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The Boys* Big Game Series 



THE BLIND LION OF THE 

CONGO 



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THE WHITE TKIS OF NEPAL. Tte weird Mcy of tlx 
of tbcbothilb. Tbfed wich the mjnickm of Indo, dnnudc i 

THE BUND UON OF THE CONfiO. a »>7 < 

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eovtrt and foar-eolor jaek^U. lUiutrationi a 
eovtr d£tigiu by Baa Sayre Qrotbtck. 

Price, ISO cents each 

The REILLY & BRITTO> 

PUBUSHERS, CHICAGO 







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THE 

BLIND LION 

OF THE CONGO 



BY 
ELLIOTT WHITNEY i.',..<i ' 



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Illustrated by Dan Say re Groesbeck 



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COPYRIGHT, 1912 

by 
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THE BLIND UON OP THE CONGO 



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CONTENTS 

PAGE 

An Amazino Pboposal 9 

Mb. CBiTOHFiEiiD IS Intebviewbd 21 

The Decision 34 

OUTFITTINO 46 

The Congo 58 

The Mabk 71 

Cbitch's Rhino 84 

Captain Mac Suspected 97 

The Whitb Pigmies 110 

The Sacked Ankh 125 

MviTA Saves Bust's Life 137 

MONTENAY BeTUBNS 150 

In the Pigmy Vilxage 163 

The Sacbed Lion 176 

The Ivoby Zabeba 189 

BuBT Left Alone 202 

The Diaby 214 

BuBT Comes to Life 228 

The Baft 241 

Down the Makua 255 



00 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Then a piece of the wall a foot square came 
away and into the opening swept a great yel- 
low foot armed with immense claws. 

Frontispiece 

Without the least trace of excitement in his 
voice Mr. Wallace whipped out his revolver 
and covered the other. ** Keep your hands 
on the table, Montenay I ' ' Page 110 

The boys were marched away from the village, 
and in a moment all about them rose the 
dense jungle growth. Page 174 

A roll of tom-toms and a loud shout arose from 
the tribe on the bank. Slowly the poles sent 
the rafts out into mid-stream, where the cur- 
rent caught them and swept them down. 

Page 256 



The Blind Lion 
of the Congo 

CHAPTER I 

AN AMAZING PBOPOSAL 

" What's on for to-night, Burtt '' 

Mr. St. John, a large automobile mannfactnrer 
of New Britain, Connecticut, looked across the 
dinner table at his son Burton. The latter was a 
boy of seventeen. Although he was sturdy for his 
age, his features were pale and denoted hard 
study. As his father and mother watched him 
there was just a hint of anxiety in their faces. 

** Lots,*' replied the boy. ** Gk)t a frat meeting 
on at seven. Then I've got to finish my last paper 
for the history prof." 

'^ Can't you let the paper got " asked his 
mother. ** You've been working pretty hard, 
BurtI " 

"Yes,'* added Mr. St. John heartily. "Forget 
the work, son. You've done enough papers lately 
for a dozen boys. " 

** Not much I " answered Burt earnestly. "I'm 

9 



10 The Boys' Big Game Series 

goin' to grab that Yale scholarship. There's only 
a week till school's out now." 

At that moment a maid appeared at the dining 
room door. 

*^ Mr. St. John, there's a man called, sir. He 
didn't give me any name and — " 

She was intermpted by a tall, fur-overcoated 
form that brushed her aside. The visitor's hawk- 
like face broke instantly into an eager smile. 

'^ HellOy good people! " cried the man, as Mr. 
St. John sprang to his feet. ^^ Forgotten me, 
Tom? " 

" George! " 

'' Wallace! " 

" Uncle Gteorge! " 

The three members of the family broke into 
three simultaneous cries of surprise. The next 
instant Mrs. St. John was in the arms of the tall 
man, who supported her with one hand and with 
the other greeted her husband." 

** Hello, Burt! How's your gripT " he cried as 
he released the couple and seized the hand of their 
son. 

'' Ouch! " yelled the boy, his grin changing to 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 11 

an expression of pain. '^ I ain't no wooden 
man! " 

** Where on earth did you come from? '* ex- 
claimed Mr. St. John, taking his brother-in-law's 
big coat and handing it to the astonished maid. 
** We haven't heard from you for a year! " 

^^ Give me something to eat, Tom, and I'll talk 
later." As the hawk-faced man sat down, Burt 
gazed at him admiringly. (George William Wal- 
lace, his uncle, was the boy's greatest hero. Fa- 
mous under the name of ** Gteorge William " for 
his books on little-traveled countries, he was 
known widely at every end of the world. He had 
crossed the Turkestan deserts, helped to survey 
the Cape to Cairo railway, led armies in China and 
South America, and explored the recesses of the 
Sahara. In his brief intervals of relaxation he 
lived with the St. Johns, having no home of his 
own. 

As he gazed, Burt half wished that his own face 
was not so square and angular and more like that 
of his uncle. Mr. Wallace was thin but of very 
large frame. His dose-cropped hair revealed a 
high forehead, beneath which shone two intensely 
black eyes. A long, curving nose gave his face its 



12 The Boys' Big Oame Series 

hawk-like effect, and thin lips and strong chin 
completed the likeness to some great bird of prey. 

'^ What are yon doing with that fur overcoat in 
June, George f " asked Mrs. St. John with a smile. 

** Keeping warm! '' shot back the explorer as 
he pushed away his plate. '^ This beastly rain 
goes to the bone, Etta. I landed only yesterday 
and got the first train up here after leaving my 
cases at the Explorers' Club." 

'* Come on with the yam, uncle I " exclaimed 
Burt eagerly. ** Where *ve you been this time? *' 

Mr. Wallace lit one of his brother-in-law 's cigars 
with huge enjoyment and led the way to the li- 
brary without answering. When all four were 
Comfortably ensconced about the big table he 
started in. 

** Let's see. I wrote you from Naples last time^ 
wasn't itt " The others nodded. ** That was just 
before the war. I got a chance to go to the front 
as Especial correspondent, and snapped it up. T 
hung around for a while at Tripoli, then took 
trip to the Turkish camp. There I got into a sera 
with a Turk officer and had to run for it. The 
was no place to run except into the desert, sr 
took me quite a while to make civilization aga 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 13 

* * Ctood Heavens I * ' exclaimed Burt *8 father. * * I 
suppose you circled around and made Algiers f " 

^^ Tried to, but a bunch of Gharian slave dealers 
pulled me into the mountains. I spent two months 
in the chain gang ; then they sold me south. There 
was no help for it. Instead of escaping to French 
territory I sneaked off with a racing camel and 
ended up at the Qold Coast two months ago.'' 

^* What! '' Mr. St. John leaped up in amaze- 
ment. '^ Do you mean to say you crossed the 
whole Sahara a second time, from north to 
south? '' 

'' That's what," declared Mr. Wallace. Burt 
stared at him wide-eyed. ' * Found some of my old 
friends and they helped me along. How are you 
fixed, Tom? Can you put me up all right, Etta? " 

" Your old room hasn't been touched," smiled 
Mrs. St. John as she glanced at her husband. The 
latter nodded. 

'^ All fine and dandy, old man. Oh, I'm getting 
along pretty well. We've got some new buildings 
over at the works. Turning out some great little 
old cars too. Say, how long are you going to 
stay? " 

** That depends." Mr. Wallace smiled whimsi- 



14 The Boys' Big Game Series 

cally. ^ ^ I have a book that I want to finish this 
time. But I also have a notion that I want to do 
some ivory hunting in the Congo. If the pull 
doesn't get too strong I may stay a month or two. ' ' 

** Hurray! *' chipped in Burt, enthusiastically. 
' ^ Come along to the f rat meeting and tell us about 
the war last year! We got a 'nitiation on an' you 
can bossiti " 

** No thanks I '' laughed his uncle heartily. 
** When I want to do any lecturing I'll let you 
know, Burt. By gracious, Tom, the boy looks like 
a ghost! Been sick? " 

" No," replied Mr. St. John gravely. *' I'm 
afraid he's overworked. He's been trying for a 
scholarship at Yale that the high school offers, 
and the strain has been a little too much. ' ' 

" Hm I Won 't do, Burt, ' ' declared Mr. Wallace. 
* ^ Books are all right but no use running 'em into 
the ground. Play baseball? " 

** Sure! " replied Burt. ** Not this spring 
though. Been too busy. Besides, I've been helpin' 
Critch with some stuff." 

*' Critch? " repeated his uncle, puzzled. 
'' Who's Critch? " 

'* Howard Critchfield," replied Mr. St. John. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 15 

^^ His father is my head draftsman and Burt 
and Howard are great chums. Howard has a room 
down at the shops where he works afternoons and 
putters around at taxidermy. ' ' 

Burt glanced at his watch and rose hastily. It 
was past seven and he had forgotten the time. 

**See you later, uncle! ** he said as he went to 
the door. What a tale he would have for the other 
boys! Despite his uncle's refusal to come with 
him Burt knew that once he got ** the crowd *' up 
to the house Mr. Wallace would provide a most 
delightful evemng. 

The next day the explorer's trunks arrived and 
he got settled in his old quarters. These were 
filled with hunting trophies, guns and foreign cos- 
tumes from every quarter of the world. For two 
days Burt did not see his uncle except at meals, 
but on Friday evening Mr. Wallace announced 
that he would like to take a look at the works the 
next day. Burt promptly volunteered his services, 
which were accepted. 

** You don't look right to me, Burt I " stated Mr. 
Wallace as they walked down the street after 
breakfast. ** If we were down on the West Coast 



16 The Boys' Big Oame Series 

now I would say yon were in for a good dose of 
fever.'' 

** Did you ever have it? '' asked Bnrt. He did 
not relish such close interest in his health, which 
seemed good enough to him. He also had vivid 
memories of a vile-tasting remedy which his uncle 
had proposed for a cold, years before. 

** A dozen times,'* came the reply. ** A chap 
gets it in high and low countries alike in Africa. 
So you've been helping young Critchfield, eh? " 

" A little, sir. We haven't much chance of 
course but we've got some birds and rabbits and 
an old weasel we shot. It's heaps of fun." 

^^ Hm! " Mr. Wallace cast a sharp glance at 
Burt but the boy did not observe it. They were 
nearing the factories now and presently Burt 
turned into a large fence-enclosed ground where 
the works stood. 

They did not visit the old shops, which Mr. Wal- 
lace had seen before, but went through the new 
assembling rooms and display building. The ex- 
plorer was much interested in all that he saw and 
proved to have no slight knowledge of mechanics 
himself. Mr. St. John saw them from his private 
office and came out. By his orders they were 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 17 

treated to the nnnsual sight of a complete machine 
lying on the floor in pieces and inside of five min- 
utes ready to run. 

** Say I *' cried the explorer in admiration. 
** Civilization certainly can produce wonders, 
Tom I I suppose that some day there'll be a shop 
like this in the heart of Africa 1 But let's have a 
squint at this chum of yours, Burt. I 'd like to size 
him up a bit." 

They left the new buildings and went to one of 
the older ones where Howard had been given a 
small room. Without stopping to knock, Burt 
threw open the door and ushered in his uncle 
proudly. 

As he did so his look of confident pride vanished. 
Before him stood Critch, his freckled face streaked 
with dust and blood, his long apron spotted and 
stained and on the table before him two rabbits 
half -skinned. 

*' Gosh I You look like a murderer! '* exclaimed 
Burt in dismay. ** Uncle George, this is Critch. 
He ain't always in this shape though." 

** Sorry I can't shake hands, Mr. Wallace! " 
said the red-haired boy. To his surprise the ex- 
plorer laughed and stuck out his hand. 



18 The Boy 8^ Big Game Series 

** Nonsense, lad! Shake! ^* 

Critch dropped his knife, wiped his hand hastily 
on his apron and gripped that of the explorer 
heartily. ** Frank Gates brought in those tame 
rabbits of his that died,*' he explained. ** I told 
hinri it wasn't worth while stuffing them this 
weather, but he had the coin to pay for 'em and 
pretty near got sore about it, so I took on the job. 
I'm awful glad to meet you, sir I I've heard a heap 
about you, and Burt's lent me all your books." 

** Go right ahead," insisted Mr. Wallace. ** I'd 
like to see how you do it. Many's the skin I've 
had to put up in a hurry if I wanted it, but I'd 
sooner tramp a hundred miles than handle the 
beastly things I " 

Critch picked up his knife and Mr. Wallace 
glanced around the little room. On the walls stood 
shelves of books and stuffed birds and animals. 
Bottles of liquids stood in the comers, and over 
the door was a stuffed homed owl mounted on a 
tree branch. 

