"But the forests south of South River are the places for the animals. Didn't George tell you about our hunting there?"
"No," answered Ralph; "but I want to go there when we get back."
During the first night Angel was restless, as usual in the woods at the merest sound, and George tried to find out the cause of the uneasiness.
"Wasn't it near here that the wildcat attacked us?" asked George.
"I believe you are right. Possibly he has scented another one."
"Suppose we take a peep out," Ralph whispered; and taking their guns, they stole down from the wagon.
They silently stood by the wagon, peering around in the darkness.
"They will be up in the trees," said Harry. "Wait—I see something; look up to the right, a little to the left of the opening through to the sky."
"Two balls of fire could be distinctly noticed.
"That is one of them, if it isn't something larger. What shall we do?"
"Ralph, you and I will aim and fire at it, and if it makes a dive for us George and Tom can take the next shot. Get in the wagon quietly, and prepare."
"Now, ready, aim, fire!" Something came down from the tree faster than an ordinary descent.
"Get into the wagon, quickly," and suiting the action to the word, they leaped up quickly.
"Don't shoot, George, until you see something definite to shoot at."
Something went crashing through the underbrush, and Angel, who was their monitor, increased his alarm.
"I believe it is making for us."
The boys who had shot were now prepared with the newly loaded guns and awaited the attack, but beyond the plain movement of the leaves, and what appeared to be breaking twigs, nothing could be discerned, until George almost screamed, as he saw the object above them, high in the branches.
"Here is a chance for a shot?" And Harry and Ralph both aimed and fired at the same moment, and the animal came down with a crash and landed near the wagon, but was up in an instant, and appeared to spring out through the forest.
Angel quieted down, and this gave George assurance that they were rid of the animal.
The second day was not filled with stirring events, and they went along with considerable speed, and judging from their former estimates the distance traveled during the two days must have brought them fully forty or fifty miles from home, so they counted on being able to reach the location of the boat some time during the following day.
Before noon of the day they sighted the West River, but they reached it at an unfamiliar point.
George and Harry looked at each other in surprise. "It does seem to me," said Harry, "that we must have made some miscalculation in coming from the woods. If I am not mistaken we are miles south of the place we ought to have aimed for."
Beyond question the direction was to the north, and the team was headed for that direction, their route being near the river, as the ground was much smoother, and speed was thus made.
"What is this?" asked Ralph in consternation. "Here are tracks."
The trails were examined, and Harry solved the question by the assertion that it was the tracks made by their own wagon when they escaped from the savages on the other side of the river.
"What idiots we have been to expose ourselves to the savages."
"We must leave the river bed now, or we may be discovered," was George's answer, and the yaks were guided to a higher elevation, and urged forward at a higher speed.
Selecting a secluded spot the noonday halt was made, and a hurried luncheon provided, but before they were ready for a start, Angel, who was in the branches of a tree, began his chatter, which caused George to spring toward the direction of the tree.
"Come down, Angel; come down!" This was always heeded by the animal, and it was plain that the direction of the approaching danger was from the north.
Springing to a small, low-branching tree, he crawled up, and Angel followed and looked to the north, and the sight that greeted him was sufficient to cause a hasty descent, and he ran toward the wagon and met the boys, who were coming toward him.
"What is it?" asked all in excitement.
"And if I am not mistaken, they are the same tribe that had Ralph and Tom."
The two boys almost paled at the words. Ralph made his way back to the wagon on a run. "If they attempt to take me again, I will never surrender."
"Are they coming this way?"
"Yes; and they are not a quarter of a mile away."
The yaks were unyoked, and had not been hitched up, so they were led behind the wagon, following out the plan previously adopted, as it would have been useless to attempt to avoid them.
"Shall we attack them the moment they approach?"
"I believe," answered Ralph "that is our only hope."
"How many could you see in the party?"
"About a dozen."
The wagon had been camped behind a clump of shrubbery, not over twenty feet from the small rivulet, and to the north of them the stream made a slight turn, so that the party appeared in view to the watchers as soon as they reached the wagon, and Ralph was the first to recognize their late enemies.
To the surprise of the boys, the savages stopped, not a thousand feet away, but on the opposite side of the stream, and built a fire preparatory to cooking some game which had fallen into their hands.
"Well, this is interesting. They are going to have some luncheon, too. Wouldn't this be a good time to slip away?"
"I am afraid," answered Tom, "that it would be a dangerous business. The creaking of that rear wheel would put them on our track at once. Couldn't we grease the wheel?" Tom was very much in earnest now.
As quietly as possible the wheel was removed, and some very good butter, the only thing available, was used to ease it up, and the wheel was gotten back in quick time.
Unfortunately the wagon tongue pointed toward the river, the very direction which they dared not go, for fear of exposing their presence, so they had to push the wagon back, by their combined energy, and as noiselessly as it could be done the team was yoked on and slowly moved south, and after traveling a quarter of a mile or more, directed toward the river, and then northwardly, thus making a wide circle in the effort to avoid their camp.
"I'd much rather shoot them than to run away," was Tom's opinion of the situation. "The dirty rascals; they are known to be the meanest set on the island, and we oughtn't show them any mercy."
By this time the boys were worked up into a fighting fever.
"I think we can lick the whole lot of them, and for my part, I am willing to wait here and take a shot at them; what do you say?" Ralph was really mad at the demons, as he called them.
The boys looked at each other. Harry was the only one who seemed to have the situation well in hand from a true hunter's standpoint. "If we stay here you will certainly get an opportunity, or I am very much mistaken."
"Why do you say so?" asked Tom.
"For the plain and simple reason that they will cross our tracks in all probability, and that will mean an easy trail."
"But how will they know which way to go after us? They may go down to the river."
"Well, they wouldn't be such idiots as to go in the opposite direction that the footprints of the yaks plainly show."
The boys had not thought of that.
"And then there is another thing, that just occurred to me. If they follow our tracks from the camping spot they will know we have made the detour in order to avoid them, and that will make them only the more anxious to make our closer acquaintance."
Harry had hardly stopped speaking before the voices of their enemies were discernible.
THE RUSE TO ESCAPE THEIR PURSUERS
The wagon was now driven behind the densest chapparal of trees, unyoked, and tethered behind the wagon, and two of the boys took up a concealed position with a pair of extra guns, at each side.
Harry, who had, by common consent, assumed the command, now made the following observations as to their course: "Remember the Professor's instructions, to keep cool and not to fire until you are perfectly sure the shot will count. And by all means don't use the reserve guns, except as a last extremity. The moment you fire, retire out of sight, and reload, and we should try and fire in separate volleys. Two shots at a time, unless they attempt a rush, will, probably, be more effective, than if all fire at the same time."
In a short time the band appeared, and it was well that they had no idea of the distance the boys had traveled, as they came along rapidly, following the plainly made tracks of the wagon.
"Now, ready boys; Tom and I will give them the first shot, and you may fire the moment I give the command. Ready, Tom; fire."
Both shots took effect, and the astonishment of the savages, was exhilarating to the boys. George and Ralph could hardly restrain themselves. The warriors were in the open, and had little brush to serve as a shield. For a moment they were entirely at a loss to know which way to go.
"Give them a shot," whispered Harry, and as the two guns spoke, two more fell, both wounded. Without waiting for another shot the rest of them broke for the rear, and the boys appeared in the opening.
This was not necessary, as the depletion of the fighting force was a sufficient argument for them to retreat.
"Hitch up the team as quickly as possible," and George and Ralph did not wait to witness the flight. Harry and Tom remained on guard.
"Move the wagon to the north, and stop at every good place of concealment, and we will remain as a rear guard. We have no assurance that they will not follow up the attack."
After the wagon had gone on some distance, the two boys slowly effected a retreat in the trail of the wagon. Only eight savages had been left after the two fires.
During one of the temporary stops Harry observed: "When they retreated we saw eight of them, and there are now only six following. What do you suppose that means?"
"Those people are regular devils, and it is my opinion that there is another force of them near, and the others have gone to bring reinforcements."
"Run to the wagon quickly and tell them to force the yaks forwardly as fast as possible. Wait just a moment." And Harry looked to the north and continued: "Do you see the two large trees in the distance, a little to the left? Tell them to drive for that with the utmost speed, and await our coming."
Tom was off, and imparted the information, and Harry kept on retreating, while the scouting party approached very cautiously, the apparent object being to keep within sight of the trail.
