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   Chapter 6 BUILDING UP THE NEW TOWN

The Wonder Island Boys: Conquest of the Savages By Roger Thompson Finlay Characters: 15852

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Within a week most disquieting rumors reached the new village as to the attitude of the Illyas and Tuolos. The former sent an insulting message that if the White Chief wanted the captives he should come for them.

The Tuolos had returned to their country, but John was determined that they must have a visit. Thus far no bands from the warring tribes had molested either the Saboros, who were nearest on one side, or the Brabos on the other side.

Their silence after a peace message was sent them could only be interpreted to mean one thing, on the part of the Tuolos.

"The Illyas will not dare to injure the captives they have with such a warning as we gave them, and if they intended to destroy them it is possible that has been done already. Under the circumstances a little patience on our part may show them that we mean business."

Muro, who understood the Illyas' character better than the others, was of the opinion that the Professor's views were most likely to accomplish the purpose without bloodshed. On the other hand, he was of an entirely different opinion with respect to the Tuolos.

A few weeks of active work, first, in completing all preparations for defense, and second, in organp. 75izing the tribes into a working unity, would be of the greatest importance to the community.

The shop and the laboratory were completed, and most of the things in the wagons were now in place. The important thing was the disposition of the treasure. For the safe keeping of this a large pit was dug beneath one end of the shop, and an underground vault constructed, the brick for this purpose being made from a natural silicate found in the hills near by, and which hardened without burning. The interior was also plastered with the same material, and a strong door, small, but thick, was constructed to close the opening.

During the night John, the Professor and Blakely, with the boys, carefully stored the treasure there, so that the different tribes had no idea of the use to which the vault had been put.

Two of the simple looms had been made, so that there were now three ready to turn out goods, and the fiber was in such shape that it could soon be utilized. In the meantime the boys concluded that as the weaving process was the slowest operation it would be well to construct several additional looms, and two of them capable of making goods four feet wide.

One of the first acts of the Professor was to scour the hills to the north for minerals. He was in search of copper, and taking a half dozen of the natives with him, and one of the teams, a load of copper ore was brought in.

The furnaces and smelters had been set up by the boys, previous to this, and within ten daysp. 76 a hundred pounds of copper were run into clay receptacles, to be used for the various purposes.

"What do you suppose the Professor wants with so much copper?" asked Ralph.

"You can make up your mind he has some scheme or other," answered George.

The Professor really did have a scheme, for the first thing he consulted Harry about was a plan to make some small molds in two parts, out of brass, from a plaster paris disk which he had carved out.

Fig. 8. The One-Cent Coin

"What is that for?" asked Harry, laughing.

"That is to make one of the first coins from our mint," he answered, smiling.

A sample of the coin is shown.

"What is the hole in the middle for?"

"So they can be strung on a cord, and thus provide a means for keeping them."

"That is the first time I ever heard of that plan."

"It is not anything new. The Chinese adopted the plan years ago, and Belgium is a country which has followed the idea. It has been foundp. 77 very convenient for shoppers, as they can string them on vertical pieces of wire, and in that way they are always kept in columns before them, and can be readily taken off in making change."

Fig. 9. The Five-Cent Coin

In making the molds, the molten brass was first poured around the paris plaster disk, so that the metal was level with the top of the disk, and, after it was thoroughly cooled, an additional amount of metal was poured over this, so that the two parts would separate. The disk was then taken out, and two holes made on opposite sides through the top. The copper was then poured in one hole until it appeared at the other hole. In this way the print formed by the disk was cast in the coin.

Harry made a half dozen of these molds, and the mint was ready for operation. Tom and one of the natives set to work making the coins, and the first day cast two hundred of them. Within a week they became quite expert at the business, and when they took stock at the end of the week over twenty-five hundred of the coins were in the treasury.

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A large-sized coin was turned out, which is also shown, the smaller being for one cent, and the larger five cents. The stock of coins within ten days amounted to fifty dollars in value, but it was a good beginning.

During the evening the coins were shown around and admired, and John said: "We have plenty of silver, when the time comes, which can be worked up in the same way."

