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THE ROCS ISLAND ARGUS. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 1913.
niiiiiiinnHiiiM THE ISLAND I ! OF THF I STAIRS Bang a True Account of Certain Strange and Wonderful Adven ture of Master John Hampdon, Seaman. ' and Mistress Lucy Vilberfotce, Gentlewoman, la the Great South Seas. By, CYRUS TOWiSEND CRADY X CewrigM. 1912. Cn lmswwi Brady CHAPTER XV. "Whsrein W Ar, Beleaguered In the ' ' T did not occur to us for a single moment tbat the garages bad any knowledee of th t-nnr n j that they could be after that ;Not for the thousandth part of a sec jtfnd did I dream that the Ravages were iled by Pimball, Glibby and most of I the other seamen of the Rose of Devon, il did not know then that the Rose of Deron bad gone ashore In the terrific torm I have described, or that there bad been a battle with the savages, who fought to plunder the ship, but were 'prevented at frightful loss to the Island. fers, who were unable to contend success fully against the firearms with which the ship was abundantly provided. A ""means of communication between the Jhlp and the shore had been found sub equently tbrouzh one of the seamen jwho had sailed the south seas. The ssv kiges bad been told of the treasure, of whleh Indeed tbey had some dim tradi tions from days gone by: they also tield the cave as one of their most sa ered spots, sraely less sacred than jthe great altar on the hillock In the . center of the Island, for what reason I J cannot tell. Some of this I learned aft i erward from our assailants, and much ; of It I divined on reflection on our roy ' age homeward. By some persuasion, I know not , what, Plmball and Glibby had won . them over. Together they bad organ ized an expedition to come and seize us and take the treasure. The Rose of . Devon I guessed was not badly dam aged and could easily be made sea worthy. We sat silent In the cave for a long time. I had not lighted the lantern we had left there at our last visit, and some of the light of the dying day fil tered through from the outside cave. There was nothing that we needed li'ht for. We sat close together on the remains nf one or the chests to protect us from the d:unp sand. I always car ried with me a flask of spirits. Not that I am a drinking man; 1 left and still leave that practice to the gallants cf the day, but I have often found It useful In some dire emergency, and as Mistress Lucy shivered In the chill, damp air I heartened her and strength ened her wiib a dram. As It was summer and not far from fthe line, I had not brought the boat j clonk with us. I bad not evea'worn jtny sailor Jacket, but my waistcoat was heavy and warm, and I was thankful tbat I had It. I took It off jend, despite her protestations, sllrped i It on her. In girth It was big enough tto encircle her twice, which was all the better for her comfort. I drew It ground to cover her breast with a dou ;ble fold, and with a length of line I bad In my pocket I made it fast. We ant close together and talked In low whispers, and I thrilled at the contact ef her sweet presence In spite of our How long we talked ' or how long we waited I have no means of telling. It grew dark In the cave very early, end when I ventured Into the outside room after what seemed an Intermin able wait, I found night had fallen. I felt rretty sure that we need appre hend no attack that night, and yet It was necessary to keep watch, so I proposed that one of us should sleep while the other listened. Naturally she was the first to take rest. It was too damp and cold to lie down on the sand, so I wedged myself against one f the least rotted of the chests, whose shape had been kept Intact by the T'-le of gold and stiver bars, and some what hesitatingly offered her the shel ter of my arms. "Madam." I said, with all the for mality I could muter, "you must have sleep. You cannot lie upon this damp raul and It Is bad enough to sit upon It. but upon my shoulder and within the support of my arms you shall bare rest. I iirMr fn voh' "Swear not." she replied, coming closer to me. "I trust you, and If I em to sleep I know that I will be safe within your arms." "As my sister, had I one. or as my mother, were she here, will I support you." ssid I. Hefore she closed her eyes she made ber evening prayer for herself and for trie, and then she made me promise (hat I would awaken ber when I Judged It to be midnight, and. upon my Successful in a!! the numerous ailments caused by defective or irregular action of the organs o? digestion sr.d elimi nationcertain to prevent suffering and to Improve the general health promise. without more to do abe nestled down .and went to sleep, bet bead upon my shoulder. , ,' Surely, never'had man a greatercom pllment paid him than I by tbatrmaid that night! I sat there motionless, my bared word at my side. listening. I could bear nothing, no sound except ber soft