Gordon Stables.

Courage, True Hearts: Sailing in Search of Fortune



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The journey was now resumed, and with the exception of some adventures with pythons and alligators, they reached the river without much further trouble, and in a few days after this struck the outlying huts of the large Arab city of Lamoo, and were received in the most hospitable way, not only by the Portuguese, but by the Arabs, and even by the sultan himself.

A question now arose as to what they should do with the elephants. It would be impossible to take these to sea with them.

But a very wealthy Arab merchant offered to buy them, and after a considerable deal of haggling he became the purchaser, and the boys were paid in gold.

They had half expected to find a gun-boat here, but were disappointed.

So after waiting for a whole week, they paid poor Carrambo off, after telling him that they meant to revisit his country another day and open the "debbil pits" in spite of old Goo-goo, then took passage in a large Arab dhow for Zanzibar, with all their goods and chattels, their gold and diamonds.

Two weeks after this there landed on the white sandy beach of that place, three as jolly and as happy boys as anyone ever shook hands with.

CHAPTER IX. – THE VERY IDENTICAL BIRD

Zanzibar! The spotless sand, on which the blue waves broke lazily into foam, sparkled like silver in the rays of the noonday sun. Higher up were the walls of many a palatial-looking building, consulates, most of them, and each one flying the flag of its country, and with, here and there, gigantic cocoa-palms waving their dark-green foliage between.

Conspicuous above all, the palace of the Sultan, with above it the blood-red Arab flag.

There were many ships in the roadstead; some men-o'-war too, but none belonging to Her Majesty the Queen.

This was slightly disappointing, for our heroes had been told that the little gun-boat was here, and they longed with an indescribable longing to know if their dear friends had been rescued alive from the uninhabited island.

During their voyage from Lamoo-the town lies about fifteen miles inland, and on the banks of the river, and is navigable to vessels of light draught all the way up-the Arab skipper had been both courteous and kind to the young fellows, and when, after the landing of their chattels, they bade him good-bye, they felt truly sorry to part with him.

There were plenty of willing hands on the beach to carry their goods to the hotel. Indeed, they would have carried the boys themselves, and Viking too, had a few pice been offered them as a reward.

But here is the hotel. It has not been a long walk, albeit the narrow streets have been-as they always are-crowded to excess with Arabs, Parsees, Hindoos, Portuguese, Indians, and niggers of every size and shade. Through this crowd they had to jostle their way with many a shout of "Sameela! Sameela!" For neither the streets themselves nor those who fill them have the sweet savour of-

 
"A primrose by the river's brim".
 

Yes, here is the hotel, and though the street in front is fairly wide, the hostelry itself is not over-inviting.

But the landlord, who happens to be a Frenchman, gives them a right hearty welcome, and asks them immediately what they will have for "deenir".

"Oh," said Duncan, "what can we have?"

"Eberytings, gentlemans; soup, feesh, entree, curry."

"Ah! let us have some real curry. No, not any soup; we want solids. And as soon as you are ready, we are."

"Sartainly, gentlemans."

"And now," continued Duncan, "we would like to see our bedrooms."

"I have put your luggash all in one big, big room. Three beds it have, 'cause I know young officers like to talk much togedder."

"Very thoughtful of you indeed!"

"And dare is a bat'room just off it."

"How luxurious!" cried Frank. "Why, boys, we are back once more into civilization!"

They certainly enjoyed their bath, as well as a change of raiment.

"Now, if we had some coffee," said Frank "we-"

He had no time to complete the sentence, for just as he was talking, the landlord re-entered the room smiling.

He bore, on a level with his forehead, a tray with a pot of the most fragrant coffee, flanked by cups.

Besides this, there was a huge basin of goat's milk.

"For your beautiful dog, sir officer."

Duncan thanked him most heartily, and Viking seemed most grateful also.

"I sincerely love all de animiles in de world," said the Frenchman. "One gentleman stay here now. Hab been stay many mont's, with one leetle blackamoor servant. He possess one very curious bird. Ha, ha! 'Scuse me laugh. But ven I play on my little flute, den the bird and de boy dance. It is all so funny!"

The boys exchanged glances.

"Can it be possible?" said Duncan.

"I declare," cried Frank, "I feel fidgety all over."

