Boyton rested but a short time ere he was ready to begin a run down the Connecticut, the largest and most beautiful river in New England, from as near the headwaters as he could get, to Long Island Sound. His arrival at Stratford, New Hampshire, from which place he had decided to start, occasioned a great deal of comment in that and neighboring villages. The inhabitants concluded he should have more than ordinary recognition, and in lieu of a cannon they put a pair of anvils together and succeeded in making quite a respectable noise. At night a deputation of citizens called on him with a request that he would not start until daylight next morning, so they would have an opportunity to see him off. At six forty-five o'clock the following morning, a goodly sized company was present to witness the start. After passing the railroad bridge at Coos, he had about six miles of rapids, the river being only about forty yards wide and rather speedy, the voyager averaging about five miles an hour. At eleven o'clock he passed Stratford Hollow and inquired of a countryman there how far it was to Northumberland:
"Seven mile b' road an' twenty-b' river, b' gosh," was the native's reply.
Though laconic, the answer was correct, for the stream bowed and bended frequently, and at one time he passed the same farm house twice in an interval of two hours and a half, giving him an opportunity to observe both sides of it. About two o'clock in the afternoon a heavy rainstorm blew up, while the booms and logs in the river also caused a great deal of trouble. Whenever a person on the bank could speak to him he was invariably warned of the Fifteen Mile Falls.
"Look Bout, straanger, fur them 'ere Fifteen Mile Falls. They'll jus' squeeze yeou sure'n daylight," was almost always the style of warning.
Paul hauled up to question one man who looked like a waterman, concerning the falls. The fellow said he had gone over once on a raft, when the water was much higher. "An' would yeou b'lieve it," he added, "one o' them 'ere wimmen were boun' an' determined tew come wuth us."
"Did she go?" asked Paul.
"Neow yeou jus' bet she did."
"Well, how did she act?"
"I'll tell yeou straanger. I tol' her tew go astern an' hol' on hard tew th' stake. She went aft ju' afore we got tew Holbrook's Bar, an' then we jus' tuk it. Slap, bang we went, jus' run pitch right under thet 'ere rushin' water'n come up b'low all right."
"What did the woman do? How did she act?"
"Wall, sir, yeou wuden't b'lieve it. She jus' guv one loud snort, shuk herself out'n went right erlong."
The loss of his paddle caused Paul to remain at Northumberland all night, and fortunately it was found among a lot of driftwood next morning, enabling him to drive ahead again.
One of the drawbacks of the voyage was the difficulty experienced in getting proper provisions at many places. Numbers of people were either thoughtless, or they looked on Boyton as an uncanny sort of creature, whom they did not care to have about. When he did get food, it consisted of pie, which seemed to be the staff of life with most of the country people. He inquired of a voluble fellow where he could be best accommodated at Northumberland.
"Oh, stop at th' hotel, b' all means. They feed yeou tip top; high up," said he, "I've been ter dinner there w'en they've hed all o' seven kinds er pie on ther table t'onct."
"Have they got apples and squash?" jokingly asked the Captain.
"Yeou kin jus' bet on thet," was the enthusiastic answer.
Just below Northumberland, which place he left at nine o'clock, he encountered a dam and very rough water. The weather became squally, with a cold and cutting snow beating into his face; but he plied the paddle vigorously and made remarkable progress, reaching Lancaster at one thirty o'clock. Countrymen whom he passed would stare at him and then burst out into loud guffaws of laughter as though immensely tickled at the idea of a man paddling down the river in a driving snow storm.
At length Paul began to feel the livelier motion of the water as he was nearing Lunenburg, where the Fifteen Mile Falls begin. Wishing to enter that dangerous stretch a fresh man, he pulled up for the night and luckily found a hospitable farmer in the person of Mr. Frank Bell, who entertained him handsomely until morning.
He was prepared for heavy work when he started early next day, and well it was that he was fortified for the occasion, as the Fifteen Mile Falls proved about as rough an experience as he had ever gone through. At Holbrook's Bar, the last pitch of the falls, M'Indoe's Dam, Barnet Pitch and other place, he encountered many dangers in the way of whirling currents and jagged rocks. He suffered but a slight bruise in the descent though his dress was cut and he was obliged to stop and repair it at Lower Waterford where he remained over night. At a little settlement above that village, someone in a small gathering on the bank said:
"Hure comes that pesky swimmer aroun' th' bow, an' he's a cumin' like forty."
"Who's a-comin'?" asked a broad shouldered Green Mountaineer. The very thought of a man paddling down the river seemed to suggest some scheme of the fakir or dodge of the showman to separate him from the coins that jingled in his pocket. The old Vermonter, turning a quid of sassafras from one corner of his mouth to the other, drawled, with all impressiveness of a judge to whom some knotty law point had been presented: "Wall, I wunder what he gits out'n this? He mus' be a darned critter tew resk himself in thet ere fashion; an' I swan whar th' profit comes in is agin me tew tell."
The Vermonter's inability to understand what Boyton was going to get out of such a trip, appeared to be the subject about which most of the people along the Connecticut were puzzling their brains. They would invariably ask: "How dew yeou make it pay?" "Ain't yeou cold?" Many of them would not respond when asked for information regarding the currents and rough passages; but would permit him to paddle along uninstructed in order that they "might have the full benefit of the show."
After cutting his dress he became chilled by the inflow of cold water and was helplessly numb. A little stimulant would have done him a world of good; but he could neither beg, buy nor borrow anything from the spectators. When he reached Lower Waterford Bridge, his agent met him with supplies, and there he stopped to repair his dress. He was only about midway of the Fifteen Mile Falls. The suit was injured in the first pitch and the accident might have been averted had any one in the large crowd that watched him start in, given him information. As he approached, he asked the onlookers where the channel of the river was. They stared at him and on the question being repeated, looked at one another and put their eyes on the river again. Almost immediately the current swept Boyton toward the rocks.
Off Morris' place, Paul hailed a fellow in a turnip patch and as he cautiously approached the river, the Captain removed the cover from an air-tight jar suspended from his neck, took out a cigar and holding a match in the rubber tube of his dress, lit the weed. The rustic removed his hat, closed an eye and scratched his head in great perplexity.
"Wall, I swaw," he ejaculated, "ef yeou hadn't spoke er I'd er taken yeou fur th' devil an' swore yeou that ere durned cigar Wuth th' end o' yer tail, I wud, b'gosh. But ain't yer cold?"
Valley Hotel was the name of the tavern at which Paul and his party put up for the night at Lower Waterford. How long before Boyton's visit the last guest had registered there is problematical, but the landlady proved hospitable. During the evening, her sitting room, which Boyton and his party occupied, reviewing the incidents of the voyage, was overrun with fellows who stalked in and looked at "the show" just as if it was a menagerie of wild beasts into which they had free admission. They gathered at the country store opposite and poured across the street, in sixes and sevens, like so many reliefs on army duty. A gang would enter the sitting room occupying the chairs and sofa, look on with open mouths for ten or fifteen minutes and listen to what must have been enigmatical to them; then looking one at the other, the entire party would rise together, stalk back to the store, where they would relate their experience to others, who in turn would brace up and make a descent on the lion of the hour. They did not rap for admittance, did not remove their hats on entering, did not wait to be asked to take a seat, did not say a word to anybody while present, did not say "good evening" when they went out—in fact did nothing but stare in the most ignorant and saucy manner. An excuse may be made for there in the fact that Waterford is isolated from civilization, there being neither railroad nor telegraph communication with the outside world and few newspapers are ever seen to say nothing of being read. Paul bore the inspection good naturedly and joked pleasantly as each "relief" went out.
Just before starting in the morning, an old gentleman met Boyton on the porch in front of the hotel and expressed real pleasure at meeting him—in fact, claimed close acquaintanceship. The Captain was glad to meet an old friend and was inquisitive enough to ask where they had seen each other before.
"Wall," the old fellow answered, "yeou remember w'en yeou crossed th' English channel?"
"Yes," Boyton remembered it.
"An' that ere rubber suit you wore?"
"Wall," continued the old man, apparently tickled to the end of his toes because Paul had not forgotten. "Wall, I saw thet ere suit at the centennial in Philadelphia in '76; I was thar." He looked triumphantly around to catch the admiring gaze of his townsmen.
The above are only a few samples of many similar incidents and episodes which occured during the voyage. In shooting Dodge's Falls, a lumberman called out to Paul to hug the New Hampshire shore and he would get over safely. That was the only sensible word of warning or information he received through the entire Fifteen Mile Falls.
He reached Woodville Monday evening after escaping many dangers, pretty well used up. The worst of the run had been accomplished, though there were still several falls and dams to be shot and long stetches of dead water to be paddled. Nearing Bellow's Falls, the people were more enlightened and many offers of hospitality were sung out to him from shore. The citizens of that place displayed a deep interest in his attempt to shoot the falls and rendered all the assistance in their power. He shot them in safety, though narrowly escaping a big log that was dashed over directly behind him. From that point to the completion of the voyage, he everywhere met with kind words and encoragement.
