more luxuriant or beautiful than on this island. Ferns and palms of graceful forms were seen everywhere; climbing ratans formed entangled festoons pendent from every forest tree; while fine crimson lories and brush-tongued turkeys, also of a bright crimson colour, flew in and out amidst the foliage, forming a magnificent sight, especially when a flock of the former settled down on some flowering tree, the nectar from which the lories delight to suck. Amboyna is a large city for the East, containing 14,000 people, about 8000 of whom are Europeans, with half that number, perhaps, of Chinese and Arabs. Our great wish was to see a clove plantation in full bearing. We found, however, that the proprietors had discovered that there were more profitable means of employing their ground and labour, and that cacao plantations were superseding them.

The two young ladies, with Frau Ursula, were able to accompany us. Our road lay through a grove of palm-trees, and wound up a hill, till we reached the plantations of young cacao-trees. They were covered with long red cucumber-like fruit. The plants had been brought here from Madagascar, where it was first discovered by the Spaniards. They are great consumers of it in various forms. Chocolate comes from the Spanish chocolate, which is composed of cacao pounded with Indian corn, to which honey is sometimes added. The sugar-cane was also introduced, as sugar assists in neutralising the bitter qualities of the cacao. I need scarcely point out the difference between the cacao—often written cocoa—plant and fruit, from which the now much used beverage is made, and the lofty cocoa-nut palms with their well-known nuts full of juice. In the woods we saw numbers of green parrots, which uttered their shrill deafening screams as they darted to and fro through the thick foliage.

Proceeding again along the beach, my sister and Grace, feeling thirsty, asked for a draught of water, but neither stream nor fountain was in sight. When one of our attendants heard what was inquired for, “Stop,” he said, “you shall have it.” Directly afterwards, we saw him climb up a cocoa-nut palm above our heads, whence he cut off some of the clusters of large green fruit. Immediately descending, he struck off the end with a hatchet, and presented each of us with a goblet of the freshest and most sparkling water I ever tasted. We had before only found the more mature fruit, after the liquid has assumed a milk-like appearance.

A short way on, we saw the hill-side covered with myrtle-like trees, and found that they were plantations of clove-trees. The clove-tree belongs to the order of myrtles. The trunks of the full-grown trees were about twelve inches in diameter. Their topmost branches were from forty to fifty feet from the ground. However, we found some very small ones, fully loaded with fruit. The clove is the flower bud, and it grows in clusters at the end of the twigs. Our guide told us that the annual yield of a good tree is about four pounds and a half. When the buds are young, they are nearly white; when more mature, they change to a light green, and ultimately to a bright red. They are then picked by the hand, or beaten off with bamboos, on cloths spread under the trees. They are simply dried in the sun for use, when their colour changes from red to black. The leaves, the bark, and young twigs, have also a peculiar aroma. It grows best on the high hillsides, on a volcanic soil, or a loose sandy loam. Curiously enough, although cloves are used in all parts of the world, the inhabitants of these islands do not eat them. They employ them in making models of their prows and bamboo huts, by running a small wire through them before they are dried. I remember seeing a number of these models in the Great Exhibition in England, many of them of very elaborate construction. When cloves were first introduced into England, thirty shillings per pound was paid for them. They are now cultivated in several other places, and consequently their value in the Spice Islands has greatly fallen.

As we returned home in the evening, we passed along a pathway lined by rows of pine-apples, which had, like the cocoa-nut trees, been brought from Tropical America. We also saw creatures leaping from branch to branch. The servants caught some, when we found them to be flying dragons; not such as Saint George fought with, but small lizards known as the Draco volans. They were provided with broad folds in the skin, along each side of the body, which enabled them not really to fly, but, as a parachute would do, to sustain them in the air while they leap from branch to branch.

I was ahead of our party when I heard a loud hammering or tapping, and creeping near, I saw a cocoa-nut, which had just fallen from a tree, and an enormous crab working away at it. I stopped to watch him. He had torn off the dry husk which covered the latter with his powerful claws, just at the point where the three black scars are found marked. He was now breaking the shell by hammering with one of his heavy claws. As soon as this was done, he began to pick out the rich food, by means of his pincer-like claws. Our servants as they came up chased and caught him, tying up his claws, and saying that we should find it, when cooked, one of the greatest delicacies in the place.

We stopped for the night at the house of Mr Hooker’s friend, a little outside the town. Our beds were placed in a verandah, merely covered with mats at night; our heads only guarded by mosquito curtains, though we could hear the venomous insects buzzing outside. As I put my head on the pillow before going to sleep, the sound of the low cooing of doves came up out of the forest, while the tree frogs piped out their shrill notes.

Next day, when pulling along the narrow channel of the beautiful harbour on our return to the brig, we gazed down over the side with astonishment at the lovely spectacle the bottom of the sea afforded. It was thickly covered with a mass of corals, actiniae, and other productions of the ocean, of vast dimensions, of every possible form, and of the most brilliant colours. In some places the depth, Mr Hooker said, was fifty feet, and in others twenty, for the bottom was very uneven. Here appeared some deep chasm, here a hill rose up, there a valley was seen, here rocks of every possible shape, the whole covered with a forest of living vegetables, as I may call them.

“See, see!” cried Emily; “there swims a beautiful fish; there, another; and there, another. Some are red; there is a yellow one; there is one spotted and banded; there is another striped in the most curious manner. See how leisurely they swim, as if admiring the beauty of their country!”

“Look there! What is that floating by us?” exclaimed Grace; “what a lovely orange mass!”

“See, there is another, of a beautiful rose colour!” said Emily.

The creatures the girls were admiring were medusae, beautifully transparent, which were floating along near the surface. We entreated that the crew might stop rowing, that we might admire them at our leisure; indeed, we could have gazed at the scene all day long, but I am very sure, were I to make the attempt, I could not do justice to its surpassing beauty and interest. There may be coral beds of equal beauty, but in few places is the water so transparent as in the harbour of Amboyna; while, from being sheltered from the violence of storms, there are probably a larger number of marine productions, shells, and fishes collected in it, than in almost any other spot. While we were still gazing down into the ocean depths, a strange rumbling noise came over the land. The trees seemed to rock from side to side, the buildings shook, the frightened birds flew off from the shore, the land seemed to rise and fall, and people were seen flying from their houses, and rushing to their boats; others hurried away into the open country.

“An earthquake!” exclaimed Mr Hooker. “They are pretty well accustomed to it, though, and I trust no real damage may be done. However, should it be more severe than usual, we will be ready to take off any poor people who may wish to find refuge at sea.”

In a few seconds, however, all was quite quiet. The people returned on shore, and some were seen hurrying back to buildings which had been the most shaken, either to rescue friends who had been left behind, or to carry off their household furniture, in case another shock should occur, and bring their houses to the ground.

Leaving this beautiful, though unstable island, we stood away to the south-west, Mr Hooker purposing to visit a number of islands on our passage to Macassar, after which he intended standing across to Java, or perhaps visiting the south of Borneo before proceeding on to Singapore.

Chapter Twenty.

A modern Crusoe’s island.

Macassar, at the south-west end of Celebes, had been visited; a Dutch town, very neat and clean, having covered drains down the streets which carry away all impurities. On one side along the shore, forming a straight street a mile in length, are a number of shops, warehouses, and native bazaars; on the other, two shorter streets form the old Dutch town, with most of the private houses of the Europeans. It is enclosed by gates, with a fort at the southern end. Round the town extend rice-fields, in the rainy season presenting a mass of the most vivid green. Beyond, are numerous native villages embosomed in fruit-trees.

We were occasionally on shore, and saw many objects of interest, but Mr Hooker made a long excursion into the interior, of which he gave us an account on his return. We caught sight of two of the animals peculiar to Celebes. One of them was a curious baboon-like monkey, about the size of a spaniel, and of a jet-black colour. It had the projecting dog-like muzzle and overhanging brows of a baboon, with red callosities, and a scarcely visible fleshy tail, about an inch long. A large band of them visited the garden of the merchant at whose house we were stopping, and were busily employed in carrying off the fruit, when they were disturbed by the servants, who rushed out with guns and sticks to drive them off.

Next day we started with our friend into the neighbouring forest, in chase of the babirusa or pig-deer. After a long search, we came up with one, to which, the dogs gave chase; and it being brought to bay, was killed. It resembled a pig in general appearance, but had long slender legs and curved tusks like horns. Those of the lower jaw are very long and sharp, but the upper ones, instead of growing downwards as those of a boar generally do, curve upwards out of bony sockets through the skin on each side of the snout till they meet the eyes. Those of the creature we killed, which was an old one, were nearly ten inches in length. Our Dutch friend stated that they were so formed to guard its eyes from the thorns and spines which it meets with whilst searching for fallen fruits among the thickets of ratan and other spiny plants. Mr Hooker, however, said he thought they had once been of use to the animal in digging, but its mode of life having been somewhat changed, they had grown up into their present curious form. Instead of digging for food with its snout as other pigs do, it feeds on fallen fruits from various trees. We saw also a number of butterflies, which Mr Hooker said were peculiar to Celebes. Besides the babirusa, herds of wild pigs of large size abound in the northern forests, and numerous jungle-fowl, hornbills, and great fruit-pigeons. Buffaloes are generally employed on the farms, and we drank buffalo milk, which was brought into the house in bamboo buckets. It was as thick as cream and in order to keep it fluid during the day it was diluted with water.

Among the many curious trees we saw, was the sugar-palm, from which the usual beverage of the country is made—called sagueir. It is as strong as ordinary beer. The sugar makes a very nice sweetmeat, and Mr Hooker said it put him very much in mind of the North American maple sugar.

We were introduced also to a very curious animal, somewhat smaller than a Shetland cow, called the sapi-utan. It has long straight horns, which are ringed at the base and slope backwards over the neck. We were told that it inhabits the mountains, and is never found where deer exist. There seems a doubt whether it should be classed with the ox, buffalo, or antelope. The head is black, with a white mark over each eye, one on the cheek, and another on the throat. We saw also a couple of maleos, a species of brush-turkey, allied to the megapodi or mound-making birds which we had met with in our island. They live also in the northern part of Celebes, and come down to the shore in order to lay their eggs in the black, hot, volcanic sand. It is a handsome bird, the plumage glossy black and rosy white, with a helmeted head, and elevated tail. Its walk is peculiarly stately. The sexes are very much alike. Two or more birds will come down, and the female deposits a single egg in a hole which the male assists her in making, about a foot deep in the sand, and having covered it up, returns to the forest. At the end of ten days or so she comes to the same spot and lays another egg. Each can lay, it is said, six or eight eggs during the season. Frequently two or three hens deposit their eggs in the same hole. The colour of the shell is a pale brick-red. The eggs being thus deposited, the parents take no further care of their offspring. The young birds, after breaking their shell, work their way up through the sand, just as the young megapodi do, and run off at once to the forest. A friend of Mr Hooker’s presented him with some, which had been carefully covered up, and had just arrived. We took them on board the brig. The next morning, when far out of sight of land, we heard a strange noise in the cabin, and looking in, great was our surprise to see a covey of little birds flying right across it. They had been hatched during the night, and following the instincts of their nature, were making their way, as they supposed, to their future forest home. We fed them on little bits of chopped fruit, and such things as Mr Hooker thought would suit their appetites.

“But what can induce the parents thus to leave their eggs?” asked Emily. “I thought it was the nature of creatures to look after their young.”

“If it was for their benefit, so it would have been,” he answered; “but I suspect that these large birds, requiring a considerable amount of food, which consists entirely of fallen fruits, could only find it by roaming over a wide extent of country. If, therefore, a large number came down to this particular beach, which seems the only one fit for hatching them during the breeding season, they would perish for want of food. Providence, therefore, has so arranged that they should return to the districts where they can find their food; whilst the young ones, not requiring so much, are able to make their way as their strength will allow in the same direction.”

We had a full-grown stuffed maleo on board. Its claws were sharp and straight, and very different from those of the megapodi. The toes, however, were strongly webbed at the base; the leg rather long, forming a powerful instrument for scratching away the loose sand, which those who have watched them say they throw up in a complete shower when digging their holes.

We had been standing on for some time to the west, a cast of the lead showing us that we were in fifty fathoms—the shallow sea which separates Borneo from Java and Sumatra. Our compass had never been very trustworthy. An injury it had received had still further put it out of order, while thick cloudy weather had prevented us from taking an observation. Mr Hooker had also for some days been unwell. He had caught a fever while we were at Macassar, the effects of which he began to feel directly he came on board, and we were now very anxious about him. Several of the men also had been ill for some time before we reached Macassar. Two of them died. I will not stop to describe the particulars of their funeral. We felt very sad as we committed them to their ocean grave. Mr Hooker, who had studied medicine, was too ill to visit the rest. He, however, got Mr Thudicumb and I to describe their symptoms as far as we were able, and sent the medicine accordingly. As soon as he was able to move he insisted upon being carried forward to see the men, when, somewhat altering his treatment of them, they appeared to be getting better.

I was on deck one day, and Roger Trew was aloft, when he shouted out, “Land ahead!” Not knowing exactly our position, we were glad that it had been seen during the day. I ran aloft, and after a time I could distinguish the land stretching away to the north and south, where it seemed to terminate. We therefore concluded that it was an island. This became a certainty as we stood on, as no land could be distinguished beyond the two distant points we had discovered. We were rather nearest the north end, and Mr Thudicumb determined therefore to go round it. It was a land of dense forest, with here and there mountainous points; high bold capes standing out into the ocean, affording every possible variety of scenery.

“Why, there must be a fort somewhere thereabouts,” observed Mr Thudicumb, who had been examining it through his glass. “I see a flag flying!”

There, sure enough, as we drew nearer, we discovered on the summit of a bold rock, standing out into the sea, a flagstaff with a large flag flying from it. What the flag was, we could not well make out, from its somewhat battered condition. As we stood on, a bay opened out, the headland I have spoken of forming the westernmost point. Mr Thudicumb considered that it would afford sufficient shelter to us should we bring up. He was anxious to do this, that we might go ashore and ascertain whether any Europeans were living there.

“Perhaps some people have been cast away,” he observed, “and have hoisted the flag as a signal to any passers-by.”

Mr Hooker was still too weak to go ashore without inconvenience. Mr Thudicumb therefore ordered Dick Tarbox, myself, Roger Trew, and three others, to go in the boat, well armed with muskets and pistols, and to ascertain the state of the case.

“Now, take care,” said Mr Thudicumb, “that you are not led into an ambush. Some of these islands are the dens of pirates, or savages, who are no better, and still more treacherous. Keep a bright look-out on either side as you advance, and see that you are able to get back to the boat without any difficulty. If there is an European there, he is sure to come down when he sees the boat pull in; so if you find no one at first, you must be doubly careful not to be caught in a trap.”

Emily and Grace stood at the gangway as we pulled off.

“Oh, do take care, Walter, that those horrid savages do not get hold of you again!” exclaimed Emily.

“Pray, do! pray, do!” added Grace.

“Yes, Mynheer Walter, take care dat de savages don’t eat you up; you now grow so fat and big, you fine large morsel,” exclaimed Frau Ursula, who had no fear whatever of savages or pirates, being in most instances a very dauntless and fearless person.

I was glad she said this, as it assisted to quell the anxiety of Emily and Grace. The brig lay about a quarter of a mile from the beach, Mr Thudicumb being afraid to stand in nearer because of the reefs, of which there appeared to be several under water, their dark heads projecting here and there from the shore. I waved my cap and held up my musket as we pulled in, to show them that we were in good spirits, and prepared to make a bold fight, if it was necessary; though I must say I had no expectations of meeting either savages or pirates.

The flag, though tattered and patched, looked very like an English ensign with the jack torn out of it.

“Depend upon it, some Englishman is there,” observed Tarbox. “What object could any pirates or savages have in flying a flag from that point?”

We found the shore lined with black volcanic rocks, among which there was some difficulty in landing. However, at length we discovered a place between two ledges, into which we ran the boat. One of the men remained to take charge of her, while the rest of us, landing, walked up the beach. We soon came to the thick jungle, in which we could find no opening. We therefore continued along the shore towards the point where the flag was flying. Having gone some way, we found an opening on our right. The underwood and branches had evidently been cut away by an axe, and seemed to lead from the flagstaff rock towards some place in the interior. Dick Tarbox leading the way, we advanced along the path, keeping a look-out among the trunks of the trees on every side, lest any treacherous enemies might be lurking there. The ground rose somewhat. At length we emerged into the open space, where there were signs of rude cultivation; and further on appeared a cottage raised on poles about three feet from the ground, very similar to the building we had put up in our island, but considerably larger. This, we concluded, must be the habitation of the people who had erected the flagstaff. As we got nearer to it, we were saluted by the loud voices of birds—a number of the numerous tribes found in these regions. Such screeching, crying, cooing, shrieking, and chattering, I had never before heard; while from wooden cages on every side, or from under small huts of curious construction, came forth the cries of all sorts of animals. Still, no one appeared. Presently we heard a shot at a little distance, and discovered a path leading to where it came from. Tarbox fired as a signal, being sure, from what we saw in the cottage, that its occupant was not likely to be evilly disposed towards us. As we went on, we saw, coming through the open glade before us, a tall figure, with a gun in his hand, followed by another carrying a basket, and several birds slung over his shoulders.

“A veritable Robinson Crusoe!” I exclaimed.

The figure answered, indeed, in every respect, the description I had seen of that far-famed adventurer. There was the pointed, palm-leaf hat; the rough skin leggings; a belt round the waist, with hunting-knife and all sorts of things stuck in it; boots of skin; and a gun in his hand (though, I suspect, Robinson Crusoe must have used a bow and arrow—at all events, he must have done so when his powder was expended). The man behind him, too, was in all respects like his man Friday; fully as dark-skinned, though perhaps with rather more clothing than Friday was accustomed to wear, as his dress was similar to that of the leading figure.

“Hilloa, my friends! where do you come from?” he exclaimed, in a loud, cheery voice. “What! have you found me out at last?”

“Why, friend, we saw a flag flying from the point out there, and took it for granted that somebody or other was here on shore wanting to be taken off; and if you wish to come with us, we have directions to take you on board our brig, which lies in the bay out there.”

“Yes, indeed, I do; for I have been waiting here long enough almost to have lost all account of time,” answered the tall man. “I have a pretty large family, however; and unless your brig is a good-sized one, I doubt whether you can carry us all.”

“What! have you got a wife and children living here?” asked Tarbox. “We saw nothing of them as we came along.”

“No, no, no!” answered the stranger; “I have no wife; and as for my children, I cannot say that you would consider them as such. Probably, however, you heard the voices of my family as you passed my house.”

“Ho, ho! all those birds and beasts, you mean, friend!” said Tarbox. “Well, as to that, as we have a gentleman on board, the owner of the brig, who has a fancy that way, I do not think he will refuse to have as many as the craft will hold. But it will take some little time, I suspect, to build houses for them; for I suppose they are not tame enough to be allowed to run at liberty about the decks?”

“Not exactly,” answered the stranger. “Some of them have rather quarrelsome dispositions, and they would be apt to fall out with each other, and perhaps with the crew. However, a considerable number are turned into mummies, though they fill somewhat large cages altogether; and as I have spent so much of my time in collecting them, I have no intention of leaving them behind. If you can take them, I will go with you; but if not, I must get you to send another vessel to bring me off. The craft which brought me here must either have been lost in a typhoon or destroyed by pirates, for she did not return at the time appointed; and after waiting month after month, and year after year, I almost gave up all hopes of again seeing a civilised man. I have had visitors, to be sure, on the island; but I did not like their looks, as I thought they were more likely to stick their krisses into me than to carry me away to a civilised place; and therefore I had to keep out of sight. Still, at last I began to regret not being able to exhibit my treasures to my fellow-men capable of appreciating them; and so I rigged that flagstaff you saw, and hoisted a flag as a signal to any passing vessel to put in here. However, most craft, I suppose, keep either along further to the southward, or else to the north of this island; and though I have seen a few passing in the horizon, none have come near enough to distinguish my signal.”

From the way the stranger spoke, I saw at once that he was a man of superior education, in spite of his strange costume.

“Perhaps, sir,” I said, “you would like to come on board and see the owner, Mr Hooker. I am sure he would be delighted to do what he can to assist you.”

“Hooker!” he exclaimed. “Hooker, did you say, young man? Of course I will. If he is the Hooker I know—and from what you say about him, I have little doubt about the matter—I shall be delighted to see him; and I am very sure he will do all he can to assist me.—Stay, however,” he said. “If you will wait a little while, I will accompany you. I must, however, first feed my family, as I may be absent for some time, and they are not accustomed to go without their provisions.”

The noise as we passed the house had been considerable. As the stranger approached it, however, the cries with which his feathered and four-footed friends greeted him were almost deafening. I might have added, no-footed friends, for he had huge pythons, and snakes of all sorts;—tigers, and other wild beasts; and birds, from long-legged storks down to the smallest of the feathered tribes. He and his man Friday were occupied some time in feeding all these numerous creatures, according to their respective wants. They all appeared to know him, and acknowledge him as their master; and he must have employed considerable time in taming many of them. I will describe them by-and-by.

At length the operation of feeding them was over, and he expressed himself ready to accompany us to the boat. He addressed a few words to his man, Tanda, he called him, adding, as he walked away,—“Don’t fear, my lad; I am not going to desert you.—He does not understand that, by the by;” and, turning round again, he spoke to the man in a strange language. He put up his hand to look at the brig. “Well,” he said, as he stepped into the boat, “I scarcely expected ever to see a European vessel come near this island.”

All hands able to appear on deck were collected at the gangway to gaze at us as we approached. They certainly did regard our companion with looks of astonishment as he stepped up the side.

“Mr Hooker is below, sir,” I said. “I will let him know that you are here.”

I ran down into the cabin, eager to give the intelligence to my friend.

“He did not give his name,” I answered; “but he said he was an old friend of yours.”

“An old friend of mine out here? Can it possibly be—and yet I think it must. Beg him to come down. Oh! how I wish I was able to go on shore and help him to get off his valuables! Strange! that is strange!” I heard him say as I left the cabin.

I found the stranger in conversation with Emily and Grace, with whom he seemed greatly interested. He was patting Emily’s cheek, and looking with an inquiring glance into her face, when I appeared.

Mr Hooker endeavoured to rise from his chair when the stranger entered.

“Is it possible?” he exclaimed, holding out both his hands.

“Hooker,” exclaimed the stranger, “I know you!”

“And Sedgwick,” answered the other, “in your somewhat out-of-the-way garb, I know you still, my friend—my master in science—my instructor in knowledge—”

The two friends eagerly shook hands, the stranger sinking down into a chair, and looking eagerly into Mr Hooker’s face.

“You will recover, never fear—you will recover,” he exclaimed. “You have had a touch of jungle fever; and if you can get on shore for a few days, and live in the open air, instead of in this confined cabin, you will quickly pick up your strength. But, Hooker, I had no idea you were married. Are these young people on board your children? and the lady on deck there, is she your wife?”

“No, no, no,” answered Mr Hooker. “The old Dutchwoman is the young girls’ governante. And it is extraordinary! Can you think who those children are?”

“Had I not seen the girl I might have been puzzled; for I cannot conjecture what has brought them out here,” and he turned round and looked at me. “Yes; I recognise his father too.—Is your father out in these parts?” he asked.

“No, sir,” I answered. “They are both dead.”

“Both dead, did you say? Your mother dead? For her sake I chiefly longed to return to England; and she gone, boy! Do you know who I am? I am your uncle! Did you ever hear of your uncle, Tom Sedgwick, the naturalist?”

“Indeed I have,” I answered. “And I heard that he had gone away, long ago, to the Eastern Seas, and was supposed to have lost his life.”

“That was but natural enough, as I did not appear,” answered Mr Sedgwick. “But it is very wonderful that you should have come to the very place where I have been so long living apart from my fellow-creatures. And your sister, what is her name?”

I told him.

“And the other little girl, is she a relation? for I have no difficulty in distinguishing which is my niece.”

“No; she is Captain Davenport’s daughter,” I answered.

“A nice, pretty little girl. But Emily—I must see Emily again.”

I ran to call her. She came down trembling; for she had often heard our mother speak of our uncle, and for her sake had longed to see him. Mr Sedgwick pressed her fondly in his arms.

“Yes, you are the very image of your mother,” he said, looking in her face again and again.

Thus, for some time, we sat talking of the past, rather than the present.

“Well, Hooker!” he exclaimed at last, “I wish you were on shore. We must see how you are by to-morrow or next day; and, in the meantime, we must get these young people and their worthy nurse to come to my house and see my wonders. I can easily manage to find accommodation for them; for I built it originally in the expectation of having some companions. Walter, you will accompany them, as I suppose, Hooker, you can spare him?”

“I have no doubt my skipper can do without him,” answered Mr Hooker; “though, I can tell you, he is of no little importance on board, as he acts the part of mate; and a very good seaman he is, too, for his age, and the time he has been at sea.”

I asked Mr Hooker if Oliver could accompany us, as I knew he could be spared. “And Merlin too. The old fellow will like a run on shore; and you will let him come also,” I said, turning to my uncle.

“He looks too wise an animal to quarrel with any of my friends,” he observed; “and I shall be very glad to see him.”

Frau Ursula and the young ladies quickly got ready a few things to take on shore. Evening was approaching. However, the old friends had a good deal to talk about before we shoved off. In a short time, we were pretty well at our ease with Mr Sedgwick; and the girls looked forward with delight to the wonders they hoped to see on the island.

We landed at a rather more convenient spot, which Mr Sedgwick pointed out. Roger Trew, who had leave to remain on shore, assisted in carrying up the beds for the ladies; while Oliver and I took charge of the other articles they required. The boat then pulled back to the brig. The moment Merlin landed he scampered off along the shore, bounding and gambolling just like a young dog, so delighted did he appear to be able to stretch his legs. He then came up to me, and licking my hand, followed close at my heels.

“I do not quite like the look of the weather,” observed Mr Sedgwick, glancing back at the sea. “I wish I had told them on board the brig to get out another anchor; or it might have been safer, to be sure, to stand out into the offing. Stay; there will be no harm in giving them a caution.”

He went back to the beach and hailed; but the boat was already at a considerable distance, and Tarbox did not appear to hear him.

“Well, I hope it is all right,” he observed. “I have often seen this weather, and nothing has come of it. At the same time, it generally looks like this just before a heavy gale; and this open bay is not a good place for a vessel to be caught in when it blows hard.”

Chapter Twenty One.

Sedgwick Island and its wonders.

Our uncle introduced us to his house with evident pride. He and his man Tanda had bestowed a great deal of pains on it. It was constructed entirely after the Malay fashion—of wood, bamboo, and matting, though raised higher off the ground than the Malays are accustomed to build theirs. The floors were of split bamboo, sufficiently strong to bear a person’s weight, and yet giving a pleasant spring as we passed over them. They were kept in their place by long strips of ratan, passed transversely between them, much in the way of a cane-bottom chair. Over these mats were spread—not so neatly made, perhaps, as those employed by the wealthy Malays, but still very well done. The walls were made of the palm-leaves which I have before described, fixed in panels, very neat and pleasing to the eye, and perfectly weather-tight. The roof was high pitched, and had broad overhanging eaves, giving it very much the appearance of a Swiss cottage. A broad verandah ran round each side of the house, the rooms opening into it. They were divided from each other by thick mats stretched from the ceiling to the floor, and could be lifted up at pleasure to allow the air to circulate in every direction. It would have been impossible to build with the materials at hand an abode better suited to the purpose.

“Here, Frau, you and your young ladies shall occupy these two apartments,” said my uncle to Frau Ursula, who stood smiling from ear to ear at the polite way in which he addressed her. “You shall have bedsteads brought in directly; and I must leave you to arrange them, while Tanda and I get supper ready. The lads here and the sailor will no doubt assist us.”

Roger Trew, who had ascended the ladder with his bundle of bedding, deposited it in the room my uncle pointed out, and forthwith commenced unlashing it; and knowing that he would prove a better assistant to the dame than Oliver and I should, we accompanied my uncle to what he called his cooking-shed, at the back of the house. Here he had brought water from a spring in the forest, and had made a drain towards the sea to carry off the refuse. He had a variety of fish, flesh, and fowl in his larder, which was in a cool place at the back of the house.

I scarcely know what I shall describe first. The fruit was the most attractive. There was the delicious mangostin—of a spherical form. The outer part is a thick rough covering, and it has a white opaque centre, an inch or more in diameter. Each of the four or five parts into which it is divided, contains a small seed. The white part is what is eaten. It has a slightly sweet taste, and a rich yet delicate and peculiar flavour, which it is impossible to describe. Then there was the rambutan—a globular fruit, an inch and a half in diameter. The rind is of a light red, adorned with coarse scattered bristles. Within, there is a semi-transparent pulp, of a slightly acid taste. Next there was the elliptical shaped mango, containing a small stone of the same form. The interior, when the tough outer skin was removed, consisted of a soft, pulpy, fibrous mass, of a bright yellow. Another fruit appeared, in the form of long clusters, about the size of a small bird’s egg. It was the duku. The outer coating was thin and leathery, and of a dull yellow. In the inside were several long seeds, surrounded by a transparent pulp, of a sweet and pleasantly acid taste. The durian, however, my uncle told us, was among the most esteemed of all the fruits in that region. It is spherical in form, six or eight inches in diameter, and generally covered with many tubercles. The interior is divided into several parts. On breaking the shell, we found in each division a seed as large as a chestnut, surrounded by a pale yellow substance, of the consistency of thick cream; but the odour was enough at first to make me have no wish to eat it. It seemed to me like putrid animal matter, and peculiarly strong.

“You do not like the odour, Walter,” observed my uncle. “Nor did I at first, but I have now become so fond of the fruit, that I prefer it to any other. But, after all, these fruits are not to be compared to those of a tree growing just outside, at the back of my house—the far-famed bread-fruit tree. Here, Tanda,” and he spoke a few words to him. “Look there, do you see it?”

It was a tree upwards of forty feet high, with enormous sharply lobed leaves, some of which were one foot wide and one and a half long. The fruit which Tanda picked was of the form and size of a melon, and attached by its stem directly to the trunk.

“We must cut some, for it is the chief vegetable I have in season,” said my uncle, cutting it in slices, and handing it to Tanda to fry. “We have some molasses to eat with it, produced from the sap of the gomuti-palm.”

Closely allied to it is the Jack-fruit, which resembles the bread-fruit. This latter, Mr Sedgwick told us, attains the weight of nearly seventy-five pounds; so that even an Indian coolie can only carry one at a time. The part, he showed us, which is generally eaten, is a soft pulpy substance, enveloping each seed. The bread-fruit was baked entirely in the hot embers. It tasted, I thought, very much like mashed potatoes and milk. My uncle said he always compared it to Yorkshire pudding. It was a little fibrous, perhaps, towards the centre, though generally smooth, and somewhat of the consistence of yeast dumplings and batter pudding. Tanda fried part of it in slices, and also made a curry of another part. We had it also as a vegetable, with a gravy poured over it, to eat with meat. Another dish was prepared with sugar and milk, which we were surprised to see, and a treacly substance procured from some sugar-canes grown in a plantation near the house. It made a most delicious pudding.

“You see, I have become somewhat of an epicure,” observed my uncle; “but indeed it has been one of my sources of amusement to see what delicious dishes I could make out of the many bounties which Nature has spread round me.”

We had also, for meat, some pork—part of it fresh and part cured—a joint of venison, and a piece of beef from an animal with which I was afterwards to become acquainted.

I can scarcely describe the fish; but I know, among other things, there was one of the enormous crabs which we saw at Amboyna.

Our dinner was spread on a bamboo table, covered with mats, in what my uncle called his grand hall! It put me in mind somewhat of an ancient hall surrounded by trophies of the chase; partly also of a necromancer’s cavern, as from the ceiling hung curious stuffed animals, skulls, bones, dried plants, and other objects of natural history, in what, I had no doubt, seemed to the occupant perfect order, but which was somewhat incomprehensible to us. When dish after dish was put on the table, Frau Ursula lifted up her hands with astonishment.

“You do live like a prince, Mr Sedgwick,” she observed. “What kind fairy sends you all these good things?”

“I won them with my own arm, with the assistance of my faithful man Tanda here—or, as these young people seem inclined to call him, Friday; and I hope you will show your gratitude to the kind Providence which gives them, by doing justice to them.”

As dish after dish was brought up, the astonishment of all the party increased.

“Surely, uncle, you must have some fairy cook to prepare all these good things,” said Emily.

“I confess without the aid of Tanda they could not be produced,” he answered. “I am greatly helped by him, though occasionally I have given a hint or a little assistance. And now let us drink each other’s health in this palm-wine,” he said, producing a very nice-looking liquid from a huge shell.

Our plates, I should have said, were flat shells; while our cups were made of bamboo, as were our knives and forks.

“I must introduce you to my menagerie to-morrow morning,” observed my uncle. “There is not time to-night—indeed, some of my pets have retired to their lairs or gone to roost. If you hear strange noises at night, don’t be alarmed; as possibly some of them may be inclined to utter their natural cries during the night.”

Our conversation was altogether very lively; as we, of course, had a great deal to tell our uncle, and were also greatly interested by the account he gave of his expeditions, and the way in which he had lived on the island since he had been deserted. Sometimes he had thought of building a vessel and making his way to some civilised port; but the want of proper tools for cutting down large timber, and his ignorance of nautical affairs, deterred him.

“I thought it was as well to leave well alone,” he said. “I have here plenty of provisions; and I thought I could study natural history, which brought me here; and that, some time or other, some vessel would call and take me away. Had you, Walter and Emily, not come, however, I rather think my heart would have failed me even at the last moment, and I could scarcely have made up my mind to quit my solitary home and the style of life to which I have become accustomed.”

Our conversation was at length interrupted by a loud rattling peal of thunder, which crashed over our heads as if the whole heavens above them were rent in two. A blast swept over the forest, and we could hear the trees cracking as they bent before the wind. The house shook to its very foundation, and Emily and Grace trembled with alarm.

“No, no, my dears; don’t fear,” exclaimed Frau Ursula. “This is nothing to what I have heard in Ternate. There, one night, all the houses tumbled down, and the mountain sent up stones and cinders, which came rattling down on our heads.”

“There is another, though!” exclaimed Grace, clinging to the old lady’s arm.

Scarcely had the second crash of thunder passed away, than down came the rain, pattering on the roof and floor of the verandah. It seemed as if a waterspout had broken over us.

“I am thankful that you, my friends, are on shore,” observed my uncle; “but the brig—I feel anxious about her.” He got up, and put on a thick reed-made coat. “And here are some more,” he observed, giving Oliver and me one. “But no, Oliver, you stay with the ladies; and you too, Walter.”

I entreated that I might accompany him. He gave Roger Trew a similar covering, which completely sheltered us from the rain; and leaving Tanda and Oliver in charge of the house, we hurried away towards the shore. Although the gale had been blowing but a few minutes, already heavy seas came rolling in and breaking in masses of foam upon the rocks. We could see the brig, through the thickening gloom, at her anchors.

“I trust she may hold her ground,” said my uncle, as we watched her, already rising and falling with quick jerks, as the seas rapidly passed under her. “What say you?” he said, turning to Roger Trew. “Do you think, if she made sail, she could beat out of this bay, for I fear greatly that with the sea that rolls in here, when there is wind like this, she will be unable to remain at anchor?”

“I am very sure Mr Thudicumb will do his best to beat out of the bay,” answered Roger Trew. “I know that no seaman would like to be caught on a lee-shore like this in such a gale; and if it lasts long, even though the anchors do hold, it is likely enough to tear the stem out of her. The brig is not a bad craft for fine weather sailing, but she is lightly put together, and I wish that she was under weigh clear of the land, and then I would not fear for her.”

“Oh, my friend, my friend,” exclaimed my uncle, “would that you had been safe on shore!”

Scarcely had he spoken, when a flash of lightning, in a thick zig-zag stream, darted from the clouds overhead, running along the ground close to us, followed by the most deafening crash of thunder I ever heard. For an instant our eyes were blinded. We could scarcely see each other, much less observe any object out at sea. It was a minute or more before we recovered our sight.

“She is driving—she is driving!” exclaimed Roger Trew. “They are trying to make sail on her, but it is too late! The sea struck her bows just as she was paying off, and now here she comes bodily in towards the shore.”

We were able, by shading our eyes, once more to look in the direction of the brig. Too true were Roger’s words, and we saw her helplessly driving in towards the wild rocks near which we stood.

“Is the water deep, sir?” asked Roger. “If so, she may drive in close enough to get the people on shore before she goes to pieces.”

“I fear not,” answered Mr Sedgwick. “Reefs run out in all directions, and though, having no boat, I have been unable to sound round the island, yet, from the way I have seen the water breaking, I fear that there are reefs between us and her.”

“If we had a boat we might go off and get aboard her before she strikes,” exclaimed Roger. “Have not you a boat, sir? You would go, would you not? Mr Walter here, I know, would.”

“Unhappily I have no boat,” answered my uncle, in a tone almost of despair. “The crew may, perchance, reach the shore; but my poor friend, made weak from illness, will have but little chance of escaping with life.”

“We will do our best, sir—we will do our best,” answered Roger. “I will try and swim off to her when she strikes, and before the sea scatters her timbers; but it will be a tough job. I will not hide that from myself or you, sir.”

“Here, Walter,” said my uncle, “go and call Tanda, and tell him to bring as much ratan as he and you can carry. He is a clever fellow, in some respects, and his wits may help us.”

I was running off, when my uncle cried out—

“Stop, by-the-by, you may frighten the ladies, and he will not know what you mean. I will go myself, and you remain and see what you and our sailor friend here can do in the meantime, should the brig strike.”

My uncle hurried off to the house, and Roger and I, watching the brig, proceeded a short distance along the shore to a point whence a reef of rocks ran out, towards which it appeared to us that she was driving. How fearfully sharp and rugged did those rocks seem! I had thought little about them before; but now, when I feared that my friends were going to be hurled against them, I wished they were rounder, and covered with sea-weed, to which they might cling. We had each of us, as we left the house, seized a long bamboo pole. With this Roger and I made our way towards the point of a ledge of rock above water. Merlin, who had come with us down to the beach, followed close at our heels, seeming fully to understand the danger of our friends; for, as we stood watching the brig, he stretched out his head and uttered strangely loud barks, which seemed to have a tone of melancholy in them.

Nearer and nearer came the brig. Part of the bay, under the protection of the headland I spoke of, was rather more sheltered than it was further on. This gave us some hopes of the vessel holding together till the sea had sufficiently moderated to allow Mr Hooker to reach the shore. The rain continued pouring in torrents, driving in our faces. Often we could scarcely see the vessel. Then again a vivid flash of lightning, followed by a crash of thunder, showed her to us as she heeled over to the blast, driving slowly but surely towards the fatal rocks. Sometimes with difficulty we could keep our footing on the reef. I was anxiously looking for the return of my uncle and Tanda. Perhaps Tanda might swim to her. I myself felt greatly inclined to make the attempt, in spite of the sea rolling in. Now for an instant the rain partially ceased, and shading our eyes, we could see the brig still nearer than before. Then a huge sea came rolling in. She rose on its crest, driven onwards with greater rapidity than before. Suddenly she seemed to stop. The sea washed over her.

“She has struck! she has struck!” cried Roger.

Her masts, however, still stood; but we expected them every instant to go.

“Poor fellows! poor fellows!” cried Roger. “Master Walter, I have no kith nor kin; I will try and get off to them; and if I am lost, you will tell them that I wished to lend them a hand, but had not the power.”

“Stop!” I said; “here come my uncle and the black man, and they may have some plan, without your being obliged to risk your life.”

“As to that, it is not worth thinking about,” answered Roger; “but we will see what they propose.”

In the meantime we endeavoured to ascertain what the people on board the brig were going to do. The darkness, however, was so great, that we could not distinguish anything going forward among them. There the brig lay, however, hard and fast; the seas breaking now over one end, now over the other, but not with such violence as we dreaded.

Chapter Twenty Two.

Wreck of the Dugong.

The arrival of my uncle with his man, carrying a quantity of the light ratan rope, gave us some hopes of being able to rescue our friends on board the brig.

“To be sure, this will float as easily as a cork,” exclaimed Roger; “and I see no reason why I should not tow the end off aboard the brig. You, Tanda, pay it out as you see I want it.”

Again my uncle warned him of the danger.

“Very true, sir,” he answered, fastening the end round his waist; “but, you see, if we seamen had to stop every time we saw danger, we should very soon have to go ashore and take to nursing babies. No, sir; my notion is that the thing is to be done. It may fail; but if it succeeds, why, we may manage to get most of those poor fellows safe on shore.”

While we were speaking, the dog gave another loud howl, as if to make a signal to those on board; and we fancied it could not fail to be heard even above the roar of the breakers, although our voices could scarcely have reached them. It was heard at all events by the rest of our party; for directly afterwards the two girls and Oliver were seen coming down from the house in spite of the pelting rain, covered up in mat cloaks. The Frau followed behind, entreating them to return.

“Oh, you will be wet; you will be washed away!” she cried out. “Come back! come back! What is the matter?”

“We were afraid something dreadful had occurred,” said Emily, as she reached the inner end of the rocks.

I entreated her and Grace not to come further, lest the seas, which occasionally washed up, might sweep them away. Oliver, however, clambered along to where we were.

“I may be of some use,” he said. “Let me do what I can.”

“Well, then, help to pay out this rope, Oliver,” said Roger Trew, who was securing the end round his own waist, having thrown off his jacket and shoes, retaining only his trowsers, which he fastened round his waist. “No time to be lost!” he added. “You pray for me, Walter. It will be a difficult job, but it ought to be done, and so it must!”

Saying this, he plunged in, and bravely buffeting the sea which broke in showers round us, was in a short time free of the surf. He was not alone, however. Merlin, uttering a loud bark, plunged in directly afterwards, and soon overtook him, swimming by his side, as if wishing to afford him support or companionship. Away they went, we gradually paying out the light buoyant rope, which floated in a way no ordinary rope would have done.

“I am afraid,” said Mr Sedgwick, “that its strength is scarcely sufficient to enable those on board to pass over it to the shore.”

“No, sir,” I said; “but if we can haul in a stouter rope by means of it, the same end will be accomplished.”

In a short time we could no longer distinguish Roger and Merlin; but we knew by the way the rope continued to be dragged out that they were still making progress. Now, however, the rope seemed to stop. We knew that it could not yet have reached the vessel. After a time we felt it again drawn on. Again there was a time of great suspense. It made but little progress. Still we felt that it was drawn out, and that was all that could be said. How eagerly we looked towards the vessel, and examined the whole of the intervening space! Presently we saw an object floating on the water. Now it sank, now it appeared on the foaming crest of a sea which came rushing towards the shore. “Help! help!” exclaimed a voice. “Lend a hand!”

Passing a piece of the remaining rope round my waist, I begged my uncle and Oliver to hold it, while Tanda paid out the cable, of which but a small part now only remained. I rushed forward as the person was borne onward towards the rock. Stretching out my hand, I caught him as the next sea was about to sweep him up into the bay on one side, where he would have been dashed on the sharp rocks which lined it. I threw myself back, my uncle and Oliver hauling in the rope, when I found I had Roger Trew by the hand.

“I could not do it!” he exclaimed; “but there is another who will succeed, or I am much mistaken. Merlin saw how it would be, I have a notion, from the first; and when I found I must give in or go to the bottom, I just threw him the bight of the rope. He seized it in his mouth, and swam on as well as if he was in smooth water, and I let the sea bring me back again. If Merlin does not succeed, I will have another try at it, though; but I think he will.”

While he was speaking a jerk was given, apparently at the other end of the rope. Directly afterwards we heard Tanda utter an exclamation of dismay.

“It is gone!” cried Mr Sedgwick. “The end is gone!”

“Then I’ll have it!” exclaimed Roger, plunging into the water as the end of the rope glided by at a little distance.

So quick was he that he caught it; and though he was carried to another point of the rock, a few yards from where we were standing, he was able once more to climb up and regain a safe position. With the quickness of a practised seaman he carried it up to a point, where he made the end fast in such a way that it was not likely again to slip.

We now all stood anxiously watching to see what would next occur. We could do no more, unless we found the end of our rope slackening, as a sign that another had been fastened to it. We should then haul away on it. The minutes seemed hours as we stood on the shore anxiously looking out towards the brig. Bits of timber came floating on shore; now a piece of a broken spar; now parts of the bulwarks. We were afraid that ere long the brig would begin to break up. Meantime Frau Ursula had been urging the girls to go back to the house; but they were too deeply interested in what was taking place to listen to her entreaties. They thought not of the pelting rain; they thought not of the driving spray or furious wind. Their hearts were with our friends on board—with Mr Hooker, kind Mr Thudicumb, honest Dick Tarbox, and the faithful Potto Jumbo. Presently we saw a round object floating towards us.

“It is a man’s head!” cried Oliver. “Let me go this time.”

“No, no,” I answered; “I am not at all tired from my other swim, and I will try and help him.”

I was getting ready to plunge in, in spite of Oliver’s entreaties, when, on looking again, a flash of lightning at the moment lighting up the top of the wave, we saw the head of Merlin as he bravely swam towards us. We rushed into the water to help him, lest the send of the sea might have driven him against the rock before he had gained a footing. Instead of shaking himself, as a dog generally does, as soon as he was clear of the water, he stood perfectly still. We then saw that he had got a bottle round his neck.

“A letter from Hooker; I am sure of it!” said Mr Sedgwick. “It will give us important information. We cannot read it here, however. Come, young ladies, I must take you up to the house, and comfort the Frau’s heart. She is afraid you will catch ague or fever, or cold at all events; and she has reason for her fears—so come along.”

Very unwillingly the two girls left the scene; Emily entreating me, as she went away, not to run any more risks of being drowned. Curiously enough, Merlin, having performed his duty, accompanied Mr Sedgwick and the girls up to the house. In a short time Mr Sedgwick returned, saying, that the note was from Mr Hooker, to the effect that he hoped the vessel would hold together till the hurricane was over, as she gave no signs of breaking up, while there was a sufficient space free of water below, to afford shelter to all who remained on board. “I am sorry to say,” he added, “that several of the crew have attempted to swim on shore. Two of them we saw lost before they had gone many fathoms from the ship; but we hope the others have arrived safely. We, however, will make a hawser fast to the rope you sent us by that noble creature Merlin, that in case we are mistaken about the brig holding together, we may have a better prospect of saving our lives.”

