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The Wonder Island Boys: Conquest of the Savages By Roger Thompson Finlay Characters: 17424

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

It was decided to go north until they reached the level country, which would afford easy travel, and then move to the west and cross the large river which separated the Brabos from the Tuolos, as it would be better to meet them on the extreme western side of the ridge which they occupied.

"Do you remember, Blakely, what kind of country is to be found directly west of their principal village?" asked John.

"I have been over that entire country," responded Blakely.

"When I recovered, the morning of the wreck, I went inland at once," remarked John, "and I never saw the sea again. When you related your story about seeing a certain tribe offering up victims you must have been on the western side of the village."

"Yes; I came up from the sea."

"Well, you see I came down there directly from the north, and I reached the village on the eastern side, and I saw the sacrifice of the captives at the same time you did, but on the opposite side of the village."

"That is very probable. On the western side the country is high, but not difficult to travel across."

"The act was such a startling one that they threw themselves on the ground in terror" [See p. 95]

"That is the exact point I am aiming at. I know that all the way down, from the place wherep. 87 I struck into the interior, it would be almost impassable for the wagon."

This settled the route to be taken, and they moved westwardly, after crossing the river, and before night the boys caught the first glimpse of the broad ocean.

In the morning they put out scouts, which went well in advance of the column, and Muro was in charge of them. His instinct as a trailer was inimitable.

Before evening of the second day the scouts announced the first signs of the Tuolos. The village could be reached within two hours' march, but John advised waiting for the following morning before approaching.

During the early evening, however, Muro returned on a hurried trip from the front. "They are having a great feast at the village, and it appears that they will make sacrifices to-night, or to-morrow, so that we should approach as close as possible, and if we find that is their intention, prevent it."

This news stirred all into activity. The column went forward with the utmost caution, although it was dark, and the wagon had to be guided along with great care.

The movement proceeded until nine o'clock, and during the night march Muro had arranged a constant line of communication with John, through his runners. A festival was in progress, and the two victims were plainly seen by John when he and Muro went through the grass and inspected the village.

p. 88

The inaction of the whites had entirely disarmed the Tuolos. Indeed, as afterwards learned, they began to think that fear prevented an attack on their village, and no sentinels were posted to warn them of any approaching foe.

While waiting for the return of John and Muro, Ralph and Tom also wandered around the section surrounding the camp. They were in a valley, on both sides of which were ridges running north and south. The moon came out before ten o'clock, and they remembered some of the scenes about them. They had been brought from the south through this identical valley when they were captured by the Tuolos.

They were on the hillside, not five hundred feet from their camp, and were about to descend the hill, when Ralph started back, and grasped Tom's arm.

"What is that dark object directly ahead?"

The dark object was an opening into the hill, but as it was by the side of a projecting rock, it had the appearance of an object. They looked at each other for a moment in silence.

"I wonder if this is another cave, or the one John spoke about?" asked Tom.

"No, that is on the east side of the village. We are below the village. Do you think we had better make an investigation?"

"Yes; but I wish John was here. Come on; we have plenty of help here if we need it."

The opening was approached as noiselessly as possible. It showed a typical cave entrance, through solid rock, or, rather, through what app. 89peared to be a cleavage which had been spread apart. They had no light of any kind, but the discovery was one which interested them, because they knew of the treasure caves existing on the island, and two of them, at least, were within their knowledge, and contained immense hoards.

"Can you strike a match, so we can get some idea of it?" asked Tom.

"I am going to try it at any rate." So saying, the match was lighted, and its beams penetrated the interior. In their eagerness the match was muffled, and went out, but they caught sight of a huge white cross, far beyond, and it seemed to be moving.

"Did you notice that?" asked Tom excitedly.

"Do you mean the cross?"


"It seemed to move up and down."

"I thought so, too."

"I don't care about going any farther without we have some one with us and can have a decent light."

The boys hurried to the camp, and waited for John. When he came they hurriedly related the experience.

"That will do to investigate."

"We saw a cross in there, moving up and down."

"Have we any of the candles with us?" he asked.

"Possibly; I can soon tell."

Tom came back with the news that he had found a box of them.

"As the village is quieting down, we shall have plenty of time to make the examination to-night.p. 90 We must wait until Muro returns, so as to get the latest news, and can then start out."

Muro returned shortly after, and together with the boys, went up the hill, and entered the mouth of the cavern. Three candles were lighted. The great cross was before them, but it was such a different thing, now that they were face to face with it. The end of the chamber, which the light penetrated, had four openings to the chambers beyond, two above and two below. These openings were separated from each other, and the white walls between the openings appeared to form the white cross.