On the evening of November seventh, he landed at Saybrook light, sixteen days from Stratford Hollow.
The winter of 1879 and 1880 was spent in Florida, hunting, fishing, alligator shooting and canoeing. He and a party of friends made a canoe voyage far up on the St. John's river and through the Kissimmee to Lake Okeechobee, where they had a great deal of sport shooting deer, bears and alligators; but at the same time the numerous moccasins and rattlesnakes afforded more amusement than was relished by several of the party. Returning north to Jacksonville, Paul made a run down the St. John's river to the sea, crossing the shark infested bar at the mouth of the river.
On his way north during the spring, he made short trips on the Savannah, Cooper and Potomac rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. In June he paddled down the Delaware from Philadelphia to Ship John's light. That trip was a very laborious one on account of the sluggish tide. The moment the tide would turn against him, he would have to strike for the flat Jersey shore, where in the long grass the myriads of energetic mosquitoes almost set him frantic with their attention. Later he paddled the entire length of Lake Quinsigamond, and in September he ran the Narragansett from Rocky Point to Providence.
One day in October, while Paul was walking down Broadway, New York, a gentleman tapped him on the shoulder, saying: "This is Captain Boyton, I believe?" On being answered in the affirmative, he continued:
"I have just returned from Europe, where I was looking for you. I have a message for you from Don Nicholas de Pierola, but as I am known as an agent of the Peruvian government, it is hardly safe to talk to you here, as there are Chilean spies in New York as well as Lima. Meet me to- night at this address." He slipped a card into Boyton's hand and stepped quickly away.
That night Paul entered a house in Thirty-fourth street where he met the stranger, who immediately proceeded to business by stating that Don Nicholas de Pierola wanted Boyton to start for Peru at once, with a full equipment of dresses, torpedo cases, electrical appliances, and everything necessary for the destruction of Chilean vessels. It did not take Paul long to arrange the preliminaries and before he left, a contract was made by which he was to enter the Peruvian torpedo service, with a commision of Captain. He was to receive one-hundred-thousand dollars for the first Chilean vessel destroyed; one-hundred-and-twenty- five thousand dollars for the second and one-hundred-and-fifty thousand dollars for the third. Three Chilean vessels that were desired most to be destroyed were named. They were the Huascar, Blanco Encalado, and Almirante Corcoran.
Next day Boyton was busy getting the necessary equipment together, happy in the thought of more adventure and chances of big prize money. He also received credentials as a newspaper correspondent under the name of Pablo Delaport. He told his family he was going to take a little run to Panama, but said nothing about Peru. On October 10th, 1880, accompanied by his assistant, George Kiefer, he embarked on the steamer Crescent City for Aspinwall, arriving at that port on the 19th, whence they crossed to Panama and were compelled to wait there two days for the Columbia to bear them south, to Peru. One of the passengers from New York, was a curious and erratic character, who was the possessor of a weighty secret. After much mystery, he decided to make Boyton his confidant, and he solemnly revealed to him the matter that was bearing on his brain. It was to the effect that a great treasure was buried on a distant island and he was about fitting out an expedition to go in search of it. A female relative, who was a clairvoyant, had located the treasure and he was sure of finding it. He was anxious for Paul to join him in the search, and displayed almost insane disappointment at receiving a refusal. At Panama, the fortune hunter purchased an outfit of arms, including a commander's sword which he strapped on and strutted about with the air of a bold buccaneer. He chartered a vessel in which he sailed for the treasure island; but, as Paul afterward learned, returned after great suffering and loss, minus the treasure.
A Chilean man-of-war, the Amazonas, was anchored at Panama on the lookout for a torpedo launch that was expected to arrive for the Peruvian government from New York. In his capacity of a newspaper correspondent, Boyton went on board the man-of-war to inspect her, with an idea that he might have an opportunity sometime to feel her bottom with a one-hundred-and-fifty pound torpedo. He was escorted through the vessel by her Captain and took copious notes of her construction and armament. As he was over-going the side into the boat to return to shore, an English engineer spanned him carefully and remarked: "Your face seems familiar to me. Where have I seen you before?"
Paul replied that he could not possibly tell as his duties led him to all parts of the world, and he hurriedly entered the boat.
The next day they set sail and on the 24th, sighted Dead Man's Island at the mouth of the Guayquil river. From a certain point the island bears a startling resemblance to a gigantic man afloat on his back. Hence its name. They steamed up the river about sixty miles to Guayquil. The chattering of parrots and paroquettes along the shore was almost deafening. Flocks of them would hover over the vessel for several minutes at a time and fly back to the forest.
Guayquil is one of the hottest towns on earth, though not one of the cleanest. The stenches arising from the filthy streets and byways are overpowering, and fever flags fly from nearly every third or fourth house. The steamer lay in the middle of the river while discharging her cargo into lighters and the passengers took advantage of the wait for a trip across into the city. From the landing place crowds of boys followed them, offering monkeys and alligators for sale. The latter were from six inches to three feet long, strapped on boards to keep them from biting. They are much quicker and more savage than the North American alligator.
After the cargo was discharged, the vessel was again put under way and on the 26th they anchored off Paita, the first Peruvian port. Paul took a long walk on the beach at that place, and for the first time saw the curious, blood red crabs that dwell in myriads along the shore. At a distance they look like a big red wave; but as they are approached, quickly disappear into holes in the sand, and on looking back, they are seen in countless thousands in the rear. Their habits are similar to the hermit crab. They are small and not edible, quick as rats and difficult to catch.
Chimbote was the next place in Peru at which the steamer anchored. That port was then in the hands of the Chileans and the stop was only long enough to take on the mail, when they headed for Callao, the principal port of Peru. As the Chilean fleet then blockaded the port no steamers were permitted to land there, but when off the city, the Columbia steamed through the blockaders, much to Paul's anxiety, because of a man on board who had been questioning him rather closely regarding his intentions in visiting Peru and Boyton had every reason to believe him a spy, and looked every moment for him to signal one of the blockading vessels; but fortunately the Columbia was allowed to proceed on her way unmolested to the port of Chilca where there are only a few miserable houses. The steamer landed there at night and Paul with his companion and five other passengers were put ashore in a small boat. Accommodations for the entertainment of travelers were very poor, but they made the best of it for the night, though they were nearly devoured by fleas, which, combined with the fact that it was necessary to guard closely their baggage, prevented the enjoyment of any repose. A train of mules was chartered next morning to bear them across the pampas to Lima. All day long they bestrode those razor backed mules, riding through wild country, now over bleak and desolate hills, then across barren plains. The absence of even a spear of grass bespoke the unfruitfulness of the soil, while large condors and galanasas hovered overhead, waiting for man or mule to fall, overcome by the heat; then they would alight with exultant cries to a horrible feast. The water of the caravan was rapidly exhausted and they suffered the pangs of thirst. Toward evening, with parched throats and weary bodies they reached an oasis in the shape of a poor village. There was water in abundance however, and that was more precious to the wayfarers than the sight of great palaces. Being refreshed, they proceeded to the town of Lurin, where they arrived late at night and found the place occupied by Peruvian troops. An ambitious officer of the company, selected Paul for a victim and placed him under arrest as a Chilean spy. The officer would listen to no explanations, but compelled his prisoner to travel on that night, though he was so fatigued by the day's journey that he could scarcely sit on his mule. There was no help for it, so Kiefer was left with the baggage and Paul, closely guarded, rode off into the sultry night During the small hours of the morning, the troop arrived at Chorrillos, at which place, Boyton positively refused to go further, being too nearly exhausted to proceed. The officer decided to remain until daylight and go on to Lima by rail. As tired as the prisoner was, he could not sleep on account of the ravenous attacks of fleas which drove him almost mad. At daylight he was taken by railway train to Lima and on arrival there was immediately marched to the palace, where he was to be presented as a spy to his friend, Don Nicholas de Pierola, the Dictator.
The impertinent officer arrived at the palace with his prisoner, under the impression that he would receive a handsome reward for making such a notable arrest. When Paul pulled out a packet, addressed to Don Nicholas, the fellow was rather surprised; but continued to treat the supposed spy with overbearing harshness, until Boyton was released from his presence and taken before the Dictator, where he was cordially received and many references made to their former pleasant meeting in Paris.
"But how did you get here so soon?" inquired Don Nicholas, "other passengers who were on board the Columbia have not yet arrived."
Paul related the story of his capture at Lurin and of his all night ride on mule back. The Dictator sent for the officer, who, thinking he was going to be rewarded for his cleverness, entered the reception room with a peacock strut that was admirable. By the time Don Nicholas finished a reprimand, he slunk away like a whipped cur and it is likely he was more careful to investigate thereafter when making arrests.