On hearing this we again went to the end of the point, and found that we could haul in upon the rope; and by the resistance it made, it was evident that a hawser had been secured to it. It was very heavy work; but at length, by our united efforts, we got the hawser secured to a point of the rock. We had now a communication with our poor brig, but we trembled to think of the danger to which Mr Hooker would be exposed should he attempt to make use of it in his present weak health.

“A short time ago he would have come along that rope without the slightest difficulty,” observed Oliver; “but now I am afraid that, were he to make the attempt, he could scarcely resist the strength of the waves, and would be washed off.”

“I am afraid so too, Oliver,” said Roger Trew. “Sooner than he should do that, I would go out and try to help him ashore.”

Attached to the end of the hawser, I should observe, we found a light rope. This was evidently sent that we might get another stout one on shore. We found on trying it that we were right in our conjecture, and hauling away as before, we got a second strong rope united to the vessel and the land. Mr Sedgwick now wanted us to go back to the house, but we could not think of leaving the shore till our friends were in safety. He himself said that he would remain to watch, should any change take place. It was an anxious time, for instead of decreasing, the wind was blowing even harder than before. It seemed a wonder that the Dugong could stand so much battering. Still, we could dimly see her through the gloom, her masts yet standing, though heeling over towards the land. Every now and then a huge sea swept over the larger portion of the wreck; and numerous pieces of plank thrown on the rocks showed us that already her bulwarks at all events were giving way.

“I suspect that Dick Tarbox and the others will not desert Mr Hooker; and they are afraid of his suffering should he attempt to come ashore,” I observed to Roger Trew.

“That is it, Master Walter,” he answered. “Depend on it they will not leave him till they are washed out of the ship. I should like to go on board and see how they are getting on.”

I urged him, however, not to make the attempt.

“It is far more easy for them to come to us than for you to go on board,” I observed. “Let us wait patiently; perhaps as the night advances the gale will abate.”

Still the wind blew as hard as ever. At length, just as Mr Sedgwick had gone back to the house to look after the girls and Frau Ursula, a shout reached our ears. We hurried to the point of the rock, and there we saw what looked like a huge piece of wreck being driven towards us.

“I am afraid the brig is breaking up,” I observed. “Poor Mr Hooker! What can we do to help him?”

We tried to pierce the gloom to ascertain who was on the wreck. By degrees we saw that, instead of a piece of wreck, it was a small boat. Those in her were holding on to the hawsers. Now she rose, now she fell, as the waves passed under her. We could scarcely understand how she could live in that tossing sea, with the weight of several people on board. At length she seemed to stop, and turned round broadside to us.

“She must go over,” shouted Roger. “Look out; help them as they come ashore.”

She was at that time near enough for us to see two persons leap overboard; one, it seemed, holding on to the other. They approached. Again a voice shouted “Look out!” Roger Trew ran to the point of the rock, holding on to the rope, and stretching over into the sea. We could now distinguish the two men. Nearer and nearer they came.

“Give me your hand, Cooky, give me your hand,” cried Roger, stretching out his arm; and then I saw that Potto Jumbo was working along the hawser, with Mr Hooker secured by a rope to his back. The dawn was just breaking. The cry of some sea-fowl as they passed sounded ominously in our ears. Even then I feared that Potto Jumbo would lose his hold, or that Mr Hooker, weak from his illness, might be torn away by the fury of the sea. I ran forward with another rope, the end of which Oliver held, and just as Roger caught hold of Potto Jumbo’s hand, and was dragging him up, I grasped him by the arm. Mr Hooker seemed almost exhausted, and could not utter a word. With the help of Oliver and Tanda we at length got them up on the rock, though not till Potto Jumbo had severely hurt his legs against the sharp points.

“Heaven be praised, it is done! You all right soon, Mr Hooker,” exclaimed Potto Jumbo, as he committed his charge to our hands.

The boat meantime was slowly drifting in, in spite of the efforts of two men on board to hold her; one indeed appeared to have been hurt, and able to exert but little strength. Who they were we could not then see, but I hoped that my old friend Dick Tarbox had escaped.

“Is the boatswain one of them?” I asked of Potto Jumbo.

“Yes, massa, yes,” answered Potto; “and t’other Mr Thudicumb. But help dem, help dem; no mind me. I take care of Mr Hooker; Mr Thudicumb no help himself.”

It was time indeed for us to exert all our strength, for the boat was now being driven helplessly towards the rock; and it seemed but too probable, should she strike it, that those in her would be thrown out, and very likely swept off by the sea: indeed, they were in a more dangerous position than had they held on alone to the rope. There was on one side of the rock a sort of gulf, which ran up some way towards the beach. Should the boat strike the point, she would very likely be dashed to pieces, but if we could manage to get hold of her as she drove by on one side, we might, I knew, rescue our friends and save her. This thought passed rapidly through my mind. The rest of our party saw what was likely to happen as well as I did, and together we eagerly stood waiting for the boat to reach us.

On she came. Mr Thudicumb managed to crawl to the helm, while Dick Tarbox stood in the bows. Another sea came roaring in. The boatswain held a rope in his hand. I almost shrieked with terror as I saw the boat, as I thought, coming towards the point; but the mate, moving the helm, she grazed by it, and the next instant Tarbox hove the rope. We caught it, and hauling on together as we ran along, drew the boat’s head for an instant in towards us. Tarbox leaped out and seized the rope. Potto, who had placed his burden on a secure part of the rock, joined us. The following sea almost filled the boat, but we dragged her bows in, though as we did so she came with a fearful crash against the rock. Tarbox then leaping back, seized the mate, and with almost superhuman strength dragged him out over the side on to the rock, while we hauled the boat up half out of the water.

“You are safe, Mr Thudicumb, you are safe!” exclaimed Tarbox to the mate, who scarcely seemed aware of what had happened.

While Oliver, Roger Trew, and Tanda attended to the boat, Potto Jumbo again lifted up Mr Hooker, and Tarbox and I assisted Mr Thudicumb along over the ledge towards the shore.

“Are there any others left on board?” asked Roger Trew. “If there are, we will pull back and try to bring them on shore.”

“No one, no one,” answered the boatswain; “all left before we did, more’s the pity. They would not stop, in spite of all we could say to them.”

We were soon met by Mr Sedgwick, who had returned from the house. He cordially welcomed his old friend, moved almost to tears by the condition in which he saw him.

“Rouse up, Hooker, my dear fellow!” he exclaimed. “You will soon have a roof over your head and a dry bed to lie in and willing hands to take care of you.”

We soon got the party up to the house, when Frau Ursula and the girls began eagerly to busy themselves in arranging the beds for the two sick men. Mr Thudicumb had been hurt by the falling of a spar, and our uncle, who fortunately possessed considerable surgical knowledge, at once attended to his injuries.

Daylight had now returned, and as the sun rose the gale began to abate. Mr Hooker and the mate were put to bed in my uncle’s room, his own couch accommodating one, and a mattress composed of mats serving as a bed for the other. The rest of the party were now assembled in what my uncle called his hall.

“And now, my good Frau, you and the young ladies must go to your roost. As you have been night-birds, you must sleep in the day, and we will look after these good fellows, who, I daresay, will not be sorry to take some of the remains of our feast of last night.”

“No, indeed, sir, we shall not,” said Dick Tarbox; “for the truth is, we have been far too anxious to think of grub, in the first place; and it was a hard matter to get at any, in the second.”

It was amusing to see the eagerness with which the shipwrecked men set to work upon the provisions placed before them.

“The sooner you get off those wet clothes of yours the better,” observed my uncle; “and though we are not very rich in garments here, we can supply you with mat petticoats and a shirt apiece while your things are drying.”

In a few minutes we all appeared dressed in the costume thus furnished, and certainly we looked more like savages than civilised people as we sat round the board.

“Now, lads, there is one thing I think we ought to do,” said Dick Tarbox, “and that is, thank Heaven for bringing us ashore in safety, and giving us such good quarters. If we had been driven on a coast not far from here, I suspect we should have found very different treatment. The chances are our heads would have been off our shoulders before we had been many hours in the company of the natives, and very likely, instead of enjoying a good supper like this—or a breakfast, we ought to call it—we should have been served up as a feast to the savages.”

Our meal over, Tanda brought in a further supply of mats, in which we all wrapped ourselves, and were very soon fast asleep, I was awoke by hearing my uncle’s voice calling to Tanda, and looking up, I saw that they were placing another meal on the table. Our clothes were then brought to us.

“There, lads,” said my uncle, “you are now more fit than you were to appear before the ladies; and as they are on foot, I will bring them into the hall. I am glad also to say both Mr Hooker and the mate are very much better for their rest, and I hope in a few days they will be themselves again.”

The first few hours we spent on the island appeared to me like a dream. I had been so tired on the night of the wreck, that scarcely was one meal over than I was asleep again, and only woke up to see a fresh repast prepared for us. As soon as I was somewhat recovered, I hurried out, with Tarbox and Potto Jumbo, to the shore to see what had become of the wreck. I gave a shout of joy when I saw that her masts were still standing, though she had been driven so high up on the rock that it was very evident that we should not be able to get her off again. The boat still lay where Roger Trew and Oliver had hauled her up. We hurried down to examine her. A hole had been torn in her bottom, rendering her unfit for use.

“Never fear,” said the boatswain, on examining her. “We may soon repair this damage and be able to get off to the wreck in her. I hope we shall find many things on board of use to us, even though we cannot get the old barky afloat again.”

The next thing to be done, therefore, was to repair the boat. We hurried back to the house to see if Mr Sedgwick was able to assist us. As soon as he heard the nature of the injury, he produced some planks and nails exactly suited for our purpose.

“I cannot supply you with pitch,” he said, “but there are several gums in the island which will answer the object, and here are copper nails enough, if you use them with economy.”

We of course at once set to work, and quickly patched up the little boat. At first I had a vague idea that she might enable us to get off to some civilised place, but on seeing her once more in the water, I felt that that would be hopeless, as she could only hold three or four persons at the utmost in smooth water.

When Emily and Grace heard that we were going off to the vessel, they entreated us to be cautious.

“I do so dread the sea,” said Emily. “I should be very thankful if I thought I had not again to cross it.”

“But you would not like to live in this island for ever,” observed Mr Sedgwick. “You will soon be wishing yourself back in the old country, as I have done, I can assure you, very often.”

Oliver and I, with Tarbox and Roger Trew, had arranged to go off in the boat. The oars had fortunately been thrown on shore. Although one of them was broken, two had been preserved uninjured. I did my best to reassure my sister and Grace, and they and the Frau came down to see us off. Tarbox and Oliver pulled, while I steered, and away we went over the now blue sea towards the wreck.

As we drew near we saw the fearful injuries she had received.

A coral rock had forced itself completely through her side; and had she not been thrown high up on the reef, she must inevitably have sunk, as the water flowed in and out with the tide. It was now fortunately low water, and by getting on to the reef, which appeared above the surface, having made our boat secure, we were able to scramble on board. Everything with the exception of the masts had been swept from the deck, while the hold was still nearly full of water. In the cabin, however, we found a variety of useful articles, besides a good supply of provisions. All sorts of things, however, had been thrown out of their places, and lay scattered about the wreck. Having collected, however, as many things as we could carry, we were about to return with them to the boat.

“Stay,” said the boatswain, “we have forgotten the arms. See, here are four muskets against this bulkhead, and Mr Hooker’s fowling-pieces. If we could get some ammunition, we should be able to defend ourselves in case any of the piratical fellows in this neighbourhood should find us out and pay us a visit.”

We were almost giving up the search for ammunition in despair, when we discovered a couple of tins of powder in one of the lockers, evidently placed there by Mr Thudicumb for immediate use. The powder, fortunately, from having been carefully packed in tins, had escaped injury.

We now, laden with our prizes, got back to the boat, and without much difficulty steered clear of the surf to the shore. We were received on landing by Frau Ursula and the two girls, who had been standing for a long time anxiously watching the boat, afraid that some accident had happened. They now assisted us in landing our goods, and carrying them up to the house.

“We must not live idle lives here,” said Emily, laughing; “and as we have no fancy work, we cannot employ our time better than in making ourselves useful.”

I saw the Frau eagerly examining the articles we had brought on shore.

“What! you no think of our clothes?” she exclaimed at length. “You leave the frocks, and gowns, and shoes, and all the little girls’ things? Oh, you thoughtless men!”

We felt ourselves rebuked.

“Well, we must go back at once, Frau,” I answered. “I confess that we ought to have recollected that you would require clothing, and that mat-made garments, however suited to the climate, are not so becoming as those you had on board. We will go back and fetch them.”

“Oh no, no!” exclaimed Grace. “It is already late, and you have had a long row to-day—some accident may be happening.”

“Not much fear of that, miss,” observed Tarbox. “You shall have your duds, even though we had twice as far to pull for them. Just take care that no one shakes his pipe over those tins there,” he observed, pointing to the cases of powder. “They might chance to send the house flying up over the trees, and the unfortunate smoker with it.”

We had by this time landed all the articles we had brought on shore. They were somewhat miscellaneous, but all likely to prove useful. Besides the fire-arms and ammunition, we had found some cases of preserved meat and hams, a cask of biscuit, some tins of pepper and salt and mustard, a case of wine, a cask of pork, a box of cigars, and a couple of Mr Hooker’s cases. We thought it would do his heart good to see them; and I knew they were among those he valued most for their contents.

“That was indeed thoughtful of you,” observed Emily, when she saw the cases.

“It was not I who thought of them,” I answered; “it was Oliver. He said he thought it would cheer up Mr Hooker to know that some of his things had been saved; and we must try and get some more on shore if we can.”

“Oh yes, yes!” exclaimed both the girls together. “Bring his treasures rather than ours. Many of them, probably, he cannot replace; and we can dress, I daresay, in mats, or the cloth I have seen made out of the paper mulberry-tree.”

“Well, well, young ladies,” said Tarbox. “We can find room, I daresay, in the boat for your light things, as well as Mr Hooker’s chests; so I hope, if we can get hold of the things, you will not have to rig up in any outlandish fashion.”

He said this as we were shoving off the boat with our oars; and now, sitting down, we again pulled out towards the wreck.

“The gentleman on shore says he has lived here for several years,” said Oliver. “All that time no vessel has called off here. Now, if we are to get away, would it not be better if we were to try and build one large enough for the purpose, so that we may quit the island whenever it is thought best?”

“You are right, Oliver,” said Tarbox. “If we can get hold of the carpenter’s tools, and ropes and spars enough, with blocks and sails, we may build a craft out of the wreck, or of the wood we can cut down in the island. It does not take so long to dry as it does in Old England.”

Roger Trew agreed with Tarbox, and so did I, that we ought to make the attempt, and thanked Oliver for his suggestion. We determined, therefore, at once to secure as much rope and as many blocks as we might want, as well as sailcloth or sails and spars.

“I have heard talk of a man out in the Pacific Islands who built a vessel with far less means than we have got,” observed Tarbox. “He was a missionary gentleman, though he knew well how to work at a forge, as well as to use his saw and hammer. To the best of my recollection, he had only got a file and a saw and an old anchor to begin with. He first taught the natives how to assist him, and then set to work to cut down the trees and to saw them into planks. He next put up a forge, and made the bellows, and manufactured nails and pins, and all the work he wanted.”

“Oh yes, I have read of him,” said Oliver. “He was Mr Williams, the missionary. He built the vessel, I think, at Raratonga, when he was left there by himself, without another European to help him. She was called the Messenger of Peace, and he sailed many thousand miles afterwards on board her in his missionary voyages. If Mr Williams—who had no knowledge of ship-building except such as he obtained from observation of the vessels he visited—could do so, we, at all events, ought to be able to build a craft capable of carrying us to Singapore, even though we may not secure much more from the wreck.”

“There is one thing we want, and that is iron,” observed Tarbox; “and rope and blocks, and provisions, too. It would take us some time to put such a craft together.”

“All I know is,” said Oliver, “that Mr Williams had but the iron part of an anchor, a pick-axe, and a few garden tools, with some iron hoops. His vessel was from about sixty to seventy tons, and from the time he cut the keel until she was launched not more than four months had passed. Besides the bellows and forge, he made a lathe, and indeed manufactured everything that was required. His sails were composed of fine mats, woven by the natives; and the rope was manufactured from the hemp which grew on the island. In the same way he found substitutes for oakum, pitch, and paint, and everything he required.”

“He you speak of must have been a very wonderful man,” observed Tarbox. “I consider that a man who could do what he did is fit to be Prime Minister. Why, he would have made the Thames Tunnel, if he had tried.”

“Very likely he would,” said Oliver; “but God wanted him for His work, and that was to go out to those islands to the east of us in the Pacific, and to convert the natives to Christianity.”

By this time we had regained the wreck. Our first search was for the clothing of the Frau and the young ladies. We managed to get up a trunk which contained a portion of them, though the water had got in, and had greatly spoiled the contents. We fished about for some time, and then got up another box, which had suffered in the same way.

“It cannot be helped,” observed Tarbox. “We will not be particular how the old lady and little girls look; and the clothes will soon dry—that’s one good thing. The sun is not idle out in these parts.”

Our next hunt was for the carpenter’s tools. When I say that half the deck was under water, it may be supposed that there were very few things which had escaped soaking. Fortunately the carpenter had stowed many of his things away in a locker on the upper side of the vessel. These we secured, and then searched for his chest, which we knew contained some more of the necessary tools.

“Poor fellow! if he had stuck by us instead of attempting to swim on shore, he would have been here to lend us a hand,” observed Tarbox.

Oliver was very busy hunting about. Of course, we had thrown off our jackets, and retained only our trowsers. We did not mind, therefore, plunging into the water, now and then diving down in the hopes of getting hold of something. At length Oliver cried out that he felt the handle of a chest, which he thought must be the carpenter’s. We soon got a hook and rope, and hauled it up, when with much satisfaction we found he was right. It was somewhat heavy, and we doubted if we should get it into the boat. At last Oliver suggested that we should open it, and carry some of the tools separately, so as to lighten it. This we did; and by the time we had got a few coils of rope on board, and some blocks, our boat was heavily laden.

Chapter Twenty Three.

Our first excursion in the island.

On our arrival at the beach, we found that the indefatigable Frau and her young companions had carried up all the articles to the house. On seeing us return, they had again come down, with Potto Jumbo, to help us. The Frau, lifting a coil of rope, put it round her neck, exclaiming, “Ah! I have one fine necklace—I carry this;” and off she set, with a bag of biscuit at her back. The girls each loaded themselves with blocks and ropes, while we carried up the chests and heavier articles.

Great was Mr Hooker’s delight when he saw his beloved cases arrive.

“What! you have saved these?” he exclaimed, lifting up his hands, and gazing at them with affection. “I am indeed indebted to you. I little thought any one else appreciated them as I do. But it shows you are true lovers of science, that you value such treasures as these—not as ordinary persons value them, but as men of science look at them—at their true worth. Thank you, my friends—thank you;” and he shook us all warmly by the hand.

I really believe that the restoration of his collections contributed greatly to his recovery.

The next day we were employed in the same way—in getting on shore as many of the stores as we could fish up from the wreck. Mr Sedgwick was well pleased at the appearance of the case of wine.

“It is just what my patients want,” he observed; “and though I can manufacture palm-wine and arrack, they will not answer the purpose nearly so well. Indeed, the arrack is poisonous stuff at the best.”

For some days both Mr Hooker and the mate appeared to hang between life and death. Our uncle, I saw, was very anxious about them, and seldom absent from their room. When he went away, the good Frau took his place. When absent, however, he was still engaged in their service, as he was either concocting medicines or cooking dishes to suit their taste.

“Potto Jumbo is a very good sea-cook,” he observed to me, “but not quite capable of producing a dish fit for an invalid; and as to my Dyak, Tanda, his ideas are somewhat limited in that way.”

The weather continued fine, and the vessel hung together; but the boatswain was of opinion that should another gale come on, she would quickly go to pieces.

“Though we might get some of her timbers and planks, they would be sorely battered by getting knocked on the rocks,” he observed; “and to my mind it would be better if we could get them ripped off at once. It will be a pretty tough job; but it is to be done.”

I proposed the matter to Mr Sedgwick, but he rather doubted our capability of performing the operation. He could not help us, as he was required to attend to our friends, while his man had to look after the plantations and animals, and indeed had ample work. He thought that fresh planks from the trees in the forest would be of more use than the broken ones we might get from the vessel. We, indeed, were prevented from returning to her for some days, on account of a strong wind setting in directly on the shore, which created so much surf that we were unable to pass through it in our small boat.

Mr Thudicumb was to be our master-builder. He had more acquaintance with ship-building than any of us—indeed, probably than all the party put together; but he was yet too ill even to superintend the undertaking. We hoped, however, that in the course of a week or two he would be sufficiently recovered to set us to work. At present, indeed, he could scarcely even give his thoughts to the subject.

I proposed that we should employ the time in exploring the island. Mr Sedgwick had never gone to any great distance from the spot where he had located himself. He had been unable to do so, as directly he began to collect his menagerie it was necessary for him to remain to attend to his animals. He was also unwilling to go far from the coast, lest, a vessel passing, he might lose the opportunity of getting on board her. This had kept him week after week, and month after month, within a few miles of the shore. He was now, however, very glad to make the proposed expedition.

Mr Hooker and the mate were sufficiently recovered to move about the house and to take short walks in the neighbourhood. The girls were both very anxious to go also, but the Frau strongly objected to their doing so.

“Suppose we meet snakes, or wild beasts, or savages?” she asked. “Oh no, no, Frauline Emily and Grace. You must stop and take care of Mr Hooker and poor Mr Thudicumb. What they do without you?”

We were much amused at the Frau’s anxiety, because we suspected that she supposed if they went she would have to go also, and for this she had no fancy. She was a very good nurse, and a very good cook; but she took little interest in beautiful scenery or in natural history.

“We will take very good care of the young ladies if you like to remain behind,” said our uncle. “We can easily make some litters to carry them, should they be tired, and we will leave you to assist in garrisoning our castle.”

“Oh, but I not like to lose sight of them,” she answered; and indeed she was afraid that they might meet with some accident, or suffer from the hardships of the journey.

They, however, pleaded their cause so well, that at length it was arranged they were to go with us.

“I have read that Lady Raffles accompanied her husband, Sir Stamford, in many of his excursions through Sumatra and other islands of these seas, and I do not see why we should be afraid of any of the hardships which she had to go through,” observed Emily.

We now busied ourselves in making preparations for our journey. Our party consisted of our uncle as leader, Oliver and I, Dick Tarbox, Roger Trew, and Potto Jumbo. Merlin evidently understood that we were going on an expedition, and wagged his tail and looked up in my face as if to ask if he might accompany us. First he went to one, and then to another, making the same request.

“If you can spare him, Hooker, we will take him,” observed my uncle. “He seems so well trained, that I think he will not range too widely and disturb our game.”

“Speak to him, and he will do whatever you tell him,” said Mr Hooker; and so Merlin was added to our party.

We promised the Frau that should the difficulties we might meet with be too great for the girls to encounter, we would at once return, and leaving them, set off again by ourselves. We each of us earned a fowling-piece, an axe, and a knife, with flint and steel, and a bag of sago-cake, prepared as have before described. We felt very sure that we could provide ourselves with an ample supply of animal food, as also vegetables, wherever we might go. Nature has been lavishly bountiful in that region in her supply of food for the wants of man; indeed, there are no parts of the world where a little labour will produce such an abundance of all the necessaries of life as in most of the islands of that archipelago.

Several streams ran down from the neighbouring mountains fertilising the land, and, in the intervals, cocoa-nut trees grew, with fruit now sufficiently ripe to afford a delicious draught of cool liquid whenever we might want it.

We rose before daybreak to breakfast, that we might commence our journey in the cool of the morning. Our friends collected in the verandah to wish us good-bye. Mr Hooker, however, seemed very unhappy at being unable to accompany us.

“Cheer up, friends,” said our uncle. “We shall be back, probably, in two or three days; and having stretched our legs, we shall be the better able to make another excursion, and I hope by that time you will be of the party.”

My uncle led, axe in hand, to clear away any creepers or underwood which might impede our progress. The girls, with Oliver and I on either hand, followed, while the three men, with their guns ready for use, brought up the rear. The views were, however, confined, in consequence of the thickness of the forest and the somewhat level nature of the country; but in the distance we could see mountains rising, with intervening hills, which showed us that there was some climbing in prospect. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the woods, or the great variety of strange trees and plants which met our sight in every direction. Among the most beautiful and curious were the orchids. One especially arrested our attention. It had large yellow clusters of flowers hanging down from some of the lower branches of the trees, so that it was more than usually conspicuous. Our uncle called it the Vanda Lowii. Many of its strange pendent flower-spikes almost reached the ground. Each was about six or eight feet long, with large, handsome flowers three inches across, varying in colour from orange to red, with deep purple-red spots. Some, indeed, were even longer than that; and we counted on one thirty-six flowers arranged in a spiral way upon a slender, thread-like stalk.

A shout from one of the men a short distance behind made us stop.

“Why, that is a rum-looking creature!” exclaimed Dick Tarbox.

“Dat?—dat one big frog with wing!” cried Potto Jumbo, with a loud laugh.

We turned round, and just at the same moment a companion probably of the first that had been seen seemed to be flying in a slanting direction from the bough of a high tree into a small pool which we had noticed as we passed. Potto sprang forward, and caught it just as it was reaching the water. It was a curious-looking creature, certainly. The back and limbs were of a dark shining green colour, while the under surface and inner toes were yellow. The body was about four inches long, while the webs of each hind foot, when fully stretched out, covered a surface of not less than four square inches. Its toes were peculiarly long, and fully webbed to their extremity, so that, when expanded, they presented a surface to the air considerably larger than the whole of the body, which was also capable of being filled out by wind.

“Ah, this is a real flying-frog!” observed our uncle.

However, it was altogether a very curious creature. We were anxious to preserve it to show to Mr Hooker. It was accordingly consigned to Roger Trew’s bag, our uncle saying that he would preserve it when we stopped to rest.

The tree-ferns also were very graceful, of various heights and forms, from eight to fifteen feet high, their tall leaves waving over in the most picturesque manner.

“We shall soon have a stream to cross,” said my uncle, “which I consider the boundary of my domain. However, as I have made excursions a short distance beyond it, I have built a bridge that I might get across without difficulty. You must, however, string up your nerves, as, probably, you have seldom passed over such a structure. It is exactly such as I have seen built by the Dyaks in Borneo.”

On getting to the banks of the stream it was evident that without a boat or a bridge we should be unable to cross. We now, however, saw the means my uncle had contrived. The bridge was made entirely of bamboo. A number of stout pieces crossed each other like the letter X, fixed in the bank on either side, and rising a few feet above it. They were then firmly bound together, as also to a long bamboo of the largest size which rested on them, and formed the only pathway over which we had to cross. Another long bamboo, raised three feet above the other on either side, formed the hand-rails. It was, however, supported also by ratans, which led from some overhanging trees above it, while other bamboos were stuck into the banks, and leaning outward over the stream, formed diagonal supports.

“Come, Emily and Grace,” said my uncle. “If you find that I get across safely, you need have no fear; and I repaired it completely but a few days ago, little thinking how soon it was to be crossed by any one else.”

When my uncle had got about half-way across the stream, I began to tremble for his safety. The bamboo seemed to me to be creaking and cracking, and every instant I expected it to give way. However, he appeared perfectly at his ease, and walking calmly on, soon reached the other bank in safety.

“Shall I go next, Emily, or will you?” I asked.

“Oh no, no,” said Emily; “Grace and I will go,” and bravely she led the way.

Grace was a little more timid, but followed her closely, and they too reached the opposite bank. When the rest of the party came over, they said they had seen a large bird on the bank of the stream flying near the decayed trunk of a huge tree.

“Whereabouts is it?” exclaimed my uncle with great eagerness.

“Dere, dere!” said Potto Jumbo, whose eyes in these thick woods were evidently sharper than those of his companions, who might, however, have been able to see further than he could on the ocean.

We crept carefully along the bank. It was a huge bird of dark plumage, with a vast bill, and a curious sort of cap on its head. It had something in its mouth, with which it went to a hole in the tree I have described. My uncle, telling us to remain quiet, crept nearer and fired. The bird fell with a loud flop into the stream.

“After him!” I said to Merlin, as the bird was floating down.

Merlin dashed forward, and springing in, approached the bird, who, however, was only wounded, and began to show battle with his formidable bill. Merlin wisely kept out of his reach, for a peck of that bill would soon have taken out one of his eyes. The bird, at length, however, became exhausted, and then Merlin sprang on him, and seizing him by the neck, quickly dragged him to the shore.

“It is a magnificent hornbill!” exclaimed our uncle—“Buceros bicornis.”

Merlin had killed the bird in bringing it on shore, and it now lay stretched out before us. My uncle eagerly went forward to the tree, and looking up about fifteen feet from the ground, we saw a small hole surrounded by mud. Directly afterwards, out came the white end of a beak, which seemed to gape as if expecting to have some food put into it. We were silent for an instant, and then heard the harsh croaking of a bird, which seemed to come from the interior of the tree. How to get at it, however, was the question.

“We will soon be up there,” said Tarbox. “I have seen the way the black fellows get up a tree, and I think we can do the same.”

He soon cut down some bamboos, which, cutting into pieces about a foot and a half in length, he drove into the tree, we all assisting him. He then secured some upright bamboos to the pieces which had thus been stuck in one above another. As soon as he had stuck them in as high as he could reach, he mounted on the first, and then put in some more above his head, and thus in a very short time got up to a level with the hole.

“I have no fancy, though, for having my eyes picked out, which they might very quickly be if the creature inside has got as big a beak as the one you killed, sir,” he observed.

He accordingly got somewhat higher up. He then with his axe began to knock away the mud, and in a short time cleared out a large hole, when not only the beak but the head of a bird similar to the one which had been killed was poked out.

Dick seized it by the neck in spite of its furious struggles, and giving it a swing, threw it down to the ground, where the rest of us pounced upon it, when it commenced uttering the most tremendously loud, hoarse screaming I ever heard.

“There is something else in the nest, though!” he exclaimed; and putting in his hand he drew out an extraordinary little lump of vitality, which, however, was evidently a young bird. “I will bring it down to its mother,” he said; “for if I threw it, the poor little creature would be killed.”

Holding the creature in one hand with as much care as if it had been a young child, he descended with the other. It was a bird as large as a pigeon, but without a single feather on any part of its body. It was wonderfully plump and soft, with a skin almost transparent, so that it looked more like a bag of jelly than any living thing, with a head and feet and commencement of wings stuck on to it. The little creature seemed in no way frightened, but opened its mouth as if expecting to be fed. We brought it to its mother, who immediately recognised it, and when we handed her a piece of fruit she took it and gave a portion to her offspring, who lifted up its beak to receive it.

“Oh, I will carry it!” cried Grace. “I should not like the poor little thing to be hurt.”

Grace had a kind heart, and was always ready to sympathise with any one in distress. We accordingly made a basket of palm-leaves, and Dick again ascended the tree to bring out the lining of the nest. This we put into the basket, and the bird was placed upon it. The mother again began to scream loudly when we took away its young.

“Come, old lady, I’ll carry you,” said Roger Trew, lifting up the hen hornbill; but the bird fought so desperately that he was glad to put her down again. “We must tie your legs and put your nose in a bag, ma’am,” said Roger, “or you will be doing some one a mischief.”

A larger basket was therefore made, into which we put the old bird, fastening in its head at the same time. Mr Sedgwick was highly delighted with his prize. He had always wished to get one of these birds; but had failed to find them, though he had seen them at a distance, and therefore knew that they were in the island. He was aware of this habit of the male bird of plastering up his mate with her egg, and bringing her food while it was being hatched. Several other hornbills act in the same way.

We continued our journey for some time along the banks of the stream, which sparkled brightly as it made its way through the forest. Then we began gradually to ascend the mountains we had seen in the distance. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the forest trees amid which we were making our way—lofty palms, and the wonderful screw-palm, tall cocoa-nut palms, and a number of trees of the same description. Here and there also were groups of bamboos; and in many places ratans grew, hanging from tree to tree. Now and then we met with beautiful flowers and flowering shrubs, but they were not so common as we expected. Their size and brilliancy, however, made amends for their scarcity. Among them were some creepers, having crimson and yellow flowers; others were of a rich purple colour. Among the most beautiful was one which Mr Sedgwick called an anonaceous tree: it was about thirty feet high, and its slender trunk was covered with large star-like crimson flowers, which surrounded it like a garland, and Grace and Emily declared they thought some one had come on purpose to adorn it. In one spot a number of these trees grew all together, producing a most beautiful and brilliant effect; others were immense trees with furrowed stems; and now and then we came to a magnificent fig-tree, which was altogether unlike any tree I had ever seen. It seemed as if its trunk had been divided into hundreds of small stems and roots. The most curious, however, was one which had its base eighty feet up from the ground, while that rested on a wonderful pyramid of roots which, shooting downwards, spread out on every side, while the branches started off and rose again to a vast height above the stem. Then, again, from its branches hung down a variety of creepers, like the shrouds of a vessel, to keep it apparently from being blown away by a tornado.

I cannot attempt to describe all the beautiful butterflies we saw. Now and then Mr Sedgwick made chase after one. Once he returned with one, which he considered a valuable prize. The ground colour of its wings was a rich shining black, the lower wings being of a delicate grey with white, and bordered by a row of large spots of the most brilliant satin-like yellow. The body was marked with shade spots of white, yellow, and fiery orange, while the head and thorax were intense black. The under sides of the lower wings were of soft white, the marginal spots being half black and half yellow.

Scarcely had this one been caught, than he gave chase to another superb-looking one, of a rich purple, variously tinged with ash colour, a broad bar of deep orange running across the fore wings. Away it flew, and we ran after to assist him, when it seemed to drop among some dried leaves, and there it totally disappeared. What had become of it, we could not tell, when suddenly, almost from before our eyes, it rose again in the air, and gave us another chase, till it again disappeared as before. At length we saw Mr Sedgwick fall almost prostrate, with his net over the leaves; and then what appeared to be a dry leaf suddenly rose and turned into a large butterfly. It was, however, under his net, and was quickly made his prisoner. We soon discovered the curious arrangement by which the creature is enabled to escape capture. The end of the upper wings terminated in a fine point, just as is the case with the leaves of many tropical shrubs. The lower wings were more obtuse, and lengthened out into a short thin tail. Between these two points ran a dark curved line, representing the mid rib of a leaf, while the other marks were radiated exactly like the lateral fans of leaves; indeed, the wings of the creature when closed were so like a leaf, that it was scarcely possible to distinguish it from those amidst which it had pitched.

As we rose higher and higher in this mountainous region towards which we were bending our steps, gigantic ferns became more numerous. Among them were most curious pitcher-plants. They took the form of half-climbing shrubs, their pitchers, of various sizes and forms, hanging in numbers from their leaves. Every ridge was now crowned with gigantic ferns, which reminded us of the descriptions of the antediluvian world, when ferns appear to have been the chief vegetation which covered the surface of the globe.—I will not mention our dinner.

It was now time to encamp for the night. Our first care was to make arrangements for the accommodation of the young ladies. We had an abundance of materials at hand, and soon cut down branches and leaves sufficient to make a very comfortable bower in which they might rest. A fire was then lighted, and similar bowers, though of less careful construction, were erected for the rest of the party. Our uncle arranged that one of the party should remain on watch.

“I cannot tell what sort of creatures inhabit these wilds,” he observed; “but I have every reason to believe that many of those that range over Borneo and Sumatra are to be found here. They have probably been prevented coming to my territory by the river which separates it from the rest of the island; but I have seen traces of the rhinoceros, and trees broken down in a way elephants alone could accomplish. Wild boars I have shot; and tigers and huge serpents, I have reason to believe, are to be found in some parts of the island.”

“How delightful!” I exclaimed; but then I recollected the danger to which Emily and Grace might be exposed. I said something to that effect.

“We must keep a careful watch,” he answered; “and in truth I believe that generally wild animals are more afraid of man than man need he of them, if he is on his guard.”

I did not wish to frighten the girls, and therefore did not talk to them of these things. As I lay down to waistcoat, I could not help thinking of the various fierce creatures we might possibly meet with, and in my dreams I was engaged in desperate encounters with all those my uncle had mentioned, and not a few others—such as have no existence except in the imagination.

Chapter Twenty Four.

Excursion continued—Fearful encounter with a monster.

I was the first inhabitant of our hut awake. Daylight was just breaking; and going out silently, not wishing to disturb the rest of the party, I looked round me. Potto Jumbo, who had the morning watch, was sitting by the fire; a few branches of trees stuck in the ground forming a sufficient shelter from the night dews. He was leaning against them, and had evidently fallen asleep, for the fire was almost out. I stood for some minutes contemplating the strange scene. Surrounding us on every side were the curious trees I have before described, festooned with creepers. Here and there the bright flowers of some orchidaceous plant ornamented their summits, or hung down from their boughs. I thought to myself, if any natives are in the island, how easily we might have been surprised; or if tigers lurk in its thickets, how easily one of our party might be picked off.

Presently Potto Jumbo sprang to his feet with a loud shout. He must have been dreaming, and supposed that one of the animals I was thinking of was approaching. His shout was echoed, it seemed, by a thousand shrill voices; and looking up, I saw the whole of the trees surrounding us alive with creatures—some trumpeting, some screeching, and others making prolonged shrill whistlings; and from the high branches, like a flock of birds, down came some forty or fifty monkeys, striking the tops of the brushwood to which they clung, either with hands or tails, and then off they went with the speed of arrows through the jungle. There seemed to be several descriptions. Some were small creatures of a slate colour; others of a light yellow, with long arms and long tails. The noise they made quickly roused Emily and Grace, as well as the rest of the party, who sprang out of their bowers, watching the proceedings of our neighbours. Some made tremendous leaps from one branch of a tree to another, a little lower down. First went one bold leader, taking a jump towards a tree which it seemed scarcely possible he could reach. Then the others followed, with more or less trepidation. Some seemed afraid to take a leap till their companions began to move off, when, for fear of being left alone, they threw themselves frantically into the air, while two or three came crashing through the slender branches down to the ground.

“Oh, do catch one of those pretty creatures for us!” said Emily and Grace.

Oliver and I ran forward to catch them; but they were not too much hurt to defend themselves; and one of them bit me so severely in the hand, that I was glad to let him go; while the rest, picking themselves up, hopped off at a rate which would have made pursuit useless.

“I am very sorry,” I said to Grace, “to lose the monkey; though I do not think he would have proved a very amiable pet. However, I hope to be more fortunate another time.”

My uncle laughed heartily at me, while he put some salve on my finger and bound it up, the pain quickly subsiding under his treatment.

We soon had our coffee-pot boiling, and we took our breakfast before commencing our day’s walk. The girls declared themselves fully able to proceed. While we were sitting on the ground, I perceived a movement in the boughs, and saw that the monkeys were coming back to have a further look at us; and presently the boughs above our heads were filled with curious prying black, grey, and yellow faces. I pointed them out to Grace and Emily.

“If we could but entice some of them to come down, perhaps we might capture one for you,” I observed.

“Oh no, no; pray do not attempt it,” said Grace, “or you will get another bite. I thought they were such good-natured little creatures that they would hurt no one.”

“Nor would they, young lady, if left alone,” said my uncle. “However, I have some tame ones at home, and you shall choose the most docile when we return as your especial property. We must give them another steeple-chase, however,” he whispered; and suddenly starting up, he uttered a loud cry and clapped his hands.

Again the wood was full of living creatures, and away they went as before, swinging from bough to bough, with the aid of their long tails, in the most wonderful manner. We saw several further off on one side, who moved in a different manner from the rest.

“Those are apes,” said our uncle, pointing them out. “I have one in my collection which I will show you. It is the Siamang syndactyla.”

It was moving much slower than the monkeys, keeping lower down in the underwood, but still it moved rapidly by means of its long arms. It appeared to be about three feet high, while its arms were between five and six feet across, and by them it was swinging itself along among the trees at a rapid rate. Although at first I thought I could catch one, I soon found that it could escape me as well as the monkeys had done.

We now packed up to proceed on our journey. I should like to describe more particularly some of the trees of the wonderful forest through which we passed. In the lowlands near the shore were groves of cocoa-nut palms, of which I have already spoken. Near them was the curious pandanus or screw-pine. My uncle said he always called it a trunk with branches growing at both ends. There were two species of it. The one we saw had fragrant flowers. Its leaves are manufactured into mats and baskets. Its fruit is of a spherical form, from four to six inches in diameter, the surface being exactly divided by projections of a pointed, pyramidal shape. I have already described the bamboos. As we proceeded higher up we found ourselves among lofty fig-trees. Here the number of orchidaceous plants greatly increased, hanging down from the boughs of nearly all the trees, clinging to them so closely that they often appeared to belong to the tree. The ferns, too, were in great variety; among them were many curious pitcher-plants. Thirsty from our walk, we were looking about for water, when my uncle went up to one of these remarkable productions of nature. Each pitcher contained about half a pint of water. Some were full of insects, but in others it was perfectly limpid, and thankfully we drank it off. Though it was not so cool as the juice of the cocoa-nut, still it served to quench our thirst. Thus we found how God has so bountifully provided this region with the greatest necessary of life, guarding with a thick shell the produce of the palm on the lower lands, and allowing the cool breeze of the mountains to temper the water collected in the cups of the pitcher-plant.

Instead of ascending the mountain—a task which the young ladies at all events could not accomplish—we proceeded round it, towards a curious-looking rock which rose up on one side. We made our way without much difficulty to the gap, when we found ourselves on the summit of a cliff, and looking down into a wonderful circular basin surrounded entirely by precipitous rocks, while another gap beyond seemed to open into a smaller lake at a lower elevation. It had apparently been the crater of a volcano—so my uncle thought. The sides of the higher lake were nearly three hundred feet high, we calculated, and covered in most places with trees and shrubs. A beach or broad ledge extended round one side as far as the further gap, on which we hoped we should have ample space for walking and viewing the wonders of the lake. Our ambition was now to reach the water, and we looked about on every side to discover some practicable path by which we might gain it. After hunting about, we found a way down the side of the mountain by which we hoped we could accomplish our object.

The jungle through which we had to force our way, however, was wonderfully thorny. The creepers were thorny, even the bamboos were thorny, while shrubs grew in a zig-zag and jagged fashion, forming an inextricable tangle, through which it was difficult to cut our way. Beautiful birds flitted in and out among the shrubs—grass-green doves, large black cockatoos, golden orioles, and king-crows—their varied and brilliant colours flashing brightly as they darted forth here and there in the sunlight from out of the dark shade. The most beautiful, perhaps, were the golden orioles, which my uncle afterwards told me are often classed with the birds of paradise, and are sometimes placed in the same genus as the regent bird of Australia. These, however, might not have been the true golden oriole, because that bird is very rare, and is an inhabitant of the mainland of New Guinea, though also found on the island of Salwatty. We observed their nests cleverly suspended between the horizontal forks of the outer branches of lofty trees, where they are not likely to be reached by the larger serpents which prey on birds. The paradise oriole has the throat, tail, and part of the wings and back of a jet-black hue, but the rest of the body is of a brilliant yellow colour, with the exception of the neck, which is covered by long feathers of a deep orange, reaching some way down the back, somewhat as do the hackles of a game-cock. The birds we now saw, though not exactly like those I have mentioned, were still very beautiful, and I believe rare. I cannot, however, attempt to describe but faintly the lovely birds and insects we met with in our expedition.

Just then even our uncle could pay but little attention to them, for we all had to use our axes with untiring energy before we could make any progress. At length, however, perseverance overcame all difficulties, and we cut a narrow path through the thick belt which surrounded the mountain. We then found ourselves beneath a lofty cliff, which, we concluded, formed one side of the lake, and circling round it, we reached what we at once guessed was the lower lake, where the cliffs were of less height and far more broken. Emily and Grace sat down on the top, while the rest of us began to make a path by which we might descend to the level of the water. It was not a very easy task. Sometimes Dick Tarbox, who led the way, had to be lowered down by a rope to a ledge below us, cutting away the shrubs which impeded his progress, leaving only certain stumps in the rock which would assist those who followed. In some places he had to clear away the grass and earth to allow of a firm footing; in others, he drove in pieces of bamboo, to serve as supports to the hands or feet in our descent. At last he reached the beach, and we all eagerly followed him. The lower lake was very curious and beautiful, but we had an idea, from the glimpse we had had of the inner one, that that was still more so.

“The young ladies would be disappointed at not seeing this!” exclaimed Oliver; “and I am sure that they would be able to come down. May I go up and fetch them?”

“We must go and lend them a hand, though,” said Dick Tarbox, beginning to ascend.

I also went, while the rest of the party proceeded some way along the beach towards the upper lake. We found the ascent far more easy than we expected—indeed, it seemed as if the girls would have no great difficulty in coming down. As we neared the top we heard them cry out, and saw them standing by in an attitude of terror, looking towards the jungle on the outer side of the lake.

“Oh, come, come!” exclaimed Emily. “We saw a savage just now peering among the trees! There he is! there he is! even now looking at us!”

We hurried to their side. “Savage he is, miss,” said Dick Tarbox; “but he is not a human savage, I think. He is one of those big man-apes I have heard tell of, though I never yet set eyes on one. I don’t think, however, he will venture up to where we are.”

I looked in the direction the girls were pointing, and there I saw a large orang-outan some fifty feet below us. He kept dauntlessly gazing up at us, as if doubting whether he should venture to approach. He was a big hairy monster, with a black coat and a light-coloured face, with enormous feet and hands, almost the height of a man. His face, as we saw him, had a particularly savage expression, and he was evidently a formidable enemy to encounter. Our shouts brought back the rest of the party, who climbed up with their guns, for we had left ours at the foot of the cliff.

“A mias! a huge mias!” exclaimed my uncle, as he saw the orang-outan, levelling his fowling-piece, Potto following his example. The mias was standing holding on by a branch of a tree, as if about to ascend. At the report of the fire-arms he hauled himself up to a branch, much as a sailor would do, and deliberately walked along the bough, evidently uninjured by the shots, which, if they had not missed altogether, could have but slightly wounded him. Some of the trees, with large luscious fruit, had evidently tempted him to come up to this hilly region, as the mias seldom leaves the flat ground, where he spends the night. Ascending from the bough, he caught hold of a branch of a tree which crossed it by one of his long arms, and flung himself on to it with great deliberation. He did not appear to jump, or spring, or in any way to hurry himself, but we saw him then go to the end of another branch and catch hold of an opposing bough. He then grasped them together with both hands, and finding the other sufficiently strong to support him, deliberately swung himself on to it; thus on he went among the lofty summits of the trees, till he was lost to sight.