It was wonderfully realistic, this fanciful and fantastical carving of nature through the rocky structure.

"But I saw it move; that is sure," said Tom.

"Did you see that move, or was it the light of the match that moved?" asked John. "Imagination plays many a trick, during the excitement of the moment."

John took the light, and by moving it up and down showed how the beams, shining past the glistening walls, would cause the illusion of the cross moving.

The cavern was found to be much broken up as they advanced, and reaching the second set of chambers, it was evident that some one had lately occupied it. Penetrating farther into the interior, they were surprised to see articles of savage clothing, and long reeds, that had been burned at the ends, together with utensils for cooking.

"We have entered one of the homes of the medip. 91cine men of the Tuolos. I have no doubt they are now at the village attending the festivals, and we had better leave as quickly as possible."

Before the entrance was reached they heard a great commotion outside, and their own people rushing to and fro, and as they were emerging three fantastically garbed natives met them. John ordered them to halt in the native tongue, and they stood there irresolute. The boys also leveled their guns at them, and they submitted as Muro and his men rushed up.

The appearance of John and the boys startled Muro beyond expression, as the latter said: "These are the medicine men of the tribe."

"I knew it," responded John. "We have just been investigating the place they live," and he pointed to the mouth of the cavern.

These were the men who performed the sacred rites of the Tuolos, and were called the Krishnos, as they learned from Muro.

"Take them to the camp," ordered John.

Without more ado, they were hustled down to the wagon. It seems that when the Krishnos returned from the village they found themselves in the immediate vicinity of the camp, and in the effort to escape aroused the sentries, who rushed upon them.

If they could have reached the cave, not one of the warriors would have dared to enter it, as their superstitious fears would have prevented them, but outside the cave they had no such feelings. It was fortunate, therefore, that John and the boys were there to prevent them from entering.

p. 92

As they were going down the hill, John exhibited a curious cross, He had found it in the cave, just before he advised the boys to go out. It was made of stone, and one of the limbs had a hole near its end, which indicated that it had been carried as a charm.

"Isn't that singular? Why should the natives have the Christian sign of the cross?"

Fig. 11. Stone Cross found in


"That is one of the earliest symbols that the world knows. Its use goes back beyond the earliest period of history. It was the favorite figure used by the astronomers and astrologers of the ancient Babylonians, fully four or five thousand years ago. The clay tablets and stone monuments of the Persians contained them; the Hittites, in the earliest Jewish times, used them; and the ancient Egyptians decorated the High Priests officiating in the temples with figures of the cross."

"It seems to me that if it was used by peoples in different parts of the earth, there must have been some reason for it."

p. 93

"One of the well-known forms found in the inscriptions shows the cross within a circle. This seems to be the meaning of the phrase in Isaiah which says the 'four ends of the earth.' In Bible times the earth was known to be round, so that the expression used in the Bible about the 'circle of the earth,' and the four ends, seem to point clearly to the cross within the circle, to indicate the four points of the compass."

Fig. 12. Ancient Crosses.

"So the Christians took an old form and made it their symbol?"

"Yes; the Roman cross, used at the crucifixion, had the lower stem longer than the other, and from this fact that form became the Cross of Christianity."

The uproar created by the pursuit attracted the attention of the warriors in the village, who ran to and fro, and soon learned the cause of the disturbance.

p. 94

The camp was kept quiet, however, but the scouts watched the excitement created, and reported the results at frequent intervals. Muro knew they would not desert the village, as they would not be likely to leave it at the mercy of their enemies, at least without a fight.

John confronted the medicine men as soon as the wagon was reached.

"Why do your people make war, and refuse to treat with us?"

"Because you have no right to come and try to kill us."

"Why did you imprison our people, and offer up some of them as a sacrifice?"

"Because your people fought us."

"You lie; you took those who were defenseless, and had no weapons. You do not tell the truth."

"The Great Spirit told us to kill you."

"Why do you try to lie to me. I do not believe you. The Great Spirit never told you so. He would not speak to you."

"The white man does not know. He speaks to us."

"Where does he speak to you?"

"In the sacred cave."

"How does he tell you?"

"With wonderful signs."

"Tell me some of the wonderful signs."

"He makes a great light, and we read it in the light. He makes a great noise, and we know what he says."

"Does he make a great light and a great noise up there?" and John pointed up to the heavens.

p. 95


"Then why did you lie to me when you said that he speaks to you in the cave?"

"We can understand it only in the cave."