The Dictator sent Paul to the Hotel Americano, where fine quarters were prepared for him and he took a much needed rest, not waking until the next day when a message was conveyed to him from Don Nicholas to the effect that they were going to Ancon that day to try some torpedo experiments. Much refreshed, he was quickly ready to accompany them.
Ancon is a small seaside resort about fifteen miles from Lima. At that time it was almost entirely deserted on account of the frequent bombarding by the Chilean cruisers as they passed up and down the coast. Whenever those aboard the cruisers wished amusement, they turned their guns on Ancon and knocked over a few houses.
The party consisting of the Dictator, several high government officials, Boyton and Major Rabauld, who had been transferred to him as an aid, went down on a special car drawn by a little engine named the Favorita, furnished by the railroad company, which was largely owned by Americans.
The experiments took place between several rocky islands, that have probably been detached from the mainland by volcanic action, and the shore. The torpedoes were tried on dummy vessels, while a troop of soldiers stood guard at all the approaches to the place in order to prevent inquisitive individuals as well as Chilean spies, from learning the nature of the work going on. Don Nicholas was highly pleased and was in fine spirits at the thought of getting rid of some of the powerful vessels that darkened his harbor with their frowning ports. On their return trip, the Favorita had proceeded less than one mile, when the little engine ran plump into a sand pile that had been carried up by the wind, and was thrown from the track on to a plain that had once been a burial place of the ancient Incas. All efforts to put the engine and car back on the track were fruitless, and a messenger was sent back to Ancon to telegraph to Lima for an extra engine to assist in righting the little train. As the telegraph service was extremely slow, the party was compelled to wait all day for the relief engine. In the meantime, Don Nicholas and his staff, went out on the pampas and stood about the sand hills talking over the struggle they were having with their neighbors. During that time, a Chilean cruiser passed about one mile off shore, and had the importance of the little group been known to those on board, they could have captured the Dictator without a great deal of trouble.
The soldiers gathered up the skulls and bones of Incas that were strewn about and amused themselves by playing ten pins on the hard sand, sticking the bones up and rolling the skulls at them. Don Nicholas paid no attention to the gruesome sport; but stood calmly conversing with the officers who surrounded him.
It was almost dark when the relief engine came puffing into sight; but a short time sufficed to place the car on the track and the party arrived safely at Lima.
On the following day, Paul went down to Callao, bearing a letter from the Dictator to General Astate, commander of the fort, requesting him to furnish Boyton with the best small vessel obtainable for torpedo work. The General received Paul in the kindest possible manner, and took him out to the Punta del Mar Bravo, where fortifications were located, and calling his attention to some American parrot guns, patted one of them and smilingly remarked:
"These are some compatriots of yours."
With that, the General gave orders to fire at the Chilean fleet which was then laying near San Lorenzo, an island several miles out from Callao and so high are its cliffs that they penetrate the clouds. Four or five shots were fired at the blockading vessels; but they were too far off, as the iron balls could be seen throwing spray in the air at some distance to the landward of them. "That is a salute in your honor," remarked the General.
That evening, after having overhauled every available craft in the harbor, General Astate gave Paul a little sloop, the only thing that could possibly be used in torpedo attacks; but far from being the powerful little steam launch that had been promised. The Peruvian steamers at that time were all corralled in the harbor at Callao. They were not strong enough to grapple with the powerful men-of-war of the Chileans that so saucily watched the port, hence they remained inside under the protection of the guns at the fort and at the point, while great piles of sand bags were erected to the seaward of the docks as a shield against Chilean cannon balls.
Paul was therefore compelled to enter upon his torpedo work, terribly handicapped by the poor equipment of the Peruvians; but determined to make the best use of the means at hand. The little sloop was called the Alicran. She was quickly provisioned and a crew shipped. Before embarking on her, Don Nicholas sent for Boyton and commissioned him as Captain in the Peruvian Navy. She was then sailed around to Chorrilos, as Paul considered that the best point from which to begin operations on the Chilean fleet. There he made his headquarters at a hacienda which a wealthy Peruvian turned over to him and anchored the sloop close in shore under the shelter of the cliffs, and began the manufacture of torpedoes. One thousand pounds of dynamite had been sent down to him in wagons from Lima, and under his directions, the crew was soon engaged in stowing it away in the rubber cases.
When the torpedoes were ready, he began cruising to the seaward in order to reconnoiter the movements of the blockading squadron, which every night would trip anchor and stand off to sea. The Chilean's fear of torpedoes deterred them from laying in to shore at night. Paul drilled the officers that were placed under him in the use of the rubber dress and in handling torpedoes; but he did not find them overly energetic in their work. They spent most of their time among the islands, that were formed by great rocks which had been cast from the mainland by earthquake or volcanic action, watching the movements of the Chileans. All day long the blockading vessels would lay in sight; but at night they would steam further out to sea and stand slowly up and down the coast. Night after night Paul and his crew watched for an opportunity to place one of their torpedoes under the dark hull of a Chilano; but the latter were on the alert for them, having been informed that Boyton had been engaged by Peru. The phosphorescence of the water at night was also against them. The least disturbance on its surface would cause a glow of silver to flash in the darkness that could be seen for quite a distance.
One night as they were watching from Chorrillos, a cruiser was sighted steaming slowly up the coast and Paul determined to test her alertness at all hazards. He put on his dress and taking a one hundred pound torpedo in tow, paddled out as carefully as possible until he saw her head toward him. Then he set the fly torpedo across what he thought would be her track and pulled in shore. Had the cruiser picked the line up with her bow, it would have thrown the torpedo along her side, setting an automatic wheel in motion that would explode it. When he had reached a safe distance, he turned to see the vessel blown up and to his intense disappointment, the cruiser turned a gatling gun on the torpedo. The Chileans were more watchful than he had given them credit for.
After the Chilean had discovered the torpedo, the little sloop barely escaped by putting out her sweeps and drawing close up under the land, by that means reaching Chorrillos next morning in safety. A party of marines from the cruiser were landed on an island near where they had discovered the torpedo, next day, to hunt out those who had placed it. Fortunately for Paul and his crew they had eluded the cruiser under cover of the night. For some two months after the above adventure, the torpedo men laid under the shelter of the batteries on the top of Moro, a high bluff. They made sorties every night; but the Chileans were on the watch for them, besides the sloop was so slow as to be almost useless, and Paul's Peruvians had a wholesome dread of the enemies' guns which could be turned with great rapidity in any direction. Daily they sailed to some barren, desolate island, hoping for a chance to blow one of the Chilean's vessels out of the water. The Huascar stood up and down the coast at times, almost within range of the Peruvian guns. As she was one of the vessels Paul wanted to get, he determined to lay in her track and risk an attempt to destroy her. With such intention, he ran the sloop out as far as he could, one night, and went overboard in his dress, with a screw torpedo, that would have blown the Huascar as high as the topmost peaks of San Lorenzo. It was a favorable night—dark, with a choppy sea that turned the phosphorescent lights up, all over the surface, so that no single object could be distinguished in it. He sighted the Huascar crawling slowly along the coast, with not a light to be seen aboard of her. Being short of coal, her fires were banked and she was carried forward by her own momentum. When there was danger of her losing steerage way, her engines would be started again and then shut down as before. Thus she was slowly creeping along the coast line.
Her bow glided by Paul not more than twenty feet away. He moved cautiously to her side expecting to catch hold of her rudder chain. He saw one-hundred-thousand dollars in his grasp. Now, he thought, "one of the most powerful enemies of Peru will be put beyond doing damage." When he was about midship and was preparing to reach for her chain, the steersman's bell rang a signal to the engineer, her wheel began to revolve and she slipped by him out of danger, of which those on board were unconscious. Paul was terribly discomfited at the result of that attempt which was so near being successful. He left the torpedo floating on the sea and struck out to reach shore before daylight discovered him, knowing that it would be impossible to gain the sloop.
The next move of the torpedo men was to sail to all the outside islands, which are literally alive with seals and sea lions. So thick were those mammals, that the guns were frequently turned on them. Their numbers so emboldened them that unless frightened away, they would attack the intruders on their territory. From those islands Paul took observations of the movements of the Chileans and came to the conclusion that they were running so short of coal that all of their vessels did not steam out to sea at night; but some of them anchored back of San Lorenzo. He made up his mind to visit that island some night to assure himself that his idea was correct. One end of it is detached from the main body as though split off by an earthquake, and is called Fronton. Both Fronton and San Lorenzo are honeycombed by numberless caves, cut out by the continual beating of the sea forced by the two trade winds against the rocks; so too, is the entire coast of Peru sieved by caves whose length or depth have never been explored.