When Tom returned Harry said: "I suppose we had better give them another shot, to hold them off as far as possible. At the next place of concealment, let us wait for them, until they are near enough."
The savages were now very wary, and did not attempt to come within gunshot distance of the place of concealment for some time, but when they had approached sufficiently near both fired, only one being wounded.
Without waiting to determine the results of the last volley, the boys made a rush for the next available place of concealment, and as the wagon was now in sight they selected another object far beyond the present position of the wagon, and Tom was off to inform the boys at the wagon.
Thus, by a succession of marches, the wagon was placed fully a mile beyond the pursuers, and when the last stretch was made Harry made the following suggestion:
"As we have now kept up our course for fully three miles in this direction, tell the boys to turn abruptly to the east, and, if possible, take the wagon over a trail which they cannot follow. Select some object beyond so we will know where the line of retreat is, and I will keep them at bay. In this way we may be able to throw them off the track."
The team had made the last stop at the crossing of one of the little streams, and he had the ingenuity, after Tom imparted the last information to him, to drive the team to the west, for a distance, and then turn it abruptly to the east, and by making his way over the most rugged surfaces he could find, so effaced the tracks that it was hoped they could not find the traces.
When Tom returned, Harry had another ruse: "They are not following the wagon trail now, as they are after us. Now let us direct our course to the west, so that we will not go on the trail which the wagon had made, and occasionally show ourselves, so they will follow, and when we have taken them sufficiently far from the course of the wagon we must depend on our own tricks to evade them."
This plan was put into immediate execution, and by the time the two had gone a quarter of a mile beyond the turn which the wagon had made, they turned eastwardly, in the direction of the wagon, keeping well out of sight, and it was a relief to see them finally pass along the trail far beyond the turning point which they had made, and this was evidence that they had been outwitted.
Harry and Tom now sprinted for the direction of the wagon, and a course was laid for the northeast, as they did not want to go too far from the mouth of the river where the boat lay.
They calculated the distance to travel at about eight miles before reaching the river. The only fear now was, would their pursuers keep up the hunt until the sea came in sight? If they did it meant another fight, or a retreat, with the only hope of securing the boat gone.
"We have a ticklish task before us. We must cross the river before we get to the location of the boat, and if they are anywhere in the neighborhood, our tracks will surely be seen," and Harry was at a loss what suggestion to make in such an emergency.
"It seems to me," ventured George, "that one should take the rear, as a guard, the one front keeping within supporting distance of the wagon at all times. In this way we will not run into the party, and we shall then know whether they are still trailing us."
This seemed the proper thing to do, and it was followed at once, Harry taking the rear guard and Ralph acting as advance scout.
Fully three miles was covered, before the sun admonished them that a camp must be made for the night. The selection of a suitable place was a matter of great concern, as may be imagined.
They went on and on, ever in the search for a suitable place, and it was beginning to grow dusk before their minds could agree as to a safe place. Probably they passed a dozen spots more suitable than the one finally selected, but it was that much nearer the river, and that was some satisfaction.
The utmost care was taken to put the wagon and the yaks in a protected position, and all that night two were on duty. Angel, during the entire time, was quiet, and did not scent the approach of an enemy.
Early in the morning a hurried meal was prepared, and while the preliminary steps were taken for a departure Harry and Tom made a scouting tour to the southwest for nearly a half mile, and returned satisfied that they had temporarily, at least, thrown them off the track.
It was a surprise to find the river within a half mile of their last camping place. If they had known this they would have pushed on and attempted the crossing during the night. But there was no help for it now.
"How far do you think we are from the mouth of the river, Harry?"
"This part is unfamiliar to me, but it is no doubt south of the point where we crossed it on our way home."
"Do you think we ought to cross here or go down still farther?"
Ralph and Tom both urged an immediate crossing, for the reason that as the savages were not in sight, they might as well take advantage of the situation, whereas if they continued down the river, they might again come across the tribe, and which would by this time be materially reinforced.
This seemed the part of wisdom, and the work of getting out the raft timbers was vigorously proceeded with, and within an hour the yaks were driven into the water, and the wagon floated.
The wagon had hardly left the shore before Ralph cried out: "See the devils coming. They reached the clearing, but out of gunshot, and the boys smiled at their discomfiture, and when the opposite bank was reached the boys halted the wagon, removed the logs, and sat down to witness the chagrin of the natives.
"I wonder what they think of themselves by this time," said Ralph as he heartily laughed.
The savages had been reinforced, as was apparent, for more than thirty were plainly visible, and their tactics in following up the wagon was now apparent.
"Let us give them another little shock." All eyes were now on Harry, as he continued: "I suggest that we get into the wagon and move into the interior, hiding the wagon in a safe place beyond, and then return to this mass of brush here, where we will be entirely concealed. As this is not more than thirty feet from shore we will be in good position to watch the crossing and attack them if they attempt to venture across."
The plan was adopted with alacrity, and seating themselves in the vehicle, they waved a salute to the party and started off as fast as the team could be urged on.
Instantly there was commotion in the ranks of their enemies. They rushed down to the bank, and engaged in an animated conversation.
The boys carefully crawled back to the brush, and witnessed the evident attempt to decide on a course to pursue.
"Do you think they will cross?"
"I wish they would try it," answered Ralph. "Oh, wouldn't that give us a chance at them!"
"I do believe they are going to try it."
Two of the warriors started for the water, and plunged in, and the boys looked at each other in surprise.
"Ralph, do you think all of those fellows will try it?"
"No, indeed; those fellows don't like water, and if our experience in crossing the river, when they took us back with them, is any indication, they have very few who can swim."
"But the difficulty is that they can raft across."
"That is just the reason why I thought a little surprise of this kind might make them think better of it, and not try it."
"You must remember," answered Tom, "they live on this side of the river, and they are bound to get across some time."
"I know that, but their rafts are no doubt miles up the river."
It was now plain why they determined to follow up our party. Their own territory had been invaded, and this came to all of the boys with a shock. The getting of the boat was now a most hazardous operation.
They saw the two savages swim from the shore, and remained quiet until they came within thirty feet of the shore.
"Now," said Harry, "the moment they start to wade, let us make a rush for the bank, and we will have them at our mercy."
Each of the warriors carried a spear, but no other weapon, but those on the opposite shore had bows, as well.
The surprise and consternation on the faces of the savages, when the party appeared, was too remarkable to describe. Their first action was to turn, but Ralph cried out: "Hola, hola," and Tom laughed as he now remembered the savage word for "stop."
They did "hola," but for a moment only, and then diving down in the water, attempted to make their escape.
The boys were now on the brink of the stream, and not more than twenty feet away from the struggling men. "Hola, hola," shrieked Ralph and Tom in concert, as they aimed their guns at them.
"That devil in front is the fellow we want to get. He is the meanest of the entire outfit. Oh, yes, you remember me, don't you?" Ralph continued, talking to the savage. "I have a notion to bore a hole through you."
The savage raised himself, and evidently believing his hour had come, did, as all savages do, poised his spear, as he raised himself out of the water, and attempted to throw it. But before he could execute the movement, a shot from Harry threw him back into the water and his spear disappeared.
During this commotion the other savage dived, and he must have been an expert, because the boys shot three times before he showed any evidence of being hit, and then it was only a wound.
The boys ran back to their place of concealment to get the reserve guns, and during that period the wounded one floated out into the stream and the boys made no further effort to reach him.
The chief, as Ralph called him, was undoubtedly struck in a vital spot, as he disappeared and reappeared, while slowly floating down with the current.
The boys retreated behind their shelter, and sat down to rest and recover from the excitement of the last fifteen minutes.
Meanwhile, what were the savages beyond doing? Consternation seemed to seize them. They ran back and forth, and shouted to their companions in peril, and Ralph and Tom both tried to make out the meaning of the warning cries, but were not sufficiently versed in their jargon to comprehend.
"Well, boys, we have kicked up a pretty serious muss, and we might as well give up the boat."
Tom, who seemed to have some very good ideas, suggested a plan that had considerable merit, and they were now considering it.
"My scheme is this: Let us now make a show of retreating into the interior to the west, covering our tracks as best we can. Then turn to the north, for a mile or two, and go back to the river and cross, and then make for home as fast as we can travel."
"That is a first-class plan," was Harry's reply; "but I think two of us should remain here in order to keep up a show. We can exhibit ourselves at intervals, while the wagon is proceeding on its way, and the moment the wagon reaches the river, those with it can get the floats ready, so that when the scouts reach the wagon it will be ready to cross."