It was some time before Emily and Grace could get rid of their fright sufficiently to begin their descent. They had now plenty of people to assist them, and ropes fastened round their waists to prevent the risk of accidents. They soon reached the level of the water. We then proceeded towards the gap. Here we were again stopped for some time, finding a way by which we might ascend the cliffy sides. However, the shrubs and the broken under-cliffs enabled us at length to climb up, passing close to the waterfall formed between the two. The whole party uttered an exclamation of surprise and delight when we entered within the circle of the inner lake. The sides were covered with the most beautiful and luxuriant vegetation. Jungle trees of every description jutted out from the crevices of the rocks, their trunks and branches bearing an endless variety of beautiful creepers in brilliant blossom, hanging down in festoons to the very water’s edge. Over our heads, disturbed at our appearance, flew a number of pigeons and other birds of beautiful plumage, backwards and forwards. The water was intensely blue, and beautifully clear.

“I should not be surprised but what this is one of the lakes I have heard speak of which has no bottom,” observed Dick Tarbox. “They say that water-spirits and monsters of all sorts live in some of them. I do not know what they would think at our coming among them.”

“I have heard of lakes without bottoms, but I have always found, on fathoming them, that they were not so deep as was supposed,” observed my uncle. “I should like to try this one. It may be very deep, but I suspect that it is much shallower than from the top of these cliffs down to where we stand. What should you say, boatswain, if the rope you hold in your hand, with a stone fastened to it, would reach the bottom and give you some feet to spare?”

“Well, sir, you know better than I do; but I should be surprised if by fastening all the ropes we have together we found soundings.”

At last it was agreed that we should build a raft and try. We had ample materials; for in one corner was a large grove of bamboos, and plenty of other light wood trees growing about. We soon cut down some of the larger bamboos, with ratan to secure the cross pieces, and had an amply buoyant raft to carry one person out into the centre. I begged that I might go on it, but Dick Tarbox said he would make the expedition. He soon had a paddle formed out of bamboo, and sitting down on his somewhat frail bark, away he went, with a coil of rope before him, to which a stone was attached, into the middle of the lake. We all watched him eagerly as he let down the stone, when lo, and behold, long before the rope had run out, the stone had reached the bottom.

“There must be a rock out here!” he exclaimed. “It cannot be so shallow as this.” Again he pulled up his stone, and pulled away between the centre and the shore. “Soundings again!” he cried; “and rather less than in the middle. I cannot make it out.”

He now paddled round and round the lake, dropping the stone every now and then, and at length came round to the spot where he had embarked.

“You are satisfied now,” said Mr Sedgwick. “I have generally found it to be the case that lakes which are reputed fathomless are like this one.”

We all in turns had a paddle on the lake, and as the raft was found large enough to support fully a couple of men, Emily and Grace got on it, and I acted as their boatman. We took the circuit of the lake, while they admired the beautiful scenery I have already described. Our uncle meantime was hunting about for birds and butterflies. The gap, when we were on the opposite side, had a curious appearance, being like a large gateway, fully one hundred feet in height, though broken and ruinous. The creepers also were seen to great advantage, some of them falling in the most beautiful luxuriance from the very summits of the surrounding heights down to the water’s edge, many of them covered the whole length with brilliant flowers.

“What a delightful place for a pic-nic!” exclaimed Emily.

“True, young lady,” answered Mr Sedgwick; “and as all our meals are pic-nics, I propose that we halt here and make our dinner. We have water in abundance, and our provisions at our backs.”

A fire was at once kindled, the kettle which Potto carried at his back unslung, and our various provisions produced. Not many birds had hitherto been shot, and our larder was therefore but ill supplied.

“I forgot all about eating!” exclaimed Mr Sedgwick; “but stay; we will soon have some birds for the pot.”

Saying this, he proceeded along to the lower lake. The sound of his fowling-piece, as he fired several times, reverberated strangely among the rocks, making the birds fly to and fro in alarm at the unusual sound. Never before perhaps had fire-arms been discharged in that romantic region, but instinct told them that it boded them no good. In a short time he returned with several pigeons and a couple of parroquets. It seemed almost a sin to deprive such beautiful birds of their plumage; but Potto Jumbo, influenced by no such notions, quickly had them plucked and prepared for roasting. They were then stuck on skewers, and in woodland fashion placed on forked sticks before the fire. They were pronounced excellent, and quite as tender as if they had been kept for a long time; indeed, in that hot climate the only way to have them tender is to pluck and cook them before they have time to grow cold. We had brought a supply of fruit, which we had plucked on our way, as well as sago-bread and other articles, which altogether gave us a luxurious repast. No spot could have been more lovely than that where we sat. The bank was covered with soft, almost velvety grass, being shaded constantly from the noonday sun, and the air felt cool, though soft. I had just opened a durian, which I was handing to Grace and Emily, who had got over their repugnance to the smell, and now pronounced it the most delicious of fruits. One declared it had the fragrance of pine-apple, another of the richest melon with cream and strawberries, and the consistency of liquid blanc-mange, or more correctly, perhaps, hasty pudding. Our uncle had lighted his pipe, and lay back on the soft grass enjoying the scene. The three men, seated at a little distance, followed his example.

“What a delightful spot this would be to fix our abode on, if compelled for ever to remain on this island,” said Emily.

“Oh, do not talk of remaining!” exclaimed Grace. “Beautiful it is, and very thankful I am to be with you, but I cannot help thinking of my father and mother, and how anxious they will be when the Dugong does not arrive as they expect at Singapore. Oh, it will break my mother’s heart, if she thinks any accident has happened to us. They will not know what has occurred, and they will think perhaps that we have been cut off by pirates, or that the vessel has gone down, in a hurricane, or has been driven ashore among savages.”

Oliver and I tried to cheer her up. “Some vessel will surely appear off here before long,” I observed; “or if not, when Mr Thudicumb gets well we must set to work and build a cutter sufficiently large to carry us all away.”

While I was speaking, I heard a strange noise above our heads, and looking up, I saw in the trees directly over us a dozen or more long-armed monkeys, yellow-skinned fellows, with flesh-coloured faces. Down they had come from branch to branch from the cliff above us. Presently one made a spring, and seized hold of a fruit which Grace had just taken. She screamed with alarm, as well she might. Oliver dashed forward to seize the monkey, but before we could catch it, it had sprung up again towards the nearest bough, and again hand over hand up the branches, till he was far out of our reach. There he and his companions sat, eating away at the fruit; but they soon quarrelled among themselves, and the greater portion of it fell from their paws to the ground. We could not help laughing at the audacity of the creatures. Potto Jumbo especially was heartily amused, and lay back on the grass shaking his sides with laughter. The girls’ faces, too, indicative of astonishment and dismay, amused me excessively.

“Well, those are thieves,” cried Dick Tarbox. “It is the first time, I have a notion, they have ever seen a human face, and I suppose they take us to be big apes or monkeys like themselves.”

The creatures seemed in no way alarmed at our gestures, nor did they appear to fear the gun which Mr Sedgwick levelled at them. He lowered it again, however.

“No,” he said; “they do not know better; and as we do not want to eat them, it would be downright cruelty to kill the creatures.”

I was very glad of this, for I should have been sorry to have had any of them hurt. The case would have been very different had my uncle wanted one as a specimen. He then seemed to have no regard for the life of any animals he required. He apparently considered that the honour he did the creature by preserving it was ample amends for putting it to death.

It was now time for us to recommence our return journey.

“But shall we have to pass through the country of those dreadful apes?” exclaimed Grace. “Surely if a number of them were to come together, they might attack us.”

“No fear of that, young lady,” said Mr Sedgwick. “They will seldom injure any one unless they themselves are attacked, though the big fellow you saw would be a formidable antagonist to any one unsupported.”

I thought so too, and was very thankful that we had come up in time. We were making our way towards the shores of the lower lake, Mr Sedgwick leading; but on this occasion we young people lingered behind. I was walking with Grace; Oliver and Emily were a short distance behind us. Emily had brought her sketch-book, which she had used in taking views from the inner lake. Presently Oliver came running after us to say that she wished to take a view of the gap, and bid us wait a few minutes for her while she hastily sketched it. I went on to the party ahead to beg them also to stop, or, at all events, when they had found the way, to wait till we had come up to them. I had almost got back to where I had left Grace, when I heard a loud scream, and I saw a huge black monster—so he seemed to me—drop from the branch of a tree near to where my sister was standing. Oliver quickly ran forward and threw himself between her and the creature, which I now saw was a huge mias, very like the one we had before seen. Oliver had his gun in his hand, and presenting it at the animal’s head, he drew the trigger, but it failed to go off, and the mias closed upon him. One grip of the fierce creature’s powerful mouth would, it seemed, have been sufficient to deprive him of life. Oliver had lifted up his gun with the other hand. The creature seized the weapon. What was my horror the next moment to see it rising on its hind legs, and bending forward, fix its teeth into Oliver’s arm, which he had raised to defend his head. Meantime Merlin, who had been with the rest of the party, came bounding back, and attacked with his powerful jaws the leg of the mias. The creature for an instant let go Oliver’s arm.

“Fly, Miss Emily! fly!” he cried out. “Never mind me.”

“But I do! I do!” exclaimed Emily; “I cannot have you hurt for my sake.”

“Fly! fly!” again cried Oliver.

While this was going on Grace was shrieking loudly, and I shouting out to our friends to come to Oliver’s assistance, while I ran forward to give him what aid I could. I did not of course stop to consider the danger I also was in, as the beast would have probably seized us both, had I got within his grasp. I also cried out to Emily to fly. I saw that not only her safety depended on her doing so, but that of Oliver, for he would not move till she was at a distance from the orang-outan. Meantime the rest of our party were hurrying up to our support. Oliver sprang back to avoid the creature’s hand-like claws, which he stretched out towards him. Never had I seen anything so ferocious as those powerful paws and the grinning row of teeth exhibited as he ran forward to attack us, regardless for the moment of Merlin, who was now in greater danger than we were. The mias still held the gun in his claws. While he again advanced towards Oliver, I levelled my fowling-piece and fired. The ball with which it was loaded, however, although it certainly passed through the creature’s neck, only increased his fury, without apparently greatly injuring him. Oliver’s danger was fearful. Already the creature was within a couple of yards of him, in spite of the impediment which Merlin offered. I had no time to load again, though I attempted to do so as I retreated, shouting at the top of my voice, and urging Oliver to do the same, in the hope that we might frighten the huge ape. He, however, was in no way alarmed by our shouts and cries. He still advanced, holding the musket. Already, if he was to stretch out one of his long arms, he might again grasp Oliver and draw him towards him. Oh, what would I not have given for a loaded gun at that moment! In vain I attempted to load mine while I stepped backward. Oliver was attempting to escape; but just then his heel caught in the root of a tree, which grew at the base of the cliff, and down he fell, rolling in the sand. His fate appeared to be sealed. I cried out in terror and alarm. The mias, uttering a shout of mocking laughter, seemed prepared to throw himself on his victim. At that instant, as he changed the gun from one hand to the other, apparently intending to get rid of Merlin before he attacked Oliver, it suddenly exploded, bursting into twenty fragments, and wounding him severely in the hands, face, and chest. He uttered a loud scream of anger, but still advanced. Suddenly, when I thought that my friend’s life would be in an instant more taken from him, the creature fell back to the ground, where he lay struggling violently, biting the earth and tearing it up with his claws, while Merlin, evading his clutches, attacked him wherever he could get a gripe, without risk of being seized, and prevented him probably from again rising.

“Oh, he is killed! he is killed!” cried Emily, who had hitherto stood terror-stricken, running to Oliver and kneeling down by him. She heard the report, and probably thought that he had been wounded by the gun.

“No, no, Miss Emily; do not be alarmed, I am not much hurt,” said Oliver, trying to lift himself up. “The creature only tore my flesh, and I have sprained my foot in falling. I have been mercifully preserved.”

For some time, however, Emily could scarcely be convinced of the fact. There lay the monstrous mias, still struggling violently, while Merlin pertinaciously hung on to him. I had now reached Oliver, and assisted Emily in supporting him, while we put a safer distance between the creature and ourselves. Grace, who was far more timid than Emily, had stood transfixed, as it were, to the ground, unable to advance or fly. The rest of the party now came up, and a blow from Dick’s hatchet deprived the mias of life.

“I suppose he good for dinner,” observed Potto Jumbo, surveying him. “I cut steak out of him before we go away.”

“Out on you for a cannibal!” exclaimed Tarbox, with a look of horror. “I would as soon think of eating a nigger boy.”

“No, no, Massa Tarbox,” answered Potto, in an indignant tone. “Nigger boy got soul. Dis,” and he gave the brute a kick with his foot, “just like hog or cow.”

“You may spare yourself the trouble of cutting a steak out of him,” said Roger Trew. “I do not think any of us would make up our minds to eat him, whatever he may be.”

“If it was not so far off, I should have liked the skin, though,” said Mr Sedgwick. “However, we will hang him up in a tree, and some day I may have his skeleton, when the ants have picked it clean.”

Under his direction the men now got some ratan, with which they surrounded the body of the monster, and then, in a sort of framework, they hoisted him up to the stoutest branch of a tree which they could manage to reach. We left him there, for all the world, as Roger Trew observed, like a pirate hanging in chains, and then began our homeward march with greater speed than before, to make amends for the time we had lost.

Chapter Twenty Five.

Termination of our excursion.

We made our way along the shores of the lower lake till we came out by the side of a beautiful cascade, which fell down over the cliff into a river below us, whence the water flowed away, we concluded, towards the sea; but the dense forest prevented us seeing the course it took. The lower lake I have been describing was raised but a little way above the level of the country. The height of the cascade was fifty feet; and, giving another fifty for the fall of the river, we supposed that we were not much more than one hundred feet above the sea. My uncle, having examined his compass, now settled, as far as he was able, the course we were to take. The river would be our guide, we saw, for a considerable distance; indeed, the stream we crossed by the bamboo bridge was evidently a portion of it. Turning back, we saw, rising above us, the lofty mountain, a shoulder of which we had crossed. We were now better able to judge of its height. Numerous other lofty hills rose on either side of it—mostly bare of trees—some almost black, others of a shining white, which might have been mistaken at a distance for snow; while, from the centre of the cone, wreaths of smoke circled upwards to the sky, giving unmistakable signs of its volcanic character. Our uncle looked at it earnestly.

“It seems to me to be sending forth denser smoke than I have hitherto observed,” I heard him remark to Dick Tarbox. “I hope it is not going to play us any trick.”

“Maybe a little more tobacco has been put into the pipe,” observed the boatswain, in return; “and the old gentleman, whoever he is, who is smoking it, is having a harder pull than usual.”

“I hope so; but I had rather he had put off his smoking for a few weeks longer, till we are clear of the place,” said my uncle, turning round.

I remembered the fearful danger Oliver and I had escaped when carried off by the Papuans from our island; and I prayed that we might be again preserved from a similar catastrophe. We had made no great progress when it was time to encamp.

“I must charge you, my friends,” said Mr Sedgwick, “whoever is on the watch at night, to keep a bright look-out. The orang-outans are our least formidable enemies, for it is seldom that they will attack a person, as the one did we have just encountered; but tigers are far more daring; and if we were to allow the fire to get low, we should run a great risk of a visit from one of them.”

We had still an hour or two of daylight. We were all somewhat tired with our long climb: the girls especially required rest. We immediately set to work to form our encampment, making huts, as we had done on the previous nights. Having collected a good supply of dried leaves, we spread mats over them inside the young ladies’ bower, to which they retired to rest while supper was preparing. We had still some birds remaining; but my uncle took his gun, saying that he would try to shoot a few more for our meal, and I begged to be allowed to accompany him.

“You will not have much difficulty in providing our supper,” I observed, “considering the number of birds flying about in all directions.”

The woods were indeed full of sounds of all sorts. I fancied that among them I could distinguish the voices of wild beasts.

“Hark!” I said. “Surely that must be a lion! It is just like the cry I have heard they often give.”

My uncle laughed.

“No, indeed,” he said. “The voices you hear are those of pigeons.”

I could scarcely suppose, however, that he was right, so loud and booming was the sound which came from the woods.

“Oh, what beautiful apples are those?” I observed, as I looked up at a tree in which a number of various birds were collected, among which were several white cockatoos. “I should like to carry some back to the camp.”

The fruit we were looking at was round, with a smooth shining skin of a golden orange colour, which might rival in appearance the golden apples of the Hesperides.

“Let them remain where they hang,” he answered. “Whoever might attempt to eat them would certainly be made very ill, if they did not die. Those beautiful apples possess the most poisonous properties of any fruit in these regions. They are what we naturalists call Apocynaceae. The birds, however, eat those rosy seeds which you see displayed from the ripe fruit, which has burst open.—But stay! There’s a fellow; I must have him.” He raised his gun, and brought down a fine jungle cock, which Merlin, who had accompanied us, instantly ran forward to catch. He brought it to us, highly pleased with his performance. “He, at all events, will afford a supper for a couple of us, hungry as we may be,” said my uncle. “This fellow, or his ancestors rather, is the grandfather of all our domestic poultry in England. They have lost a good deal of their beauty, to be sure, by civilisation, though they may have improved in size and egg-laying powers.”

I was fortunate in shooting a couple of great green fruit-pigeons directly afterwards; indeed, in a short time we had as many birds as would supply us for supper and breakfast. We were passing through a wood which consisted chiefly of the great palm, which my uncle said the Malays call the gubbong. The trees were in various conditions. Some were simply in leaf, others had flowers on them, others fruit, while many were dead, apparently ready to fall. The leaves were large and fan-shaped, and I remarked that those which had flowers were destitute of leaves; indeed, I could scarcely have supposed that they were the same trees. The full-grown trees had lofty cylindrical stems, and were mostly two hundred feet in height, and two or three feet in diameter. The flowers were on the summit, in the form of a huge terminal spike. On the top of this was the fruit, consisting of masses of smooth round balls, of a green colour, and about an inch in diameter. My uncle told me that each tree only flowers once in its life; and that when the fruit ripens the tree dies, though it remains standing a year or two before it falls to the ground. It was on a branch of one of these trees that I saw the pigeons, where they had settled after feeding on the fruit.

We had gone a little way after I had last fired, when, as we were standing under a tree looking for another shot, a shower of the fruit I have described came falling down thickly about our heads. We quickly ran from under it, when, looking up, my uncle shouted loudly, and immediately a loud chattering was heard, and away scampered a whole tribe of monkeys, making an enormous rustling as they leaped among the dead palm-leaves. One would have fancied that some huge beast was rushing through the wood, so loud was the noise.

It was now time to turn back to the camp. My uncle was a little in advance. He had just fired at a couple of birds, one of which he had brought to the ground, when I saw him start back with an expression of alarm which I had never before heard him utter. Merlin, who was near me, stood still for a moment in an unusual way, poking his head out somewhat like a pointer; and there I saw on the ground, not ten paces from my uncle, a huge snake, with head erect, as if about to make a spring. I well knew that it must be of a venomous character from the exclamation that I heard. Merlin instinctively seemed to think the same. I dreaded lest it should make its spring. In an instant it might do so. I trembled lest I should miss it. I might run the risk also, in firing, of hitting my uncle. I would gladly have rushed forward in his defence. In another instant its envenomed fangs might be fixed in his body. I levelled my fowling-piece, and took a steady aim. I fired! As I did so, Merlin rushed forward with a bound. I thought I saw through the smoke the snake in the air. My uncle had sprung on one side, lifting his gun by the muzzle. “I am safe!” he shouted out. “Walter, you did it well!”

The snake had sprung, but, wounded by the shot, had failed to reach its object, and had been struck to the ground by the butt of the gun. I did not suppose from what I had seen of my uncle that he could be so agitated as he now was. He knew, he told me, the venomous nature of the serpent, and that had it struck him, he should probably have been dead in the course of a few minutes.

“You saved my life by your coolness, my boy,” he said. “I believe this serpent is rare in the island, for I have never seen one like it; and it is far more dangerous than the larger python, of which there are many. They can swallow a deer whole, but seldom attack human beings. They would take our friend Merlin down in a gulp; but he probably has sagacity enough to keep out of their way, so you need not be alarmed on his account.”

I begged that I might carry the serpent as a trophy to the camp. To do so I coiled it round a stick, and secured it with a piece of thin ratan. As I walked along, Merlin every now and then came up sniffing behind me, and seemed very much inclined to have a bite at it. We saw several more jungle cocks on our way. They were very like the common game-cock, but the voice was much shorter, and more abrupt. The Malays call it the bekeko. We had reached an open space, when we saw running before us a couple of the most magnificent peacocks. Their tails, spread out as they ran along, were fully seven feet in length. They had been feeding apparently on the ground, till they were frightened at our approach. Having the snake over my shoulder, I could not fire. My uncle raised his gun, but recollected that he had not loaded. He stopped to do so, when the birds, running on rapidly for a short distance, rose obliquely in the air, and, to my surprise, flew over some lofty trees before them and disappeared. I could scarcely have supposed that birds with such large appendages could have risen thus easily. It was a magnificent sight, as they spread out their spangled tails to aid them in their flight.

At length we reached the camp, where Potto Jumbo had already prepared part of the supper, and was eagerly waiting our return to cook the game we might bring. The tea was boiling in our kettle, and we sat down to our repast, while he plucked and cooked the remainder. Emily and Grace came out of their bower, and officiated at our rural tea-table. Tarbox and Roger Trew arrived directly afterwards. They had gone on an excursion down the river, and reported that they had seen a large animal bounding through the underwood. They had not got a clear sight of it; but, from the account they gave, my uncle pronounced it to be a tiger.

“I must again warn you, my friends, to be on the alert,” he observed. “The scent of our cooking may attract him here; but unless he is very hungry, I do not think he will venture among us.”

All the party were eager to examine the snake which I had brought in. Emily and Grace, however, shuddered when they saw it, and still more so when they heard the risk to which Mr Sedgwick had been exposed. He again complimented me on the coolness I had displayed when firing at the animal.

Before leaving the camp, we had persuaded Oliver to lie down. My uncle examined his arm, and bathed it in the cool water which we brought from the river.

“You are in good health, or it might have been a serious affair,” he observed. “However, I hope, after a night’s rest, you will be able to proceed on the journey.”

Oliver said nothing, but I saw by the expression of his countenance that he was suffering a good deal of pain; indeed, it seemed surprising, when I looked at his slight arm, and thought of the big jaws of the mias, that it had not been bitten through. As may be supposed, after the warning we had received, we kept up a blazing fire all night, and instead of one watchman, we had two, always awake—either Roger Trew and I, or the boatswain and Potto Jumbo. All night long our ears were assailed with strange sounds—the croaking of frogs, the shrieks of night-birds, and the terror-inspiring cries of beasts of prey. I went to sleep with them still ringing in my ears, and when I awoke, the same sounds were heard. I had been seated on the ground for some time, carefully making up the fire, when a loud rustling among the dried leaves and shrubs at a little distance reached my ears. I started up, fowling-piece in hand, and telling Roger Trew to be on his guard, advanced carefully towards the spot whence the sound had proceeded. I was standing near the camp, behind Emily and Grace’s hut, when I saw the head of a huge creature with glaring eyes fixed on me. Still I did not like to arouse my friends. I kept my hand, however, on the trigger, ready to fire should it advance, for it seemed as if it was about to make a spring towards me. There I stood gazing at the animal, with the animal gazing at me, and wondering, probably, what sort of a creature I was. I doubted whether it would be wise to fire; for though my gun was loaded with ball, I might possibly miss it, when it was likely to become more furious than if let alone. I cast one glance behind me at our leafy village, towards which I slowly retreated. As soon as I got near enough for Roger Trew to hear me, I asked him to accompany me to the spot where I had been, that we might be sure what the creature was. He was soon by my side.

“Why, a tiger, to be sure!” he exclaimed, levelling his musket.

He fired, and there was a loud rustling among the trees, as if some large creature were bounding through them. I caught a glimpse of it, and fired. In an instant the whole camp was alarmed. The girls looked out of their bower with scared looks, wondering what had happened, while my uncle and Dick Tarbox came out with their guns in their hands.

“I thought it would be so,” said the former; “but you have done well to keep the creature at a distance. However, he is perhaps not far off, and we may before long have another shot at him.”

We had some difficulty in persuading the girls to return to their bower after this, while my uncle and Roger Trew insisted on remaining on watch for the remainder of the night. We added fresh fuel to our fire, and loaded and frequently fired our muskets, and kept, as may be supposed, a very strict watch. Next morning we found some hair of the creature in the spot where he had been observed clinging to the bushes, while drops of blood were seen for some distance in the direction he had taken.

At an early hour we proceeded on our road to the house. The banks of the river were very picturesque, though there was not much water in it. It was, however, my uncle supposed, the only full stream in the island. He had discovered the beds of several others, which remained perfectly dry. We were eagerly looking out in the hope of seeing another mias, my uncle being as anxious as any one. He had some time before, he told us, captured a couple; but one of them had managed to escape, and the other, left alone, had pined for his mate, while he evidently resented the close captivity to which he was subjected. Proceeding down the banks of the river, we came to a part where, though not much increased in width, it was evidently deeper, with two or three calm pools, over which the trees threw their boughs, clearly reflected on the smooth surface. At the lower end of one of the pools I caught sight of what appeared to be a log floating on the water. Presently I saw it moving against the stream. “There must be a powerful eddy there,” I thought. I pointed it out to Mr Sedgwick. After looking at it for an instant, he made a sign to the rest of the party to keep back. We were all collected together behind a bush, through the branches of which we could observe the banks of the river below us. Presently there was a rustling in the underwood in the direction we were looking, and we caught sight of a huge orang-outan making his way down to the water. Some fruit-bearing tree hung over it, in the branches of which he took his seat, and began to eat away at his leisure, letting the husks and rind fall into the water, and now and then a whole fruit. The log, so it still seemed, was coming close under where the baboon was seated, and remained stationary. The orang-outan apparently took no notice of the object in the water.

“If we were nearer, we should see a pair of wicked eyes looking up out of the end of that log,” whispered my uncle, “with some rows of formidable teeth, and a huge mouth below it.”

“What! is that log a crocodile?” I asked.

“No doubt about it,” was the answer. “The creature expects to make its dinner off the mias; but from what I have heard, the mias will be too clever to be caught by it. But we will see.”

After a time, the mias, having eaten as much food as he required, descended the tree towards the edge of the water, holding on to a branch with one of his powerful hands, while he stooped down to spoon out the water with the other. By an almost imperceptible motion the crocodile approached; but the mias, although he appeared to be only intent on quenching his thirst, had evidently a corner of his eye resting on the seemingly harmless log. The crocodile thought it was sure of its prey, and opening its huge jaws, attempted to seize the mias. The latter, however, swung himself quickly up the tree with his arms, and remained looking down on the crocodile within a few feet of its jaws. Then quietly stooping down, he held out a hand within as many inches of his enemy’s nose. This, evidently, excited the crocodile’s desire to get hold of him, and the amphibious monster began to climb up the bank of the river. The mias waited quietly till it was within two feet of him, and then swung himself along a short distance above it from bough to bough, stopping again when the crocodile had got securely up the bank. As the crocodile got near him, he proceeded on a little further; and thus he went on till he had allured the monster to a considerable distance from the stream. What he was going to do we could not conjecture; indeed, so daring had the mias become, that it seemed very likely, after all, he would fall into the crocodile’s jaws. Suddenly, however, we saw him climb up a tree to some distance, and run along a branch which hung directly over where the crocodile was crawling. Then suddenly he flung himself off the branch right on the animal’s back, and with his powerful fists began belabouring away at its head and eyes. It seemed, from the movements of the crocodile, that it was already blinded. In vain it snapped its enormous jaws—the loud sound, as its huge teeth met each other, reverberating through the woods. The mias had not the slightest difficulty in keeping his position on the scaly monster’s back, as its movements were far too slow to throw him off. He continued belabouring it with his fists till it ceased to move. Then, as the upper jaw was lifted up, he seized it in his powerful grasp, and placing his feet upon its neck, with a power which his lever-like position and prodigious strength made irresistible, he literally tore back the monster’s jaw. Having done this, he sprang up a tree, and awaited the result of the injuries he had inflicted. The creature was, however, not completely dead; but though it struggled violently and moved its tail about, its once formidable jaw had lost its means of doing harm. After sitting there a little time we saw him, as if content with his triumph, move off through the forest among the lofty branches of the trees, swinging himself from one to the other with an ease which gave almost grace to his movements.

“The fellow deserves his victory. We will not attempt to shoot him,” said Mr Sedgwick.

Indeed, I suspect by that time he might easily have escaped our bullets, had we attempted to kill him. We now hurried out from our shelter, eager to see the injuries which the mias had inflicted on his antagonist. There it lay, utterly helpless, and we could stand by and examine its huge proportions and strong coat of armour without danger. Its struggles became fainter and fainter, and in a short time it seemed perfectly still and dead. Knowing the strength of the crocodile, it gave us a good idea of the immense power of muscle exercised by the mias; and Oliver said it made him feel doubly grateful that he had escaped from the creature which had so nearly killed him. His hurts still gave him pain. We stopped every now and then that a cooling lotion might be applied to them, and he got over the ground as well as the rest of us.

Our return journey gave us rather more anxiety than we had felt on the previous days. The knowledge that there were wild beasts on the island kept us constantly on the alert; but, for my part, I dreaded those huge serpents more than anything else. They none of them gave signs of their approach, as the rattlesnake of America does, while several were of a most venomous description.

We had been going along, keeping a bright look-out on either side, when, being ahead as usual, my uncle looking out for game, I saw a number of birds flying round and round a tree in a curious fashion. I was on the point of levelling my gun and firing, when I thought I would refrain, that I might ascertain what they were about. My uncle just then came up, having observed the same unusual movement of the birds. Most of them were wood-pigeons.

“Look up there,” said my uncle in a whisper. “Do you see that seeming branch, and the huge lifeless creeper clinging to the trunk?”

I earnestly watched the object he pointed at, when I perceived that what I took to be the stump of a branch was in reality the head of a huge serpent, whose body was coiled round the tree. The birds came nearer and nearer. One beautiful pigeon was standing on a bough directly above the serpent’s head, while others of gay plumage flitted round and round, evidently brought there by some fascinating power it was exerting. The upper part of its body was not coiled round the tree, but simply pressed against it, so that in an instant it could reach to a considerable distance. We watched without uttering a sound, and suddenly its tongue projected from its mouth, and, quick as lightning, it darted forward its head and seized the beautiful pigeon on the nearest branch. So rapid was the movement, that I thought the bird had fallen to the ground; but, as we looked, we saw by the swelling in the creature’s throat that it had secured its prey. Again it drew back into its former position, where it remained perfectly motionless; while the other birds came nearer and nearer, and one at length took the place of its unfortunate fellow which had been captured. After a little time the first bird was swallowed, and another caught in the same manner. I was anxious to shoot the serpent. I fired, but missed, I suppose, for the creature did not move. My uncle then took aim at its head. He killed it apparently; but instead of falling down, it remained coiled up, the head as it fell catching in the fork of a branch, which held it securely. There it hung, and we were unable to reach it to ascertain more particularly the species to which it belonged. The birds, frightened by the report, flew away.

Chapter Twenty Six.

An expedition along the coast—Pirates appear.

The nature of the ground had led us somewhat out of the course for the house. We now struck across the country, hoping to reach it, the ground being less covered with trees and underwood. We had gone for some distance, when we saw before us a high mound. It could not be called a mountain, but it was of considerable elevation, and of a conical shape, with a flat top. My uncle believed that it had been formed by volcanic action, though now being covered with brushwood and herbage and a few tall trees, it was evident that it had been thrown up some time. We climbed to the top of it, expecting to find a view of the sea beyond; but the trees which clothed the base were too lofty to allow us to see to any great distance. Here and there, however, there was a small gap, through which we caught a glimpse of the ocean.

“This would make a fine place for a fort, if any of those pirate fellows come this way,” observed Dick Tarbox as I was standing near him. “I would undertake to fortify it against all comers, if we had a little time to make ready. I have seen some work of that sort in my younger days, when I served aboard a man-of-war; and it would require daring fellows to get inside such a place as we could make it, if we defended it with the spirit which I know we should. Why, bless you, Walter, the young ladies and the old Frau would load our muskets for us, and we might blaze away till we had picked off every Malay who might attempt to get up the hill.”

“But why do you think pirates are likely to come here?” I asked.

“As to that, they are cruising about in these seas, and are as likely to come here as to any other place, if they think they can get anything by coming. Your uncle did wisely to build his house in the forest out of sight, or he would have been carried off long ago; and as they have not been here for some time, it is the more likely that they will come soon.”

There was a hollow in the centre of the cone which had probably formed the mouth of the old volcano, if volcano it had been, thus making a rim or bank all the way round; and on the top of this Tarbox proposed erecting palisades, and a stage, from which we might fire. By making hollows in the earth where we might store our goods and provisions, and where the ladies might remain free from the risk of shot, our fort would be perfect. My uncle overheard our conversation. “I hope there is little risk of such an event,” he observed carelessly. The wood below us was so thick, that it seemed scarcely possible we could penetrate it. However, we were compelled to get there some way or other, or we should have had to go back the way we had come. While hunting about, we found what appeared to be the bed of a stream, though perfectly dry. My uncle, on examining it, said he was sure it led in the direction we wished to go. After proceeding a little way, we found that it was entirely free of trees or shrubs. The bottom was covered with stones, rounded by the once boiling torrent which poured down from the high ground during the rainy season. They were, however, not spheres, but disk-shaped fragments of slate, very thin, the sharp corners rounded off by the water. Here and there, too, we found boulders of opaque, milk-white quartz. Generally the bed was level, but occasionally there were holes where the torrent had been wont to rest in its course towards the ocean. We proceeded along it at a far more rapid rate than we had hitherto been able to move. The shadows which came across our path had been growing longer and longer, when my uncle recognised some trees which grew in the neighbourhood of the house. We had once more to use our axes, and by exerting them actively, we cut our way through to the path which he had formed. It was almost dusk when we saw the high pointed roof of the house before us. Our shouts brought out the inmates, the Frau leading the way, though not accustomed to running. She clasped Emily and Grace in her arms, bursting into tears when she saw them.

“Oh! so glad you come back!” she exclaimed. “We so frightened that you have been carried away by de pirates!”

What she could mean we could scarcely understand, nor was Tanda at first very explicit. Mr Hooker, however, after our greetings were over, told us that as Tanda had been on the sea-shore, collecting shell-fish as a variety to their repast, he had seen, at no great distance from the land, several prows, which, from their build and general appearance, he was sure were those of Sooloo rovers, or perhaps pirates from the coast of Borneo. He had just arrived with the alarming intelligence, and he was afraid they were coming to land on the island. The fading light would scarcely enable us to discover them, for though a few minutes before it had been broad daylight, darkness comes on so rapidly in that latitude, that day, as it were, leaps into night in the course of a few minutes. We hurried down, however, to the beach; but when we got there, we could only distinguish in the far distance some shadowy forms, which might have been the piratical vessels. Which way they were steering, however, the most practised eyes among us could not discover, and directly afterwards they were totally hid from sight. We returned to the house to consult what was to be done.

“If you would take my advice, gentlemen,” said Mr Thudicumb, “you will have provisions done up, and arms and ammunition ready for a quick march, and anything else that you consider most valuable to carry away. We will then station a look-out down on the beach, or at the end of Flagstaff Rock, to give us early notice of the approach of the enemy. If they come, they are pretty sure to find this house out; and, if they get hold of us, to knock us on the head or cut our throats. As, however, you have explored the interior of the country, we shall know in what direction to go, and we shall be able to have the start of them, and may therefore get away into a safe place, where they cannot find us. Probably they will be content with such booty as they can find here—though there is not much to their taste—and will, after a time, take themselves off.”

Mr Thudicumb’s advice was considered good, and my uncle and Mr Hooker agreed to adopt it.

“If they do come, though, what a grievous pity it would be to have all our collection destroyed,” said Mr Hooker. “Is there no place where we can stow them in safety?”

“We may hide them away, certainly,” answered my uncle; “but the pirates are pretty sure to ferret them out, thinking that some treasure is within; and though they may not carry them away, they will break open the cases, and then the contents will very soon be destroyed.”

“Still we must give them a chance of safety,” said Mr Hooker; “and after we have made the arrangements for our flight, we must see what can be done with them.”

The poor Frau was in a state of great agitation and alarm, but Emily and Grace were very far from frightened.

“We will help you to fight the pirates, if they come,” said Emily; “and with so many brave men, I am sure we shall beat them off.”

“And you must teach me to load a musket,” said Grace. “I think I know how to do it, but I am not quite certain. I hope, however, they will run away before we have to fire at them. I don’t like the thought of your having to kill people. It is very dreadful!”

Before we sat down to supper all arrangements were made. The girls were excessively busy. Each had made up a large package of various articles which they thought it would be necessary to carry—provisions and other things. It was arranged that two men should go down to the beach at a time to watch. Tanda and Dick Tarbox agreed to go first, and Potto Jumbo and Roger Trew were to take the second part of the night.

“I think, however, you need not trouble yourselves, my friends,” said Mr Sedgwick, “for they will scarcely attempt to approach this coast in the dark. There are but few places that I have visited in the neighbourhood where boats could come ashore without risk, and they would scarcely find them out, unless with daylight.”

This remark somewhat comforted the Frau, and we had supper before Tanda and Tarbox started. Mr Hooker and the mate had much recovered. The former was in much better spirits than he had been since he landed. Altogether we had a very pleasant meal, and no one would have supposed, seeing us seated round the table, that a piratical fleet was in the neighbourhood, likely to attack us.

After Tarbox and Tanda had set off, however, the spirits of the party began to flag. No one cared to go to bed, as we did not know at what moment we might be roused up. As the night drew on we became more and more anxious. It was indeed a trying time, for even should they not land at night, it was too probable that they would be down upon us before daybreak. Still we could not help anxiously waiting for that time. The hours appeared very long. Now and then I fell off to sleep, and was awoke either by the noises of the animals in my uncle’s menagerie, or by some strange sounds from the neighbouring forests—the voices of night-birds or beasts of prey. At last the two men who had taken the first watch came back, reporting that they had seen nothing; then Potto Jumbo, who had been lying down snoring loudly, started up, and with Roger Trew went down to the shore. The second part of the night appeared even longer than the first. Still I knew that it would have an end. At length the streaks of early dawn appeared in the eastern sky. The usual sounds of returning day came up from the forest. The birds began to sing their cheerful notes, and ere long the sunbeams lighted up the topmost branches of the lofty trees above our abode. Just then the black and Roger Trew returned. “Hurrah, hurrah!” sung out the black, “dey all sail away, and no come here!” Roger corroborated his companion’s statement; and Oliver and I, running down to the shore, caught a glimpse of the pirates’ sails, if pirates they were, just sinking below the horizon. It was some time, however, before Frau Ursula’s mind could be tranquillised. She insisted that if they were in the neighbourhood they would very likely return.

“Why do you think they will come here, good Frau?” said Mr Hooker. “They are not likely to be aware that anybody is on this island, and their object is to attack well-laden traders or towns, where booty can be obtained. Even if they knew of our existence, we have little here to tempt them.”

It was, however, but too probable that had they caught sight of the wreck, a large portion of which was still above water, they would have come in, and we might have suffered severely, had they not either carried us off as captives or put us to death. We had therefore great reason to be thankful that they had passed by without visiting the island.

Mr Thudicumb, though still not well enough to begin building the vessel, assisted us in repairing the boat. I was anxious to go out and fish; for having gained a good deal of experience with poor Macco, I was in hopes of being able to supply the table with the result of my industry. We had fortunately brought some fishing-lines and hooks. I proposed manufacturing some lobster-baskets such as I had seen used, in the hope of catching lobsters or crabs. We had plenty of materials in the smaller creepers, some of which were of a tough fibre; and Roger Trew, like many more sailors, understood basket-work. We were therefore not long in manufacturing a dozen pots, which we baited with pieces of pork. I should have said that my uncle had domesticated several pigs which he had caught young, and which ran about in the neighbourhood of the house, without any wish apparently to stray further. Roger Trew, Oliver, and I made the first expedition, while the rest of the party were making preparations for the vessel. It was not settled, however, where she was to be built. We agreed, however, that in the neighbourhood of the house it would be very inconvenient to launch her. Our first expedition was very successful, and we brought home a good supply of fish. The next day we carried out our lobster-pots, to try our fortune with them. Before returning home after fishing we pulled along the coast, when we saw at a distance a lofty cliff, with a number of large birds flying about it. Some went off to a great distance, and did not, as far as we could see, return. The report we gave of these, on our return, made Mr Sedgwick desirous of accompanying us on our next expedition.

“They must be, I suspect, from your account of them, Walter, cormorants, or rather that species of them known as the frigate-bird.”

No one is so eager as a naturalist when in search of a specimen, and we soon saw that Mr Sedgwick would be far more pleased if we took him round to the cliff, than should we catch a boat-load of fish.

“Suppose then, sir, that we start the first thing for the cliff, and we can then return and land you if you do not wish to remain for the fishing,” I observed.

“A very good idea, Walter,” he answered. “You and Roger Trew can go, then, to manage the boat, and I will take my rifle. It is difficult to approach those birds near enough to shoot one, and I have long wished to obtain some specimens in full feather.”

It was arranged, therefore, that the next morning we should start directly after breakfast. As, however, there was time during that evening, we carried out our lobster-pots, and placed them in a long row on a rocky bed, where we had every hope that lobsters would be found, and we agreed to take them up on our return. We hurried over breakfast, as Mr Sedgwick was eager to be off, and we then pulled away along the shore, looking into the various indentations and bays as we passed, in the hope of finding a spot where our proposed vessel might be launched, and which might at the same time serve as a harbour. It was very important to find a small harbour of some sort, where we might fit her out after she was afloat. We had not gone far when we came to a point with a reef running almost at right angles with it, which served as a breakwater. Inside was a sandy beach.

“Why, that is just the place we are looking for, Walter,” observed Mr Sedgwick. “See! we shall find, I think, an entrance at the other end of this reef; and if so, nothing can be more perfect.”

We eagerly pulled round the reef, sounding as we went with our oars, and had the satisfaction of finding that there was ample water for such a vessel as we proposed to build. We could see the forest coming close down to the water’s edge, and affording an ample supply of timber. We should therefore have but a little way to carry it. We agreed to take Mr Thudicumb there the following day, and if he agreed with us, to lose no further time in laying the keel for our vessel. A little further on we came in sight of the cliff on which we had seen the birds. No sooner did we point them out to Mr Sedgwick than he exclaimed—

“Yes; those, from their flight, must be frigate-birds. No ordinary cormorant would fly as they do. They have come there to breed; for it is seldom, except on that occasion, that those wonderful birds ever visit the land. What extraordinary power of wing they possess! It is said that they are never seen to swim or to repose upon the waters. I certainly have never seen them except on the wing.”

There was a stiffish breeze, which had created a little sea; and it seemed doubtful, although Mr Sedgwick was a good shot, whether he would be steady enough to hit one of the birds he so much desired. We pulled on, however, keeping as close as we could venture under the cliff, so as to be concealed from their sight till we got near them. Roger Trew took the two oars, while I sat at the helm to steer the boat more steadily. My uncle stood up, rifle in hand, eagerly waiting till we got within range of the birds. However, they were so eagerly engaged in preparing the homes for their future young that they scarcely appeared to notice our approach, but kept flying about round the cliff as they had done the day before when we first saw them. At length one of the magnificent birds came within range of my uncle’s rifle. Though his nerves were as well strung as those of most men, I fancied his hands trembled in his eagerness to obtain his prize. He recovered himself, however, in a moment, and, balancing his feet at the bottom of the tossing boat, fired. An instant afterwards a vast mass began to descend, at first slowly, then it passed rapidly through the air like a huge piece of snow cast before an avalanche, and down it came with a loud thud into the water.

“Pull! pull!” he cried; and Roger Trew exerting his arms, we were soon up to the bird. It was still alive, though unable to impel itself through the water or to rise. It stretched out its beak towards us, but all power had gone; and as my uncle eagerly seized it, and drew it into the boat, it ceased to struggle. The shot had alarmed the other birds, some of whom were seen to soar high up into the air. Up, up they went, till they became mere specks in the blue sky, then disappeared altogether. Others, however, retained their position round the rock, flying about in a startled manner, apparently unable to ascertain the cause of the loud sound they had heard. Meantime Mr Sedgwick again loaded, and a second bird was brought down. He offered a great deal more resistance, but a blow from Roger Trew’s oar quickly settled him. My uncle was highly delighted with his success. The second shot had put all the birds to flight, and it did not appear likely that a third would be killed. We therefore put the boat’s head round, and pulled along the shore homewards.

On our way back Mr Sedgwick expatiated on the powers and beauty of the frigate-bird. “See,” he observed, “these feathers are not of that coarse and downy texture peculiar to aquatic birds; indeed, its graceful form and all the internal arrangements seem especially adapted—I was almost going to say for eternal flight. See these wings, twelve feet from tip to tip. Observe this forked tail, these short legs, the thighs not more than an inch in length. Unless perched on some rocky pinnacle, it is unable to take flight. Neither, you will observe, is it adapted for living on the waves. See its feet; they are unlike those of water-fowl, being but partially webbed. Now, when I come to show you the interior of the creature, you will see with what surprising arrangements it is furnished for flight without fatigue in the loftiest regions of the air, where it can even sleep without the danger of descending. See beneath its throat this large pouch; it communicates with the lungs, and also with the hollow and wonderfully light bone-work of its skeleton. When it wishes, therefore, to rest in air, it first spreads out its mighty wings, which are almost sufficient to float its light body. It then fills its enormous pouch with air, from whence it is forced into all its bones, and even into the cavities between the flesh and the skin. Now this air enters cold, but in a short time, from the heat of the bird’s circulation, which is greater than that of other animals, it becomes rarified, and will consequently swell out both the pouch and every cavity I have spoken of, thus giving the bird a wonderful buoyancy, even in the highest regions of the atmosphere. We saw how high those birds went just now, but they probably have gone far higher. In the same way, when the weather is stormy near the earth, the frigate-bird rises into the higher and calmer regions, where, with outspread wing, it remains suspended, motionless, and at rest. There it might remain for days together, unless compelled by hunger to descend. When this is the case, it expels the rarified air from its body and pouch, and drops swiftly towards the ocean. It never, however, dives, or even swims, but as it comes within a few feet of the waves, it instantly brings itself to a stop, and skimming along, catches the flying-fish with its hawk-like bill or talons, holding its neck and feet in a horizontal direction, striking the upper column of air with its wings, and then raising and closing them against each other above its back.”