This idea had not occurred to the boys. "But how," asked Will, "shall we use these? The natives won't give anything for them?"

"That is what we are trying to teach them. They are of no value except as a medium of exchange. Money is of no value, except as it enables us to buy something with it. When you have a five-cent piece and a taro root before you, and are hungry, which will you take?"

"The taro root, of course."

"So it isn't the coin itself, but only its value in what you want. It is want that gives money any value."

"But I still don't see how we are going to make the natives want the coins."

"We do not intend to make them want them. But we may soon have some things they will need. Now it is immaterial whether they give money for it, or if they furnish us something we wish in exchange."

"Then of what use is it to have the coins?"

"Simply because we must have something to measure by. If you buy a yard of cloth you must have a yardstick. If you want a certain quanp. 79tity of grain you must have a quart or a bushel measure. Now that yard or bushel, each, is worth so much, and they are measured by a coin or coins, of which both know the value."

"I understand now. You are simply trading a certain marked coin for a bushel of grain, instead of giving something else for it."

"Exactly; money in itself has no value. You cannot eat it, or make it serve as an article of clothing, or drink it. You can only measure the needed things with it."

The practical operation of the use of coins as money had its first trial on the following day, when the Professor had two hundred cords prepared, on which were strung five one-cent coins and a five-cent coin.

The warriors were told to file along the wagon, and George handed out one of the coin sets to each as he passed. They looked at the bright disks curiously, at first, and were informed that they were being rewarded for the work they had done. This was a singular way of requiting them for their services. They had obtained food in plenty, and therefore this way their pay; but now, in addition, they were being rewarded.

Uraso explained the new proceeding. They had conspicuously displayed the ramie cloth, made in different colors, which had been woven during the past two weeks. Not a word was said about that. The goods displayed seemed to be of more value than the coins. It was something they could wear, and they envied the manner in which the white people clothed themselves.

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John went up to Jim, who had the fiber cloth in charge, and asked him for a piece, indicating the length of the yardstick, which he held, and when he was told that it was worth one of the small coins, John made a great show of taking one of the coins from the cord and paying for th

e goods which Jim cut off.

Tom did likewise, and this was very soon repeated, some taking two yards or more. The natives regarded this as a new species of barter, and it did not take them long to see the peculiar features of the transaction. Before night fully half of the coins were again back in the hands of the treasurer.

The next day the boys, at the instigation of the Professor, began a species of trade with the natives, purchasing some trinket or other article, for which coins were offered in exchange. This spirit began to take possession of the natives. Regularly each week the pay for work performed was given, and as the weaving of cloth went on, the sale of the goods began to increase.

Soon the Professor called the chiefs, and said: "We ought to send some of these men to their homes, each week, and bring others here, so that all may have an opportunity to work and to learn, and also be able to buy the goods we make."

There was a twofold purpose in this: The warriors would, he knew, take their purchases home, and thus give their families the benefits of the cloth, and it would incite a desire for them to again return and work for the purpose of acquiring more goods.

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This was the first object lesson. In the following week, the second one was quietly brought to their attention. The workers had been fed from the common table. It was desirable to stimulate individual effort.

For this purpose the Professor, John and Blakely, as well as the boys, went to the different workers, and made bargains; some offered a coin for the bringing in of a brace of fowl; others for a certain amount of vegetables; and some for particular quantities of fruit and for barley.

The sawmill was turning out a certain amount of lumber, and the main house was erected, and then began the building of a number of small two-and three-room dwellings, all put up cheaply, but in a substantial manner.

This proceeding was looked on with wonder by the warriors. Before long the women and children of some of the workers appeared, and their coming pleased the Professor immensely.

It was evident that the two warring tribes were in communication with each other, and as the affairs of the little colony were moving along in a very satisfactory way, it was determined to bring them to terms. This was brought about by two incidents, which will be related.

The Brabo territory extended the farthest north of any of the inhabited lands, and adjoined the portion occupied by the Tuolos.