Ralph and Harry volunteered to act as the rear guard, and the wagon went forward, making a wide detour to the north and finally veered around to the east, reaching the river fully a mile below. Fortunately, a lot of driftwood was in convenient reach, and the spot was hidden by a bend in the stream, so that it was not at all likely the savages would see them from their low position at the river bank.
The wagon was on the brink of the stream, and the logs ready, still the boys in the rear did not appear.
"Don't you think I had better go back and let the boys know we are ready?"
"Yes, Tom, and tell them to hurry."
The fact was that the providential pile of driftwood made the task an easy one for the boys, and Ralph and Harry were only too much relieved at the news to wait a moment longer than was necessary.
The savages were still on the opposite bank. Was it likely they were inactive? Harry did not think so, as they noted parties disappear at various times, and again others came up, thus indicating there was some movement on foot.
"Before we start now, it would be a capital idea for all of us to show ourselves, and then make a cautious break for the wagon."
Without exposing themselves too ostentatiously, the start was made directly to the rear, and then, as they left the river in the rear, and beyond the sight of their pursuers, turned to the north, and relieved George of the great tension of single-handed guarding the wagon.
Without waiting for any explanations the yaks were driven in, and the opposite shore reached. Quickly denuding the wagon of the raft timbers, the trail was taken up for home but they were too hungry for words.
"We can't stop to set up the stove and arrange our kitchen now. Let us take such things as we can find, and eat on the way."
Harry's advice was followed. And now they recognized the country through which they were going. It was almost the same trail over which they had traveled twice before, and it went through the roughest part of the island, and when they made the first trip with the team they had to go south to get into a part of the country which was better suited for easy traveling.
"The trouble is we cannot safely go south now, as it will bring us too close to the savages, and we shall have to bear up with this bad ground until to-morrow noon, at least."
By night fully fifteen miles had been covered, but it was a terrible strain on the poor animals, and not any the less wearing on the wagon. The ground was broken up into little hillocks, and studded with vegetable growth in such dense tufts, that constant detours had to be made to get around them.
When evening approached it was with a feeling of the greatest relief, and they certainly craved the rest. A careful watch was kept up during the entire night. They had, of course, no means of knowing whether the savages had discovered the ruse, but there could be no question about the determination to revenge the death of their chief and of the others who had fallen during the day.
As soon as it was light enough to see, and without waiting for the preparation of a breakfast, in the usual way, the trip was continued, and the western edge of the forest did not come near until near evening. They had eluded their pursuers, and felt happy, and Ralph could not help expressing his satisfaction over and over, at finishing the chief who had treated them so vilely while in captivity.
Shortly after noon of the following day they reached home, and related their adventures.
The Professor was not surprised at their failure to bring the boat back. He was a little disappointed, but they were certainly in a better position to build a boat now than when the old one was undertaken.
THE PROBLEM ABOUT THE CAVE
That evening they all had a jolly time in the living room, with music and stories, and it was a great contrast to the strenuous times of the past six days of absence.
"We got lost once," said George, "when we struck the river at least eight or nine miles too far south. I tried to make out the direction by the two stars you spoke about, but I am afraid there will be several more lessons necessary before I can get it in my mind."
"Couldn't you see the moon?" asked the Professor.
"Yes, but that didn't help me any."
"Get the map we drew the other night, and we'll try and make it plainer. Now, if you can imagine the moon making a silver streak along the heavens, it would pass along such a route that the following fixed stars would be in its path. Note them carefully, as follows: Hamel, Aldebaran, Pollux, Regulus, Spica, Antares, Arkat, Fomelhaut, and Markab."
"But how can we distinguish one of the fixed stars from the others? That is a matter which has always puzzled me."
"Because of the company it keeps. Isn't that like we judge people?"
"I don't understand what you mean."
"Each fixed star is set in the heavens with certain others stars arranged about it in such a way that it cannot be mistaken."
Angel's antics now attracted the attention of the company. He had been on the floor while the music was being performed, but disappeared shortly afterwards. He had his gun, and dodged from one chair to the next, and sighted his gun, and bounded away, as though attacking and running from an imaginary enemy.
This exhibition was a perfect mimicry of the boys' attitude during the previous week. The comical manner in which he fought and eluded the enemy brought out roars of laughter, but this did not affect him in the least; he sprang to the rafters, and began to chatter in imitation of the way he had warned the boys, and then sprang down and hid behind a chair.
But the acme of his exhibition was reached when he mounted the table and simulated the rocking motion of the wagon crossing the stream. George simply hugged him, and Angel joined in the laughter.
But the boys wanted to know about John and Chief. John was there to welcome their return, and Chief came up soon after, and held out a welcoming hand, as he had seen the others do. Of course, he had no idea what the party went away for, nor did he comprehend the failure to bring the boat back. His education had not yet advanced to such a state as would have made an explanation of that kind understandable.
But John seemed to realize the story, and his eyes often glistened as they had not done before. On all these occasions the Professor was ever on the alert to notice his symptoms.
During the following day, in conversation with the boys, he said: "There is every indication that John is beginning to make an individuality entirely apart from his former surroundings."
"But if he does not recall any of his former life, how is it that he goes ahead and does things which he must have learned before he reached his present condition?"
"That is plainly a manual act. For instance, I remember when the saw was put into his hand, the manner of holding it, and his act in starting the saw at the edge of the board, was a physical recollection of the former manner of doing certain things. It was so in the handling of the gun, and the adroit manner in which he stalked the savages, all go to show that certain things which are associated with purely physical acts are just as aptly done now as when in his other state."
"How is Chief getting along?"
"He is often an enigma to me. Each day he learns something new, and really seems to seek the information. Most of the time he has been helping John, but he always looks suspiciously at him. I can account for it in one way only. He has never seen John talk, and this may be a puzzle to him, and accounts for the strange looks he always gives him."
From the day that Chief saw the tree turned into lumber the mysteries of the workshop charmed him. This penchant was taken advantage of by the Professor, and when the day following the departure of the boys, the Professor started up the grindstone and ground one of the tools he edged up to it at once, and when the Professor reached for his bolo and put its edge on the stone, and finally showed him the result, he was as much excited as though he had discovered a lurking enemy.
He used the grindstone day after day in the same manner, and when it was noticed how he delighted in it, the Professor took one of the tools which had been ground and used it on a fine stone, to show how much keener the edge was made.
The saw was a marvel, and he tried it until he learned its use, and a line was drawn across the board, and when he failed to guide it the Professor smilingly corrected him, and he could not be induced to lay it aside until he had mastered the art of sawing along the line.
In the evening George again brought out the maps of the heavens and asked why he had made the band which was traced in curves on the two hemispheres.
"They show the course of the moon through the heavens, and in order to get the position, the mariner measures the degrees between the moon and the nearest fixed star."
"But if he hasn't any instrument to measure degrees, how can he tell how to make the calculation?"
"In that case he simply takes the yardstick of the heavens out of its box, and uses that as a measure."
"I never heard of such a thing before. Where is the box?"
"In the constellation Orion, which contains the most beautiful cluster of stars in the heavens, and is visible all over the inhabitable world, are four stars which form a parallelogram. See them on the map? Betelguese and Rigel, at the extreme opposite corners, are of the first magnitude, and the others that form the other corners are Bellatrix of the second and Saiph of the third magnitude. Two of the stars are in the northern and two in the southern hemisphere. Within the parallelogram thus formed, you will note three very bright stars in a line. These are exactly one degree apart, and is the yardstick the heavens are measured with."
Harry announced one morning that they had a new calf, and there was a rush of the boys down to the cattle range to welcome the newcomer. They had a fine herd, and seemed to be domesticated. From the time they acquired the first, of these animals there was always an abundance of milk, and that meant butter, a thing which was very welcome to Ralph and Tom.
Chief also enjoyed the luxury, but it was a remarkable thing that the savages had not anywhere in their observations utilized the herds which ranged to the north of them, and undoubtedly existed in the southern portions of the island. There was always plenty of beef on hand, and plenty of game was available whenever they had occasion to go for it, and their larder was well supplied with the wild vegetables, although they had to go considerable distances for them at times; but now that the garden was coming in they did not apprehend so much trouble in that direction.
There was one thing which none of them could understand in Chief. He would be seen frequently going over toward the forest, in the direction of the clay banks. He never tried to do this by stealth, but the Professor was anxious to ascertain the reason for it.