Paul decided to make the reconnoiter of San Lorenzo by running the sloop to Frouton, then paddle himself across to the main island and make his way over it as far as he could until he discovered whether or not the Chilean soldiers guarded the approaches to the night anchorage of their vessels. He waited for a dark night and then put his scheme into operation. He placed two one hundred pound torpedoes aboard the sloop and stood away for Pronto. The crew displayed signs of nervousness at running so close to the dreaded torpedo boats of the enemy, and it was with some difficulty he kept them close at work. They glided along in a heavy fog; but having dead bearing for compass and allowance for currents all made, the fog did not bother the Captain in the least. The crew was armed with carbines and ordered to make no noise as the sloop, with a light wind, nosed in through the fog. Suddenly, as if coming from the thick mist high above them, the sound of approaching oars was heard. The men were ordered to get ready and hold their carbines at ease; but to Paul's consternation, he observed they were ready to give up even before they saw an enemy. They said the Chileans were sure to hang them for being in the torpedo service even if they were not shot down in fight and it mattered little which way they went so long as there was no chance for escape.
Knowing that prompt and harsh measures would be the only means of handling the quaking cowards, Boyton seized a carbine and in a determined manner told them that the first man who refused to fire when the order was given, would receive a bullet through his head.
"Now stand by and await orders, no matter who or what is coming," he thundered.
A moment later, the strokes of the sweeps were almost under them.
"Que venga," hailed the Captain.
The oars were immediately stopped and a trembling voice answered in Spanish:
"Fishermen, fishermen; don't shoot."
Seeing nothing more formidable than a couple of poor fishermen who were willing to brave the vigilance of the Chileans for the sake of a catch, the crew at once became very brave and bustled about as though they were willing to sail right into the entire fleet of the enemy.
In a short time the breakers were heard booming in on the rocks of Frouton and the sloop was run to a safe anchorage under the cliffs, in smooth water. Paul prepared for the trip to San Lorenzo and ordered the crew to remain by the sloop until three o'clock in the morning as that would give them ample time to reach the mainland before the Chileans could sight them. Launching the two torpedoes, he paddled across the narrow but rough channel, intending to plant the torpedoes for future use. He struck under the towering cliffs of the island and pursued his way along them looking for a safe landing place. At times he passed great openings in the cliffs, into which huge waves rolled and sounded back as though dashing against some obstruction far away in the bowels of the island, and the heavy, saline smell of seals and sea lions escaped through the openings. At length he came to a place where he could land without being flung against the rocks. He hauled the torpedoes up on a smooth beach, placed them carefully under a shelf of rock, removed the rubber dress and in his stocking feet began to climb the steep side of the island with the intention of discovering how far the Chilean outposts extended in his direction. It was a tiresome climb. Up over guano beds and broken rock, and as the wind was off shore, scarcely a breath of air came to cool the heated atmosphere and as he toiled on, the perspiration fairly streamed from his pores. When he reached the top, a cool land breeze fanned his perspiring face and with an exclamation of pleasure, he seated himself on a rock to rest and cool off. At the same moment, a dark figure started up, not thirty yards away. There was a flash of fire, a report and a bullet passed close to Paul's head. He drew his revolver with the intention of shooting at the figure which was retreating; but not knowing how many soldiers there might be around, he refrained. There was a lapse of but a few seconds, when gun after gun was heard cracking in nearly every quarter and that was proof to him that sentries were stationed all over the island. Knowing that a general alarm had been given, he began a rapid descent of the cliffs, well aware of the fatal consequences if the Chileans captured him. Every moment he expected a company of soldiers to pounce upon him, or that their torpedo boats would capture him at the foot of the cliff. Shot after shot followed him as he made for the place at which he had concealed his dress, with all the speed with which he was possessed. Being less cautious in the descent than he had been in going up, he loosened great masses of guano and rock that rolled down ahead of him. When he reached the breakers again, an avalanche of guano had covered his dress. He hurriedly searched up and down the beach until he discovered one foot of the rubber pantaloons sticking out from under the guano. He pulled it out and was soon paddling across the gut again. As he ran under the cliff where the sloop had been anchored, he could not see her; but as he rose on the waves he discovered her nearly out of sight, standing away for the mainland, with all canvas spread. The crew had heard the firing, had weighed anchor and sailed for the protection of their own guns, under the impression that their Captain had been killed; in fact, such was the report they made on their arrival at Lima.
Appreciating the fact that he would surely be discovered by the enemy if he attempted to paddle to the mainland in the dress; if not during the night, certainly in the morning, for he could not hope to reach safely before daylight revealed him. What should he do? He now knew that San Lorenzo was heavily guarded and there was no hope of shelter on Frouton. It were better to challenge the mercy of the monsters of the deep than that of his human foes, so he quickly made up his mind to return and conceal himself under the crags of San Lorenzo in one of the caverns which he had passed. He paddled back through the heavily rolling waves and got under the cliffs of the island, looking every moment to be run down by a torpedo boat; but fortunately his pursuers missed him and he felt a wave of hot air, impregnated with that saline smell which betokened the entrance to a cave. Then he could see a blacker spot than the darkness that surrounded him, which he knew was the entrance. He unhesitatingly struck for it, the mountain seeming to close over and swallow him as he entered the mysterious chamber of the sea. Cautiously he made his way back, not knowing what creatures he might encounter. Slowly and with straining eyes he advanced through the thick blackness, until he could hear the breathing and stirring of what he rightly conjectured to be seals. He sounded with his paddle and found it to be of insufficient length to show him the depth of water. Reaching a ledge of rock which had been rendered slippery by the constant sliding of slimy seals over it, he drew himself up, having to use great care not to cut the dress on the sharp edges of numberless shells which he found everywhere wedged in the interstices of the rock. When he reached a place against the back wall where he thought he could keep himself from sliding into the water, there was an ominous growl, one or two splashes below, then for a moment all was quiet again except the mournful washing of the waves far back in the mysterious depths and the heavy breathing of the sea animals about him; but what they were he was not sure, whether they would attack him or not, he could not tell, and could only trust in Providence to keep him safe. The noise of snapping, snarling and growling was kept up and through the watches of that dreadful night, he never closed an eye.
As the rays of the tropical morning sun began to penetrate the gloom, Paul looked around him. Everywhere along the sides of the cavern were ledges and shelves of rock; covering these was an army of seals and sea lions waking from their night's rest. They would raise their bodies half upright from their stony beds, stretch their flippers and yawn, much after the manner of a human being, then drop into the water and make off toward the open sea in search of their breakfast. Stretched on his ledge, in the black rubber dress, Paul was probably taken for one of their own species, for hundreds of them passed without noticing him. Some of them, however, did discover him to be a strange intruder in their lodging house. These would turn their great, round eyes on him, circle off from the ledge, then with a quick flip of their flukes dart toward the opening, gracefully cutting the water as they steered for their fishing grounds. Some returned with a fish in their mouths, shining like silver, and all day he had a chance to watch their movements.
He was greatly interested in the peculiar manner in which they climbed upon the ledges. They would raise their bodies almost out of the water, place their flippers on the edge of the rock and with a quick flirt of their flukes, project themselves to the shelf in the most graceful manner. Later in the morning, Paul noticed one enormous brute on a ledge opposite him and about fifty feet below. It appeared to be heavy and sleepy. Around it were clustered several smaller ones, seeming to be its immediate retainers or most intimate friends. The big fellow was uneasy. Several times he lifted his head, looked about with his blood shot eyes and then dropped back again as though to finish a nap. Paul expected an attack and braced himself for it. The monster finally edged slowly over and plunged into the water. He did not appear again until he had passed Boyton's ledge, then he came to the surface, gave a loud snort, either of defiance, fear or astonishment, sank again and went out to join his comrades.
Paul dare not venture out of the cave in the daylight. He sat there in his dress and dozens of baby seals crawled up on the ledge beside him, playing all over and around him, some of them sucking the fingers of his gloves with mouths like red coral. Sometimes the anxious mothers swam in and bellowed at their young; but as they grew accustomed to the stranger and saw no injury came to the little fellows, they became quiet.
At sundown, the seals began pouring in again and climbed to their respective couches, uttering the most weird cries, snarling and bellowing as though quarreling about their beds. Paul had had nothing to eat or drink all day; but owing to the dampness of the cavern, he felt no thirst. Twilights are short in that latitude and nightfall followed fast in the wake of sundown; so he quietly unlimbered himself, slipped off the rock so as not to disturb the seals and dipping his paddle gently in the phosphorescent water, slid out of the gloomy jaws of the cave into the starlit night. He made a wide sweep against the tide around Frouton and by steady, cautious pulling all night, was close under the fortifications of Callao by morning.
Not wishing to land until daylight for fear of being shot by some of the sentinels, he laid off and then came very near getting what he had waited to escape, for in the grey light of the morning, he discovered a sentinel with a gun aimed at him. He shouted "Peru, Peru," several times before the guard would understand and lower the rifle.