On seeing this wonderful bird I could easily believe the accounts my uncle gave me. I remembered, when on board the Bussorah Merchant, seeing some tropic birds, which, like the frigate-bird, can ascend to a vast height. One appeared out of the blue sky, when, descending suddenly towards the ship like a falling star, it checked its course, and hovering for a while over our masts, darted away with its two long projecting tail-feathers streaming in the air towards a shoal of flying-fish, which had just then risen from the water. It caught one, and again ascended in the most graceful way towards the blue heavens, to enjoy its repast.

The Chinese, my uncle told me, train the common cormorant to fish for them, the birds being taught to return with their prey to the boat in which their master sits, when they receive a small fish as their reward. As, however, the bird might help itself, and refuse to work for an employer, the cunning Chinese fastens a band round its throat sufficiently tight to prevent it from swallowing the fish, but not to impede its free action in other respects. The hungry bird, therefore, very gladly returns to the boat to have this inconvenient appendage removed, in order that it may enjoy its limited repast, considering that “half a loaf is better than no bread.” My uncle showed me on our return a sketch, which will explain the mode of proceeding even better than my verbal description.

We were still talking of these wonderful birds, when we came near where we had placed our lobster-pots. They must have been on the edge of the bank, for we found that two or three had been carried away into deep water. However, we caught sight of their floats at some distance. Having drawn up the first we put down, several of which had large lobsters, or fish and crabs, with various other creatures in them, we pulled away to recover the rest. Two were empty.

“I suppose it is scarcely worth while hauling up the other one,” I observed.

“We shall lose it if we do not, though there is no great chance of it having anything within it,” answered Roger Trew.

However, as we began to haul it up, we discovered by the feel that it had something in it. As we got it up to the side, Roger Trew remarked that it was after all only a squid, probably, or some nasty creature of that sort.

“Haul it in! haul it in, and let me look at it!” exclaimed Mr Sedgwick.

“Wonderfully beautiful!” he exclaimed. “What a prize!” And as if he were handling the most delicate piece of mechanism, he carefully lifted the basket into the boat.

“What is it?” I asked. “What can it be?”

“What is it!” exclaimed my uncle. “It is worth coming all the way from England to obtain, and living out here many years. Why, this is a perfect nautilus!” With the greatest care he drew out the fragile shell with the creature inside. “See,” he said, “it belongs to the genus Cephalapoda. It is one of the Polythalamous, or many-chambered shells.”

“Well, I should call it a big snail of rather a curious shape,” observed Roger Trew.

However, as far as the shape was concerned, it more approached a horn with the end curled up and placed in the mouth. My uncle said he was rather doubtful that, when alive, the nautilus did float on the water. However, he confessed that many naturalists assert that it does so, as do certainly the people of the coast near which it is found. He told me that possibly this idea had arisen because the shell, when empty, swims on the surface. The creature, when at the bottom, crawls along like any other snail. Sometimes it dies and falls out, when the shell rises to the surface by means of the gases generated in its chambers; and thus they are seen floating on the waves. Others say, however, that the animal itself with the shell, putting out its head and all its tentacles, spreads them upon the water with the poop of the shell above it. The light part of the shell rising above the waves is taken for the sail with which it is said to move over the surface. Numbers are seen together after a storm, by which it is supposed that they congregate also at the bottom in troops. They certainly do not sail for any length of time; but having taken in all their tentacles, they turn over their boat, and thus once more descend to the bottom.

Chapter Twenty Seven.

Our hill-fort.

It was amusing to see the two naturalists eagerly examining the nautilus when we brought it in.

“Walter, you have rendered science an important service!” exclaimed Mr Hooker. “So difficult is this creature to be obtained, that I know of one only that has ever been brought to England, now preserved in the Royal College of Surgeons.”

Immediately a jar of arrack, which my uncle had brewed for the sake of preserving his specimens—certainly not for drinking—was produced, and the nautilus was carefully embalmed within it.

“If you can obtain another, which we can dissect, you will have rendered Mr Hooker and me the greatest possible service,” he exclaimed enthusiastically. “Us, did I say!—the whole scientific world at large. You will deserve to become a member of all the societies of Europe—the most honourable distinction which a man of any age might desire to obtain.”

Of course we undertook to manufacture a further number of fish-pots, and to place them out in deep water, where we might have a chance of catching another of these creatures. We measured the hole they would require for entering, and discovered that out of the number we had made, the one which had caught the nautilus was the only one with a hole sufficiently large to allow it to enter.

“But surely, uncle, the nautilus has sails by which it glides over the water,” said Emily, as she was examining the creature.

“In the imagination of the poets only, my niece,” he answered. “The shells often float from their excessive lightness, in consequence of the air contained in certain chambers within them. It is then often swept away by wind or tide to some neighbouring shore. Thus large numbers of the shells are found thrown up on the beach. The animal, however, when alive, floats occasionally with its shell on the surface; but I doubt much whether it has any power of locomotion beyond that which the wind or current gives it.”

“How disappointing!” exclaimed Emily and Grace together. “We always thought that it had tiny sails, which it spread to the breeze; and pictured it to ourselves skimming on the calm surface, and delighting in its freedom and rapidity of movement.”

“There is, no doubt, an abundance of wonders in Nature, young ladies,” said Mr Hooker, “but a more intimate acquaintance with the habits of animals will often dispel some of the common ideas which have been connected with them, albeit in many instances held for centuries. For instance, till within a very late period people believed that the upas-tree, which grows in Java, possessed such noxious qualities that it destroyed all vegetable life in the neighbourhood. The sap is, undoubtedly, a poison; but I believe people may sleep under its boughs without receiving the slightest injury, though perhaps, were any of the sap to fall from the tree and to enter a wound, it would prove fatal. Once upon a time people believed that the barnacles which are found attached to ships’ bottoms, or pieces of timber long floating on the ocean, turned into geese, and the barnacle-goose was so called because it was supposed to have its origin in that common mollusc, the barnacle.”

Mr Thudicumb had more than once to suggest to the two enthusiastic naturalists that we should lose no further time in commencing the building of our vessel, for although we had no great reason to complain of our position, yet the mate was anxious to let his friends know that he was safe, as also Captain and Mrs Davenport that their daughter and the rest of us were still alive. The sea was now so calm that we had plenty of occupation in going backwards and forwards to the wreck. Mr Thudicumb, who was at length able to accompany us, suggested that a raft should be made, by which means we might bring a larger quantity of stores on shore at a time. All hands were thus actively employed. Tanda had to attend to affairs on shore, the Frau and the two girls assisting him in household matters. The two naturalists were engaged all day long in collecting and arranging their specimens, while the three other men, under the command of the mate, with Oliver and I, were preparing for the building of the vessel.

It must be understood that all the timber and the heavy things were towed round to the bay I have before described, which we now called Hope Harbour—the Hope being the name we proposed giving our vessel. Oliver and I, with Roger Trew, generally managed the boat, while the others remained on board tearing up the planks, and collecting such articles as they could fish up from the bottom.

We had just returned on board one forenoon, when, on scrambling up on the deck, we found our friends in a state of great agitation. “See dere!” exclaimed Potto Jumbo, who was the first person we met. “What do you say to dat?” There, standing in towards the island, though still at a considerable distance, were several mat-sailed vessels, which had certainly a great resemblance to the piratical craft we had before seen. Mr Thudicumb had been examining them with his glass, and had great fears that they were pirates.

“We must get on shore as fast as we can,” he said, “and prepare our friends. If they come here, we must try and seek for safety in the interior. I know these fellows too well. It would be madness to trust to their mercy; and I am afraid, if they once get sight of the wreck, they are sure to overhaul her. It is fortunate we have got most of the things on shore;—but we must lose no time.”

As the boat could not carry the whole party, Mr Thudicumb and Tarbox remained on board, sending Potto Jumbo with Oliver and I on shore, while Roger Trew was to return with the boat for them. We pulled away as fast as we could lay our backs to the oars, and as soon as we landed we hurried up to the house. We were anxious not to alarm the young ladies and the good Frau, and therefore as we came in sight of it we walked rather more steadily. Fortunately our uncle and Mr Hooker were within doors, engaged in their usual work. I hastened up to them and told them what we had seen.

“I must go down and judge with my own eyes,” said my uncle. “Their fears probably have made our friends imagine that these vessels in sight have a piratical look. After all, possibly, they are only a fleet of harmless traders, bound for the south part of Borneo, or perhaps up to Sumatra, or the Malay Peninsula.”

“However, in case of accidents, brother Sedgwick, we may as well get our valuables into a place of safety,” observed Mr Hooker, quietly.

I accompanied my uncle back to the beach, as we agreed we would not tell the Frau or her charges what we had seen. My uncle had a spy-glass with him. After examining the vessels, which were still at a considerable distance, he shut it up with a slam.

“There is no doubt about it,” he exclaimed. “Those, if I mistake not, are Sooloo pirates, and bloodthirsty villains they are. I wish our friends were on shore; but we must hurry back to the house, and get our valuables packed up as fast as we can. I do not think they will follow us far inland; but if they do, we must be prepared for them.”

“Had we not better at once hasten to the hill we fixed upon, and begin to fortify it,” I asked. “They are not likely to make their way there in a hurry, and we shall probably have time to put it into a fair state of defence.”

“The best thing we can do, Walter,” he answered. “I only hope the good Frau will not go into fits with alarm; and as we will take the way by which we came the other day—along our torrent road—we shall at all events have a good start of our invaders.”

By this time we had reached the house. I found that Oliver had gradually broken the news to my sister and Grace, as well as to the Frau, and they were now all prepared for whatever might be arranged. They were already indeed busily employed in making up bundles of such things as were likely to be most required. Mr Hooker was now all life and spirits.

“The first thing we require, remember, is a good supply of provisions and ammunition. Those are the chief necessaries. Water we cannot carry, but I hope we may find it on the hill. At all events, let us take care to have some pitchers to contain it. Then some cooking apparatus, seeing we cannot eat our provisions raw. Then we shall require some bedding for you young ladies. We can rough it well enough on the ground.”

We had made some progress in our preparations, when Mr Thudicumb and Dick Tarbox arrived. With their assistance we got on still more rapidly. Roger Trew had remained on the beach to watch the movements of the supposed pirates. The boxes of collections were at once carried to a place of concealment which had been arranged, and a few other articles which were likely to excite the cupidity of the pirates. All things were now ready for commencing our march, but we were unwilling to begin it till we ascertained that we were really likely to be attacked. We were still in hopes that the pirates might pass by, or land on some other part of the coast where they were not likely to find any traces which might lead them to the house.

“Quick, quick! haste away!” cried a voice, and Roger Trew was seen running up as fast as his legs could carry him to the house. “The pirates have seen the wreck, and are pulling in fast towards it,” he exclaimed.

We were all now in rapid movement. Mr Sedgwick led the way, as knowing the country best; followed by the Frau and the two girls, with Oliver and I to assist them. Mr Hooker came next, carrying his gun, and as much ammunition and provisions as he could strap on to his back. The two coloured men and Roger Trew came next, well armed; Mr Thudicumb and Dick Tarbox bringing up the rear, with Merlin, who seemed to consider that the post of danger and honour. Several of the tamer animals had been let loose, and now followed us, a buffalo and babirusa following behind, two deer keeping close to Emily and Grace, whose especial favourites they were. Several monkeys flung themselves along the branches over our heads, to the great astonishment of their kindred whom they met on the road. Several tame jungle cocks and hens ran in and out among our feet. Indeed, so attached had all the more tameable animals become to our uncle, that they would follow at his call, wherever he went. We had representatives, therefore, of a large number of the creatures inhabiting those regions. As soon as we reached the highroad I have described along the rocky but dry stream, we halted, to conceal as much as possible the place where we entered it from view, by placing boughs at the entrance and strewing the ground thickly with leaves, retreating backwards as we did so. This done, we again moved forward at a rapid rate. The men could not march more easily, in reality, than the weaker members of our party, as they were all heavily laden. We had gone some way, when Mr Sedgwick thought of despatching Tanda as a scout to bring us information of what the Malays were about. We should thus run less risk of being taken by surprise. Our road was far from even, or such as would have suited delicately-nurtured people, but fortunately even the girls had become accustomed to rough walking, and made no complaint of the difficulties. Now and then we had to descend into a hollow, now to scramble over some huge boulders. More than once, scorpions, centipedes, snakes, and other reptiles, started up from under the rocks. We each of us, I should have said, carried pieces of ratan in our hands, which against such enemies proved useful weapons, as a well-aimed blow with a ratan at even a large snake will turn it aside. Our numbers, also, kept the larger serpents and beasts of prey at a distance.

We had still some way further to go, before we could reach our proposed fort, when we who were in advance heard a loud rustling in the underwood near us. We called to Mr Sedgwick. He turned round and peered in among the trees. Nothing could be seen. “Perhaps Merlin will find the creature, whatever it is.” I called Merlin up, and he instantly understood what he was to do. My uncle was unwilling to fire, lest the sound of the shot might be heard by the pirates. He told the men, however, to be ready to use their bamboo spears, which might keep even a tiger at bay. Suddenly Merlin began to bark furiously. Now he darted forward, now he retreated. There was evidently some animal concealed there. “Shout!” cried my uncle; “that may possibly rouse it.” We did so, when Merlin having pushed aside some boughs, we saw lurking among them a huge tiger. The creature was apparently alarmed at seeing so many enemies, and unaccustomed to the sound of the dog’s voice, could not make out what it was. The underwood, also, was so thick that he was entangled among it, and could not make his usual spring.

“I am sorely tempted to fire,” exclaimed Mr Hooker.

“Do not till it is absolutely necessary,” said my uncle.

The animal was moving slowly along, apparently trying to hide itself, as a cat does when in search of its prey. Presently it caught sight of several of our party with their formidable looking spears pointed towards it. It seemed for once to consider discretion the better part of valour, and an open space appearing on one side, we had the satisfaction of seeing it creep more rapidly, and then bound away into the distant part of the forest.

We had no other adventure of importance till we reached the foot of the hill, up which we wound our way. At the steeper part, however, Oliver and I, as well as the girls and the Frau, found it impossible to carry our burdens. “Put them down, young people,” said Dick Tarbox, “and we will come back for them. You get up yourselves.” At length we reached the top, and piled our goods in the centre.

“The first thing to be done is to clear away some of this brushwood,” said Mr Thudicumb. “Were it not that we might point out where we are to the enemy, the quickest way would be by burning it.”

However, the men with their axes soon cleared off a sufficient space on which we might build our huts; and this done, they set to work cutting down thick stakes to form our proposed palisade. At this Oliver and I, as well as Mr Hooker and our uncle, worked away, the Frau, Emily, and Grace carrying them up as we cut them, and placing them ready to be driven into the ground. For some distance round the hill the rocks were so precipitous, that we had no fear of being attacked on those sides. We therefore first fortified the part where the slope was more gradual; and we hoped that, should our ammunition last, we might be able to keep a large number at bay. We continued working on in spite of fatigue, the Frau and her assistants bringing us a draught of water, or a piece of sago-cake to recruit our strength. Thus in a short time we had a considerable number of stakes ready for use. Mr Thudicumb and the other men now began driving them in, while the two gentlemen, with Oliver and I, continued cutting more stakes.

By this time we were anxiously looking out for the appearance of Tanda. Already some progress had been made with the fortifications, and Mr Thudicumb expressed his opinion that even should the pirates appear at once, they would afford us great assistance in keeping them at bay. The remainder of our stakes were now brought up, and we were still driving them in, when, the sun setting, darkness began to steal over the forest.

“And all this time we have not thought of a shelter for you, young ladies!” said Mr Hooker. “That must be our next consideration.”

We accordingly hastened down the hill, and brought up a quantity of the huge palm-leaves which I have before described, as well as a number of bamboos, and with these we soon erected a hut sufficient to accommodate the Frau and the girls. For ourselves, we agreed that, as we should have to work all night, it mattered nothing our having no shelter. We found, indeed, the night air, in that elevated spot, thoroughly dry, cool, and refreshing; so that, in spite of the labour we had already gone through, we were well able to continue it. Having at length driven in the stakes all round, we commenced an embankment. The outer crust of the soil looked hard and dry enough; but we soon found, on digging down, that it was sufficiently soft to enable us to get our spades into it without difficulty.

“What can have become of Tanda?” said Mr Sedgwick.

“I hope the tiger has not carried him off,” I could not help saying.

“No fear of that,” was the answer. “The tiger is not likely to return to the spot from whence we drove him, and Tanda has so quick an ear that he would easily get out of the creature’s way. It is more likely that he has ventured too near the pirates, and been captured.”

“I am afraid, then, that he will betray us to them,” observed Mr Thudicumb.

“I think not,” answered our uncle. “He is a faithful fellow, and I believe that he would rather be torn in pieces than do so.”

These remarks were made while we were taking a few mouthfuls of food, and resting for an instant from our toils. Just then the sound of a voice reached our ears. Mr Sedgwick shouted in return.

“All right,” he said, “here comes Tanda;” and directly afterwards a human form was seen climbing the side of the hill. He stopped, and again uttered an exclamation as he approached the fortification.

“He thinks it is the work of magic,” answered Mr Sedgwick, “and scarcely likes to enter the circle.” Mr Sedgwick then spoke a few more words to Tanda, who now came forward with greater confidence. We had left a small opening on one side for going in and out, and by this Tanda entered the fort. An earnest conversation ensued between him and his master, who explained that the pirates, after proceeding some way along the coast, had caught sight of the wreck; that they had pulled close up to it, and then gone on board. They had also visited Flagstaff Rock, and hauled down the flag, of which they had taken possession. They had been till dark engaged in plundering the wreck. Not finding, however, any good landing-place, they had pulled away along the shore, happily in the opposite direction to that where our vessel was building. Tanda had then followed them. Having anchored their prows in the sheltered bay, they had, as is their custom, landed and encamped. He had left them all busily engaged cooking and eating their food, so that there was no fear of their moving that night. It was but too probable, however, that they would return to the wreck on the following morning. We could only hope that there would be too much sea on the rocks to enable them to land near the house.

This information was satisfactory, and we agreed that the probabilities of their attacking us were less than we had supposed. We accordingly lay down to rest for a short time, till the return of daylight should enable us the better to recommence our labours. Two of our party, however, stood assemblies during the remainder of the night, to give timely notice of the approach of the enemy, should the pirates have discovered us.

As soon as it was daylight Tanda again went out to watch their proceedings, taking some sago and a little cocoa, to enable him to remain out as long as necessary without returning. We, having breakfasted, recommenced our labours, and at length had finished the fort to the satisfaction of Mr Thudicumb. We had now, however, to dig some pits, in one of which the ladies might be sheltered should we be attacked, while in the other we might stow our ammunition.

“But we are ready to run every risk you do,” said Emily, when she understood what we were about.

We however persuaded her that it would be much more to our satisfaction to know that the Frau and they were in safety, should bullets be flying about. “Besides, Miss Emily, if any of us are wounded, we must look to you to attend to us,” said Oliver.

She gave a glance up at Oliver’s face. “Oh, I pray that may not be,” she observed. “How dreadful to think that, although we have done no one any harm, we run a risk of having to fight those savage men.”

The tops of the trees came so short a distance above our hill, that Mr Thudicumb thought, by erecting a post in the centre, we might have a good look-out over the sea. The idea was so excellent, that we accordingly at once went down the hill to obtain a tall and straight tree for the purpose. A little way down the hill were some beautiful cotton-trees. Although the trunk of the largest was not more than twelve inches in diameter, it rose to a height of thirty feet, which we thought would be sufficient for our purpose. The bark was of light olive-green, remarkably smooth and fair. The limbs shot out in whirls, at right angles to the trunk; and as they were separated by a considerable space, they would form, we agreed, steps by which to mount to the top. These trees appeared to great advantage, rising out of the thick jungle amidst which they grew. The fruit, I may as well observe, is a pod, and the fibrous substance within it greatly resembles cotton. I do not know whether it can be used for the same purpose; but Mr Hooker and our uncle employed it for stuffing the birds they killed. We soon had one of these trees down, and fixed in the centre of the fort. We stayed it up by ropes, while another rope hanging from the top enabled us to ascend without difficulty. Our rope, I should say, was formed from the fibre of the gomiti or sagaru palm-tree. The large petioles of this tree spread out at the base into broad fibrous sheets, which enclose the trunk. It is from this material that the natives of these regions manufacture the coir-rope. It is a very coarse, rough style of rope, for the fibres soon break, and projecting in every direction, make it difficult to handle. We had an abundance of this palm growing on the hill-side, as it prefers higher land than the cocoa-nut. Its most valuable property is, being almost indestructible in water. Among the fibres there are some coarser ones, with which the Dyaks of Borneo manufacture arrows for their blow-pipes, and occasionally the Malays use them for pins. Interwoven with them is a mass of small fibre almost as soft as cotton. This, from its combustible nature, is used as tinder. From the tree, also, a refreshing beverage is extracted. The flower part is cut off with a knife, when the sap which issues is gathered in a bamboo cup. It is now of a slightly acid and bitter taste, resembling the thin part of butter-milk. When this is allowed to ferment, it becomes what the natives call tuak—a very intoxicating beverage, of which they are very fond. The seeds grow in such large bunches, that one alone is as much as two men can carry. The envelopes of these seeds contain a poisonous juice, in which the natives dip their arrows.

Well, as I was saying, we manufactured a supply of this rope for our look-out post. As soon as it was erected, Roger Trew climbed to the top.

“Capital!” he exclaimed. “There is the sea away on two sides of us, though as to the pirates, I can see nothing of them. Maybe they are near the wreck, and that’s too close in to be seen.”

We thought that perhaps by erecting a higher post we might obtain a better view; but when Mr Thudicumb went up, he calculated that the trees were far too high near the shore to enable us to do this. We all in succession went up to have a look at the blue sea; but it was then agreed that the post might possibly be seen by our enemies, and we therefore at once lowered it, but kept it ready to set up again in case of need. We had been so much occupied in preparing our fort, that we had thought little of eating or drinking.

“What we do for water?” exclaimed the Frau, bringing a large shell into our midst. “This is the last we have got!”

“I must blame myself for my forgetfulness,” exclaimed Mr Sedgwick. “We ought to have lost no time in searching for water. If one of you will come with a spade, we will go out at once to look for it, while the rest continue at the work in the fort.”

I volunteered to accompany my uncle. “But we may require a stronger digger than you are, Walter,” he said, and fixed on Roger Trew.

Roger, throwing his spade over his shoulder in navvy fashion, answered, “I am ready, sir.”

“Well, you can come too then,” said my uncle to me. “You may bring your gun, though, in case of necessity. We must remember not to fire if it can be helped.”

As only one iron spade could be spared, my uncle and I armed ourselves with a couple which we had formed out of bamboo, and which might assist Roger should we have to dig deep. We took our way down the hill, and as we looked up we agreed that our fort presented a very satisfactory appearance, and that, probably, should we be discovered, the enemy would be wary before they attacked us; indeed, they would very likely suppose from its appearance that our numbers were far greater than they were in reality. As those people fight for plunder, and never for glory or mere victory, they would, we hoped, take their departure without attempting an assault. This cheered our spirits. We had arranged that should Tanda return with any important news, we were to be instantly summoned, though as the fort should we proceed into the forest, would be completely hid, from our sight, it would be necessary for some one to be sent after us. Oliver agreed to come. My uncle examined the ground as we proceeded, now telling Roger to dig a hole here, now there; but no water was found. He therefore said that it would be of no use digging more, as the hill was evidently of volcanic origin, and no water would be contained within it.

“Let us go on further, however,” he observed. “If a stream does not flow there, at all events a spring may be found.”

The ground as we advanced grew softer, and the herbage greener and greener.

“Stay,” he said; “I think some animal must be there! We will advance cautiously.”

As we proceeded my uncle signed us to stop, and looking along the boughs, a huge black creature appeared before us, digging his snout into the ground.

“That’s a huge pig,” whispered Roger to me.

“A pig, man!” answered my uncle. “That is no less a creature than a rhinoceros!”

We watched it for some time, afraid of moving lest we might draw its attention towards us. Sometimes these creatures are savage, and will attack man. At length, however, it began to move off in an opposite direction to where we were posted.

“A rifle-ball would do little to stop that fellow,” said my uncle; “but we may possibly yet capture him, and I should like to obtain his skeleton, though I may not add him to my menagerie.”

“But we have come to search for water,” I suggested.

“To be sure we have,” answered my uncle. “I was forgetting that. Here, at this very spot, I am sure we shall find it without having to dig very deep.”

Roger Trew instantly dug his spade into the ground, and began energetically throwing up the earth. It grew softer and softer as he proceeded, I helping him with my bamboo. My uncle had meantime cut down a tall bamboo, the end of which he sharpened, and he now came back and forced it into the ground. Drawing it up, the end was perfectly wet. “This is encouraging!” he exclaimed; and Roger and I now setting to work with greater energy, at length a little whitish-looking liquid came welling up. A larger quantity appeared as we dug deeper and deeper, and at length we had an ample supply to fill the shell we had brought for that purpose. It was somewhat like dirty milk; but my uncle said it was wholesome, and if allowed to settle, that it would become perfectly clear. After resting a little the upper part became purer, and from this we thankfully quenched our thirst. As our well was at a considerable distance from the fort, it would be necessary to carry up a supply, for should we be besieged, it might be difficult to reach it.

“Now,” said my uncle, “as our friends are not absolutely suffering from thirst, we may as well try and catch the rhinoceros.”

“What! make chase after it?” asked Roger.

“No; the creature is sure to come back here, and we will make a trap.”

“A hard job to make one strong enough to catch that brute,” answered Roger.

“Very little strength is required,” said my uncle. “With your spade and my axe we can quickly make it. Here, let me set to work and dig!”

Roger, however, would not hear of that, and he and I commenced under my uncle’s directions, who aided us in digging a pit about the size of the rhinoceros, the earth around being somewhat soft and slimy. In the meantime the water in our well had not only bubbled up, but settled down, and was perfectly sweet and clear. Under Mr Sedgwick’s directions, we covered over the pit with boughs and leaves, so that the hollow below was not visible.

“The next time Mr Rhinoceros comes this way, he will find himself prevented from proceeding on his journey,” observed my uncle. “I have seen the creature caught in a pit like this, and I have little doubt that ours will succeed.”

We now filled the shells we had brought with water, and slinging them on a bamboo, proceeded back to the fort.

Chapter Twenty Eight.

Attacked by pirates.

The party who had remained in the fort had made good progress in strengthening it, and we now felt ourselves prepared for the pirates’ reception.

“We shall have no difficulty in beating them back,” I observed to Mr Thudicumb, “with a fort like this for our protection.”

“I hope not, Walter,” he answered; “but they are fierce and desperate fellows, and they may use means for our destruction which we little expect. Still it is our duty to be prepared and to fight to the last. We can do no more!”

“But if they conquer us what will Emily and Grace and the poor Frau do?”

“We must leave that in God’s hands, Walter,” answered the mate. “We must fight like men, and not yield while life remains. If we are all killed, he will take care of the helpless ones who are trusting in him.”

Tanda at this time had not returned, and we were once more afraid that he had been caught by the pirates. At length my uncle’s anxiety to ascertain what was going on made him resolve to set out to try and get sufficiently near them to watch their movements. I begged to accompany him.

“If you do, you must promise one thing—to keep behind me; and should I be captured, to make your escape, and carry back news to the camp of what has occurred,” he observed.

I of course willingly gave the promise he desired. While we were speaking, we saw, rising in the distance, a thin column of smoke. It rose higher and higher in the sky. All those in the fort gazed anxiously towards it.

“They have discovered the house, and set it on fire,” observed Mr Hooker. “Oh, what treasures they are destroying—the ignorant savages! and yet, I am afraid, under similar circumstances our own countrymen would not behave much better. They are not likely to appreciate such treasures more than these dark-skinned Asiatics.”

“I am not quite so certain that that is the house on fire,” observed Mr Sedgwick, after watching the smoke for some time. “I should not be at all surprised if it was the brig that is burning. The smoke, in this clear atmosphere, is seen a long way off; and though my house would burn rapidly enough, I scarcely think it would send up such dense volumes as are now ascending to the blue sky. What do you think, Mr Thudicumb? It appears to me that the smoke is somewhat to the right of the house, and further off?”

“I have been watching it attentively,” said the mate, “and I agree with you, sir.”

“Still, as the wind is off shore, and there will be no surf in our bay, I am afraid the fellows will very likely land there; and if so, it will not be long before they discover the house,” observed Mr Sedgwick. “However, come along, Walter, and we will try to ascertain the true state of the case.”

My uncle, charging our friends to be on the alert, set off down the hill, rifle in hand; and I, bidding farewell to Emily and Grace, followed him. I soon caught him up, and we made our way along our torrent road. We calculated that we should have ample time to get into the neighbourhood of the house and return to the fort before dark. I could not help recollecting the tiger we had seen on our way up, and the numerous serpents which I knew were crawling about in all directions. My uncle, however, seemed utterly indifferent to them. We had got to the end of our torrent road, and were working our way through the jungle, when the sound of human voices reached our ears. On this, instead of going straight forward, my uncle turned to the right towards the sea. I followed him, literally crawling on hands and feet, something in the fashion of the monkeys, from bough to bough amid the thick entanglement of the forest; sometimes close down to the ground, though not often more than a few feet above it. I could not help having a fear that in those places there often lurked the fearful python; while some dark pools over which we crawled might, I thought it more than possible, harbour a hermit alligator or some other monster.

We had gone some distance, moving as noiselessly as possible, when my uncle stopped and looked eagerly forward, keeping his body concealed behind a bough. I imitated his example. Our worst anticipations were realised. In the distance I could see the brig burning furiously, while alongside the rocks lay several long prows with swivel guns in their bows, and their general appearance betokening them to be, what we supposed, pirates of Sooloo. A number of their crew were on the beach, while others, in a compact body, were making their way up the road in the direction of the house. They were fierce-looking fellows, armed with krisses and swords as well as spears and long bows. They were shouting to each other, and evidently expected, from the appearance of the road, that they were approaching some village which they hoped to sack. We watched them for some time. Fortunately they were making so much noise that they were not likely to hear us, even should they pass quite near. My uncle, therefore, turning round, led by the way we had come. I found that he was approaching as near the house as the thick brushwood would allow. I shall not easily forget the shout of savage delight the pirates set up when they came in sight of our peaceful abode. They instantly rushed forward, sending a shower of arrows before them, and shrieking at the top of their voices. It was somewhat trying to my companion’s temper to see them rushing up the steps of the house and along the verandah into the rooms. I was glad we had left Merlin behind us, for he would probably not have restrained himself, but would have rushed forward and betrayed our whereabouts. My uncle did not move from the spot, but continued to peer out from among the bushes. The pirates who had first reached the house were seen going in and out at all the doors like a troop of monkeys. They now came to the verandah and shouted out to the others. They were evidently disappointed at finding no one within. I could not help feeling pleased, however, that they were not likely to find anything which they would look upon as valuable, however much the articles might be prized by the owners. In a short time those who had been on the beach came up, and now they all rushed in together, and we could hear them shouting to each other as they ran about seeking for booty. Their shouts of satisfaction were soon changed to cries of disappointment and rage, as they found that everything they prized had been carried off. Some of the provisions, however, which had been left behind were at length discovered; and before long they found their way to the menagerie. This seemed to astonish them not a little. Several of the creatures, however, having been left without food, were howling piteously. At last I caught sight of a fellow rubbing away with two pieces of bamboo, and I knew well enough that he was striking a light. Another brought some dried boughs, and they soon had a torch twisted up and blazing away. Uttering a shout of triumph, one of them rushed up the steps of the house with a blazing torch, and ran round it, setting fire to the light wood-work and thatch. It rapidly caught, and the flames darting out in all directions, the whole house was soon furiously blazing away. Some of the men who had been inside rushed out, reeling as if they were drunk, and I guessed that they had got hold of some of the arrack which had been kept for preserving specimens. They now began to dance round the house, shouting and shrieking as if in delight at the destruction they had wrought. Some of them, however, were hid from our view by the building, so that we could not see what they were about. Presently their shrieks and cries seemed to increase, and we saw those from the other side of the building scampering away as fast as their legs could carry them, apparently in a panic. The rest followed. Away they went, each man tumbling over the other, and caring only for his own safety. I really think that at that moment, had our whole party been together, we might have rushed out and cut them to pieces. I heard my uncle utter a low chuckle of laughter, and presently there issued from behind the building his huge python, hissing furiously, and making its way at a rapid rate along the ground, as if in pursuit of the pirates.

“The fellows have set his cage on fire, and the creature has made his escape from the flames,” said my uncle. “He is wisely rushing to the nearest water to cool himself, and I suspect he thinks less of attacking them than of soothing his wounds.”

The python, however, as he was speaking, began to move slower and slower. He evidently had considerable difficulty in working his way over the ground. Presently his head, hitherto erect, sunk down, and he lay stretched out at his full length apparently dead.

“It will be as well,” said my uncle, “to make our way back to the fort, for these fellows will soon recover from their panic, and will suspect that the owners of the house are not far off. We cannot remain long concealed from them, for if they once begin to search about, they will soon discover the path to our river road.”

We accordingly hurried back to the fort. We found that Tanda had arrived before us. The whole party were in a great state of alarm, for he had made signs that the pirates had landed, and they also had seen the smoke from the burning house. They also dreaded from his signs that we had fallen into their power. I was glad to find that some deep caves had been dug, in which Emily and her companions could find shelter. The provisions had also been stored in them. All our arms were loaded. A number of bamboo stakes had likewise been formed, their points projecting out between the palisades to prevent the pirates from climbing over them. Our return quickly restored the spirits of the party. Emily threw herself into my arms and burst into tears, and Grace followed her example.

We had now a time of great anxiety. In spite of it, however, I was very glad when Mr Thudicumb proposed that we should pipe to supper.

“I never knew people fight so well on empty stomachs as on full ones; and as we may have sharp work before the morning, it will be wise if we fall to while we can,” he remarked.

I found that during our absence Roger Trew had led the way to the well, and brought up an ample supply of water to last us for some time. Thus our fort was pretty well stored; and even should the pirates lay siege to it, we might be able to hold out for some time.

“By-the-by, Mr Walter,” observed Roger, “the last time I came up, I saw that the boughs had given way over the pit we dug; but I was in too great a hurry to look in. I have a notion, however, that something or other has been caught, and whether it is that great brute with a horn on his nose, or some other creature, I cannot say.”

As darkness came on, we assembled in the largest cavern which had been dug, in order that the light might not betray us. Here we found that without danger—as the flame would be hid, and the smoke would, of course, not be seen—we might light a fire and boil water, and cook our food, which was a great luxury. Two of the party kept on watch while the rest of us assembled to supper. The sentries were accompanied by Merlin, who was a host in himself, as his quick ear was more likely to catch the sound of approaching footsteps than any one among us. We were, however, allowed to enjoy our meal in peace, and we, most of us tired out, lay down to rest, while our watch was set as usual. Often during the night I fancied I heard the cries of the Malays rushing up the hill, and I started up to find that I had been dreaming. Hour after hour passed by, Mr Thudicumb would not let me go on guard, as he said I was already tired out. I slept on and on, and at length daylight streamed in through the entrance of the rustic hut in which I had passed the night. Emily and Grace were on foot, and soon afterwards Frau Ursula made her appearance at the entrance of their bower. “No pirate come,” she observed. “I hope they go away, and not find us out.” I heartily hoped so also; but, at the same time, had it not been for the girls, I own I should rather have liked to have had a brush with the pirates, so confident did I feel that we could beat them off. Oliver soon joined us. He looked somewhat pale, I fancied.

“I have not slept at all,” he whispered to me. “I have been praying that we may be protected from those fearful men. It would be so dreadful to have to fight them. Before they could be driven off, so many would be killed; and Walter, I confess I cannot bear the thoughts of destroying our fellow-creatures.”

“I do not wish it either,” I said; “but if they come, they must take the consequences.”

I was sure that, notwithstanding his feelings, no one would fight more bravely than Oliver. Those who had been on watch during the night, now got up, and the whole party assembled in the centre of our fort.

“Gentlemen,” said Mr Thudicumb, “on board the Bussorah Merchant we always used to have morning prayers when the weather permitted, and, with your leave, we will have them now. We have plenty to pray for, and much to be thankful for. We should be thankful we have escaped the dangers from which so many of our fellow-creatures have suffered, and that we are all alive and well; and we need to pray that a stronger arm than ours may fight for us, should we be attacked by those fierce and ignorant savages.”

“Very right,” said Mr Hooker, “and I am sure all will agree with you.”

Mr Sedgwick, however, made no remark. He had never said anything against religion; but I had observed, since we first found him, that he did not appear to be in any way under its influence. However, as he did not object, Mr Thudicumb forthwith produced a Bible which he had found in the cabin of the brig uninjured. He now read a portion of Scripture, and then offered up an earnest prayer for our deliverance. I know I for one felt more cheerful after it, and so I am sure did Emily and Grace, while a tear stood in Oliver’s eye. He had entered more than any of us, with all his heart, into the simple prayer of the untutored sailor. Watch was, of course, kept meantime by one of the party, and we then in good spirits went to breakfast, having lighted our fire as before in the pit, making as small a one as possible, so as not to allow the smoke to be seen at a distance.

Once more Tanda went out as a scout to try and ascertain what the pirates were about. Soon after he had gone, we were aroused by a loud squeaking which seemed to come from the wood at the bottom of the hill. It sounded exactly like the cry of a pig. Oliver and I offered to go down and ascertain what it was. I was starting without any arms, and had got to the gate, when it occurred to me that I might as well take a fowling-piece. I ran back for it, and Oliver and I then set forward down the hill. The squeaking sound increased for a little time, and then ceased. We had, however, marked the place from whence it had come. We were making our way through the forest, when Oliver seized my arm.

“Stop, Walter,” he exclaimed; “not a step further! See, see!” There, at the foot of a large tree, with its tail coiled round an upper branch, its body circling the trunk, was a huge python. Our uncle’s pet, compared to it, was a mere pigmy. It was pressing with its enormous body a large pig, which, with its huge mouth wide open, it was preparing to swallow. So eager was it that it did not observe us. We stood transfixed with a feeling akin to horror, lest any movement might disturb it. We knew that we should be much safer should it once get the unfortunate pig within its jaws. Greatly to my relief, it now darted down upon the pig, taking the head within its mouth, and gradually it began to suck in the body. We watched it without moving or speaking. In a short time, more than half the quadruped had disappeared, and I now knew, from the formation of the animal’s teeth, that no power could draw it out again, and that thus, till it had entirely swallowed it, we were safe. Now was the time, therefore, to beat our retreat, and we hurried back to the fort with an account of what we had seen.

“We must prevent the creature from causing further mischief,” said Mr Hooker, seizing an axe. “When it has digested the pig, it may pay us a visit, and may be a more awkward enemy to deal with than even the pirates. Now, if we make haste, he is at our mercy.”

Potto Jumbo begged that he might accompany us, and Oliver and he and I, with the two gentlemen, each armed with an axe and a long bamboo spear, hurried back to where we had seen the python. As we reached it the hind legs of the pig were just disappearing within its jaws. “Now is the time for the attack,” cried Mr Sedgwick, rushing forward with his axe and dealing the animal a blow behind the neck. It instantly uncoiled its powerful tail and attempted to seize its enemy. It seemed as if it could have crushed him with one blow against the tree, but he gave a spring and just escaped it. At the same instant Potto Jumbo sprang in and struck the tail, which instantly flew back and again encircled the tree. The monster now tried to lift up his head to make a spring towards us, but the pig prevented it from opening its jaws, though the force with which it projected its enormous head was sufficient to have knocked down the strongest man and killed him on the spot. Mr Hooker was on the watch, and received it on the point of his spear, which transfixed its throat, and must have gone through the pig’s body at the same time. Still his spine was uninjured, and there was great danger in getting within the coils of its body. Potto Jumbo, however, kept watching the tail, which was again unwound from the branch of the tree. “You cut, cut at the back while I hold,” he cried out, seizing the very end of the tail. He threw himself out so as to stretch out the animal. Oliver and I, who had been waiting our opportunity, rushed in, and dealt it several severe blows with our hatchets. Potto pulled away at the same time. “No fear now,” he cried out; “one more cut and he die!” Once more we rushed in with our hatchets. No sooner did we deal the blows than the creature lay stretched out apparently quite dead.

“We have settled him,” said Mr Sedgwick. “And now let us measure his length.”

He paced along the body, which lay stretched out on the ground, and we found it to be fully twenty-five feet long.

“An unpleasant creature to encounter in a morning’s ramble,” observed Mr Hooker. “But how have you managed to escape these reptiles, Sedgwick?” he asked.

“Simply, I suppose, because they prefer pork to man,” he answered; “and as we have the same taste, we may as well get piggy out of his maw.”

To do so was impossible without cutting off the serpent’s head. This we accomplished with our hatchets. However, the appearance of the pig when we got it out was far from tempting, and as we had a supply of food in the fort, we agreed to let it remain where it was. We had been so interested in this encounter that we had almost forgotten the position in which we were placed. A shout from Mr Thudicumb, however, quickly recalled us, and we hurried up to the fort. Tanda had just arrived.

“He is in a state of great agitation, sir,” said Mr Thudicumb, as Mr Sedgwick appeared, “but what he says I cannot make out.”

Tanda and his master exchanged a few words.

“Friends,” said Mr Sedgwick, “the pirates are approaching. They have found their way up the river road, and will be here in a short time. Once more I must urge you to fight to the last. I know them well. Should we yield, a fearful death or painful captivity would be our lot.”

“We are all aware of that, sir,” said Mr Thudicumb; “and I can answer for all hands that none will fail in their duty.”

The bank round the more gentle slope of the hill had been raised sufficiently to protect our bodies, so that by keeping close to it, no shot—should the enemy have fire-arms—could hit us. All the muskets were laid carefully loaded against the bank, and the Frau and the girls, who had been practising loading for some time, took their places in hollows which had been formed on purpose, where they might load without risk, as soon as the guns were handed to them. We all now stood at our posts anxiously watching for the approach of the enemy. At length we saw some dark-skinned faces appearing amid the brushwood, and directly afterwards some thirty or more wild-looking savages rushed through it and began to ascend the hill. They stopped for an instant on seeing the formidable preparations made for their reception, while, of course, they could not tell how many people were within the stockades ready to fire on them. At length one of their chiefs apparently came to the front, and waving his curved sword, seemed to urge them to follow him. On he came, a humpbacked savage-looking fellow. Even at that distance I fancied I could distinguish his hideous features. More than once he went back, and seemed shouting to his followers to keep up with him; and with wonderful agility, considering his form, he toiled up the hill.

“Mr Hooker, you are the best shot among us, please to pick off that fellow,” said Mr Thudicumb. “If it were not for him, I do not think the fellows would have come on.”

The hunchback still continued to advance, his long arms and claw-like fingers assisting him up the steeper places. Again he stopped and appeared to be swearing at his men for not coming faster. He was now within range. I could not help looking on one side to watch Mr Hooker as he stood perfectly calm with his musket covering the pirate chief. Little did the man think that a musket in the hands of an unerring shot was pointed at him. The pirates, finding no opposition as yet, now came on more readily, and soon another body of an equal number appeared behind them, coming from the woods. I could by this time clearly see the countenance of the pirate. He was an old man, with two or more ugly gashes about the face, showing that he had not followed his profession with impunity. The pirates, uttering fierce cries, were now rushing on.

“I must stop that fellow’s career, at all events,” said Mr Hooker, levelling his piece. He fired. The old pirate stood up for an instant on a rock which he had just reached, waving his sword above his head, and then fell backwards over the men who were coming up behind him. The Frau instantly seized the gun, and began reloading it. The pirates, who had been quickly advancing, now appeared to waver.

“If we had a dozen more fellows with us, we would quickly sally out and put them to flight!” exclaimed Mr Thudicumb.

“But as we are only nine in all, not counting de ladies and Merlin, and dem fellows fight like wild beasts, we hab hard job to drive dem back,” said Potto Jumbo. “Still we fight while we got drop blood in de veins. Merlin fight wid teeth dough; you see dat! Hurrah, boys!” and Potto took aim at another Malay leader who now occupied the position of the first.

Merlin was fully as eager for the fight as any one, and rushed backwards and forwards, poking his snout between the palisades wherever there was an opening, and barking furiously.

“I wish we had another python to let loose on them, uncle,” I said to Mr Sedgwick, near whom I was standing. “It might have a useful effect.”

“Ah, yes; we should not have killed the other fellow, Walter,” he observed. “But, to be sure, it would have been a difficult matter to capture him, and still more so to make him take the right course when we let him loose again.”

The pirates, fortunately, had but very few fire-arms among them, and they evidently depended on a hand to hand combat to overcome us. The larger body had now gained a more exposed part of the hill, and began to ascend quicker than before. We therefore, taking good aim, had to fire as rapidly as possible. No time for speaking now. Thanks to the skill with which the Frau and the young ladies loaded the muskets, we were able to keep up a constant fusillade, which must have made it appear that we had far more men within the fort than was really the case. To keep up the deception, we ran from side to side, thus extending the length of our line, now firing out through one opening, now through another.

“Do not throw a shot away,” Mr Thudicumb continued saying. “Fix on your man before you fire.”

I had never seen a shot fired in anger; but I own my blood quickly got up, and I no longer felt the slightest compunction in killing our enemies. Even Oliver, so gentle and tender-hearted, played his part well, and I believe every shot he fired took effect. In my eagerness I missed once or twice; but seeing the importance of following the mate’s advice, I endeavoured to restrain my excitement and take steady aim before I pulled the trigger. Still our ferocious enemies so far outnumbered us, that if they once got up to the palisades, even though many might be killed, a superior force would be able to climb up and overpower us. They were within a dozen yards when, greatly to my dismay, I saw another strong body emerging from the wood, and with loud shouts rushing up the hill to join their companions. I began for the first time to think that all would be lost. My heart sank as I contemplated the dreadful fate of the two poor girls. What would become of them and the good Frau when we were all killed? for killed I fully believed we all should be. Still, as yet, none of us were hurt, although their arrows flew thickly over our heads, and they had begun to throw their darts at us. Four or five, armed with muskets, now advanced, and also began firing away—their shot pinging against the palisades. We had far more to dread from them than from the arrows, I fancied. As they got nearer, however, several arrows came through the openings, and I heard a bullet whistle close to my ear. It was the first time I had heard such a sound, but I knew it well, and could not avoid bobbing my head, though the shot had passed me. Mr Thudicumb and Dick Tarbox, however, never flinched the whole time. Uttering loud shouts and shrieks, the fresh body of men now joined their companions, while the first continued to shower arrows and darts and to send their bullets among us. I saw Oliver suddenly fall. An arrow had struck him on the shoulder.