"And I," said Conal, "am cramful of nerves."

"Landlord, can you introduce us to the bird and the boy?"

"Sartainly, gentlemans. Follow, if you will be so kind."

He led them down and down a flight of stone stairs that seemed to have no end.

Then the young fellows followed him into a large room.

"Gol-a-mussy, gemmans, has you risen again flom de grabe?"

It was little Johnnie Shingles, and none but he.

"Grunt, grunt! squeak, squawk, and squawl!" Up rushed Pen himself.

Yes, the very identical bird!

"Wowff!" cried Vike, entering fully into the excitement.

"Wowff, wowff, wonders will never cease."

Then out came Monsieur T.'s flute.

And Monsieur struck up a merry lilt.

Up went the great bird's flappers, stretched out were Johnnie's arms, and next moment they were whirling together round and round that stone-floored room, in surely as daft a dance as ever yet was seen.

It was just at this moment, and while all three boys were convulsed with laughter, that a third person put in an appearance, and now for a time everything else paled before the pleasure of once more meeting, and grasping the hand of brave Master-mariner Talbot himself.

What anyone said for the matter of a minute or two is not worth recording, consisting, as it did, chiefly of ejaculations, and little brief sentences of wonder and pleasure.

"Of course, you will dine with us, captain," said Duncan at last, "for we have much to tell you, and your story will all be perfectly new to us."

"Another plate, landlord."

"Sartainly, sah."

To say that this was a happy meeting would be to print a mere commonplace.

It was more than happy, but it was agreed that they should not tell each other the story of their adventures, till dinner had been discussed.

Their anxiety, I may tell you at once, reader, did not prevent our heroes doing ample justice to the delightful little meal that the Frenchman had set before them.

He waited upon them himself, too, and presently informed them that dessert was laid upstairs. Duncan opened his eyes wonderingly.

"What!" he cried, "do you serve dessert in the bedrooms?"

Talbot laughed.

"No," he said, "not in the bedroom, but on the upper deck. Follow me, and see for yourself."

CHAPTER X. – THE WELCOME HOME

Up and up and up! They were getting heavenwards, and presently found themselves in quite an a?rial paradise.

On the roof, but covered with awning it was. From this place they could see all over the city and catch glimpses of the blue ocean itself, to say nothing of the greenery of the far-off woods.

But here were splendid palms in pots, flowers of every hue, orange and lemon trees, whose cool green foliage refreshed the eyes that gazed upon them. Settees or lounges also, mild cigarettes on the tiny tables, iced sherbet, mangoes, pine-apples, guavas, and great purple grapes.

And presently a waiter brought cups of black coffee, of far better taste and flavour than any they had ever drank on British soil.

"What a treat after our hard and terrible life in the land of the gorilla!" This from Conal.

"But, my dear boy," said Frank, "the gorilla is really a gentleman compared to the cannibal king Goo-goo. But now, Captain, we are all anxious to hear your story."

Captain Talbot did not reply at once. He simply smiled and smoked, leaning well back in his rocking chair with his eyes on the curling wreaths, just as he used to do of an evening on the deck of the dear oldFlora M'Vayne.

"I am sorry to disappoint you, my brave lads, but the real truth is that I've got no story to tell.

"You know," he continued, "what our sufferings were before you left."

"Alas! yes," said Duncan.

"They grew worse instead of better after you sailed away. More men died. Died, I think, of fever brought on by thirst. I, too, should have died but for that child Johnnie. I do believe he brought me a portion, and a large one too, of his own allowance of water.

"Then it seemed to be all darkness, all night, and when I opened my eyes at last I was no longer on the little island but at sea.

"I was lying under an awning on the quarter-deck of a tiny British man-o'-war called the Pen-Gun."

"But," said Duncan, "soon after we left you we sighted and communicated with a big steamer, and as far as we could make out she started off to your rescue."

"Well, she came not near us. But as long as I live I shall never forget the unremitting kindness and attention bestowed upon us by the officers of thePen-Gun."

"And Morgan the mate?"

"Morgan has gone to England with the remainder of my crew, but after hearing from you through the captain of the bold Pen-Gun I determined to wait and wait, and had you not put in an appearance in another week's time, I was about to undertake an expedition into your charming King Goo-goo's land and effect your rescue by hook or by crook.