** That looks good I " commented the explorer 
approvingly. ** That owl's a mighty good piece 
of work, boys I " He turned to Howard. ** There 
you have him — nice and clean I You know how 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 19 

to handle a knife, I see. Ever hear how we tackle 
the big skins? ^^ 

** No,'* replied Critch with interest. ** Tell us 
about it, Mr. Wallace, if you don^t mind I I\e 
read a little, but nothing definite.'* 

' * With soft-skinned animals like deer we usu- 
ally do just what you're doing with those rabbits 
— simply make incisions, slit 'em from neck to 
tail and peel oflf the skins. By the way, what do 
you use for preservative t ' ' 

*' Get it ready-mixed," replied Critch and 
pointed to the bottles. ** It's odorless, takes the 
grease out o ' the skin, and don 't cost much. Guess 
I'll use arsenic on these, though. They need 
something pretty strong. ' ' 

* * I see, ' ' went on Mr. Wallace. * * Well, with 
thick skins like elephant or rhino, it's a different 
matter. I never fixed an elephant skin myself but 
I've seen other fellows do it. They take it oflf in 
sections, rub it well with salt and let it dry after 
the fat's gone. Then a dozen blacks get around 
each section with their paring knives and get 
busy." 

** Paring knivesi" cried Burt. ** What for?" 

*' Pare down the skin," smiled Mr. Wallace. 



20 



The Boys' Big Game Series 



' * Thick skins are too heavy to carry and too thick 
to be pliable, so the skinners often spend a week 
paring down a skin till it's portable. Then it's 
rubbed with salt again or else packed in brine and 
shipped down to the coast or back wherever your 
agents are, who get it preserved right for yon." 

They talked for half an hour while the rabbits 
were being finished. Then Burt and his uncle left 
the building, and finding that Mr. St. John had 
already gone to lunch, started home themselves. 

** Say, Burt,'' said Mr. Wallace as they walked 
down the street, ** how'd you like to come to 
Africa with me next month f ' ' 



CHAPTEEn 

MB. CBITGHFIELD IS INTEBVIBWED 

** What! Me? *' Burt stopped short and stared 
at his uncle. Mr. Wallace chuckled and lifted one 
eyebrow. 

** Of course, if you don't want to go — '* he be- 
gan. 

* * Want to I ' ^ shouted Burt, careless of the pass- 
ers-by who were looking at them curiously. 
** You can bet your life I want tol I'd give a mil- 
lion dollars to go with you! '* His face dropped 
suddenly. ** What's the use, Uncle George? You 
know's well as I do, the folks ain't going to stand 
for anything like that. Why, dad'd have a fit if 
he thought I was in Africa. What's the use of 
dreaming? " 

** Here — trot along!" His uncle seized his 
arm and drew him on toward home. ** I guess 
you're right about that, Burt. Anyhow, you keep 
mum and let me do the talking. Mind, now, don't 
you butt in anywhere along the line. I'm dead in 
earnest, young man. Maybe we'll be able to do 

21 



22 The Boys' Big Game Series 

something if yon lie low and let me handle it. Un- 
derstand? '* 

* ' I understand, ' * replied Burt a trifle more 
hopefully. *' Gee I K I conld only go! Could I 
shoot real lions and elephants, uncle f '' 

* * Dozens of 'em ! * ' laughed Mr. Wallace cheer- 
fully. ** Where I want to go there are no game 
laws to hinder. Tou*d have a tough time for a 
while, though. It's not like a camping trip up 
the Maine coast. ' ' 

**0h, shucks I '' replied the boy eagerly. 
" Why, there ain't a boy in the world that 
wouldn't be crazy to hike with you. They've got 
to let me gol " 

Although nearly bursting with his secret Burt 
said nothing of it until he returned to the shops 
that afternoon and joined Critch. Then he was 
unable to hold in and he poured out the story to 
his chum. Critch listened in incredulous amaze- 
ment, which changed to cheerful envy when he 
found Burt was not joking. 

** Why, you dog-goned old bookworm I " he ex- 
claimed when Burt finished. The red-headed boy 
was genuinely delighted over his chum's good 
luck. * * Think of you out there shootin ' your head 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 23 

off, while I^m plugging away here at home! 
Think your folks ^1 kick? '' 

' * Of course they will, * * groaned Burt gloomily. 
* * Ever know a feller to want any fun, without his 
folks kicking like sin t They like Uncle George a 
heap, but when it comes to takin ' the darlin ' boy 
where he can have a regular circus, it's no go. 
Dam it, I wish I was grown-up and didn't have 
any boss I '^ 

** It'll be a blamed shame if they don't let you 
go, old sport! " agreed Critch with a smile. ** But 
you haven't asked 'em yet. Mebbe they'll come 
around all right." 

** Huh I " grunted Burt sarcastically. ** Mebbe 
I '11 find a million dollars in my clothes to-morrow 
morning I Say — " 

' ' Well t Spit her out ! " laughed Critch as Burt 
paused suddenly. 

'* S'pose I could work you in on the game! " 
cried Burt enthusiastically. ** That'd help a lot 
if the folks knew you were going, too, and if your 
dad would fall for it we might take you as some 
kind of assistant I I tell you — I'll take you as 
my personal servant, my valet I How'd that 
strike you, just for a bluff? " 



24 The Boys' Big Game Series 

** Strike me fine,*' responded Critch vigorously. 
" I*d be willin' to work my way — '* 

^^ Oh, shucks I I didn't mean that. I mean to 
get your expenses paid that way, see? After we 
got going—'' 

" CJome out of it! " interrupted Critch. ** You 
talk as if you was really going. Where do you 
reckon my dad comes in? S'pose he'll stand for 
any game like that ? Not on your life I Dad 's fig- 
gering on pulling me into the ofiSce when school 's 
out." 

Burt left for home greatly sobered by the prac- 
tical common sense of his chum. He was quickly 
enthusiastic over any project and was apt to be 
carried away by it, while Critch was just the oppo- 
site. None the less, Burt was determined that if 
it was possible for him to go, his chum should go 
too. 

After dinner that evening while the family was 
sitting in the library, Mr. Wallace cautiously in- 
troduced the subject to Burt's parents. Burt was 
upstairs in his own room. 

** Etta, isn't that boy of yours getting mighty 
peaked? " 

** I'm afraid so," sighed Mrs. St. John anx- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 25 

ionsly. ** But we can't make him give up that 
scholarship. I'll be glad when school is over next 
week. ' ' 

** I guess we'll pack him oflf with Howard," put 
in Mr. St: John. ^^ I'll send 'em up the Kennebec 
on a canoe trip. ' ' 

** Nonsense 1 " snorted the explorer. ** What 
the boy needs is something different. Complete 
change — ocean air — make him forget all about 
his books for six months 1 ' ' 

** There's a good deal in that, Tom," agreed his 
sister thoughtfully. *^ Perhaps if I took him 
abroad for a month or two — " 

** Stop right there I " interrupted the explorer. 
** Take him abroad, indeed! Tie him to your 
apron strings and lead him to bang-up hotels? 
Dress him up every day, stuff him on high-class 
grubT Nonsense ! If you want him to go abroad, 
for goodness sake give him a flannel shirt and a 
letter of credit, and let him go. Don't baby him I 
Give him a chance to develop his own resources. 
Guess you didn't have any indulgent papa, Tom! 
All the boy wants is a chance. Why won't* you let 
him have itT " 

** Don't be a fool, George I " cautioned his sis- 



26 The Boys' Big Oame Series 

ter, smiling at the outburst. ** You know per- 
fectly well that I don't want my boy running wild. 
He's all we have, and we intend to take care of 
him. And I warn you right here not to put any of 
your notions into his head. It's bad enough to 
have one famous man in the family ! ' ' 

The explorer laughed and winked at Mr. St. 
John, who was enjoying the discussion from the 
shelter of his cigar smoke. At this, however, he 
came to the aid of his brother-in-law. 

** Yes, George is perfectly right, Etta. Burt 
needs to shift for himself a bit, and I think the 
Kennebec trip will be just the thing for him if we 
give him a free hand and let him suit himself. I 
don't want to send him off to foreign countries all 
alone." 

** Look here, Tom." Mr. Wallace leaned for- 
ward and spoke very earnestly. ** That kind of 
a vacation isn't worth much to a good, healthy 
boy. He wants something he has earned, not 
something that 's shoved at him. Make Burt earn 
some money while he 's having a good time. He '11 
enjoy it twice as much. Make him pay his own 
expenses somewhere; do something that will re- 
pay him, or get busy on some outdoor stunt that 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 27 

will give him something new and interesting to 
absorb him. Think it over I '* 

The conversation ended there for the night. 
Mr. Wallace was satisfied that he had sown good 
seed, however, and went np to Burt 's room with a 
smile. 

** Hello, uncle I *' cried the boy, giving up his 
chair and flinging himself down on the bed. 
** Say anything to the folks yet! " 

** A little. We'll have to go slow, remember I 
Now just what do you know about putting up 
skins and taking them from their rightful own- 
ers! '' 

** Met Not a whole lot. Let's see. I helped 
Critch skin an' mount Chuck Evan's bulldog, 
some birds, a weasel — ' ' 

'' Hold on! " laughed Mr. Wallace. '' That's 
not what I mean. Ejiow anything about homed 
animals? " 

** No," admitted Burt. ** I've read up 'bout 'em 
though. Bo's Critch." 

** Suppose you had a deer's horns to take off. 
How 'd you do it! " 

** Take his skin off by cuttin' straight down the 
breast to the tail," replied Burt promptly. 



28 The Boys' Big Game Series 

** Make cross-cuts down the inside o' each leg an' 
turn him inside out. For the horns you make a 
cut between 'em^ then back down the neck a 
Uttle/' 

** Wouldn't you take his skull! '' questioned 
Mr. Wallace. 

** Surel I forgot that. You'd have to cut be- 
tween the lids and eye-sockets down to the lips an' 
cut these from the bone. For the skull, cut her off 
and boil her. ' ' 

** Pretty goodl " commented his uncle. ** I 
guess you've got the knowledge all right. How'd 
you do in Africa about the skin T ' ' 

* * Nothing, ' ' grinned Burt. * * 'Cording to your 
books you just salt 'em well and ship 'em to the 
coast. ' ' 

** All right I " laughed his uncle. ** Get those 
rabbits done up T " 

** You betl " Burt made a wry face. ** We 
rubbed them with arsenic. That 's about the only 
stuff that '11 hold them in this weather. We make 
money though — or Critch does. We 've done lots 
of birds for a dollar each, and we got five for 
Chuck's bulldog." 

**I wish you'd take me over to your friend's 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 29 

home to-morrow night if you've nothing special 
on,'' replied Mr. Wallace. ** I'd like to have a 
little chat with him. Are his parents living? " 

* * His father is, but not his mother. They only 
live about three blocks down the line. We'll go 
over after supper. ' ' 

** Well, I'll go back and write another chapter 
before going to bed." Mr. Wallace rose and de- 
parted. He left Burt wondering. Why did his 
uncle want to see Critchf 

He wondered more than ever the next evening. 
When they arrived at the small frame house in 
which Howard and his father lived, Mr. Wallace 
chatted with the boys for a little and then turned 
to Mr. Critchfield, a kindly, shrewd-eyed man of 
forty-five. 

* * Mr. Critchfield, suppose we send the boys off 
for a while T I'd like to have a little talk with you 
if you don't mind." 

**A11 right, uncle," laughed Burt. "We'll 
skin out Come on up to the house, Critch." 

When they got outside, the red-haired boy's 
curiosity got the better of him and he asked Burt 
what his uncle wanted with his father. 

** Search me," answered Burt thoughtfully. 



30 The Boys' Big Game Series 

** He put me through the third degree yesterday 
about skinning deer. Next time he gives me a 
chance I'll ask him about taking you along." 

** Whatl " exclaimed Howard. ** Have your 
folks come around f ' ' 

** I don't know. I'm leaving it all to Uncle 
George. Believe me, they've got to come around 
or I'll — I'll run away! " 

** Yes, I've got a picture o' you running away! " 
grinned Critch. ** Mebbe dad '11 tell me what's 
up when I get home. ' ' 

But Critch was not enlightened that night nor 
for many nights thereafter. This was the last 
week of school and Burt was too busy with his 
examinations to waste much time speculating on 
the African trip. Howard was also pretty well 
occupied, although not trying for any scholarship, 
and for the rest of the week both boys gave all 
their attention to school. On Friday evening Burt 
arrived home jubilantly. 

** Done! " he shouted, bursting in on his mother 
and uncle. *^ Got it!" 

* * What, the scholarship T How do you know T ' ' 
asked his mother in surprise. 