Landing safely at last, he immediately proceeded to Lima to report to the Dictator, and hurried back to take command of the sloop again.
The reconnoiter of San Lorenzo had convinced Paul that the island was watched from end to end in the closest manner and it was useless to attempt to work from there with the means at hand. He determined to lead out in a different direction to accomplish his designs, and his next move was a cruise due southward to the island off Pachacamac and generally called by that name. The little sloop wound her way in and out among the numerous rocky islets off the coast. Under their close shelter she picked her way hidden from the Chilean cruisers that turned their guns on everything not of their own kind, on the sea. The coast is extremely wild and utterly deserted, formed of lofty ledges of rock, hollowed into caverns underneath, by the insidious beating of the trade wind waves. The chiseled doorways to those caves are rare specimens of Nature's mysterious work; some large, some small and of queer, fantastic shapes; that black-mouthed gape at chance passers, while towering high above, a roof of table land—arid, scorching pampas, is just as uninviting as the water way below. So desolate is that part of the coast that it is but little known. Don Nicholas and a group of Peruvian officers to whom Paul described the caves, expressed the utmost astonishment, though born and bred within twenty five miles of their mysterious recesses. The desert above is traversed only by a narrow trail and is seldom used, while even the fishermen give the caverns below a wide berth, being superstitious and fearful of the strange cries that are heard echoing from their depths. That is why they are so little known and never explored.
During the day, when a Chilean cruiser nosed around uncomfortably close, the little sloop would be hugged under the lee of one of the islands, sail lowered and anchor dropped. Paul was thus given an opportunity of exploring the caves. Sometimes he paddled into them encased in his rubber dress; but generally he used a little gig, carrying an ax, knife, carbine and a few biscuits, spending whole days in those lonely places whenever the sea permitted. Once while exploring along the coast, he observed a great table rock that had been washed down until it rested upon two natural pillars, forming the capstone of the entrance to a great cave. The sea was rolling heavily at the time, but by cautiously backing the gig, he succeeded in entering. A scene of marvelous beauty met his wondering eyes. High above, the rays of the tropical sun pierced the numerous cracks and crevices in the arched roof of the cavern, illuminating with gorgeous coloring the submarine vegetation which hung like long snakes from roof and walls. Here the curling vines and tendrils glowed a deep purple; there, owing to changing light, a dark green; everywhere, light greens, dark reds, pinks, crimsons, yellows, greys, bright reds and every conceivable color. Sea fans and, sea plumes there were in endless variety, while outside, in the scorching heat, no sign of vegetation relieved the eye, inside was cool and beautiful with the luxuriance of the flora of the sea. The sides of the cavern were filled with molusca—radiantly colored shells, sea urchins and innumerable specimens of marine life. Along the pale green surfaces of shelving rocks, sea foxes, a fur bearing animal on that coast; bright, wicked little fellows, darted about, uttering shrill cries at the intrusion of the stranger as he drifted slowly back into their fairylike abode. Paul felt as though he would like to have one of the little fellows and raised his carbine to shoot; but it seemed profanation to disturb the grand serenity and beauty of the scene. The weapon was lowered and the animals allowed to play undisturbed.
The gig was backed slowly through the brilliant arches until the light became dim and the darkening recesses wore a gruesome look. Thinking it unsafe to penetrate further the vast, unknown aisles, Paul rowed out of the yawning mouth after picking up many shells of every hue.
Next evening anchor was weighed and the sloop headed for Pachacamac. It was beautiful moonlight. About midnight, sailing close in shore, they were passing a white, sandy beach when one of the crew asked Boyton if he would like some turtles, as the place they were then passing, swarmed with them. An affirmative answer being given, the sloop was hove to, while Paul and the sailor entered the gig and pulled ashore. Under the strong rays of the moon, the turtles on the white sand appeared to be as thick as ants. Selecting two or three of the smaller size for their game, hundreds of them being too large to be turned over by their united efforts, they quickly threw them on their backs while the others ran into the sea with astonishing celerity considering their very poor reputation for speed. Paul and the sailor transferred their capture to the boat and in a short time the ugly animals were turned over to the scientific ministrations of the cook. About ten o'clock next morning they put into a little bay, bound in by rocks and well hidden, on the shore side of the island of Pachacamac. There they passed several days, and many fruitless attempts were made with floating torpedoes to destroy the steamer Pilcamo. They worked only at night time and laid under the friendly shelter of the rocks during the day.
It was their custom during the daytime to explore the ruins of the ancient Inca buildings, the island having been the site of their temple and used also as a place of burial; for their strange tombs are numerous there. One of the crew was an expert in locating those Inca tombs. By sinking a pointed rod in the sand he could easily tell when a grave was below and after some laborious digging, the oven shaped top of the tomb was exposed. With a heavy pick an opening would be made through the sun burnt brick, and instantly a rush of foul air assailed the nostrils, though the bodies had been buried there for perhaps thousands of years.
When a hole large enough was made, Paul and the expert sailor would drop through it into the oval space below. There they invariably found several mummies seated in a circle, with their heads on the knees around which their arms were clasped. Some of them were encased in wicker work, others in cloth made of alpaca wool in brilliant colors and gorgeous with curious designs. The bodies were wonderfully preserved. In the center of these weird circles were found earthenware vessels containing petrified corn. As the sun streamed in lighting up the awe inspiring groups, whose history runs beyond all knowledge of the present day, one could but think of the deep and wonderful secrets which the grave conceals.
Paul gathered many curious things of prehistoric workmanship and only regretted that the limited quarters of the sloop prevented his taking all he desired. He was so deeply interested in excavating the tombs, however, that regardless of his inability to carry more relics, he prosecuted the search in the hope that he might discover something that would throw mote light on the habits, customs and peculiarities of the strange race. It struck him, however, that laborious digging through the hot sand was not the best method of reaching the mummies, and he overcame the difficulty by dropping a charge of dynamite which blew an opening with sufficient force to have given the dried up Incas a headache had they been sensible of feeling. He found many stone idols, specimens of pottery, bracelets, anklets, chains and other ornaments fashioned out of gold and silver and of strange designs.
Several days passed while exploring the mysterious tombs in the daylight and watching for a chance to place a torpedo at night, when it was discovered that the cruiser they were after had hauled off; so the necessity of their staying there being removed, the sloop was headed for Chorrilos. From the latter city they made short runs among the islands in that neighborhood. While on those trips, they frequently passed an island on one of the ledges of which, they often saw a monster sea lion—the largest among the thousands in that locality. One of his crew assured Paul that that lion was known to all the fisherman and was remarkably cunning. Boyton at once made up his mind to capture the brute. With that purpose in view, he ran the sloop for several days to a point behind the island near the big lion's resting place, in order to get him accustomed to their presence. He was always found occupying the same ledge of rock, surrounded by smaller lions. For the first two or three days, when the sloop approached, the monster would rise on his flippers, bellow and dive off into the sea. Following his plans, Boyton made no attempt to molest him; but brought the sloop close under the island where the men would either sleep or spend their time at fishing. In a few days the lion became so accustomed to the sloop, that instead of diving he would lay on the rock and watch curiously. If he did go off, he returned again after satisfying his hunger. When it was thought he had lost all fear of them, Paul gave orders to the men one morning to stand by with carbines ready to fire as soon as the word was given. Sail was lowered and the sloop allowed to drift in as close as the monster would permit. As soon as he raised his great head and showed signs of uneasiness, the man forward let go the anchor and the crew pretended to busy themselves about the deck without regarding his presence. For a few moments he hung his ponderous body from side to side and settled down to sleep again. He was not disturbed for an hour or more and then Paul ordered his men to get ready. Raising his carbine, he fired over the head of the lion. The shot had the desired effect, for the brute sprang, to his flippers, presenting his broad breast to the crew and at that moment the order was given to fire. The beast staggered and attempted to reach the sea; but fell over, while the smaller ones dropped off the rock in fright. Convinced that the monster was dead, Boyton ordered the boat lowered; but strange to say not one of the crew would get into it with him, they were so terrified. Taking a knife, ax and revolver, he persuaded one of the men to back him to the rock along which the sea surged heavily and when near enough, made a spring for it. He managed to draw himself upon the ledge where the monster laid, though the sea caught him to the arm pits before he could do it, and found his prize to be fully fourteen feet long from snout to flukes. He plunged the knife into its throat to make sure of the work. Then he called to the crew to get ashore as there was no danger; but the men were afraid to risk it, the other sea lions being greatly excited, and Boyton began to remove the skin as best he could without assistance. The only way to do it was to run the knife along the stomach and cut away the blubber, rolling the skin back as he did so. He took out the entrails and flesh, so that instead of removing the skin, he really hewed the body out of it, throwing the offal into the sea. While the cutting was going on all appeared to go well with the other sea lions that were swarming about in a great state of excitement; but when he chopped at the flippers or any bony obstruction with the hatchet, they leaped on to the rock in such numbers that he had to shoot into them to frighten them away. After two hours or so of hard work lie had the body with the exception of the head and flippers out of the skin. He ordered the crew to haul in close and throw him a line which he made fast to the skin and it was pulled aboard, while the small boat backed in and took the Captain off. They sailed back to Chorrilos where some fishermen were engaged to trim the pelt and spread it on a roof in the sun to cure. It was the finest skin Paul had ever seen and he was very proud of it.