One day while he was on his way to the same quarter, Harry took his gun, as though on a little hunting trip, and followed him cautiously. Chief made his way directly to the clay bank, and Harry, on the opposite bank, sat down to watch him.
It will be remembered that in making their first experiments a considerable amount of clay had been dug out, for use in making the brick and the retorts required for the metallurgical processes. Chief took out a considerable quantity, and after selecting the amount which suited his fancy, sat down and ate it. Harry was almost disgusted at the sight, and made his way back hurriedly.
The Professor and the others were waiting.
"What do you suppose he was after? Clay! And he ate it!"
This remarkable proceeding could hardly be credited by the boys.
"Ate it!" exclaimed George. "I think you must be mistaken."
Ralph looked at Tom, and immediately answered: "That is just what they did with that stuff we saw that the first savages had; don't you remember, Tom?"
"I never stopped to inquire; but I know they had something that looked like clay mud. I wonder if that was eaten by them?"
"That is not so remarkable," observed the Professor. "It is a custom in many parts of the world."
"In Eastern Asia, in Java, in the Himalaya Mountains, in northern Europe, particularly the remote regions of Sweden, in Finland, as well as in many parts of South America, particularly in Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, and many instances are known of this habit among the savages of the Pacific islands."
"Can they live on the clay for any length of time?"
"Humboldt, the great geologist, relates cases of tribes in South America which live for at least three months at a time on this substance, without any apparent ill effect, but from all the analyses made there does not seem to be anything nutritious in it. I am not surprised that Chief should have a knowledge of it."
Chief returned after an hour, apparently well satisfied with himself.
Since their return Harry and George had many times thought and talked about the cave. They debated whether or not to advise the boys of its existence, but could not satisfy themselves of the proper course to pursue. They were not selfishly considering the entire possession of the treasure. In fact they were too generous for that, but the boys would know sooner or later, and it was a question whether to disclose it now or later on. In this dilemma they called on the Professor.
"I know just how you feel about it," was the Professor's comment, "and I am not competent to advise you. It is your own property, and you may dispose of it as you wish."
"But it isn't our property. Without you it would never have been discovered, and we shall refuse to take it unless you share with us" exclaimed George.
"No, Professor, I can never consent to that disposition of it," was Harry's determined expression, "and for my part nothing shall be done in the matter without you agree with us on the course to follow."
The Professor reflected a while, and then answered: "As for myself I have very little need for it, and there is no one near or dear to me that I would willingly leave it to." With his head bowed, he became silent, and then continued, in a most eager manner: "I had entirely forgotten. I have some who are near and dear to me; I ought to remember them, after all, and as you insist on it, you will pardon me, I know, if I consent to take a portion of it, at least."
"It must be divided into thirds. I am sure there is enough there to make a great many people happy."
"Weren't you boys happy before you acquired this treasure?"
"Yes; as happy as we could be in our condition."
"Do you think the treasure in the cave would make you any happier than you have been?"
"Well, if we ever get out of here we can use it to good advantage."
"That is the whole secret of happiness with wealth—the knowledge of how to use it."
When they left the Professor the boys wondered why at first he declared that he had no one that he cared to leave the money to, and then suddenly remembered that he did have some whom he cared for. The Professor was as much a mystery to them as many of the things which had come to them during their sojourn on the island. This was, in fact, the only information that they had ever gleaned from him concerning his home, his family, or his friends, and that was very meager at the most.
The boys were anxious to revisit the cave, and the Professor was pleased at their determination, but advised them to make the visit themselves, and to endeavor to find out the full extent of the subterranean windings, and also suggested that they should try to make a working chart of it for their own information.
It was a little difficult now, since the close association had grown up between Harry and Tom, on the one hand, and George and Ralph on the other, to find a suitable excuse for the absence of Harry and George, but the Professor arranged this without creating suspicion on their part.
"I think Ralph is a mighty fine fellow, and we get along splendidly, and I don't think I ever met a pair of more unselfish boys," said George, as they walked up the hill.
"That is my opinion, too. Tom is a most wholesouled fellow, and we find so much that is likeable in each other, that I tell you I do not feel like being so niggardly as to keep the knowledge of the cave and the treasure away from them; and I feel the more about it that way when I think of the terrible suffering they have gone through."
"Just my idea, exactly. How much do you really think there is in the cave? I mean, what do you think it is worth in money?"
"I am sure the Professor knows. It would be awfully interesting to know. Isn't it funny the Professor never said anything about the worth of it?"
"Yes, he did. Don't you remember, just before we left on the big trip he wanted to know whether we cared to take the risks among the savages, when we had so much treasure in sight?"
"Yes, but that didn't indicate whether there was a thousand or a million there."
When they reached the entrance to the cave, they sat down and talked over the matter again. The lamps were left unlighted, and they made no effort to enter it.
"I have half a notion to go back and talk to the Professor, and bring the boys over." George looked at Harry inquiringly.
"Do you really mean it?" asked Harry.
"Look over there; see who is coming," said George, with a laugh.
Red Angel was on the way with his gun. "You little rascal! How did you find out we were over here?" He didn't answer, but he went up to George and looked up into his face, as though he didn't quite understand that kind of a greeting.
The boys picked up the lamps and went back to the house, and the Professor was surprised at the early return, but he did not make any mention of it to either of the boys, and nothing more was said about it during that day or evening.
THE ACCIDENT TO JOHN AND THE RESTORATION OF MEMORY
The island yielded an abundance of nuts of various descriptions, the most prolific being the Brazil nut, which grows in the form of a large sphere, from three to four inches in diameter, the shell being very hard, like the cocoanut, and when broken open is found to be filled with the segmentally formed nuts which we all know.
This was gathered in large quantities, and was the principal source of oil which was used for the lamps, as they had no other means of illumination. To people in the habit of using the lighter mineral oils, and electricity, this was certainly primitive enough. The difficulty, however, with the gathering of the nuts was this: Unless gathered at a certain time it is almost impossible to express the oil, and if kept for any length of time, particularly in an unripe state, they would become very rancid.
George pondered over this for some time, and asked the Professor the cause of it. In response, he said: "Nature has a very peculiar way of protecting her products. It is the same with nuts, as it is with potatoes and fruit. Have you ever noticed how unripe fruit withers, when taken from the tree, and that potatoes shrivel up when they are dug up before fully matured?"
"That is the trouble with the whole batch of potatoes we now have."
"Unripe fruit and vegetables have an exterior coating which is porous and pervious to water when it is unripe. But when it fully ripens this coating is chemically changed into a thin, impervious coating of a cork-like structure, through which water cannot pass, and as a result potatoes, and fruit, will keep through an entire winter and become mellower and better as time goes on."
The colony was dependent for its supply of eggs on the numerous flocks of prairie chickens which were found in the abounding fields of grain, particularly barley. It was no trick to bag a half dozen of these birds at a shot, on account of their numbers, and, as before related, while Angel never ate any of them, he was the most persistent gatherer because the beautiful oval eggs attracted him, and George's cakes always appealed to his fancy.
The difficulty with Angel was he did not discriminate between the good and the bad eggs, and George was desirous of knowing how to distinguish between the fresh and spoilt ones.
As usual, the Professor was appealed to and he gave a standard rule for determining this: "As Angel brings in the eggs put them in a pail of water, and select only those which fall to the bottom and rest on the side. An egg several weeks old will remain at the bottom, but the large end will be much higher than the small end. If it is several months old the large end will be uppermost, with the small end pointing down; and if it is thoroughly rotten it will float at the top of the water, with the pointed side down."
"That is a very curious way of finding it out. I would like to know why the egg acts in that manner?"
"After an egg is laid, a chemical change begins to take place, and more or less gas is formed. This gas finds its way to the large end, and as the decomposition increases the egg becomes lighter at the heavy end, and finally enough gas is evolved to bring it to the surface."
The most important work on hand was the construction of the addition to their home. After considering the matter in all its details, it was concluded to put up a building entirely separate from the other structures, to contain four rooms, one of them to be large and utilized as a common living room, and the others as sleeping apartments.
The material had been taken out for the building, and the Professor, John, George and Ralph were engaged at this work, while Harry and Tom were engaged in the machine shop and were busy in turning out the barrels for new guns, as well as preparing the ammunition.
The tools in the machine shop were not numerous enough to advantageously utilize more of them there, and the building was now very important to them, as the four boys were compelled to sleep in the shop, for want of room in the house.