** Prof. Garwood tipped me off. Won't get the 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 31 

reg'lar announcement till commencement exer- 
cises next week but he says I needn't worry! 
Hurray I One more year and then Yale for minel '' 

** Good boy I " cried Mr. Wallace, ** Guess 
you Ve plugged for it though, Burt, I'll have that 
book finished next week. If she goes through all 
right I'll be oflf by the end of the month for 
Africa." He winked meaningly. ** Guess I'll 
take you along. ' ' 

** What! " exclaimed Mrs. St. John in amaze- 
ment " Take him along? Why, George William 
Wallace, what do you mean T ' ' 

** What on earth d'you suppose I mean! " 
chuckled her brother. ** Why shouldn't Burt 
take his vacation with me if he wants tof Don't 
you think I am competent to take care of him! " 

Burt was quivering with eagerness and his 
mother hesitated as she caught the anxious light 
in his eyes. He stood waiting in silence, however. 

** George," replied his mother at last, " are you 
serious about this? Do you really mean — " 

* * Of course I do ! " laughed the explorer confi- 
dently. " If I know anything about it, Burt'd 
come back twice as much a man as he is now. Be- 



32 The Boys' Big^ Game Series 

sides we ought to pull out ahead of the game, be- 
cause I'm going after ivory/' 

** Wait till Tom comes home,'' declared Burt's 
mother with decision. ** We'll talk it over at din- 
ner. You'll have a hard task to convince me that 
there's any sense in such a scheme, George I " 

As her brother was quite aware of that fact he 
forbore to press the subject just then. A little 
later Mr. St. John came home from the works 
and at the dinner table his wife brought up the 
subject herself. 

** Tom, this foolish brother of mine wants to 
take Burton away to Africa with him next month I 
Did you ever hear of anything so silly? ' 

** Don't know about that," replied Mr. St. John, 
to his son's intense surprise. ^^ It depends on 
what part of Africa, Etta. You must remember 
that the world's not so small as it used to be. You 
can jump on a boat in New York and go to Africa 
or China or Russia and never have to bother your 
head about a thing. What's the proposition, 
George! " 

"I've been thinking that it would do Burt a lot 
of good to go with me to the Congo, ' ' answered the 
explorer. ** The sea voyage would set him up in 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 



33 



fine shape, and we would keep out of the low 
lands, you know.'* 

** The Congo I '* cried his sister in dismay. 
** Why, that's where they torture people I Do 
you — *' 

** Nonsense! '* interrupted Mr. Wallace impa- 
tiently. * * The Congo is just as civilized as parts 
of our own country. We can take a steamer at the 
mouth and travel for thousands of miles by it. I 
have one recruit from New Britain already, and 
I'd like to have Burt if you'll spare him.'* 

** Why, who's going from here! " asked Mr. St. 
John in surprise. 

** Young Critchfield," came the reply. 



CHAPTER ni 

THE DECISION 

** Critchl *' shouted Burt, unable to restrain his 
amazement. His parents looked equally incredu- 
lous and Mr. Wallace explained with a smile. 

** Yes, Howard Critchfield. You see, I'd like to 
bring back some skins and things but I detest the 
beastly work of getting them off and putting them 
in shape. So when I found that Critch was no 
slouch at taxidermy and only needed the chance, 
it occurred to me to take him along. I saw his 
father about it and proposed to pay all his ex- 
penses and a small salary. Mr. Critchfield came 
around after a little. He saw that it would be a 
splendid education for the boy — would give biTii 
a knowledge of the world and would develop birii 
amazingly.'' 

'' Why didn't Critch tell me about it! " cried 
Burt indignantly. 

" He didn't know I " laughed his uncle. ** His 
father and I agreed that we'd let him get safely 
through school without having other things to 

84 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 35 

think of. Now look at the thing sensibly, you 
folks. We wouldn't be away longer than six 
months at most. Burt would be in far more dan- 
ger in his canoe on the Kennebec than in a big 
steamer on the Congo. ' ' 

** But after you leave the steamer! You can't 
shoot ivory from the boat, I presume," protested 
Mr. St. John. 

^^ And what about snakes and savage tribes) " 
put in his wife. 

** My dear Etta,'' replied the explorer patiently, 
* * we will be near few savage tribes. I might al- 
most say that there are none. As for snakes, I've 
seen only three deadly ones in all the years I've 
spent in Africa. After we leave the steamer, Tom, 
we'll get out of the jungles into the highlands. 
Burt stands just as much chance of getting killed 
here as there. An auto might run over him any 
day, a mad dog might bite him or a chimney might 
fall on him! " 

For all his anxiety Burt joined heartily in the 
laugh that went up at his uncle's concluding 
words. The laughter cleared the somewhat tense 
situation, and the discussion was carried into the 
library. Burt saw, much to his relief, that his fa* 



36 The Boys' Big Game Series 

ther was not absolutely opposed to the trip, al- 
though his mother seemed anxious enough. 

** Now give us your proposition^ Gteorge,*' said 
his father as they settled down around the table. 
** What's your definite idea about it! *' 

** Goodl Now we're getting down to eases I *' 
cried the explorer with a smile at his sister. 
* ' Burt, get us that large atlas over there. ' ' Burt 
had the atlas on the table in an instant. *^ Let's 
see — Africa — here we are. Get eround here, 
folks I " As he spoke Mr. Wallace pulled out a 
pencil and pointed to the mouth of the Congo 
Eiver. 

* * Here 's the mouth of the Congo, you see. Here 
we step aboard one of the State steamers. These 
are about like the steamers plying between New 
York and Boston. Following the Congo up and 
around for twelve hundred miles, roughly speak- 
ing, we come to the Aruwimi river. Up this — 
and here we are at Yambuya, the head of naviga- 
tion on the Aruwimi. From here we'll go on up 
by boat or launch for three or four hundred miles 
farther, then strike off after elephants." 

** But how do you get down there in the first 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 37 

placet " asked Mr. St. John, who seemed keenly 
interested. 

** Any way you want tol '* returned the ex- 
plorer. ^^ There are lines running to Banana 
Point or Boma, the capital, from Antwerp, Lisbon, 
Bordeaux, Hamburg, or from England. We'll 
probably go from England though." 

** My gracious I '* said Burt's mother. ** I had 
no idea that the Congo was so near civilization as 
all that! Are there real launches away up there 
in the heart of Africa t " 

** Launches? Automobiles, probably! '* laughed 
her husband. 

* * Of course, ' ' agreed Mr. Wallace. * * There are 
motor trucks in service at several points. We 
could even take the trip by railroad if we wished, 
and we'll telegraph you direct when we reach 
there! " 

** Well that's news to me! " declared Mr. St. 
John. ** I thought that Central Africa was a 
blank wilderness filled with gorillas and savages. 
Seems to me I remember something about game 
laws in Roosevelt 's book. How about that T ' 

* * There are stringent laws in Uganda and Brit- 
ish East Africa," replied Mr. Wallace. ** But I 



38 The Boys' Big Game Series 

intend to depend on trade more than on shooting 
for my ivory. Now look at this Makua river that 
runs west, up north of the Aruwimi. I'm not go- 
ing to take any chances on being held up at Boma 
after getting out. There are several trading com- 
panies who'd be tickled to death to let me bring 
out a bunch of ivory and then rob me of it at the 
last minute. So we're going right up to the 
Makua and down that river to the French Congo. 
I've got a mighty strong pull with the French 
people ever since they made me a Conmiander of 
the Legion of Honor for my Sahara explorations. ' ' 

** I see." Burt's father gazed at the map re- 
flectively then looked up with a sudden smile. 
"You say * we ' as if it was all settled, George I " 

* * Oh, I was talking about young Critchfield and 
myself," laughed the explorer. " Come now, 
Etta, doesn't it sound a whole lot more reasonable 
than it did at first! " 

" Yes," admitted his sister. ** I must say it 
does. Especially if it is all so civilized as you 
say." 

** Now look here." Mr. Wallace bent over the 
map again and traced down the Congo to Stanley 
Falls. " A railroad runs from here over to the 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 39 

Great Lakes, at Mahagi on the Albert Nyanza. 
The Great Lakes are all connected and have 
steamer lines on them, so that you can get on a 
train or boat at the west coast and travel right 
through to the east coast just like going from New 
York to Duluth. Get me f 

** Why,'* exclaimed Burt, ** I thought you had 
to have porters and all that T Can you just hop on 
a train and shoot f " 

* * Not exactly, ' ' laughed his uncle. * * When we 
leave the Aruwimi we '11 probably take a hundred 
bearers with us. ' ' 

** Well, it's not a question that we can decide 
on the spur of the moment," announced Mrs. St. 
John. * * We '11 talk it over, George. If conditions 
are as you say, perhaps — " 

** Hurray I " burst out her son excitedly. 
** You've got to give in, dad! Mother's on our 
side! " And Burt darted oflf to find his chum. 

** The fact that you've won over Mr. Critchfield 
counts a good deal," smiled Mr. St. John as the 
door slammed. " He's a solid, level-headed chap 
and, besides, I really think it might do Burt 
good. ' ' 

Burt found his chum in a state of high excite- 






40 The Boys' Big Game Series 

ment. Critch's father had just told him about 
Mr. Wallace 's proposal and his own qualified con- 
sent. 

** 1*11 have to think it over some more,** he had 
said. ** It's too big to rush into blindly. As it 
stands, however, I see no reason why you 
shouldn 't go and make a little money, besides get- 
ting the trip. * * 

Burt and Critch got an atlas and went over the 
route that Mr. Wallace had traced. When Burt 
reported all that his uncle had said about civiliza- 
tion in the Congo, Critch heaved a deep sigh. 

** Seems *most too good to be true,** he said. 
*' To think of us away over there! I don*t see 
where your uncle *s going to clear up much coin, 
though. It must cost like smoke. * ' 

** So does ivory,** grinned Burt. He was in 
high spirits now that there actually seemed to be 
some hope of his taking the trip. * * He ain *t wor- 
ried about the money. Say, I*m mighty glad I*ve 
been learning French ! It *11 come in handy down 
there. * * 

** You won't have any pleasure tour,** put in 
Mr. Critchfield quietly. * * Mr. Wallace means busi- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 41 

ness. He told me he meant to leave the whole 
matter of skins and heads to you two chaps. ' ' 

** Wonder what he wants them for! ** specu- 
lated Burt. *^ Mebbe he's going to start a mu- 
seum. ' ' 

** Hardly/' laughed Mr. Critchfield. '* He said 
he wanted to give them to some Explorers' Club 
in New York. That means they'll have to be well 
done, Howard. I want you to be a credit to him 
if he takes you on this trip." 

** I will." Howard nodded with confident air. 
^^ Just let me get a chance t How's the scholar- 
ship! Hear anything yet! " 

** Got her cinched," replied Burt happily. 
** Well, guess I'll get back. See you to-morrow I " 

For the next week the question of the African 
trip was left undecided. When Burt had received 
his definite announcement of the scholarship, de- 
pendent on his next year's work, Mr. Wallace 
urged that the matter be brought to a decision one 
way or the other. On the following Saturday 
evening Mr. Critchfield and Howard arrived at 
the St. John residence and the * * Board of Direct- 
ors went into executive session," as the explorer 
laughingly said. 



42 The Boys' Big Game Series 

** There's one thing to be considered,*' an- 
nounced Mr. Critchfield. ^' That's the length of 
your absence. Next year is Howard's last year in 
high school and I wouldn't like his course to be 
smashed up. ' ' Mr. St. John nodded approval and 
all looked at Mr. Wallace expectantly, 

** I anticipated that," he replied quietly. ** I 
saw Mr. Garwood, the superintendent of schools, 
yesterday. I told him just what we wanted to do 
and asked him about Burt 's scholarship. School 
will not begin till the twentieth of September. He 
said if you boys were back by November and 
could make up a reasonable amount of work he 'd 
make an exception in your cases owing to your 
good records. I'm fairly confident that we'll be 
back by November." 

** I don't see how," interposed Mr. St. John. 
'* IVe been reading up on Stanley's journeys in 
that country and — ' ' 

** Hold on! " laughed Mr. Wallace. ** Please 
remember, Tom, that Stanley made his trips in the 
eighties — nearly thirty-five years ago. Where it 
took him months to penetrate we can go in hours 
and days. This is the end of June. By the first 
of August well be steaming up the Congo. I 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 43 

don't think it'll take ns two months to cross from 
the Aruwimi to the Makua and reach French ter- 
ritories. In any case, I intend to return direct 
from Loango, a port in the French Congo. We '11 
come down the river under the French flag in a 
French steamer, turn the comer to Loango and 
there '11 be a steamer there waiting to bring us and 
our stuflP direct to New York. I'm almost sure 
we '11 be back by November. ' ' 

** Even if we aren't," put in Howard, ** it'll 
only throw us out half a semester." 

** Supposing they do miss connections, Critch- 
field," said Mr. St. John, ** I wouldn't worry. It 
is a great thing for the boys and perhaps an extra 
six months in school won't do any harm. How- 
ever, figure on getting back. ' ' 

***I guess it's up to you, Etta! " laughed Mr. 
Wallace. * ' What do you say f Yes or no f " 

As Burt said afterward, * * I came so near havin ' 
heart failure for a minute that I could see the 
funeral procession. ' ' Mrs. St. John hesitated, her 
head on her hand. Then looking up, her eye met 
Burt's and she smiled. 