“It is nothing,” he called out; “it is nothing,” and endeavoured to draw the weapon from his wound.

Frau Ursula saw what had occurred, as she was at that moment handing up a musket, and springing up, carried him down into their cave. The dreadful thought came across me that the arrows were poisoned. I could not, however, leave my post to inquire. His fate might be that of any one of us the next instant. I could only wish that all were as prepared to meet death as I knew he was. Directly afterwards I saw my uncle stagger. A bullet had struck him; but recovering himself, he cried, “Never mind, lads! A mere graze;” and instantly again fired. The muskets came from below loaded, less quickly than before. I guessed the reason—that the Frau or the girls were attending to poor Oliver. Again a flight of arrows came flying over and through the palisades, some sticking in them, when I felt one pass through my cap, and, as I thought, wound my head. I could not help having the fearful dread that the poison would quickly enter my veins, and expected every instant to drop. Still there was but little time for thought, and I resolved to fight away with my companions to the last. A few minutes more of life were of but little value, and I now fully expected that, in spite of the determined way in which we were defending our fort, it would be stormed at last. Directly afterwards the Malays, showering their missiles upon us, with loud shouts and shrieks rushed on. Some caught hold of the palisades, and attempted to pull them down; others began to climb over them. Some forced their hands through the openings to seize the bamboo spears as we thrust them out at our enemies. I caught sight of a number of pirates making their way to one side where the fort was undefended. Nothing now, it seemed to me, could prevent them from getting in; but when I shouted out, Potto Jumbo joined me, and we rushed to the spot. Just then a loud shouting was heard coming up from the bottom of the hill. I could distinguish through the opening, for the space was clear where we then were, several pirates turning their heads. The shouting increased. Some ran down the hill, the others turned and followed, and those who had been climbing up the palisades dropped to the ground, and then, as if seized by a sudden panic, rushed down the hill helter-skelter, eager to avoid the shot which we sent after them. We could scarcely believe what had occurred.

“Heaven be praised!” said Mr Thudicumb. “We are saved, and I do not think they will come back again.”

Chapter Twenty Nine.

Building of the “Hope.”

What had thus suddenly made the Malays take to flight remained a mystery. Forgetting my own wound, my first impulse was to run down and see after Oliver. I met Emily, who threw herself into my arms.

“He is better, he is better!” she exclaimed. “The good Frau has, I believe, saved his life.”

“We are all saved, my dear sister,” I said. “The enemy have taken to flight, and we hope will not come back again.”

“And he will be saved—he will not die,” she again said, leading me to where Oliver was lying on a bed of leaves.

The Frau had torn off his jacket and shirt, and I found that, like Queen Eleanor, who saved her husband’s life, she had been sucking the poison, if there was any, from the wound, and was now carefully bathing it.

“I do not think I am much hurt,” said Oliver, looking up as I entered. “The good Frau has tended me so kindly and carefully, that I am sure I shall soon get better.”

When the Frau had finished with Oliver, I begged her to look at my head, and, greatly to my relief, I found that the point of the arrow had not entered the flesh; the pain was caused by the shaft, which had passed over my head, only carrying away some of the hair. While the Frau was making the examination, Emily and Grace stood trembling, watching the result. Emily now threw herself on my neck and burst into tears, while little Grace took my hand, and exclaimed,—“I am so thankful! I am so thankful that neither you nor Oliver are likely to suffer.”

“And now, my kind Frau,” said Mr Sedgwick, coming down, “perhaps you will look at my little hurt. You are the best doctor of the party, and it strikes me that I have a bullet somewhere in my shoulder.”

“Well, then, you lie down there,” she said, placing him on the ground, and kneeling down by his side after he had taken off his coat and shirt. “Let me see. Yes, here is the hole the bullet came through.”

I looked, when, to my surprise, I saw a little blue mark, scarcely larger than a pea, and could not believe that a bullet had passed into it.

“Yes, it come in there,” she continued; “I see. Hillo! here it is, though;” and she touched a large lump which appeared just behind the shoulder. “Oh, I got knife. Now you no squeak out, sir;” and taking a sharp knife from her pocket, she made a cut across the flesh, when out popped the bullet almost into the mouth of the faithful Tanda, who had followed his master, and was eagerly watching the operation. An abundant supply of cool water was then applied, and plasters put on. “There, you stay quiet a little, sir, and you soon get well,” she said; “but stay, I want to pull out the bit of shirt that go in—not much, though.” Indeed, the hole in the shirt was not much larger than that in the flesh; but still it was evident that some portion had been torn away. My uncle could hardly refrain from crying out as the Frau probed the wound. She, however, succeeded in finding the piece of cotton. Fortunately the jacket had flown open at the moment, so that nothing else had gone in. “There, you healthy man; you be well in a few days—no fear,” she said.

Seldom has a desperate battle been fought with so few casualties on one side, though, to be sure, a third of our party might have been put down as wounded. We had reason to be thankful; but still I could not help dreading that the Malays might return. Mr Sedgwick was about to despatch Tanda, when Mr Thudicumb proposed that we should hoist our post, and endeavour to ascertain what was the cause of their flight. By means of the coir-rope we had prepared, it was soon hoisted up, and stepped in its place more securely now than at first, because there was no necessity for again lowering it. Roger Trew was very speedily at the top.

“Hurrah!” he shouted; “hurrah! The prows are shoving off to sea, pulling away like mad! Yes, there’s the reason too—a large square-rigged, white-sailed vessel coming round the point. By her look, too, she is English; and they know pretty well that if they were to be caught by her, their day of pirating would be over. Hurrah! hurrah!”

As may be supposed, we were all eager to mount to the top of the post, and have a look at the stranger. Mr Thudicumb with his spy-glass followed Roger.

“Yes, there is no doubt about it. She is a British man-of-war; and I daresay she has been cruising in search of these very fellows. They are all off, though; yes—five, six, eight prows, making their way to the eastward. She will see our flagstaff on the rock, I hope, and send in here. But I forgot; the pirates carried that away.”

Thus he continued making his observations. We all stood eagerly round him, though the ocean was hid from us.

“She has caught sight of the prows,” he exclaimed, “and is making more sail. They are, however, well to windward of her, and I am afraid she will have a hard job to catch them up. Perhaps she will make a tack in here; and if so, she will see us.”

“Would it not be as well to hoist a signal on the Flagstaff Rock, to supply the place of the flag carried off?” observed Mr Hooker.

“Of course, of course,” was the answer; “and the sooner we do so the better.”

As we knew that the house had been burned down, and no accommodation was to be found on the shore, it was agreed that the ladies, with Oliver and Potto Jumbo, Mr Sedgwick and Tanda, should remain at the fort, in case any stray Malays might have failed to get off. It was important also to drag away the dead bodies as soon as possible. In a very few hours they would render the fort scarcely bearable; besides which they would be certain to attract beasts of prey. Tanda and Potto Jumbo undertook to perform this unpleasant work, and to bury them in some soft ground at the bottom of the hill. The rest of us then set off to the sea-shore, carrying a large sheet which had been saved from the wreck to act as a signal.

“And Hooker, my dear fellow—Hooker,” exclaimed my uncle, as we were starting, “do let me know as soon as possible if our treasures have escaped; it would be heartbreaking to lose them. Send up Walter as soon as possible. The knowledge that they are safe would bring me round quicker than anything else, and recompense me for what we have gone through.”

“Depend on me,” answered his brother naturalist. “I hope it will be all right; though probably, had the pirates not found their way to the fort, they would have discovered our stores.”

We now hurried down the hill, and made the best of our way along our river road to the shore. As we passed the spot where the house had stood, a heap of cinders alone remained, still smouldering. It was surprising, indeed, that the trees had escaped. Had they caught fire, a large portion of the forest, if not the whole of the woods on the island, might have been burned. We were thankful we had escaped such a fearful calamity. On our way we found the apparently dead body of a pirate. I was going up to him, when Mr Thudicumb called me back.

“Stay, stay, Walter!” he cried. “If he is not dead, he may take his revenge on you, even though at the last gasp.”

I drew back just in time, for I thought I saw the man’s eye move. Dick Tarbox came on the next moment, when the seemingly dead Malay started up, and made a rush at me, with his sharp kriss in his hand. But the exertion was too much for him: just as he reached me he fell back, his wound bursting out afresh, and the next instant he gave a gasp, and was dead. It showed the desperate character of the men with whom we had had to contend, and increased our gratitude that we had escaped falling into their hands. Two more we found close to the beach, who had been left behind by their companions in their hurry to embark. One was already dead; the other, though badly wounded, still breathed. We approached him cautiously. Roger Trew was on the point of lifting up his musket to give him his quietus, when Mr Hooker called to him.

“He knows no better, poor wretch!” he said. “If he were our greatest enemy, we should do our best to save him; only let us take away from him the power of doing mischief.”

“You are right, sir; I forgot that,” said Roger Trew.

The pirate’s kriss was in his hand, but his arm was too weak to lift it. We removed his weapon, when Mr Hooker addressed some words to him, which made the pirate open his eyes wide with astonishment.

“I have told him we will not hurt him,” said our friend, “and if we can do him any good, we will. I do not think he quite believes us; but here, fortunately, I have brought some water. He is suffering from thirst; lift up his head, and I will pour a few drops down his throat.”

This was done; and Mr Hooker—asking me to watch the man, after we had placed him higher up on the beach—giving me his flask, hurried off with the rest of the party to the Flagstaff Rock.

I confess I was somewhat disappointed, as I thought I should be able to get a better view of the movements of the English ship from thence. I continued, however, to apply the flask to the man’s mouth, he every now and then making signs that he was suffering from thirst. I looked out seaward, where I could still see the ship, and she seemed to me to be standing towards the shore. How eagerly my heart beat with the thoughts of being once more on board, and on my way to a civilised land! Not that I was weary of my stay on the island; but I knew how anxious Captain and Mrs Davenport must be about their daughter: and she, too, poor girl, was pining sadly for them.

I lost sight of the party for some time, till at length I saw them clambering up on a point of the rock where our flagstaff stood. It was still there, though the flag had been carried away. Presently I saw Roger Trew mounting to the top to re-reeve the halliards; and then up went the huge white cloth, which flew out in the breeze against the dark-green foliage of the forest. That surely must be seen, I thought. The party stood round it, keeping their telescopes fixed on the distant ship. Presently I saw that some movement was taking place on board. Alas! the ship was tacking, and away she stood from the island. Perhaps she will tack again, and once more stand in for the shore, I thought. With difficulty could I take my eyes off her, to attend to the wounded Malay. His low voice asking for water again drew my attention to him. Although his brow was low and his eyes somewhat close together and turned inwards, the expression of his countenance was not so bad as that of many of his people; and I thought even that he gave a smile of gratitude as I occasionally let a few drops of water trickle down his throat.

The ship stood on and on. Once more she tacked, and my hopes revived. She was, however, by this time a considerable distance along the coast, and I could scarcely hope that our signal had been seen. I had been keeping my eyes on her for some time, without turning my head, when I heard voices, and looking round, I saw Mr Hooker and his party coming towards me.

“No chance of getting off this time, I am afraid,” said Mr Thudicumb. “We shall have to build our vessel, and the sooner we set about it the better.”

“We must, however, put a house over our heads in the meantime,” said Mr Hooker. “This poor fellow, too, if we are to be instrumental in preserving his life, must be cared for.”

“Of course, sir,” said Roger Trew. “We will have a hut up for him in no time; and then, as it will be better to be near the shore instead of remaining on the hill, we must get one set up for the young ladies and the old Frau.”

“Very right, my lad,” said Mr Hooker. “But now, while you attend to the wounded man, Walter and I will go and look for our treasures, and ascertain whether they have escaped discovery by the pirates.”

How eagerly Mr Hooker, whom I followed, looked round him on every side as we proceeded to the hiding-place, lest he should discover any signs of its having been visited!

“Alack! alack! I am afraid some of them have been here,” he said. “Oh, what mischief they may have done!”

We reached a hollow under the bank of a dry stream. Alas! the boughs had been pulled away, and it was very evident that it had been entered. The first thing we came upon was the jar which had contained the nautilus: it was open and empty. The arrack had been carried off, and the mollusc lay, entirely destroyed, on one side.

“This is sad—very sad! Oh, what a loss!” exclaimed Mr Hooker. “I hope we may discover that no worse mischief has been done.”

We went in, almost falling over a case which had been opened. Mr Hooker examined it anxiously. It had not been disturbed, but after being opened, the top had been allowed to fall down again. The other cases were in the place where we left them. We now examined them. Mr Hooker uttered a shout of joy as he found that all had escaped. It was evident that the Malays had intended carrying off the cases, but had been frightened away before they could accomplish their object.

“Now, Walter, run up to your uncle with the good news,” exclaimed Mr Hooker. “He said it would restore him, and I am sure it will. But do not go without your fowling-piece, though. We have had examples of the savage creatures to be met with in the woods.”

I hurried along as fast as my legs would let me. I knew the delight the announcement would give my uncle. I took the path we had so often followed; keeping, as may be supposed, a bright look-out on either side, lest I might encounter a wild beast or serpent. Emily saw me coming, for she was on the watch, and ran down the hill to meet me. She gave a good account of Oliver.

“I am so thankful,” she said; “he does not seem to have suffered from that fearful arrow. I little knew at the time what a risk you were all running; but I now see how mercifully we have been preserved.”

Our uncle had been sleeping, but he started up when he heard me speaking in the fort.

“And our treasures, have they escaped, Walter? Are my collections all safe?” he asked eagerly.

I told him that all his things had been uninjured, and that one case only of Mr Hooker’s had suffered, besides the nautilus.

“Nautilus, did you say? Has that been destroyed? Oh, those atrocious villains! That prize on which I set such value! Well, Walter, you must try and catch me another; you cannot render me a greater service. Alas! alas! that I should have lost that one, and all for the sake of the arrack in which it was preserved!”

I assured him that I would do my best to try and catch another, as I was certain would also our companions.

“If poor Macco had been with us, I should have had more hope,” I said. “I never met a more expert fisherman, and I am sure he would have devised some means, though we might fail.”

He seemed to take much less to heart the information that the English ship had passed by; indeed, I suspect he was very unwilling to leave the island till he had re-collected more of the specimens which had been left in the house and destroyed. As yet we could not tell whether the pirates had discovered our store of timber for building the vessel, as we had not had time to visit the bay; nor, indeed, whether the boat had escaped their sharp eyes. That had been hidden among the rocks at some distance from the place where we usually landed, and might possibly, we hoped, not have been seen.

Late in the evening the rest of the party returned. They had given up all hopes of again seeing the vessel, and they came to ask Mr Sedgwick whether he would like to be carried down to the sea-shore.

“Certainly, certainly,” he answered; “though I think I can walk. The lad here—Oliver—must be carried; and if I fail, I will get you to help me. But the sooner we commence building a house the better. I suppose some time must pass before the vessel can be got afloat, and we can be comfortable in the meantime Tanda here, who helped me to put up the other house, will be of great assistance; and with so many hands, we can soon get it ready.”

I forgot to mention the creatures which had accompanied us into the fort: we had to pull down some of our stockade to let them out. And now, much in the order in which we had arrived, we returned to the site of the house; near which we found our friends had put up very comfortable huts for the reception of Mr Sedgwick and Oliver, and the ladies.

It was night by the time we arrived. Our two-footed and four-footed friends seemed delighted to get back to their old location, and began feeding away eagerly, there being an abundance of provender suited to their tastes scattered about.

“Up, lads, up!” I heard my uncle shouting out next morning. The sound made me open my eyes. “Up, lads, up! We have work to do: a house to put up, and a vessel to build; provisions to collect, and stores to prepare.”

All hands of our little community were soon on foot.

“Yah! yah! yah!” I heard the Frau cry out. “I will prepare breakfast. You men go and work. Yah!”

With axes, knives, and saws, most of us started for the nearest bamboo grove, and were soon cutting and hacking away, bringing down the huge stalks and clearing them of their leaves. Oliver and I, however, went in search of the boat, promising to join them. We eagerly hastened to the spot where we had left it, scarcely, however, expecting to find, it safe. It had escaped discovery, and we returned with the satisfactory information.

As the stalks of the bamboos were cut down, they were formed into bundles of a size which we could manage to drag over the ground to the site of the house. Two of the party, under the direction of my uncle, dug the holes where the uprights were to be inserted. Mr Hooker and I undertook to drag the bundles. When we arrived with the first, we found the Frau, aided by the girls, busily employed in roasting and boiling before a huge fire which she had kindled. Oliver was still unable to do any work. He therefore remained at the camp—as I may call it—in the careful hands of the kind Frau; she or one of the girls being constantly at his side, either with some cooling beverage, or with some delicacy which they thought might tempt his appetite. At a little distance, in the shade of some boughs, lay the wounded Malay. I saw his eyes fixed on the girls with an expression of wonder. He probably had never seen any beings so fair and graceful before. I could not help fancying that he must have supposed them angels from another world; but whether or not I was right, I have my doubts. When, however, one of them took him a cup of tea which the Frau had just brewed, he received it with an expression of countenance which I thought betokened gratitude.

When a number of people are working together with a will properly directed, it is extraordinary how rapidly work can be got through. We had a considerable number of the uprights in their places before we sat down to breakfast. We were not long about our meal, as we were determined to finish what was necessary to be done as soon as possible. Having cut down a sufficient supply of bamboos, we next proceeded to fell several sago-palms, for the purpose of obtaining the leaf-stems for the walls and partitions, while from the trunks we intended to make a supply of sago for our voyage. By the evening we had made wonderful progress with the house, and retired to our temporary huts, satisfied that we had done a good day’s work.

Fitting the leaf-stems into frames occupied a longer time; but as neatness was not our object, it was done rapidly. Thus in about four days we had a very respectable house over our heads, capable of holding all the party. My uncle sighed as he looked about it, though, and thought of the treasures his former abode had contained. We now brought back his and Mr Hooker’s collections, and stored them in a division which we called the museum.

“The next thing we have to do is to grow some corn for our consumption,” said our uncle.

“Grow corn?” I asked. “Why, I did not suppose that we were to remain here a year till it came up.”

He laughed. “A couple of months, or little more, after it is put into the ground, will be sufficient to produce the ripe corn,” he answered.

I expressed some incredulity, for I fancied that he was laughing at me.

“Set to work and scrape up the ground, for it is scarcely necessary to dig it very deep. We will put in the corn, and you will see that my prediction will be fulfilled. Fortunately, I saved a quantity of seed, which I placed with my collections in concealment,” he said.

From house-building all hands set to work to cultivate the ground, and we quickly had a large space cleared for the reception of the seed, which, although not a native of that clime, flourishes, as it does throughout the greater portion of the American continent, whatever may be the latitude.

By this time my uncle had almost recovered from his wound, and Oliver and the Malay were much better and able to move about. Both my uncle and Mr Hooker could converse with the Malay. They found him a very intelligent fellow. He told them that his name was Ali, that he had followed various occupations, but that, having gambled away all his property, he had as a last resource taken to piracy. Among other things, he had been a bee-hunter, and seemed to possess a great knowledge of those wonderful insects. He boasted also of his skill as a fisherman. Constantly listening to us as we talked, he soon began to pick up a great many words of English. He was thus able to understand things said to him, though he could not make any very clear reply.

Mr Thudicumb now once more urged the importance of commencing our proposed vessel. I rather think that the two naturalists were in no hurry to get away from the island, as they were both of them anxious to replace the objects of natural history which had been destroyed by the pirates. However, they could not refuse to comply with Mr Thudicumb’s request, and we therefore set forth with tools to the bay where we had collected the materials, which, it will be remembered, we called Hope Harbour. Fortunately, the pirates had not discovered it, or they would probably have burned our wood. The timber and planks which had been brought on shore did not appear very promising; at first, indeed, I thought it would be impossible to make a vessel out of them.

“Perseverance will overcome difficulties,” observed Mr Thudicumb. “Never fear, Walter. With our axes and saws we shall be able in time to smooth away these planks and fit the ribs to the new craft. However, the first thing to be done is to get the keel laid, and for that purpose we must have one of the longest and straightest trees we can find.”

There was a clear road from the bay up into the interior, and while one party prepared the spot where the vessel was to be built, levelling the ground, and fixing logs on which the keel was to be placed, under Mr Thudicumb’s directions another started to select the timber. We were not long before we came to a tall tree, fully eighty feet in height, and as straight as an arrow.

“That will do admirably for us,” said Mr Thudicumb; “for though our vessel must not be so long, we shall require the thicker part for the purpose.”

Tarbox, Roger Trew, and Potto Jumbo set to work to fell the tree, the forest loudly resounding with the blows of their axes. I must not occupy too much time in describing how the tree was felled, the branches cut off, and squared into shape. We then, fastening some ratans round it, dragged it on rollers to the bed which had been prepared, and thus in due form laid the keel of the Hope. Mr Thudicumb, with pencil and paper, had drawn a plan of the proposed vessel.

“We will give her a good floor,” he said, “though she may be rather long for her beam; but a long vessel is better suited to the seas we may have to go through. We will rig her as a cutter or yawl perhaps.”

Day after day we repaired to the bay; but to my eye our progress was but slow indeed, as every timber had to be reformed, and the old bolts taken out of them, as well as out of the planks. It was a long business. With the exception of Mr Thudicumb and Tarbox, we were all inexperienced carpenters. At last, indeed, Mr Thudicumb proposed that he and Tarbox and Roger Trew, with Potto Jumbo, should devote themselves to building the vessel, while the rest of us either went fishing, or assisted Mr Sedgwick and Mr Hooker in collecting objects of natural history, or in manufacturing sago, or in making other articles which would be required for the voyage or present use.

We set to work to make our sago, much in the way I have before described. We had got through the pith of a couple of trees, when one day Ali made us understand that he had seen some bees at a distance, and that he was sure we might procure some honey, if we would assist him in obtaining it. The Frau pricked up her ears at the sound.

“Oh yes, yes!” she exclaimed; “it will be great thing with sago-bread. You go, Ali; go!”

It was arranged that Mr Hooker, with Oliver and I, should accompany Ali in his search. We started, therefore, accompanied by Merlin. Ali supplied himself with a couple of large cloths. He also, as he went along, cut some creepers, one a stout one, and another, of considerable length, very fine. These he begged us to carry. With our guns as usual, we took our way through the forest. I had often remarked that he seemed very uncomfortable, as if there was something he wanted very much. As we were proceeding, we came to several tall, slender, and extremely graceful palms. The trunks were from six to eight inches only in diameter, though the sheath of green leaves that sprang from their summits was nearly forty feet from the ground. They were indeed elegant trees. Mr Hooker, when he saw them, said they were the pinang, or betel-nut palm—Areca catechu. We found the nuts growing from a stalk hanging down in the centre, forming a loose conical cluster. Ali no sooner set eyes on them, than he climbed one of the trees, and brought down a bunch of the nuts. He put several of them into the bag he carried by his side, and we proceeded some distance, till we came to a stony place, when he instantly, selecting two large stones, pounded some nuts. They were ripe, each about the size of a small chicken’s egg, the skin of a brightish yellow. Within was a husk, similar to the husk of a cocoa-nut. Within this again was a small spherical nut, not unlike a nutmeg, and somewhat hard and tough. Having picked some leaves, he took one of them, and produced from his pocket a small piece of lime about the size of a pea. This he mixed with some of the nut, and enclosed in the leaf. He then took the roll between his thumb and forefinger, and rubbed it violently against the front of his gums, his teeth being closed and his lips open. After this, he began to chew it for some time, and then held it between his lips and teeth, a portion protruding from his mouth. Nothing could be more disagreeable than the result, for immediately a profusion of a red brick-coloured saliva poured out from each corner, dropping to the ground as if his mouth was bleeding. He seemed, however, highly satisfied, and continued on at a brisk pace. Soon, however, he spoke a few words to Mr Hooker, who forthwith produced from his pocket a tobacco-bag. The eyes of the Malay glistened with delight as he saw it; and as soon as Mr Hooker gave him a small portion of the tobacco, cut very fine, he put it in with the betel, leaving long threads, like pieces of oakum, hanging out on either side of his mouth, not improving his appearance; and on again he went, chewing the mass with evident delight.

Mr Hooker was not at all surprised. He told me that not only the men but the women indulge in the same unpleasant habit. When a number of them meet to chat, the various articles are produced from a box at hand, and a high urn-shaped receptacle of brass is placed in the middle of the circle, into which each dame or damsel may discharge the surplus saliva from her mouth. When a guest comes in, the siri box is immediately presented, that the mouth may be filled before commencing conversation.

In a short time a bee was seen flying before us; and immediately Ali hurried on at a rapid rate, till we came under a tall, straight tree, with a very smooth bark, and without a branch for at least eighty feet from the ground. On one of the long outspreading branches I saw a couple of large combs hanging down, of a black colour. After watching it for a minute, there was a slight movement on the outside, and I discovered that it was covered with bees. Ali now produced a small bundle of resinous wood, which he had brought with him to serve as a torch, and giving it to me to hold, lighted the end. He then fastened one of the cloths round his loins, and another over his head, neck, and body, leaving, however, his face, arms, and legs without covering. The thin coil of rope he had brought he secured to his girdle, while he formed round the tree a circle of tough creepers, inside of which he placed his body. He now secured his torch to the end of another piece of ratan, eight or ten yards long, with his chopping-knife fastened by a short rope. Having done this, he began to ascend the tree, throwing his ratan band a short distance above him, leaning back at the same time and placing his feet against the trunk. It appeared to us who looked on that every instant he would perform a somersault, and come down head first, with a great risk of breaking his neck; but he seemed to have no fear of that sort. Up he went. After ascending a few feet, and getting a firm hold with his bare feet, he again threw up the creeper; and thus he went on and on. If there was any unevenness in the trunk, he took immediate advantage of it by either placing his foot upon it or catching the creeper above it. At length he got within about ten feet of the bough on which the bees hung. He then lifted the torch, swinging it towards the bees, so that the smoke ascended between him and them. He next in a wonderful manner mounted on the bough; and we could not help dreading that the bees would attack him and sting him to death. He, however, brought the torch nearer and nearer to them; and in a short time the cones, which before had been black with bees, were completely deserted, and their natural white colour appeared. The insects, instead of flying towards him, formed a dense mass above his head, where they seemed to hover as if contemplating an attack. Some, braver than the rest, occasionally flew towards him; but he, with perfect coolness, brushed them away, allowing the smoke to circle round above his head, thus keeping them at a distance from his face. At length he got close to the cone, and, with one stroke of his knife, cut it from the bough, when, fastening the end of the rope round it, he lowered it down to us. Proceeding along the bough, he cut the other cone away in the same manner, when the bees, angry at being deprived of their habitation, food, and their young, began to dart down towards us. He, of course, had enough to do to think of himself, and continued waving the torch about his body, while he returned by the same way he had gone up, though at a somewhat more rapid rate.

Meantime the bees had begun to swarm about our heads. Poor Merlin was furiously attacked, and I saw him driving his nose among the leaves, in the vain endeavour to get rid of them. Defeated by the pertinacious insects, he rushed howling away through the forest. We, having secured the cones, followed at full speed, the bees pursuing us, and every now and then giving a disagreeable sting at our ears, face, and hands. We knocked them off as they approached as well as we could. Though we were glad we had got the honey, we agreed that we had paid somewhat dearly for it. However, our blood was in good order, and the pain soon wore off. We had not only got some delicious honey for our friends, but some wax, which was of considerable value. We agreed, however, that the next time we went bee-hunting we would each of us carry a torch for our defence.

“Ali says there are many more cones in the island, and it is a pity not to take them,” said Mr Hooker. We were therefore ready to proceed, provided we could find torches. Ali made us a sign to follow him, and soon afterwards, on the side of a hill which we were passing, he pointed out some tall trees. On approaching them we found that from the trunks masses of a sort of gum had exuded.

“Those are dammar trees,” observed Mr Hooker. “It burns readily, and the natives of these regions use it for torches; indeed, in some places it serves them instead of candles.”

We found not only small lumps, but some weighing upwards of fifteen pounds. Some were hanging on to the trunk; others had fallen, and were partly buried in the ground near the roots. Ali took some of these lumps, and, putting them on a piece of rock, with the blunt end of his axe reduced them to powder. He then cut some palm-leaves, which he formed into tubes about a yard long, and these tubes he filled with the resin, binding them tightly round with small creepers. He presented one to each of us, and then signified that if we followed him he would find more bees’ nests, and that we should thus have the means of defending ourselves.

“But poor Merlin, what can he do?” I could not help asking.

“We must defend him then,” said Mr Hooker; “and Ali must make another tube to be at his service.”

Another was quickly manufactured, and we then proceeded on carefully to discover the nests. In a short time we came to another tree with no less than four cones hanging to one of the branches. In spite of the injuries he had received (for he had not escaped altogether free), Ali prepared to ascend the tree. He made his preparations as before; and it was wonderful to see the composure with which he occasionally swung the torches towards the creatures while ascending, or waved it slowly above his head when he got on the bough. Four more fine cones rewarded him for his enterprise. The bees descended as before, but we received them with the smoke from our dammar torches, which helped considerably to keep them off. Now and then, however, one bold fellow would rush in between the wreaths of smoke and inflict a disagreeable sting; and we had difficult work to defend Merlin’s nose and tail at the same time. Mr Hooker, however, stood stock still, merely letting his torch burn quietly; and though some of the bees settled on him, they seemed to consider that they could do him no harm, and again flew off in pursuit of Oliver, Merlin, and I, as we ran away from them.

We now commenced our return homewards, laden with our honey cones and a supply of dammar. We were proceeding across a space rather more open than usual, when we saw a creature run up the trunk of a tree and fly obliquely from it towards the ground, near the foot of another, up which it immediately commenced its ascent. I should have supposed it to be a huge bat, had I not seen it climbing as it did. Ali immediately made chase; and as the creature did not move very fast, he succeeded in overtaking it before it had got to any great distance up the stem. He gave it a tremendous blow on the head, when it fell to the ground, and we thought it had been killed; but as we reached it, it gradually began to move off, running along like any ordinary quadruped. We caught it just as it was about to ascend another tree, when again it received several heavy blows. Even then, however, it seemed not to be dead. Ali coming up, pinned it to the ground with a forked stick. We then saw that it was a creature about the size of a cat, and that it had broad membranes, extending completely round its body to the extremities of the toes, as also to the end of its tail. This was of considerable length, and by the way it curled round a stick we placed near it we found that it was prehensile. The creature we now saw had a young one clinging to its breast, a miserable little wrinkled, hairless monster, and apparently as yet unable to see. Its fur was beautifully soft, almost like velvet. The little one had escaped injury; indeed, the mother was evidently still alive.

Mr Hooker at once recognised it as a flying lemur, the learned name for which is Galeo-pithecus. Ali having covered up its head, undertook to carry it home, as Mr Hooker hoped it would recover.

“Your uncle will be delighted to have it in his menagerie,” said Mr Hooker; “and I believe that, unless we cut the creature’s head off, nothing will deprive it of life. So I have no doubt that it will be in good health again by to-morrow morning.”

We had not got far after this adventure when I heard a curious noise close to us, which I thought must proceed from some bird. It sounded like “Tokay, tokay;” almost, indeed, like a human voice. I drew Mr Hooker’s attention to it. He also thought it must be some bird, till Ali coming up at once informed him that it was a lizard, and that he had often heard the creatures thus talk. What it said, he declared he could not tell, but he was very positive that it did talk some language. Perhaps some day a person who did understand it might come that way.

As may be supposed, we were cordially welcomed on our return, especially by the Frau, who was highly delighted with the honey and wax which we brought her.

“Oh! now you shall have honey for your breakfasts, and wax candles when you sit in the house to read or stuff the birds and beasts; though I cannot tell what use they are after you have taken the meat out of them, or wherefore you get so many skins, and pack them up in the boxes,” she remarked.

The Frau was no naturalist.

Chapter Thirty.

Walter disappears—Narrative continued by Emily.

I had not forgotten my uncle’s wish to obtain another nautilus, but the weather had prevented us going on the water for some days. It having again moderated, I consulted Ali, through Mr Hooker, on the subject, and got him to explain what we proposed doing. We could not, however, make him understand clearly what we wanted. That morning he, Oliver, and I, with Potto Jumbo, went down to the beach to procure shell-fish. We had been some time on the rocks, when I saw an object floating in towards the shore. As it drew nearer, I discovered to my satisfaction that it was the empty shell of a nautilus. In my eagerness I was about to throw off my clothes and jump in to fetch it, when Potto Jumbo drew me back. “Take care, Massa Walter,” he said; “shark about here! Never swim out in open place like dis.” I, however, pointed out the shell to Ali, and tried to make him understand that it was that of which we were in search. He seemed to fancy that I wanted him to swim off for it, and, thoughtless about the sharks, he was on the point of doing so. Potto stopped him also, and by waiting patiently, the nautilus shell gradually floated in towards us, and seizing it eagerly, I returned with it to the house. Mr Hooker had now no difficulty in explaining to Ali that it was the creature in its shell which he so much desired, and Ali told him that he had great hopes of capturing one.

That evening Ali, Dick Tarbox, and I, went out to fish in our boat in the line of cliffs near which my uncle had shot the frigate-birds. First, however, we pulled out some way, and laid down our fish-pots at a spot where Ali seemed to think it was possible we might capture one of the much-wished-for nautili. It was at this place Ali made us understand that we were more likely to catch fish than any other. He came prepared with hooks, which he himself had manufactured from brass-wire, some of which had been found in the wreck. He had attached about a fathom of wire to each hook, at the upper end of which the line was fastened; this was in order to prevent the sharp teeth of the fish cutting the line. He had caught a few fish in a hand net for bait. Having anchored our boat by a stone sufficient to hold her, we lowered down our lines. To each hook a sort of sling of palm-leaf was fastened, and in this sling was a small stone, so arranged that on reaching the bottom it fell out. We very soon got bites, and Ali was the first to haul up a fine large fish. Immediately afterwards I got one, and Tarbox before long caught another. In the meantime, however, Ali hauled up a couple; indeed, to each of ours he managed somehow or other to get two. Their names I do not remember, but I know I never had better sport in my life. Gradually the rocks above our heads grew higher and higher in the gloom of approaching night, which seemed to soften the faint outlines of the landscape, and to increase the size of the objects round us. A little way from us was an opening in the cliffs, beyond which we could see the dark forest. From it there issued various sounds, which seemed to echo backwards and forwards among the rocks. Among them we could distinguish the moaning cries of monkeys—one seeming to be calling to the other for help in piteous tones. The effect was curious, and had a peculiarly melancholy sound; indeed we might easily have supposed them to be the cries of captive slaves, or perhaps a more fanciful person might describe them as disembodied spirits in some haunted island. Meanwhile the night wind, sighing through the lofty trees, came moaning down towards us. At length darkness compelled us to give up our sport, and, with an abundant supply of fish, we pulled slowly back towards our usual landing-place, where, having unladen our boat, we hauled her up to a safe spot above high-water mark.

I felt an unusual melancholy steal over me, why I cannot tell, while, by the light of a lamp fed by cocoa-nut oil manufactured by my uncle and his factotum Tanda, I sat writing these lines of my journal:—“To-morrow morning Ali and I are going off in the hopes of obtaining a nautilus, and he feels confident that we shall get one, probably at a reef which he knows of at some distance, almost out of sight of the island. It is so far off that, had he not mentioned it, we should not have been aware of its existence.”

Emily’s Journal.

Only yesterday, my dear brother Walter asked me to assist him in writing his journal from his dictation, begging me to put in any remarks of my own. Little did I think at the time that the whole would be my work. I obey his wishes, though sick at heart and full of anxiety. Yesterday morning he and Ali went off in the boat to fish, saying that they were sure of bringing back a nautilus, which our uncle and Mr Hooker so long to possess; but a whole day has passed, and they have not returned. They were seen to be pulling out to sea further than they have ever before gone. They had been some time absent, and we were expecting their return, when a fearful squall, such as has not occurred since the time when the brig was lost, broke over the island. Mr Thudicumb and the kind old boatswain tried to persuade me that I need not be alarmed, but I cannot help feeling most fearful anxiety. The boat is so small, and not at all calculated to contend with a heavy sea. And then that Malay Ali—ought he to have been trusted? I have heard that the Malays are dreadfully treacherous, and he may have taken this opportunity of getting away to join his own people. I could not have thought that he had been so heartless and cruel as to injure Walter, and yet I know it is possible. Poor dear Grace can scarcely lift up her head; she has been in tears all day, and Oliver feels it dreadfully. If we had another boat we might go and search for him, and Oliver has been trying to persuade Mr Thudicumb and the rest to build one; but he says it would take a long time to do so, as no timber is ready for the purpose. It would, indeed, take almost as much time to build a boat as it would to finish the vessel, and he thinks that it is more important to do that. Our uncle and Mr Hooker are very anxious, I see, notwithstanding all they say. This morning before daybreak a strange rumbling noise was heard, and we felt the house shake, and several articles which had been placed carelessly on shelves fell down. On running out into the verandah, a bright light was seen towards the mountains in the interior, caused by flames issuing from a high peak, above which black wreaths of smoke ascended to the sky. Mr Hooker says that although there might be an eruption of the mountain, yet, as we are a long way from it, we should have every prospect of escaping injury. I am nearly certain that they said this to calm our alarm, for, unintentional, I heard them talking together, when Mr Hooker observed he did not like the look of things; that we are living at the mouth of a broad ravine, and that if any large stream of lava were to come down, it would very likely take our direction.

“That is what I am afraid of,” said my uncle; “but as we have no means of avoiding it, it would be a pity to put the idea into the minds of the rest.”

“Don’t you think that we ought to have a large raft built?” Mr Hooker observed. “If the lava were to come down, we might get upon that and escape being burned, for the whole forest would quickly be in a blaze.”

Our uncle said he would consult Mr Thudicumb; but he thought it would take a considerable time to build a raft of sufficient size, and that the time might be better employed in getting on with the vessel. They therefore, it appears, have determined to proceed with that.

“But our collections—our cases—what shall we do with them?” said Mr Hooker.

“Well, my dear Hooker,” answered my uncle, “though I would willingly risk my own life for the sake of attempting to save them, yet I feel we ought not to imperil the lives of these young people or the others with us. It is sad enough to have lost young Walter, and I am afraid he is lost. That fellow Ali is a genuine Malay; had he been a Dyak, I should have had more confidence, although he might have been a heathen, or a head hunter, or a cannibal to boot. But those Malays, half Mohammedan and half idolaters, are very untrustworthy.”

Oh, how my heart sank when I heard these words. I wish that I had not been compelled to listen to them; it shows too clearly what they think. Oliver, though suffering himself, tries to console me. He tells me that I must trust in God, and go on trusting, whatever happens; that I must not suppose, even though Walter should be lost, that we have been deserted by God; and that we may depend upon it, that he has allowed it to happen for the best: at the same time, that he may have many ways of preserving Walter, however great the dangers he may have to go through, and of restoring him to us. Poor Frau Ursula, after she has been looking at the mountain, wrings her hands, and wishes that she had never come to this island. She left Ternate for fear of the burning mountain there, and now she finds herself in a similar position of danger. However, to do her justice, she tries to wear a smiling countenance when she speaks to Grace and me. We are left almost alone at the house, as the rest of the party are assisting at ship-building. Tanda only comes occasionally to feed the animals, and to bring us fruit and vegetables from the garden. We volunteered to go and assist also, as we could at all events carry the wood, and hold the planks while the others were nailing them on; but though they thanked us, they said there were enough hands employed. I believe, however, that only two or three are good workmen, and I suppose that we should be in the way.

Two more anxious days have passed by, and dear, dear Walter has not come back. We go down constantly to the sea-shore to watch for his boat, but it does not appear. I took Mr Hooker’s spy-glass, and Grace and I spent many hours on Flagstaff Rock, looking out over the ocean. First I took the glass, then she took it; and so we continued, as if looking would bring him back, till our eyes ached with gazing on the shining water: indeed, Ursula says we must not do it again, or we might bring on blindness, which would be very dreadful. If it were not for Oliver I think we should break down altogether, but he has such a calm, pious, hopeful spirit. He assures me, and I know he speaks the truth, that he yet hopes that Walter will return, or, at all events, that he has not lost his life, and that we may find him some day or other. He has persuaded our uncle to let him read the Bible to the party before they go out to work, and he does so now every morning; and then he offers up a beautiful prayer for our safety, and returns thanks for the care with which we have hitherto been watched over by our merciful God.

Again to-day we wished to go to the rock, when Ursula took the spy-glass from my hands, and said that we might go, but that we must not take it with us; that it could not help Walter to come back, and that we should see him without it as well as with it. We had been sitting there for some time when Oliver joined us. He said that my uncle had sent him to attend upon us, as he thought we ought not to be left to brood over our anxiety by ourselves. Merlin accompanied him; and he says that in future we must not go without Merlin. I suspect that there was some other reason, because Oliver came with a gun. Perhaps some wild beasts may have been seen lurking about in the neighbourhood, and they are afraid the creatures may find us out. Oliver brought a book in his pocket, which he took out and read to us. He reads beautifully, with a gentle, yet clear musical voice. His mother taught him, and he says that she is a well-educated woman, and a very excellent reader. It is a valuable gift—for I think it is a gift, although it is one which may be greatly improved by study and practice. Two or three times I stopped him, however, for I thought I saw an object in the distance which I took to be a boat. Oh, how my heart beat! But when Oliver looked—and his eyes are keener than mine—he assured me that there was nothing, and that it must have been fancy. Again and again I deceived myself in the same way, and so did Grace. Once I felt sure that I saw a boat—she said she saw something too; but we waited and waited, and Oliver read on, and yet the object, if object there was, did not approach nearer. Again I declared I saw a boat. Oliver looked up, and shading his eyes, gazed in the direction in which I pointed.

“You are mistaken, Miss Emily,” he answered quietly. “I wish you were not. You caught sight of a mass of sea-weed, and your imagination made it appear to your sight what it is not.”

Saying this, he again sat down, and continued reading. Tanda had manufactured some large parasols of palm-leaves, which sheltered us from the sun, or we could not have sat out on the rocks. Oliver had come without one of these, and we thoughtlessly allowed him to sit on with the hot sun burning down on his back. On a sudden, as I was looking at him I saw him turn very pale, and before I could spring to his side to support him, he sunk fainting on the rock. Only then I thought of the cause of his illness, and, holding up his head, placed the parasol above him, while Grace ran down with his hat, and brought it up full of water. The sea-water, however, was very warm. Though we sprinkled his face with it, it did but little to revive him. Oh, what would I not have given for some cold fresh water to pour down his throat! As I leaned over him I was afraid that he would not revive; he looked so deadly pale, and scarcely breathed. I entreated Grace to run to the house, and bring the Frau, with a shell of fresh water; and I thought that perhaps together we might carry Oliver back. Grace set off, followed by Merlin, who evidently seemed to understand that something had to be done. Oh, how anxious I felt for poor Oliver. I am sure that I would have given my own life to save his. He was dear Walter’s friend. I am sure Walter loved him as a brother; indeed, he is well worthy of such regard. No one also could be more attached to us. I took my bonnet and fanned his cheek with one hand, while I held the palm-formed parasol over his head with the other. Still he did not revive. I dreaded lest he should have received a sun-stroke, which I knew to be a very dangerous thing. It was very, very thoughtless of us to allow him thus to be exposed, but we had been so accustomed to see everybody out in the hot sun that we did not think about it, and used our parasols more for the sake of preventing our faces being burned than from any fear of danger.

How anxiously I awaited the return of Grace and Ursula! Every now and then I looked up, hoping to see them, but of course I had to watch Oliver, in the hope that he might begin to revive. I could not help occasionally, too, glancing seaward in search of Walter’s boat. I thought I saw a slight movement in Oliver’s eyes. I was gazing down upon his face when I heard a strange noise coming from the forest. I looked up, but could see nothing. I thought I must have been mistaken. Again the sounds reached my ears, and then, turning my eyes in the direction whence they came, I saw, appearing among the boughs of a tall tree, a hideous countenance. I had not forgotten the appearance of the monster we had seen at the lake. A second look convinced me that it was the face of a huge orang-outan. I trembled lest he should discover Oliver and me. He was at some distance, however, and evidently employed in eating fruit, as I saw a shower of husks and leaves falling down beneath him to the ground. Still I could not help dreading that his eyes were fixed on us. If he were alone, I hoped that there was less danger; but if accompanied by his wife and young ones, I knew that there was great risk, should he see us, of his attacking us, lest we might hurt them. Though anxious to watch Oliver, I could scarcely withdraw my eyes from the hideous monster, who, as he moved along the bough, now appeared full in sight. The sounds made me dread, too, that he was not alone; and presently I saw on another bough a smaller creature, and then, what I dreaded much, another large one among the boughs on the same tree. Still, as long as they remained on the boughs, I knew I had less reason to dread danger.

How long Ursula and Grace seemed in coming! I fancied they would have been with me in a much shorter time. At last I caught sight of Grace running along the shore round a point of rock, and when she saw me she signed that Ursula was following. A new alarm now seized me lest the orang-outan should see her as she passed by, and descend the tree in chase. I thought of Oliver’s gun, which lay near; but though I knew how to fire, I had never taken aim at an object, and I had little hope of shooting the mias. I was afraid, too, of crying out, lest that might also attract him; indeed, had I done so, Grace would probably not have known what to do, and was very likely to be pursued. I watched the tree with greater anxiety even than before, but the mias continued busily employed in plucking fruit and handing it to the young one; as I supposed, teaching him how to open it, and take the best parts. My heart beat as if it would break, so anxious did I become. Oh, how thankful I felt when Grace at length reached me with the shell of water.

“I could not help spilling some of it,” she said, as she put it to Oliver’s lips. “I am sure it will do him good. See! see! he is already opening his eyes.”