breathing and once la awhile the sough of the night wind through -the trees outside, which penetrated faintly Into the cave, and at Infrequent inter vals the cry of some nlgbt bird came to me, but there was no sound of hu manity. How long we sat there I know not It was my purpose to keep awake the night through, and I think I must have kept awake the greater part thereof, hut toward morning my bead dropped back on the rile of Ingots, and I fell asleep. Tet I did not relax my clasp npon the sleeping figure lying upon my breast It was she who awakened when the dim light began to s!ft through the narrow opening into the little cave where we sat "Master Hampdon." she said, bend ing over me. having arisen without disturbing me, "It Is morning." I sprang to my feet Instantly, as she shook me gently and grasped my sword as I did so, whereat she laughed. "Why did you not awaken me?" she asked reprovingly. "I don't know. I must bare" I began In great confusion. "Ton must have gone to sleep your self." she laughed. "I am ashamed." I replied, "that I should have failed In my duty to keep good watch. I didn't awake you when I might because you needed sleep your self, and then, like a big animal, I went to sleep myself." "I am glad," she said, smiling at me, and I could Just see ber lovely face faintly In the dark twilight of the cave, "that you did and nothing happened." "It is Just as well then," I said, smil ing In turn, "we have both slept I feel greatly refreshed." "And I." "Thank God:" I ssid fervently. "What is to be done now?" she asked. "First, breakfast." I broke open a cocoanut with my ax. I had become expert at it, and we had food and drink in plenty and for va riety some of the hard bread which still remained which I had brought with us and other fruit. I lighted the lantern for a moment and went toward the sound of the falling water. The cocoanut shell made an excellent cup, and I brought her enough clear, cool, sweet water to lave her face ani hands. Save for the stiffness of fa constrained position and some slight pain caused by the damp we were both fit for any adventure. Well, we should have need of our strength. When we finished our meal and our refreshing ablutions, she look ed at me Inquiringly. "Well, what next':" "The next thing." said I, "is to set what Is toward." "You won't leave the cave," abe said, catching me by the shoulder. "I should find it difficult were I so minded," I answered, smiling and thrilling to her touch again, as always. Indeed, 1 have never got used to it even after all these years. As I look back at It now I do not think I have ever bad happier moments in my life than those in which she clung to me and was deiendent upon me. "Why not?" she asked. "You forget that we broke down the way last night" T.ut you are a sailor; you might make shift." "Yes; but not you," I answered. "Without me?" "Without you I go nowhere." She looked at me with shining eyes. "Come," said I, "let us go into the outer room. We may find out 'some thing." I had wound my watch In the dark and looked at it now as we came Into the light It was three bells In the morning watch, or about half after 9. We went rast the altar with ita grim, bony circle of attendants and stared through the entrance. There waa an open space In front of the cliff forty or fl f ty yards wide perhaps. After look ing some time and seeing nothing I foolishly and yet it would have made no difference in the end stepped out upon the shelf which made a sort of platform In front of the care, and Mistress Lucy fearlessly came with me. We bad scarcely appeared in rlew when to our astounded surprise we head the report of a firearm and a heavy bullet struck the coral wall Just over our beads. I bad Just time to mark the spot whence It came by the betraying smoke as I leaped back Into the shelter, carrying my precious charge before me. I was puzzled be yond measure. I was certain that the savages In these parts of the south seas knew nothing about firearms, and I could not account for it The shower of arrows and spears that came through the opening and fell harm lessly on the sand I could easily ac count for, but not tbat shot "That," ssid I solemnly, "was a nar row escape." "Do these Islanders hare firearms?" she said, the same thought in ber mind. "I never beard of it I cannot ac count for it" "I can. though." she said. "Just be fore the discharge of tbat gun I caught the sight of a man In clothes such as you wear. Could It be possible that It was some one from the ship?" I nodded my bead. "It is quite likely." I answered. At this moment conversation was in terrupted by a hall. I beard in tbat lonely island my own named called. "Master nampdon," the cry came to os. "will you respect a flag of truce? If so show yourself at the opening, and I shall do the same." "Don't go," cried my little mistress, bearing all; "they are utterly without honor and" "I think it