*<Yes— " 

*' Hurray I ** Critch joined Burt in a; shout of 



44 The Boys' Big Game Series 

delight^ while the latter gave his mother a stout 
hug of gratitude. 

** I don't know what we'll do here without 
you,'' she continued when freed. ** When will 
you start, George! " 

** Since we have to be back by November," re- 
plied the explorer, ** we'll leave here Monday 
morning and catch the Carmania from New York 
Tuesday. I 'U wire to-night for accommodations. ' ' 

** Monday! " cried Mr. St. John in amazement. 
* * Why, there '11 be no time to get the boys outfits 
or pack their trunks, or — " 

** We don't want outfits or trunks, eh, Burtt " 
smiled Mr. Wallace. ** The comfort of traveling, 
Tom, is to be able to take a suit case and light out 
for anywhere on earth in an hour. That's what 
we '11 do. Wear a decent suit of clothes, boys, and 
take a few changes of linen. We'll reach Liver- 
pool Friday night and London on Saturday. 
We'll get the outfits there, and if we hustle we 
can pick up one of the African Steamship Com- 
pany 's steamers Tuesday or Wednesday. ' ' 

** But your book! " asked Mrs. St. John. ** Is 
that finished! " 

** Bother the book! " ejaculated her brother im- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 



45 



patiently. ^^111 write the last chapter to-night 
and if the publishers don't like it they can change 
it around to suit themselves. I'm going to Africa 
and I'm going to leave New York Tuesday morn- 
ing rain or shine! " 

** That's the way to talk I " shouted Burt, wildly 
excited. ** Good for you, mother 1 I'll bring you 
back a lion skin for your den, dadt '^ 

Had Burt been able to foresee just what lion 
skin he would bring back and what he would pass 
through before he got it he might not have been 
so enthusiastic over the prospect of his African 
trip. 



CHAPTEEIV 

OUTFITTING 

The trip was began very much as Mr. Wallace 
had outlined. The news spread rapidly that Burt 
and Howard were going to Africa, and when the 
two boys arrived at the station early Monday 
morning a good-sized crowd of friends was pres- 
ent to see them off. 

" Take good care of yourself," cautioned Mrs. 
St. John as she kissed her son good-bye. ** Don't 
be afraid to telegraph ust " 

The train pulled out with a last cheer from the 
frat fellows, and Burt and Howard realized 
that they were actually off. They arrived in New 
York at noon and Mr. Wallace took them direct 
to the Explorers' Club for luncheon. 

Here they first began to feel in touch with the 
outside world. The club was an institution com- 
posed of explorers, hunters and wanderers in for- 
eign lands. Its walls were decorated with game 
heads, arms and armor of many savage tribes, 
while in glass cases were hung odd costumes and 

46 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 47 

headgear and unique relics and curios. At the 
dining-room tables the boys saw bronzed and 
bearded men who nodded to Mr. Wallace like old 
friends or spoke to him in strange tongues. 

* * You fellows wait for me in the library, ' ' said 
the explorer as they finished luncheon. * * I guess 
you^U find plenty to amuse you there. We'll stop 
here for to-night. I'm going down to send off 
some cables now and get part of our outfit ordered 
ahead. When I come back we'll go out and see 
the town a little." 

^' Did you get rooms on the steamer f " asked 
Critch. 

** Wired last night. The answer will be down 
here at the office but there 's not much doubt about 
getting them. See you in the library." 

The boys made themselves at home in the li- 
brary and in half an hour Mr. Wallace returned 
with the stateroom slips. Then they took a taxi 
and made a few purchases for the voyage. As 
there was nothing to be obtained except some 
clean linen and a steamer rug each, they spent 
most of the afternoon ** seeing " New York City. 

The evening spent at the club was a wonderful 
one to the boys. On talking it over later they 



48 The Boys' Big Game Series 

found that they had only a confused memory of 
meeting several famous men and of hearing some 
surprising stories. 

* * Critch ! * ' whispered Burt as they lay in bed. 
** 'Member that thin fellow with the scar on his 
chin t S 'pose his yam was true ! ' * 

** What! About being tortured by New Guinea 
cannibals f '' returned his chum. ** Prob^y. That 
sure was a whopper though that the man with the 
black beard told! The one thatM been in China, 
I mean.'* 

** Said he had photos of the Forbidden City, 
didnH hef asked Burt. ** Gee! That story of 
his about the joss with the emerald eyes and the 
ropes of pearls — '* 

So it went until long past midnight when the 
boys finally fell asleep. They were up early and 
after breakfast took a taxi again and went on 
board the Carmaniay which was to sail at ten. 

The voyage was uneventful to Mr. Wallace but 
proved of tremendous novelty to the boys. By the 
time they reached Liverpool Burt felt like new. 
His color was returning fast and the sea air had 
filled out his lungs once more and put him into 
prime condition. The question of their outfit was 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 49 

what puzzled the boys most until they put it up 
to Mr. Wallace. 

** Oh, we'll get all that in London,'' he ex- 
plained. ^ ' I cabled ahead so that most of it will 
be ready. You see, boys, these outfitters put up 
boxes of food in regular amounts for each day. 
All I have to do is to tell 'em how long we'll be 
gone and how many of us there are. They pack 
a box — chop-boxes, they're called — holding 
enough for so many days. According to custom 
the blacks only expect to carry sixty pounds, so 
these boxes are made up at that weight. All are 
of tin, hermetically sealed. Some firms use col- 
ored bands to distinguish the boxes but ours num- 
bers each box and furnishes us with lists of what 
they contain." 

** Some system, isn't iti " exclaimed Critch 
admiringly. ** Do we have to carry everything 
with us? Must be an awful freight bill! " 

** Can't go to Africa for nothing," laughed Mr. 
Wallace. ** Yes, we'll get most of that stuflf here. 
We could get it at Boma but I'd sooner depend on 
the English firm." 

** Wish we could stay longer in London," 



50 The Boys' Big Game Series 

sighed Burt. * * I hate to rush off without seeing 
anything of the city. ' * 

* * Well, our boat leaves Tuesday afternoon and 
this is Friday," replied his uncle. ** Our chop- 
boxes are already on board, I suppose. Our 
trunks — tin-lined by the way — will probably go 
down Monday night if we get our stuff Saturday. 
I'd like to spend a week in London myself but if 
we're to be back home by November we haven't 
much time to waste." 

The Liverpool customs did not delay them long 
as they had only a suit case each, and they took 
the night express for London. The boys were 
much surprised and not a little dismayed when 
they entered the English compartment cars, so 
different from the coaches they were used to. 
They soon found that it was much nicer to travel 
by themselves, however, as Mr. Wallace inter- 
viewed the guard and provided against intrusion. 
In the morning they awoke to find themselves in 
London. 

Mr. Wallace took them to the famous Carleton 
House for breakfast, now entirely rebuilt after its 
fire of the year before. When they had finished, 
all three went to the writing room. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 51 

** Take out your pencils now/' said the ex- 
plorer^ ** and get busy. I know just about what I 
want to take and a list ready-made will save a 
lot of time in the shops. Beady? " 

The two boys were not only ready but anxious. 
The lists that they wrote out were identical. Here 
is that of their personal effects and clothes as 
Burt made it out. 

Four suits underwear, Indian gauze. 

Two dittOy woolen. 

Two heavy gabardine shooting suits. 

Two flannel shirts, khaki cartridge pockets. 

Two pair high boots. One pair of soft leather. 

Extra thick leggings, two pairs. 

Camelshair poncho blanket, convertible. 

Kid-lined gloves, two pairs. 

Sleeping bag, waterproof. 

Wool socks and pajamas. 

Two khaki helmets. 

Mosquito net for head and body. 

Cholera belt, flannel. 

Zeiss field glasses. 

Large colored silk handkerchiefs, six. 

Compass. Toilet articles. 

** There,'' exclaimed Mr. Wallace as he ran 



52 The Boys* Big Game Series 

over Bnrt's list, ** that looks pretty good to me^ 
Tou won't need the wool underwear unless you 
get prickly heat. The leggings are the most im- 
portant. If you get scratched up by spear-grass 
and thorns and then step into some swamp-pool 
it's all oflf. You'd get craw-craw sure." 

** What's that! " asked Critch. ** Sounds like 
crow! " 

** It'g a skin disease," replied Mr. Wallace. 
** Something frightful, too. The poncho will 
serve for blanket and raincoat, but this is the dry 
season. Must have the mosquito net, though. 
When we get up the Aruwimi we'll find little bees 
about as big as gnats but a whole lot worse, and 
it '11 need thick nets to keep 'em out. \Now for the 
armament." 

Burt's ** armory " consisted of the following 
weapons : 

Double-barreled Holland .450 cordite rifle, for 
close quarters. 

Winchester .405 rifle for general use. 

Twenty-gauge Parker shotgun. 

Eight-inch skinning knife. 

** Ain't we going to take revolvers! " asked 
Burt disappointedly as his uncle finished. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 53 

** No,** replied the latter. ** They're of no use 
whatever. I'll take mine from force of habit but 
you chaps will never need one. Oh, the ammuni- 
tion! Put down a hundred solid and a hundred 
8oft-nosed cartridges for the Hollands; for the 
Winchesters two hundred of each, and six boxes 
of shells. That'll be enough to last us double the 
time." 

** How 'bout a camera! " asked Critch anx- 
iously. ** Will we be able to tote one along t " 

" Surest thing you know I " replied Mr. Wal- 
lace. " Well take one of those new moving-pic- 
ture machines. They're no larger than a camera 
and you can take motion pictures or straight shots 
on the reel. ' ' 

** Geel That'll be great! " cried Burt delight- 
edly. " But won't the heat spoil the reels f An' 
don't they cost like furyt " 

" The reels will be hermetically sealed before 
and after using," explained his uncle. ** Needn't 
worry 'bout them. The whole outfit only costs 
twelve or thirteen pounds — say sixty dollars. 
It's well worth it, too. Now for the tents. We're 
going to travel light as possible, so put down two 
double-roofed ridge tents twelve by ten, with 



54 The Boys* Big Game Series 

ground-sheets. Three cots without mattresses. 
You'll have to do without them or pillows — 
they 're a beastly nuisance to pack along. Canvas 
bath each and condensing outfit to supply fresh 
water. ' ' 

** Why's that, uncle f " asked Burt in surprise. 
** Lots of fresh water, ain't there! " 

** Lots," smiled his uncle, ** and lots o' guinea 
worms, fever germs, poisons and other things in 
it. Better add a four-quart canteen, glass stop- 
pers, to your personal list. Can't take any cork 
or the roaches '11 eat it. Two blankets for each 
person, and six towels. I guess that 's all we need 
put down now, boys. ' ' 

** Hold on there! " cried practical Critch 
abruptly. ** How 'bout eatin' utensils and fryin* 
pans, medicine, can openers a^d all them things ! ' ' 

** All arranged for," laughed Mr. Wallace. 
* ' The cooking part of it will be up to John Quincy 
Adams Washington." 

* * John — who f ' ' stammered Burt. * * Say it 
again, please! " 

For answer Mr. Wallace pressed a button and a 
footman appeared. 

** Send the manager here at once, please." The 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 55 

man bowed and withdrew and while the boys were 
still staring at the explorer in wonder a dapper 
little man appeared bowing. 

* * Mr. Wallace ? Glad to see you looking so well, 
sir I What can I do for you? ' ' 

* * I want that fellow Washington, ' ' smiled the 
explorer. * * Can you let me have him for say three 
months? I'm going down to Africa and he'll have 
to go along. ' ' 

* * Certainly 1 I '11 send him right up, sir. ' ' The 
manager vanished with another bow and Mr. Wal- 
lace turned to the boys. 

* * Washington — or John rather — is a Liberia 
boy I picked up five years ago. He 's the best cook 
on earth I He's been in China and South Amer- 
ica with me and whenever I don 't need him he has 
a steady job as fifth chef here. Ah, here he is I " 

An immense black man appeared, wearing a 
grin that almost hid his face, as Burt expressed 
it. He stepped up and caught the explorer's hand, 
not shaking it but pressing it to his forehead as 
he spoke. 

** Glad to see you, sar! What for you want John 
now? " 

** Africa, John. This is my nephew, Mr. St. 



56 The Boys' Big Game Series 

John, and my friend, Mr. Critchfield, who will go 
along. We leave for the Congo Tuesday. ' ' 

** Pleased to meet you, sari '* The grinning 
black pressed the hands of Burt and Howard to 
his forehead in turn. ** What boat we leave, 
sar?'' 