He did so, but closed them again. We poured a few drops down his throat, and then bathed his forehead and head; and in the meantime Ursula was approaching. She could never move conveniently very fast, and she was now evidently out of breath from running. This made her perhaps more inclined to cry out, to let us know that she was coming. Supposing the mias had not seen her, I dreaded lest her voice should attract its attention. That it had done so there was soon no doubt, for I saw him leaning over the bough, and looking eagerly about. Not till then did I tell Grace what I had seen.

“Oh dear! what shall we do?” she exclaimed. “It will seize poor Ursula, I am sure. See! see! it is already swinging itself down from the bough! Yes—there—it has almost reached the ground! Shall we let Ursula know of her danger, though I am afraid she will faint if she catches sight of the creature, she has such a dread of them?”

“No; say nothing: she is too far on to run back again, and it will be better for her to get on the rock, and she may reach it before the mias can do so.”

“But if she does not, I must fire!” exclaimed Grace, seizing Oliver’s gun. “I am not afraid of doing that.”

“But you cannot take good aim,” I said. “It will be better not till the last extremity.”

“No; I will only do so if the mias gets near Ursula,” she answered, taking up the gun, however, and advancing steadily along the rock.

I had never seen her exhibit so much coolness and courage; indeed, I did not think that she possessed them. Ursula had stopped at that moment for want of breath, and the mias also seemed to be sitting on a lower branch which he had reached, gazing towards us, as if considering whether the person he saw was coming to attack him. Happily all this time Ursula was not aware of her danger. Having recovered herself a little, she again began to hurry on towards the rock. Hoping that, as the mias stopped when she stopped, it might do so again, I now shouted out to her. The creature turned a quick glance towards us, and discovered, as it might suppose, that it had two enemies instead of one. “Quick! quick, Ursula! quick!” now shouted Grace, pointing to the mias. The poor Frau showed by her gestures how frightened she was. Still she managed to run on, while the mias continued descending the tree. Before, however, it had reached the ground she had got up to the rock, at no great distance from Grace.

“Run! run!” cried Grace; “get safely on to the rock, good Frau, and I will defend you.”

“No, no, my child,” answered the Frau. “It is for me to fight. Give me the gun. I know how to use it. You run back to Emily and Oliver. Here, take this shell of water, though. I will fire the gun, I say.”

She almost snatched the weapon out of the hand of Grace, who came on towards us with the water. I saw that the Frau was taking aim at the mias, and was considering whether she could hit it at so great a distance. I was afraid that she would not, and entreated her not to fire.

“No, no, my child,” she shouted out; “I will wait till he come nearer.”

Our position was truly a dreadful one, for the creature might in a few minutes have destroyed the good Frau, and then come and attacked us if it had been so disposed. We were now once more quiet, and this induced the mias to remain stationary. I wondered why Merlin had not come. I thought that he might have assisted us at all events; at the same time it was too probable that should he attack the creature, he would be speedily worsted.

We now again applied more water to Oliver’s brow, and gave him a few more drops to drink. The effect was satisfactory; and not only did he open his eyes, but his lips began to move, and a slight colour came back to his cheeks. At length I heard him speaking, but in so low a voice that I had to put my ear to his mouth.

“What is it all about?” he asked; “what has happened?”

“Do not be anxious, dear Oliver,” I said. “The sun was very hot, and you fainted.” I did not like to tell him of our alarm about the mias.

“But I shall soon be well,” he answered. “It is very hot here. I think I could reach the shade of some tree, where it would be cooler.”

“Oh no, no; you must not move,” I cried out. “We are safer here.”

The exertion of speaking, however, was evidently very great, and with a gentle sigh he again leaned back. Of course, with that horrid creature near us, I would not have ventured towards the forest, even had he been better able to move.

The mias had all the time been watching us, and perhaps, from seeing so many people together, it thought we were about to attack it. Now, to our horror, we saw it reach the ground and stand upright, holding on by one of the boughs, and grinning savagely at us, so we fancied. The Frau took the gun. “I’ll fire! I’ll kill him!” she cried out. “He must not come near to hurt you young people.” There was a firmness in her tone I had seldom heard. She felt herself to be our protectress, and was prepared to do battle in our behalf. Oliver heard her speak.

“What is it?” he asked in a faint voice.

“Oh, there is a horrid mias near us, and the Frau has taken your gun to shoot it,” answered Grace.

“She cannot aim properly! Let me fire. Don’t fire—don’t fire, Frau!” he said, attempting to rise. He was, however, too weak, and again sunk back on the rock, supported by Grace and me.

With horror we saw the mias let go the bough and begin to walk towards us on all fours. It advanced towards where a thick shrub grew, when again catching hold of a bough, it raised itself up on its hind legs. “Now I’ll fire!” cried the Frau. I was afraid even then that had it been much nearer she would not have hit it, or at all events wounded it mortally, and I knew that it would become more savage. I cried out to her to stop till it was nearer, but at that instant she pulled the trigger. She had missed, we feared, for the mias, uttering a savage cry, again moved towards us.

“Load again; load again!” Grace and I cried out.

“Bring the gun to me, pray,” said Oliver; “I will load it. I can do that.” He felt for his ammunition, which was at his side, but the Frau took it from him.

“I’ll load,” she said, beginning to do so. All this time the mias was advancing. Now and then it turned its head, however, as if to watch what had become of its family, and this delayed its progress. The Frau, having had experience of loading at the fort, was soon again ready. Kneeling down, she raised the fowling-piece to her shoulder. The mias was still standing upright. At the instant she fired we saw it fall.

“It is hit—it is hit!” cried Grace.

“I have killed the creature!” exclaimed the Frau.

But no, it had merely fallen to its usual walking position, and was once more approaching us. There appeared no longer time for her to load. All hope of escaping the savage monster abandoned us. The Frau, however, grasped the gun, evidently intending to do battle. At that instant Merlin’s loud bark was heard, and we saw him tearing along over the sand towards us. The mias stopped to look at him, seeming to think him a more dangerous antagonist than were we three females and our sick companion. Merlin caught sight of the mias, and bounded towards him. I now began to fear for our four-footed friend, for I knew the power of the creature, and how one grasp of its strong hands would in an instant destroy the dog. Just, however, before Merlin reached it, loud shouts were heard, and we saw coming round the point of the rock several of our friends with guns in their hands, evidently understanding that we were in danger. Mr Tarbox, the boatswain, led the way, followed by Mr Hooker and Potto Jumbo. The mias now turned round and moved towards the dog, but Merlin was too sagacious to allow himself to be caught, and when almost within the creature’s reach he bounded on one side, and then wheeled off, still barking, with the evident intention of drawing it away from us. How thankful I felt when I saw him do so, for his purpose was answered. The creature followed him, making springs which at each bound almost brought it up to him; but on every occasion the dog nimbly avoided it, till he had brought it within range of the boatswain’s musket. The mias, exasperated by disappointment, made two or three successive springs towards the dog, which brought it still nearer to our friends. The boatswain fired, when the creature seemed to discover, for the first time, how near it was to its enemies. The ball took effect upon its shoulder. We saw it stand upright, stretching out its huge arms as if to grasp hold of them and tear them to pieces; but at that instant Mr Hooker stopped and levelled his gun, and the savage monster rolled over on the sand. Still it was not dead, and we were even yet afraid our friends might be injured; but the boatswain stopping, reloaded his gun, and Potto Jumbo rushing in with a spear thrust it at the creature. There was another report, and we knew that we were perfectly safe.

How thankful I felt that we had escaped, for I cannot describe thoroughly how fearfully alarmed we were. There is something so dreadful in the appearance of those huge baboons. Our friends arriving, proposed carrying Oliver into the shade; but we told them that we had seen another mias and a young one, on which Mr Hooker and the boatswain set off in search of the creatures, while Potto Jumbo lifted up Oliver in his powerful arms, almost as if he had been a child, and carried him off to the edge of the forest, where we could all be sufficiently shaded from the hot rays of the sun. Potto Jumbo then set off to join Mr Hooker and the boatswain. Oliver now quickly recovered, and after taking another draught of water, declared that he was able to walk home. We persuaded him, however, to wait till the return of our friends. In a short time we saw them coming through the forest, dragging a prisoner between them. It appeared to be a largish monkey. It was evident it was in no way pleased at being taken prisoner, for it turned its head round now on one side, now on the other, attempting to bite its captors, but we saw that its snout had been muzzled.

“We have brought a prize for my friend’s menagerie,” exclaimed Mr Hooker. “Here is a young mias, and I hope to tame and civilise it, though at present its manners are far from cultivated. We killed the mother, who now hangs to the bough of a tree. Potto Jumbo soon afterwards caught the young gentleman by a noose round the neck.”

By this time Oliver, having greatly recovered, was able, with the assistance of the Frau and Potto Jumbo, to set off for the house. I was anxious to remain that I might continue watching for Walter, but the Frau and Mr Hooker would on no account allow me to do so, and at last I yielded to their wishes and accompanied them home. We reached it without further adventure, having to stop, however, several times to rest Oliver, who was far weaker than he had supposed. The fright and excitement we had gone through made Grace and me very ill; and all night long I was dreaming that we were pursued by the hideous monster, from whom we in vain endeavoured to escape.

By the morning, however, we had much recovered. Our small captive showed its ferocious nature by trying to bite and scratch every one who approached it. It caught Tanda by the arm when taking it some food, and not till it had received several blows on the head would it let go. It was then shut up in a strong cage; but the following morning was found dead, after having made a vain attempt to force its way out.

Chapter Thirty One.

Mr Sedgwick’s unfortunate expedition.

My uncle and Mr Hooker are very, very kind; they do all they can to keep up my spirits, though I see they are very anxious about Walter—indeed, how could they be otherwise? Oliver was much better in the morning, though he was still suffering from the effects of the sun-stroke, which might have proved fatal; and Mr Sedgwick will not allow him to leave the house, or in any way to exert himself. Some of the party go down constantly to the rock and look out for Walter; but when each comes back he gives the same answer, “No boat in sight.” Both the gentlemen do their best to interest me in other matters, so as to take off my thoughts from Walter. My uncle reminded me that I had not been for some time to the plantation, which is at a considerable distance from the house. He took Grace and me there this afternoon.

“There, young ladies,” he observed, pointing to some of the tall stalks with beautiful leaves surrounding them. “A month ago these were little yellow seeds of maize. See how rapidly the germ within them has been developed. See! already there are some ears which we will carry home to cook; and in another month’s time they will be ripe, and fit for making into bread.”

There was a large plantation of them. We cut off a number of the heads which grew on the side of the stalk, several on one. Each head consisted of a long piece of pith, to which the grain was thickly attached, the whole sheathed in broad oblong leaves, which protect them from injury, till the seed is perfectly hard and ripe. Here also was a plantation of sugar-cane. They also were tall, graceful, reed-like plants, and were nearly ripe.

Tanda was working in the plantation—or garden, shall I call it? My uncle told him to bring home a quantity of the canes, and he began cutting them at once. He cut off the tops, and left them and the root on the ground. I thought I could have carried a number, but I found a single cane heavy, so loaded was it with juice.

In another part of the ground there was a plantation of rice. It was on the lowest level, where it could be well irrigated by a stream which ran near. The rice grew on the top of each blade, the head alone being cut off. The rice, before the husk is taken off, is called paddy, and rice-fields are therefore generally called paddy fields.

Among other productions of the garden are several bushes which produce the red pepper. They are covered with fruit of all sizes. Some of them are small and green, and some which are fully grown and ripe are of a bright pink colour. These are now fit for gathering, and after being dried are ready for use. It is called lombok by the Malays. They always carry about a quantity of it, and use it at every meal. One small plot was devoted to the cultivation of tobacco. That also was almost ready for use, and my uncle said we should have a good supply for the voyage. The leaves, as soon as they have grown to a sufficient size, are plucked off, and the petiole and part of the midrib are cut away. The leaves are then cut transversely into strips about one-sixteenth of an inch wide. These are then hung up to dry in the sun, and have very much the appearance of bunches of oakum. It is in this state ready for smoking in pipes. When employed for making cigars, the leaves are not cut, but dried more carefully in their whole state. Neither tobacco nor maize are natives of this region, but were brought from the New World two hundred years ago.

In the evening Tanda arrived with the bundles of sugar-cane. Fortunately the machine which my uncle had invented for crushing them was at some distance from the house, and had escaped destruction. It was sufficient for the object, though rather roughly made. After the juice had been pressed out it was boiled, and allowed to run into a number of pots, where it was to cool and crystallise. It was then of a dark brown colour. While so doing, a quantity of clay and water, of about the consistency of cream, was poured over it. The effect of the water filtering through was to purify the crystals and make them almost white. My uncle told us that it was discovered that the clay would produce this effect by a native, who observed that when birds stepped on the brown sugar with their muddy feet, wherever their claws had been placed it became curiously white. When the finer part of the juice had been pressed out, the remainder, which is thick brown molasses, is allowed to ferment with a little rice. Palm-wine is afterwards added, and from this compound arrack, the common spirit of the East, is distilled. My uncle manufactured it for the sake of preserving his specimens; but he said he considered it one of the most destructive stimulants which can be taken into the human body, especially in this hot country.

We had all gone to bed last night, and I believe everybody was asleep, when Grace and I were awoke by a curious sensation, as if our beds were being rocked. We sat up and began talking to each other, both having experienced the same feeling. Again the movement began, at first very gently, and then rapidly increasing till the whole house seemed to be moving up and down, like a ship at sea, while all the timbers creaked and cracked as if it were about to fall to pieces.

“What is the matter? What is it?” cried Frau Ursula, starting up. “Oh dear! oh dear! there’s an earthquake!” and she sprang from her bed. “Come! fly, girls, fly! The house will come down!” she screamed out.

Her voice awakened those in the other rooms who were still asleep. “Don’t be alarmed!” I heard my uncle saying. “A marble palace would be thrown to the ground long before this house will be. We are as safe here as anywhere.”

Scarcely had he spoken, however, when several crashes were heard in succession, and the house shook so much that I felt almost sea-sick. In spite of my uncle’s exhortation, the Frau hastily threw on her clothes, and we, imitating her example, followed her down the steps, where we were speedily joined by the rest of the inmates. There were strange noises in the forest, and it seemed as if the trees were knocking together, while the animals round us uttered unusual cries. My uncle and Tanda were the only people who remained inside. He again cried to us to come back, and at length the Frau was persuaded to return. He had struck a light, and enabled us to see our way.

“There, go to bed again,” he said; “a few bottles and cases only have been tumbled down, and no harm has been done.”

It was some time, however, after we had gone to our room, before we could again go to sleep. It seemed to me that we had scarcely been asleep many minutes before we felt another shock, very nearly as violent as the first. We again started up, and my uncle’s voice was once more heard, urging us all to remain quiet, and not expose ourselves to the damp night air. This time we obeyed him, though the Frau sitting up wrung her hands, wishing herself in some region where earthquakes were not experienced, and burning mountains were not to be seen. Neither Grace nor I could sleep for the remainder of the night; and I found that Oliver had been kept awake.

The next morning, when we met at breakfast, we looked somewhat pale, I suspect. My uncle was inclined to banter us, and told us that we should not mind such things, as he had felt several since he had been on the island, and no harm had come from them. I saw him, however, soon after that looking somewhat anxiously, I thought, up at the mountain, from which wreaths of smoke were ascending somewhat thicker than usual; and I heard him urging Mr Thudicumb to hasten on with the vessel. “Tanda and I will prepare stores as fast as we can,” he observed. The ship-builders hurried off with their tools, but he and Tanda and Oliver remained behind. They afterwards set off to what we call Cocoa-nut Grove, as a large number of cocoa-nuts grow there. Tanda led one of the buffaloes with huge panniers on his back. After a time they returned, having procured a number of cocoa-nuts. They were very different from the cocoa-nuts we had been some time before eating, far more like those I had been accustomed to see in England. When the nut is young the shell is soft, and of a pale green colour. It shortly afterwards, when the shell is formed, turns to a light yellow, and on the other side is a thin layer of so soft a consistency, that it can easily be cut with a spoon. In this condition it is always eaten by the natives. When it grows older, the outside assumes a wood colour. The husk becomes dry, and the hard shell is surrounded within by a thick, tough oily substance, and, indeed, just as we see it in England. The natives look upon it in this condition as very indigestible, and seldom eat it. It is of value, however, for the oil which it now contains. Such were the nuts which Tanda brought to the house. We all set to work to break the nuts and to scrape out the interior substance with knives. When this was done, it was put into a large pan and boiled over the fire. After a time the oil was separated from the pulp, and floated on the top. We then, under my uncle’s directions, skimmed it off, and poured it into bowls and bottles. It was now fit for use—a very sweet, pure oil. As our pan was not very large, it took some time to make a quantity. We wanted some for present use, but the chief object was to have a supply for our lamps on board the vessel. This oil, my uncle said, is generally used throughout the archipelago for lamps; indeed, it is almost the only substance used for lighting.

We were so busily employed during the day, that we almost forgot all about the earthquake. There was one thing, however, we did not forget; for, in spite of occupation, my thoughts were constantly recurring to Walter. As soon as our work was over, we ran down to the beach, accompanied by Oliver, who carried his gun for our defence, lest another mias might appear. In vain we scanned the horizon. No sail appeared, no object which we could even mistake for the boat, and with sad hearts we returned to the house. The sun had just set. As we were coming along the path to the house, we saw some large creatures moving about in the air with a peculiar motion unlike birds. Going a little way we saw two more, and then another couple appeared. Oliver raised his gun and fired, when down fell a huge creature which looked like a quadruped with wings. Though unable to fly, it began to defend itself bravely, and Oliver had to give it several severe blows before he could venture to touch it. “It will be a prize to Mr Sedgwick, whatever it is,” he observed, fastening a line round the animal’s neck. He dragged it up to the house, and when we brought it up to the light we found that it was a huge bat. The Frau, when she saw it, declared that it was a flying-fox. Mr Sedgwick, however, said it was really a bat, and when he measured it he found that is was four feet six inches from tip to tip of its wings. Oliver said it looked quite like an antediluvian animal. Mr Hooker said he had often seen them; that one day he found one hanging to the bough of a tree with its head downwards. He fired several shots before the creature would release its crooked claws from the bough to which it held. Tanda proposed skinning and cooking it, saying it was good to eat. However, Grace and I begged that we might not be asked to sup upon it, as the appearance of the animal was far from tempting. Mr Hooker called the creature Oliver had shot a Pteropus.

Although, through the industry of my uncle and Tanda, we were well supplied with vegetable food, we were greatly in want of meat. He therefore invited Oliver to accompany him on an expedition to shoot wild ducks on a lagoon at some distance. He advised us, during their absence, to keep within sight of the house, or at all events not to go far from it. Ursula begged that Merlin should remain with us.

“Yes, yes,” said my uncle: “he might act as a retriever for us; at the same time, I dare say, we can do without him, and he will serve as your guard, and a very faithful one he seems to be.”

I do not know why, but I felt rather anxious about my uncle and Oliver when they set out. I could not help thinking of the serpents and wild beasts they might encounter. They were going also to a district where crocodiles abounded. I was more anxious because they despised the crocodiles, and said they were stupid creatures, and would never hurt any one who was on his guard; and that only animals when very thirsty and drinking, or people incautiously bathing, were ever caught. As soon as they were gone, we set to work with our various duties in the house. I have not described them, but we had plenty to do, and wished to employ ourselves usefully. After that, Grace and I agreed to go down to the beach in the vain hope—I am almost compelled to acknowledge that it is so—that Walter might be returning. I can now understand how those who have lost some dear one at sea go to the shore day after day and month after month, hoping against hope, that they might return. When I am away from the beach, I am constantly wishing to return to it, and often in the house I look down the pathway leading to the shore, fancying that possibly I might see Walter coming up it. Oh, what joy it would be to my heart! My dear, dear brother!—the only person in the world nearly related to me, whom I know well and love thoroughly. Our uncle is very kind, but I as yet do not know him well, and he is odd in some things. Oliver truly acts the part of a brother, and I am sure loves me as a sister, and I value his regard. Merlin seemed also to watch the horizon as anxiously as we did. I am sure he knows that Walter is away, and is also looking for him.

We watched and watched, till the sun, sinking low in the horizon, warned us that we must go back and prepare supper for our friends. The ship-builders would soon be coming back, and we hoped that my uncle and Oliver would also be coming home. Again we cast one lingering look towards the horizon, but there was no break in its clear, well-marked line. We found the Frau somewhat anxious about us. “I do always think of that horrid mias, for though Merlin would fight for you, yet the creature would kill the dog with one grip of his big hands,” she observed. We had got the table spread, and the Frau was putting some dishes on it, when Mr Hooker and the rest arrived from Hope Harbour. They had seen nothing of my uncle and Oliver. Why had they not come back? I remembered my forebodings in the morning, and again began to fear that some accident had happened to them. Mr Hooker, however, said he thought they would have been led, by their anxiety to obtain game, further than they intended; and as all the party were very hungry, they commenced supper without waiting for them. Grace and I sat down, but could eat nothing. Oliver had scarcely recovered his strength, and I was afraid that he might have been seized with the same sort of attack as he was a short time ago. It grew darker and darker, and very rapidly night came down upon us. Still no sign of the missing ones. Mr Tarbox proposed going out to search for them with torches. Roger Trew and Potto Jumbo agreed to accompany him. A supply of dammar torches was soon manufactured, and each carrying a bundle on his back, with one in one hand and a gun in the other, they sallied forth. As long as they could find their way, there would be less danger moving through the forest at night with torches than in the day-time, as savage beasts and snakes avoid the light, and only harmless moths and bats fly against it. In my eagerness I should have liked to have gone with them, but they would not hear of it. Merlin, however, having performed his duty in watching over us, when he saw them going out, quickly followed, and of course he was likely to be of use in searching for the lost ones. Mr Hooker and the mate were not so strong as they were before their illness, and were therefore easily persuaded to stay behind. They tried to keep up my spirits, and reminded me that my uncle was so well acquainted with the country, that he was not likely to have got into any danger himself, or to have allowed his companions to do so.

Often Grace and I ran out to the verandah to watch for them, hoping to see the bright light of the torches re-appearing along the path. How my heart bounded when at length I heard a shout and saw a gleam of light in the distance! It grew brighter and brighter, and then I could make out several people carrying torches. I tried to count them. I saw three, and then a fourth figure. There ought to have been six. I could distinguish my uncle from his tall figure and peculiar dress. Then it seemed to me as if they were carrying something between them. In vain I looked for Oliver, whom I should have known by his being shorter than the rest. We ran down the steps to welcome them, and inquired what had happened.

“Don’t be alarmed, Miss Emily,” I heard Roger Trew, who came first, exclaim. “Your uncle is all right, but Oliver—” Oh, how my heart sank. “Well, he has been somewhat hurt. He will come round, though; don’t be afraid, miss. Poor Tanda, it has been a bad job for him.”

Before I could make any more inquiries, the rest of the party, who bore Oliver among them, arrived, and he was carried up the steps. I ran to his side. He could speak but faintly. My uncle seemed very much out of spirits, as his faithful Tanda had lost his life.

“I do not know which of us may go next,” he observed. “Oliver has had a narrow escape, let me tell you; and he deserved to escape, for a very bold thing he did. He is a brave lad. It would have been a pity to lose him.”

“But what has happened? What has happened?” exclaimed the Frau. “Why Oliver again ill?”

“You shall hear all about it by-and-by, Frau. But here, give Oliver some food, he requires it, for even I am almost faint for want of my supper.”

The Frau attended to Oliver’s wants, and my uncle sat down to the supper-table and began eating away without speaking further. He was not a man of many words, and when anything had annoyed him, I observed that he was more silent even than usual. As I did not think Oliver was in a fit state to speak, I resolved to bridle my curiosity till the next day. Food and a night’s rest greatly restored Oliver, and he was up next morning at the usual hour. He then gave me a short account of what had happened:—

“Instead of taking our usual course across the bamboo bridge,” he observed, “we struck away to the right to explore a part of the country Mr Sedgwick had not visited. We caught sight of several wild creatures, and among others a mias which led us a long chase, and even then managed to climb up into his nest in a tall tree where we could not reach him. You see, Emily, these creatures build nests for themselves and their young ones, and indeed, from what Tanda told Mr Sedgwick, I believe they build one every night when they go to sleep in the boughs of a large tree. Certainly this one seemed to have no inclination to attack us, and I could easily believe that they would not generally do so, unless alarmed and afraid of being attacked themselves. After a little time we reached a most curious spot, all around destitute of vegetation. The ground rose towards it, and in the centre was a miniature conical hill, out of which there bubbled a stream of water running down on one side of it. Mr Sedgwick hurried forward to examine this curious spring, and on tasting the water, he took some grease out of his wallet to wash his hands in the fountain. Immediately he produced a thick lather, and shouted out to me to come near and wash my hands if so disposed, as he had discovered a veritable soap-spring. (Note. There is a soap-spring of this description in Timor, an island our friends did not visit.) I proposed that as the spot was at no great distance, we should mark it, so as to be able to repair there to wash our clothes, preparatory to our voyage. Mr Sedgwick said he had no doubt it contained a large quantity of alkali and iodine, which had been the cause of the destruction of the surrounding vegetation. Not far off were some beautiful clear springs, which possessed none of these qualities. We drank the water from the latter, which tasted thoroughly pure, and was beautifully clear. Above them rose several lofty banyan-trees, their numberless stems forming cool arbours which tempted us greatly to rest there, and I could not help wishing that you had accompanied us thus far. I think, had Mr Sedgwick discovered it before, he would have built his house in the neighbourhood. How delighted Walter would have been with the picturesque beauty of the scene. Going on for some way over a variety of hills, we descended to a beautiful lake, where we soon discovered a flock of brown ducks. On getting down, however, to the edge, we found a border so marshy that we could not get a good shot at them. On the side where we were was a band of dead trees. We proceeded along the lake, through the tall, sharp-edged grass, till we got exactly opposite the spot where the flock had settled. They could not see us, as we were thoroughly sheltered by the grass and trunks of trees; at the same time it was difficult to shoot them on account of the trees which intervened. We kept as close as we could, expecting them every instant to take to flight, when Mr Sedgwick sprang up, and I followed his example. We both fired at the same time. Although a number of the ducks flew away, six or seven at least remained floating on the water. Had Merlin been with us, we thought we should soon have had them; but now, how to get them out was the question. I proposed swimming off for them, but Mr Sedgwick said that after my illness I ought not to make the attempt, and then Tanda offered to go. ‘Very well,’ said Mr Sedgwick; ‘you, Oliver, stay and take care of the guns, and Tanda and I will go.’ Accordingly, throwing off his clothes, he and Tanda began to wade through the mud and reeds. It appeared dangerous work, as the mud was very soft and the reeds very tall, and often they were hid from sight. I had never felt so anxious before. Presently I saw them emerge from the reeds and begin to swim towards the ducks. Some of them not having been killed outright, had floated to a distance from the others. Towards these Tanda made his way, while Mr Sedgwick swam towards the four which were still floating. He was already bringing them back, when, to my horror, I saw between him and Tanda a huge snout appear above the surface. I knew it to be that of a crocodile. I trembled for the fate of our kind friend. Tanda, I thought, would be safe, as he was near the shore. Could I save Mr Sedgwick? Whether Tanda saw the crocodile or not, I do not know; but he had already seized the ducks, and had once more plunged into the water, swimming towards his master. Mr Sedgwick struck out boldly. He had caught sight of the creature, but it did not unnerve his arm, nor would he let go his ducks. I heard his voice shouting. ‘Fire!’ I thought he said. Putting the other guns down, I immediately loaded with ball, knowing that shot would be utterly useless. I approached the edge of the lake, and fired at the monster’s head, feeling that the lives of my companions might depend on my aim. The ball struck the monster, but I saw it bound off into the water. The creature sank, and I dreaded to see it come up near our friend. The next instant, what was my horror to observe it rise again, and with open jaws rush at Tanda. The brave fellow shouted out and thrust the ducks forward, hoping, apparently, to draw back in time to escape those terrible jaws; but the monster was a large one and hungry, and so great was his impetus that it seemed almost as if not an instant had passed before the upper part of the unfortunate Tanda’s body was seized and he was dragged to the bottom of the pond. Not a shriek escaped him; not a sound was heard.

“Great as was my horror, I still had presence of mind again to load, to be prepared to assist Mr Sedgwick, should it be necessary. I scarcely think he saw what had occurred, and with powerful strokes he made his way towards the bank. Even when he had reached the sedges, I knew that he might not be safe, as those terrible monsters could easily follow him. To assist him, however, I kept shouting at the top of my voice, holding my gun ready to fire should one appear. At length he made his way across the sedges, and landed on the bank, holding up the birds, and exclaiming with a laugh, ‘We have done well! I hope Tanda has been equally successful!’ Sad was the change which came over his countenance when I told him what had occurred. Not till then did I know how anxious I had been. The sun all the time was burning down on my head, and a sudden sickness overpowered me. I knew no more till I found myself in the shade of the banyan-trees, near the cool fountain I have described. Mr Sedgwick was sitting near me, and looking very sad. He felt greatly the loss of Tanda, and, I believe, thought that I also was dying. The cool air of evening, and the water with which Mr Sedgwick had liberally bathed my head, had revived me. It had been a great exertion to him carrying me thus far, and he seemed to doubt whether he could manage to convey me to the house. However, he at length took me up, but he was very nearly overcome, I suspect, when we were met by our friends.”

Chapter Thirty Two.

The “Hope” sails in search of Walter.

Several days have passed since I last wrote in dear Walter’s journal. Mr Sedgwick seems scarcely yet to have got over the loss of Tanda; indeed he was his right hand man. Still he works away very hard by himself in arranging the stores for our voyage, and the Frau and Emily and I help him as much as we possibly can. We have a good supply of sago-cake. We went out and helped him to gather in the maize, which is now ripe—having enormous ears. We have busied ourselves in separating the grains. Then we have paddy. We assisted in cutting it, but we could not make much progress; and Potto Jumbo devoted a couple of days to that work, so that we have now enough. We find great difficulty, however, in beating off the hull in a large mortar. We had seen Tanda do it, when not a grain was driven out; but when we attempted it, we sent them flying out in all directions. However, by placing a cloth with a hole in it, for the handle to go through, over the mouth, we managed to get on better, and prepared in the course of a few days a good supply. At a little distance from the house grew a grove of a species of banana which my uncle planted. He called it the Musa textilis. It was about fifteen feet high. From the fibrous stem of this plant the manilla hemp is manufactured. It was now cut down, and by being beaten thoroughly the fibres were drawn out, and our uncle and Potto Jumbo set to work to manufacture rope from it for rigging the vessel, as they did not consider there had been a sufficient supply of rope saved from the brig.

We had been anxious to go and see the vessel, and one day we set off with the ship-builders at an early hour. Our surprise was very great to find her perfectly ready for launching. Her masts and spars and rigging lay under a shed on one side, and it seemed as if it would only be necessary to put her in the water, and get the stores on board, to sail away. But sail where? That was the question. Should I have any satisfaction in sailing away without first looking for Walter? Would our uncle consent to do this? The uncertainty took away some of the satisfaction I should otherwise have felt.

The whole of the party now collected, when Mr Thudicumb announced that the launch was that morning to take place. Hopes and tackle had been arranged and secured to the rocks to assist in hauling her off, and I was told that I was to throw a bottle of arrack at her bows, and to name her. Having no bottle, I found that the arrack had been put into a small gourd. It was hung from the bows, against which I was told to swing it. No sooner had I done so, wishing the Hope a prosperous existence, than she began to glide off towards the water. Quicker and quicker she went, and it seemed to me that she would slip away out to sea; but ropes restrained her, and in another instant she floated calmly in the bay. Loud cheers broke from our small company, and Roger Trew, who had remained on board, waved his hat, and danced a hornpipe in his glee at the success of their undertaking.

All things are ready for the voyage. The Hope is to be rigged as a cutter. The seams have been filled in with dammar; and though no paint has been used, she appears to great advantage with the natural colour of the wood. I thought we were all to go in her at once; but it is considered better that she should first make a trial trip in search of Walter. I was very anxious to go; but my uncle says he cannot allow me, and that Grace and I, with the Frau and Oliver, must remain on the island. Her crew, therefore, will consist of Mr Thudicumb as commander, Dick Tarbox, Roger Trew, and Potto Jumbo as crew, with Mr Hooker as passenger. He wishes to go, both on account of his anxiety to find Walter, and also, as they will visit a number of islands and reefs in their search, he expects to find numerous objects of natural history.

We were busily employed for several days in carrying down stores to Hope Harbour; even the water had to be carried a considerable distance. It is contained in large pieces of bamboo, which can be stored securely in the hold, as there are no casks in which to put it. Then they have sago, rice, and Indian corn, and young cocoa-nuts and bananas, mangoes, and several other roots and fruits. Among the most valuable are the bread-fruit, just now ripe, the trees of which my uncle planted when he first came to the island. He had also grown some tea-plants, and among our other occupations I forgot to mention, was preparing the leaves according to the Chinese mode. The beverage does not taste very strong, but it has a nice flavour, and will answer its purpose very well. The cocoa-nut oil which we manufactured is also contained in pieces of bamboo. Our sugar is not very white, and would not be considered highly refined, but it is sweet and nice, and Grace and the Frau consider it a very delicious sweetmeat. The vessel is thus stored with the necessaries of life. I hope she may sail well. She is decked completely over, with three compartments for cabins. When we all sail we are to have the centre, the men are to be forward, and the gentlemen aft, with a small cabin for Mr Thudicumb in the fore part of the vessel. There are large lockers on either side for stores, some of which are to be placed in the hold, but only those which will not suffer from being wet, as it is thought likely that the vessel will leak somewhat, perhaps, in consequence of the want of skill on the part of the workmen. However, each one says he has done his task to the best of his ability, and can do no more. My uncle and Oliver retain two of the best fire-arms, and the rest are to be put on board the vessel, in case they should fall in with pirates, or land on any part of the coast where savages exist. We are to go down to-morrow morning to see them off. Oh, how earnestly will my prayers ascend for their safety, and that they may find dear Walter!

The Hope has sailed. We went down to Hope Harbour early in the morning, having breakfasted by lamp-light, and as soon as all had gone on board the anchor was weighed. It was like a Malay anchor, made of wood, and a huge stone to keep it down. Favoured by the land-breeze, the Hope glided out of the harbour. Oliver said she appeared to sit beautifully on the water, and he thought she would be a fine sea-boat. Amid cheers and tears and prayers—oh, how earnestly I prayed, and I am sure so did Oliver and Grace—we saw her sail away from the land. We hastened homeward, that we might get a last look of her from Flagstaff Rock. The Hope, instead of proceeding out to sea, was now standing along shore. How pretty and light she looked as she glided by. We continued waving an adieu, but I do not think those on board could have seen us; indeed, we could only just distinguish them as they stood on the deck. Away, away she sailed towards the east. She went in that direction because Mr Thudicumb believed, from the way the wind blew when dear Walter was carried away from the land, that he would have been driven to some place in that direction. The wind was light, so that she continued in sight for a long time. We could not tear ourselves away from the spot. How well was she called the Hope; for our hope was strong that she would find him of whom she was in search. Gradually she became smaller and smaller, and less distinct; and now her hull was entirely hid from view, and we could see only the white canvas above the ocean. At length that began to descend in the horizon, and a small white speck alone was visible, gradually decreasing in size till it disappeared altogether. I could not help regretting that we were not all on board, but those who knew better than I do decided it otherwise, and so I do my best to silence my regrets. It is a good thing, too, that we have Oliver with us. He exerts himself not so much to keep up our spirits, as to show us how we ought to think and feel; and he proves clearly that as God knows best what should be done, we should bow humbly to his will, whatever may occur. What a blessing it is to know that God watches over us, and arranges our affairs for us better than we can for ourselves, if we show a readiness to submit to his will. It would, however, be a hard trial should the vessel return without having found Walter. My uncle is kinder than ever. He seems to understand how anxious I am, and continues to try and find employment for us. We have a number of curious birds to feed, and some poultry which escaped the Malays having been found, we take care of them, as also several animals which require being attended to.

Among the most precious and beautiful were several birds of paradise, prized above all others in the collection. The first I will mention was called the superb bird of paradise. The plumage was black, though, as the sun shone on it, the neck showed a rich bronze tinge, while the head appeared to be covered with scales of a brilliant metallic-green and blue. Over its breast was a shield of somewhat stiff feathers, with a rich satiny gloss and of a bluish-green tint, while from the back of the neck rose a shield—in form like that on the breast, but considerably larger and longer—of a rich black, tinged with purple and bronze. It would be difficult to do justice by a verbal description to the beauty of that little gem of a bird, when, animated, it expanded its shields and stood quivering on its perch. I often thought how much more beautiful must be the appearance of numbers collected together in their native woods in the interior of New Guinea, from whence this one was brought. The feet of our little pet were yellow, and it had a black bill. We fed it on fruits, especially small ripe figs, and also on insects, such as grasshoppers, locusts, and cockroaches, with occasionally caterpillars.

Another of our pets was called the six-shafted or golden bird of paradise. It was not less curious than the former. The plumage, though black in the shade, glows in the sun with bronze and purple, and on the throat and breast are broad feathers of a rich golden hue, exhibiting in a bright light green and blue tints. The back of the head is adorned with the most brilliant feathers, shining as if composed of emeralds and topazes; in front is a white satin-like spot, and from the sides spring six slender feathers, thin as wires, with small oval webs at the extremities. As if the beautiful creature was not sufficiently adorned, on each side of the breast rise masses of soft feathers, which greatly increase its apparent bulk when fully elevated, and almost hide its wings.

Walter in his journal has already described several other birds of paradise. Our uncle calculates that there are eighteen known species, all remarkable for their beauty, and the curious arrangements and colour of their plumage.

Poor Tanda used to look after them, and now Oliver and Grace and I have undertaken the task as far as we are able.

We had for a long time given up watching for Walter. The Hope might find him, but it was not very likely that he could come back in the small boat. I should have given way long ago to despair had not Oliver been with us; but he showed me that despair is on all occasions wrong, and I endeavoured to overcome my anxiety.

How quiet our party appeared that evening, so many having gone. My uncle spoke but little. Oliver did his best to interest Grace and me; and the Frau, though she did not talk very learnedly, talked away, and did her best to amuse us. Every now and then she turned on Mr Sedgwick and bantered him on his silence. Merlin went up to the seats which had usually been occupied by the absent ones and snuffed at them all round. Then he went and lay down in his usual place on a mat near the door. He had seen them go off in the vessel in the morning. I wonder if he knew where they had gone. I believe he was fully aware that they had gone in search of Walter.

There was another earthquake last night. The house shook almost as much as before, and this morning I thought my uncle looked far more anxious than ever; indeed, he observed that he was not quite certain whether it would not have been wiser for us all to have gone on board the Hope. “These earthquakes are often forerunners of an eruption,” I heard him remark to Oliver. Oliver and he went out soon afterwards to Hope Harbour with their axes, and were absent all the day. When they came back Oliver said he had been employed in cutting down trees. I asked him what they were for.

“Why, Mr Sedgwick thinks it may be as well to prepare a raft, in case we should wish to leave the island before the return of the boat.”

“But could we possibly wish to do that?” I exclaimed. “Not under ordinary circumstances,” he answered. “But, Miss Emily, I would urge you to brace up your nerves for whatever may occur; or better than that, seek for strength from above to go through any danger to which you may be exposed. I think indeed that Mr Sedgwick himself wished me to talk to you about the matter, for he has grave apprehensions that there may be, with short notice, an eruption of the mountain. I had terrible evidence of what that may produce, when Walter and I escaped from our island. He therefore thinks it prudent to have a raft ready sufficient to carry us all. If we could build it, it would remain secure in Hope Harbour, though we may pray that it may not be required. The trees we have cut down are of a very light wood, which floats easily, and we are going to place the planks which remain over from the vessel, with a quantity of bamboo on the top of it, so that we may quickly make a buoyant and secure raft.”

I believe I should have been far more alarmed at this information had I received it from any one else, but Oliver spoke in so calm a way that I felt sure that all would be for the best. I then told Grace, who was perhaps more alarmed than I had expected her to be. I trusted, too, that the Hope would return before such a fearful event should occur, and that we might be safe away from the island in her. We gradually told the Frau what Mr Sedgwick apprehended. “Ah, yes!” she said, looking up at the mountain, “I think so too. Before long that send up stones and ashes, and send down rivers of lava from its sides; but I hope we be away first. I would rather be living in my own Dutch land, where we see no hill higher than a mole-hill, and where we have the sea ready to come in over the country with every storm, than I would live out in these beautiful lands, where the earthquake like the sea, and the mountains are like so many cannons stuck in the ground with their muzzles up.”

When my uncle came home I told him what I had heard, and begged he would allow us to come and help him and Oliver to make the raft. “I do not know that you can help us in building the raft,” he said; “but you can assist in preparing the provisions and stores, without which it would be of little use, as we should only put to sea to be starved.”

This we gladly undertook to do, and immediately commenced arranging packages for the buffaloes to carry. The Frau hurried off, and worked very energetically, every now and then casting an anxious glance up at the mountain. “What if it blow up before we ready?” she exclaimed. “Dear, oh dear!” The buffaloes had become so accustomed to us that we could lead them without difficulty, and as soon therefore as we were ready, we started off by the well-beaten track to Hope Harbour. I will not say that we were not a little anxious lest we might meet a mias or tiger or other wild beast, but we had Merlin as a guard, besides which, we hoped that the frequent firing of the guns had driven them away. We found my uncle and Oliver hard at work upon the raft. It was now almost ready to launch. “We must build a shed also in which to store our goods till the moment comes for embarking, should we be compelled to quit the island,” he observed. “We will hope, however, for the best, and that the old mountain will remain quiet till the Hope returns.” We made three trips with the buffaloes, till we had collected an ample supply of provisions, as also some additional clothing, and canvas with which to form a covering to the raft. We were of some assistance also in putting up the shed. This was soon done. It had, however, to be tolerably secure, to prevent the entrance of monkeys, or any wandering bear which might have found his way to the store. Both creatures are great thieves, and would have carried off the whole of them. This done, my uncle and Oliver made several improvements on the raft. A strong rail was put up round it to serve as a bulwark, and a place raised in the centre, also securely railed in, which they said should be our post. They rigged also a couple of masts and sails, and some long oars, as well as a rudder and some short paddles, which latter might be used at times when the oars could not be so well worked. Altogether we looked with some satisfaction on the raft, and felt thankful that we had the means of escaping should we be driven from the island.

We were now looking out every day for the return of the Hope. The weather, which for long had been very fine, once more gave signs of changing. We remembered too clearly the sad night when the brig was lost, and we dreaded lest the cutter might be exposed to a similar danger. Hitherto the weather had been beautifully calm and clear; now clouds were gathering in the sky, though the wind was not as yet very strong.

“How dreadful it would be,” said Grace, “if the mountain were to burst forth while a hurricane was blowing! We should be driven from the island, and yet not be able to venture on the sea.”

“We should not give way to such thoughts, Miss Grace,” remarked Oliver. “Let us go on trusting to Him who has hitherto taken care of us.”

“I feel rebuked,” said Grace, a little time afterwards; “I will try to quiet my alarms, and hope for the best.”

Having now made all the arrangements which could be thought of, we very frequently went down to Flagstaff Rock to look out for the Hope. Often we had to return disappointed, however. At length one day, when Oliver, Grace, and I, attended by Merlin, were collected there, Grace exclaimed—

“See! see! there is a white spot in the horizon!”

We all looked towards it.

“I fear it is a line of foam-crested seas,” said Oliver. “See! it extends far on either side. It is caused by a hurricane, which is sweeping towards us.”

“Oh, but I am sure there is a sail too!” said Grace. “Look again, Oliver. If you shade your eyes, you will see it rising above the foam.”

We all looked; and at length both Oliver and I agreed with Grace that there was a vessel’s sail. She seemed to be coming towards the island. How eagerly we gazed at her! At length we had no doubt about the matter; and Oliver said he was sure she was the cutter. We wished to let Mr Sedgwick and the Frau know the good news; and yet neither of us liked to leave the spot.

“Merlin can remain with you,” said Oliver at length, “and I will go and tell them;” and off he set.

The cutter drew nearer and nearer, carrying a press of sail, considering the strong wind which was now blowing. She was apparently making for Hope Harbour, instead of standing in towards Flagstaff Rock. From the way of the wind, the entrance to Hope Harbour would be tolerably sheltered. This probably was the reason. I understood enough about sea affairs to know that she was carrying so much canvas in order to weather Flagstaff Cape. When that was done, I trusted she would be safe. Oh, how I wished we had a spy-glass to see who was on board! Could Walter be there? How my heart beat! Poor dear Grace, too, was greatly agitated. We had long wished for this moment; and now it had come. Not only were we still in doubt, but agitated by anxiety for the safety of those on board. It appeared to me that our friends were in great danger, from the way the little cutter heeled over to the wind. On she stood, without attempting to lessen the sail; when, as we were gazing at her, suddenly a fearful blast struck her. Over bent her mast and sail. We both of us shrieked with horror. Before we could look again she was upset, and the sea breaking wildly over her.

“Oh, she will sink! she will sink!” cried Grace—“and all will be drowned!”

She had passed the cape, and was driving in towards the shore, the sea every instant increasing in height and fury. Would she float till she reached it? or, should she reach it, would she escape the fearful rocks which lined so long an extent of the coast? We watched her with fearful anxiety, trying to ascertain what those on board were doing; but the distance and the spray which drove over her almost concealed them from our sight. We were still gazing at them, when we heard my uncle and Oliver utter exclamations of dismay. They had just arrived at the spot where we were.

“We must go round to Cormorant Bay,” said my uncle. “I think she will drive ashore thereabouts, if she floats as long; and if our friends can manage to cling on till then, they may possibly be saved. But the risk is a fearful one.”

Hurrying from the rock, we had to go all the way round by the house to get to the bay of which my uncle spoke. The Frau saw us as we passed, and followed as fast as she could move, though she in vain attempted to keep up with us. On we ran with Merlin. We no longer thought of snakes, or orang-outans, or tigers, so eager were we to reach the bay. As we passed the house, our uncle and Oliver snatched up some large bamboos and ropes to assist them in getting our friends on shore. We eagerly looked out through each opening towards the sea, in the hope of seeing the vessel; but she was nowhere visible. Oh, how my heart trembled lest she should have sunk before reaching the shore! Sometimes our agitation was so great that Grace and I could scarcely proceed. Again we regained our courage, and ran on; but I felt as if I was in some fearful dream, so eager were we to get there, and yet so incapable did we feel ourselves of moving fast. At length the bay to which we were directing our course appeared between the trees. We made our way down to the beach; but so fearfully agitated was the ocean that we could not at first distinguish the vessel. Yes! but there she was, though—still floating, and at some distance from the land; but the foaming seas were washing over her, and it seemed impossible that anybody could yet be clinging to her sides. The spray broke in our faces, and prevented us from seeing clearly. Oliver, however, at last exclaimed—

“Yes, yes—I am sure there is some one holding on to the bulwarks! Yes! I see two—three figures! I am sure of that. Perhaps there are more.”

