Courage, True Hearts: Sailing in Search of Fortune
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The wounded monster had dashed forward trumpeting, but, once alongside, though blood was jerking from a wound through one of his eyes, he attacked immediately. He knelt beside the boy's prostrate form and attempted to tusk him. The terrible snorting, blood-streaming head was close over him. But, with the quickness and cuteness of a professional footballer, Conal rolled himself between his legs, and now the brute attempted to squash him to death with his knees, and Conal managed, strange to say, to avoid each stroke.
It was really a tussle for life, and, unable to bear the sight any longer, Duncan came rushing on now towards the scene of conflict, apparently determined to die with Conal if he could not rescue him.
The boy seemed to be dead, and was almost under the elephant. But Duncan took steady aim, and the bullet put out the poor beast's other eye. He staggered to his feet now, and, stumbling and trumpeting as he went, made directly back to the herd.
Conal was bruised and sore, as well he might be, but otherwise intact, and the two hunters now made for higher ground.
Now I do not know the reason for what followed. I can but guess it, and give the reader facts. Only, when the great bull regained the herd, which, by the way, numbered only about a score, he fell, or rather threw himself down in front of his companions.
"Kill me now," he seemed to plead. "My mate is dead, and I am blind and in pain. Put me out of my misery."
Next moment the killing had commenced. The bull never winced nor moved, and his companions trode him to death before the eyes of their human persecutors.
"Let us go back to the fort," said Duncan sadly. "A more heartrending sight I never have seen. Conal, I have shot my first and my last elephant."
When they told Frank all the sad story, he, too, agreed that elephant-shooting is not sport, but the cowardly murder of one of the most noble animals ever God placed on earth.
Strange to say, every day that Conal was left at the fort to do the watching and the cooking, little Lilywhite, as he now called the wee savage lassie, came to pay him a visit, her eyes all a-sparkle, her two rows alabaster teeth flashing snow-white in the sunshine.
Nor did she ever come without a fish, which she herself had caught. So tame did she become, that he could trust her to attend to the fire, for which she gathered wood, turn the fish with a wooden fork, and gather and cook the sweet-potatoes or yams.
Of course Frank chaffed Conal unmercifully about this lady-love, Lilywhite, of his.
But Conal cared nothing for that.
"You can't do less than marry her, you know," he said one day. "It would be cruel to trifle with the young lady's affections."
"I shouldn't think of doing less than leading her to the altar," said Conal. "I should hate a breach of promise case."
They still paid many visits to the king, but though he frequently asked for "goo-goo" (wine), no goo-goo was given him for the present.
At last, oh joy! news came from the far-off outer world.For Carrambo returned.
A little thinner he looked, but maintained the same nonchalant air.
He handed Duncan a letter, and as it was written in a bold English hand he tore it nervously open.
"Flom de skipper of de Pen-Gun," said Carrambo. "When I see de gun-boat lie in de ribber of Lamoo, I say to myse'f, 'No good bother wid the Sultan.' Den I go on board. All boo'ful white deck; all shiny blass, and black big gun; and de men all dress in sca'let and blue. Oh, dam fine, I 'ssure you. De skipper he take me below and give me biscocoes and vine till I not can dlink mo'.
"He read the letter. He den write anoder and soon I go again."
"Ten thousand thanks, Carrambo. You have earned your rifle. My brother and I shall teach you to shoot, and if when we make an attempt to leave this wild land, you will come with us to be our guide to Lamoo many another present you shall receive besides."
Lieutenant-commanding H.M.S. Pen-Gun wrote most cheerfully and hopefully to Duncan, assuring him that he himself would steam at once eastwards, and if he was successful in finding the unhappy mariners, they should be immediately taken off, tenderly cared for, and landed at Zanzibar, to wait under the charge of the British consul until a ship should arrive and take them back to England.
"Thank God for all his mercies," exclaimed Duncan piously, after he had twice read the letter aloud to his comrades.
Then all hands shook Carrambo's hard fist, and noting that there was something more than usual on the tapis, Vike must jump up and go dancing all round the fort. But he made his way to the water to finish up with, for racing in Africa is hot work.
Carrambo received his rifle, and that very evening received also his first lessons in the use thereof.
Carrambo was indeed a proud man now.
He held his head erect and said to Duncan:
"We'n King Slaleema he want some piccaniny kill fo' to eat, I bling dat piccaniny down wid one lifel bullet plenty twick."
Then Duncan lost his temper.
He was a strong young Scot and athlete, and Carrambo, tough savage though he was, had no show after Duncan got hold of that rifle.
He wrenched it from his hand before anyone could have said "knife".
"You yellow-skinned scoundrel!" he cried, "you do not touch the rifle again till you promise me on your honour-though I don't suppose that weighs much-that you will never attempt to shoot, even at the king's bidding, any child he wishes to destroy."