The next morning he was ordered to appear at the palace in Lima and was detained there for three days on business connected with a new submarine boat. When he returned to the sloop, he was surprised to see great flocks of galanasas (a species of buzzard) and condors hovering over the beach; but at the moment paid no attention to them any more than to think some dead body had been washed ashore on which the scavengers were feeding. Hastily ascertaining that everything was in order on board the sloop, he went to the roof to see how the sea lion's skin was curing. To his intense disgust, he found nothing left but the polished skull of the monster. The birds had torn it to fragments and eaten it. The artistic expression of his overpowered feelings at the discovery, would have frightened every galanasa and condor from the coast had they been familiar with the English, French or Spanish languages.
Orders were received from Lima to sink torpedoes as far out in Chorrilos Bay as they could reach without being shot by the Chileans. As there was only a lot of old Russian torpedoes on hand and no dynamite to spare, Paul decided to set dummies, knowing they would have the same effect on the Chileans, who would watch the work through their powerful glasses, from San Lorenzo. He procured a lot of empty kegs and had them painted a bright red. With these aboard, he pushed out as far as safety permitted, and in an ostentatious manner placed them across the entrance to the bay, so they would float within three feet of the surface and were plainly visible through the transparent water. The approach of a steamer from the seaward when the work was about finished, caused them to hoist sail and stand in. The steamer opened fire on the retreating sloop, but the shots fell short and her guns were answered by those on El Punte. A few days after, they had the satisfaction of seeing two Chilean men-of-war expending thousands of dollars worth of ammunition at one of the empty kegs that had loosened from its anchorage and showed on the surface. From that time, the little sloop was frequently made a target by the enemy's long range guns. One day while Boyton was lying under the awning of the sloop, he heard a whizzing cannon ball strike the rocks above where they were anchored. He leaped to his feet and scanned the sea in every direction; but as the atmosphere was a little hazy, he could discover no vessel from which the missile could have been thrown. Thinking that it was possibly a chance shot from the fort, he paid no more attention to it, until he was aroused by another one shrieking overhead and striking the cliffs a few hundred yards below. Then by closer observation, he could see the dim outlines of a Chilean ship fully twelve miles away. It proved to be the Huascar, that had received some new and powerful guns, practicing. The sloop was anchored in a less exposed place in a very few moments.
The next morning Boyton engaged in quite a lively adventure. He was about to dive over from the side of the sloop into the cool water for a bath, when he saw some dark object moving on the bottom and checked himself. It was well that he did so for the object proved to be an octopus, or devil fish, edging its way nearly under the sloop toward the shore. Its great tentacles stretched out nine or ten feet from its round body and a more repulsive or dangerous looking creature is hard to be imagined. One of the crew, who was an experienced fisherman, told them all to keep perfectly still as the fellow was going ashore among the rocks, which those creatures sometimes do; but for what purpose is not known.
The fisherman was correct, for in a few moments they saw one of the powerful tentacles reach up and grasp a rock which was just bare at low water. A party of fishermen near by, were called to assist in the capture. They were armed with oars, spears, guns and boat hooks and formed in a circle outside the dangerous brute, where they began yelling and splashing the water with their weapons in order to prevent its returning to the sea and to drive it upon the shore. It moved toward the beach, only a few yards distant, and whenever it was submerged discolored the water almost to inky blackness. At last, harrassed on all sides, it put its slimy tentacles on the gravelly beach. Its round, pudgy body was no sooner out of the water, than an expert, in the person of a half naked fisherman, rushed in and struck it a blow on the head with a heavy club dexterously leaping away in time to avoid the waving tentacles. At every blow, all the colors of the rainbow could be seen glowing through the body of the octopus. Once it lifted its powerful tentacles, clinging to the suckers of which were stones and gravel and either in pain or anger, hurled them in all directions. Nearly every one in the party was hit. At last, after an exciting battle, it was dispatched and cut up for division. According to the unwritten laws among those fishermen, one half of it belonged to the sloop, and Paul was just telling them he did not want it, when the landlord of a little hotel in town, who happened to be on the beach, made a proposition to give a supper that night if he was given Boyton's share. The unexpected offer was quickly accepted and sure enough, that night a magnificent spread was laid with the octopus served as the principal dish. It was sometime before Paul could be persuaded to taste it, and then he found it to be the most delightful fish he had ever eaten—delicate of flavor and flesh of a slightly viscous nature. The native fishermen look upon them as a rare luxury and always have a feast when one is caught.
Notwithstanding the very poor appliances possessed by Peru, two Chilean men-of-war were blown up during the struggle, by very clever tricks. They were the Loa and the Covodonga. As has been previously stated, it was the custom of the Chilean blockaders to pick up anchor and cruise slowly up and down the coast during the night, to keep out of the way of torpedoes. One foggy morning as the Loa was crawling back to her moorings after her customary night's cruise, her lookout discovered a small sloop containing a crew of four men, who appeared to be in a great state of alarm. One was up on the mast endeavoring to repair the peak halyards that were hanging down as though having been disabled. A gun was immediately turned on the boat by the Chilean and a shot fired over it. At that the sailor hastily descended from the mast and the four men hurriedly jumped into a light gig and began pulling with powerful strokes for the mainland. A boat was also lowered from the man-of-war and chase given, while shot after shot was sent after the fugitives. The man-of-war's boat had no chance of overhauling the quicker and lighter Peruvian gig and when the Chileans reached the sloop, they abandoned the chase. On discovering the prize they had taken, cheer after cheer rang over the sea. The sloop was loaded down with baskets of fruit, crates of chickens, vegetables, in fact the very things the Chileans mostly needed. A line was quickly fastened to the prize and she was towed alongside the Loa, and the entire crew joined the captors in cheering when they saw the good things. All hands went to the side of the vessel to look at the lucky find. It was short work to begin sending the cargo up. Almost everything had been passed aboard when the sailors took up what seemed to be a heavy crate of vegetables. The moment it was lifted clear of the deck, there was a terrific explosion— a mighty upheaval of the sea. A mountain of water shooting skyward, mingled with fragments of the steamer and bodies of men. As the spars and timbers dropped back into the sea, there floated on the surface but splinters where a few seconds before the proud steamer had stood. The Loa and her crew had been swept into eternity. It was then a cheer rang out from the little gig far in under the shore. A bold, dangerous game had been played and won.
The most emphatic orders were issued after the destruction of the Loa, by the Chilean officers to their crews, to pick up nothing without the utmost care and the most rigid examination. On an afternoon several days after the above order had been issued, the Covodonga steamed slowly along in bright, calm weather, on a cruise to the southward of Callao. One of the crew sighted a pleasure row boat. The man reported it and the Captain was about ordering the guns turned on it, when an officer approached him and said:
"Let us examine it. We may learn something."
The Captain consented to the officer going off to the little boat; but with repeated instructions to examine carefully before touching it. It proved to be a beautifully built lady's pleasure boat that had broken from its moorings and drifted seaward, a piece of frayed line still hanging from her bow. She was painted white and gilded, elegantly furnished with cushioned seats and handsomely ornamented. An open book was found on one seat and a single oar rested on the bottom. The officer carefully examined her, passed a boat hook underneath her and concluded she was harmless. She was towed to the steamer and the Captain assured that there was nothing suspicious about her.
"She will make a beautiful present for your wife," said the officer. The Captain responded:
"If you are certain, send her aboard."
Lines were lowered and hooks fastened to the fairy craft. As they tightened on the polished brass rings in her bow and stern, a deafening roar told the fate of the Covodonga. She was cut completely in two and only sixty of her crew were picked up and saved.
The little boat had been made with a thin false bottom in which was placed a quantity of nitro-glycerine. The friction pins were connected with the brass rings and the moment her weight was on them the pins were pulled out and the explosive discharged.
It may be imagined that after such costly experiences, the Chileans redoubled their watchfulness. They would not approach anything seen floating on the water; but turned their guns on whatever they saw at long range. They were known to fire at a seal that had wandered away from its usual haunts. Paul and his crew were compelled to keep close under cover. The Chileans were daily drawing their lines closer to the doomed city of Lima. Boyton dispatched an officer to Don Nicholas with a request to be sent with his torpedo crew down to Pisco where he expected the Chileans would attempt to laud troops. The answer he received was "Impatience is a bad counselor. Wait for orders."
