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   Chapter 3 INTERCEPTING THE MARCH OF THE CONFEDERATES.

The Wonder Island Boys: Conquest of the Savages By Roger Thompson Finlay Characters: 17554

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


THE TREASURE

Blakely started north with the picked warriors, and before evening came in sight of them, headed for the east. It was evident that they were about to go to the Cataract.

Sutoto begged to be permitted to go there and inform them of the danger of attack, and Blakely consented, and without waiting for the morning, was on his way. He traveled most of the night, reaching the place in the afternoon, and was received by John and the others with the most effusive welcome.

"What are you here for?" asked John hurriedly.

"The tribes are coming this way."

"I have just learned from one of our runners that they went far to the north of you, and assumed that the intention was to attack us."

"The Professor should be warned at once," was Sutoto's response.

"I have instructed that to be done," answered John.

The scenes around the Cataract were intensely interesting to him. He wandered around with the boys, and asked questions on every conceivable subject. Blakely had given him one of the guns, and he was taken to the workshop and toldp. 38 how they were made. These things so fascinated him that, hungry as he was, he could hardly be induced to take time for his meals.

The boys admired him immensely, and together they acted like boys. The water wheel; the sawmill; the two stones which served as the gristmill; the grindstones; the lathes; and the little foundry were entrancing.

When the boys took him to the blacksmith shop, and he saw the forge, and the numerous spear heads which John had turned out, as well as the bolos, his eyes showed the intense delight the sight afforded him.

The next morning one of the runners appeared and stated that the tribes were still waiting, and also imparted the further information that Blakely and his party were at a safe distance, and unknown to the hostiles.

It was obvious now that they were awaiting the arrival of the two scouts who had been captured before advancing. Several scouts and runners were again sent forward, with instructions to return with information the moment an advance was made.

When Blakely reached the vicinity of their confederated enemies, he thought it wise to keep in the background, and was at a loss to account for the delay during the entire day, but before evening one of the Berees, who had been sent by John, arrived in camp.

"I have just come from the white man's village, and they know that the tribes are moving in that direction."

"Meantime John consulted Muro and Uraso, and the three picked out the most trustworthy scouts" [See p. 35]

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"How did they discover it?"

"We captured two spies and have them as captives."

This information suggested the cause of the delay. He immediately called a runner, and indited the following letter: "I am keeping on the watch, and am not afraid to attack the whole of them, if need be. If the guns you are making are not completed, do not worry about it, as I shall keep them interested here for several days longer. I will not appear unless I find they have taken up the march in your direction. Blakely."

The following day the scouts informed Blakely that the allies had broken camp and were about to move to the east. Calling the warriors together, he addressed them as follows: "My friends; we are about to meet your enemies, not for the purpose of fighting them, but to prevent them from attacking our friends at the white man's home. Our friends there are preparing the fire guns for us, before they come to us, and we must now stand together to prevent them from going there until we are ready to meet them."

The warriors all crowded around, and showed by their attitude that they could be depended upon.

"We have with us eleven fire guns, and I will now tell you how we must fight them, if it is necessary. I will stand in the center of the front line, with the guns, and on each side of us will be the ones I shall select. All those in front will have bows and arrows, but you will not need them, unless they come up too close. We must nowp. 40 march to the right, as fast as we can, and get between them and our friends."

The column started out on its mission, and made its way with the utmost speed to the east, and before noon turned to the north, being thus placed directly in the path of the oncoming forces. The allies moved along deliberately, entirely unaware of the existence of any force.

Before four o'clock the first signs of the advance were observed. Blakely had selected a strong position on a slight elevation, on the east side of one of the little streams which flowed into the Cataract River, that commanded an open front. His entire force was placed between two natural objects, the right resting behind a rocky projection and the left to the rear of a heavy chaparral of wood.

Entirely unsuspecting, the allies marched along the stream, and crossed not a hundred yards below. When they were within hailing distance, John and Ralsea suddenly appeared in front of their concealed column, and the latter, at the instigation of Blakely, addressed them as follows:

"The white men do not want war, but peace. They have come only to rescue their own people. You must give them up, or there can be no peace. The white chief tells me that if you injure or kill the white men you now have he will hold you responsible, because he is powerful, and is now ready to destroy you and your wives and children, but he does not want to do that. We are here to prevent you from going to the white man's house."

The consternation on the faces of the savages, atp. 41 the appearance of two, was easily discernible. They listened in silence while Ralsea spoke, and, then indicated that they would hold a council and give their answer.