The joist had all been laid for the lower floor and the studding now being put up and the upper joist laid on preparatory to erecting the rafters. John was an expert in building, and was really the directing hand at the various steps in the operation. While engaged in the drawing up of the rafters, one of the floor pieces gave way, and John was precipitated to the floor below, striking as he fell one of the lower joist, which cut a terrible gash in his head and rendered him unconscious.
The Professor rushed over to the fallen man, and the boys were on the spot to render assistance. Chief, who was also an interested worker, was the first to grasp him with his powerful arms, and disdaining the assistance of the others, carried him to the house and gently laid him down, as the Professor directed.
Without a word he rushed for the jar of water and brought it to the Professor, who bathed his wounds, but the blow was so severe that he exhibited no signs of returning consciousness.
Harry and Tom rushed over to the house in consternation, and exhibited the greatest grief.
"Do you think he has been badly hurt? Do you think it is fatal?"
"It is still too early to determine that. See this wound? It was a terrible blow. As it is, directly above the ear, it may not be as serious as if he had been struck forward nearer the temples."
During the entire day John lay there, breathing with some degree of regularity, but with a greatly accelerated pulse, and the Professor was constantly watching this phase of the case.
There was little sleep that night. All were too anxious to retire. Chief was on hand without a moment's intermission. George prepared the meals, but the native never left the room even for the purpose of taking refreshment, and it was really pathetic to see this exhibition of sympathy, which was constantly alluded to by the Professor.
"The Chief has in him the making of a man. The surest indication of a real human trait is just what he is showing. The lower man is the less he cares for his fellows."
During the night the fever was close to the danger point, and the Professor never left his side. As the day advanced the fever abated, and his breathing became more normal. Before noon there was a marked change. On the day of the accident, and during the night, John lay there motionless, and, aside from his regular breathing and a few periods of spasmodic twitchings, there was nothing to indicate that he was living.
But he now became restless, and occasionally opened his eyes, and all stood intently watching him. All through this period his face was pale and drawn, but a color began to come, and he turned his head from side to side, and the intervals between the openings of the eyelids became shorter. At first the eyes gave a glassy stare, but now at each recurring stare the eyeballs would turn and search the room, and although he would gaze in the faces of the watchers, the look did not indicate recognition.
Suddenly he opened his eyes wide, and grasping the covers drew himself forward and upward slowly, turning his head around from side to side. The Professor held out his hand, as a warning not to disturb him. He sat up and gazed first at one and then at the other.
What a wonderful difference was exhibited in the eye. It was bright and lustrous, and every glance betokened a question. Not a word was spoken. It was so tense that the boys appeared to be hypnotized. When he had fully taken in his surrounding, he grasped the Professor's hand, and said: "Where am I? Who are you?" Without another word he sank back on the pillow exhausted, and the Professor leaned over him and quietly said: "You are yourself again; and we are your friends."
"Friends; friends," he muttered to himself. "Yes; yes, I remember," and his eyes closed, his limbs relaxed, and he passed off into a quiet sleep.
The boys filed out of the room, and the Professor, with a smile, despite the tears that fell, walked out without saying a word, nor did the boys ask any more questions. The Chief never moved, but kept his eyes on John, and he did not even heed Angel, who came down from the rafters quietly, and passed out the door, and stood beside George, and leaned his head against him, as the boys began to whisper to each other.
The boys had witnessed a scene which it falls to the lot of few to experience. The awakening of the faculty of remembrance is one of the greatest mysteries of human existence.
John slept for three hours, and there was no thought of work or play. Barring the occasional visits of the Professor to see the patient, they were together. It was one of the most remarkable events in their lives.
"Isn't it singular," asked George, "that he has never been able to talk since he has been with us?"
"The medical term applied to the loss of that faculty is called aphasia. The function of speech seems to have its seat in a portion of the left side of the brain, and when that portion is diseased or injured, it affects the speech in many ways. Sometimes the sufferer knows what he wants to say, but cannot utter the word; at other times he will say the wrong thing, knowing that he is doing so, but utterly unable to prevent it; it also shows several other phases where the sentences become disjointed, or meaningless, not due to lack of intelligence."
"Has no way been discovered whereby the diseased part can be cured?"
"Operations have been performed with remarkable results, but not with uniform success. In some cases where the speech center is destroyed, a new brain center has been developed, and the lost power of speech recovered."
"I cannot understand Chief's intense interest in John," said Tom.
"That is a peculiar thing. The savage, no doubt, considers him demented, and it is a singular thing that people of low intellectual order among many people, believe the insane person is exalted, and are sometimes treated as deities."
Before noon the patient began to move about uneasily, and soon thereafter awoke. The moment his eyes opened he looked at the Professor, who said: "You are so much better. Are you hungry?"
In anticipation of this event the Professor had asked the boys to prepare some delicacies for him the moment he awoke.
As he had eaten nothing since the morning of the day before he replied affirmatively, and after he had eaten and the wound in his head was dressed, he began a series of questionings on every conceivable subject.
"We are on an island, and there are a number of tribes here, with incessant tribal warfares between them, and it appears that the principal occasion of the wars is due to the possession of the captives which they take from the toll of the sea. I was one of several unfortunates shipwrecked here over a year ago, during one of the worst storms that I ever saw at sea."
"It was undoubtedly the one which we experienced, although we were the occupants of a ship which had an explosion, and we were left adrift when this storm was brewing. But I must advise you to remain quiet for the day, until you regain your strength, and we can then tell our story, and we shall be glad to learn yours."
It was a joy to all to know that John had recovered his memory, and Harry was anxious to present the match box, to see whether it was his, but the Professor advised against exciting him in the least until the following day.
The Professor had not even asked his name, as he wished all to be present when the revelations were made. During the most of the day John slept. It appeared as though nature had exhausted herself in bringing about the cure. The wound, however, was a most serious one, and the Professor knew that the utmost care must be taken with a fractured skull, to prevent the setting in of complications which might injuriously affect the brain.
"Do not feel any alarm about him now," was the Professor's injunction; "he is not at this time in a serious condition, and I believe his remarkable constitution will pull him through without any further trouble. In the meantime, let us proceed with our work, and give him ample time to recover without any sort of harassment."
All returned to their duties with more cheerful hearts. It seemed as though something had been lifted from their minds. The second day after the event following the restoration of his reason, John would not be left in quiet any longer.
He sat up in his couch, and looked over the boys, as he greeted them heartily.
"Do you remember me?" asked Harry, as he held his hand.
"Yes, I remember all of you, but I cannot remember how you came to me, or how I met you, or where. I know that we went together on a journey, and I saw some things that made me think of things in the past. I don't remember ever having been in this place before."
"Don't you remember the shop, and the water wheel, and the building of the house?" asked the Professor.
He looked around in a bewildered way, before answering: "The shop and the building? Where—when was that?"
"At the time you fell from the building, four days ago?"
"Fell from the building—what building?"
"What do you remember about the trip we made?" continued the Professor.
"I remember that we had a glorious fight, yes, several of them, and I remember some brave boys, the noblest fellows I ever saw—and you are the boys—I can remember you well—I never saw braver men in battle; and I also remember seeing something which you gave me," and he searched his pockets, and looked around to try and remember what it was. "Probably, that was a fancy only—let me see," and he stroked his forehead, as if trying to recall it.
Harry reached down in his pocket and drew forth the match safe and held it before him. "Is this what you mean?"
He grasped it, and eagerly exclaimed: "Yes; that is what I mean."
"Are those the initials of your name, and is your first name John?"
"Yes; John Lewis Varney. But who are you, and how did you come here?"
"My name is Harry Crandall, and this is the Professor who was with us on the schoolship Investigator when she went to the bottom of the sea, following an explosion."
"The Investigator that was to have sailed from New York in September"—and he looked around, "September, last year?" he asked inquiringly.
"Yes," answered the Professor; "and this is George Mayfield, and here are Ralph Wharton and Tom Chambers. Do you remember we rescued them on the trip?"
He looked to the floor for a moment, and then slowly said: "I recall that also, but I do not remember how we got away from the savages."
At that moment his eyes fell on Chief, who had witnessed this remarkable scene, and he started up and leaned forward, and spoke to the Chief in his own language. This effect on the savage was electrical, who rushed up to the couch and clutched John's hand. Then turning to the others, John continued: "Uraso knows me, but I doubt whether he recognized me in this bearded appearance, because when our acquaintance began my face was smoothly shaven, and I had an entirely different attire from what I acquired later on."