We stood with aching eyes gazing on the vessel. We could render her no assistance. Still it was evident she was driving in closer and closer. Happily the bay towards which she was coming was free of rocks; and though a tremendous surf broke on it, yet it might be possible for them, with our assistance, to escape to land should she once reach the beach. As she drew near, my uncle fastened a rope round his waist, and told Oliver to do the same.

“Now, Frau,” he said, “you take hold of this rope, and do not let me go, or my life will be sacrificed. Girls, do you do the same for Oliver.”

And thus they stood, each with a long bamboo in his hand, ready to rush in and help those who might still be alive. Now the thought pressed itself upon me, “Is Walter among them? If he is, will he reach the shore alive?”

Grace and I grasped the rope tightly. Now a huge wave came roaring in, with the vessel on its summit. She seemed close to us, and then away she glided towards the ocean. Oh, how it tantalised us as we saw several persons still clinging to her!—and I thought I could distinguish Mr Hooker and Dick Tarbox. Yes—and there was a slight figure also. “Can that be Walter? Yes, yes—it must be!” I thought.

And now once again the vessel was driving towards the land. On—on she came! Now at length she touched the beach.

“Spring! spring!” cried Mr Sedgwick, rushing into the water, the Frau holding the rope with all her might. Oliver followed his example.

The figure on which my eyes were fixed let go its hold, and the next instant was buffeting the waves, which seemed to be carrying him out to sea. Oliver dashed in, we almost being dragged in after him. But we held the rope tightly, leaning back against it; and Oliver grasped the person with his hand, and with desperate energy we hauled them both ashore. Oh, what joy and gratitude I felt when I recognised Walter, as he staggered forward towards us!

“Yes, I am safe, dear sister! And you—” He could say no more, ere he sank on the ground. “Go and help the others,” he said, faintly. “Do not delay. On, Oliver, on!”

Oliver again rushed forward, and caught hold of Potto Jumbo, who at that moment leapt from the vessel, to which he had till then been clinging, into the foaming surf. Oliver grasped him by his woolly hair just as he was being torn away; and directly after, Potto, gaining his feet, rushed up the sand carrying Oliver in his arms. Oliver himself was almost overcome by his exertion. My uncle, in the meantime, had caught hold of Mr Hooker, and placed him in safety, and was now rushing in to help Dick Tarbox. He succeeded in his efforts. Meantime Potto Jumbo, taking the rope off Oliver, fastened it round his own waist. “I go for the others,” he cried out. “You hold dere, Oliver and you young ladies. Don’t let go. Walter, he soon come all right—no fear.” Saying this, Potto rushed into the water, and reaching the wreck, seized hold of Mr Thudicumb, who was still clinging to it. But where was honest Roger Trew? Mr Thudicumb was landed, but greatly exhausted. Just then we saw another figure holding on to the bulwarks forward; but he had before been so completely covered with the foam, that we had not observed him. Mr Sedgwick and Potto made a dash at him together, and though he appeared more dead than alive, they succeeded in dragging him up the beach. Still another person remained onboard. Who could he be? “I see, I see!” cried Potto Jumbo. “I see; I go get him. He my cook-mate. Hurrah! hurrah!” Saying this, Potto Jumbo fastened the end of Mr Sedgwick’s rope to his own, and crying out to the rest to hold it, he darted once more into the sea. Twice the surf bore him back again to the beach; but he persevered, shouting out at the same time, “Come, come—no fear!” The person he was attempting to rescue heard him, and waiting till a sea was approaching, sprang in. The wave carried him towards Potto, who seized him in his powerful grasp; and those who had hold of the rope hauling away, both were dragged up in safety. Yes, there stood Macco, whom we supposed, as Walter had done, had been killed by the savages. There he was, however, there could be no doubt about that. He crawled to Walter’s side, and taking his hand, looked in his face, exclaiming, “Oh, I t’ankful you escape, Massa Walter. Me lub you as one fader, one broder, one eberyt’ing.” The expression of Macco’s countenance showed that his words were true.

Not till now could I run to Walter’s side, and for some minutes I could do nothing else but put my arms round his neck and kiss him again and again.

“We may well thank Heaven that we have escaped,” said Mr Hooker; “but what will become of the vessel I cannot tell.”

“We must try and secure her,” said Mr Thudicumb; “for though she is getting a fearful bumping, if she is thrown on shore we may manage to launch her again some day when we are ready for her.”

The matter, however, was settled in a different way; for another fierce sea rolling towards us, drove her with such violence against the beach, that her sides were completely beaten in, and in a few minutes she became a confused mass of wreck.

Chapter Thirty Three.

Walter’s adventures.

Although our friends were greatly exhausted by having to cling so long to the cutter with the sea breaking furiously over them, after resting for some time on the beach they were able to proceed to the house. I clung to Walter’s arm as we walked along, and could only again and again say how rejoiced and thankful I was that he had escaped. He seemed so pale and weak, that I forebore asking him questions. Still, of course, I was longing to know what adventures he had gone through. He, however, seemed more anxious to be told what had occurred to us during his absence.

“You shall read all the chief events in the continuation of your journal,” I said. “You remember, Walter, that you asked me to go on with it should you be interrupted, and I have done so; and perhaps if I read it to you I shall be able to make remarks as I go on, which will still further enable you to understand all that has occurred since you went away.”

The next day, as Walter was utterly unable to go out, I spent in reading what I had written; and he then showed me his note-book, which he had fortunately had with him, and in which he had also marked down the chief part of his adventures. The particulars of the voyage of the Hope I had yet to learn. I now, however, handed him over his journal, that he might enter more clearly the events he described to me. Mr Hooker afterwards told us about the voyage of the Hope, which had terminated in so disastrous a way to our little vessel. Happily, the mountain continued burning slowly, though steadily, and our uncle told us he trusted it would do so without committing further damage, though he suspected that the beauties of many of the scenes we visited round its base must have been considerably marred; indeed, now and then a puff of wind brought a quantity of fine dust in our direction, which covered everything, and even penetrated into the house.

I found that Mr Hooker, and those who had suffered least from their shipwreck, had gone to Hope Harbour. They said they wished to see if anything could be saved from the cutter; but I suspect, from some remarks which they let fall, that their intention was to increase the size of the raft, and to make some further improvements on it, so that it might carry, if required, the whole of the party without difficulty.

Walter’s Journal.

Ali seemed as anxious as I was to obtain a nautilus, and we agreed early in the morning to set off in search of one. I found that he had brought several bamboos full of water, as also a supply of sago-cake and rice. We had our fish-pots with long lines ready to lower in deep water, with fishing-lines and hooks and a supply of small fish for bait. We first hauled up the pots which had been lowered a short distance from the shore; but though there were several fine fish in them, no nautilus was found. Ali now made me understand that we should be more likely to obtain what we wanted near a reef at a considerable distance from the shore, and taking the oars, he pulled away lustily out to sea. In a short time a breeze sprang up, when we hoisted our little lugsail, and skimmed merrily over the water, just rippled into wavelets by the brisk breeze. Ali’s countenance was at no time very prepossessing. I could not help thinking that it had a more than usually sinister expression. Still I persuaded myself that this was fancy, and, ashamed of my suspicions, resolved to do as he proposed. At length I caught sight of a part of the reef rising a few feet out of the water. By the white line of the surf which extended on either side, I saw that it was of considerable length under the surface. Lowering our sail, we pulled round to leeward of it, where we found the water sufficiently shallow to enable us to lower the pots. Ali made signs to me that we should be sure to catch a nautilus at this point if we waited long enough. Having put down the pots, we pulled a little distance along the reef, where he proposed fishing with our lines. We had soon hauled in several fine fish, one an enormous fellow, which must have weighed nearly two hundred pounds. We had great difficulty in hauling it in; but believing that it would be acceptable at home, I was unwilling to let it go. The fish struggled violently, and in our efforts to get it in, one of our oars slipped overboard. I was so eager to get the fish, that I scarcely thought of the oar. We then got it into the boat; but it seemed inclined to take it from us, and send us overboard. Ali hammered away at its head and tail till at last he quieted it; not, however, till the oar had been driven by a current to a considerable distance. Scarcely had we got the fish in, when we had another bite, and this was also a large fish, and occupied us some time. When I at length looked about for the oar, I could not see it. We, however, hoisted up the stone which served as an anchor, and Ali sculled in the direction we supposed it had gone. He thought he saw it; but when we got up to the spot we found only a piece of sea-weed floating on the surface.

The weather, as you remember, had begun to change, and I saw it was time for us to return to the shore. Without an oar, however, this was no easy task, as the wind had begun to blow directly from the shore. It now came in strong gusts, and though there was not much sea, still it was sufficient to try the boat, and we were obliged to continue bailing to keep her free of water. I now perceived clearly the dangerous position in which we were placed. With only one oar, should the wind continue blowing from the shore, we must inevitably be driven off. I proposed getting back under the lee of the reef and anchoring. This we did, and for some time held on. Our fish-pots had been lowered, and I proposed hauling one of the nearest to us up. Great was my delight, on getting it on board, to find that a nautilus had been caught. The shell and creature were perfect, although it was very different from the graceful one I had seen pictured in books, with its tentaculi spread out, and apparently employed in rowing over the water; but in reality, as Mr Hooker had told me, used as fishing-lines, or, at all events, for catching its prey. Another pot was at some little distance, and so delighted was I at catching this one, that I hoped we might find another nautilus. We therefore hauled in our anchor. Scarcely had we done so, when a tremendous blast came over the land, and before we could regain the reef, we were out of soundings. The boat was now tossed about violently, and I saw, and so did Ali, that our only prospect of preserving our lives was to hoist the sail and keep before the wind. The sea had changed greatly, and came dancing and foaming up round us. Where we should drive to, we knew not. My heart sank within me at the thought of being driven away from Emily and my friends, and I knew, too, the great anxiety my absence would cause them. I could not tell also to what dangers we might be exposed. If the boat escaped being swamped, she might be cast upon a reef. We had, providentially, a good supply of water and an abundance of food. Our fish, however, would not keep many days; but while it lasted, we had no fear of starving.

Whether Ali had intended to get away from the island or not I could not tell. If he did, his purpose was answered. I saw him cut some of the fish into strips, and hang them up to the mast. This he did for the sake of drying them, and thus preserving them longer. All we could do now was to keep the boat directly before the wind, for I dreaded lest she should broach to and be immediately overturned. I cast a look back at our island, which seemed gradually to sink into the sea, till at length it was altogether lost to sight. Here we were in this small boat tossing on the waves out of sight of land, and not knowing where we were going. Perhaps Ali knew better than I did. He, at all events, did not seem to be alarmed, and when unemployed, he continued humming melancholy Malay airs, which certainly did not tend to raise my spirits. There is a great difference in reading of an adventure and going through it. I confess I should have felt less anxiety had Oliver been with me; but as I could not exchange ideas with my companion, and we could only very imperfectly understand each other, it was very trying. During the day I had managed to steer pretty well, so that with occasional bailing we kept the boat free of water; but at night it was far more difficult. Still, we had for present safety to run on before the gale. Often I fancied that I heard voices calling to me across the water. More than once it appeared to me that tall ships were passing us; but as we could not alter our course, there was no hope of nearing them; indeed, I believe that they were phantoms of my imagination. The Malay did not offer to steer. He seemed contented with the way I was doing so. In spite of the dangerous position in which we were placed, I was every moment becoming more and more sleepy, and felt that I would have given anything to be able to go to sleep for a few minutes. At length I made Ali understand that he must take the helm. He came carefully aft, and I changed places with him. I had every reason to suppose that he knew well how to steer, from the way I had seen him manage the boat, and I therefore confided the helm to him without fear. Scarcely had I lain with my back against the mast than I was fast asleep. It appeared to me that the boat was flying on as before, though sometimes tossed even more violently than at first.

When I at length awoke the grey dawn was breaking, clouds were overhead, and the dark seas rolled up on either side, foaming and hissing as if to overwhelm our small boat. It appeared wonderful that she should be able to ride over such tempestuous seas. Still, on she went, Ali steering as carefully as I had done. I felt very thirsty, and took a draught of water from one of the bamboos. Ali signed to me to give him another, which he drank off; and I then handed him a little sago-bread and some dried fish. He, however, preferred the fresh fish, which he ate raw. I, as yet, had no inclination to do that, and preferred biting away at a dried piece with my sago. I became more anxious when I saw how far we were getting from the island, as I knew the difficulty we should have in returning. After a time I offered to relieve Ali, and he then lay down and went to sleep. In the course of the morning the sea had gone down considerably; but we still continued running before the breeze. The time seemed very, very long, and my only consolation was that the wind was decreasing, and that, at all events, we might be able to direct our course for the island. I forgot for the moment that the wind might have changed, and that not knowing how we had been steering, even with the aid of the sun we should be unable to find our way back. I was thankful when Ali awoke and offered to take the helm.

When I again opened my eyes, I found that Ali had been eating some fish and sago and drinking the water. I had taken a draught, when, looking to our supply, I found to my dismay that only one bamboo cask of water remained. Ali, however, made no remark; indeed, my suspicions were confirmed of his wish to get away from the island, and he, at all events, seemed to know more nearly whereabouts we were than I did. I knew that nothing caused so much dreadful suffering as want of water, and I feared that we should be exposed to it unless we could fall in with land. I was now able to stand up in the boat and scan the horizon, but nowhere was land to be seen. The sun rising enabled us to steer more steadily, and we continued to proceed towards the north. I now tried to make Ali understand that we must economise our water to the utmost. He took the bamboo, and I saw, instead of returning it to its place, that he put it down by his side. I could not help thinking from this that he intended to appropriate it to himself. However, as I had lately had a draught, and was not thirsty, I made no remark. The sun soon struck down with great heat upon our heads, and gave me an increased desire for water. I made signs to Ali that I wished for some, but he shook his head, as if to signify that I must wait some time longer. I did so patiently, thinking that perhaps he was right. However, at length I could brook no longer delay, and springing up, seized the bamboo. He cast an angry glance at me, but even had he had a weapon in his hand, I should not have been prevented from drinking the water. I could have swallowed the whole of it, but refrained, and merely took a small draught, barely sufficient to quench my burning thirst. I then made signs to him that when he was equally thirsty he might also have some, but kept it in my own possession. I suspected, however, that when I was again compelled to go to sleep he would seize it, and perhaps drink the whole of the contents. Now and then the dreadful thought came across me that he might perhaps murder me, or throw me overboard. I might be wronging the man; but I knew he had been a pirate, and was not likely to be very particular as to what he would do.

Again daylight departed, and when at length I fell asleep, I was dreaming of fountains and lakes and sparkling streams and draughts of crystal water. I awoke to find my mouth parched with thirst, and on lifting the bamboo, I discovered that every drop had been drained. I felt sure that unless we could fall in with land death must be our portion—at least, for my own part, I believed I could not go through a whole day without water. The sun had not been up long before I began to feel the suffering I had expected. I knew that drinking salt water was dangerous in the extreme. I saw, however, that Ali was continually chewing a little dried fish, and sometimes a few grains of rice, a handful of which had been in the boat. I followed his example, but found but little relief. Again and again I looked round in the hope of seeing land. At length I caught sight ahead of a long line of white breakers. I pointed them out to Ali, that we might avoid them, supposing that a reef existed in that direction. He stood up and examined them, and then altered the course of the boat a little. As we approached, I saw beyond the breakers a line of white sand. It was, I judged, a lately made coral island. We continued on till we got on the lee side of it, when we ran close into the rocks. It appeared, as far as I could judge, to be about a mile and a half in circumference, the shore so steep that a big ship might have run in alongside it. The whole was covered with fine white sand, without a vestige of vegetation. I was unwilling to land, though I thought it possible water might be obtained, for I had a dread that Ali might leave me there and go off by himself. He seemed to understand my suspicions, and jumping out, made the boat fast, and led the way over the sand. I saw that it was covered with a great variety of sea-birds, some of which rose immediately we advanced, and began shrieking and uttering loud cries as they hovered over our heads, disputing our advance. We had literally to defend ourselves with the boat-stretchers which we carried, and knocked over several of them while on the wing as they flew towards us. They were incited, we discovered, to attack us in defence of their young, numbers of which, from the little gaping nudity just out of the shell to well-fledged bantlings, covered the ground. There was also a great number of eggs, many of which were newly laid. Of these we got a large store, besides half filling the boat with the birds we had killed. In vain, however, we searched all the island round for water. Not a drop could we discover. Even the hollows in the rocks were dry. It was evident that no rain had fallen there for a long time. The blood of the birds, however, somewhat quenched our thirst. At first Ali would not touch it, but on seeing me take it, he at length overcame his scruples. I confess that when we returned to the boat I endeavoured to keep first, still feeling that he was very likely to leave me. I think, however, I wronged him there, as he made no attempt to get off without me.

Once more we were steering to the north. All day long I kept a bright look-out, in the hope of seeing some other island. Two days passed. Oh, how fearfully did I suffer from thirst during the last of them; I would have given everything I possessed for a draught of cold water. We were gliding on during the night, when it seemed to me as if suddenly a tall grove had sprung out of the water. I rubbed my eyes, and looked, and looked again. Yes; there could be no doubt of it; we were passing a palm-covered island. I awoke Ali, who had just before fallen asleep. To land at night was dangerous. However some risk must be run. We therefore continued close to the shore, in the hope of finding some sheltered bay into which we might run the boat. The dawn was just breaking, and at length, with the help of daylight, we discovered a place where we thought we could venture to land. We ran in on a soft white sand; but the sea following, almost filled the boat with water, and we had to jump out and haul her up to escape a second wave, which came rolling slowly in after the first. So eager were we to find water, that the instant we had hauled the boat up out of reach of the seas, we began running along the beach.

The island was a small one, with numerous palm and other trees growing on it. I eagerly looked out for the sago-palm, remembering that it was in a grove of one of these trees we had found water on our island. We searched and searched in vain. Already our tongues were clinging to the roofs of our mouths. The birds had soon grown putrid, so that many hours had passed since we had moistened our lips. I felt ready to drop, and Ali also was almost overcome. We eagerly chewed the leaves of trees, but they gave us no relief. Oh, how delightful would have been the sound of a bubbling fountain! No sago-trees, no sign of water could we discover. I found my knees shaking, my strength leaving me. At length I could no longer stand. I leant against the trunk of a tall tree, and gradually sank down to the ground. I began to dread that death would overtake me, and what a fearful death! I had read of such, but never supposed that I should realise it myself. Ali cast a look at me. He could do nothing to help me. He was going to desert me, I thought. My voice was failing. I tried to call him back, but I could no longer articulate, and a dreamy, half-conscious state of feeling came over me. “I shall thus sink calmly into death,” I thought. I tried to pray, I tried to collect my thoughts, but in vain. How long I thus continued I know not, when I heard a voice shouting. It was Ali’s. I opened my eyes, and saw that he was running towards a tall tree. At last I saw him ascend the trunk. It seemed wonderful how he could get up. Presently I heard something drop. It was a bunch of cocoa-nuts; another and another followed. I tried to crawl towards them, but had no strength to move. Ali descended the tree. He seized a cocoa-nut, broke it open, and drank the contents. Once more I tried to cry out. Then I saw him running towards me. Oh, how delicious was the draught which he poured down my throat! In a few seconds I felt like another being. My strength returned. I sat up and eagerly clutched another cocoa-nut which he handed me. In a wonderfully short time I felt perfectly recovered.

We hunted about, but could find very few more trees. We should soon, we knew, consume the young fruit. We remained, however, on the island all the day, and as we wandered along the beach, we came to some soft hot sand, in which we discovered a number of turtles’ eggs. We had now sufficient to support life, but I well knew that our provisions would not last long, and that we must once more put to sea. Ali also clearly understood this. We quickly got a light with pieces of bamboo, and cooked our eggs, and having loaded ourselves with as many cocoa-nuts as we could carry, set off to return to the boat. As we went along, the fear seized me that we had not hauled her up sufficiently, and that perhaps she had been washed away. I could scarcely refrain from setting off running, so eager was I to ascertain the truth. I soon, however, found that my strength was not sufficiently restored for active movement. On we went, till we had reached the beach where I thought we had left the boat. She was nowhere to be seen. I looked about anxiously. I was giving way to despair, when, casting my eyes along the sand, I observed that it had been undisturbed. There were no traces of our feet. I knew therefore that we could not have been at the spot. Ali pointed along the beach, and we proceeded some way, when at length I caught sight of a dark object in the distance. Yes, it was our boat; but already the water had reached her stern, and in another minute she would have floated away. We drew her up still further, and secured her by her painter to a stone high up the beach.

My suspicions about Ali had not been altogether removed, but still, the way he had treated me in bringing the cocoa-nuts when he might have left me to die, showed me that he could not have any sinister intentions. I therefore proposed that we should sleep on shore that night, and proceed to sea early the following morning. We accordingly built a hut high up on the dry sand, and made ourselves comfortable beds with leaves, on which we could stretch our limbs and rest at ease during the night. We first, however, lighted a large fire, though there was not much fear of any creatures disturbing us on that small island.

Next morning we made a further search for turtles’ eggs, and having found a good supply, we placed them and our cocoa-nuts on board the boat, and then launching her, once more put to sea, steering as before to the northward, where we hoped to find land with food and water on it. Our stock of sago-cake was getting low, but that mattered little, I thought, as without water I found it very difficult to masticate. On, on we sailed. I had miscalculated distances, for though, looking at the chart, as I frequently had done on board the Dugong, the sea did not appear of great width, yet when sailing across it in a small boat the matter was very different. For two dreary days we glided on over the calm sea, looking out for land, or for some passing vessel which might take us on board; but neither appeared. I recollected Macco’s wonderful voyage in his frail canoe, and felt that I ought not to despair. The Malay sat passive. What he was thinking of I could not tell. Occasionally he offered to take the helm when I grew weary, and I soon fell asleep. When I awoke, there he was sitting like a statue, scarcely moving limb or eye. On we sailed. The sun rose and sank again, and still we were in the midst of the circling horizon. Our stock of cocoa-nuts was getting low; indeed, though the juice is very refreshing for a draught, it cannot take the place of pure water. Our sago-cake was exhausted. We had but three eggs remaining. It might be many days more before we could reach another island, I feared, and if so, could we support existence till then? These thoughts were passing across my mind as the sun was reaching the horizon. I saw Ali bending forward and looking under the sail. He said not a word, however. I gazed in the same direction, but could see nothing. The sun sank beneath the water, and darkness came on. I had been at the helm for some time, when I found Ali taking it out of my hands, for I had dropped to sleep. I lay down, and in an instant was unconscious of all that was taking place.

When I awoke it was broad daylight. A dark shadow was passing across my face. I looked up, and saw that we were gliding under some tall mangrove bushes. I sprang up eagerly. We were entering the mouth of a river. Astern, the blue sea shone in the beams of the rising sun. On either side were dark trees. “Soon get water and food,” said Ali. On we glided. I felt my spirits and strength greatly restored, and returned thanks to Heaven for bringing us into so promising a region. We were soon amidst the most luxuriant vegetation. Tall trees rose up on either side of the river, with thick underwood, which here and there gave place to small patches of grass. From the banks we occasionally saw huge alligators gliding slowly off into the water, or watching us as we passed with their cruel-looking yellow eyes. Curiously shaped lizards crawled along the banks, or lay extended on the boughs of the trees, gazing at us, and occasionally puffing themselves up into extraordinary shapes. From either side also came strange sounds—the shrill call of pea-hens, the cooing of pigeons, high above all of which was the pertinacious chattering of monkeys, while parrots and other gaily-coloured birds flew from bough to bough, and gigantic butterflies with brilliant wings skimmed over the surface of the stream. The monkeys followed us as we proceeded, or else the banks must have been thickly inhabited with them; some throwing themselves frantically from bough to bough, coming close down to our heads, others uttering hoarse cries, as if to frighten us away from their neighbourhood. Oftentimes I could not help fancying that some natives were watching us, so human-like did the faces of the larger monkeys appear. Now and then we interrupted a little family enjoying themselves in a clear space at the base of a tree, the patriarch sitting calmly watching the proceedings of his progeny, while the mother was gambolling with her young one, or seeking food among the grass, or under the roots of a tree; and then she would come with her prize, and commence playing with her infant, and caressing him like any human mother, tumbling about perhaps in rather a strange fashion. As we came more in sight, the whole family would scamper off, a few remaining to the last, grinning fiercely at us, hooting and chattering hoarsely, and shaking the boughs in their indignation at our unwelcome appearance. Anxious as I was, I could not help being amused at these things; but Ali was utterly indifferent to them.

On we glided, till at a fresh turn of the river I saw rising above the bank some buildings on poles, extending a considerable way along it. The buildings we were approaching were raised eight or ten feet above the water on strong posts. There were wide platforms of bamboo before them, over part of which projected the roofs of the verandahs. Several ladders hung down from the platforms to enable the inhabitants to ascend from their boats. They were somewhat similar to those we had seen in Papua, but far more substantial, and built in a much more elegant style. The inhabitants, apparently, had only lately risen, and came out on the platforms as we approached. The men were dressed in waistcloths of blue cotton, hanging down behind, mostly bordered with red, blue, and white. Some had handkerchiefs of the same colour bound round their heads, and one or two were ornamented with gold lace. They wore also ear-rings of brass, and moon-shaped, with heavy necklaces of white and black beads. On their arms were numbers of rings made of brass or white shells, while over their shoulders hung their long black shiny hair, which set off to advantage their pure brown skin. Some of them held knife-headed spears in their hands, while to a belt round the waist hung a long slender knife and a pouch with materials for betel-chewing. One man, who seemed to be the chief, wore on his head a bunch of large gaily-coloured feathers secured by a circle round it. They were mostly pleasant-looking people, and seemed ready to welcome us as we approached. The women had far more covering than the men. Round the waist they wore coils of ratan, stained red, to which their petticoats were attached. Below it one whom we took to be a chief’s wife wore a girdle of small silver coins. Others had additional ornaments of brass-wire, but most of them wore a large number of brass rings round not only their arms, but their legs, from the knee to the ankle, while curiously shaped hats adorned with beads ornamented their heads. Altogether they were far superior in appearance to the savages I had expected to see in these regions, and I had little doubt that we had arrived at the mainland of Borneo, and that they were a tribe of Dyaks.

We made signs that we were very thirsty, pointing to our lips, and the chief, coming forward, beckoned us to ascend the ladder. This I did first, Ali following with not so much confidence behind me. He was at once perceived to be a Malay, and he must have known that his countrymen are apt to ill-treat the Dyaks, and consequently he could scarcely have expected to be received by them as a friend. From the looks of the people, however, I had no fears of them, especially when one of the girls, running off, brought back a large bamboo full of cool water. Oh, how delicious it was! the first which had passed my lips for many days. I handed it to Ali, whom they did not seem to treat so courteously as they did me. When I signified that I should be glad of more, instantly a fresh supply was brought me. The chief now addressed Ali, who, I found, fully understood their language, and he seemed to be giving an account of the cause which had brought us to their country. The chief appeared satisfied; and now giving orders to some of the women, a basket containing some pork and rice and some fine-looking bananas was brought to us. I felt no great inclination to eat the pork and rice, for my throat was hot and parched, but I got through a portion; and oh, how delicious were the bananas! No sooner had I got them into my mouth than they seemed to melt away. They were of the colour of the finest yellow butter, and of an exquisite flavour. I felt as I ate that I could never take enough of them. I saw in the open space behind the house a plantation of them, showing that they were carefully cultivated. The Dyaks showed me a corner of a room where I might rest, for they perceived that I was sleepy and weary, and I believe most of the men went out either to cultivate the ground or on a hunting expedition. What became of Ali I could not tell; but as, after a little time, notwithstanding his cool reception, he seemed to be at home with the people, I concluded he would take care of himself.

Chapter Thirty Four.

Walter’s adventures in Borneo.

My Dyak hosts seemed well-disposed towards me; yet, I confess, I was not altogether comfortable in their society. The first morning after my arrival, just as I left my sleeping-corner, I saw a large basket standing in the chief’s room. Supposing it to contain provisions, I looked into it, when, what was my horror to see it filled with a number of dried Imuran heads grinning horribly up at me! I turned away in disgust, when I saw the chief looking at me with a glance of triumph in his eye, just as a civilised person would have been pleased at exhibiting a collection of his orders of merit for gallantry in battle or sagacity in the council. They were trophies, I found, taken by the chief in his wars with neighbouring tribes. Probably it was the possession of these which had raised him to his position in his tribe.

Soon afterwards I saw a number of young men coming along. They were singing and shouting. I saw that one of them had a head, yet gory and fresh, on the top of a spear. A light brown girl, really a pretty creature, ran out to welcome him; and I afterwards discovered that she was his bride-elect, and that he had gone with his companions on a foray in order to obtain this human head, to make himself worthy of her affection. These people were, however, very gentle and mild in their manners to each other, and had I not witnessed this, and similar sights, I could scarcely have supposed they were the savages they have been described. A party soon afterwards assembled, apparently to go out on a hunting expedition. Each man had a wooden tube about five feet long. This was a blow-pipe, through which bamboo arrows are shot with great precision. The points are dipped in a subtle poison, which destroys birds and small animals almost instantaneously when struck with them. Some of the men, also, were armed with bows and arrows. The chief men carried swords about two feet in length, slightly curved, and broad at the end. They were admirably tempered, and the chief, to show me how sharp they were, cut through with a blow a small bar of iron, and then showed me the blade to prove that it was not in the least turned. The poison of their arrows was, I believe, extracted from the juice of a tree similar to the upas-tree of Java. It is called ippo.

I accompanied them on the hunting expedition, when they used generally the blow-pipe I have described. The instant a bird was struck, it dropped dead to the ground. I observed that they immediately cut round where it had been wounded, and all the birds thus killed were afterwards eaten without any bad effect.

Having completely recovered my strength, I was anxious to recommence our voyage, and told Ali of my wish. He, however, seemed in no hurry to go away; but signified that, if I would be content to wait a little longer, he would accompany me. I endeavoured to employ the time in obtaining some knowledge of the Dyak language, as also the habits and customs of the people. I found that at a little distance from this village another existed, inhabited by the same tribe, or at all events the people were on terms of friendship with each other. There was great wailing one day, and I suspected that a person of consequence, perhaps a chief, was very ill, or had died, in the other village. Finding some of the people going in that direction, I followed them. The path, however, was very difficult to walk in, as it was sunk a foot or so below the ground on either side, and was only broad enough for a man’s foot to tread in; the Dyaks walk in a peculiar manner, by placing one foot directly before the other, without in the slightest degree turning out their toes. I found on my arrival at the village that my suspicions were correct. The chief was not dead, but very ill, and as I saw him lying on his mat in an upper room, I perceived that he had not long to live. Had I known at the time more of the customs of the people, I should have been greatly alarmed for my own safety and that of Ali.

On my return with several people of our village, the chief made signs to me that he was going on an expedition. Supposing it to be for hunting, I gladly signified that I was ready to accompany him. Several large canoes, which I had not before seen, were now drawn out of a place of concealment a little up the stream. Our chief with about forty followers entered them, armed with their swords, bows and arrows, and blow-pipes. Not till we had got a little way down the river did I discover that they bore a more warlike appearance than would have been the case had they been simply going on a hunting expedition. What had become of Ali I could not tell, or I might have learned from him more about the matter. We started soon after daybreak, and pulled along the coast for a considerable distance, when we landed in a bay where apparently there were no inhabitants, as the thick jungle came close down to the water without a break on either side. Here the flotilla remained till the sun sank low, when we shoved off and continued as before along the coast. It was dark when we entered the mouth of another river, up which we proceeded, the men paddling carefully, and not a word being spoken. We kept close in with the bank, now and then touching on the long straggling roots of a mangrove-tree, then forcing our way through the entangled mass of underwood, out of which affrighted birds flew shrieking amid the darkness.

I had now but little doubt that we were on some marauding expedition. Now and then we stopped, apparently that our leader might listen to ascertain whether any enemy was near, when from the forest there came forth shrill whistles, chirrups, unearthly cries, drumming noises, such as make one of these Indian forests apparently more full of life during the night than when the sun sheds his beams over the scene. Now we glided away more towards the centre of the river, which was as smooth as polished glass, and reflected, wherever the trees left an opening, the millions of stars which sparkled in the clear sky overhead; while above us on either side rose the tall stems of the mighty trees, waving their sable plumes in the air; and often, as if some sprites were amusing themselves in letting off rockets, sparks of fire darted out in thick masses, now appearing in one spot, now in another amid the waving leaves. The sparks were produced by thousands and tens of thousands of fire-flies. Thus we made our way up the stream, now branching off in one direction now in another, till I could not possibly have discovered my way again to the ocean. At length we drew up under a thick shaded bank, when the chief and most of his followers landed, stepping noiselessly over the soft green sward as they made their way through the forest. One man only was left in each canoe. I also remained, having now stronger fears than ever that my companions were bent on evil. Not a sound was heard except those I have before described proceeding from the forest. Suddenly I saw a bright light burst forth amid the branches of the trees. Loud shrieks and cries rent the night air. My companions seemed highly excited, and could scarcely restrain themselves from leaping on shore and deserting the canoes. The cries increased. Shouts of triumph rose above them. For some minutes they continued. So fearful were the sounds that they made my heart sink within me, and gladly would I have escaped from them. Then all was silent. In a few minutes we heard steps coming through the forest. I had little doubt that some village had been attacked by my friends, and expected to see a number of prisoners brought to the canoes; but, instead, every man bore a round ball in his hand, so it seemed through the gloom; but when they stepped into the canoes, what was my horror to discover that each was a human head held by the hair. Shoving off their canoes, they began to paddle away down the stream up which we had come. Once more they were silent, as they had been when we approached the ill-fated village. I had now no doubt that they had set fire to it while the inhabitants were fast asleep, and then, as they rushed out to escape the flames, they had waylaid and cut off the heads of all they could catch hold of.

When daylight broke, we had already gained the mouth of the river. Each man who had been so fortunate as to kill an enemy, sat with a gory head by his side, and my horror was increased when I saw that several were those of women and children. I turned away sick at heart from the spectacle. The river opened out on one side into a wide lagoon, and as the mists of night rose, I saw at no great distance a tall bird with red plumage standing in the water seeking his prey. His body was comparatively small, but he had an enormous neck, and a bill a yard long, it seemed, and of immense size at the head. I knew him at once to be an adjutant bird—the chief of fishermen. Soon he began to move his head rapidly about, then he made some rapid strides into deep water, into which he plunged his long beak, and presently rose with a large fish held by it. The fish wriggled about as if attempting to escape, then by a sudden jerk he seemed to throw it into his mouth, down which it disappeared.

Again we were at sea, paddling along parallel with the shore. There was no longer a necessity for silence, and the Dyaks gave vent to their joy and satisfaction at the success of their headhunting with shouts and songs and peals of laughter. “It was no laughing matter to the once peaceful inhabitants of the village you have so ruthlessly destroyed,” I should have liked to have said, but as they would not have understood the sentiment, I remained silent, and I saw that they smiled whenever I turned away my eye with disgust as it chanced to fall upon their gory trophies. They met, on our return, with an enthusiastic welcome. Directly on landing they set off to the neighbouring village, probably to console the dying chief with the sight of the heads they had brought, to assure him that in his passage to the other world he would have no lack of retainers. They had been gone some time, and the house was almost deserted, when I saw Ali paddling up in our boat to the steps. He sprang up on the platform and came to me. “Bad people dese,” he said. “Dey cut off Ali’s head, dey cut off Walter’s head,” and he made a significant sign across his throat. “I know what do, ay, ay.”

I could not understand his purpose—indeed, he did not deign further to explain himself. He had left the boat at the steps. He made signs to me to get into her. I did so, and found that he had supplied her with a pair of oars and a number of bamboos of water, as well as a supply of rice and fish and other articles of food. He then made signs to me to row a little way down the river, and there to wait for him. I had got to a little distance, when I saw some one moving under the house, where a quantity of dry husks of rice and stalks of various sorts had been collected. I recognised Ali by his costume, different from that of the Dyaks. Presently I saw him making his way from under the house, and coming along the path near the spot where he had told me to meet him. Just then several Dyaks sprang out from the jungle; I saw the bright gleam of a sword, and the instant afterwards Ali’s body fell to the ground, and a Dyak waved his head in triumph in the air. Such might be my fate, I thought. A strong breeze was blowing. While the Dyaks were rejoicing round the head of the man it appeared to me they had so treacherously murdered, I saw a bright flame spring up from under the house. Presently it caught the dried bamboos which formed the flooring, and in a few seconds the whole building was in flames. As the greater number of the inhabitants were absent, there were not people enough to attempt to put it out. A few seemed to run into the building, but quickly retreated. I dared not return, warned by the fate of Ali, and suspecting that, should I fall into the Dyaks’ power, I should be treated in the same way. I therefore bent to my oars, and began to pull down the stream as fast as I could go. I might have hoisted my sail, but that, I thought, might attract the attention of the Dyaks. In the meantime the whole house was wrapped in flames, while the wind blew the light embers towards the neighbouring houses and trees. The rice plantation caught fire, and soon I saw the fire extending on either side down the banks of the river. It seemed as if a hundred torches had been applied to the jungle at the same moment, but it was not so. The spark which Ali had kindled was the origin of the whole. Fearful was the rapidity with which the flames had spread among the dry brushwood. For months probably not a drop of rain had fallen there. Now the fire worked its way amid the leaves and dry grass, now the flames mounted the trees, wrapping round the tall palms, the leaves being like touch-paper; and no sooner was one ignited, than the next caught fire. Thus both banks of the river soon bore the appearance of being covered with gigantic torches flaming and waving in the air. The sun had set by this time, the flames looking more fierce and lurid amid the darkness of night. Away the fire leaped from tree to tree, licking up with its fiery tongue every object it encountered. I pulled for my life, for the fierce flames blew across from side to side of the stream, making a fiery arch overhead, while the boughs as they burnt through came crashing down in masses of fire astern of me.

Fast as I rowed, the flames came faster, and it seemed impossible that I should escape. A fearful death, I thought, was about to overtake me. It was like some terrible dream. I dreaded lest the boat might ground on some bank, or run against the wide-spreading roots of the mangrove-trees. But on, on; I felt that my only prospect of escape was to persevere. I had often to turn my head round, to try and discover the branch of the stream up which we had come. I saw one at length on my left, and pulled down it, having strong doubts, however, whether it was the right one. At length I appeared to have got to a distance from the flames, which I could see however, burning up as brightly as before amid the trunks of the trees which lined the banks of that part of the stream through which I was now making my way. My arms began to ache, perspiration dropped from my brows, but still I must go on. I was by this time getting out of sight of the flames, but I could still see the glare of the burning forest rising above the topmost boughs of the trees. Finding myself in a broad stream, I began at length to breathe more freely. The wind came down it. I guessed by that that it led directly to the sea. For the first time I dared to cease rowing, and stepping the mast, hoisted my sail. Strange sounds came out of the woods on either side, and sometimes I fancied I could hear the shouts of the Dyaks pursuing me, to revenge on my head the destruction of their village. I knew that an account of the catastrophe would soon have been conveyed to the tribe whose chief lay dead, and I thought it probable that they would come in pursuit of me and cut me off, should it be known that I had escaped. I glided on, recovering my strength with the rest I was thus able to afford myself. And now the river opened out wider than before, and I saw through the gloom the calm sea spread out before me. There was not a ripple on the bar. The current ran smoothly, and my boat, carried on its tide, glided out into the ocean.

I was now as eager to escape from the land as I before had been to reach it, but in what direction to steer my course I knew not. On I sailed. The boat now began to rise and fall on the swell of the open ocean. She was well provisioned for many days, and I trusted by economising my food to make it last till I should reach some land inhabited by civilised people. As far as I could judge, therefore, I steered to the south-west. Encouraged by Macco’s preservation under somewhat similar circumstances, I hoped either to be picked up as he was, or to reach the shore I was in search of in safety. When day broke I was already at some distance from the land—too far, I hoped, to be seen by any of the Dyaks who might be in search of me. I had, however, miscalculated my strength, for having been pulling for so long during the night, I soon began to feel excessively fatigued, and longed to lie down and sleep. At length I could no longer resist the temptation, and lowering my sail and mast, I stretched myself in the bottom of the boat.

Chapter Thirty Five.

Walter’s adventures continued.

How long I had slept I could not tell, when a voice reached my ear. My heart bounded. Could it be some one calling me from a ship! I tried to rise, but felt unable. It was still night. Presently I saw rising high above me, as I thought, the lofty masts and sails of a large ship. On she came, so fast it seemed that a rope thrown from her could reach me. At length I tried to shout. I lifted up my hands, for I thought they would not fail to heave a rope, but she glided by. I could see no one on her deck, but I thought I could count the ports. She must be a ship of war, I fancied. On she went. I turned my aching eyes towards her as she glided away from me; and I thought a shout of mocking laughter came over the water towards me in answer to my appeals for help. Again and again I tried to cry out; but it seemed as if my voice would not leave my chest. I lay still in the bottom of the boat, with a feeling of hopeless despair creeping over me. Then again I closed my eyes; and when I once more opened them, the sun was shining across the water, just risen from his ocean bed. There was not a breath of air blowing across the water. No land was in sight. Here and there a flying-fish rose out of the mirror-like deep, skimming across it, again to disappear. Once more I rose, and was about to seize the oars, when I bethought me that it would be labour in vain. In what direction should I pull? Hunger reminded me of the provisions Ali had put on board the boat. I took a draught of water and ate some food. It restored my strength; and I now began to suspect that the ship I had seen had been but a phantom of the brain, and that I had been dreaming all the time. I sat at the helm, longing for a breeze. Then I stepped my mast and hoisted my sail, hoping that it might come, and I should be ready for it.

I remembered that I had not offered up my petitions to Heaven. I knelt down in the boat and prayed fervently. Once more I rose, refreshed in body and mind. I began to reflect that He who had hitherto guarded me from so many dangers would guard me still. The thought restored confidence to my heart. Presently I saw a light ripple on the water. It disappeared; but again, at a little distance, another cat’s-paw sped over the surface. I hoped it might be the forerunner of a breeze. Soon my sail began to bulge out. A gentle breeze blew me along. Now the boat was running rapidly along through the smooth water. I felt sure, should I keep to the south or south-west, that I should fall in at last with land. To regain the island I knew was almost a vain hope, and I might lose too much valuable time in making the attempt. Hour after hour I sat at the helm, gliding over the water. Again I thought of poor Macco. How much better off I was than he had been. I had a supply of provisions and water, and was in a well-built boat, and knew that I must in a short time, if I continued on my course, inevitably fall in with land; whereas he had been on the wide Indian Ocean, and might have sailed on for many hundred miles without meeting it. Thus I continued all day long, till night again came down over the world of waters. For many hours during the night I kept awake. At length I began to feel my head drop on my breast. Each time I did so I raised myself with an effort; but I found I could only keep awake for a short time, when again that terrible drowsiness came over me. It arose, I knew, from weakness, and the hot sun to which I had been exposed all day. Still I steered on before the wind. I did my utmost to keep awake till daylight should again appear. I thought my eyes were open, and that I was steering as before. Suddenly I felt a violent shock; and starting up, I found the seas washing round me, and tall trees rising up a short distance ahead. The boat had run upon a sandy beach. Another sea came rolling in, and sent the boat broadside on to the beach, throwing me out. With difficulty I crawled up over the sand. The sheet had been made fast; and what was my dismay to see the boat’s head going round, and before I could rush into the water to seize her, she had already receded from the shore. I was on the point of rushing into the water to swim after her, when, overcome by weakness, I sank on the sand; and I well knew that had I made the attempt I should probably have lost my life. I endeavoured to collect my scattered thoughts; but rudely roused from sleep, I had difficulty in reflecting where I could be. At length, however, I began to consider that I could not possibly have reached Java, or any of the large islands in a line with it; and thought I must be on some smaller island; but whether inhabited or not I could not tell, or whether or not I could there find the means of supporting life. How anxiously I watched my boat, hoping that perhaps some other sea might put her head round, and that once more she might return to the shore. The breeze had freshened, and she quickly glided away. In a short time I could no longer distinguish her amidst the gloom of night.

I sat down on the beach, endeavouring to consider what I should do. I saw, at a short distance behind me, a thick wood; while on either side dark rocks ran into the sea. “I might have been driven against those,” I reflected; “and had I been so, in all probability the boat would have been dashed to pieces, and I should have been drowned. Have I not reason then to be thankful that I have been preserved? No, I should be wrong to despair. I will yet hope that I may find means of preserving my life.” With this thought I lay on the sand to wait till the light of day would enable me to explore the island and search for the means of supporting existence. I had no food, no weapon of defence; but on feeling in my pocket I was thankful to find I had my knife. Oh, of how much value was that little clasp-knife then to me! At first the noise of the surf had prevented me from hearing any other sound; but, as my ears got accustomed to it, I could distinguish the usual noises of an Eastern jungle—the cries of the night-birds, and the chattering and moaning of the monkeys. They gave me assurance that I should be able to support existence, for I knew that where they were food would be found. My mind thus set somewhat more at rest, I dropped to sleep.

The bright rays of the sun shining in my eyes awoke me; and rising to my feet I found that I was on a green, smiling island, with rocks and hills scattered here and there towards the centre; while a thick belt of palms, the ever-present pandanus, and numerous other trees, surrounded it. My first thought was to search for water. The experience I had gained when with Macco on our island was now of the greatest assistance to me. Had I been cast alone upon such a spot I might have perished; but now I knew well where to search for the sign of water. I had not gone far when I saw between the trees a grove of bamboo. I soon cut down a stout piece, the point of which I sharpened; and thus it served me as a staff and a weapon of defence. I also made a spade, such as Macco had manufactured; and before long I came to a hollow under some trees where the ground appeared soft. I eagerly set to work to dig, and after getting down to the depth of three or four feet, my satisfaction was great to see water springing up. I had expected to be compelled to dig much deeper. A piece of bamboo served me as a cup, and allowing the water to settle, I was enabled to obtain a delicious draught. Thus one of my chief causes of apprehension was dissipated.