If Paul had followed his own instincts, he could have knocked two or three Chilean vessels out of the water, for they landed at Pisco a few days later and no very sharp lookout being kept, he might have put torpedoes under them at night.
As the enemy was gradually closing in by land and sea, Paul was ordered to Callao to take charge of a submarine boat that had been built by a Swiss engineer. The boat was to be run by compressed air under water and by steam on the surface. It was a complicated affair and Boyton had but little confidence in it and that confidence was considerably lessened when the inventor himself refused to go down in her. However, it was decided to try her. Having managed all the details of her construction, Boyton ordered her swung under a big pair of shears and from their support hung the boat on chains, so that in case she would not run to the surface by her own power, she could be hoisted by the machinery above. She was then lowered to the water. Paul and two of his crew entered, but before descending to the bottom, gave orders to those manning the shears, to hoist at the expiration of twenty minutes. After fastening the man-hole, the valves were closed. There was an ominous hissing of air that sounded peculiar; but when she got her weight of water, she slowly settled on the mud bottom in twenty-three feet of water.
"Now get at your compressed air and see how she will go on the bottom," said Paul to the engineer as soon as they felt they were down.
She wheezed and groaned and moved slightly on the mud; but she refused to rise. Groping about with his lantern, the engineer found something was the matter with the valves as lie could not get one of them to work and he grew excited. He was advised to keep cool as there was no danger but they would get out all right. For five or six minutes, which seemed an hour to the men thus caught in a trap, they tried every possible way to get the machinery to work; but it was useless. The boat refused to rise. The oxygen became rapidly exhausted and the lights grew dim. Even the valve supplying fresh air for the nostrils of the occupants of the boat would not work and the situation grew more desperate with the flight of every second. As the atmosphere became oppressively heavy, Boyton wanted to knock the valve off with a hammer; but the engineer showed him if that were done, they would be drowned.
It began to dawn on the minds of the three men that they were doomed. They sat and looked into one another's pale faces. Paul consulted his watch and estimated that twelve more minutes must elapse before those above would haul up. He felt that it would be impossible for them to last so long for already they were beginning to gasp for lack of air. They became weak; but again tried the valves to no purpose. The least exertion exhausted them. One of the lanterns flickered out and the other was very dim.
At last Paul seized a hammer and going up the little iron ladder, struck three or four blows on the cover of the man-hole, under the impression that those above might hear. The effort was too much for him and he fell to the floor where he laid in an almost unconscious condition. He dimly remembered hearing the straining of chains, then the man-hole was opened and a voice inquired: "How is it?"
There was no answer to the inquiry and the rescuers only found out how it was when they entered the boat and dragged the three unconscious men out to light and air where they quickly recovered. The inventor of the boat made an examination of her machinery and found that the valves had been tampered with and rendered useless. It was fortunate that Boyton had taken the precaution of swinging the boat to chains, for otherwise they would have died like rats in a trap and remained in their iron coffin at the bottom of the bay.
The inventor went to Lima to report the occurrence and that night Boyton received a message warning him to keep a sharp look out as there was a Chilean spy among the crew and it was he who had tampered with the valves. At midnight two officers arrived from the capitol and the crew was summoned before them. They had an accurate description of the spy and after close scrutiny, an officer placed his hand on the shoulder of one of the crew, saying: "This is the man." Then followed one of the quickest court martials on record. A small group of men walked a short distance out on the dock in the darkness. There was a click of a revolver and a dead Chilean.
The Peruvian troops were now marshaled at Chorrillos to repel the further advance of the Chilean army that had landed at Pisco. The flower of the Peruvian forces marched out of Lima in happy anticipation of battle. The brilliant ranks were composed of young men in gorgeous uniforms, who sang gaily as they marched on to Chorrillos. The native troops were the Cholo Indians that who had been driven in from their homes back of the Cordilleras and almost forced to fight. They marched stolidly through the streets, turning their eyes neither to the right nor to the left, though hundreds of them had never seen a town before. They were followed by a wild though picturesque rabble of rabona women, carrying great bundles tied on their heads or backs, shrieking and chattering in their native tongue like gariho monkeys. These women formed the commissary department of the native troops. Whenever there was a halt, the rabonas would quickly unlimber their bundles and in an incredibly short time be engaged in the preparation of some sort of soup which they sold to the Indians for one cent per bowl.
The Chileans had advanced beyond Pisco and the first battle near Lima, on the plains outside of Chorrillos, was imminent. Paul and his crew with several torpedoes, went down the coast in a boat in the hope of being able to get under a Chilean vessel; but those vessels fired on the boat and sunk her, while the Captain and his men hastily gained the shore and joined the army on the heights. On January fourteenth, 1881, the Chileans began the attack on Chorrillos, the fashionable watering place about three leagues from Lima. Colonel Yglesi with but a handful of troops made a brave defense and had reinforcements been sent him from Miraflores, where the main body of the Peruvian army was stationed, the tide of battle would have been turned. As it was, he held out as long as he could and then retreated to the main body, after killing three- thousand of the enemy, just double the number of his original command. On his retreat, the Chileans swarmed into Chorrillos, more intent on plunder and wanton murder than honorable warfare, while the Chilean fleet continued to pour a storm of shot and shell after the retreating fragments of the little command. That night the Chileans broke into the liquor store-houses and soon drunkenness increased their natural blood thirstiness. Prisoners were murdered in cold blood and women were wantonly shot down. They even fought among themselves, many being killed in that way. Next morning the streets of Chorrillos presented a sad and bloody spectacle. Dead and dying were everywhere. Even the poor rabona women had not been spared. Their bodies could be seen all over the place. Many dead were seen on the beach where they had fallen when cruelly bayoneted off the cliffs.
While Boyton and a brave Peruvian officer, Colonel Timoteo Smith, were hastily crossing a meadow, they saw a young Chilean officer fall from his horse, wounded. They noticed that he wore the iron cross of Germany on his breast and ran forward to save him. Before they could reach him, a Peruvian Indian, knife in hand, bounded to the spot, cut the young man's throat from ear to ear and tearing the decoration from his breast, quickly disappeared. On examining the body it proved to be that of a young captain or lieutenant. It was learned afterward that he was the nephew of the celebrated General Von Moltke, the German soldier and strategist. His death was outright murder.
After the retreat to Miraflores, a truce was declared and an effort made to arrange terms of peace. The foreign diplomats, among whom was United States Minister Christiancy, and high military officers were holding a conference, while the two armies faced each other. During the peace conference, a gun was fired. It was said at the time that a Peruvian soldier fired at a cow. At any rate, the Chileans began the attack at once. The crack of their guns along the line sounded like the running of a finger over the key board of a piano. The bullets began to shatter the house in which the diplomats were conferring. They suddenly became aware of their danger and fled in all directions. Minister Christiancy was seen in his shirt sleeves valiantly running across the fields towards Lima along with many others. Not to speak flippantly, it was a genuine go-as-you-please hurdle race, for they had to jump the low, mud walls forming the fences. The Peruvians were utterly routed. When Don Nicholas saw the battle going against him, he gallantly mounted his charger and rode to the front; but it was too late. He turned in despair and fled to the mountains followed by a few of his immediate troops.
One of the leading causes of Peru's defeat, was the fact that her soldiers were armed with two makes of rifles of different caliber. The cartridges became mixed and hundreds of soldiers were seen to throw down their guns and flee because their shells would not fit. The ammunition, too, was strapped on mules that scampered away out of reach after the first fire.
Paul with hundreds of others, fled to Lima. The city had been taken possession of by a mob of drunken sailors and soldiers, who went about in large bodies, robbing and killing indiscriminately. The streets were strewn with the dead. Next day the foreign residents banded themselves together to put down the mob. Boyton took command of a company of Americans and went through the streets shooting down the rioters wherever found. On a street at one side of the palace a row of little houses was occupied by Jewish money changers. This was an especial point of attack by the rioters on the first night. They were under the impression that loads of money would be found there. Next morning the narrow street was full of dead rioters, showing the desperate and successful defense made by the Jews, who shot the robbers through holes made in their doors and walls.
Hundreds of Chinamen were shot and their valuables taken. The foreign patrols soon beat the mob into submission, and then collecting silks and other goods that had been taken from the people, they placed them in a general repository where they could be claimed by the owners, if alive. While the rioting was going on in Lima, the Peruvians set fire to all the shipping in the harbor at Callao, to keep it from falling into the hands of the conquerors. The patrols were kept busy until the twentieth of January, when the Chileans marched triumphantly into Lima. The city presented a queer sight. From almost every house the flag of some foreign nation was flying, to save it from pillage and destruction; but scowling faces appeared at the windows. The first act of the Chilean army was to break in and rob the custom house. An attempt was made to restrain the men, but some awful scenes were enacted before it was done.