"We are all intensely interested in knowing your history, and how you came here; but first tell us what you knew about the Investigator. You seemed to know about the sailing date."
"I was booked to sail in her as one of the instructors, but a serious illness, contracted in Africa, from the previous visit there, prevented me from accepting the berth, and she sailed without me."
"Isn't that a singular coincidence," exclaimed Ralph. "My uncle told me that one of his tutors at college, by the name of Varney, would be on the ship, and that is one of the reasons he so strongly urged me to sign for the trip."
"Your name—what was his name?"
"Stratton; James Stratton?"
"Jim Stratton, the big, healthy, jolly boy! Everybody liked him. And you are his nephew?"
Then turning to Chief the Professor asked: "Do you remember when and how we captured him?" John looked and tried to recall the incident. "No, I do not now think of anything which is familiar, nor do I remember seeing him until a moment ago."
"But if you are not too much exhausted, we would be interested in the history."
"I do not suppose that my history, previous to reaching the island, would be very interesting, but as you have asked it I will briefly relate it."
JOHN'S WONDERFUL STORY
"I was born on the Atlantic seacoast in a small New England town. My parents were the richest people in the community, and it was their ambition, as it was mine, to finish my education at one of the great universities there; but shortly after my entrance as a student the entire fortune of my parents was swept away, and I was compelled to seek employment.
"I was provided with a place in a commercial house in which my guardian was interested, and the only consideration shown me during the six months I remained there was the amount of work they could get out of me. Like many other boys I ran away, and took a position on a sailing vessel. This was the turning point in my career.
"I was fortunate enough to fall into the hands of a captain who was, undoubtedly, an exception to his class, but he had in early years been a pedagogue, and seeing the disposition on my part to make a constant use of his library, of which he had a most wonderful store, he took me from the drudgery, which was my early lot, and made me his assistant.
"I was a good penman, and before long I was entrusted with the position of recording and entry clerk for the ship, and I took charge of the log, and did things of that kind under his supervision during the long trip to Chinese waters.
"The trip among the western islands occupied two years, and I became an expert skipper as time went on, and many, many hours he and I sat up together and perused the wonderful books he had, and discussed a wide range of subjects which the readings suggested. It was a feast for me, and it was such a pleasure to him, which I know was real and unaffected.
"Three years after my sudden disappearance from New Bedford the ship sailed into the harbor, and the first one to greet us was a beautiful girl, the daughter of the captain, and the first most graceful act of his was to bring her over to me, and I was presented to her.
"I do not know how I ever passed the days of the following two weeks. Everything was a dream to me after I saw her, and I often imagined that the captain knew what my symptoms were. One day he called me to the cabin and said: 'John, how do you feel about signing for another term of three years?' My heart was so full that I answered: 'Why for three years? Make it for as long as I live.' The captain smiled and stroked his beard for a while, and then his countenance changed, and he said, 'John, you know I am blunt and open in all my dealings, and you haven't been treating me in that way.'
"That was the only time in the entire three years he had ever upbraided me, or found any fault, and I was so dumbfounded that I did not know how to answer, and when I recovered and inquired in what manner I had offended him, he replied, 'I did not say you had offended me. But you love Harriet, and I know you do, and you have been trying to hide it from me.'
"How had he learned that she and I loved each other from the moment we first met, and that we saw each other at every opportunity, and made mutual confessions of love? I started to apologize, but he began to smile again, and I knew it was not so serious. 'Yes,' he continued, 'I have charged Harriet with it, and she confessed, so it will not be necessary for you to defend yourself.'
"We were in port for three months, and Harriet told her father that she could not bear to have us both go away, and before the ship sailed we were married, a fine suite of rooms was set aside for our use, and I became the first mate of the ship, as well as the first mate of the most beautiful woman in the world.
"Thus I passed a year of the happiest days that it was ever given man to enjoy. Together we gleaned the library for our recreation, and with music and song, it was one continual revel of bliss. But one day we steamed into a plague-infected port, where quarantine regulations in those days were not the best, and before we could take the proper precautions the captain and my wife were stricken.
"The terrible story that followed, the days of ravings, and finally the death of my wife, are too tragic to repeat in detail. The captain recovered, and, singularly, I escaped, and as soon as he had partially recovered I ordered the ship to sail away from that accursed place.
"When the captain recovered he was a changed man. His daughter was the only thing to him in the world, and her happiness had been the greatest delight and pleasure. But now he rarely appeared at meals, and the handling of the ship devolved on me. I could not rouse him sufficiently to learn what course to take or what disposition to make of much of the cargo.
"Two months after the sad event he called me to his cabin, and he was lying down, weak and emaciated. 'I have asked you to come because there are some things I want to place in your hands. I have no further use for them, as the effect of the plague has never left me, and I am glad of it.
"'You may break the seal of this when I am dead.' This was most heartrending, coming from a man I loved better than any one in the world excepting my wife. He died that night, in silence, and without a soul near him.
"We were then on the broad sea, west of Australia, and before the funeral services were to take place I opened the sealed package, and I learned that the ship and cargo, together with all securities and funds in the hands of his bankers, were willed to me, and I was enjoined to commit his body to the sea.
"I changed the course of the ship to the nearest port, and sought the United States Consul, in order to register the papers, and to establish, by the record there, the new ownership of the vessel.
"When I returned to the ship something seemed to prevent me from going aboard. It was such a weird and ghastly feeling that I did not rebel against the warning. Indeed, I was relieved that the indescribable something, which men sometimes in that condition feel, turned me away. The only thing that remained close to my heart were the things that my loved one wore, and those things she treasured, and the store of books.
"All those I had removed, but I could never go aboard that ship again. I advertised the ship for sale, and it soon found a purchaser, and I was a wanderer on the face of the earth. My parents were both dead, and I had no brothers or sisters living.
"Where should I go, or what pursuit should I follow? I went through India, listlessly, and from a Mediterranean port sailed for England—anywhere. But we landed at Gibraltar. There I saw a troop of smart English on the way to Africa. I was imbued with the spirit of adventure, and I offered to join, but was refused, as I was not a subject of the Queen. But later I knew how to correct that, and I sailed with the next detachment to the south, and for two years I took part in the Matabela campaign, where the fighting was more bitter and relentless than in any colonial contest England had ever engaged in. I was severely wounded, and sent to England at the close of my term of service and received an honorable discharge. In the meantime I learned that all the funds from the proceeds of the ship had been swallowed up in a bank disaster, where they had been deposited, and I was left with nothing but the little I had saved.
"My discharge finally served the purpose of securing me a position as a tutor to a young lord, and through him I later on obtained a berth as instructor in a well-known institution. But this was too tame for me. I went to Greece and entered the army, and fought through two campaigns against the Turks, and when the war ended I took the first ship and sailed for New York.
"Within a day after landing in that city I joined the army and was sent west, where, within six months, it landed me in a campaign under General Crook against the Apaches of the Southwest, and was present at the capture of Geronimo, the most bloodthirsty devil that was ever permitted to live. From there we went to the north, and we had a repetition of the experiences against the most skilled warriors on the American continent, the Siouxs and the Arapahoes.
"When my enlistment expired I had earned a lieutenancy, but I had tired of the turmoil of the past six years, and returned east and then accepted a position as Professor of Philosophy in the college where Jim Stratton was a student.
"I was always fond of tools, and the machine shop on board our vessel was a constant source of enjoyment, and before I sold it I had become so proficient in the use of tools that I could make anything in wood or iron.
"I enjoyed teaching, but the life was not free enough for me, and after five years of that drudging life I sailed for Europe, and again visited India, going to all the great ruins; then to the scenes of the vast exploring fields of the Archeological Societies, in Arabia, on the plains of Babylon, and in Syria. From there I turned to Egypt, the land of the greatest mysteries on earth. I went up the Nile far beyond Khartoum, and tried to interest myself in some of the interesting things that men are constantly bringing to light, and which go to show the great antiquity of men. I joined a caravan to traverse the White and the Blue Nile, and to go over the trails made by Baker and Livingstone and Stanley.
"Here, at last, seemed to be my work. It had enough of the charm in it on account of the hazard which accompanied us on every step, and this for the first time put me on my mettle to learn to dig out the hidden secrets, which caused it to be called the 'Dark Continent.'