Returning along the beach, I walked along looking up for some cocoa-nut trees. The shore, however, was lined with rocks, and it did not occur to me that at such a spot they were not likely to be found. I then remembered that it was only on low beaches, where the nuts had been washed ashore, that I had ever seen the trees growing. I therefore climbed to the top of the highest rock in the neighbourhood, and looked along the shore, in the hope of discovering some open beach. I saw one at some distance, and eagerly made towards it. I was not disappointed, for no sooner had I reached it than I saw in the centre a grove of cocoa-nut palms. But how should I be able to climb so tall a tree, weak and unnerved as I was! I was approaching the nearest tree, eagerly casting up my eyes towards the tempting fruit, which hung down in clusters, when I heard a loud hammering sound; and there I saw on the ground a huge crab, such as I had before met with in Amboyna, busily employed in breaking the shell. If I could kill him, I could secure both meat and vegetable at the same time. I had got close to him before he heard me approach, when he began to sidle off at a great rate. Seizing the cocoa-nut which he had just broken, I ran after him. Brought to bay, he lifted up his huge claw; but I darted my spear through the joint and fixed him in the sand. As I did so I dashed the cocoa-nut with all my might on his back. It bounded off; but I seized it again, and once more struck him a blow which effectually prevented him from making further resistance.

I had now an ample supply of food for a hearty meal. I was at no loss to light a fire; and collecting a supply of sticks and leaves, I struck a light with the two pieces of bamboo as Macco had done, and soon had the crab roasting before the fire; while I satisfied the cravings of hunger with a draught from the cocoa-nut and a portion of the fruit. I now hunted about under the trees and found several other cocoa-nuts which had fallen, and though not equal to those which were less ripe, they were sufficient to satisfy hunger and support life. Having thus obtained the means of subsistence, I bethought me that the next wisest thing to do would be to build a hut. I had been greatly tormented by mosquitoes and sandflies, and I thought by going a little way into the interior I might avoid them. On searching I discovered a large rock within which was a cave. Here I thought I might find shelter, and at the same time light a fire, the smoke of which might keep off my tormentors. As I had but little clothing, and found the night, after the heat of the day, chilly—though, probably, in England it would have been considered intensely hot—I determined to build a front to my cave, so that I might keep out the night air, and at the same time any unwelcome intruders. The cave was in a peculiarly sheltered spot; and, indeed, had I been in search of such a retreat, I do not think I should have discovered it.

I cut down a number of bamboos, and these I placed close together in front of the cave, leaving only a narrow opening through which I could pass. I strengthened the interior by cross pieces, thus leaving only room to creep under. The door I also formed of bamboo, which I could shut closely. I thus hoped that I might not only keep out any large animals, but snakes or reptiles, which might be inclined to get in. I made a torch of dry wood, with which I surveyed my cave, carefully examining every hole and crevice. I discovered several bats, which I soon put to flight. Had I been very hungry, I should probably have killed them for food; but while I saw a prospect of obtaining cocoa-nuts and crabs, I was not reduced to such an extremity.

I little thought at the time of what importance this hiding-place would be to me. It took me some time to scrape out the dirt on the ground, and it was almost dark before I had finished the operation. I managed, however, to collect some leaves and branches with which to form my bed. I had only time to eat a piece of cocoa-nut and crab for supper before darkness came on. I then lighted my torch, and with the smoke managed to drive away all the mosquitoes, and then shut to my door. Closely, however, as I had placed the bamboos, the creatures quickly came back again; and I had to start up and strike a light and make some more smoke, in order to get rid of them before I could again go to sleep. However, I got tired of this operation, and at length dropped off to sleep, allowing them to sting me at their will.

I soon found that I ought to have been grateful for having been cast on this island. Scarcely had I left my abode the next morning, when I came upon a tree with enormous leaves, many of them a foot wide and a foot and a half long. From it hung a fruit in the form of a melon, attached by its stem directly to the trunk or limbs. I recognised it at once as the valuable bread-fruit tree. Here was a supply of wholesome food for me as long as I might have, I hoped, to live on the island. To get at the fruit, however, was the difficulty, though it was at no great height. I bethought me, therefore, that I would make a ladder of bamboo. I should have liked to have had some fruit for breakfast, but as it would take some time to make my ladder securely, I had to content myself with the remainder of the crab and some more cocoa-nut, and a draught of water from my well. I had, indeed, to go towards the well for the purpose of obtaining a bamboo. To secure the rounds, I cut a quantity of fine ratan, or some of the smaller creeper, which answered the purpose pretty well; and to prevent them slipping, I secured from the top to the bottom a piece of ratan twined round them on both sides. My ladder, though not very sightly, was, I hoped, thus made secure. On reaching the bread-fruit, I was delighted to find that it was scarcely yet mature,—the best state, indeed, for eating. I eagerly cut down a couple of the melon-like fruit and descended with them to the ground.

As my breakfast had not been substantial, I lost no time in cutting up a bread-fruit into slices, which I toasted before the fire, pouring over it a little cocoa-nut milk.

I must not take up too much space in describing the various events of my life on the island. I spent most of the clay on the beach, sometimes clambering up to the top of a high rock, whence I could gain an extensive view of the sea, in the hope of seeing some vessel passing, and being able to attract her attention.

I may say at once that I had an abundance of food, both crabs and shell-fish, and various fruits, so that I was kept in good health. My clothes, however, had already been much worn, and were now torn almost into tatters by my excursions through the woods.

I had just climbed up a rock, when I saw a fleet of native vessels approaching the island. I examined them anxiously, and was soon convinced that they were either the same pirates who had paid us a visit at my uncle’s island, or gentry of a similar character. I could not help feeling considerable alarm for my own safety. What was I to do? If they touched on the island, should I be able to conceal myself from them? As I had walked about the woods the possibility of such a contingency had occurred to me. At first I thought of hiding away in my cave; but the marks of the fire outside, and the trees I had cut down, should they find their way to it, might betray me. Still I knew that, even should they land, they were not likely to go far into the interior. Near the top of the rock was a hollow in which I might lie completely concealed, with the assistance of a few boughs, which I might place across it. Here, therefore, I determined to take up my post, should I see that they intended landing. As they came nearer I left the beach and watched them from the underwood. I was soon convinced that they were pirates, probably on some marauding expedition, and that they were about to land. I hoped that they would not remain long, as probably they were coming ashore to repair some of their vessels, or to obtain cocoa-nuts or water. At length I saw the vessels entering the bay. Some anchored, while others ran on to the beach, when their crews, leaping out, carried tackles and ropes to the nearest trees, and began to haul them up. My idea as to their object, therefore, was correct. I retired as soon as they had done this, making my way as silently as possible towards the spot I had fixed on. I had, as far as I was able, obliterated the marks of my fire by covering them with leaves and broken branches. I had also concealed the mouth of my cave with branches, in a way which I thought looked so natural, that no one would attempt to enter. I then climbed up to my proposed hiding-place, carrying some other branches which I had cut down for the purpose I contemplated. I felt somewhat like a bird in a nest, for I was completely concealed from the view of those below; at the same time I could look out between the branches and see what was going forward. I had taken the precaution of carrying up some provisions with me, so that I might not suffer from hunger.

I had remained here for some time, when I heard the Malays shouting to each other in the distance. What the cause of their doing so was I could not guess, as they are not generally addicted to making a noise. The sounds now grew nearer; then once more they appeared to recede. Sometimes I fancied that they had discovered some sign of a person being on the island, and were in search of me. Still, my concealment was so complete that I hoped to escape discovery. Presently I heard a noise as if some human being or beast was breaking through the underwood, and looking out I caught sight of a man running. I looked again and again. Could my eyes deceive me? If that was not Macco, it was a person wonderfully like him. And yet I felt sure I had seen Macco killed on the shore of Papua; but yet he was so unlike a Malay or a Dyak, or any of the inhabitants of New Guinea, that I could scarcely suppose he could be any other than Macco. It seemed to me that he was looking about for some place to conceal himself. I could resist the temptation no longer, but shouted out, “Macco, Macco!” He stopped and looked up with a glance of astonishment. “Macco, is it you?” I again cried out.

“Yes, yes; oh, de joy!” he answered.

I now showed myself, and scrambling down from my aerie, I was in a few minutes by his side, taking his hands and looking into his face.

“Yes, yes; you Massa Walter!” he could only exclaim, his feelings overcoming him.

“But why are you thus running through the wood?” I asked.

“I run from de pirates. Dey make me slave,” he answered.

“Then climb up here with me; there is room for both of us,” I said. “No time to be lost, or your pursuers may overtake you.”

He was quickly stowed away in the hollow, across which I drew the bushes as before. We had not been there long when again the voices of the Malays sounded nearer. They were making their way through the jungle, evidently determined to retake their captive. After a time they drew near the rock. They seemed to be passing close to the spot where we lay hid; but so well had I concealed the opening to the cavern, that though they went completely round the rock, they did not discover it. Macco trembled in every limb at the thought of being retaken. I whispered to him to be calm, for I was in hopes we should escape. The shadows of the trees began to grow longer and longer, and soon we had the satisfaction of seeing the shades of evening draw over the island. We were safe, I now knew, till the following morning, for I was sure the Malays would not wander about during the night in a strange place. I therefore invited Macco to descend, that we might rest more comfortably in my cavern. I here had, as I before said, a supply of food, to which Macco did justice, for I found that he had been a long time without a meal.

His history was a brief one. He had remained for some time as a slave among the Papuans, and had then been sold by them to some traders, who were carrying him off, when they were attacked by the pirates, into whose possession he thus fell. They had compelled him to work at the oars in their boats. The labour, he said, he did not so much mind, as the fearful scenes of cruelty which he was obliged to witness. He therefore determined to make his escape on the first opportunity. Having lived so well on our island, he determined to hide himself on landing on this one, preferring to live a life of solitude to the society of heathen savages. “Now, Massa Walter, I no care. Oliver always say One above look after poor people who lub him, and now I know he does.” We slept soundly in our cave, and at the earliest dawn clambered back into our aerie.

I had been longing for a companion from the time I landed, and often and often thought how far better would have been my lot if I had had Oliver or Macco with me; and here the latter had been sent to bear me company. We spent the day in our hiding-place, for we were afraid that the Malays might renew their search for Macco; and we could still hear them in the far distance, their voices reaching to the top of the rock over the heads of the trees. I was proposing to descend to try and see what they were about, when again we heard their voices drawing near. We could not help feeling anxious, lest on this occasion they might discover us.

“But we must hope for the best,” I said half aloud.

“Yes, Massa Walter, hope for de best,” repeated Macco; “and if it no come, still hope for de best. All best when we put trust in God.”

Once more we caught sight of the Malays forcing their way through the forest, and calling to each other, evidently again searching for Macco. Several times I thought they were coming close up to the mouth of the cavern, and once a party of them stopped directly under where we were concealed. I held my breath with anxiety, and my heart once more bounded as if released from a weight when I saw them take their way through the forest.

We again passed the night in my abode, and afterwards climbed up to the top of the rock. No sounds reached our ears. “Now I must go and see if they are really getting away,” I said, “but you stay here. I know my way through the forest, and one person is less likely to be discovered than two.” I accordingly set out towards the beach, taking my bamboo spear, which I trailed after me. Some of the pirate vessels had their sails hoisted, and were gliding out of the bay. The crews of the others were just shoving them off into deep water. I watched them eagerly, and at length they all went on board. Still I thought it possible that at the last moment some might land, and make another search for Macco. I therefore waited till they were all well out of the bay, and then hurried back with the satisfactory intelligence to my dark-skinned friend. “We have reason to be t’ankful, Massa Walter,” he observed. “Dose great cut-t’roats!” I was now much happier than before, having Macco as my companion; at the same time, I was very anxious to let my dear Emily know that I was safe. I told Macco of my anxiety.

“Why, then, we not build canoe?” he said. “It take time, but it can be done.”

“But I have only my knife to do it with,” I said.

“But I have knife too,” he said, drawing out a longish weapon from his belt.

Still I thought with such weapons our object could not be attained. Two days after that, as I was walking on the beach, I saw something sticking up in the sand. I was going to pass it carelessly, when I thought it was a piece of wrought wood. I went towards it, when great was my astonishment, and greater still my satisfaction, to find that it was a Malay axe, which had been left by the pirates in the sand. I called to Macco, who was at a little distance. “Dere, dere!” he exclaimed. “Now no difficulty. I use dat well, and build boat.” At first I proposed making a dug-out, but Macco said he had often assisted in boat-building, and that a plank boat would be far superior.

“But how are we to get the planks?”

“Oh,” he said, “I split some of de trees, and work dem down.”

“But that would take so very long,” I observed.

“Neber mind, Massa Walter. Long time come to end, and work done.”

His courage raised my spirits, and I now determined to set heartily to work in carrying out our proposed undertaking. Several days passed away, and some progress had been made. Macco had already cut down a tree, and formed some wedges to split it up with, when one morning, while he was at his work, I agreed to go down to the beach to look for some shell-fish or crabs as a variety to our food. No sooner did I reach it than my eye caught sight of a white sail shining in the morning sun. I rubbed my eyes. I could not be mistaken. No; there was a European vessel, I was sure of it, with a single mast. Could she be the cutter which my friends had proposed building? Were they on their homeward voyage, or were they coming to look for me? Perhaps, after all, the island where I now was might be at no great distance from theirs. Perhaps they were sailing away, having given me up in despair. I could not move from the spot, but kept gazing and gazing at the sail to ascertain whether it was approaching. Yes, yes; I was sure it was. On it came. The breeze freshening, the seas rolled in on the beach. Nearer and nearer drew the cutter. I ran down to the water, and waved my hands and shouted. They could not have heard me, but yet they came in directly towards where I was standing. Presently I saw the sails brailed up, and now a boat, with several people in her, put off from the vessel. They approached. Mr Hooker was in the stern. The boat’s head was turned round, so as to allow her to drop in through the surf. I rushed in towards her, and burst into tears as I shook my kind friend’s hand, and helped him to spring on shore.

“My dear boy, you are safe! We had given up almost all hope of finding you, when we picked up your boat!” he exclaimed.

Great was my astonishment to find that the boat was my own craft which had brought me to the island.

“Are they all well?” I asked, looking eagerly towards the vessel. “Is Emily well, and Grace, and Oliver?”

“Yes, yes,” he answered; “all are well. We left them at the island; but there is no time to be lost. The weather looks threatening, Mr Thudicumb says, and the sooner you are away from this the better. Step in now. I suppose there is nothing to detain you?”

“No, but I have a friend,” I answered; and told them how Macco had escaped from the pirates.

Begging them to wait, I ran back to where I had left him at work.

“Well den,” he said, “we leab de boat for some oder person to build. I bery glad to see Potto Jumbo and my old friends.”

I ran back to the boat, Macco following me. We were soon on board, and pulling to the cutter. All sail was then made for Sedgwick Island; for so we resolved to call it. The weather, however, got worse and worse, but still Mr Thudicumb was very anxious to enter Hope Harbour; and in spite of the threatening sky and strong wind and increasing sea, we continued our course towards it. The loss of the vessel, and the merciful way in which our lives were preserved, has already been detailed by Emily.

Chapter Thirty Six.

An eruption of the burning mountain.

The mountain had been quiet for some days. Our apprehensions of an eruption had passed away. We had succeeded in hauling the Hope on shore; and Mr Thudicumb was of opinion that we should be unable to repair her, though it might take some time to enable us to do so sufficiently to prosecute our voyage to Singapore. We were all in good spirits, as we trusted that after so many misadventures we should be able to succeed. The Frau and the girls had been busily employed in preparing a fresh supply of provisions, while sago, rice, and maize, and sugar-cane in abundance, had been brought from the plantation. My uncle and I had been out shooting, and had killed a couple of deer, three hogs, and a number of wood-pigeons and other birds. We had thus a good supply of meat.

We had all retired to rest, and were in the expectation in a few days of getting the Hope ready for launching. Suddenly we were awaked by my uncle’s voice shouting out, “Up! up! Sleepers, awake! Put on your clothes, and endeavour to retain your presence of mind.” In an instant I was wide-awake, and knew by the tone of his voice that something serious had happened; indeed, the bright glare against the thick foliage of the trees in front of my window would have told me so. Oliver and I dressed rapidly, and ran to the room occupied by the Frau and the young ladies.

“What is it? what is it?” I heard the Frau exclaiming.

“Quick, quick,” I answered; “put on your clothes, and take whatever you have of most value.”

They were already dressed, and now came to the door with looks of terror in their countenances.

“We shall have time to save our lives, I trust, if we do not delay,” said my uncle, who now appeared in the chief room.

Here we all collected. Each man bore on his shoulders as much provision as he could carry, done up in bags, already prepared for the purpose. “On,” cried my uncle. “Mr Thudicumb and Tarbox desire to bring up the rear; I will lead the way.” We hurried down the steps, and began our march toward Hope Harbour. The mountain was throwing up sheets of flame, amid which appeared huge masses of rock and stones, while over our heads came down a shower of light ashes. Already a fringe of flame surrounded the mountain. It was the jungle which had caught fire, and was blazing furiously. The bright glare of the flames was reflected on the trees on one hand, making the night as bright as day. My uncle had set at liberty his poor animals. “They must seek their own safety,” he observed; “and their instincts may guide them to the least dangerous spot.” Mr Hooker insisted upon taking Emily’s arm, I supported Grace, and Roger Trew begged the Frau to let him help her. Macco walked with Oliver, while Potto Jumbo ran to the front to assist my uncle in clearing the way. We hastened forward as fast as we could move, the poor Frau panting with the unusual exertion she was compelled to make. The very heavens seemed on fire. The earth shook. The wild beasts in the forests roared and howled. The birds uttered strange cries of terror, and flew here and there. At length we reached the bamboo bridge. At such a moment it seemed a fragile structure to cross. Not a moment was to be lost, however, for already the fire seemed rushing out towards us, the trees crackling and hissing as the flames caught them. Terror-stricken animals rushed past us, heeding us not. My uncle, Mr Hooker, and the Frau, with their companions, had crossed, and Grace and I were on the bridge. It seemed to be shaken violently, and as I looked up towards the mountain, I saw a mass of liquid fire rushing down the sides, and apparently wending its way towards us. I had nearly gained the further end of the bridge, when another violent shock occurred, and the frail structure fell into the water. With difficulty could I haul my companion up the bank. But where were Oliver and the other three men? They too saw the stream of fire rushing towards them. I trembled lest we should be separated, or they might be overwhelmed in the destruction we were endeavouring to escape. Macco cried out to Oliver, “Come on! come on!” and taking his arm, he rushed down the bank and plunged into the stream, from which a vapour was ascending, as if it was already heated by the fire above. I could not desert Grace, or I would have hurried back to assist them; but they needed it not, for the next instant Macco and Oliver landed, Mr Thudicumb and Tarbox were already in the water, and the other two were stretching out their hands to help them. I felt greatly relieved when I saw them all landed.

But even now our danger was fearful. On came the fire, on came the stream of lava. We had still a long way to go, it seemed. The rest of the party, not knowing what had occurred, had already got to some distance. We rushed after them at increased speed. Poor Grace could scarcely support herself, but I helped her along. At length we overtook our friends. “On, on!” cried Mr Sedgwick, every now and then turning back and pointing towards the beach, much as an officer might encourage a forlorn hope, only we were flying from danger instead of running into it. The fire seemed scarcely a hundred yards from us, and already we felt the heat of the advancing conflagration. At length the bay opened out before us, but the fire was by this time close on one hand, and the flames were curling up some tall palms which we the instant before had passed. Crash followed crash as the trees sank before the devouring element. Already it had gained the edge of the path and ignited the wood on the opposite side. We had to pass under an arch of fire. I entreated Oliver to keep close behind us. He and Macco sprang forward. At that moment there came a crash, and a tall tree fell directly behind them, cutting off the mate and boatswain. It was no time to stop, however. I felt this for my companion’s sake, and I know not, even if I had been alone, that I should have ventured to turn back to help them.

I feared that our two friends had been lost. Without them, how could we expect safely to navigate our frail raft? We had got some way, almost clear of the wood, when I heard shouts, and turning my head, greatly to my relief I saw both Mr Thudicumb and Tarbox leaping over the burning trunk, their clothes already on fire. They were striking out the flames, however, and rushing on. “On! on!” I heard Tarbox shouting out, and his voice seemed as strong and cheery as ever. In a few seconds they overtook us, and we altogether rushed frantically out of the burning forest. A minute later none of us could have passed. We hurried down to the beach. “On board the raft! on board the raft!” shouted my uncle, “for the lava may rush down from the mountain even here.”

The raft was moored securely in the harbour, and, since I had seen it, had been greatly enlarged and improved. Potto Jumbo and Roger Trew rushed into the water, and cutting—the cable, towed it ashore. The provisions meantime were carried from the house where they had been stored, and those we had brought with us were put on board. We all now hastened on to the raft. The masts, and spars, and oars, and all the other things which had been prepared were also placed on it. “Now, shove off!” cried my uncle, “and Heaven protect us! Mr Thudicumb, we beg you to take charge of the raft. My duty is over.” Merlin was the last of our party who leaped on board. With long poles, which had been got ready for the purpose, we shoved off. Not a moment too soon; for already the lava which had overflowed the stream was making its way towards the harbour, while the showers of dust increased, thickly covering the raft.

I cast an affectionate look at the Hope. She had been the means of rescuing me from my solitary island, and restoring me to my sister and friends. In a few minutes, she would probably be a mass of cinders. As soon as we were clear of the harbour, we got out our oars and paddles, and urged the raft away from the island. It was nearly calm. The heat was drawing the air towards the mountain, thus creating a contrary breeze to what we expected to find, or wished for. The scene which took place on our own island when Macco and I were carried from it, was vividly recalled to my mind. There was the mountain blazing away, with a vast sea of flame surging at its base, spreading here and there with fearful rapidity, while the showers of ashes came every instant thicker and thicker. Three streams of lava were descending from the sides of the mountain, sweeping away in one instant the tall trees against which it forced its course as if they had been willow wands. Even now it seemed as if destruction might overtake us. We urged on the raft with all the energy of despair. Mr Thudicumb steered, the rest of us worked the oars. The Frau and the two girls were seated in the centre, surrounded by the lockers which contained our provisions. While the water was smooth, there was no danger, but we could not help seeing that, exposed to a heavy sea, there would be great risk of our being washed off it.

We soon had reason to be thankful that we had escaped from the island, for the fire was every instant seen to be extending on both sides, while the eruption became more furious than ever. Suddenly a loud roar was heard coming over the water, and a vast rent was made in the side of the mountain. It seemed like the work of magic. The whole outline was in an instant changed. The conical top was rolling down, while in other places huge mounds were seen to be forced up as it were out of the earth. The glare of the conflagration reached us even at the distance we were from the island. I had been watching Emily and Grace, and though their countenances exhibited anxiety, there was no senseless terror perceptible. The Frau certainly did show alarm, and every now and then hid her face when the mountain sent forth fresh volumes of flame, or continued roars were heard as vast fragments of rock were hurled up into the air, and came crashing down on the earth, new openings being made in the side of the mountain.

“There is a breeze from the eastward,” I heard Mr Thudicumb exclaim. “Hoist the sails, lads!”

The masts had already been stepped. We hoisted our two lugsails, with a small jib on the bowsprit, which had been rigged ahead, and the raft feeling its effects, glided over the surface.

“We may reach some part of Java, even if we cannot get as far as Singapore,” observed Mr Thudicumb. “It would be a long voyage in such a craft as this; but if the weather holds fair, and our provisions last out, I see no reason why we should not accomplish it. We shall have the sun soon, and that will help us to steer the right course when we lose sight of the island.”

Streaks of bright light were now appearing in the east, and presently the whole sky was overspread with a ruddy glow, which increased in intensity near the horizon, till the sun, a vast globe of fire, rose above the waters, and quickly shot upwards in the sky. Still we were not clear altogether of the cinders which fell in light showers upon our heads, but we had lost all dread of being overwhelmed by any heavier substance, though we could see that many huge stones and rocks were falling into the water astern of us. The very island itself was torn and rent by the various subterranean powers working away beneath it, and it seemed probable, from what was taking place, that the whole would ere long be submerged by the ocean. How thankful we were when at length, the breeze freshening, we were carried to a distance from the awful spot.

“Should we not return thanks to Him who has preserved us?” said Oliver at length in a quiet tone to Mr Hooker.

“Certainly we should, my boy,” was the answer; and together we knelt down on the raft, Mr Thudicumb still steering, and offered up our thanks to him who rules the winds and seas and all the powers of the earth.

With a better appetite than might have been expected, and with cheerful spirits, we went to breakfast. No distinction was made between the ladies and gentlemen and the men. All shared alike. We had an oil lamp, with which we could boil our tea, and our other provisions we were compelled to eat cold. Few of them indeed required cooking.

Day after day we glided on, still favoured by fine weather. The little tent we had brought sheltered the Frau and her charges. Those who had been on watch also were not sorry in the day-time to creep into it and go to sleep. Thus we all obtained sufficient rest, and those alone who have been exposed as we were, can understand how sweet that rest was.

“A sail! a sail!” cried Roger Trew. The beams of the rising sun were shining on the white canvas of a ship which was hull down a long way to the westward. She seemed to be crossing our course, but whether we could reach her before she had stood to any great distance seemed doubtful. We got out our oars to increase the speed of our raft. How eagerly we all kept looking towards that patch of white just rising above the horizon! We drew nearer and nearer. Perhaps the look-out aloft might have seen us. From the deck of the ship we could scarcely have been visible. Frequently, as we drew nearer, I felt inclined to shriek out and to shout to her to stay for us.

“Do you think she is English?” asked Mr Hooker.

“Little doubt about it,” answered Mr Thudicumb. “She is a merchantman, though probably bound round from Singapore to trade with some of these islands, and maybe to go to Sydney, or perhaps up to China.”

It seemed very doubtful, however, whether she would perceive us before she had got to a distance. Already she was ahead of us, standing away on the port tack. Our eyes, as they had hitherto been, were still fixed on her.

“See! see! there is lift tacks and sheets!—the helm’s a-lee!—she’s coming round!” shouted Tarbox. “We are seen! we are seen!”

Chapter Thirty Seven.

Old England reached at last—Conclusion.

The ship was standing towards us. We had now no doubts of her being a large English merchantman. She was a new ship, too, apparently. Presently she was hove to. A boat was lowered, and with rapid strokes pulled towards us. “Who are you? Where do you come from?” asked some one in the boat as we lowered our sails.

“Our answer would be a long one, friend,” said Mr Sedgwick. “We are English people escaping from a burning mountain.”

“You will be welcome aboard our ship at all events,” was the answer. “Here, catch hold of this rope, and we will tow your raft alongside.”

A rope was hove to us over the stern of the boat, and without further words we were towed away towards the ship. I eyed her with pleasure. I had often thought that if I once got ashore I should never wish to go to sea again. On looking, however, at her fine proportions and trim rigging, I felt that I should be proud to be an officer of such a craft.

Of course we did not move quickly. It was some time before we were alongside. “Come, we must now take you on board,” said the officer in the boat. “The ladies first, I conclude.” The Frau, Emily, and Grace were handed in. “We can take more, though. Here you, young man, and one of you gentlemen.” Mr Hooker followed him into the boat.

An accommodation ladder was let down, as the sea was as smooth as in a sheltered harbour. The Frau was helped up the side first, and the two girls followed. Suddenly I heard a loud shriek of astonishment, and presently whose face should I see but that of my old friend Captain Davenport appearing at the gangway. In another instant he had his daughter Grace in his arms.

“My mother! where is my mother?” exclaimed Grace.

“Here, here, my child!” and Mrs Davenport received her daughter from her husband’s arms. Both held her, gazing anxiously at her face.

“You are restored to us, my child,” said Mrs Davenport.

“And Emily, our second daughter!” exclaimed the old captain, taking Emily in his arms. She received almost as loving a welcome as Grace had done, and I had ample reason to be thankful for my reception.

I must make a long story short. We found that Captain and Mrs Davenport, after waiting at Singapore for some months, vainly expecting our return, and after having made every inquiry in their power for the missing Dugong, had at length given up the search, under the belief that we had been lost in a typhoon. A ship had touched at Singapore whose captain had died, and Captain Davenport having lost so much of his property in the Bussorah Merchant, had been compelled to accept the charge of taking her home. He had there been immediately appointed to the command of a new ship—the Ulysses. The offer he gladly accepted, as she was, after touching at Singapore, to proceed round the south coast of Borneo, and thus up through the Sea of Celebes to the Philippine Islands and Japan. He had faint hopes of finding us, but yet the opportunity was not to be lost.

Our meeting was indeed wonderful, and we had reason to be thankful that we had been saved the sufferings to which we might have been subjected, and that their anxiety was thus happily ended. I need scarcely say that Mrs Davenport and her husband suffered greatly at the supposed loss of their daughter, while I fully believe they mourned also greatly for us; indeed, they treated both Emily and I as if we were their own children, and nothing could exceed their kindness and attention. Captain Davenport offered to return to Singapore for the sake of landing Mr Hooker and our uncle; but they preferred remaining on board the ship, declaring that they must set to work to replace the treasures they had lost; and as the ship was to remain for several days at every place she touched at, they hoped in a limited degree to do so; but I could not help being amused sometimes at hearing them mourning the loss of their specimens—not, however, so much on their own account as on that of the scientific world in general.

“But surely, uncle,” I said one day, “you have saved your note-books, and from them you may give a good deal of information.”

“Of course, Walter,” he answered. “That is my great consolation. Had it not been for that, I scarcely think I could have survived the terrible disaster.”

We had reason to be thankful that we had fallen in with the Ulysses, for we had not been on board a couple of days when it came on to blow hard, and so heavy a sea got up, that I suspect our raft would scarcely have held together, or at all events we should probably have been washed off it. I must reserve the notes we made at the fresh places we visited for another occasion.

At length we were once more on our homeward voyage. The first mate of the ship having got appointed to the command of a vessel which had lost her master, Mr Thudicumb took his place. The boatswain also was taken ill, and Dick Tarbox became boatswain in his stead; while the other men entered as seamen on board the Ulysses.

We arrived in England after a prosperous voyage. I told Captain Davenport that I hoped he would allow me to accompany him again to sea, trusting that I might soon obtain a berth as mate on board his ship.

“I should be very glad to have you, Walter,” he said; “but I have received some information which will make it your duty, I suspect, to remain on shore. When I was last in England, I saw an account in the newspapers of the death of the surviving children of your father’s elder brother, and now he himself has followed them to the grave. As far, therefore, as I can learn, you are heir-at-law to the title and estates of Lord Heatherly.”

I almost lost my breath as I listened to this information. I could scarcely indeed believe it.

“I think you must be mistaken, my dear sir,” I answered. “I never even heard my father say that he was likely to succeed to the title.”

“Probably not,” said Captain Davenport, “as your eldest uncle had two children, and Lord Heatherly had a younger brother; but as all four have since been removed by death, I believe that there is no other heir than yourself.”

This information he gave me at his house at Poplar, where Emily and I were residing with him. That very afternoon our uncle, Mr Sedgwick, arrived. He, too, had just heard of the death of my uncle, Mr Heathfield, though he was not aware that all his children were also dead.

“I see that I must bestir myself, Walter, for your and Emily’s interests,” he observed. “Captain Davenport is right, I am sure, in supposing that you are the heir-at-law to Lord Heatherly, besides which you have inherited some property which would have been your mother’s.”

My uncle, though an enthusiastic naturalist, was also a man of action. He proposed immediately setting off to visit Lord Heatherly, and to see whether he would acknowledge my claims.

“I was once well acquainted with his lordship,” he observed, “and I think he will attend to my representations. If he does not, we must see how far the law can help us. I have, however, little doubt that he will be ready to acknowledge you as his heir.”

The next day a postchaise arrived at the door, when my uncle and I started in it for Hampshire, in which county Lord Heatherly resided. As we neared the house, I observed the sadly dilapidated condition of numerous cottages we passed; indeed, the whole property seemed to wear an air of neglect very unusual, I must say, about an English estate. On arriving at the house, the servant who opened the door said that Lord Heatherly was very ill, and could not possibly see strangers.

“But I am not a stranger,” said Mr Sedgwick; “and this young gentleman is a relation of his lordship,—indeed, the nearest he has; and probably Lord Heatherly would be glad to see one who will some day succeed to his name and estates.”

The manner of the servant immediately changed. “Lord Heatherly, sir, is, I am afraid, dying,” he answered; “but I will let his lordship know who has come, and possibly he may be ready to do as you wish. At the same time, pray understand, sir, that it will not be my fault if he refuses to see the young gentleman.”

“Of course not, my good man,” said Mr Sedgwick.

In a short time the servant returned, saying that Lord Heatherly would see us. We found the old lord lying on a stately bed in a handsome room, a harsh-featured nurse by his side, while a footman stood at the foot of the bed ready to receive orders.

“Mr Sedgwick, I remember you,” he said. “Your sister married my cousin.—And so this lad claims to be my heir? Let me look at him. I remember Walter Heathfield’s features well. Yes, I can believe that you are his son. I have made no will. All my estates are entailed, and if you can prove that you are next of kin, you will succeed. It matters not to me, though I should prefer that they were inherited by one who has been brought up as a gentleman. I do not wish to dispute your rights, if you are really my heir. The doctors say I am dying. They may be right. I have lived a number of years, and I am pretty well tired of life. You think, young gentleman, that you are about to succeed to a noble inheritance; but let me tell you that an estate like this entails many cares and responsibilities. The responsibilities I have ignored. Of the cares I have had enough. If you follow in my footsteps, you will find but little satisfaction in the property. It is somewhat heavily encumbered; and if my brother Jack had succeeded, it would in a short time have been still more so. There, I have given you a few hints; it will be your own fault if you do not take them. Speaking so much has wearied me. You and Mr Sedgwick are welcome to remain in the house as long as you please. If I am alive to-morrow morning I shall be happy to see you again. You will find dinner prepared for you. And now, good afternoon.”

My cousin, who was propped up with pillows, made an inclination with his head, but did not even attempt to hold out his hand. My uncle bowed, and I followed his example as we left the room. We found the servants arranged in the hall, and with many bows they ushered us into the drawing-room. Soon afterwards the housekeeper made her appearance, and begged to learn my commands. I declined, however, giving any, saying that we were but guests in the house of Lord Heatherly, and would trust to her to act as she thought fit. I asked Mr Sedgwick whether he wished to remain.

“Yes, Walter,” he said; “I think it will be the best thing to do. If his lordship publicly acknowledges you it will be nine-tenths of the law in your favour; and, indeed, as I cannot learn who else claims to be the heir, I trust that you will have no competitor.”

I had never in my life seen a better entertainment than was in a short time put before my uncle and me. I felt very shy when sitting down at table with so many attendants, and was very glad when dinner was over and they retired. My uncle and I then drew our chairs towards the fire, and talked over my prospects. Certainly the change seemed very great, when I reflected that not a year ago I was living a solitary being, cast away on an island in the Eastern Seas, and that I was now heir to a title and a large estate.

During the night I was awaked by hearing the sound of footsteps moving along the passage, and soon afterwards there was a rap at the door. I jumped out of bed, and asked who it was. It was the butler, who entered the room and lighted the candles.

“His lordship is very much worse, sir,” he said; “and if you wish to see him alive, you should come immediately.”

I hurried on my clothes, and, accompanied by Mr Sedgwick, who had also been roused, repaired to Lord Heatherly’s room. The doctor was by his side. He made a sign to us to come forward. The dying man opened his eyes and fixed them on me. “He is my heir,” he said. “In a few minutes he will be Lord Heatherly, and I shall be dust.”

Scarcely had he uttered these words when I saw a fearful alteration take place in his countenance. The medical man held his pulse, and presently I saw him lean forward and close my cousin’s eyes, whose last gaze had been fixed on me.

“He is gone,” said the doctor, “and I can be of no further service. Probably the young Lord Heatherly and you, sir,” he added, turning to Mr Sedgwick, “will give such directions as you may think fit. You, I conclude, are acquainted with the late Lord Heatherly’s wishes.”

Strange were the sensations which came over me. I had scarcely realised till then my position. I felt, indeed, utterly unfit to think or act for myself, and was very glad when I once more found myself in my own room and in bed.

As may be supposed, I slept but little for the remainder of the night; and the next morning when the servants addressed me as “your lordship,” I almost felt as if they were mocking me; indeed, I was not a little annoyed by the constant repetition of the expression. At length I begged my uncle to come with me to the study, giving directions to the servants that we should be left alone. However, we were soon interrupted by persons who came to take orders for the funeral, and I found myself at once with numberless responsibilities on my shoulders. The first moment of quiet I could find I sat down to write to Emily, and to send messages to our kind friends. Mr Sedgwick undertook to come back as soon as various necessary arrangements were made, and to bring her to Heatherly Hall. I begged that he would invite Grace to accompany her, requesting that, after the funeral, Captain and Mrs Davenport would come also.

I will pass over the account of the funeral, which was attended, I am sorry to say, with very few real mourners, though all the families in the neighbourhood sent their carriages, and a few gentlemen who had been more intimately acquainted with the late lord came themselves.

In a short time another claimant appeared; but as I had been acknowledged in the presence of sufficient witnesses by the late lord, he soon withdrew his claim, and I was left in undisputed possession of the title and property. I remembered Lord Heatherly’s remarks with regard to the responsibilities of my position, and I considered well what they were. He acknowledged that he had reaped but poor enjoyment from his wealth. “That also may be my case,” I said to myself; “but one thing I will do, I will pray for guidance from above, and will endeavour to fulfil to the best of my power the responsibilities cast on me.” My uncle had an old friend, a clever and honest lawyer, whose services I immediately engaged; and with his aid, and that of the steward of the estate, I set to work to ascertain what incumbrances existed, and what was most required to be done on the property. The cottages of the poor tenants were in a sadly dilapidated state. My first care was to have a number built in a style best suited to their wants, with four or more rooms in each, and with various conveniences for their comfort. They were well drained, and had an ample supply of good water. For their spiritual wants I engaged an experienced missionary, who might constantly go among them; and while he preached the glad tidings of salvation, might ascertain who were sick or suffering, and report to me accordingly, that I might relieve them.

Among my first guests was Oliver Farwell. He took an eager interest in what was going forward, and greatly assisted the missionary in his labours. I asked Oliver what profession he purposed following, whether he wished again to go to sea.

“I should probably have done so,” he answered; “but Mr Hooker has proposed that I should go to college, and my tastes certainly lead me to adopt one of the learned professions. I delight in study, and should like to choose the one by which I might the most benefit my fellow-creatures. Had I my free choice, I should wish to become a minister of the gospel, for I am sure to no more honourable or important calling can man devote the energies and talents with which his Maker has endowed him.”

“I am thankful to hear that, Oliver,” I answered. “You and I have been like brothers so long, that you must allow me to treat you as a younger brother, and bear your college expenses. I have, too, I understand, two livings in my gift, the incumbents of which are at present old men, and I gladly promise to present you to the first which becomes vacant, should you by that time have been ordained.”

“I will tell Mr Hooker of your kind intentions,” he answered; “and indeed, Lord Heatherly, I am truly grateful to you for them.”

It sounded very odd to hear Oliver calling me Lord Heatherly. “Call me Walter, as before, my dear Oliver,” I said. “You and I must always be Oliver and Walter to each other.”

As soon as a number of decent cottages had been put up, I offered them to the tenants at the same rents that they had paid for the ruinous ones, which I then had pulled down, as I found they were utterly unfit to be repaired. On their sites, after the ground had been drained, I erected others; and in the course of two or three years, no one would have recognised the place. Three or four wretched public-houses or beerhouses had existed in the village. I declined renewing the leases of the tenants of these, and got a respectable man to take a new and decent inn, which I had built for the purpose. That part of the parish had been noted for poachers, and the number of other disorderly characters it contained. These either left the place or took to better callings.

One of my earliest undertakings was to have a good school-house erected, with a residence for the master and mistress, in the most central position I could fix on. By giving rewards and encouragements to the pupils, in a short time there was not a child on the property who did not attend school.

I consulted Emily, as also my uncle and Mr Hooker, as to how I could best prove my gratitude to Captain and Mrs Davenport. They managed to place a sum to his credit at his banker’s, in a way which prevented him from suspecting from whom it came. Shortly afterwards I found, from the way he spoke of the satisfactory addition to his fortune, he had no idea that I was the donor.

“Our great wish had been to give our dear Grace a finished education,” observed Mrs Davenport. “She is already as well informed as most girls of her age, but probably a few accomplishments would be advantageous to her. With our increased income we can now afford to send her to a first-rate school. I have heard of one where the mistress is not only an accomplished lady, but a pious woman, who watches over the most important interests of her pupils, and from the account I have heard from the young ladies under her charge, I feel sure that Grace cannot fail to benefit by spending two or three years with her.”

When Emily found that Grace was to go to school, she begged to accompany her. I had too many duties to perform to allow me to go to college, which I should otherwise have done, though already rather old, I fancied, for commencing a university career. I, however, through Mr Hooker, found a first-rate tutor, and during the time my sister and Grace were at school, I read hard every day with him. I found also his advice of great assistance in my efforts to improve the condition of the people committed to my charge.

Captain Davenport had not given up the sea entirely; but after making two or three successful voyages, he so improved his means, that he was able to retire and live on shore, where he obtained a lucrative employment.

He had some time before presented me with Merlin, who soon made himself at home in the house, though he never went far from it, evidently considering it, as the ship had been, under his especial charge. Whenever he heard me narrating our adventures, he pricked up his ears, as if he understood what was said, and wished to corroborate my account. He lived to extreme old age, amiable and faithful to the last.

Emily, at length, having left school, came to reside with me, and preside over my establishment. I should have said that it was far less difficult to manage than in my cousin’s time, as I had dismissed several of the footmen and grooms, as well as other useless hangers-on, who, I felt sure, benefited neither themselves nor me, by living lives of idleness. As may be supposed, Emily, who had grown into a beautiful young woman, had no want of admirers; but, to my surprise, she refused several excellent offers in succession.

“Why should I leave your house, my dear brother?” she answered, when one day I gently expostulated with her on the subject. “When you have a wife of your own, it will be time enough for me to do so; unless she wishes me to remain.”

Soon after this, Oliver Farwell, who had generally spent his vacation with me, was ordained, and the incumbent of the chief living belonging to the property having died, I presented him to it, and he commenced a career of sympathising care over the flock committed to him, which soon endeared him to them, while he gained the love and respect of people of all denominations in the parish.

“It is a long time since the Davenports paid us a visit,” I said to Emily one day. “Will you write and invite them? I am sure that you will be glad to have your old friend Grace with you.”

I had not seen Grace for a long time, and I somehow or other always thought of her as the little girl who had been Emily’s friend, and the daughter of our kind protector during our adventures in the Eastern Archipelago. I could scarcely believe my eyes when an elegant and refined young lady stepped out of the carriage which brought Captain and Mrs Davenport to my house. I had never thought of marrying; indeed, I had not been attracted by any of the young ladies in my immediate neighbourhood. When I saw Grace, however, and found her sweet, and amiable, and well-instructed, and refined, and right-minded, possessed indeed of all the qualities which should adorn a woman, new thoughts and feelings took possession of me, and I became convinced that no lady in the world was more calculated to add to my happiness than she was. Still, I could not tell how her own feelings might be engaged. Perhaps Emily saw how things were going on, for one day she said to me—

“I do not think you need be afraid, Walter; and if you ask her, I shall be very much surprised if she refuses you.”

Thereon, before many hours had passed away, I spoke to Grace, and found that there was every prospect of all my hopes of happiness being realised.

“And, Emily,” I said to her the next day, “will you confide to me the reason why you have refused so many good offers of marriage? I do not wish to get rid of you, and I am very certain that you would add greatly to Grace’s happiness if you remain here.”

“In that case,” she answered, “I think it will be my duty, as well as pleasure, to remain your guest.”

“That is not a categorical answer,” I remarked. “Come, Emily, tell me, is there no one for whom you have more regard than for those unhappy gentlemen whom you refused?” I saw a gentle blush rise to her cheek. “Well,” I said, “I shall ask Oliver Farwell to come and stay here. He keeps away far more than there is any necessity for, as he can easily ride across the park to his vicarage, and equally well attend to his duties as he can when residing there.”

“If Mr Farwell keeps away, he has probably good reason for doing so,” answered Emily; “though, of course, you are welcome to ask him to come over here, if you like to do so. I greatly respect him, and I am sure whatever he does is from a right motive.”

The following day I rode over to the vicarage, and pressed Oliver to come and stay with us, and help to entertain Captain and Mrs Davenport. I saw he hesitated somewhat. Though he congratulated me sincerely on my prospect of marriage, he uttered an involuntary sigh as he ceased speaking. “I hope, my dear Oliver, that you may enjoy the same happiness yourself,” I said. “I am very certain that the usefulness of a clergyman is greatly increased by the assistance of a suitable wife—one who will sympathise with him in his unavoidable trials and disappointments, and who will attend to many of the cases of distress which he may find it difficult to manage.” He looked grave, and then I thought he gave an inquiring glance up at my face. “Yes, Oliver,” I said; “and I am sure if you can find a woman possessed of the qualities you desire, and her heart is disengaged, she is not likely to refuse to share your fortunes.”

Before I left, Oliver had promised to come over that day to the hall. Whatever Emily had intended to do, somehow or other before long Oliver found out that, should he make her an offer, she was not likely to refuse him.

The two marriages took place on the same day, and among those who were present were Dick Tarbox, Roger Trew, Potto Jumbo, and our old friend Macco—Merlin wearing a huge favour on this occasion. Macco, indeed, was installed soon afterwards as a butler at the vicarage; while Potto Jumbo became under-cook in my establishment, and soon, by his intelligence and attention, rose to be head-cook. Dick Tarbox and Roger Trew promised, when they gave up the sea, to come and settle down on my estate, and I pointed out the site where I would build two cottages for their accommodation.

My friends and I had gone through many trials and dangers together, and I believe we had all learned an important lesson from them,—to put implicit trust in a merciful God who watches over his creatures, who allows not a sparrow to fall to the ground unknown to him, who desires the happiness of all, and who has made the way plain and simple, having given us the most minute directions by which that happiness may be obtained.

The End.