** The Benguela. African Steamship Company 
docks. ' * 

** Hit's Liverpool boat, sari What time hit 
leave London docks ! ' ' 

** Three o'clock, John. Here's a hundred 
pounds." Mr. Wallace peeled oflf five twenty- 
pound bank notes and handed them to the negro; 
** that ought to buy your outfit, eh? " 

** By hall means, sari Thank you. Hi '11 'ave 
most helegant brass pots, sari " 

* * Good gracious 1 ' ' exclaimed Burt as the cook 
withdrew. ** You hand out bank notes as if 
you're made o' money I S'pose the coon '11 ever 
show up with all that wad on him ? ' ' 

** Show up? " repeated Mr. Wallace. ** Why, 
I'd turn over my bill book to him and never count 
it when he gave it backl He's a blamed sight 
more honest than most white men you'll meet 
down there. And nerve ! He carried me five miles 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 



57 



on his back once, in northern China, stopping oc- 
casionally to fight off a bunch of bandits. That's 
the kind of man John is. ' ' 

** Fminy accent he's got," said Critch. ** I 
thought all coons talked like they do down south. ' ' 

** You 11 get over that pretty quick I '' laughed 
the explorer heartily. * * John can use West Coast, 
cockney, Spanish and half a dozen other accents 
accordin' to whom he's been mixing up with lat- 
est. When we strike the Congo he'll probably fall 
into French. Well, let's trot along to Piccadilly 
and get measured. It's gettin' on toward noon." 



CHAPTER V 

THE CONGO 

The boys were now due to receive another sur- 
prise. When their taxi drew up they jumped out, 
fully expecting to see a wonderful store like those 
of New York. Instead they found themselves be- 
fore a dingy little shop whose aspect gave them 
distinct disappointment. 

** No/' laughed Mr. Wallace as he dismissed the 
taxi, " it 's all right I Doesn 't look up to much but 
it sends out good stuff. ' ' 

This was the gunshop and they found it very 
different inside. Mr. Wallace had no time to 
waste in having special guns made, so the clerks 
measured the boys' shoulders and arms and that 
was all there was to it, for the guns would be 
slightly altered and sent on board. 

Now the party went to the Boma Trading Com- 
pany's store. Here they found that the chop- 
boxes had all gone on board their ship. Mr. 
Wallace ordered three Borroughs and Wellcome 
medicine cases, specially made up for the West 

68 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 59 

Ck)ast. He also procured two hypodermic syringes 
and a small quantity of Pasteur serums. 

** We'll probably never need them,'* he ex- 
plained, as they left the store, '^ but in case our 
men strike a snake a quick hypodermic is the only 
thing to save them. Then we have poisoned ar- 
rows to consider also. If we happened to get into 
the pigmy country — which I hope we won't — 
it'll take a powerful anti-tetanic serum to kill 
their poisons. ' ' 

After a lunch they returned to the Boma Com- 
pany. The lists which Mr. Wallace had given the 
clerks had been filled and now each of them was 
measured for the clothes and personal equipment. 
This consumed an hour, after which they took an- 
other taxi and went to a camera supply house. 

The boys went into extravagant delight over the 
small and compact moving-picture outfit. Burt 
promptly took charge of this, or rather promised 
to take charge, for when the whole outfit had been 
sealed up it would be sent down to the steamer 
like the other supplies. 

** Tell you what,'' he cried, ** we'll get some 
great little old pictures! You let an elephant 



60 The Boys' Big Game Series 

cliase you, Uncle Gteorge, while I get a good view 
and Critch shoots him I " 

** Don't want much, do you? '* laughed his 
uncle. ^^ Nothing like that for mine. I'd sooner 
have an elephant after me, at that, than a big buf- 
falo. That 's the most dangerous animal we '11 find 
in Africa.'* 

** How 'bout rhinoceros? " challenged Critch. 

" All poppycock," snorted the explorer. ** A 
rhino can't see ten feet away. He goes by smell. 
He^U usually run away unless he's wounded. But 
a buffalo doesn't wait to be wounded. You rouse 
him up out of a comfortable feeding place and 
he'll go for you. Takes more than one bullet to 
kill him unless you're lucky." 

The boys now stocked up with fresh linen for 
the voyage while Mr. Wallace looked up his own 
guns, which he usually stored in London. They 
stopped at the Carleton over Sunday and Monday. 
As Burt's father had sales offices in London they 
secured a large touring car without cost and spent 
the two days riding about the historic city. There 
were various minor details of their outfits to be 
attended to on Monday and on Tuesday noon they 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 61 

went aboard the Benguela, when she arrived from 
Liverpool. 

She proved to be a large cargo and passenger 
boat and was very comfortably fitted np. They 
had seen nothing of John Quincy Adams Wash- 
ington bnt Mr. Wallace smilingly assured them 
that he would show up in time. Sure enough, 
when they went up the gangplank the big negro 
was waiting with his all-embracing grin. 

** Good momin', sar, good mominM *' he cried, 
taking charge of their hand baggage and assum- 
ing a lordly attitude over the stewards. ** Very 
hauspicious day, sari John t'ink we 'ave very 
fine trip, sari " 

And a fine trip they had. There were a dozen 
other passengers on board. Most of these were 
clerks or traders going out to positions at Sierra 
Leone or the Gold Coast, with one or two French- 
men and oflScials of the Congo State. When they 
crossed the Equator there were the usual cere- 
monies and horseplay among the sailors, and the 
boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves. By the time 
they left the Gold Coast behind and headed for 
Banana Point Burt felt better than he had ever 



62 The Boys' Big Game Series 

been in his life and his uncle assured him that he 
need not worry about the fever. 

Finally the long reddish cliffs and grassy up- 
lands of the Congo coast drew into sight late on 
the fifteenth afternoon. The Benguela took a 
black pilot aboard and proceeded straight up to 
the port of Banana. Mr. Wallace and the boys at 
once disembarked and interviewed the customs 
officials and took a launch up to the capital, Boma. 
The steamer would follow them after discharging 
some cargo. 

The next morning Mr. Wallace put on his rib- 
bon of Commander of the Legion of Honor. The 
boys were amazed at the respect which this gained 
for all of them when they sought an audience with 
the governor general. After explaining to him 
the object of their trip and the length of time they 
would be gone, Mr. Wallace arranged to have all 
the necessary papers made out and to charter one 
of the State steamers to take their outfit up the 
river.*' 

** I can give you only a small one,*' said the 
governor general. * * Unfortunately, there are few 
at my disposal just now. Stay I You might ar- 
range with Captain Montenay. He chartered La 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 63 

Belgique two days since for a similar trip, but 
surely he '11 have plenty of room to spare. * * 

** Montenayf '* repeated Mr. Wallace. ** Isn't 
he the Scotch explorer? '* 

* * Yes I ' ' smiled the governor. * * Come to think 
of it I believe he is at the palace now. ' ' Clapping 
his hands, he dispatched a gendarme. ** If you 
can arrange matters with him I will see that your 
baggage is passed directly to La Belgique through 
the customs. You have no liquor, I presume? *' 

** Half a dozen pint flasks of brandy,'' replied 
the explorer and the governor nodded. It is one 
of the strictest laws of the Congo that no liquors 
shall be brought into the country, save in small 
personal amounts. A moment later the gendarme 
returned with a small, khaki-clad man. He was 
very sallow of complexion, had dark hair and 
eyes, and carried his left arm awkwardly. When 
the governor introduced him to the three Ameri- 
cans his thin face lit up with a quick smile and he 
gripped Mr. Wallace's hand impulsively. 

** So you're Wallace I " he cried, looking deep 
into the other's eyes. ** Man, I've been wantin' 
to meet ye for ten years! I ran across your trail 
in China and got within fifty miles o ' ye when the 



64 The Boys' Big Game Series 

Cape to Cairo was snrveyin'. Man, I'm pleased 
tomeetyel '* 

** I'm mighty glad to meet yon, too," smiled 
Mr. Wallace. ** IVe heard a lot about you, Mon- 
tenayl *' 

Mr. Wallace then introduced the boys and sug- 
gested that they have a talk in another room of 
the palace. Thanking the governor for his assist- 
ance and kindness they followed the gendarme to 
another room. 

** Now, Captain, '* said Mr. Wallace, "we're go- 
ing up the Aruwimi after ivory. We can't get a 
large boat here and the Governor suggested that 
you could take us up on the Belgique/' 

** 0' course I can I '' exclaimed the small but 
famous Scotchman. ** An' that's pre-cisely where 
I'm bound for too. How'd ye guess it? " 

** Good! " cried Mr. Wallace. ** When do you 
start up? " 

** I was meanin' to go in the momin'," an- 
swered the other, rubbing his stubbly chin reflect- 
ively. * * We '11 get your stuff out o ' the Benguela 
to-morrow or ma name ain't McAllister Monte- 
nayl '* 

** We'll split expenses on the Belgique, of 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 65 

course,*' declared the American. "It's mighty 
good of — '* 

** None o' that now, none o* that,** interrupted 
Captain Montenay hastily. ** Why, man, I'd give 
a hundred pound for the benef eet o ' your company 
up the stream 1 Ivory, you say! '* 

** Partly.** Mr. Wallace answered the keen 
questioning look with a nod. ** I'm going up past 
the Avatiko country to the Makua and down the 
river under the French flag. I've chartered a 
tramp to be waiting at Loanga by November. Get 
the idea? ** 

** Aye! ** Montenay threw back his head in a 
noiseless laugh. * * Man, ye 're no fool ! I brought 
down ten tusks two year gone. When I got down 
to Stanley Pool the Afrique Concessions jumped 
me an* laid claim to the lot. The rank thieves! 
They had witnesses to swear that I got the ivory 
in their land an* before I knew where I was they 
fined me twenty pound — an' the ivory! By 
cripes, they won't monkey twice with McAllister 
Montenay though! Well, let's be movin*. It'll 
be vera tiresome gettin' these blacks to work.** 

As they passed a water cooler on their way out 
the captain paused. The boys saw him take a 



66 The Boys' Big Game Series 

bottle from his pocket and pour out a palmful of 
white powder into a cigarette paper. This he 
roUed up and threw into his mouth, tossing a glass 
of water after it. 

^^ Quinine/' he explained, although he called it 
"queeneen.'' 

** Pretty big dose, wasn't it? " asked Mr. Wal- 
lace. 

" 'Bout fifty grain," replied the other calmly, 
to the intense astonishment of the boys. * * Fever 
gets me bad down here on the coast. By cripes, 
ye 're a lucky beggar t " he continued as they 
came in sight of John standing guard over their 
valises. ** That's your man Washington? I've 
heard o' him. They say he's a magneeficent 
cook." 

** Better than that," laughed Mr. Wallace. 
** He'll take charge of your blacks and get real 
work out of 'em. Do you mean what you said 
about going up the Aruwimi? " 

*^Aye." Montenay nodded. ** We'll talk that 
over later. Ye '11 be wantin' yer mosquito nets, so 
better bring the stuff down to the Belgique. 
We'll sleep on board her to-night." 

As they had stayed at the hotel the night be- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 67 

fore, the boys had not been troubled much by the 
insects. They were much more worried by the 
quantities of quinine that Mr. Wallace insisted 
on their taking. When Burt had protested at tak- 
ing ten grains all at once his uncle had laughed. 

** Nonsense 1 I'm running this tripl Why, it's 
nothing unusual for men to take seventy and 
eighty grains out here. So put it down and shut 
up or I'll send you back home! '' 

They found the Belgique to be a small but com- 
fortable little steamer manned by a crew of a 
dozen blacks and a Swiss pilot. The Benguela 
came up the river that afternoon and the smaller 
steamer was placed alongside her. By special ar- 
rangement with the customs people the boxes be- 
longing to Mr. Wallace were slung right out to 
the deck of La Belgique. Here John was in 
charge of the blacks and under his heavy-handed 
rule the cases were rapidly stowed away. 

Mr. Wallace and the boys got out all their per- 
sonal equipment at once. The heat was intense 
and the boys naturally suffered from it greatly at 
first, although the two older men did not seem 
to mind it in the least. By the next afternoon 



68 The Boys' Big Game Series 

their loading was completed and the Belgique 
headed upstream without further delay. 

Their five days' trip got the boys inured to the 
heat somewhat. They never tired of watching 
the tropical forest on either bank of the river and 
the strange craft that plied around them. Al- 
though there were many other steamers and State 
launches as well as trading companies' boats, 
there was no lack of dugouts and big thirty-foot 
canoes laden with merchandise from the trading 
posts. The two explorers lay back in their canvas 
chairs and recounted their experiences in strange 
landsy while the boys listened eagerly as they 
watched their new surroundings. 