While they were thus speaking John held the stone cross in his hand, and the Krishnos eyed him curiously. He finally saw the movement, and, quick as a flash, he reached down in his pocket, unobserved by them, and drew forth one of the wooden matches, which they had made at the Cataract.

"What is this?" he asked sternly, pointing to the cross.

They raised their hands and rolled their eyes upwardly, as though about to pronounce a malediction on John. He deftly drew the match along the rear side of the stone, and as it blazed forth into light, he thrust it forward into their faces.

The act was such a startling one that they threw themselves on the ground in terror.

"The Great Spirit told me that you lied, and he is about to come out of the stone and consume you. He will follow you everywhere unless you go to the Tuolos at once and tell them that the Great Spirit has told you to give up the captives, and to never again kill any of them. You must tell them we have been sent to make them our friends, and that if they do not follow this advice we will punish them."

The Krishnos cringed before John. It was obvious to the surrounding warriors that the words they had heard had an ominous import, and they saw how feeble were the devices of the so-calledp. 96 wise men when pitted against the knowledge of John.

John assumed a most tragic attitude, as he slowly raised his arm and pointed with his finger to the savage village. "Go," he said, "and bring back to me the answer before the morning sun comes up."

They hesitated. "Do you fear to go? Are the wise men cowards? Did the Great Spirit tell you to fear the Tuolos? Shall we go and sacrifice all your people?"

"They will not believe us; they will kill us."

"Then they, too, know you have lied to them. If you remain here you will not be safe, because the great light might destroy you."

Then turning to Muro he said: "Take these men to their village, and see that they are forced to meet their chiefs," and with an imperious air he turned from them.

Muro's warriors were not too gentle with them. The spell of savage witchcraft had been broken. John and all of them knew it. They were hustled forward in the darkness, and as they approached the village Muro told them to advise the chiefs in his presence what John had said.

Muro and the warriors, with the loaded guns, remained at a safe distance, and the Krishnos entered the village. They waited in silence for more than an hour, and then a commotion was noticed, which grew more intense as the voices increased in volume.

In the meantime John with the rest of the warriors came up quietly in the rear, and, after conp. 97sulting with Blakely and Muro, the village was surrounded.

The boys saw the large hut where they were confined, after being captured, and from which they were rescued. Calling John's attention to it, Ralph said: "That big house is the place they kept us, and that is where you found us."

John looked at them in surprise. He did not know this, as at the time the boys were rescued he was in mental darkness, and did not recall the incident.

It was obvious that some tragedy was being enacted. While awaiting the result of the conference Muro was away instructing the pickets who were around the village. He soon appeared, bringing with him two Tuolos whose dress betokened them as belonging to the same order as the individuals who had been sent into the village.

Calling John aside he said:

"The Tuolos have two rival sets of medicine men. These belong to the other set, and are the ones who perform the religious rites."

"Where did you find them?"

"Directly east of the village."

"Were they going to the village?"


"Did they come from the hill on the east side?"

John mused for a while, and then said quietly to Muro: "They came from a cave on the hill, where they perform their rites, and it is a place I want to see. It is one of the reasons I insisted on coming to settle matters first with the Tuolos."

Muro was astounded at the information, as hep. 98 asked: "How do you know there is a cave in the hill?"

"Because I have been in it, and I know what it contains. They are having trouble in the village with the Krishnos we sent there."

"Yes," responded Muro; "and they have sent for the others, as they do not believe what they have told the chiefs."

"I will question the ones you have brought in."

The two captured were brought before John. They stood before him in defiant attitude, and some of the Brabo warriors cringed at their frowning mien.

"Why were you going to the village?" he asked with a severe frown.

At this question they scarcely deigned to move their heads, and were silent. The question was repeated, but they refused to answer. This was carrying out the very line of conduct which Muro had advised John would be the case, and in concert they had mapped out a course of action.

"Tell me, Muro, have any of your people the same fear of these Krishnos as the others possess in the various tribes?"

"It is the universal belief in the various tribes that to offend them means death. The only ones who are supreme are the chiefs, who often imprison them, but even the chiefs dare not kill them."

"Will your people carry out our command if we do not order them killed?"

"My people will do whatever I say, even though it be to kill them. They saw how the other Krishp. 99nos quaked when you made the fire come out of the stone."

"Then, if they refuse to answer me, I will order them to be beaten. You will understand."

"That will be done with pleasure," he answered.

It was obvious to all that the Krishnos considered themselves immune from the threats of John, as they stood there and seemed to breathe imprecations on the heads of their captors.

* * *

p. 100

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