It was evident that the allies were taken by surprise, and it must have been obvious that they had no idea of the force which was in their front. Blakely had wisely stationed pickets to the right and the left, in order to observe their movements, after the first surprise was over.

The conference lasted until night fell, and thus the first object was gained; delay. In the morning one of the chiefs appeared, and Blakely and Ralsea again went to the front.

"I will give you our answer," he said. "The white man attacked us, and we fought him back. He has killed our warriors, and we will not treat with him at this time."

Ralsea replied: "You have done the same that we have done toward the white man; we were always the first to attack them. They tried to be friendly, but we would not listen to them."

"We will let you know in two suns what our answer is." And he withdrew.

"That means," remarked Ralsea, "that they are waiting for reinforcements."

"So much the better. We will be reinforced much better than they by the time their reinforcements come to hand."

"We must send a runner to the Great White Chief, and tell him to stop the Kurabus from coming to their assistance," said Ralsea.

"That is a wise suggestion," answered Blakely;p. 42 and without delay one was selected and made his way to the Brabos' village.

When the Professor received Blakely's note he called in the Brabo chief, Oma, and said: "The forces we sent out are preventing the allies from going to our village, and have sent a runner here to inform us that the Kurabus are about to send more warriors to aid our enemies. Select one hundred warriors and let us go to the Kurabus' village and capture the warriors who are there, and also put the villages in our power. This may make them understand that they have no homes to go to unless they come to us."

This information delighted Oma, and he hurriedly gathered the warriors, and the Professor concluded to accompany them, as he did not want the warriors to commit any excesses against the villages and inhabitants of their former enemies, or exact any reprisals for the past indignities that some of them had suffered from the Kurabus.

A day's march brought them close to the main village, and scouts were sent to the front to ascertain whether the warriors still remaining in the village had gone forward. Before the scouts could return fully fifty warriors emerged from the village, and were taking up the march to join the allies.

The Professor instructed the warriors under his command to divide into three parties, one to remain with him, and the others to go to the right and to the left, so that the Kurabus would thus be entrapped.

The party marched forward unsuspectingly, dip. 43rectly toward the position occupied by the Professor, and he instructed Oma to show himself and inform them that they were surrounded and that resistance would be useless.

Some, more venturesome than others, started to retreat, but the unexpected appearance

of the Professor's warriors drove them back, and without firing a shot or loosing an arrow they submitted. When the Professor appeared they were the more surprised. The whole were marched back to the village, and, although the women tried to escape, all were soon rounded up and brought back.

The captured Kurabus warriors were taken to the Brabos' village, and the women informed that they would not be injured, as the white man did not believe in making war.

The Professor at once sent a runner to Blakely and also to John. Two days afterwards the runner appeared at the Cataract with the following message from the Professor:

"We captured the Kurabus' village to-day, and all the warriors left there, as they were about to leave to join the forces now before Blakely. We have taken all of them to the Brabos' village, where they will be held. Make the utmost speed with the weapons. In the meantime, I have sent a force to the north to intercept any reinforcements that the Tuolos may forward."

The message from Blakely was as follows: "We arrested the movement of the allies yesterday, and asked why they were determined to attack us. They refused to give an answer, and they are, probably, awaiting reinforcements. My forces are bep. 44tween them and the Cataract, and they will give their answer in two days."

All this news was imparted to the people, and the knowledge was received with enthusiasm. It gave the warriors the first glimpse of the value of cooperation, and the benefits of a directing hand in their affairs.

At the Cataract matters were progressing favorably. Reports from Blakely and the Professor assured them that they would have no difficulty, in a few days, in getting at least thirty of the guns ready. Stut proved himself to be the most apt pupil, and nothing interested him as much as the forge and anvil, and John, noticing this, set him to work on the small anvil to forge out arrow heads.

The arrows used by the natives were uniformly of stone, but the metal ones were perfect, and so arranged that, with the ramie fiber, could be readily attached to the shaft. The most deft workers in the making of the native arrows were selected, and together they made up a large quantity of arrows, and Stut seemed to be indefatigable in turning out the heads for the workers.

During this period the larder was not forgotten. The hunters brought in every day an immense quantity of taro, which seemed to be their favorite vegetable.

This is a stemless plant, which has heart-shaped leaves, about a foot long, and the leaves and stalks are prepared by them in the same way that we use spinach and asparagus.

But the tuber, or root, of this vegetable is thep. 45 most valuable part. It is larger than the common beet, and sometimes grows to a foot or more in length. This was beaten into a pulp by the natives, and made into a bread or pudding.

Fig. 4. The Taro Plant and Bulb.