Carrambo glanced one moment at Duncan, then, turning on his heel, walked off.
The boys thought he was gone for good; but presently he returned, holding in his hand a long thin root.
This he cut in two with his knife.
He placed one half in his bosom, and gave the other to Duncan.
"Carrambo plomise. Suppose Carrambo bleak dat plomise, den de debbil he cut Carrambo's heart in two, and take he away to de ver bad place."
This was an oath, though of a curious sort, but Duncan knew that this strange being would keep it, and so the rifle was restored.
The Somali now went off to see the king, but he first and foremost delivered the rifle into Conal's keeping.
Presently he returned laughing.
"De king-ha, ha! – he want to see you, foh tlue."
"And he vant to see you vely mooch dilectly."
"Well, ha, ha, ha!" Carrambo evidently couldn't contain himself, "he wants one bottle of goo-goo."
The royal command was obeyed by Frank and Duncan, Carrambo accompanying them to carry the goo-goo.
The king laughed like one possessed when he saw the bottle, and made various signals for a drink, holding out the same old nutshell.
It was three times filled, and Carrambo himself was also presented with a nutful.
Then the king waxed communicative, and, after calling upon two of his wives to fan him, and two more to cool Duncan and Frank down, he said he would tell them the story of the fort, and Carrambo himself stood by to translate.
The story was certainly a sort of a "freezer", as Frank termed it, but Carrambo, I have no doubt, gave a very literal translation thereof.
Let me carry it on to the next chapter please.
CHAPTER VI. – AN INVADING ARMY-VICTORY!
"Goo-goo!" said the king.
Duncan shook his head as he sat on a block of wood near to him, and just where he could get a good look of his sable countenance.
"He say," Carrambo interpreted, "no goo-goo, no stoly."
But Duncan was firm. Savages are very like children in some of their ways, and Duncan knew it. He shifted the bottle farther back therefore.
"No story, no goo-goo. Tell him that, Carrambo."
The fat king grinned, slapped one of his wives, grinned again, and began to talk.
As translated by the Somali, the story ran somewhat as follows: -
"I king now. My fadder he king once. My fadder fadder he king befo'; my fadder fadder fadder he king too. 'Twas when fadder fadder fadder king. De boys all in de bush one day, make much fine spolt. Shoot de monkey fo' eat; shoot de lion and de spot-cat (leopard) all wid bow and arrow. Some dey kill wid spear.
"Plesantly, all as soon as nuffin, plenty much noise and shout in de bush. Den fire-sticks flash and plenty thunder, and one, two, tlee, nine, ten (the king was counting on his fingers and could go no further) ob my fadder's fadder's fadder's poor people lie down and bleed red, and die. But dis not all. De king's people fight, and many mo' all kill and bleeding, and so de king make peace.
"De white men dey take many wives away, den take de country, and de king he king no mo'. All de same he not conquer. Plaps he take revenge one day. You see plenty soon.
"Well, de white men wid de thunder-sticks, they build big big house-big, big, stlong, stlong, all de same as you young gemmans lib in now. So dey settle down and lib heah.
"Dey go spolt plenty in de bush, and kill much wild beast. Sometimes de wild beast-ha, ha! – kill dey, and chew up foh tlue.
"But all de same de white folks stay one two year. Dey gadder much glass stone-"
"These," said Duncan, "were evidently diamonds."
"Were they like these?" said Frank, taking the splendid diamond from his pocket and holding it up.
"All same, all same, de king say," cried Carrambo.
"Dey go heah and dere all ober de mountain to seek fo' de glass stone, and many dey find and buly."
"Bury," cried Duncan, showing some little excitement. "Ask him, Carrambo, where the glass was buried. Wait a minute though," he added. "Frank, give him another nutful of goo-goo."
Frank did as he was told. Carrambo put the question, and the king's eyes sparked.
"What does he say, Carrambo?"
"He says de debbil guard the glass stones, and if he tell any white man where they lie, den de debbil take he plenty quick."
The king was offered a whole bottle of goo-goo if he would only divulge the secret, but he was obdurate.
"No, no, no," said Carrambo. "He say de debbil no catchee he foh many many long year yet."
Then his majesty proceeded with the story.
"De white men now begin to dig holes in the earf. Dey want to make hole for bad men to come up throo, and cut all de throats of my fadder's fadder's fadder's pore people.
"De ole ole king he fink, 'I no can stand dis no mo'." "Den one night in de dark folest he gadder his people togedder.
"He 'splain to dem all 'bout de big hole. 'Plaps,' he say, 'eben to-mollow de bad white debbils come up out ob de hole, and catchee us foh tlue.'
"And de ole king's people shake wid anger.