will be best for me to go," I said. "Stand clear so tbat if any treacherous movement be made I shall have space to leap backward, and meanwhile look to your weapons. I examined my pistols and then call ing out that I would faithfully observe toe-sag of truce I stepped out into the open. There below me on the edge of the glade, convenient to a tree behind which- be - could leap, for the rascal - 'TLe..' Pimball Had a White Neck Cloth Tied to the Muule ef His Gun. . trusted me apparently as little as I trusted him. stood the wretch, Plmball. Back of him, beneath the trees, I dis tinguished Glibby and a number of the crew, nearly all of them, I should Judge, and back of these were massed the savages. Plmball bad a white neck cloth tied to the muzzle of bis gun. "Say what you bave to say and bS quick about it," I said, but he looked past me and took off bis bat with a profound sweep.- "Good morning, Mistress Wilber force," be cried. I turned in a hurry and found that he had stepped out by my side. The two of us presented a fair mark for any weapon. One might have escaped, but hardly two. "Get back." I cried harshly. "I stay where you are," 6he answered firmly. "See, I too am armed." Her little hand lifted a heavy pistol. "I can talk with the two of you Just as well as with one," said Pimball. "Talk on and be brief," I returned, seeing that there was no use arguing with my little mistress. "You have found the treasure," he began; "there is no use denying It We have it from our savage friends that the things are there. In years gone by they sacrificed here and on the cone yonder; but for generations the island baa been taboo. The white m&n has broken the ban and we are here to take, the treasure." "Indeed!" said I sarcastically, where at he turned pale with anger but still mastered bhnself. "We offer you," he continued, "safe ty. We cannot take you with us, but we will leave you here on the island after we have taken the treasure, and," his eyes turned from me to my com panion, "if you are willing to give up the woman I will enroll you with our following and we will all get away together on the Rose of Devon." "Wbat of the ship?" I asked. It was a hard thing to control my temper, but I wanted the Information. "She was badly stove up but not en tirely wrecked. We fought the sav ages, conquered them, made them our friends. We can get away in ber and you can navigate her or we can do without you for that matter and make shift to get back to the South Amer ican coast at least." "So you offer me free passage and my share of the treasure if I will give up Mistress Wllberfore, do you?" "That Is it." answered Pimball, "Eh, mates?" whereat a deep chorus of ap proval came from Glibby and the men. "And this Is my answer,' I said furiously, leveling my pistol at him. "Get back, you villain, or you will have looked your last on life." "But the flag of truce Y' be cried, dropping bis weapon. "It Is not meant to cover such propo sitions as yours. As for the treasure you shall have it when you can get it" Aa I spoke be sprang behind the tree and motioned to bis men to fire, but I was too quick for him, and we were "safely within the cave when the sound of the reports eame to us. "Now what is to be done?" said my little mistress. "The next more," I answered, "Is with them." , .' - "Shall we go further back into the cave?" .'.. - "No," I replied.' "We will stay here for the present". We were not long left In suspense, for I could bear them breaking through the woods and rushing toward the opening. Missiles 1a the way of weap ons tiere were none in.ttie cave, but I picked up a skull that lay on the floor and burled It out of the opening into the unseen crowd below. A shriek told me that I bad bit some one, but I saw at once that the game was one I could tot flay. The white men bad some skill at warfare. They bad post ed covering parties to protect the workmen. I crept cautionsly toward the entrance, where I could see them working bard, piling up the stones to enable them to get at ns, while back of them stood others with drawn bows and presented weapons. I didn't come off unscathed, for as I sprang back after having thrown an other skull and taken my look an ar row hit me In the fleshy part of the arm. My mistress noticed it instantly. The stone head had broken off. and It was the work of an instant to draw out the slender wood shaft It was not a bad wound, but It was painful The next thing she did amazed me beyond measure, for before I could prevent it she bad pet ber Hps to the wound. . "What mesa you?" I cried, when 1 could recover myself. "It might have been poisoned." she said, quietly looking at me with, lumi nous eyes, "and I cannot have you die." . - I was amazed, astounded eVen, at her hardihood in sucking any possible poison out of that wound in my arm at so great a risk to her own life, if the weapon had been envenomed. And I was most profoundly