The water-maker, as John called it, was in- 
stalled the first day out. The boys found their 
cook to be all that Mr. Wallace had stated and 
more, while Captain Montenay was so delighted 
that he laughingly offered John exorbitant wages 
to desert the American, but in vain. The 
Belgique made stops for wood only and after four 
days they arrived at the mile-wide mouth of the 
Aruwimi Eiver. 

On the fifth day they arrived at Yambuya, just 
below the great cataracts which stopped further 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 69 

navigation. Here the two experienced explorers 
nnloaded the chop-boxes, tents and other supplies 
and proceeded to make arrangements for hiring 
bearers. This was accomplished through the 
local chief with the aid of the government repre- 
sentative, who was an Italian. Indeed, the boys 
found that not only were Belgians and French em- 
ployed all through the country, but men of every 
nationality, from ** remittance men *' of England 
to Swiss and Cubans. 

After a two days* delay at Yambuya the cara- 
van was formed. It consisted of one hundred 
Bantu porters under the directions of a head-chief 
who spoke French fairly well, as do many of the 
natives. Besides the porters there were tent boys, 
skinners, gun-bearers and cooks to the number of 
thirty. Captain Montenay spoke Bantu to some 
extent and all the orders were given by him direct 
while the river trip was continued. 

The expedition started from the other side of 
the cataracts in five immense dugout canoes pad- 
dled by the porters. For the white men had been 
provided a small antiquated launch with which 
the canoes were easily able to keep up. 

* * Well, ' ' said Mr. Wallace as they puffed away 



70 



The Boys' Big Game Series 



from the shore, ** the real tripes begun, boys! 
We'll arrive at Makupa to-morrow and then np 
to the Makna! " 

" Maknpaf '* exclaimed Captain Montenay. 
** Why, that's only a hundred and fifty miles up! 
Well, we can talk it over later. John, fill a can- 
vas tub. I feel the need o * havin ' a bath. ' * 

And Captain McAllister Montenay 's bath was 
the first indication that the boys received of the 
Blind Lion. 



CHAPTER VI 



THE MABK OF PONGO 

The folding tubs they all used were more like 
little canvas rooms, open at the top. The crew of 
their launch consisted of two Bantus. One of 
these helped John fill the tub by the simple 
method of standing on a chair and pouring water 
on the head of the occupant of the tiny chamber 
after his clothes had been thrown out. 

The boys were watching the proceedings and 
intended to follow the captain's example. As he 
fimished he told the Bantu boy to hand him his 
clothes and stretched out an arm through the slit 
in the canvas walls. As it happened, this opening 
faced the boys. 

The Bantu held up the bundle of clothes. As 
Captain Montenay took them the boys saw the 
black recoil suddenly and sink to his knees with a 
low groan, his face gray. Burt immediately 
leaped to his feet and caught the Bantu but the 
latter thrust him away and staggered back to the 

71 



72 The Boys' Big Game Series 

engine. Here he sank on a locker and buried his 
face in his knees. 

" WeU I'll be jiggered 1 '' exclaimed Burt half 
angrily. ** What's the matter with himt '* He 
was about to call his uncle who was up under the 
forward awning when Critch caught his arm. 

** Shut up! " the red-haired boy whispered ex- 
citedly. * * Come over here. ' * When they reached 
the rail he turned on Burt. ** Didn't you see it, 
you chump f What's the matter with you, any- 
way? " 

** Met " gasped Burt, bewildering by this sud- 
den attack. * * Say — ' ' 

** Thought you saw it sure," interrupted his 
chum hurriedly. ** Didn't you see Cap'n Mac's 
arm? " 

** No," returned Burt shortly. ** Like any 
other arm, ain't itf I was lookin' at the sick 
nigger." 

**Sick nothin'," retorted Critch. ** Cap'n 
Mac's got a shoulder on him enough to scare a 
cat ! When he shoved the canvas back I could see 
it all twisted up an' dead white, with a big red 
scar on the comer o' the shoulder. That nigger 
wasn't sick — he was scared 1 " 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 73 

** Scared! ** Burt stared at Critch and then 
turned to look at the Bantu boy crouched on the 
locker. ^' Golly 1 Mebbe he isl Say, what was the 
scar like? *' 

^^ Looked to me like a cross but I didn't see it 
well. Come on, we'll ask the coon. He talks 
French some." 

They stopped beside the Bantu. The second 
black was sitting in the bow at the wheel and had 
noticed nothing. Critch took the black by the 
shoulder and gave him a shake, while Burt ad- 
dressed him in French. 

** Wake up, boy! What scared yout " 

The Bantu gave one terrified shudder and his 
eyes were rolling wildly as his head came up 
* * Pongo ! L 'embleme de Pon — "he began with a 
frightened gasp and then stopped. His face re- 
sumed its normally blank expression and he 
glanced around quickly. 

" What's Pongo t " questioned Burt. ** What 
do you mean by the sign of Pongo f ' ' 

" No savvy, m'sieu, no savvy." The Bantu 
shook his head and absolutely refused to say an- 
other word in spite of threats and commands. 

" Come on," said Critch disgustedly. ** He's 



74 The Boys' Big Oame Series 

wise to something but he won't let on. There's 
Cap'n Mac. Shut up/' 

They rejoined the captain and Mr. Wallace in 
the bow. Evidently the Scotchman had neither 
seen nor heard anything unusual, for he at once 
plunged into discussing plans with Mr. Wallace. 

* * Look here, ' ' he said finally. * * I can 't give up 
that cook o' yours, Wallace! YeVe got a good 
Scots name too. S'pose we make one party? " 

* * One party I ' ' exclaimed Mr. Wallace. * * I 
thought you were going more to the east f ' ' 

** Aye, but I ain't over parteec'lar. Mind, I'm 
no sayin' I'll go clear to the Makua wi' ye, but I 
may." 

" Here's John with the dinner," said Mr. Wal- 
lace. ** We'll talk it over while we eat. Looks 
mighty good to me, Montenay ! I'd like you to go 
with us if you will." 

** Hello, what's this stuflff " cried Burt as he 
leaned over his bowl and sniffed suspiciously. 
John stood by with a triumphant grin. 

" Smells good," commented Critch. Captain 
Mac, as they had come to call him, winked at Mr. 
Wallace. 

** It's vera good for fever," he said solemnly. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 75 

** They make it out o' chopped snakes an' nigger 
bones. ' ' 

The boys looked np in dismay but were re- 
assured by Mr. Wallace's smile and John's ever- 
present grin. Burt put the question to the latter. 

** Palm-oil chop, sari Chicken chop-chop, palm- 
oil, peppers, bother t'ings halso, sar. Hit be 
good. ' ' 

The boys cautiously sampled the concoction 
and found it to be new but not unpleasant. Be- 
fore they had been in the country another week 
they were vociferously demanding palm-oil chop 
from John every day. The launch tied up at a 
plantation dock for the night and at daylight pro- 
ceeded on her way. 

* * Hello ! ' ' exclaimed Critch as he emerged 
from the tiny cabin for breakfast. ** That's 
funny! Thought it was in my outside pocket.*' 

'* What's bitin' youf " asked Burt with a 
rather sickly smile. He also was fishing in his 
pockets. 

** My compass — it's gone! " 

*' Same here," confessed Burt after a moment. 
* * I '11 be jiggered ! My coin 's all right ! ' ' 

*' What's the matter? " inquired Mr. Wallace. 



76 The Boys' Big Game Series 

He was jnst coming out and behind him was Cap- 
tain Mac. The boys explained their strange loss 
and Montenay frowned. 

** That's queer, '^ he said thoughtfully. 
** Mine's safe. How's yours, Wallace? " 

** Here.'* Mr. Wallace produced his own sil- 
ver-set compass from an inner pocket. ' ' You 've 
probably dropped 'em around the cabin, boys. ' ' 

The two turned and vanished hastily but reap- 
peared shaking their heads. The missing instru- 
ments were not to be found on board, although a 
thorough search was made of the launch and men. 

* * Na doot they were stolen, ' ' said Captain Mac 
as they sat at breakfast. ** These blacks will steal 
anythin' that ain't nailed down, an' they were 
prowlin' all about last night. Well, we'll get new 
ones at Makupa from the trader when we get 
there to-night." 

*' It's decidedly queer, Montenay! " Mr. Wal- 
lace looked out over the river with a perplexed 
frown. ** Why should these two compasses van- 
ish, when nothing else in the cabin was touched f 
I don't like it." 

** Ye know what ju-ju is, o' course? " Captain 
Mac leaned back easily in his chair as the Ameri- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 77 



can explorer nodded. '* The Bantos think com- 
passes are jn- ju. ' * 

** What's that! '' asked Critch. 

** Anything they don't understand and that 
savors of witchcraft or mystery is jn-ju,'* ex- 
plained Mr. Wallace. ** In that case, Montenay, 
onr compasses will be looked upon as the gods of 
a Bantu village, eh t ' ' 

* * Aye. Let 's get our business done with, Wal- 
lace.'* Montenay deftly rolled himself a quinine 
capsule and swallowed it. ** What d'ye sayf 
Shall we combine or not " 

" I don't see why we shouldn't," returned Mr. 
Wallace thoughtfully. ** We're both after ivory. 
One caravan will cut down expenses for each of 
us. You're not sure about making the Makua 
with us? " 

* ' Well, ' ' replied the other slowly with a sharp 
glance at Mr. Wallace, " I'm no sure yet. There's 
some mighty queer country north o' here that I'd 
like to have a look at. Mind, I'm no promisin' 
anythin' whatever. I'll be free to come an' go." 

** Of course," answered Mr. Wallace. " Then 
it's agreed. Captain 1 We'll leave Makupa to- 
gether in the morning." 



78 The Boys' Big Game Series 

" Vera good. Now I'll be lookin' after a letter 
or so under the awnin' aft where the shakin' ain't 
80 strong." Montenay rose and strolled aft and 
was immediately absorbed in his traveling writ- 
ing-case. Mr. Wallace gazed after him re- 
flectively. 

** There's a curious man, boys! We're in luck 
to have him along. There probably aren't a dozen 
men in Africa who haven't heard of him and there 
probably aren't a dozen who know him outside of 
officials. He always travels alone. If he strikes 
in at Zanzibar or Nairobi he 's likely to come out 
at Cairo or the Cape." 

" Strikes me as a good sport," agreed Burt 
heartily. ** He don't say much but I'd hate to 
monkey with him when he gets mad. Say ! Ever 
hear o' Pongo, Uncle George? " 

** Pongo t " repeated the evplorer as he stared 
hard at Burt. ** Pongo! No, don't think I have. 
What is it?" 

The boys explained what had taken place the 
previous afternoon but to their surprise Mr. Wal- 
lace frowned disapproval. ** Whatever it is, boys, 
it 's his business. If you '11 look at his arm you '11 
see a dozen scars. I have a few myself. That's 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 79 

where a native chief cuts a gash in his arm and 
ours, the cuts are rubbed together and we are 
then termed * blood-brothers/ It may have been 
some such mark that scared the black boy/' 

*' No it wasn't,'* asserted Critch positively. 
** It looked like a cross. Wasn't cut either. 
Looked like a burn more than anything else. ' ' 

* * Then forget it, ' ' commanded Mr. Wallace de- 
cisively. * ' It 's none of our business. I must say 
that Montenay's mighty indefinite though. He 
says he's after ivory and wants to have a look at 
the country. But if I know anything he's not 
worrying about ivory this trip." 

** Why not? '' asked Burt. '* D'you mean he's 
lying! " 

** Lying is a strong term, Burt! " smiled his 
uncle. ** It's not a nice word to use either. No, 
I think he 's keeping us in the dark about his own 
projects. Probably he has some new animal or 
some new tribe he wants to be sure of getting all 
the credit for discovering. Naturally he wouldn't 
want to run any risk of our cutting in on him. ' ' 

Just then the subject of their discussion re- 
joined them and the topic was changed. On up 
the river they went all that day while the big 



80 The Boys' Big Game Series 

canoes followed closely with the paddling-chants 
of the men rising from time to time. The breeze 
created by their motion relieved them of the 
clonds of mosquitoes and other insects bnt the 
heat was so great that it even affected John to 
some extent. 

Jnst before snnset they reached the Maknpa 
station. This consisted of a large native village 
dominated by the State trading post, a corru- 
gated iron building whose whitewashed walls 
contrasted strongly with the palm thatched huts 
of the blacks all around. The trader met them at 
the landing and proved to be a Belgian, pleasant 
and courteous in every way. 