"Am I tiring you? Well, then, in company with another adventurous spirit we traversed the most remote parts of that vast interior and met with adventures which may some time interest you. Thus four years were spent, without seeing civilization, and in a region where men hunted men for the pleasure of it.
"I was hunting them, too, but it was not living men, but those who had died thousands and thousands of years ago. But that terrible sickness, the jungle fever, took hold of us, and when we emerged from the forests, and found our way to the nearest settlement my companion died, and I was again thrown back on the world.
"As soon as I could travel I sailed for New York, and the first man I met was dear Jim Stratton, who insisted that I must take a position as archeologist in the college with which I was formerly connected, but this I declined, and seeing me in an emaciated condition suggested that the position of professor of philosophy in the ship training school would be the very place to give me the benefit of sea air and employment—the latter, particularly, because he knew how I had always been a fiend for work, and that I must be busy at something.
"I accepted, but a month before the ship sailed I was taken down with another serious attack, with complications of diseases, and recovered a week after the Investigator sailed. I took the train for the west, expecting to take advantage of the mild climate of California during the winter, and when I reached San Francisco I was greeted at the hotel by an old acquaintance who invited me to his room for a talk on a very important matter.
"It turned out that he and a friend, who had considerable money, were about to purchase either a good, strong sailing vessel, or a small steamer, which was to go in quest of buried treasure which the chart had indicated, this treasure being the freights of many of the Castilian ships of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and in certain places the hoards of the buccaneers that infested the western seas.
"Here was an opportunity to recuperate, and it had plenty of action in it to suit me, and I joined. We sailed from the port in the latter part of December, about the time you were passing through the Straits of Magellan.
"We had a fast sailer and a staunch boat, but my friend was unwise in the choice of the sailing master, but this did not hamper us much during the ordinary course of sailing, but in a short time he with several others of the crew attacked us and attempted to capture the ship. In the battle which followed my friend was killed, and his friend dangerously wounded. This was the condition of affairs when the terrible monsoon struck the vessel.
"That terrible sea and the danger to the ship settled all difficulties. The master was too full of drink to take charge of the ship, and the mate was not much better. I took command, and for four days we maneuvered the ship to keep it from foundering; at the end of that time the master recovered momentarily, and, securing possession of a revolver, cleared the deck and prevented us from handling it.
"He resisted every effort to capture him, and as a last resort I was compelled to shoot him. This was a signal, notwithstanding our perilous condition, for the intimate associates of the master to range themselves against us, for we now had only four men against the seven who were in league.
"I did not want to take human life, and I refrained from this last step, and as the ship was bare of sails and we were in position to control the tiller we passed two days and a night, with only a few crackers for food, and almost exhausted from the strain.
"Night was approaching, and with not a star in sight, and in no condition to take any reckonings, we made up our minds that we must somehow fight our way through one more night before giving up. The mainmast was a wreck; the shrouds on the port side having been torn from the gunwale the second day of the storm, and the entire deck was one mass of debris and wreckage.
"It was a dangerous thing to move along from one part of the deck to the other, as this loose accumulation of material, at each successive lurch, would be tossed first one way and then the other. This was one thing that kept the villains at bay, but it prevented us as well as themselves from getting any food.
"In desperation I took my revolver, and, at the risk of my life, at every step, forced my way to the pantry and found some food. Before I reached the bridge the roar of the breakers fell upon me, but the darkness was now too intense to enable me to see anything, and I knew that our next great catastrophe would be the rocks.
"I never reached the bridge again, for the vessel struck, and with a terrific grating sound it moved toward land, and then a giant hand seemed to lift it upwardly, and I knew no more. When I awoke, which must have been along noon of the following day, I saw one of the sailors dead, not fifty feet away, and the master of the ship was close beside me, with an indescribable mass of wreckage all about.
"When I had recovered sufficiently to judge of my surrounding, I went over to the master and to the sailor, and saw that their pockets had been rifled, and I instinctively put my hand to my pockets, to find that everything, my watch, this match box, which was a present from my wife, my knife and everything in my pockets were gone.
"From this I knew that such of my companions as had been saved had gone off, without making any attempt to ascertain whether I was alive or not, and had taken my things besides.
"I had my clothing, which was still wet, but I was glad to be alive. That seems singular, doesn't it, when I had thrown myself time and again right into the jaws of death! I saw a barren shore, but found plenty to eat as I advanced into the interior. I went to the south and southeast for the first day, and soon saw the first signs of human habitations.
"Then I came across a tribe of savages who were sacrificing some human victims. It dawned on me that it might have been some of my companions, and a spirit of revenge possessed me. But I had no weapons, but relying on my experience in eluding savages, I crawled up to the village, during the height of the orgy, and slew one of the warriors, and took his weapons, as well as his headdress.
"But I was discovered and brought the entire tribe down on me. I avoided them, doubled on my tracks, and ran into another branch of what proved to be the same tribe, as the headdress plainly showed me. I again avoided capture, and in going through the hills discovered a cave, in which I took refuge.
"To my surprise the cave was tenanted by a certain class of savages, and I had reason to believe that it was the abode of the medicine men of the tribe, or the Hoodoos, because the warriors avoided it as they would a pestilence. I found some wonderful things in that cave, in which I secluded myself as best I could to avoid detection from those within.
"But I needed food, and one night stole out, only to learn that they had known of my entrance into the cave, and was driven back again, and making my way into the interior, how far I do not know, lay down exhausted, and, on awakening, not knowing which way to go, heard the voices of the savages, and in going in the opposite direction was surprised to see a streak of light ahead.
"Approaching near the entrance, waiting there for hours, and not seeing or hearing them, cautiously crept out, and found that the sun had risen several hours before, but that the opening was to the western side of the hill and I had entered it on the eastern side."
"Won't you tell us, John, how you knew it was to the west, and that it was morning?" The boys looked at George a little queerly, and so did the Professor, and he quickly divined the reason, and continued: "Pardon me, Mr. Varney, but we have been in habit of calling you John so long that I forgot myself."
"You have been calling me John? How did you find out my name?"
"We simply took that as the most convenient name; but please go on and forgive me for interrupting."
"No apology is necessary. I hope you will know me as John only. But you asked me a question. I examined the moss, which in the southern hemisphere grows more abundantly on the south side of the tree; just as in the north it grows only on the north side. As to the sun, if it had been afternoon it would have been to the west of the hill and not to east of it.
"Having emerged from the cave in the vicinity of the last village another flight was necessary, and I turned to the south, reaching a large stream in my wanderings, and, in order to avoid capture, swam it in the night. I still had the bows and a dozen arrows, together with a crude hatchet, which was taken from the warrior.
"The flight was continued to the south, and thus I lived from day to day for over three months, occasionally seeing the various tribes. Then for a period of two months more I was hunted over the entire southern portion of the island, and finally driven into the mountain. Between six and seven months after the shipwreck, in a moment of carelessness, I was taken by a tribe in the south, and held in confinement for over a month, when I was to be offered up as a sacrifice.
"On the day appointed there was a terrible uproar in camp, and I could see that a neighboring tribe had attacked, and escaped, only to be captured by the successful invaders. This was the tribe that Osaga, here, was a member of. Again escaping I secured one of their spears and a bow with some arrows, and fought my first captors with such determination that Osaga's people became my friends and I was given limited liberty, and began to learn the language.
"Before long the two most powerful tribes united and attacked us, and defeated Osaga's people, and I escaped to the mountains. This was fully eleven or twelve months after being cast ashore, and on the last day they were in sight I can remember going down a steep precipice. The only recollection of my former self came day before yesterday when I awoke from a refreshing sleep."
CHIEF AND THE POISON PLANT
John was visibly exhausted from the effort he had made, and soon passed off into a quiet sleep. During the evening the Professor suggested that they might retire to the shop, so that he would not be disturbed, but John insisted that it was so good to hear their voices again, and would like to have them all present.
Harry and George kept them interested a great portion of the time with stories of their adventures. They told about the bear fight for the possession of the honey; the shooting of the wild animals in South Forest, the making of the flag, the capture of the yaks, the flagpole incident, the fight between the bulls, and the amusing affair connected with the removal of the yaks to their new home.
This latter occurrence is what amused John the most, and suggested that probably if they had adopted some of the hitches which sailors used the yaks could have been controlled more easily. This interested George.
"Won't you please tell us something about the hitches and knots which the sailors make?"
"They have a great many forms, each designed for some particular purpose, and if you get a rope I will try and give you some of the principal ones. Get a piece long enough so that the knots and hitches can be kept for future reference."