touched too. But I had bad my lesson. I viewed it as done out of common humanity and to preserve a Ufa useful to her nothing more. Meanwhile, in my turn, I took such hasty precautions for her safety as I could. I bade her rinse out her mouth thoroughly with cold water and then with the strong spirit of which I still bad in my flask. CHAPTER XVI.. In Which We Fight Fop Life In the . Chve of the Treasure. , E had withdrawn by this time to the back of the outer cave. Indeed, that was the r only safe place for us; for a .constant succession of weapons was thrown through the opening. We need ed no further warning tq keep out of reach.. Master Pimball was. showing himself something of a general He was keeping us away from the en trance, and wkb the great host of men. at his command he was building up. the broken down heap of stones which wpuld presently enable them to come to us. I considered what was to be done. I had four loaded pistols and, therefore, four lives In my hand. No man could show his head in that entrance with out receiving a shot. After that I could account for a few more, perhaps, with sword.-ax or naked fist, but in the end they would inevitably master me. Unfortunately, the entrance was broad enough for three or four, or even more, to' enter abreast . Should I pen the battle there or re treat Into the inner cave and wait? was the question that had to be de elded. Perhaps the latter would be the safer plan, but I had a strange unwill ingness to adopt it. It would be like burying ourselves, for once within we should never get out alive, -except s prisoners, so long as they had the out er cave. And 1 could never dislodge them from it There was not much more chance of getting out alive from the outer cave, for that matter, but still It seemed so. We could at least see the sky and the sunlight. Should we stay there or go further into the ill? I decided upon the former course. I explained to my mistress that I would keep the outer cave as long as I could, begging her to retreat to the inner chamber. She demurred at first but when I spoke to her per emptorily at last God forgive me she acceded to my request humbly enough. I thrust the best pistol into her hand and told her to reserve it for herself in case her capture was inevitable, but not to pull the trigger until the last moment; and I promised her faithfully, that I would not foolishly or uselessly Jeopardize myself, but that after I had mode what light I could I would Join her, if It were in any way possible. She hung in the wind awhile, seem ing loath to go when all bad been said between us. Finally she approached me. laid her hand on my arm, and looked up at me. "Master Hampdon," she said softly, "here we be, a lone man and woman among these savages and murderers with but little chance for our lives, I take It I am sorry that I struck you on the ship, and you may kiss me goodby.' With that she proffered me her Hps. I could face a thousand savages, a hundred rimballs. without a quiver of the nerves, but at these words and that proffer my knees fairly smote to gether before this small woman. I stood staring down at her. "You were overeager once to take from me what I now offer you will ingly." she said, half turning away. With that I caught her to me and once again I drank the sweetness of ber lips. I forgot the savages outside, the spears, the arrows streaming through the entrance. I held her la my arms and without resistance. I could bave held her there forever, quite willing to die in such sweet embrace. She pushed me from her at last and I could swear tbat my kisses bad been returned, and then with a whispered blessing she dropped to her knees and crawled within the cave. I could have fought the world there after, for her kisses intoxicated me like wine. Yet even then I did not de lude myself. I knew that on ber part at least It was a farewell Jries, such as two friends might give each other in the face of death. To her the pres sure of my lips had only been as the salute of an ancient gladiator about to die was to the Caesar who watched the struggle. Well, I blessed her even for that condescension. 'With a pistil in each band and the third upon a rock close at hand I wait ed. I had not long to wait There was a sudden fiercer rain of arrows and spears, some of which struck at my feet or by my side. I gathered up a sheaf of them and laid them with the pistol on the rock. The 'next Instant two tremendous savages and a white man appeared In the opening.. The shot was easy, the target fine. I couldn't miss. The first bullet went Into the brain of Master Glibby, the next tore off the head of the leading chief. Reserving the third pistol, I seized a spear and drove It through the throat of the other savage. I shouted with triumph, and Mistress Lucy has since confessed to me that kneeling down and peering through the opening, contrary to my explicit order, which