"'Kill, kill, kill, and eat the fire-stick men!' dey cly.
"Dey shake moh and moh wid anger, den de ole king say, 'Vely well, all kill'.
"Dat night, out on de plain de moon he shine. De moon hab one big led (red) face. He look down, he smile and laugh. 'Kill, kill!' he seem to say. 'Kill de white debbils and dair wives, kill de white piccaninnies too. Make much fine bobbery, much fine kill. I not tell.'
"But de white men dat night say, 'O, de black cannibal not come dis night. Too much moon!' So dey dlink goo-goo, and moh and moh goo-goo. Den dey sing-ha, ha! – den dey sleep.
"De moon he smile all de same. And the black man wid plenty spear and knife lie quiet in de bush.
"But the king cly now, and all at once de savage jump up.
"Plenty much branch ob tree dey cut.
"Plenty much fire.
"Den wid gleat stones de door fly all bloken, and de white men come out to fight.
"But too much goo-goo-he, he, he! – and dey fall and fall all in one big heap. Much blood. Much kick and scream!
"Not one alibe now, only de white women and de piccaninnies.
"Ha, ha, ha, how de king do laugh. My fadder, fadder, fadder, dat is.
"But now all de women am drag out, and all de piccaninny. Der troats-"
"Horrible!" cried Duncan. "We will have no more. Give the old pig of a king more goo-goo and let him go and sleep it off. I have never heard, Frank, of a more diabolical massacre in my life."
Said Carrambo now: "What foh you open again de old debbil pits? Some night dey people rise and murder you tree pooh souls all same as dey kill and eat de odder white folks long, long ago. Carrambo know well. Dese sabages not hab de debbil pits open. Oh, no!"
"There is much truth," said Duncan, "in what Carrambo says. It would be a pity to leave this land of gold and diamonds without knowing for certain whether the mines are worth working; but I move that we leave the devil pits alone for a time until we try to reclaim these savages just a little."
"I should reclaim them off the face of the earth," said Frank.
"That is impossible, and were it not, we should only be reducing ourselves to their level. That is not the doctrine of Jesus Christ."
So the "debbil pits", much to the joy of the king, were partially refilled. But just as they were shovelling in the earth, brave broad-shouldered Duncan struck something with his wooden spade.
"Hillo!" he cried, "what have we here?"
Frank and Conal rushed up to see.
"Why, a nugget. And, boys, it is six pounds weight if an ounce."
The excitement of the three young fellows now knew no bounds. They shook each other by the hand; they shouted aloud for joy, and then, while honest Viking capered around them, they raised their voices in song, Duncan leading in an old song, sung by the gold-diggers of California in days long, long gone by.
But a right cheery one it was.
Another and a truly British cheer. The savages far down below heard it and trembled.
"Plaps," said Carrambo, "dey tink all de debbils was let loose now foh tlue."
"Here, Carrambo, hurry down with a bottle of goo-goo to the old king, and tell him we are his friends now, and if an enemy comes we will help to fight him."
Carrambo came back the same evening rejoicing, but laughing his wildest.
"Plenty much fun!" he cried. "De fat king he dlunk, ebber so much dlunk. He do nuffin' now. Jus' lie on him back and sing. Ha! ha! ha!"
The boys went back to their fort to dine. Carrambo would be their friend, though to the savages he pretended not to be so. He was even entrusted with a revolver, and thus a right happy man was he.
Well, when Duncan talked about the invasion of an enemy he might have been speaking for speaking sake; but one evening a runner brought the alarming intelligence that a rich neighbouring tribe were preparing to fall upon and extirpate the inhabitants of these glens and hills.
"And a jolly good job too," said Frank. "We'll stand by and look on, won't we, Duncan?"
But Duncan shook his head.
"A promise even to a savage is sacred, Frank, and we must fight."
The Umbaloomi, as the invading tribe was called, did not keep the tribe long waiting.
They came in force on the very next day. The king himself marched along with his warriors, mounted on a huge elephant, while behind him, on another, rode his two favourite wives. The Umbaloomi potentate had promised them a great treat, and many heads with which to decorate their huts.
Now Duncan had determined that Goo-goo, as the fat king had come to be called, should attack the invaders first. If he failed to conquer, then Duncan, with Frank, Conal, and Carrambo, meant to give them a startler, and something like a surprise.
This was all as it should be, and the fight, as seen from the bush where our heroes lay perdu, was a fearful one.
What a horrible mel?e! What a murderous massacre! No wonder that the wild birds rose in screaming clouds, or that the echoes of the forest were awakened by the bedlam shrieks and howlings of the gorillas!
"Now for it, lads!" cried Duncan, as he noticed that Goo-Goo's side was losing. "Steady aim. Give 'em fits, but don't fire until I tell you."