He then proceeded to make the knots, and continued: "The seven knots (Figs. 16 to 22, inclusive) are made at the ends of the rope, as you will notice, and are the forms used to attach the rope to an object. In the next three forms two ropes are attached to each other, and are usually called 'bends' (Figs. 23, 24, 25).
"Then, in addition to that, the sailor has several ways of attaching the rope by a hitch around a standard, or other object. Look at these two forms (Figs. 26, 27). Look at the boat knot, where the hitch is made in the rope itself; and the sheet bend toggle, where the ends of two ropes are attached together to a standard or cleat. And now I am making what are called hitches, and the three forms (Figs. 28, 29, 30) are the best examples."
Thus the conversation drifted from one subject to another, covering a variety of interesting topics. George reminded the Professor that he had not yet explained to them what the spectroscope was, and its uses. He laughingly responded:
"That instrument is one of the most wonderful in all the ranges of human discoveries. By its means the elements of substances are determined, and the composition of the heavenly bodies are ascertained."
"In what way is it done?"
"Simply by using light as the agency."
"Is it like a telescope?"
"No; entirely different. It depends wholly on one thing, and that is the breaking up or dividing the light that comes from an object. Let me make this a little plainer. If a ray of sunlight is allowed to pass through an orifice into a darkened room, and in the transit through the opening it goes through a prism, or three-sided piece of glass, the light produced on the opposite wall will show the seven colors of which sunlight is composed. The drawing (Fig. 31) shows how this is arranged. Now iron shows these colors differently arranged, aluminum in another way, and so on with all different substances, and the light projected from each is called its spectrum, its particular analysis."
John's recital during the day had produced a powerful impression on all, as well it might. It shows what wonderful trials men can endure. Ralph and Tom were frequently affected by it, and at times could not prevent tears from coming. They recalled their own sufferings.
The Professor thanked John that evening for his story, and said: "We must not tax the patient with any more talk to-night. We have learned a lesson of perseverance and trials. The history of man is always profitable, and we are thankful for the news it gives us of the people here but you must be patient and wait a more opportune time to hear our story, and then we can advise with each other as to our future course."
The boys were early in conference with each other after they left John, because there were some interesting things to them in John's story, which needed clearing up.
"Did you hear what he said about that cave?" was Ralph's first question.
"Yes; and I think I know where that cave is?" answered Harry.
"Where?" asked Tom and George in a breath.
"Right at the camp where we found you."
"Oh, you mean that cave we found at the hillside after we started for the river?"
"Don't you recall that John took me around to the mouth of the cave, and when we said that we might use that to hide in, he shook his head, and moved away?"
"I thought the Professor acted queerly about it, too, because he urged us away from the place."
All remembered the circumstance, and they also recalled that the Professor gave a vague reply when they asked him the reason why.
George cast a scrutinizing glance at Harry, who waited for him to speak. "Harry, do you think he found any treasure in that cave?"
Ralph and Tom now opened their eyes in wonder. Was that what he meant when he said there was something wonderful there? Harry looked at the boys for a moment, in the intensity of the situation, and said: "And we have also found a cave." But the eyes of George caught Harry, who suddenly stopped, because he recalled their agreement not to divulge it to the boys until the matter was mentioned to him.
"Where is it?" exclaimed Tom, eagerly.
"Not far from here."
"Will it be much trouble to visit it?"
"No; and we shall probably do so some day."
An island full of bitter and vindictive savages, and a handful of men to meet them. It looked, indeed, like a hopeless task. John's story left many things unsaid; many things that they longed to know. Who were Wright and Walters, whose names were in the note found in the Investigator's lifeboat, and who was Will, the writer of the note?
The Professor was just as anxious as the boys to have those matters cleared up, but he knew it would be unwise to tax his strength with a further recital, and the inevitable questions which would be propounded, and it was well that his injunctions were followed, because he was not yet well by any means, and the further news which they awaited was postponed.
In the evening Ralph had the flute, but the bass viol was not yet ready, so that the two instruments gave a little diversion to the day of excitement and wonder.
John's illness did not now interfere with the work on the house. It was pushed forward with the greatest energy, the roof and sides enclosed, and they were now nearly ready for occupying it, by the time John was again able to be about.
Shortly after they had made the first samples of glass, some months before, the trip to the west had postponed the work in that direction, and the Professor, with the aid of George, turned out the first samples of glass, which they intended to use in the new building.
"Why can't we have a looking-glass? It would be such fun to set up several of them."
"I think we have sufficient mercury for the purpose," answered the Professor; so calling in Ralph they set to work, under the Professor's direction, to make some mirrors.
"The principal thing in mirrors is to get a white reflecting surface. Silver and mercury are metals which lend themselves to that use. If you polish anything bright enough it will serve as a mirror, but the whiter the surface is the better."
"Then why wouldn't white paper be the best?"
"It would if you could get a fine polish on its surface, but the finest surface on the densest paper is not as smooth as the polished surface of the metals."
"What is the best way to make the mirror?"
"The most available plan for us to follow is to make an amalgam of tin and mercury."
"But what do you mean by an amalgam?"
"It means the combination of mercury, or quicksilver, with any other metal."
"Will it be difficult to combine tin and mercury, so as to make an amalgam?"
"That is one of the simplest things in the arts. Tin and mercury unite by merely rubbing them together; see how easily they combine to form just such a surface as you want."
"Isn't that fine? But as that shines so nicely, what is the need of putting a glass over it?"
"Simply to protect the amalgamated surface."
The largest piece of glass thus far made was sixteen by twenty-four inches, and the boys selected the most perfect pane, and in a short time a very good mirror had been turned out.
"It has occurred to me that it would be good policy to make a number of small mirrors, say six inches square. They would be a valuable asset to us in our next expedition."
This opened the eyes of the boys to the commercial utility of the work they were engaged in for the first time. George rushed over and brought Tom and Harry to the laboratory, and exhibited the mirrors, and explained that they intended to make a number of small ones to take with them.
"That is a capital idea. Won't the natives go wild over them?"
They were at work at once, first cutting up some of the glass the requisite size, and before the afternoon closed they had several small ones in addition to the large one.
The large one was carried over to the living room, and when it was brought in and hung against the wall John's face lighted up, when they told him of the work required to turn out the glass, and to make the amalgam.
"What a glorious opportunity you boys are having. How anxious I am to get up and help you. What a splendid mirror that is. You surprise me with the character of your work."
"We are going to have real windows in the new house."
At this instant Chief appeared at the door, and as he moved forward in front of the glass he started back in fright as his own image appeared to him. All of them laughed, and as he was now at one side of the mirror he could not see himself. But Harry mischievously turned it, and then it dawned on the Chief that it was simply a perfect representation of himself.
All savages know of the glistening qualities of surfaces, but few of them, as was the case with Chief, had ever seen any made with the white amalgam, which, of course, made a perfect counterfeit resemblance.
But Harry delighted him beyond measure when he presented one of the small mirrors, and George took a piece of the ramie cloth and folded it around the mirror, a proceeding Chief could not understand until John showed him it was for the purpose of preserving it.
He kept it in the cover religiously from that day forward, except at such times as he was employed in examining it.
When Chief appeared it was not noticed that he carried a curious looking bulb, and when he sat down to experiment the mirror several of them fell from the pouch or pocket which was put in the garment which had been provided for him.
The Professor saw the bulbs and picked up one of them and glanced about the room, and then looked at John in a questioning way. The boys noted this. Nothing was said at the time, but as the Professor passed out George followed him.
"What was that bulb you picked up?"
"It is the root of the plant called Amarylla, and it is in the juice of this plant that certain savages dip their arrow-heads for poisoning them."
This information was not a little startling and disquieting to George, who rushed back and quietly called out the boys. "Do you know what Chief has been doing? Did you see the peculiar bulbs he had? The Professor picked up one of them, and what do you suppose it is? It is the root from which they make the poisons for arrow-heads."
Harry could not believe that the savage had any designs on them. "I suppose he will bear watching, so let us see what he intends to do with them!"
When Chief had admired himself sufficiently he took the bulbs to the kitchen and placed them in the oven, as the boys called it, and when George came in he was smiling, as he thought, in a very peculiar way. George did not disturb the bulbs, and when the meal was brought in Chief was on hand and went to the kitchen. He soon returned with the roasted bulbs and deposited them at the table.