was for her to seek safe cover, she saw all. and that my call of vic tory was the sweetest sound she bad ever beard in ber life. I thought we had done, hut they were an Indomitable lot those south sea islanders, and they were well urg ed. Four others took their places at once, spears in band, which tbey threw at toe. I jumped aside with dif fieulty and let fly the third pistoL They came crowding this time, end the bul let from, the heavy weapon accounted for two others, but the survivors had gained a footing and the shelf behind them .was suddenly filled with lifting beads and -climbing men. I clubbed my weapons and hurled them one after another fair and square into the mass. One went down with a broken skull The rush was checked; they gave a little. I cast spears at them and ar rows, but now the shield men had come up, and tbey caught the missiles on their shields. The front rank wav ered, and perhaps. If they had been unsupported, tbey mifbt have been driven below, but the crowd behind would not let them. Slowly they be gan to move toward me. ' I doubt not I was a terrible figure, for I had whipped out my cutlass by this time and stood at bay. I bad for gotten for the moment all else but the lust of the conflict, and in another sec ond I bad flung myself upon them in fury. It was my mistress who recall ed me to myself. "Save yourself!" she shrieked. "They are upon you. Come hither!" ' With that I dropped to my knees and made a spring for the opening. I had waited too long. . The leading man would have pinned me to the earth with his .spear. The entrance was wide, fortunately, and Mistress Lucy could see through the part I did not block with my huge bulk. Disregarding entirely my Instructions, she fired the last pistol at the nearest man. He went down like a ninepln. both legs broken, which gave me time to gain the inner chamber and stand upright I was bleeding, for I bad been cut here and there, but was otherwise all right" . "That shot saved my life!" I cried, panting. "You should have kept it for yourself." "I can find means to die," she an swered. "If naught else, by your sword blade." "Good," I exclaimed, proud of her prowess and her resolution. They gave us no time for further speech, for, urged by what promises of reward, what passionate hatred, I knew not,' they came on. The narrow entrance was suddenly black with the islanders, who thrust their spears at us. Fortunately, my mistress had moved aside and was out of range, but I was perilously near being cut down. Mistress Lucy had the sword which I had thrust into ber band, and I the great ax which I bad cast into the Inner cave ahead of me. Those outside were even less able to see than we, and perhaps they She Fired the Last Pistol at the Near est Man. thought we had withdrawn or been driven back, for they crept forward. While I had lived in the gardener's lodge of Wilberforce castle I had got to be quite an axman. I brought down the heavy weapon on the first head, striking with Just enough force to kill the man and yet leave me able to recover myself without delay, and when three beads had been knocked that way in rapid succession with no more damage to me than a trifling spear cut on the ankle, the battle stopped for a moment I laughed. "Come on, you dogs!" I shouted. "I can play at that game until you are more tired of It than I." I spoke without thought however, for those outside the opening drew back the bodies by their legs and thus cleared the entrance. I Judged that the outer cave, which was large and spacious, was now filled with men. They were shouting and gesticulating in great excitement But none made any effort to enter. Finally I heard a human voice speaking English. It was Pimball. "Master nampdon'" he cried. "Speak not to me, you murdering vil lain:" I answered. "Now, this Is madness," be went on. "You are trapped like rats. We have only to wall np the entrance or build a fire in front of it and you will die." "It Is better to die even so," I re plied, "than to live with men like you." "You are a fool!" be exclaimed. He dropped down on bis knees as be spoke, and I could see his face In the opening, but too far away for me to swing my ax. If it were my last ef fort I was determined that I would get bim, and so I waited. "Don't lose the sword! I cried to my lady across the chamber, where her white face stared at me out of the dimness. "I shall not" she answered undaunt edly. . Then I lifted the ax and waited for Master Pimball and his men to come on. But be had a better plan. Bullets and powder they had In plenty, and be knew from the fact that I bad thrown my pistols at them tbat I bad none left With a deafening roar a storm of bullets from a dozen weapons swept into the cave. I leaped back. I bad to or I tbould bave been shot where I Is It the Hair or theFacc: other look at tue iwu aeaus p.viurva here. 