During this time, Paul and some friends had a chance to visit the battle-fields of Miraflores and Chorrillos. And the sights they witnessed! The gallant, young soldiers who had left Lima in brilliant uniforms, with high hopes of success, and gay songs on their lips, lay a confused mass of bloated corpses. Four days of tropical sun had made them burst, and the stench was horrible. Dreading contagion, for the field of death lay near to Lima, the Chileans had forced the Chinamen of that city to gather the dead, cover them with kerosene and fire.
After nightfall, the blue glow rising from these awful funeral pyres, lit up the whole field. Bands of Chinamen leading mules who carried panniers containing vessels of kerosene, passed around, and whenever they saw a corpse not burning, they struck a hole in it with a spade, poured in the oil and fired. At other points on the road, lay heaps of mangled dead, while the earth around was torn up in most unaccountable manner. This was caused by ground torpedoes placed in the road by some fertile genius, who thought that he could thus destroy the advancing Chileans.
After two or three of those hidden mines had exploded with dreadful effect on the Chilean soldiers, they compelled the Peruvian prisoners to march ahead, and when these were destroyed they set a drove or cattle ahead in self-defense. Chorrilos, where Paul's headquarters had been so long, lay a mass of ruins. Bodies in every fallen house gave forth the awful stench of human decay.
Paul stood on the cliffs overlooking the pleasant bay, in whose waters his little sloop had been anchored so many times, and beheld the result of a charge of the Chilean army. Bodies of the dead soldiers lay thick under the foot of the cliff, Chilean and Peruvian grasped in each other's arms as they had been hurled in the fury of battle to death below.
Along the beach from the cliffs to the ocean, lay numbers of the soldiers who had been wounded, and while endeavoring to reach the tempting waters and quench their thirst, had perished. Others, who in their delirium had drank its brine, died in more agony, and lay in strings along the side washed by the waves.
At the approach of a human being, flocks of hideous galanasas and great droves of condors would rise lazily, too heavy from their ghastly feast, to flap their monstrous wings.
It was a sight to sicken one forever of the vaunted glories of the battlefield.
Soon after the occupation, General Backadana issued a proclamation requiring all Peruvian officers to surrender. The Chileans knew that Boyton was in the country, and for what purpose, but he surrendered under his assumed name "Delaport," an engineer.
He was paroled, and went to Ancon, a village on the coast that had been deserted, and no Chilean guards had been placed there.
Plans were laid for his escape; but he found it impossible to get off to a steamer.
He procured a little boat and spent most of the time on the islands off the coast and among the caves, his American friends in Lima sending him provisions. For a companion he had a young Peruvian officer who also thought it well to keep under cover. For three weeks they amused themselves fishing, hunting, exploring, and several times they rowed far out to sea, in the hope of being picked up by some passing steamer and taken north, but the hope was not realized.
From almost any other country in the world escape would be easy. But north and south of Peru lay thousands of miles of sun-parched pampa, on the west lay the rolling Pacific patrolled by the enemy's ships, eastward lay the Cordilleras soaring into the clouds—the only passage through them held by Chilean soldiers.
One morning while they were cruising among the outer group of islands, Paul noticed a cave opening into one of them, the entrance to which was far above the water and so peculiar in its appearance that he determined to explore it. Backing the boat in and taking a shot gun, he jumped ashore, while his companion pulled quickly away to keep the boat from being dashed against the island which was formed of an almost perpendicular rock. Boyton climbed to the entrance of the cave and found it ran like a slanting shaft through the island. Far below he could see the green, surging water lashing the adamantine walls. Picking his way down over the slippery rocks which almost choked up the passage, he had proceeded about half way down the incline, when his attention was attracted by a strange cry. Turning, he saw something that appeared to be neither bird, animal nor fish; but partaking something of the character of all three. He had often heard of the existence of such creatures in the remote caverns, but had scarcely credited it. Fishermen had spoken of them though few claimed to have ever seen one. They are called ninas del maris-children of the sea. He had heard they were gentle and affectionate in captivity but savage in their wild state.
He raised his gun to shoot; but on second thought concluded to try and capture it alive. He made his way down the incline as rapidly as possible in order to cut the nina off from the water, knowing that it would not make its exit from the cave by the upper opening. When he reached the bottom, a wonderful scene unfolded. He could easily imagine that he had unconsciously stumbled into the playhouse of Neptune's rollicking subjects. The water formed a great pool surrounded by an amphitheatre of towering crags of most fantastic shapes, which reached far up toward the sky, there being no roof to its vast extent. The waves beat in from the sea; but as no opening was visible, a subterranean passage surely formed the entrance. Hundreds of grey ducks were startled and circled around him or flew back and forth to their nests as if fearful the intruder intended to do them damage. These nests were built unlike those of any other duck he had ever seen, or in fact, those of any aquatic fowl, being hung in the cracks and crevices of the rocks precisely like the nests of the common barn swallow. The sight was so strange and unexpected, that for a time he forgot all about the nina; but recovering himself, he started back, watching closely to prevent the queer creature from slipping past-him. With all his care he could discover no trace of it and had made up his mind it had escaped through some hidden passage, when he heard the cry again. By close examination in the direction of the sound he found a little pocket in the rocks and instead of one, two children of the sea were hiding in it. He was so anxious to capture them, that without thinking of the consequences, he ran his hand into the pocket and caught one by the neck. After a struggle he got it out and threw his arms around it, holding it to his breast. With one vicious kick of its claws and flippers, it stripped his clothes off almost from chin to waist and scratched his body considerably. He soon learned that though small, it was very powerful. Having secured it, however, he left his gun and carried it to the mouth of the cavern and called for the Peruvian to throw him a line. With the line he tied the nina's mouth, lashed its legs securely and as the boat was backed under, dropped it in the stern. He returned for his gun and was surprised to see the other nina sitting stupidly where he had left it, having made no attempt to escape. He captured it easily, but took the precaution to put his soft felt hat over his hand before seizing it. The second prize was landed safely in the boat and the two explorers pulled back to Ancon. As there were only two or three fishermen in the entire village beside themselves, there were plenty of vacant houses in which to put the new pets, but Paul put them into a room in which he had previously placed a young condor. When the lashings where taken off the ninas, they waddled to a corner and sat there.
The children of the sea are a species of penguin. Their bodies are furnished with a downy covering which is neither hair nor feather. They stand about two feet eight inches high and have very short, but very strong legs terminating in web feet. They are of a grey color with white breast. Their necks are short surmounted by a bird shaped head with a powerful but stumpy bill, the lower part is V shaped into which the upper snugly fits. They are also armed with a pair of minute flippers much of the same conformation as those of a seal and their eyes are large, round and soft, surrounded by a black circle. They walk, or rather waddle much after the manner of an over fat man. When resting, their bodies never touch the ground; but bend over to within an inch of it, giving them the appearance of doing a very difficult balancing act, though as a general thing they sit upright.
Paul's prizes were very sullen and refused to take the fish offered them, so the door was shut and they were left alone with the condor. That night the Captain and the Peruvian, who slept next door, were awakened by an awful uproar in the room where the pets were confined.
"Ah," exclaimed Paul, "do you hear that? The condor is killing the children of the sea."
They were too tired and sleepy to investigate, however, and in a little while the noises ceased. At daybreak, after their usual plunge in the surf, they went to ascertain the condition of their pets. To their amazement they found the condor gasping its last breath, while the ninas were comfortably pluming themselves in their corner. Two or three days passed before the ninas could be induced to take food; but they would snap viciously when approached. At last the male took a small fish from Paul's hand, and then he knew they were conquered. Both began to feed and in a few days became the most affectionate pets, following him around like dogs. They would swim into the breakers with him without showing the least inclination to escape to their former haunts.
Paul seeing no hope of escape from Ancon, returned to Lima to consult with some American friends. These informed him that there was little chance of escape from there.
Paul then formed a resolution to wait on General Patricio Lynch, who was in charge of Callao, six miles away.
From his name, Boyton judged he was some good natured soldier of fortune who would be only too happy to aid a brother in distress.
With this intention he called at the headquarters at Callao, and informed the aid-de-camp that he desired an interview with the General.
That officer told him to wait a few hours, which he did. Waiting there, Paul planned the interview to suit himself. He intended to say: "General, my name is Boyton; down here just like yourself, from the States, etc." He pictured to himself how cordially the General would receive him, give him his passport, perhaps, invite him to dine. Paul regretted that his clothes were dusty and torn.
Eventually the aid-de-camp approached and said: "You may now see the General."
Paul was ushered into a large room and the officer retired. Paul looked around, and saw no one but a white-haired, mahogany-faced old man who sat writing at a table. Advancing, Paul stood silently waiting to be noticed. At last a pair of cold steel gray eyes were turned up to him which confused him so that he stammered in English: