Middy and Ensign
by G. Manville Fenn
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The news that one of the prahus was about, up the river, set the ship's company on the qui vive once more. The master of the prahu, having been robbed of his cargo, had no farther aim, and was glad enough to offer his services as guide. When asked as to the depth of the river, he declared that the steamer could ascend for another twenty miles, so it was decided to make a fresh expedition against this disturber of the country; but the whole of the plans were kept a profound secret, lest the time and arrangements of the party should again be conveyed to the rajah by some one or other of his spies.

Preparations were quietly made, then, and fifty men from the island taken on board the steamer, a few at a time, so as not to attract notice; and when at last the expeditionary party started, the occupants of the residency were dining with Major and Mrs Sandars at the officers' quarters, where they quietly stayed.

Steam had been got up before dark, and every preparation made, for this time the "Startler" was to go up stream: and at last, when night rapidly succeeded day, as it does in the tropics, the steamer lay waiting for the rising of the moon, and then her screw slowly revolved, and she began to feel her way gently against the swift stream—the people of the campong only seeing her at nightfall moored as usual, and not awaking to the fact that she had gone until the morning, of course far too late to give any warning to the rajah if they were so disposed.

Patiently and almost silently the great steamer forced its way on for quite a mile, when, there being no fear now of being heard, the propeller revolved more rapidly, and the waves made by the vessel ran washing the roots of the trees on either side.

The moon was just at its full, and seemed, as it rose, to silver the tops of the trees, while it left the river in utter darkness, though it marked out its course through the dense jungle where it seemed to have to cut its way, the great trees growing to the water's edge, and overhanging the stream.

A rapid rate was impossible, on account of the way in which the river wound about; but it kept so wide and deep that there was but little difficulty in its navigation, especially as not a single craft of any kind was encountered.

The master of the prahu pointed out a couple of campongs as they passed them, on the banks; but they might have been villages of the dead, so silent and unoccupied did they seem, as the steamer slowly glided by.

The moon rose higher and higher, till the river was like a broad path of silver, and along this they continued their course with a man constantly sounding from the chains, but always to show an average depth of about four fathoms, with a thick, soft, muddy bottom, upon which the steamer could have met with no harm had she taken the ground.

Silence had been ordered, but as the Jacks and soldiers sat beneath the shelter of the bulwarks, or leaned over and watched the smooth, silvery river, they conversed in low whispers about the expedition, and wondered what luck was to attend them now.

The plan was evident to all, it was intended to spare the men all the risk they could, by getting the steamer within range of the prahus, and sinking them with her big guns. If this could not be done, through the shallowing of the river, of course the boats would have to continue the journey up stream; but even then it was Captain Horton's intention to make use of the boat-guns as much as possible, and save the men from the disadvantages of boarding vessels that were so carefully protected.

Higher up the river still, and past the stockade, whose remains showed plainly in the soft moonlight. Ever and again strange noises could be heard from the jungle on either side, as the various denizens of the thick tangle of vegetation were alarmed by the throb and rush of the steamer, with its strange wave that rushed up to the bank, and startled many a nocturnal creature from its lurking-place, where it lay watching in search of prey.

To Bob Roberts' great delight, he found that Tom Long was one of the party, for, being declared well enough by the doctor, he had put in a sort of claim, as having been of the last force, to a right to belong to this.

This was conceded to him by Major Sandars, and he was burning to distinguish himself, if he could obtain a chance.

Very formidable he seemed, with his sword ground to the keenest possible edge, and a revolver in his belt; though in appearance Bob Roberts was scarcely less offensive in the way of weapons, as he took pains to show his friend.

It must have been close upon midnight, when the man in the chains, who had continued to take soundings, announced by degrees the shallowing of the river.

For quite twenty miles it had kept to its muddy bottom and uniform depth, but during the past half-hour the mud had given place to clean-washed gravel, the depth grew less, and at last the anchor was let go, for it was not considered safe to proceed farther. But it was not until there was less than a foot of water beneath the vessel that the order was given; while even then there was so much way upon the steamer that she touched upon the gravel lightly before she gradually settled back and swung to her cable.

Quickly and silently four boats were lowered, each containing twenty men, and at the word of command the party, under the joint command of Lieutenant Johnson and Captain Smithers, pushed off, with the good wishes of all left on board.

The master of the prahu was in the foremost boat, and according to his account, they were still about a couple of miles below where the attack took place, he having been mistaken about the steamer's draught of water. His opinion was that both the prahus would be found lying in the Qualla, or mouth of a river higher up, and towards this point the boats steadily ascended without any undue bustle, for the object of the officers in charge was to get the men up to the point, fresh and ready for the task in hand.

Each boat carried a gun running on slides, and upon the proper service of these guns, depended a good deal of the success of the expedition.

They had been rowing steadily on for above half an hour, when suddenly from their left a bright line of light cut the black darkness of the forest, and was followed by a sharp report.

For a moment the course of the boats was checked, and one was directed to pull in and see who the enemy might be, but directly after there was another report a couple of hundred yards higher up, and then another, and another.

"Catch a weasel asleep," said Lieutenant Johnson, grimly; "that signal will run right up to the prahus. We've got to deal with some one who has his wits about him."

So indeed it proved; for a quarter of an hour later, as they still pushed steadily on in line, there came a warning from the first boat in the shape of a dull heavy report, and the other boats sheered out of the right line, ready to deliver their own fire.

For plainly enough, though wearing a grey shadowy appearance, a couple of prahus could be seen coming swiftly down the stream, the long rows of oars on either side beating the water with a wonderfully regular stroke, and sending them along at quite a startling rate.

Shot after shot was fired, but with what effect the occupants of the boats could not tell, for no heed was paid to the firing, save that the prahus seemed to increase their speed, and were steered so as to run down the enemy that tried to check their way.

It was a matter of little more than a minute from the first sighting of the vessels, each of which was five or six times the size of the largest boats, and their disappearance round the point below, with the water foaming behind them, and the English boats in full pursuit. Several shots had been fired, for each boat found its opportunity at last, and the firing was kept up till the enemy had gone.

The attempt to overtake them was, however, felt to be hopeless, for the prahus went at least two yards to the boats' one; all the officers could hope was, that one of the shots had done irreparable mischief, or that, warned by the firing, the steamer would sink them as they passed.

More they could not have done; for to have remained still was to have been sunk, the prahus dashing down at a fearful rate, and evidently seeking a collision; so, angry and disappointed, the pursuit was kept up, every ear being attent for the first shot sent at the enemy's boats by the steamer; but they waited in vain, for when at last they came within challenging distance, it was to find that no prahus had been seen.

"Was a strict watch kept, sir?" asked Lieutenant Johnson, sharply.

"Yes, of course," said Captain Horton. "I have been on deck with my night-glass ever since you started, and as soon as we heard your guns the men stood ready, lanyard in hand, to fire at any vessel that tried to pass."

"Then they must have gone off through some side stream, and come out into the river lower down."

Captain Horton stamped his foot with rage, but nothing could be done until morning; for if the steamer had set off at once, it might have been only to pass the prahus in the darkness of some creek.

Morning then was impatiently awaited, and at the first streak of daylight a couple of boats at once set off, to find a side branch of the river about a mile above the steamer, and that it came out in the main stream once more, half a mile lower down.

They rowed through it to find the current swift and deep, though the place resembled a narrow canal. It was a short cut off through a bend of the river, and at last, vexed and discomfited, the steamer went rapidly back, to learn that the prahus had passed the island at daybreak, and had fired a few defiant shots from their lelahs as they rapidly went by.

"Never mind, Tom Long," said Bob, as the former shivered in his great-coat, for the early morning was damp and cold, "only take time, and we shall put salt on their tails yet."

"No, sir," said old Dick, shaking his head seriously, "it strikes me as you never won't catch them as manages them two swift boats. They're too clever for us, they are. But only think of two big bits of Her Majesty's army and navy like us being set at nought by this here savage prince."

"Wait a bit, Dick, and you'll see," said Bob. "It strikes me that I'm the man for settling Mr Rajah Gantang; and if it does come to me to do so, why let him look out."

"Ay, ay, sir; and his men too. I owe 'em one for that boat affair. The cowards! when a fellow was asleep!"

"Ah," said Tom Long, discontentedly, "it's all very well to talk, but I want my breakfast;" and he made haste off to his quarters as soon as the steamer's boats had set the military part of the expeditionary party ashore.



It was decided after this to wait patiently for an opportunity to capture Rajah Gantang, or to destroy his prahus; and meanwhile life at the residency went on very pleasantly. The men at the fort had settled down into an easy-going existence, and under the doctor's guidance a careful examination was made of the little island, to clear it of everything in the shape of noxious reptile and insect, as far as was possible.

The example of the Malays was followed by the construction of a large bathing-place for the men, which being carefully stockaded round with stout bamboos, allowed the free flow of the river-water, without the addition of any four-footed creatures, in the shape of crocodiles, which were far too common to be pleasant, especially where lower down the river the salt water mingled with the fresh. In fact, it was dangerous there for a hand to be dragged in the water beside a boat, the hideous creatures being ready to make a dash at it, darting through the stream, as they did with great velocity, by a stroke of their powerful tails.

The great desire on the part of the men was to go ashore, but, in the majority of cases, this was sternly refused. Here and there, though, an officer had a shooting-trip, but it was thought better to wait until the confidence of the natives had been more thoroughly won, and the disaffected party of Rajah Gantang dismissed.

The sultan seemed to have quite forgotten his rejection by the ladies, and was most liberal in his presentations of fruit and fresh provisions. Every morning a boat came off with a load, the fore part being generally crammed with freshly-cut flowers; and later on in the day the resident's boat would be sent ashore to return the compliment. Tom Long generally had the honour of being the escort, and marching a fatigue party up to the sultan's residence, with something likely to gratify his highness.

There used to be hearty laughter amongst the officers at the quaintness of the presents, and sometimes Tom Long would have been glad to evade his duty had he dared; for, he confided to Bob Roberts—

"It is so confoundedly ridiculous, you know. I don't mind taking him up a little case of a dozen champagne pints, but what do you think I had to take yesterday?"

"I don't know," said Bob, laughing; "a pound of candles, perhaps."

"No, not yesterday," cried Tom Long; "but I did have to take him a packet of composite candles, one day. Only fancy, you know, an officer in Her Majesty's service marching with a fatigue party, up to a palm-thatched barn, to take a coffee-coloured savage a packet of candles for a present!"

"Mustn't look a gift horse in the mouth," said Bob, philosophically. "Present's a present, whether it's a pound of candles or a gold chain."

"Bah! It's disgusting," said Tom Long. "It's enough to make a man want to part with his commission."

"What'll you take for it, Tom Long? I think I should like a change. Or come, I'll swap with you. I'll turn ensign, and you take a go at the sea?"

"Don't be absurd."

"Certainly not; but come, you didn't tell me what you took up yesterday."

"No," exclaimed Tom Long, flushing with annoyance; "but I will tell you, for it's a scandal and a disgrace to the service, and Mr Linton ought to be informed against. I actually, sir, had to march those men all along through that jungle with a box."

"Box of what?" said Bob; "dominoes?"

"No, sir," cried Tom Long. "A box containing two bottles of pickles."

"Ha, ha, ha, ha!" roared Bob. "What were they? Walnuts, or onions?"

"Neither," said Tom, with great dignity; "one was piccalilli, and the other mixed."

"Well, I dare say he was very glad of them," said Bob. "I consider a good bottle of pickles, out in this benighted place, one of the greatest luxuries one could have."

"Yes," said Tom Long, who had on a supercilious fit that day, "I suppose it would satisfy you."

"All right, my noble friend," thought Bob to himself; "I'll take you down for that some day."

They strolled out and about the fort together for a time, and then out to the upper end of the island; for though longing to go to the lower portion where the residency stood, both of them carefully avoided that part. But it so happened that soon after, when they directed their steps towards the landing-place, they found that the ladies were there, in company with the major's wife, talking to a couple of Malays in a sampan laden with fruit and flowers.

The ladies were making liberal purchases of the delicious fruit and sweet-scented flowers, when, to the astonishment of Bob Roberts, he saw that one of the Malays, was the man who had made so fierce an attack upon Tom Long over the durian affair.

Seeing this they both stepped forward, when the Malay recognised him, said a few hasty words to his companion, and they both leaped ashore, the man of the kris salaaming profoundly, and remaining half prostrate before the young ensign.

"Dullah asks pardon of his excellency," said the other man in good English. "He thought him an enemy who had insulted him, and he drew his kris. He asks now that his excellency will forgive him."

"Yes, yes," said the offending Malay, without raising his head or his pleading hands; and then he repeated what seemed to be the whole of his stock of English, "Yes, yes."

"Dullah asks your excellencies to forgive him, and to let him bring fruit and flowers, and to make offerings to the English princes he has offended."

"Oh, I say, Tom Long," said Bob; "that's a little too strong, isn't it? English princes!"

"What are we to do about the fellow?" said Tom Long; "tell the sentry to turn him off?"

"No; what's the good?" said Bob. "Here, leave it to me. I'll settle him."

He glanced merrily at Rachel Linton as he spoke, seeming quite at ease in her society now; while Tom Long appeared to be buttoned up in his stiffest uniform, though he was in undress white.

"Go on, then," said Tom Long in a whisper, "but don't say anything stupid; the ladies can hear every word."

"All right," said Bob. "Look here, old cockolorum," he continued to the Malay who interpreted, "what has become of that Kling who was here before?"

"Gone Mirzapore, most excellent prince," said the man.

"Come, that'll do," said Bob impatiently; "drop all that eastern sugar wordings, my fine fellow, and look here!"

The Malay salaamed again.

"My friend here isn't an English prince. We are English officers. And my friend here says you may tell Mr Abdullah there that he does not bear any malice against him for the attack. If he asks pardon, that is enough."

This being interpreted to Abdullah, who remained humbly bent, he started up, and catching Tom Long's hands, kissed them both, and afterwards Bob's, very much to that young gentleman's disgust, though Tom received the salute with a good deal of dignity, posing himself to look to the best advantage in the presence of the ladies.

"There, that'll do now," said Bob. "It's all right, only tell Mr Abdullah not to be so handy with his kris again, and that I—Mr Roberts, of Her Majesty's ship 'Startler'—think he ought to present us with some durians."

This was duly interpreted to the Malay, who drew back, gazing keenly from the ensign to the middy, and back again, his dark eyes seeming to flash, as he said something in his native tongue to the interpreter.

"Dullah say you throw durian again in his face, and it make him mad."

"No, no, old fellow, nothing of the kind," said Bob, laying his hand on Abdullah's shoulder. "That's all past."

The Malay judged his meaning from his looks, and not from his words. Then smiling, he leaped back into the boat, and returned laden with the finest fruit he had, which he offered to the young officers with no little grace and dignity, smiling pleasantly the while, but manifesting nothing little or servile.

The ladies looked on so wonderingly, that Bob had to leave the durians and explain, returning directly after, though, to the Malays, and obtaining a splendid bunch of the sweet flowers of the waringhan tree, which he carried back to the ladies, who smiled, thanked him, and took their departure.

"I never saw such a fellow as you are, Roberts," said the ensign, sulkily, as Bob returned; "you always seem to know what to say or do when ladies are present. I don't!"

"Native modesty, ability, and natural gifts, my dear fellow," said Bob; "and I'm precious glad they are gone, for I want to have a go at those durians."

Abdullah had already opened one, which he presented to Bob, who took it and made a terrible onslaught; and then, with a doubting look in his dark eyes, the Malay opened a second durian, hesitated, and then, evidently mastering his pride, offered it to Tom Long.

The latter drew back, shaking his head, and the Malay looked hurt and annoyed.

"Tell him I don't like durians, Bob Roberts," said Tom, nervously, "or we shall have another row."

"Here, hi! old cockolorum!" cried Bob, with his mouth full, as he turned to the Malay, "tell Mr Abdullah there, that his durians are 'licious— luscious—'licious, but Mr Long likes mangosteens better."

This was interpreted, and Abdullah's doubting look changed as he hurried back to the boat, and returned with a basket full of delicious fruit, which he offered Tom Long with a bow; and then, finding they were accepted, he stood smiling with his head bent, while Bob went on devouring durian at a terrible rate.

"I say, Tom Long," said Bob, making a very unpleasant noise with his mouth.

"What is it?" said the ensign, who was deep in the mysterious flavour of the delicious mangosteen.

"I never believed in old Darwin, and his development, and evolution, and that sort of thing, till now."

"Why now?" said Tom Long.

"Because I feel such a pig," said Bob, attacking another durian. "Look here, old man, if you'll put me up in a durian tree, I don't want anything else, thankey; you may have all the honour and glory. Oh! I say, this one's lovely! it's just like nectar made with custard, with an old shoe put in for flavour, and all stirred up with a paint brush. How are you getting on?"

"Bravely," said Tom Long.

The two young officers went on eating till they caught sight of the doctor in the distance—a sight so suggestive of making themselves ill, that they gave up with a sigh or two, and went away, Tom Long offering to pay liberally for the fruit, notwithstanding a hint from his companion that he should be content to accept it as a present.

Both the Malays drew back very proudly, but Bob Roberts healed the breach in etiquette by quietly taking out his case, and offering a cigar to each of the Malays in turn.

These were taken with a smile, and accompanied by a thoroughly friendly look at parting.

"They're rum fellows, those Malays," said Bob, "and want a lot of managing. They are gentlemen at heart, and savages at body. That's my opinion of them."

"And my opinion is," said Tom Long, "that they are a precious unpleasant treacherous set of people, that it is downright cruelty to expect a gentleman to live amongst."

Up to this point no Malay, not even a servant, had been admitted to live upon the island, though the want of natives for assistance and to supply food had been keenly felt.

During the last few days, however, the resident had begun to relax this stringent rule, and a fisherman had been permitted to set up his hut, and keep his boats, at the upper end of the island, with the consequence that in place of a very intermittent supply, there was plenty of fish at the mess table.

Now as soon as the young officers had gone, Abdullah and his Malay companion sought audience, basket in hand, of the resident, who, after talking to them for a time, walked down to the landing-place, saw their ample supply of fruit and flowers, and ended by granting them a site by the water's edge, where they might set up their hut, and secure their boat, the understanding upon which the grant was made, being that an ample supply was to be kept up for the use of the officers and men.

"Capital fellow, Linton," said the doctor. "Nothing like fruit in moderation to keep men in health. But isn't it risky to have these fellows on the isle?"

"I have thought of that," said Mr Linton; "but by being too exclusive we shall defeat our own ends. We must receive the principal part of the Malays in a friendly way, and it is only by a more open policy that this can be done. If we admit any wolves amongst the sheep they must meet with the wolves' fate. So far I think I have done well."

"Well, yes, perhaps you are right," said the doctor. But both gentlemen would have altered their opinions exceedingly if they had seen a long low boat, painted of a dark grey, and manned by six men, float gently down stream that night, and, unseen by the sentries, stop beside the sampan of Abdullah and his Malay companion.

Here there was a short consultation, Abdullah crawling over the gunwale into the long low boat, where he lay down, side by side with the man who steered.

Their conversation was long, and the others in the boat lay down while it was going on, so that had the boat been seen by an unusually watchful sentry it would have appeared to be empty, and moored to a bamboo stake thrust into the mud.

But the dark silent boat was not seen by the nearest sentry, either when it floated down, or when it was cautiously turned and paddled up stream once more, till, out of hearing, the oars went down with a noisy splash, and the long narrow vessel literally dashed through the river.

The reason it was not seen was simple enough.

Private Sim was on duty that night, and he had been once more fast asleep.



There was a good deal of the schoolboy left in the young representatives of Her Majesty's two services; not that this is strange, for a good deal of his schoolboyhood clings to a man even in middle life. Bob Roberts had a tiff with Long, made vow after vow that he would never speak to the ensign again; declaring him to be a consequential cocky scarlet pouter pigeon, with as much strut in him as a bantam.

On the other hand, Tom Long declared the middy to be a most offensive little rascal, with impertinence enough in him for a dozen men. He was determined to cut him dead—that he was, and he would have no more to do with him.

Result the very next day:

Bob Roberts hurried down into the captain's gig, sitting there very eager and excited; for they were going to the island, and he had a plan in his head.

The captain came to the side and down the ladder, the gig was pushed off, the crew's oars fell into the bright river with one splash, and as they did so Bob Roberts forgot all the respect due to his commander, by suddenly catching him by the arm.

"Look, look, sir. See that?"

"No, Mr Roberts," said the captain rather sternly, "but I felt it."

"I beg your pardon, sir," said Bob, saluting. "It was a great crocodile, and the splash of the men's oars frightened it."

"Oh, indeed," said the captain dryly; and he took out a despatch and began to read.

Dick, who was coxswain of the gig, screwed up his mahogany visage, and Bob pretended to look terribly alarmed, and so the boat was rowed over the sparkling waters to the bamboo landing-stage, when the captain got out, and Bob was left in charge of the boat.

Bob jumped up as soon as the captain had entered the residency, and began to fidget about.

"I wish I knew how long the skipper would be, Dick," he said. "I want to go ashore. No, I don't," he said, correcting himself. "I got in a row once for that. But look here, Dick, suppose you go and find Mr Long."

"All right, sir," said Dick, with alacrity. "I'll go."

"Oh no, you don't," cried Bob, recollecting himself again; "that fly won't take the same cock salmon twice, Master Dick."

"I don't understand you, sir," growled Dick, rubbing his ear.

"Oh no, I suppose not," said Bob. "You didn't go ashore for me once with a message, and then get up to the canteen and forgot to come back again, did you?"

"Lor', now you mention it, sir, so I did," said Dick. "It was that day as I met Sergeant Lund, and he says, 'Why, Dick, old man,' he says, 'you look as dry and thirsty,' he says, 'as a fish. Come and have some lime juice and water,' and I did, and talking together about the 'Startler' and her guns, and earth-works, made me quite forget how the time went by. But lor', Mr Roberts, sir, what a memory you have to be sure."

"Yes," said Bob, sticking his cap on one side, and cocking his eye knowingly at the old salt; "a fellow just needs to have a good memory. I say, Dick, that lime juice and water was precious strong that day, wasn't it?"

"No, sir, not a bit," said the old sailor, stolidly. "But now I come to recollect, the sun did make me awful giddy."

"All right, Dick," said the midshipman; "run the boat a little more under the shade of those trees, and we'll keep you out of the sun to-day."

Old Dick growled, and picked up the boat-hook to draw the gig further along, to where there was a dense cool shade. Then as he laid the boat-hook down, and retook his place, he began to chuckle.

"You're a sharp 'un, Mr Roberts, that you are," he said, laughing. "Well, I'll own it; that was a bit of a slip that day. Send one o' the tothers ashore then, with your message."

"No, I'll be blessed if I do," said Bob. "I'll never give way an inch again about a boat's crew; I haven't forgotten that little game at Aden, where I sent one chap ashore to get me some cold water to drink, and he didn't come back; and another volunteered to go and fetch him, and I let him go, and he didn't come back; and then I had to send another, and another—eight of 'em, every one vowing he'd bring the rest back; and at last I sat alone in that boat without a crew, and the first lieutenant came, and a nice wigging I had. No, Master Dick, I've been at sea too long now to be tricked by those games, and I mean to have the strictest discipline whenever I'm in command."

The men in the forepart of the boat overheard all this, and began to look very gloomy.

"Couldn't you let one on us go and get a bucket o' water, sir? it's precious hot," said the man who pulled bow oar, and he touched his forelock.

"No, Mr Joe Cripps, I couldn't," said Bob, sharply; "but I tell you what you all may do; put your heads over the side, and drink as much of this clear river-water as you like. We're not at sea, man."

"More we aren't, sir," said the man, glancing round at his companions, who laughed.

"Look here," said Bob, "Dick will keep an eye on the shore, and I'll tell the sentry there to pass the word. You may all smoke if you like, only look smart, and put away your pipes if the captain's coming."

"Thanky, sir," chorussed the men, and pipes were quickly produced by all save Dick, who helped himself to a fresh quid.

"I say, sentry," cried Bob, "pass the word on there—I want to see Mr Long."

"Yes, sir," was the reply, and the white-coated sentry walked to the end of his beat, and made a sign to the next sentry, who came to the end of his beat, heard what was wanted, and passed the message on, so that at the end of a few minutes Ensign Long came slowly down to the landing-place, with an umbrella held up to keep off the sun, and found the boat's crew smoking, and Bob Roberts, with his cap tilted over his eyes, sitting in the bottom of the gig, with his legs over the side, so exactly arranged that the water rippled round the soles of his shoes, and pleasantly cooled his feet.

"Did you wish to speak to me, Mr Roberts?" said Long, stiffly.

"Hallo, Tom, old man! Here, jump in! I've got some news for you."

Ensign Long looked very stand-offish; but the eager face of Bob, the only one about his own age of whom he could make a companion, was too much for him; and as Bob got up and made a place for him, Mr Ensign Long unbent a little, and really, as well as metaphorically, undid a button or two, and got into the captain's gig.

"I say, look here, Tom, old man, what's the use of us two always falling out, when we could be so jolly together?" said Bob.

"I don't quite understand you," said Tom Long, stiffly. "I am not of a quarrelsome disposition, as any of my brother officers will tell you."

"Then it must be me then who is such a quarrelsome beast, and there's my hand, and we won't fall out any more."

Ensign Long undid a few more buttons, for it was very hot, and condescended to shake hands.

"I'm sure it's not my wish to be bad friends," said Ensign Long. "I think the members of the two services ought to be like brothers."

"So do I," said Bob. "I say, sentry, keep a sharp look-out for the captain, and I'll stand a glass for you at the canteen next time I come ashore."

"Yes, sir," said the sentry. "But p'raps, sir, I mayn't see you next time you come ashore."

"There's an artful one for you, Tom," cried Bob, getting his hot wet hand into his pocket with no little difficulty, and throwing the man a fourpenny piece. "Now, look here, Tom," he continued, as the man cleverly caught the tiny piece and thrust it in his pocket, Ensign Long carefully closing his ear and looking in the other direction the while, "you and I might have no end of games if we could only keep friends."

"Well, let's keep friends, then," said Tom Long.

"Agreed," said Bob, "and the first one of us who turns disagreeable, the other is to punch his head."

"No, I can't agree to that," said Tom, thoughtfully, "because we could not settle who was in the wrong."

"Then we'd punch one another's heads," said Bob; "but never mind about that. Look here."

Ensign Long undid a few more buttons, of which he had a great many down the front of his mess waistcoat, just like a row of gold-coated pills, and then he proceeded to look there, that is to say mentally, at what his companion had to say.

"Do you know that young Malay chap, who came on board yesterday with his father, the Bang-the-gong, or Tumongong, or whatever he calls himself?"

"Yes, I saw him; he came afterwards to the fort, and was shown round."

"Didn't you speak to him?"

"Not I. Don't care much for these niggers."

"Oh! but he's no end of a good chap," said Bob. "He can't help being brown. I took him down to the gun-room, and we smoked and talked; he can speak English like fun."


"Yes, indeed; and I tell you what it is, he's worth knowing. He's quite a prince, and as jolly as can be. He says there's out-and-out shooting in the jungle, and if we'll go ashore and have a turn with him, he'll take us where we can have a regular good day."

"What does the young savage shoot with," said Long, disdainfully, "a bow and arrow?"

"Bow and arrow be hanged! Why, don't I tell you he is quite a prince? and he's regularly English in his ways. Some one made him a present of a Purdey breechloader, and he uses Eley cartridges. What do you think of that?"

"Very disgusting that men should take to such adjuncts to civilisation before they leave off wearing those savage plaid petticoats."

"I believe they are a tribe of Scotsmen, who came out here in the year one and turned brown," said Bob, laughing. "Those sarongs are just like kilts."

"Yes," said Tom Long, "and the krises are just the same as dirks."

"Well, bother all that!" cried Bob. "I told him we'd both come to-morrow, and bring guns, and he's going to get some prog, and half-a-dozen beaters; and we'll have a jolly day."

"But," said Tom Long, dropping his official ways, and speaking excitedly, "he didn't ask me!"

"He said he'd be delighted to know you. He likes Englishmen."

"But we can't get leave."

"Can't we?" cried Bob. "I can. If the skipper says no, I think I can work him round; and I'm sure you can manage it. Look here, you ask Doctor Bolter to manage it for you, and say we'll bring him all the specimens we can shoot."

"By Jove, Bob, what a jolly idea!" cried Tom Long—an officer no longer, but a regular boy again. "We'll get leave to-night, and start early."

"That we will."

"But are you sure that young Tumongong would be glad to see me too?"

"Ali Latee, his name is, and I've got to call him Al already, and he called me Bob. Glad? of course he will. I said you'd come too; and I told such a whopper, Tom."

"What did you say?"

"I told him you were my dearest friend."

"Well, so I am, Bob; only you will get so restive."

"Yes, I always was a restive little beggar," said Bob. "To-morrow morning then, and—"

"Captain coming, sir."

"Landing-place at daybreak, Tom. Cut," whispered Bob; and the young ensign rose and leaped ashore, buttoning up his little golden-pill buttons, as Captain Horton came down the path, and answered his salute with a friendly nod.

The next minute the water was flashing like fiery silver from the blades of the oars, and the gig returned to the steamer's side, where Bob began to prepare for the next day's trip, taking it for granted that he could get leave.



Very great things come from very small germs, and for a long time afterwards Captain Horton bitterly regretted that he had been in so easy and amiable a frame of mind that he had accorded Bob Roberts the holiday he desired.

He had dined well, and was in that happy state of content that comes upon a man who is not old, and whose digestion is good.

It was a glorious night, and the captain was seated on deck at a little table bearing a shaded lamp and his cup of coffee, when Bob respectfully approached, cap in hand.

"If you please, sir—"

"Who's that? Oh! Roberts. Here; go down to the cabin, Roberts, and fetch my cap. I don't want to catch cold."

"Yes, sir."

"Hi! stop, my boy! Here; lend me your cap till you come back."

It was a very undignified proceeding, but Captain Horton had a horror of colds in the head, and would far rather have been undignified than catch one. So he took the little, natty gold-laced cap held out to him, and stuck it upon his pate.

"Bless my soul!" he exclaimed. "What a stupid little head you've got, Roberts."

"Yes, sir," said the lad sharply, "very; but it will grow, sir."

"Then I hope it won't grow more stupid, boy. There, be quick!"

Bob ran down to the captain's cabin, and obtained the required piece of headgear, with which he returned to the quarter-deck, where the captain was sipping his coffee, apparently oblivious of the fact that he had sent for his cap.

"Your cap, sir."

"Oh, ah! to be sure! yes, of course. Thank you, Roberts. Exchange is no robbery, as we used to say at Harrow. You needn't wait."

"Thank you, sir; no, sir, but—"

"Now what is it, Roberts? You know I don't like to be troubled after dinner."

"Yes, sir; but I beg your pardon, sir. Might I have leave to go ashore to-morrow?"

"Yes—no. What, in the name of goodness, do you mean, Mr Roberts, by coming and asking me? Go to the first lieutenant."

"Please, sir, I'm very sorry to trouble you, but he's dining at the residency."

"Then why didn't you wait till he came back?"

"Because, sir, please sir, Mr Wilson's always cross when he has been out to dine. He's not like you, sir."

The captain started up in his chair, and gazed full in the lad's face.

"You're a nice boy, Roberts," he said; "but don't you try any of that impudent flattery on with me again."

"No, sir. I beg pardon, sir, but may I go?"

"Wait till the first lieutenant comes back, sir, and ask him."

"But please, sir, it's important."

"What is?"

"That I should have leave to-morrow, sir."

"Where are you going, then?"

"Please, sir, I was going shooting."

"Oh!" said his captain, laughing; "then that's what you call important, eh? Well, I don't know what to say. Have there been any complaints against you lately?"

"Two or three, sir," said Bob; "but I have been trying very hard, sir," he added earnestly, "to do my duty."

"Humph!" said the captain. "Well, I was a youngster myself once. I suppose you'd be very much disappointed if I said no?"

"Yes, sir; very much."

"Humph! Who's going with you?"

"Ensign Long, sir, if he can get leave."

"Well, Roberts, you can go; but be careful with your guns. And look here, don't do anything to annoy the Malays. Don't go near their religious places, or get trespassing."

"No, sir, I'll be very careful."

"Any one else going?"

"Ali Latee, sir, the Tumongong's son."

"Very well. Be off!"

"Yes, sir, thank you, sir," cried Bob joyously, and he hurried away.

Ensign Long felt perfectly sure that if he went direct to the major, and asked for leave to go ashore shooting, it would be refused. He would have gone and asked Captain Smithers to intercede for him, but the captain was always short, and ready to be annoyed at nearly everything said; so he concluded that Bob Roberts' idea was the best, and he went straight to Doctor Bolter, who was in his room, in his shirt and trousers, both his sleeves rolled up, busily pinning out some gorgeous butterflies that he had secured.

"Ah, Long!" he said, as the youth entered; "how are you? just hand me that sheet of cork."

"Quite well, sir, thank you."

"Oh! are you? I'll look at your tongue directly. Hand me one of those long thin pins."

The pin was handed.

"Now put a finger on that piece of card. Gently, my dear boy, gently; the down upon these things is so exquisitely fine, that the least touch spoils them. Look at that Atlas moth by your elbow. Isn't it lovely?"

"Magnificent, sir," said Long, taking up a shallow tray, and really admiring the monstrous moth pinned out therein.

"Ah, my lad! I wish I could see you turning a little attention to natural history, now we are in this perfect paradise for a collector. How much better for you than lounging about all day under the trees. Now then, put out your tongue."

"But I'm quite well, Doctor Bolter."

"Put—out—your—tongue—sir. Confound it all, sir, I've no time to waste!"

As he spoke he took up the lamp, and held it close to Tom Long's face, so that the light might fall upon the protruded organ.

"Hah!" ejaculated Doctor Bolter, resuming his seat.

"But I really am quite well, sir," remonstrated Tom Long.

"Don't tell me, sir, that you are quite well. Do you think I don't know when a man's well, and when he is not? You are just a little wee bit feverish."

He felt the youth's pulse, and nodded his head sagely.

"Too much idleness and good living is what is the matter with you, sir. Why don't you collect?"

"How can I, sir," said Tom, "when I'm shut up in this island?"

"Go ashore. Here, I'll give you some collecting boxes, and lend you a vasculum and a net. Go and get me some butterflies."

"Well, sir, if it's all the same to you," said Tom, taking advantage of the wind blowing in the right direction, "shooting's more in my way. Suppose I shot you some birds?"

"Better still," said the doctor, enthusiastically. "Nothing I should like better. I want a few trogons, and the blue-billed gaper. Then you might get me the green chatterer, and any new birds you could see."

"Yes, sir."

"And look here, Long; the woods here are the chosen resort of the great argus pheasant. I don't suppose you would be able to come across one, but if you do—"

"Down him," said Tom Long.

"Exactly," said the doctor. "There, my lad, I won't give you any medicine, but prescribe a little short exercise."

"Thank you, sir," said Tom, trying hard to restrain his eagerness. "Might I have a run to-morrow? I have felt very languid to-day."

"To be sure. I'll see the major, and get leave of absence for you. Be careful, though. Don't overheat yourself; and mind and not get into any scrape with the Malays."

"I'll mind, sir," said Tom.

"That's right. Be very careful not to spoil the plumage of the birds. You can make a Malay boy carry them tied by the beaks to a stick. Stop a minute; as you are here, you may as well cut up these cards for me in thin strips. I'll go and ask the major the while."

Tom set to work at the cards with a pair of scissors, and the doctor donned his undress coat, went out and returned with the requisite permission.

"By the way, look here, Long; if you'll promise to be very careful, I'll lend you my double gun."

"I'll take the greatest care of it, sir," was the reply.

"Good! There it is; so now be off; and to-morrow night I shall expect a nice lot of specimens to skin."

So Tom Long went off with the gun, and the doctor helped to turn the residency into an abode where danger usurped the place of safety, and peace was to be succeeded by the horrors of war.



Tom Long rather overslept himself, but it was pretty early when he started from his quarters, to encounter Captain Smithers soon after, looking anxious and annoyed. He nodded shortly, and the young ensign went on through what was quite a wilderness of beauty, to meet, next, Rachel Linton and Mary Sinclair, who had been flower-gathering, and who stopped for a few minutes' conversation with him, the former nearly spoiling the expedition, by turning the foolish youth's thoughts in quite a contrary direction from collecting or shooting.

But Rachel Linton quietly wished him success, and Tom went off telling himself that it would look foolish if he did not go.

He had not far to go to the landing-place now; but in the little space close by the resident's garden he encountered Private Gray, who saluted him, and sent Tom on thinking that he wished he was as old, and good-looking, and as manly, as the young soldier he had just passed. And then he felt very miserable and dejected, and wished he was anything but what he was, until he saw Bob Roberts, sitting in the "Startler's" dinghy by the landing-place, and forgot all about everything but the shooting excursion.

"Come along! You are a chap," shouted Bob. "I've been waiting over half an hour."

"Met the ladies," said Tom, "and was obliged to speak."

"Oh, you met the ladies, did you?" said Bob, looking at him suspiciously. "Well, never mind; jump aboard. Got plenty of cartridges?"

"Yes, heaps; and some food too."

"So have I," cried Bob. "Now, then, pull away, Dick. Set us ashore under those trees. Hooray, Tom; look! There's young Bang-gong there, waiting with a couple of niggers."

Dick pulled steadily at the sculls, and the little dinghy breasted the water like a duck, soon crossing the intervening space, when the two lads landed with their ammunition and stores, shook hands with the handsome dark young chief who confronted them, and at once started off for the jungle, while Dick stood refilling his right cheek with tobacco, before rowing the dinghy back to the steamer.

"Ah!" he said, as he once more took the sculls, "they never asked me to go, too. Now you see if by the time they get back to-night they hain't been in about as pretty a bit o' mischief, as was ever hatched."

Old Dick had no intention of setting himself up as a prophet of evil, for his remark was made more out of spite than anything else, it having struck the old fellow that a good idle ashore would be very pleasant, especially with plenty to eat and drink, and a fair supply of tobacco.

"It wouldn't be very hard work to carry all the game they shoot," he said, chuckling; "and one might get a good nap under a shady tree."

But Dick's hopes were blighted, and instead of shade under trees, he had to row back to where the "Startler" was blistering in the hot sunshine, and take his part in the regular duties of the day.

Meanwhile the two lads with their companion were striding along beneath the shade of the trees, with the naval and military services of her most gracious Majesty completely forgotten, and their elastic young minds bent entirely upon the expedition. They looked flushed and eager, and the Tumongong's son, Ali, was just as full of excitement.

The latter was about the age of the young English officers, and their coming was to him delightful. For his father was wise enough to foresee the course of events—how the old barbarism of the Malay was dying out, to give place to the busy civilisation taught by the white men from the west; and he felt sure that the most civilised and advanced of the young chieftains would occupy the best positions in the future. Hence then he had sent his son for long spells at a time to Singapore and Penang, to mingle with the English, and pick up such education as he could obtain.

Ali, being a clever boy, had exceeded his father's expectations, having arrived at the age of eighteen, with a good knowledge of English, in which tongue he could write and converse; and in addition he had imbibed a sufficiency of our manners and customs to make him pass muster very well amongst a party of gentlemen.

Bob Roberts and he were sworn friends directly, for there was something in their dispositions which made them assimilate, Ali being full of life and fun, which, since his return to Parang, he had been obliged to suppress, and take up the stiff stately formality of the Malays about him, of whom many of the chiefs looked unfavourably at the youth who had so quickly taken up and made friends with the people they looked upon as so many usurpers.

No sooner were the three lads out of sight of the attap-thatched roofs and the island, the fort and steamer, than all formality was thrown to the winds, and they tramped on chattering away like children. Tom, however, walked on rather stiffly for a few minutes, but the sight of a good broad rivulet was too much for him; drill, discipline, the strict deportment of an officer and a gentleman, whose scarlet and undress uniforms had cost a great deal of money, and in which, to tell the truth, he had been very fond of attiring himself when alone with his looking-glass, all were forgotten, and the bottled-up schoolboy vitality that was in his breast, seethed up like so much old-fashioned ginger beer.

"Follow my leader!" he cried, handing his gun to one of the Malays, whose eyes rolled with pleasure as he saw sentimental Tom Long take a sharp run, leap well from the near bank, and land on the other side of the stream, but he had to catch at some bamboos to save himself from falling back into the water.

"With a cheerly hi ho," shouted Bob Roberts, dropping his gun on a bush. "Look out, soldier."

The words were on his lips as he ran, and in his leap alighted on the other side, in so bad a place that he had to catch at Tom, to save himself from falling, and for a few seconds there was a sharp scuffle amongst the bamboos before they were safe.

"Look out, Ali," shouted Bob, on seeing their companion coming; "it's bad landing."

But Ali was already in full career; as light and active of foot as a deer, he made a quick rush and a leap, and landed in safety quite a yard beyond the young officers.

"Well done! Hooray!" cried Bob, who had not the slightest objection to seeing himself surpassed; while the two Malays in charge of the guns and impediments on the other side stared at each other in astonishment, and in a whisper asked if the young chief had gone out of his mind.

"Now then, Sambo-Jumbo," cried Bob, "over with those guns. Come along, they are not loaded."

The two Malays stared, and Ali said a few words to them in their native tongue, when they immediately gathered up the guns, and, being bare-legged, waded across the stream, which was about four yards wide.

The last man came over with a rush as he neared the bank, for suddenly from a reed-bed above them there was a wallow and a flounder, with a tremendous disturbance in the water, as something shot down towards the main stream.

"A crocodile," said Ali, as the young Englishmen directed at him a wondering gaze.

"Crocodile!" cried Bob, snatching his gun from the attendant, and hastily thrusting in cartridges, after which he ran along the stream till checked by the tangled growth.

"No good," said Ali, laughing at his eagerness. "Gone."

The reptile was gone, sure enough, and it was doubtful which was the more frightened, it or the Malays; so they went on along a narrow jungle-path, that was walled up on either side by dense vegetation, which seemed to have been kept hacked back by the heavy knives of the working Malays. To have gone off to right or left would have been impossible, so tangled and matted with canes and creepers was the undergrowth, Bob waking up to the fact that here was the natural home of the cane so familiar to schoolboys; the unfamiliar part being, that, keeping to nearly the same diameter, these canes ran one, two, and even three hundred feet in length, creeping, climbing, undulating, now running up the side of some pillar-like tree to a convenient branch, over which it passed to hang down again in a loop till it reached some other tree, in and out of whose branches it would wind.

As they went on farther they were in a soft green twilight with at rare intervals the sharp bright rays of the sun, like golden arrows, darting through the dense shade, and a patch of luxuriantly growing pitcher-plants or orchids, more beautiful than any that had previously met their eyes.

"Mind the elephant-holes!" cried Ali, who was behind.

"All right," said Tom Long, who was leading the way. "Oh, my gracious!"

There was a loud splash and a wallowing noise, followed by a loud suck as of some one pulling a leg out of thick mud; and this proved to be the case, for on Bob running forward, and turning a corner of the winding path, there was Tom, just extricating himself from an elephant-hole.

For they were in a land where wheeled carriages were almost unknown, all portage being done either by boats on the many streams, or on the backs of elephants and buffaloes, by the former of whom the few jungle-paths were terribly cut up, partly by the creatures' weight, but more particularly from the fact that, no matter how many passed along a track, or how wet and swampy it might be, the sagacious creatures believed in the way being safe where any of their kind had been before, and invariably placed their great round feet in the same holes; the effect being that these elephant-holes were often three or four feet deep, and half full of mud and water.

The two Malays were called into requisition, and by means of green leaves removed a good deal of the mud, but the mishap did not add much to the lad's comfort. However, he took it in very good part, and they went on for some distance, to where a side track, that was apparently but little used, turned off to the left, and the Malays, drawing their heavy knives, went first to clear away some of the twining creepers that hung from side to side.

So beautiful was the jungle that for a time the two English lads forgot all about their guns, as they stopped hard by some watercourse to admire the graceful lace-fronded fern, or the wonderful displays of moss hanging from the more ancient trees.

But at last the weight of their guns reminded them that they had come to shoot, and they drew Ali's attention to the fact.

"Wait a little," he said, smiling. "We shall soon be in a clearer part. You can't shoot here."

As he said—so it proved, for after another half-hour's walking, during which they had become bathed in perspiration from the moist heat, there was less tangled growth, and the magnificent trees grew more distant one from the other. They were of kinds quite unknown to the little party, who, though seeking birds, could not help admiring the vast monarchs of the primeval forest.

"This looks more hopeful," cried Bob, who so far had only heard the occasional note of a bird which was invisible. Now he saw one or two flit across the sunny glade in advance.

"Yes, there are birds here; but take care, there are serpents too."

Tom Long winced a little at this last announcement, for he had a honour of the twining creatures; and as his memory ran back to the narrow escape of Adam Gray, from the sea snake, he asked with some little trepidation,—


"Oh, yes, some of them! But you need not be alarmed, they hurry off as soon as they hear our steps."

"But," said Tom, to Bob's very great delight, for he could see his companion's alarm, "how about the boa-constrictors?"

"Pythons, your people call them," said Ali. "Yes, there are plenty of them in the wet places."


"No," said Ali, "I never knew them to be—only to the little pigs."

"But ain't they very large?"

"Oh, yes," was the reply, "big as my leg, and so long."

He made a mark on the soft earth with one foot, and then took seven paces, where he made a fresh mark, indicating a length of about eighteen feet.

"But they attack men sometimes, don't they?" said Tom, importantly.

"No, I never knew of such a thing," said Ali. "They steal the chickens, and swallow them whole."

Tom felt somewhat reassured, but all the same he walked delicately over the thick herbage and amongst the scrub, not knowing but that he might plant his foot at any time upon some writhing creature, whose venomous fangs would be inserted in his leg before he could leap aside; but no such accident befell him, neither had one of the party had a single shot, when Bob declared that he was too hungry to go farther, and going on alone to where a huge prostrate tree stretched its great trunk for many yards, he was about to sit down, when he stopped short, held out one hand to indicate silence, and beckoned with the other.

Ali ran softly up, and on seeing at what his friend pointed, he signalled to one of the Malays to come.

The man came up without a sound, caught sight of Bob's discovery—a black snake about five feet long, and going gently up, he, to the lad's horror, suddenly seized it by the tail, and with a rapid snatch drew the reptile through the left hand up to the neck, which the Malay grasped tightly, while the reptile writhed, hissed, and angrily twined itself round the man's bare brown arm.

"It isn't poisonous, then?" said Tom Long, coolly.

"Yes," replied Ali; "it is a cobra, one of our most dangerous snakes."

The Malay held it close for the lads to examine, which, after learning its deadly character, they were not particularly eager to do; but the native laughed, and seemed to think very little of the danger, ending by placing the reptile's neck upon the fallen tree, and decapitating it with one clean cut of the knife.

A halt was made here, and a hearty lunch was disposed of; after which, feeling rested and comparatively cool, they started once more, and before long the first shot was had at a blue-billed gaper, a lovely bird, with azure and golden bill, and jetty-black, white, and crimson plumage.

"One for the doctor!" exclaimed Tom Long; and the beautiful bird was safely stowed away.

Ali next brought down a paroquet, with long delicate tail, and delicious sunset hues blushing upon its plumage of pearly grey green.

Bob followed, with a shot at a green chatterer, a lovely little bird, all rich green and black, with a handsome crest.

Next followed sundry misses, and then with varying fortune they secured a dozen really beautifully-plumaged birds for the doctor.

"And now," exclaimed Bob, "I think we ought to get something for the pot."

"For the pot?" said Ali, looking puzzled, for anything verging on sporting slang was to him as so much Greek.

"I mean for cooking and eating."

Ali laughed, and said something to his followers, who led the way on to a more densely wooded part nearer the river, whose proximity was indicated by the change in the character of the vegetation.

"Stop a minute, though," exclaimed Tom Long. "I can't stand this any more. Here's something been biting me ever so!"

He made a halt, and began to examine his ankles and legs.

"Why, look here?" he cried; "I'm bleeding like fun!"

Like fun or no, he was certainly bleeding freely, and the cause was not far to seek. In fact, as he turned up the legs of his trousers four bloated little leeches, satiated with their horrid repast, dropped off his skin, and he caught a couple more feasting upon him right royally.

"You should have tied your trousers round your ankles, and put on your boots outside them," said Ali; "but it won't hurt you."

"Won't hurt!" exclaimed Tom Long, indignantly; "but it does hurt. Why, I'm bleeding horribly."

At a stream close by, however, his wounds were bathed, the bleeding checked, and then a few shots were had at the jungle-fowl, two brace of which, a little bigger than ordinary bantams, were secured before the little party halted in a clearing, close to the river.

Here were half-a-dozen native houses, one and all built upon bamboo piles, so as to raise the dwellers well above the damp ground, the possibility of flood, and out of the reach of any wild creatures that might be wandering by night.

There was something exceedingly homelike in the appearance of the places, each with its scrap of garden and fruit-trees; while the occupant of the principal hut insisted upon the whole party coming to partake of rest and refreshment before continuing their way.

"Oh! we don't want to go in," said Tom Long, peevishly.

"Well, no, I don't want to go in," said Bob, "but the old fellow will be offended if we do not; and we want to make friends, not enemies."

Ali nodded, and they sat down in the bamboo-floored hut, through whose open door they saw their host busy sending a Malay boy up one of his cocoa-nut trees, the boy rapidly ascending the lofty palm by means of nicks already cut in the tree for the purpose.

Three great nuts, in their husk-like envelopes, fell directly with a thud, and these the friendly Malay opened and placed before his visitors.

"This is very different to the cocoa-nut we boys used to buy at school," said Bob, as he revelled in the delicious sub-acid cream of the nut, and then partook of rice, with a kind of sugary confection which was very popular amongst the people.

Homely as the outside of the huts had appeared, both the lads could not help noticing how similar the habits of these simple Malays in this out-of-the-way part of the world were to those of people at home.

For instance, beneath the eaves hung a couple of cages, neatly made of bamboo, in one of which was a pair of the little lovebird paroquets side by side upon a perch; and in the other a minah, a starling-like bird, that kept leaping from perch to perch, and repeating with a very clear enunciation several Malay words.

Thoroughly rested at last, the little party set off again—their host refusing all compensation, and once more they plunged into the thickest of the jungle, though very little success attended their guns.

This was hardly noticed, though, for there was always something fresh to see—huge butterflies of wondrous colours flitting through the more open glades, strange vegetable forms, beautifully graceful bamboos, clustering in the moister parts, where some stream ran unseen amidst the dense undergrowth, while at last they reached a river of such surpassing beauty, with its overhanging ferns, in the deep ravine in which it ran, that both the strangers paused to admire, while the Malays looked on with good-humoured wonder at their enthusiasm.

But very little of the sluggish stream was seen for the dense emerald growth, and the water itself was more like a chain of pools, which seemed to be likely haunts of fish; and forgetting heat and weariness, both the young Englishmen began to divide the reeds and long grass and ferns with the barrels of their guns, so as to peer down into the water.

Ali, evidently to please them, displayed quite as much interest as they; while the two Malays squatted down, and taking out sirih leaves, spread upon them a little lime paste from a box, rolled in them a scrap of betel-nut, and began to indulge in a quiet chew.

The lads were only a few yards apart, and Bob Roberts cautiously approached a deep still pool, when he heard upon his right a splash and a rush, accompanied by a wild cry for aid.

For the moment he was paralysed by the strange horror of the cry; but, recovering himself, he rushed through the long reeds and ferns, to look upon a sight which, for the time, almost robbed him of the power to act.



The young midshipman saw at a glance what had happened, and the sight of the deadly struggle going on roused him from the stupor that had assailed him.

It was evident that Ali had been holding by one hand to the branch of a tree, and was leaning over just such a pool as that which had caught the attention of Bob, when a crocodile, taking advantage of his unguarded approach, had seized him by the leg just above the knee.

Ali had at once dropped his gun, seized the branch with the other hand, and clung for life as he uttered the cry for help, while the reptile tugged viciously, and shook him violently, to make him loose his hold.

Had the creature succeeded, the young Malay chief's fate had been sealed, for in another moment he would have been drawn down into the deep pool, with a few bubbles ascending through the agitated water to show where he lay.

The time seemed long to the brave young fellow as he held on for dear life; and it seemed long to Bob Roberts before he could act; but it was but a matter of moments before he had reached Ali's side, with his gun cocked; and placing the piece close to the reptile's eye as it glared savagely at him, and seemed about to leave one victim to seize another, he fired both barrels in rapid succession.

There was a tremendous splash as the smoke hung before him for a few moments, then as it rose the young middy saw nothing but the troubled water before him, and Ali lying panting, and with his eyes starting, close by his side.

By this time Tom Long and the two Malays had come up, eager with questions, to which Ali answered faintly, and gladly partook of a little spirits from the young ensign's flask.

"I ought to have known better," he said, "but I did not think of the danger. It will be a warning for you both. These rivers swarm with the brutes."

"But your leg?" cried Bob, kneeling down.

"A little torn; that's all," said the young Malay, stoically. "My sarong and the trousers have saved it, I think."

All the same, though, it was bleeding freely, and with a rough kind of surgery Bob's handkerchief was used to bind it up.

"I'm not much hurt," said Ali then; and to prove his words he rose, limped a step or two forward, and picked up his gun, while Bob proceeded to slip a couple more cartridges in his own, gazing once more eagerly into the pool, but seeing nothing but a little blood-stained water.

He turned sharply round, for something touched him, and there stood Ali, looking at him in a peculiar manner, and holding out one hand, which Bob took, thinking the other felt faint.

"I can't talk now," said Ali, hoarsely; "but you saved my life. I shall never forget it."

"Oh, nonsense, old fellow," cried Bob. "But, I say; what a brute! He must have been twenty feet long."

"Oh, no," said Ali, smiling faintly, "not ten. The small ones are the most vicious and dangerous. Let us go."

"But can you walk?" said Bob. "Have a cigar."

"Yes; I will smoke," said the young Malay, as he walked bravely on, though evidently in pain; and lighting a cigar, he talked in the most unconcerned way about the creature's sudden attack.

"Such things are very common," he said. "Down by the big river they seize the women who go for water, and carry off the girls who bathe. There are monsters, ten, twenty, and twenty-five feet long; but we are so used to them that it does not occur to us to take care."

They were now walking over the ground they had that morning traversed, Ali seeming so much at ease, and smiling so nonchalantly, that his companions ceased to trouble him with advice and proposals that he should be carried.

At last they came to a spot where a fresh track turned off, and Ali paused.

"You will not think me rude," he said, speaking with all the ease of a polished gentleman, "if I leave you here? Ismael will take you the nearest way down to the island. Yusuf will go with me. My leg is bad."

"Then let us carry you," cried Bob. "Here, we'll soon cut down some bamboos and make a frame."

"No, no, it is not so bad as that," cried the young man, firmly; "and I would rather walk. This is a nearer way, and you will do as I ask, please."

The two youths hesitated, but Ali was so firm, and his utterances so decided, that although unwillingly, they felt constrained to obey his wishes.

"No, no," exclaimed Bob, "let me go with you, old fellow. Let us both come."

"Do you wish to serve me more than you have already done?" said Ali, quietly.

"Yes, I do, 'pon my word," replied Bob.

"Then please say 'good-bye.' I am very nearly at home."

There was nothing more to be said, so the young Englishmen shook hands and parted from their companion, after he had promised to send word by Yusuf the next day how he was.

"I don't half feel satisfied," said Bob, trudging along behind the Malay who was their guide. "I think we ought to have gone with him, Tom."

"I feel so too," was the reply, "but what could we do? Perhaps he was not so very much hurt after all."

They were tired now, and the heat of the afternoon seemed greater than ever, so that they longed to get out of the stifling forest to the open banks of the river. But they were as yet far away, and their guide made a cut along the side of a patch of marshy ground, looking back from time to time to see if they followed.

"Snipe, by all that's wonderful!" cried Bob, firing two barrels almost as he spoke, and bringing down four birds out of a flock that bore some resemblance to, but were double the size of, snipes.

Tom raised his piece for a shot, but he was too late; and Yusuf smiled and showed his teeth as he ran and picked up the birds, tied their legs together with some grass, and added them to the jungle-fowl he was carrying.

"Well, they won't be able to laugh at us," said Bob. "We shan't go back empty. Hallo! what the dickens now?"

For a couple of scantily clad Malay girls, their sarongs torn and ragged with forcing their way through the bushes, came panting up, uttering loud cries, and, flinging themselves down at the astonished youths' feet, clung to their legs, while Yusuf began to abuse them angrily, and kicking one, was about to thrust away the other with his foot.

"You leave them alone, will you?" said Bob, giving him a rap on the head with his gun-barrel. "I wish to goodness I knew what was the Malay for cowardly beast, and you should have it, young fellow."

The Malay's hand flew to his kris as he threw down the birds, and it flashed in the sunshine directly.

"Ah! would you bite?" cried Bob, presenting his gun at the other's breast, when the man shrank away, with his eyes half-closed, and a peculiarly tigerish aspect about him as he drew his lips from his white teeth, but kept at a respectful distance, knowing as he did how ably the young sailor could use his gun.

Just then the girls renewed their cries and lamentations, clinging wildly to the youths as if for protection, as half-a-dozen Malays, armed with krises and the long limbings, or spears, that they can use with such deadly force, came running up, and made as if to seize upon the two girls.

"Keep off, will you! Confound your impudence, what do you mean?" roared Bob, slewing round his gun to face the newcomers. "I say, Tom, what fools we do seem not to be able to speak this stupid lingo! What are they jabbering about?"

"Hang me, if I know," said Tom, whose face was flushed with heat and excitement. "All I can make out is that they want these two Malay ladies who have come to us to protect them."

"Then, as my old nurse used to say, 'want will be their master,'" said Bob, angrily; "for they're not going to have them."

The leader of the Malay party volubly said something to the two English, and then said some angry words to the two girls, who clung more tightly to their protectors, as he caught each by her shoulder.

Bob brought the barrel of his gun down heavily on the Malay's head, in the same fashion as he had served Yusuf, who was now missing, having suddenly glided away.

The Malay leaped back, tore out his kris, and made at his assailant; but the presented barrels of the two guns kept him back, as they did his companions, who had presented their limbings as their leader drew his kris, while now the girls leaped bravely up, and interposed their bodies between the two youths and the threatened danger.

"That's very prettily done, my dears," said Bob; "but you are both of you horribly in the way if we should shoot, and it isn't the fashion in England. Place aux Messieurs in a case like this. There, you stand behind me."

He gently placed the girl behind him, keeping his gun the while pointed at the Malays, and Tom Long followed his example.

"Shall we shoot, Bob Roberts?" said the ensign, hoarsely.

"No," said Bob, whose voice sounded just as hoarse. "Not unless they try to do us mischief. This is the time for a strategical retreat, as they are three to one, and we may at any time be cut off. I say, Tom, I feel in such a horrible state of squirm; don't you?"

"Never was so frightened in my life," replied Tom, "but pray don't show it."

"Show it?" replied Bob sharply; "hang 'em, no; they should cut me to pieces first. But I say, old fellow, I never thought I was such a coward before."

"More did I," replied Tom. "Suppose they understand what we're saying!"

"Not they; no more than we can them. I say, I have it! These are two slaves trying to escape, and these chaps want to get them back."

"Then we'll take them right away to the fort," cried Tom. "Look out!" he added, as, after speaking to his followers, the chief Malay made another angry advance with the men.

"Now look here, Mr Cafe-au-lait," said Bob, raising his gun this time to his shoulder, as he spoke aloud, "if you don't sheer off, I'll let fly at you a regular broadside. Be ready, Tom."

"Ready!" was the sharp reply, "when you say Fire."

"Right," replied Bob. "Now then, old check-petticoat, are you going to call off your men?"

For answer the Malay pointed to the two trembling girls, and signed to his men to advance with their spears.

"I'm horribly alarmed, Tom!" cried Bob, "but retreating now is showing the white feather, and we shall be whopped. Now then, don't fire, but let's make a dash at them."

The Malays were only about three yards off, having before retreated five or six, but now they had diminished the distance, when the two lads, with their pieces at their shoulders, stepped boldly forward, with the result that the Malays broke and fled, their leader first; and out of bravado Tom Long fired a shot over their heads to quicken their steps, while Bob burst into a hearty fit of laughter.

"Look here!" he said. "Here's a game! Only look, sojer!"

"What is it!" cried Tom, drawing out the empty cartridge case and putting in a new one. "Why, you don't mean to say—"

"But I just do mean to say it!" cried Bob, stamping about and laughing as he opened the breech of his gun, and drew out two empty cases, to replace with full.

"Not loaded!"

"No," cried Bob, "That moment, you know, I shot at the snipes, and hadn't time to load again. Did you ever see such a game, keeping those chaps off with an empty gun? Oh, I say, don't!"

This last was in consequence of the energetic action taken by the two poor girls, who, seeing themselves now safe, began to demonstrate their gratitude by hysterical cries and sobs, seizing and kissing the lads' hands, and finally placing their arms round them and kissing their cheeks.

"Oh, this is awful!" cried Tom Long, who was blushing like a girl.

"I shall be compelled to tell my mamma!" said Bob. "There, there, it's all right. Come, give me your hand, Semiramis, or Cleopatra, or whatever your name is, and let us make haste down to the river before it is too late."

The girl seemed to understand him, and ceased sobbing as she prepared to continue the flight, the other clinging to Tom Long's left hand.

"I say, though, let's have the birds," said Bob, stooping to pick them up; but the girl snatched them from him, to carry them herself.

"Yes, Tom, old fellow; no doubt about it, they're slaves. Come along, or we shall be cut off. It's not polite to let the ladies carry the baggage, but as we are the escort we must be prepared to fight."

"I say!" cried Tom Long, "do you know the way?"

"Not I," said Bob; "don't you?"

"Not the ghost of an idea!" cried Tom.

The girls were watching them, and evidently in a state of great excitement were trying to comprehend their words; but as soon as they saw their indecision, and their bold start off in the direction they imagined to be correct, then the slave girls understood their dilemma and stopped them, gesticulating and shaking their heads as they pointed in a quite fresh direction.

"They know where the ship lies, see if they don't," said Bob. "Let's trust them."

"But suppose they lead us wrong?" replied Tom.

"Not they," cried Bob. "They'll lead us right away. Come along, my fair specimens of chocolate a vanille; and the sooner we are safe under the British flag, the better I shall like it."

The girls started off at a sharp walk, and then made signs that they should run.

"All right," said Bob, nodding his head. "Double there, in the infantry brigade! Naval brigade to the front! Forward!"

He broke into a trot, and the little party ran sharply on, to the great delight of the two escaped slaves, who, as Bob had prophesied, led them straight away to the side of the river, which they reached without encountering a soul.

"I'm about knocked up," said Bob, panting. "It's disgusting to find these girls can beat us hollow at running."

"The doctor's specimens are all shaken up into a regular mash!" said Tom Long, peeping into the vasculum hung by a strap from his shoulder.

"Never mind," replied Bob. "Here's the boat coming. I shall come with you straight; or no: let's take them on board the 'Startler'?"

"No, no!" said Tom, "they must come to the fort."

"No, no, to the 'Startler,' I tell you."

"No, no, to the fort."

"Then we'll split the difference, and take them to the residency," said Bob; and as the boat touched the shore they stood back for the girls to leap in, and then crouch down with their arms around each other's neck, sobbing with joy as they felt that now they were safe.

There was no little excitement as the two girls were landed, and Mr Linton seemed puzzled as to what he should do; but the poor creatures were safe now under the protection of the British flag; and Bob Roberts and Tom Long proceeded to the doctor's quarters for a thorough wash and change, having fully verified old Dick's prophecy that they would be in mischief before the day was out.



If they had not been English, the probabilities are that Bob Roberts and Tom Long would have hugged each other. As it was they seemed to think it quite the correct thing to shake hands over and over again, and then walk up and down under the palm-trees of the enclosure, flushed, excited, and as full of swagger as they could possibly be.

"Blest if they don't look like a couple o' young game cocks who have just killed their birds," said old Dick to Billy Mustard. "My word, they are cocky! But where are you going, old man?"

"To fetch my instrument," said Billy.

"What, yer fiddle? What do you want that 'ere for?"

"The young gents wants it," said Billy.

So with a nod he went into his quarters, to return with his beloved violin in its green baize bag, which he bore to where Bob and Tom were now seated at one of the tables beneath a shady tree.

On the strength of their adventure they were indulging themselves with bitter beer, into which they dropped lumps of ice, and as soon as Billy Mustard came, the violin was brought out, tuned, and the harmonious sound produced had the effect of soon gathering together an audience in the soft mellow hour before sunset.

Several officers seated themselves at the table, and followed the youngsters' example; soldiers and sailors gathered at a little distance beneath the trees; and unseen by the party below, Rachel Linton and Mary Sinclair appeared at a mat-shaded window.

"Tom Long's going to sing 'The Englishman,'" shouted Bob Roberts suddenly, and there was a loud tapping upon the rough deal table.

"No, no, I really can't, 'pon honour," said the ensign, looking very much more flushed than before.

"Yes, yes, he is," said Bob, addressing those around. "He is—in honour of the occasion; and gentlemen, let's sing out the chorus so loudly that those niggers in the campong can hear our sentiments, and shiver in their shoes, where they've got any."

"Hear! hear!" said a young lieutenant.

"But really, you know, I hav'n't a voice," exclaimed the ensign in expostulation.

"Gammon!" cried Bob. "He can sing like a bird, gentlemen. Silence, please, for our national song, 'The Englishman'!"

"I can't sing it—indeed I can't," cried the ensign.

"Oh, yes, you can; go on," said the young lieutenant who had previously spoken.

"To be sure he will," cried Bob Roberts. "Heave ahead, Tom, and I'll help whenever I can. It's your duty to sing it, for the niggers to hear our sentiments with regard to slavery!"

"Hear, hear!" cried several of the officers, laughing; and the men gave a cheer.

"Slavery and the British flag!" cried Bob Roberts, who was getting excited. "No man, or woman either, who has once sought protection beneath the folds of the glorious red white and blue, can ever return to slavery!"

"Hear, hear, hear!" shouted the officers again, and the men threw up their caps, cried "Hoorar!" and the sentry on the roof presented arms.

"Now then, play up, Private Mustard—'The Englishman,'" cried Bob Roberts. "Get ready, Tom, and run it out with all your might!"

"Must I?" said the ensign, nervously.

"To be sure you must. Wait a minute, though, and let him play the introduction."

Billy Mustard gave the bow a preliminary scrape, and the audience grew larger.

"What key shall I play it in, sir?" said Billy.

"Any key you like," cried Bob, excitedly. "Play it in a whole bunch of keys, my lad, only go ahead, or we shall forget all the words."

Off went the fiddle with a flourish over the first strain of the well-known song, and then, after a couple of efforts to sing, Tom Long broke down, and Bob Roberts took up the strain, singing it in a cheery rollicking boyish way, growing more confident every moment, and proving that he had a musical tenor voice. Then as he reached the end of the first verse, he waved his puggaree on high, jumped upon the table to the upsetting of a couple of glasses, and led the chorus, which was lustily trolled out by all present.

On went Bob Roberts, declaring how the flag waved on every sea, and should never float over a slave, throwing so much enthusiasm into the song that to a man all rose, and literally roared the chorus, ending with three cheers, and one cheer more for the poor girls; and as Bob Roberts stood upon the table flushed and hot, he felt quite a hero, and ready to go on that very night and rescue half-a-dozen more poor slave girls from tyranny, if they would only appeal to him for help.

"Three cheers for Mr Roberts," shouted Dick, the sailor, as Billy Mustard was confiding to a friend that "a fiddle soon got outer toon in that climate."

"Yes, and three cheers for Mr Long," shouted Bob. "Come up here, Tom, old man; you did more than I did."

Tom Long was prevailed upon to mount the table, where he bowed again and again as the men cheered; when, as a lull came in the cheering, Billy Mustard, whose fiddle had been musically whispering to itself in answer to the well-drawn bow, suddenly made himself heard in the strain of "Rule Britannia," which was sung in chorus with vigour, especially when the singers declared that Britons never, never, NEVER should be slaves; which rang out far over the attap roofs of the drowsy campong.

So satisfied were the singers that they followed up with the National Anthem, which was just concluded when the resident sent one of his servants to express a hope that the noise was nearly at an end.

"Well, I think we have been going it," said Bob Roberts, jumping down. "Come along, Tom. I've got two splendid cigars—real Manillas."

Tom Long, to whom this public recognition had been extremely painful, was only too glad to join his companion on a form beneath a tree, where the two genuine Manillas were lit, and for a quarter of an hour the youths smoked on complacently, when just as the exultation of the public singing was giving way to a peculiar sensation of depression and sickness, and each longed to throw away half his cigar, but did not dare, Adam Gray came up to where they were seated, gradually growing pale and wan.

"Ah, Gray," said the ensign, "what is it?"

"The major, sir, requests that you will favour him with your company directly."

"My company?" cried the ensign; "what's the matter?"

"Don't know, sir; but I think it's something about those slave girls. And Captain Horton requested me to tell you to come too, sir," he continued, turning to Bob Roberts.

"We're going to get promotion, I know, Tom," said the middy.

"No, no," said the ensign, dolefully, "it's a good wigging."

Bob Roberts, although feeling far from exalted now, did not in anywise believe in the possibility of receiving what his companion euphoniously termed a "wigging," and with a good deal of his customary independent, and rather impudent, swagger he followed the orderly to a cool lamp-lit room, where sat in solemn conclave, the resident, Major Sandars, and Captain Horton.

"That will do, Gray," said Major Sandars, as the youths entered, and saluted the three officers seated like judges at a table, "but be within hearing."

"Might ask us to sit down," thought Bob, as he saw from the aspect of the three gentlemen that something serious was afloat.

But the new arrivals were not asked to sit down, and they stood before the table feeling very guilty, and like a couple of prisoners; though of what they had been guilty, and why they were brought there, they could not imagine.

"It's only their serious way," thought Bob; "they are going to compliment us."

He stared at the shaded lamp, round which four or five moths and a big beetle were wildly circling in a frantic desire to commit suicide, but kept from a fiery end by gauze wire over the chimney.

"What fools moths and beetles are!" thought Bob, and then his attention was taken up by the officers.

"Will you speak, Major Sandars?" said the resident.

"No, I think it should come from you, Mr Linton. What do you say, Captain Horton?"

"I quite agree with you, Major Sandars," said the captain stiffly.

"What the dickens have we been doing?" thought Bob; and then he stared hard at the resident, and wished heartily that Rachel Linton's father had not been chosen to give him what he felt sure was a setting down for some reason or another.

"As you will, gentlemen," said the resident firmly, and he then placed his elbows on the table and joined his fingers, while the light from the lamp shone full upon his forehead.

"Mr Ensign Long—Mr Midshipman Roberts," he began. "He might have placed me first," thought Bob. "I wish someone would catch those wretched moths."

"You have been out on an expedition to-day?"

He waited for an answer, and as Tom Long had been placed first, Bob waited, too; but as his companion did not speak, Bob exclaimed quickly—

"Yes, sir, snipe shooting;" and as the resident bowed his head, Bob added, "two brace."

"Confound you—you young dogs!" cried Captain Horton, "and you brought a brace of something else. I beg your pardon, Mr Linton; go on."

Mr Linton bowed, while Bob uttered a barely audible whistle, and glanced at his companion.

"Then it's about those two girls," he thought.

"It seems, young gentlemen," continued the resident, "that while you were out, you met two young Malay girls?"

"Yes, sir."

"Who had run away from their master?"

"From their owner, as he seemed to consider himself, sir," said Bob, who, to use his own words, felt as if all the fat was in the fire now, and blazed up accordingly. "You see, sir," he said quickly, "we were watching for something that we saw in the reeds, close to the boggy ground, you know, and Tom here thought it was pig, but I thought it might be a deer. So we stood quite still till we heard sounds in the distance, when out jumped two dark creatures, and I was going to fire, when we saw that they were girls."

"And they ran up to us," said Tom Long.

"Like winking," said Bob, "and threw themselves on their knees, and clung to our legs, and wouldn't let go. Then up came half-a-dozen of the niggers—"

"I think, Mr Roberts, we will call people by their right names," said the resident, quietly; "suppose we say Malays."

"Yes, sir, Malays; and laid hold of the girls to drag them away. They screamed out, and that roused us, and we sent the nig—Malays staggering back. For you see, sir, as Englishmen—"

"English what—Mr Roberts?" said Captain Horton.

"Men, sir. I'm a midshipman, sir," said Bob, sharply; and the captain grunted out something that sounded like "impudent young puppy!" but he did not look angry.

"Go on, Mr Roberts," said the resident.

"Well, sir, being English—boys—big boys, who felt like men just then—" said Bob, rather sarcastically.

"That's not bad, Mr Roberts," said Major Sandars, with a glance at the naval captain.

"Well, sir, as the poor girls had regularly appealed to us to protect them, and the nig—Malays, sir, whipped out their krises, we presented arms, and would have given them a peppering of snipe shot, if they hadn't sheered off when we brought the two poor weeping slave girls under the protection of the British flag, and set them free. Didn't we, Tom?"

"Yes," said Tom Long, looking nervously at the resident, and wondering what Rachel Linton thought about their feat.

There was a dead silence for a few moments, during which Bob Roberts wiped his streaming forehead, for he felt uncomfortably hot. Then the resident began—

"I think I am speaking the sentiments of my friends here, young gentlemen, when I say that you both behaved just as two brave British lads would be expected to behave under the circumstances."

"Yes," said Major Sandars, "Ensign Long, I felt sure, would not be wanting, if called upon."

Tom Long's face grew the colour of his best uniform.

"Very plucky act," said Captain Horton; and he nodded in so friendly a way at the middy, that Bob felt quite beaming.

"But," continued the resident, speaking very slowly, and as if weighing every word he said, "what is very beautiful in sentiment, and very brave and manly if judged according to our own best feelings, young gentlemen, becomes very awkward sometimes if viewed through the spectacles of diplomacy."

"I—I don't understand you, sir," faltered Bob.

"Let me be explicit then, young gentlemen. You both were, it seems, granted leave of absence to-day, for indulging in a little innocent sport, but by your brave, though very indiscreet conduct, you have, I fear, completely overset the friendly relations that we have been trying so hard to establish with these extremely sensitive people."

"But, sir," began Bob, "the poor girls—"

"Yes, I know all that," said the resident quietly; "but slavery is a domestic institution among these people, and to-morrow I feel sure that I shall have a visit from some of the sultan's chief men, demanding that these poor girls be given up."

"But they can't be now, sir," said Tom Long.

"No, Mr Long, we cannot return the poor girls to a state of slavery; but do you not see into what an awkward position your act has brought us?"

"I'm very sorry, sir."

"Yes, but sorrow will not mend it. We have been, and are, living on the edge of a volcano here, young gentlemen, and the slightest thing may cause an eruption. This act of yours, I greatly fear, will bring the flames about our heads."

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