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It was as if I had been Instantly, trans lated to the deck of a tossing ship. I stood rooted to the spot frying to main tain a balance, ... Plmbajr. had lifted himself upon one knee apd.was almost clear of the entrance,. but he. too, stop ped appalled.. A sickening feeling of apprehension that all the, savages on earth could not Inspire came over me. My mistress screamed faintly, The na tives outside broke "into terror stricken shouts and cries; on oath burst from, the lips of the leader" of the muf Ineers. The. next moment, with a crash like a thonsand-thunder peals, the earth was tent In twain. . . . . The earthquake shook ' that rocky Island like a baby's cradle. A great mass o rock over the entrance fell. With another roar like the first the cliff was riven In every direction. The noise' outside eased. The men wltb PimbaR were ground to death. Upoi bis legs lay fifty feet of broken rock Darkness! ' total ' and ' absolute, sue ' ceeded the dim light.. .! remember real Izing that the attack, had failed ant then sotuethlug struck me. Down upon the wet, still quivering sand I fell and knew no more. Water, icy cold, trickling upon tat from some spring, opened in the wal by the earthquake presently brougul me to myself. I lay for n moment lis tenlng. I could bear nothing at first but in a little while a deep groan and then a faint whispered prayer came tc me. I strove desperately to collect mj senses, and finally I realized where I was the cave, the battle., the earth quake. Pimball and the woman! "Mistress Lucy!" I cried. "Oh, thank God!" her voice came through the darkness hysterically, " thought you were killed." "No," I answered, slowly rising to my knee and stretching my member to see if I bad control of tbem, which, fortunately. I soon discovered I bad. "I was stunned but otherwise I be lieve I am not much burt How Is it with you?" "I am well and unharmed." "Thank God!" "For heaven's sake water," Inter rupted a trembling hoarse, anguished voice. "Who speaks?" I asked. "I. Plmball, I am pinned to the ground, my legs are crushed, my back Is broken. I am dying." "There should be a lantern here." 1 said. "I placed it let me think where did 1 place Itf "It was Just to the left of the open ing." answered my little mistress. I was turned around and giddy, but I managed to fix the direct ion of the entrance by Plmball's groans'and by good fortune presently found the lan tern. It would burn but a few hours. but we never needed a light as we did then. My flint and steel I carried ever in my pocket sad to kindle a flickering flame was but the work of a moment. If I bad not possessed It I would have given years of my life for. tbat light which threw a faint Illumination about the place. There, opposite me. where I had sta tioned her, protected by A iwYhe in the care from the rain of rocks which bad beaten me down, was my mistress, safe and unharmed. I stepped toward ber and with a low cry of thankful ness she fell into my arms. I soothed ber for a moment and then turned to the other occupant of the chamber. The entrance was blocked up. the rook had settled down. Plmball'e legs, were broken and his back as well. Itwas Impossible to release bim what lay upon him weighed tons and tons. , "Tou murdering boond!" I cried, joa bare brought this upon us." But be would only plead fof water, disre garding my reproaches. I was for killing him with my cut lass, wblcb I picked up. but she would not have it to. She filled a balf cocoa nut shell with water and brought It to him, Ebe bathed bis brow snd gave bim some to drink. It gave bim tem porary relief, but bis minutes wore numbered. His life wss goiug oat by tliat Makes the Woman? ' V If VOU think it is the tar tel.- an. - V 9 aocd looks In exact "God!" he cried as his eyes caught the gleam of the gold and silver; "the treasure!" He stretched out his hand toward It and then . stopped. "I am undone," he choked out with a fearful scream. "Mistress!" "Yes?" "Forglve'V- Indeed. she forgave bim, I make no doubt. - but her . forgiveness came too late, for bis head dropped be had.been looking sideways and his face buried itself iu the wet sand. . .. "Is he dead?" she asked, awestruck. I nodded. 'No closer inspection waa needed to establish the truth of that fact "And we,, too. shall die," she said, shuddering. "We are . buried here in the bowels of the earth, in this treas ure lined prison." "The earthquake, which closed the mouth of the cave may have opened the other end." "it is possible," 6he answered, "but not likely." "And, besides, you remember the running stream on the other v side, which we did not follow?" . A "Yes" )v'S "It must run somewhere.' '5',,v "Well 7" '"' "Where water runs man and woman may follow." "At least It will do no harm to try." "Come, then," said I. extending my hand to her and holding the lantern l-efore me for pitfalls. 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