They spent the night here. In the morning 
they were up before daybreak and Mr. Wallace 
mentioned the compasses as they were dressing. 
At that moment Burt was speaking to Captain 
Montenay, and he saw a peculiar light flash into 
the little explorer's face when his uncle spoke. 
That look puzzled Burt somewhat. He was still 
more puzzled when Montenay rushed through his 
dressing and hurried from the room. The sudden 
change in the man had evidently been caused by 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 81 

his uncle ^s words, but Burt could not see any con- 
nection whatever. 

When they entered the lamp-lit dining room for 
breakfast they found the agent and Captain Mac 
together. The former sprang up and greeted 
them eflfusively, hastUy stuffing something into 
his pocket that looked to Burt like banknotes. 
Still, the boy remembered his uncle's words of 
the day before and made up his mind not to 
bother about other people's affairs. 

" Oh, the compasses I '» ejaculated Mr. Wallace 
as the black boys brought in fruit and coffee. 
*^ Lieutenant, we lost two compasses coming up 
the river. It would be a great assistance if you 
would sell us a couple from your stores.'* 

** Alasl " An expression of dismay rose to the 
Belgian's face and he spread out his hands help- 
lessly. * * My friend, I am grieved deeply to have 
to inform you that we have none! A trading 
party came down the river last week and com- 
pletely cleaned me out, even to my own instru- 
ment. I am desolated, my heart is torn, but it is 
impossible! " 

A sudden suspicion flashed across Burt's mind 
but as he glanced sharply at Captain Mac he dis- 



82 The IBoys* Big Game Series 

missed it. Montenay was the picture f f dismay, 
but to all their suggestions and queries the Bel- 
gian only returned a ** desolated ^' shrug. 

** Well, never mind.'* Mr. Wallace smiled at 
Montenay in resignation. " We still have ours. 
Two should be enough. Now make a good break- 
fast, boys! We eat from chop-boxes after this.*' 

With sunrise the caravan started north from 
the station. The river bottom was low but Cap- 
tain Mac asserted that after a day 's journey they 
would find themselves on the higher plains, and 
this proved quite true. On the second day they 
entered the great forests and left behind the half- 
civilized tribes. As they drew up to the top of a 
hill-crest that rose among the trees Critch caught 
Burt's arm and pointed ahead to where the jungle 
thinned out. 

'* There we are, ol' sport! Look at 'em, just 
look at *em!" 

And Burt saw through his glasses a number of 
black groups of animals, grazing and moving 
slowly about. 

** What are they, Uncle George! " he cried in 
high excitement to Mr. Wallace who was also 
looking through his glasses. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 



83 



" Hartebeest, bushbnck and antelope,'* replied 
the explorer calmly. "If I'm not mistaken 
there's a rhino in that patch of bush about two 
miles to the right — see it f John, O John ! Get 
those gun-boys on deck, will yout *' 



CHAPTER Vn 

cbitch's bhino 

" Are we going to have a hunt! '* asked Burt 
as they left the hill and plunged forward into the 
jungle again at the head of the caravan. 

'*Not to-day,'' laughed Mr. Wallace. '* We 
won 't get out of this till night, will we t ' ' 

** Hardly,'* replied Montenay. ** Once we get 
out o' this thick jungle and up to those plains we'll 
have clear sailin'. I'm no meanin' that we'll find 
no jungle there, mind, for we will. But by night 
we'll be in more decent veldt-country I'm 
thinkin'." 

They camped at sunset in a grassy space clear 
of trees. As Captain Mac had predicted, the low 
and malarial jungle was left behind them and 
they were now getting into the higher lands. 
These were scattered with patches of dense forest 
and jungle, but there were also great plains or 
veldts covered with game and animal life. 

** Now we'll make those gun-boys earn their 
pay," said Mr. Wallace the next morning. 

84 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 85 

* * We '11 shoot half a dozen antelope every day to 
give the bearers meat.'' 

** We'll be shootin' more than that," grimly 
added Captain Mac as he held up his hand for 
silence. ** Hear that? " 

All listened. It seemed to Burt and Critch 
that in the distance sounded a faint mutter of far- 
away thunder, and they looked at the older men 
expectantly. 

* * Lion, ' ' laughed Mr. Wallace shortly. * * If we 
only had ponies we'd land him to-day 1 " 

The advisability of taking horses along had 
been discussed but the explorer had vetoed it 
finally. ** It would only be an experiment," he 
had declared. ** In other parts of the country it 
might work but not in the Congo. We have too 
many jungles to wade through and a horse would 
be stung to death in a day or two." 

Three or four of the Bantu hunters were sent 
ahead, and toward noon, as they approached a 
little rise, one of these came running back. He 
said something to Captain Mac, who translated. 

** Get your guns! They've located a herd of 
wildebeest an' hartebeest just ahead." 

The boys excitedly took their second-weight 



86 The Boys' Big Game Series 

guns from the bearers. The heavy guns were not 
needed for the antelope. They all moved forward, 
while the porters halted in charge of John, and 
after a half hour reached the crest of the rise, 
wading through the deep grass and bush. Here 
the Bantus made a gesture of caution and care- 
fully parted the grass ahead of them. 

The boys gave a little gasp of surprise. Be- 
fore them was a plain scattered with high ant 
hills and trees. Grazing without thought of dan- 
ger were hundreds of antelope-like animals, some 
with long curving horns and others with straight 
spiral ones. As Burt watched them he found him- 
self trembling with feverish excitement. 

** Keep cool, lad! '* whispered Captain Mac 
with a slight smile. ** See that group to the 
right? Take the bull hartebeest. Eeady, Wal- 
lace? '' 

Mr. Wallace and Critch had selected their ani- 
mals and the former nodded. Montenay gave the 
word and all fired together. Burt saw his bull 
give one tremendous leap and fall. Critch, who 
had fired at a small bull, had poorer luck, for his 
animal bounded off with the others of the herd 
and was gone in an instant. Both Montenay and 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 87 

Mr. Wallace had dropped hartebeest bucks, and 
the bearers were jubilant as all ran down the hill. 

** Now, Critch,'* said Mr. Wallace, ** it's up to 
youl You boys stay here with the blacks and 
we'll go back and bring on the porters and the 
salt. Keep the heads of that hartebeest of Burt 's 
and mine. We don't want to fill our empty chop- 
boxes too fasf 

As the tin-lined chop-boxes were emptied they 
were to be used for packing heads and skins of 
game and were thus doubly useful. The Bantus 
took out their knives and while Burt transmitted 
in French the orders of his chum they set to work. 
Mr. Wallace and Montenay returned to meet and 
bring up the caravan, whose advance was neces- 
sarily slow. 

The skilled blacks first removed the two heads 
and skinned them carefully. Then they laid aside 
the skulls for boiling and cut up the three bodies 
to serve as rations for the porters while the boys 
stood looking around them. Although the great 
herds had bounded off at the volley, they had only 
gone a mile or two away and in the thin clear air 
seemed half that distance. Burt stood with his 
eyes glued to his glasses for a few moments, then 



88 The Boys' Big Game Series 

saw a jackal a hundred yards to the right, slink- 
ing through the grass. As jackals are invariably 
destroyed wherever seen he called Critch and 
took a gun from the pile dropped by the bearers. 
Luckily for him he grabbed up one of the heavy 
Winchesters in his haste. 

** Come on, Critch 1 Get over to that ant hill 
an' we'll bag him.'* 

Not far from the jackal was one of the tall hills 
made by the white ants. As these are hard as 
rock and often eight or ten feet high they make 
excellent shelter for hunters. Critch caught up a 
gun and ran after Burt hastily. 

When they reached the ant hill they located the 
jackal in a patch of brush below them. Only his 
head was visible, but the two boys aimed and fired 
together and he dropped. 

** Bet I got him in the eye! '* cried Critch as 
they ran toward the spot. ** Got a dandy bead on 
him.'' 

'' Hello 1 What's that? '' Burt stopped suddenly 
and pointed to a patch of trees a hundred yards 
farther on. Above the stunted growth they saw 
a number of little birds flying erratically about. 



The Blind lAon of the Congo 89 

** Look at that — golly! '* whispered Critch, 
'' What's that big black thing— '' 

** Elephant 1 '* returned Burt fumbling at his 
gun. 

** Elephant nothing! Look at the birds — ain't 
any birds on elephants — it's a rhino! Come 
on!" 

An indistinct shape showed through the bush as 
they made their way forward but they could not 
make out what it was and hesitated to fire. They 
knew that the rhinoceros is guarded by numbers 
of tick birds and concluded from the birds flying 
above the bushes that this was a rhino. They got 
to within eighty yards before alarming the beast. 
Then came a crashing and swishing of the bush 
and out stalked a big rhino, sniffing the wind and 
advancing slowly toward them. 

** Get behind that ant hill! '' exclaimed Critch. 
Separating, they took up positions beside two of 
the conical mounds. " Got your big gun? Go to 
it!'' 

Lifting his rifle, Burt fired. He had aimed at 
the shoulder of the great beast but to his dismay 
the shot seemed to have absolutely no effect. In- 
stead of dropping, the rhino threw up its tail 



90 The Boys^ Big Game Series 

and earSy gave a little squeal and started for Burt. 

Burt fired again at fifty yards. His bullet 
struck the rhino in the head and glanced off, serv- 
ing only to increase the rage of the brute. He 
broke into a lumbering gallop and Burt yelled to 
Critch to fire. 

The latter obeyed but in his haste missed en- 
tirely with his first bullet and with his second only 
torie the rhino's left ear slightly. Burt raised his 
own gun and aimed at the eye. Again his shots 
had no effect, for he missed the delicate mark af- 
forded by the eye and both bullets glanced from 
the armor. 

** Duckl '* yelled Critch, dancing up and down. 
^* He can't see! Duck!'' 

Burt ducked, for the rhino was within ten yards 
and thundering straight at him. Dropping his 
gun he sprang behind the ant hill and around it. 
But the animal had seemingly anticipated this or 
had turned its charge at Critch, for Burt almost 
leaped on the tossing horn of the beast. 

With one wild spring backward he ploughed 
headfirst into the grass. He heard both barrels 
of Critch 's heavy gun. As he wriggled up he saw 
the rhino, not ten feet away, stop short as the ter- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 91 

rific charge struck him behind the shoulder. For 
an instant he wavered, then sank to the ground 
dead. 

A wild burst of yells sounded behind as Burt 
arose. The Bantus had observed the aflfair and 
when they saw the rhino fall, ran forward with 
high glee, while just over the crest of the rise 
appeared the caravan. 

Burt walked over to his chum with somewhat 
shaky steps and held out his hand without a word, 
for something kept him from speaking. 

** Oh, shucks! " said Critch huskily. ** You 
dog-goned idiot! You pretty near scared me to 
death. Didn 't you hear me yell f ' ' 

** Didn't hear nothing Burt smiled weakly. 
** I was wishing I was back home and had never 
seen Africa. If you hadnH shot he'd got me — '' 

*'Come out of it!'' replied Critch. ^' He 
couldn't see you and was coming for me. Ain't 
he a big fellow? " As they walked over and 
stood beside the great black body that lay 
stretched in the grass with the Bantus around it, 
Mr. Wallace and Captain Mac ran up. 

** What's this meant " roared the former as he 



92 The Boys' Big Game Series 

saw the body. ** Haven't you two got sense 
enough to — ' ' 

** Leave 'em alone 1 " shouted Captain Mac de- 
Ughtedly. '' They've kiUed himl Hurray 1 " 
The exuberant Scotchman seized Burt and 
whirled him around in a wild dance as the excited 
porters came up. Burt gave the honor to Critch 
and when he told of his narrow escape Mr. Wal- 
lace at once directed camp to be formed. 

** Now see here," he ordered as the skinners 
collected around the body, ** I've had enough of 
this business. After this you take Burt with you, 
Montenay, and I'll take Critch. Those young vil- 
lains are crazy enough to do anything if we leave 
'em alone. Understand, boysT If you chase off 
by yourselves you get sent back home. ' ' 

Seeing that Mr. Wallace was thoroughly 
aroused and in earnest, the boys hastily promised 
that his orders would be obeyed in future. Then 
they examined the carcass of the rhinoceros care- 
fully. Burt's first shot would have killed the 
beast in time but it was the two from Critch 's rifle 
at close quarters that had proved fatal almost in- 
stantly. By that evening the Bantus had removed 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 93 

the skin from the rhino and were ready to pare it 
down for transportation. 