In a previous book the history of John was related, in which he described an immense cave, near their village, occupied by the medicine men of their tribe, and where he took refuge when purp. 82sued. There he discovered a large amount of treasure. He and the boys had long wanted to go there.

When the report was brought to the new village that the Tuolos had made a foray into the Brabo territory, and killed several warriors, carrying some of the women into captivity, it was a warning that could not be disregarded.

Immediately, on the heels of this news, was the report of two runners from the Saboros that depredations had been committed by the Illyas.

The Professor called John, Blakely and the chiefs Oma of the Brabos and Muro of the Saboros into consultation.

"We are now in condition," he said, "where we must undertake to call those tribes to account. The outrages reported are probably only the forerunners of others which may be much more serious, and I want your views on the course to follow."

"It is fortunate," answered Blakely, "that the tribes referred to are separated by the sections of the island inhabited by our allies. This gives us an opportunity to treat with each separately. It seems to me that we should attack the Illyas first, as they are the most powerful of the two."

"I do not altogether agree with you," responded John. "My view is that we should proceed against the Tuolos, as they have committed the most serious offense, in killing the Brabos."

"You speak wisely," said Muro. "The Brabos are not as well protected as my people."

This observation, coming from Muro, was a mostp. 83 pleasing one to John and the Professor, and Blakely was instructed to muster a force of two hundred. Notices were sent to all the allied tribes, and within a week they arrived, all eager to engage in the expedition.

"While engaged in that work the business must not cease here," observed the Professor. "It will be your duty, Blakely, to thoroughly drill the men, and instruct them in the uses of the weapons. For reasons which you will understand, John will accompany the expedition."

During all this time there was not a day but the Professor, as well as George, Ralph and Jim, whenever opportunity offered, scouted about in various directions, and brought in new specimens of woods, flowers, vegetables, and samples of ores.

The Professor's eyes were gladdened many times at the odd parcels left on his table, that excited the curiosity of the boys. Jim was an indefatigable gatherer of vegetable products, and one thing which attracted him immensely was the branch of a tree which bore a number of star-leaved clusters, each leaf being feather-veined, and the stems carried numerous yellowish purple-spotted flowers, and also nuts about the size of pigeon eggs.

"Down near the large river the banks are full of these. Can we make any use of them?" asked Jim.

"Why that is a variety of Chica," he answered.

"What is Chica, anyhow?"

"The seeds are good for making burning oil. The inner bark furnishes a fiber which resists allp. 84 moisture; and the nuts possess a substance which is well known all over the world as mucilage. It is recognized in commerce as gum tragacanth."

"I saw different kinds there. Are they all useful?"

"Some species contain nuts which are very fine, but are never eaten raw. They must be roasted."

Fig. 10. Chica. The Gum Plant.

"When Jim and I were down there this morning we saw at least a dozen different kinds of plants growing together in a space not three feet square. We both wondered why each kept on growing in its own way, from the same kind of soil. Now, don't the plants get all they are made of from the same soil? And if that is so, why don't they grow to be the same things?"

"Of course, like the animal kingdom, the germp. 85 of each is different, but each takes the identical substances from the same soil, and converts them into entirely different products. One will make a gum; the other produces a kind of milk; others will turn out a hard substance, like the outer portion of the nut; some will make a vegetable good to eat; others will yield a poison, and yet all are from the same soil."

"That is what I mean. Even though the plants are different, why is it that one will extract one thing and another something else?"

"It is due to what is called irritability or sensitiveness in plants. One plant is sensitive to the flow of certain juices, and is irritated, so that it is set into activity when different kinds of substances are carried along the pores or deposited in the cells. As a result, this irritation causes the plant to take only certain ones and reject others, and its tissues are thus built up only by such elements as its sensitiveness selects."

The training of the warriors with the new guns was a stirring sight for the boys, who could not help but be present during most of the time during the two days preceding the departure for the country of the Tuolos.

Ralph and Tom begged permission to accompany the party, and this was a natural request, because they had been rescued from this tribe the year before.

It thus happened that the party of warriors, equipped as they had never been before, left the village, with one of the wagons, which was loaded with provisions and ammunition, and the boys took charge of the team.

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