"I like the taro," said George. "It can be used in so many ways, and I want to try it in the different forms as soon as we have an opportunity."

"In the Sandwich Islands, and in many other places it is the vegetable from which the well-known Poi is made," said John.

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"Do you know how it is made?" asked George.

"It is beaten up, just as you see them do it here, and then set in the sun to ferment for about three or four days. It is afterwards boiled with fowl, and makes a very pleasant dish, most appetizing and nourishing. The fermented Poi will last for weeks. It is the same as the well-known kalo of the Pacific Island, the yu-tao of China, the sato imo of Japan, and the oto of Central America. A fine dish is made of it by boiling and then covering the leaves with a dressing of cocoanut oil."

Harry and the other boys had been in consultation for several days concerning the cave, and a day or two before they were ready to start had a talk with John about the treasure there. John listened attentively, and when they had finished, said:

"You are quite right in wanting to take care of the valuables there. You are entitled to them."

"But they are yours, as much as ours, and we shall not touch them unless it is with the understanding that you shall share with us," responded George.

"I could not consider it for a moment."

"You cannot help yourself," said the boys in chorus. "We have arranged all that matter, and you have nothing to say about it."

"But," protested John. "I do not deserve it."

"Well, do we?" asked Harry.

"But you and the Professor discovered it."

"Before you or Ralph and Tom came we arranged the division, so that the Professor has onep. 47-third of it, but we own two-thirds, and that we propose to divide equally among all of us," added Harry.

"Really," said Ralph, "Tom and I are in the same position as John, and we feel it is not right to take a share, but the boys insist on it."

"Well, if you consider that a settlement, I must say that I am going to make good more than my share and the shares of Ralph and Tom."

"We don't want you to make it good," insisted George.

"But you can't help yourself in that. The cave in the Tuolos' country has something in it that will make you wonder as much as the treasure you have here, and it will be fully as interesting to get at and recover as anything you have experienced here."

"When do you think we ought to start for the west?" asked Harry.

"Day after to-morrow will see everything ready. We shall then have all the ammunition sufficient to last us until we can reestablish the plant, and as the new wagon is ready, it should not take us more than a day, with all the help we have, to load and apportion the different loads among the warriors."

"Then why can't we take to-morrow for the expedition to the cave?"

"That will suit admirably," he replied.

On the following morning the boys had the yaks yoked up, and taking with them a number of the copper vessels, and a quantity of the ramie cloth, drove over to the side of the hill opposite the Catap. 48ract house, so as to reach the land entrance of the caverns.

"It is not desirable to have any here know of our visit nor our purpose. It would not make any material difference, as the treasure there is of no value to them; but our motives will be misunderstood," remarked John.

Under the circumstances John and the four boys were the only ones in the party.

"We are going to have some pretty tough work this morning. That gold weighs something."

"Wasn't it a good thing you suggested the making the wagon?"

John smiled without saying anything.

The boys eyed him sharply, and finally Harry said: "That is what you suggested the new wagon for, was it not?"

John nodded an assent.

"Did the Professor say anything to you about bringing it along?"

"He did say it might be taken if you thought so."

"Didn't he suggest that we should do so?"

"No; he said the matter was left entirely to your judgment, and that I should not say anything about it, unless you proposed that course."

"Well, I am thinking we shall have a pretty good load for one team with what we get out of the place," said George.

"It will make a good load, but we can add to it the lightest parts of the stock we have at the Cataract."

Before reaching the mouth of the cavern, ap. 49 messenger hurried over from the Cataract with the information that two runners had arrived from the Professor and from Blakely, and they drove back as quickly as possible, and reached there to learn that another had just arrived from Blakely.

The two runners first to arrive conveyed the information stated in the previous chapter, but the last carried the additional news that there had been a fight between Blakely and the tribes, and that he was slowly moving back to the Cataract, but there was no occasion for alarm.

The latter part of the note read as follows: "Do not be alarmed and continue your work, and if the matter should be at all serious I will advise you by runner in ample time, and shall in any event send another in the next four hours."

John called in Muro and said:

"The forces with Blakely are having a fight with the tribes. I want you to take fifty men, and also twenty-five guns, and assist Blakely and his warriors, and keep me informed of the progress of events. Tell him that by day after to-morrow we shall be on our way. In the meantime you should draw them this way, as we do not want them to go back. For that purpose keep up the show of retreating, and hold them until day after to-morrow."

Within an hour the column was ready and moved toward the scene with celerity, equipped with the new guns, and an ample supply of ammunition, together with the new arrows which had been made.

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