Nearer and nearer to the foe they crept under cover of the mimosa bushes.
At the word a rattling volley was poured into the very midst of the foe.
Another and another, for the rifles were repeaters.
"Hurrah!" shouted Carrambo, "the fire-debbils have come!"
Whether the enemy understood him or not I cannot say, but they were staggered, and backward now they reeled in a confusion which is indescribable.
The elephants waxed wild, and, instead of flying, charged right towards the Goo-Goo tribe.
And the invading king, with both his wives, were instantly slain.
That completed the victory.
But after victory came the rout, the slaughter, and utter extermination of the invaders.
With the details of the fearful feast that followed, I should be sorry, indeed, to sully my pages.
So the curtain drops on a sadder scene than ever I trust any of my readers shall ever behold.
There was another feast, however, of a somewhat less terrible kind. For on the slain that night the beasts of the forest held high revel.
And thus ended the invasion of King Goo-Goo's land.
CHAPTER VII. – THE MYSTERIOUS STONE
For the first time since their arrival Goo-Goo paid the boys a visit of ceremony, on the day after the battle.
Carrambo had apprised them of the honour they were about to be the recipients of, and they stayed at home in consequence.
Goo-Goo was very pompous-and precious little else.
He was elated with his victory, but did not hesitate to admit that Duncan and his comrades had contributed a little to the turn of the tide of battle.
Goo-Goo was even boastful
Goo-Goo was also very thirsty.
So Duncan invited him to come inside.
He refused. Not even a whole bottle of his favourite sherry would have tempted him to cross the threshold of the fort, because-as he explained through Carrambo-"plenty much debbil lib (live) in one hole below de floor".
But he made very small work of a nut-shell of goo-goo that Duncan presented to him with his own hand.
Then he explained why he had come. It was to offer to our heroes the two tame elephants that had been captured in battle.
Duncan nodded to his fellows, and the gift was accepted unconditionally, and that very day the great wise beasts were taken over.
A huge compound was erected for them in a bit of jungle not far off; the king's men building it with their own hands.
Moreover, two men were told off to feed and care for the noble brutes, who soon became very great pets indeed, with all hands.
The larger of the two might well have been called immense or colossal. He seemed especially fond of Frank, and there wasn't a titbit Frank could think of that he did not bring to Ju-ju of a morning.
Ju-ju was certainly grateful. He had one very curious method of showing his gratitude, namely, by encircling the boy with his trunk and swaying him up and down, and to and fro.
"Gently, Ju-ju," Frank would say sometimes; "gently, Ju, old man."
Then Ju would set him quietly down and trumpet with delight.
But as soon as it was dark, all was generally peaceful enough about the fort, for after a residence of some months in king Goo-Goo's country they had got quite used to the cry of wild beasts, and even the roar of lions did not disturb their slumbers.
But the nugget and the diamond-oh! these indeed. Duncan's eyes used to sparkle with delight as they were placed upon the table of an evening.
What possibilities did they not point to! What joy for the future seemed to scintillate from the diamond! One night something that the king had said during his visit to the fort suddenly flashed across Frank's memory.
He almost startled both Conal and Duncan by the eagerness with which he almost shouted:
"Cousins!" he cried, "I have the happiest thought that ever I had. Do you not remember that the king refused to come into the fort because devils dwelt in a hole beneath the floor!"
"Yes, yes, he did say so."
"Duncan, those devils are diamonds, and, it may be, gold nuggets as well."
His comrades were thunder-struck apparently, but they admitted that in all likelihood Frank's surmise was correct.
"Then, boys," said Frank, "we shall open a devil hole right here where we sit."
This proposal was agreed to, and the work would have commenced the very next day had not a strange adventure happened to Frank.
It may be observed that mostly all the terrible adventures did happen to Frank. Some people are born unlucky, you know.
But next forenoon Duncan and he had gone towards the forest for the purpose of shooting hyenas, no great or very exalted sport, it is true, but they had become numerous and bold of late, and needed scattering.
Duncan had followed a wounded monster some distance for the sake of giving him his cong?, when he came back– lo! Frank was gone.
For hours and hours Duncan searched all that portion of the forest that he dared to enter, but in vain.
But he found his comrade's gun, and at some little distance his cap.
So he went sorrowfully home.
Further search was made next day, some of the bravest of Goo-Goo's native soldiers assisting.
But no more trace of the lost Frank could be found.
A whole fortnight went past, and he was mourned for as one dead, and even Carrambo gave up hopes.
Frank, he told them, must have been throttled by the gorillas and hung up in a tree.
But lo! and behold, one forenoon who should appear again in propria persona, but the laughing little Cockney boy himself.
By the hand he led a little long-armed hairy gorilla, that clung to him in terror when Viking began to growl.
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