"That is all my little story; and now for yours."

It was late that night before Talbot and his boys parted, for the tale of their adventures took a much longer time to tell.

Every word of that story was of the greatest interest to the listener, but when they told him about the gold and the diamonds, and showed him their specimens, he must needs jump up from the chair and once more shake hands all round.

"Boys," he said, "you have made your fortunes. I do not mean to say that it is here, but there are more diamonds and there is more gold where these came from.

"Leave it to me, lads, but you may give yourselves the credit of being brave pioneers to a country bound, in the not far distant future, to be one of the richest and greatest in the world.

"As soon as we get back once more," he continued, "to the shores of Britain, we shall set about forming a great company, and this will speedily open up a road to your Goo-goo land, and open up the "debbil pits" also, in spite of all that wretched king shall urge against it."

"But we shall not call it Goo-goo Land," said Frank.

"No? Well, I shall leave the naming of it to you."

Then something very faint in the shape of a blush suffused the young fellow's cheeks for a moment.

"You know, Captain Talbot," he said, "my dear cousins know also how fond of little Flora I am!"

"Oh! she won't be so little by the time we get home," said Conal, laughing.

"Well, anyhow, when she grows bigger and grows a little older, she shall be my wife.

"Oh! you needn't smile; she has promised, and so after her I am going to call our newly-discovered El Dorado-Floriana."

We are back again in bonnie Scotland, and it was Conal himself who exclaimed, when bonnie Glenvoie, for the first time since coming home, and as he was nearing it, spread itself out before him:

 
"O Caledonia! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e'er untie the filial band
That knits me to thy rugged strand!"
 

They had driven a great part of the way to Glenvoie, but had been seen while still a long way off coming down the glen, and not only the stalwart chief himself, but Frank's father, with about half a dozen dogs, came out to meet them.

Many of the dogs were old hill-mates of Viking's, so that was all right, and a glorious gambol they had.

But just as the principal actors and most of the company crowd the stage before the curtain falls, so they do at the end of a story.

If I tell you that the reunion was a happy one, I can do but little more.

Poor to some considerable extent both Colonel Trelawney and the laird were, but I speak the honest truth when I say that had their brave boys returned penniless and hatless, they would have been sure of a hearty Highland welcome under the old roof-tree.

Yes, Flora had grown very much too, but she had also grown more beautiful-I do not like the word "pretty" – and as she bade her brothers and her cousin welcome home, the tears were quivering on her eyelids and a flush of joy suffused her face.

And soon our young fellows settled down, and all the old wild life of wandering on the hills and of sport began again. For indeed the boys needed a rest.

Little Johnnie Shingles and that droll Old Pen took up their abode in the servants' hall, but were often invited into the drawing-room of an evening, when, to the music of Frank's fiddle, the boy and Mother Pen brought down the house, so to speak, by their inimitable waltzing. This was fun to everybody else, and even to Johnnie himself. But while whirling around in the mazy dance, with his head leant lovingly on the nigger-boy's shoulder, Pen never looked more serious in his life.

A great ball was given shortly after the return of our heroes, and Glenvoie House looked very gay indeed.

While dancing that night with Flora, Frank took occasion to say to his partner, in language that was certainly more outspoken than romantic:

"Mind, Flo, you and I are going to get hitched when we're a bit older."

"Hitched, Frank?"

"Well, spliced then. You know what I mean."

 
"She looked down to blush, she looked up to sigh,
"With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye."
 

I throw in these two lines of poetry just because they look pretty, and I sha'n't charge my publisher a penny for them either. But, to tell the truth-a thing I always do except when-but never mind-Flora neither blushed nor sighed.

"That means getting married, doesn't it?" she said. "Well, we'll see; but do keep step, Frank!"

And this was all the wooing.

But years have fled away since then. Five, six, nearly seven of them.

The company was started. The parchment the boys had found in the old fort gave the clue to the situation. The "debbil pits" were opened, and are, even as I write, being worked with success.

The boys are men!

Boys will be men, you know!

They are fairly wealthy, and happy also. Not that wealth makes people happy, only it helps.

Frank is spliced.

And where do you think Flora and he spent their long, long honeymoon? Yes, you are right. In Floriana, in the country of gold and diamonds. The land of the great Goo-goo.

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