** That^U take a couple of days anyway, '* said 
Mr. Wallace that night as they sat around the fire. 
^ ^ I think we might as well establish a camp here 
for a week, Montenay. We are right in the game 
country and I can get hold of all the specimens 
I want to send home while we are here, and get 
them safely oflf. Then we can strike on after 
ivory and see what we'll find.'* 

** Suits me/' returned Captain Mac. ** YeVe 
done vera well, lads! The horn o' yon beast is 
eighteen inches.'* 

** I'd kind o' like to keep the head, uncle," said 
Burt. ** Critch an' I had a hard time gettin' him. 
We don't want the skin but we could set up the 
head back home an' — " 

** Surel " returned Mr. Wallace heartily. 
*' We'll keep the skin without paring it down, 
then. We can trade it to the natives for almost 
anything we ask. Aren 't there some villages near 
here. Captain? " 

Montenay called up the head Bantu and put 
some questions to him. They learned that there 
was a village several miles off where ivory might 



94 The Boys' Big Game Series 

be found, and the Bantu was ordered to send a 
man over in the morning to bring back whatever 
ivory the natives might have to trade. 

The next day Critch and Burt superintended 
the preparation of the rhino head and the skins of 
a number of various antelope varieties which Mr. 
Wallace and the captain shot. On the day follow- 
ing the Bantu messenger returned with a score 
of blacks who bore two small fifty-pound tusks. 
These they gladly traded for the rhino skin, which 
they would use for shields, and for some tobacco, 
beads, and sweaters of blazing red. 

On that same day Burt evened up trophies with 
his chum. In the afternoon Mr. Wallace and 
Critch went oflf together when the trading had 
been finished. Barely had they left when a Bantu 
ran in with the news that there was a herd of buf- 
falo near the stream which ran a few hundred 
yards past the camp. Captain Mac immediately 
called Burt and the gun-bearers and on they went 
with all haste. 

After half an hour's walking they located the 
buffalo at the edge of the creek bed in a thick 
jungle swamp. Holding their guns in readiness 
the explorer and Burt advanced slowly. They 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 95 

could see two or three bulls watching them, the 
rest of the herd being hidden. Not until the hunt- 
ers were within a hundred yards did the buffaloes 
move. Their massive white in-curving horns 
shone against the black bodies, and their wicked 
little eyes were fixed sullenly on the men. 

Suddenly the nearest bull shook his head and 
began advancing. At this the gun-bearers scat- 
tered despite Montenay's shouted threats, and 
sought the shelter of ant hills. Captain Mac and 
Burt held their heavy guns and the former told 
Burt to take the first shot. 

By good luck the boy 's bullet struck the buffalo 
in the eye and penetrated the brain. Before Mon- 
tenay could lift his weapon the others had turned 
and vanished. 

** Well,'* laughed the explorer, ** that^s better 
than I expected. I was lookin' for a charge from 
'em. Fine old bull too ! ' ' 

The buffalo was a splendid trophy and the men 
at once began skinning him. That evening Mr. 
Wallace determined to finish the buffalo hide and 
then send back the specimens they had collected. 

** I've got enough to stock the club for years," 



96 



The Boys' Big Game Series 



he laughed. ** No use being a hog — hello, that's 
funny! " 

" What's the matter? *' asked Montenay from 
across the fire. 

** Why — why — yes, sir, it's gone!'* Mr. 
Wallace arose, searching his pockets. Then his 
face hardened. " John, call up those boys who 
were with me this morning! My compass has 
disappeared." 



Ik 



CHAPTER Vm 

CAPTAIN MAC SUSPECTED 

Montenay and the boys gave an exclamation of 
surprise and Captain Mac leaped to his feet with 
excited questions. Mr. Wallace, however, replied 
nothing. Burt had never seen his uncle really 
angry before and now he realized why this man 
was respected all over the world. The strong face 
was more hawk-like than ever. Between the 
down-drawn brows were too deep furrows, the 
thin mouth was set grimly, and the piercing eyes 
were aflame with anger. Even Montenay quieted 
down suddenly when he saw Mr. Wallace's face. 

John very respectfully brought up a group of a 
dozen blacks who stood in fear and trembling as 
the loss of the compass was made known to them. 
Falling on their faces one and all denied any share 
in the theft. 

** John, call the headman. *' When the latter 
appeared, fully as frightened as his men, Mr. Wal- 
lace turned to him. ** You see these men? *' The 
explorer spoke so rapidly that Burt could not 

97 



98 The Boys^ Big Game Series 

gather more than a few scattered words of 
French, but what he heard made him spring up 
with a cry of protest. 

** Sit down! '* ffis uncle whirled on him sav- 
agely and Montenay nodded approval. The head- 
man turned an ashy gray and bobbed his head 
against Mr. Wallace's boots while a howl of fear 
went up from the black boys, who returned to 
their companions, accompanied by John with a 
rifle. 

** What'd he sayT *' whispered Critch anx- 
iously. Mr. Wallace heard the words. 

** I gave 'em ten minutes to produce that com- 
pass,'* he said quietly. ** If they didn't do it by 
then I told 'em I'd bury those boys up to their 
necks in the swamp down yonder and leave 'em. ' ' 

** What! " Critch was on his feet instantly. 
** Why — why — you — " 

** Sit down, lad! " Captain Mac laughed and 
pulled him back. ** It's only a bluff. Don't fash 
yerself over it." 

** Was that all? " demanded Burt eagerly and 
his uncle nodded without a smile, to his intense 
relief. 

** 111 be walkin' over yonder," declared Mon- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 99 

tenay rising. ** I'll chat with 'em in their own 
tongae a bit, Wallace. It may do good.'* 

For five minutes not a word was spoken. Mr. 
Wallace stared into the fire while the boys looked 
alternately at him and at the fires of the blacks, 
fifty yards away. Then Captain Mac strode np 
and with a word tossed the gleaming silver- 
mounted instrument into Mr. Wallace 's lap. 

** She's broke," he said shortly. The Ameri- 
can calmly examined the compass, as did the boys. 
The glass was shattered as if a stone had smashed 
it, while the needle no longer swung on its pivot. 

** Who had it? " asked Burt's uncle. 

** Mgoro, the hunter." Captain Mac spoke 
quite as a matter of course and Mr. Wallace's 
anger seemed to have vanished suddenly. ** He 
said he found it just outside the camp and that it 
was already broke. I discharged him and told 
him to go back in the momin' without his wages. 
He 's lyin ', o ' course. ' ' 

** Of course," agreed Mr. Wallace musingly. 
With this the subject was closed. In the morning 
Mgoro was sent on the back trail in disgrace, al- 
though he still asserted his innocence. For two 
days more the camp remained in the same place. 



«^SN*S^>f^> 



100 The Boys' Big Game Series 

Then the buffalo skin was pared down and packed 
and a dozen porters were sent back to Maknpa 
with the specimens. Mr. Wallace had already ar- 
ranged with the Belgian there to send them on 
down to Boma. 

The only compass now in the party was that 
belonging to Montenay, who guided them. Usu- 
ally Captain Mac and Burt went ahead to the right 
while Mr. Wallace and Critch went to the left, 
each party taking a number of hunters and gun 
bearers. Owing to their lack of compasses it was 
not possible to wander very far from the caravan. 
Every morning Captain Mac and the headman 
Moboro mapped out the day*s march and at noon 
and at dark the two parties returned to the cara- 
van. 

For several days they did little shooting of any 
importance. Each party brought in two or three 
food-animals for the porters, and jackals were of 
course shot on sight. On the third day after leav- 
ing their * * Specimen Camp, * * as Burt named their 
halting place, came their first adventure. 

They are getting well into the lion country by 
this time and each camp was made as small as 
possible with plenty of fires around it. As Burt 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 101 

and Captain Mac returned to camp at noon of the 
third day they found the Bantus in high excite- 
ment and were greeted with the news that two 
lions had been sighted in a dense thicket just 
ahead. Mr. Wallace and Critch soon came in and 
all four went toward the thicket while a number 
of Bantus armed with spears and shields went 
around to drive out the animals. 

This was done by the simple means of setting 
fire to the dense clump of bushes. The party took 
up their position near an ant hill. With them 
were the gun-bearers and a dozen Bantu hunters. 
When the thicket was fired a dense cloud of smoke 
hid the nearer edge. Almost at once a tremen- 
dous roar was heard. The Bantus replied with a 
yell of defiance. 

As they did so a great tawny shape flew out of 
the cloud of smoke and struck down a hunter. 
Mr. Wallace fired instantly and the lion whirled 
about and came for the party. The Bantus flung 
their spears, but the beast dashed them aside and 
not even the heavy, jacketed bullets stopped him. 
When he was ten yards away and crouching for 
his last bound the gun-bearers broke. 

" IVe got him,'' announced Captain Mac 



102 The Boy 8^ Big Game Series 

quietly. As the lion sprang he fired and the beast 
rolled over, clawing at the grass. At the same in- 
stant the lioness bounded out of the smoke. 

Critch broke her foreleg with his first bullet and 
his second brought her to the earth. She rolled 
over, then gave another spring. Burt followed 
Montenay's example and fired just as the beast 
left the ground. This time she stumbled heavily 
and lay still, for the bullet had found her brain. 

The combat had been short but hot. The Ban- 
tus brought up their wounded comrade for atten- 
tion. He had been badly clawed in the arms and 
shoulders but his shield had saved him from fa- 
tal wounds, and Mr. Wallace soon had him fixed 
up. The Bantus were hugely delighted over the 
success of the hunt. They danced about the 
bodies with waving spears and shields while Burt 
took some good pictures. Then the skinning be- 
gan. 

When the skins had been safely packed the 
caravan again moved forward, and two days later 
they came to a native village. When he heard the 
name of the place Mr. Wallace looked somewhat 
surprised, then consulted a map which he had 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 103 

procured at Boma. He folded it up without a 
word, however, and they entered the town. 

** We're in the elephant country at last,'* an- 
nounced Montenay that night. ** These fellows 
say that there is a small herd off to the east two 
miles. Suppose we go over to-morrow.*' 

** To the east! '* repeated Mr. Wallace. 
* * Aren 't we rather working away from our bear- 
ings! However, no matter. I'm after ivory and 
not particular where I find it. We'll go to-mor- 
row. ' ' 

Burt was just a little puzzled at his uncle's at- 
titude. He said nothing definite, but the boy in 
some way got the idea that he was watching Cap- 
tain Mac. At first Burt put aside the thought. 
Then he resented it, for he had a strong liking for 
the eccentric Scotchman. Finally he resolved to 
wait and see what turned up. 

That night his suspicions were confirmed. He 
and Critch slept together in one of the small tents 
and as they arranged the mosquito nets for the 
night Howard paused. 

** Say, did you notice anything funny about 
Cap'n Mac lately! " 



104 The Boys' Big Game Series 

* * No, ^ ' replied Burt. ' * Uncle George is acting 
kind of funny, though. ' * 

** You bet he is," nodded Critch. ** He's just 
about got the goods on Cap 'n Mac, too ! ' ' 

** What! " Burt stared at his chum eagerly. 
** I knew it! Spit it out, old sport.** 

** It's that compass business. Anyway, that 
got your uncle going. When we was ridin' after 
that hartebeest to-day he comes out with it. This 
here place ain't on our line o ' march at all. We 're 
'way east of where we ought to be! " 

'' East! " repeated Burt. '' What's that got to 
do with Cap 'n Mac ! " He was still ready to stand 
up for his friend, though Howard's confident air 
sorely shook his faith. 

** Like this. Your uncle says Montenay's been 
leadin' us wrong. He don't know what for and 
he's waiting to find out. B'lieve me, I'd hate to 
be Cap'n Mac when he does find out! Golly, he 
was mad to-day! " 

** Does he think Cap'n Mac swiped our com- 
passes! ** 

*' You bet! Thinks that business with Mgoro 
was a put-up job, too. When we were out to-day 
we found a young eland lying dead. It had two 



The Blind Lion of the Congo , 105 

o ^ the blamedest arrows in it you ever seen. Here *s 
the head o' one." 

Critch produced a little bundle of skin from his 
pocket and very carefully unwrapped it. He laid 
a long many-barbed iron point in Burt ^s hand. 

*' Watch out for it. That black stuff's poison, 
your uncle says. It's a pigmy arrow." 

* * What 's a pigmy arrow I ' ' asked Burt. * ' Oh, 
you mean — "he stared at Critch, who nodded. 

* * That 's what. We 're over east near the pigmy 
country, 'stead of being up in the higher country 
where we ought to be. We'll be in the jungle in 
another day, your uncle says. ' ' 

** What's he going to do about itt " asked Burt. 
** Here, take this blamed thing back.'* And he 
very gingerly deposited the arrow-point in the bit 
of skin. 

** Nothing," replied Critch. ** He says to lay 
low and keep your eye peeled. He ain't going 
very far into the jungle either." 

Whether Montenay noticed anything in their at- 
titude the next morning or not, he was as gay as 
ever when they started out after their first ele- 
phant. In fact, he had never appeared more open, 
frank and merry than he did this morning and 



106 The Boys' Big Game Series 

Burt found himself involuntarily siding against 
his uncle. 

They were accompanied by a large force of 
trackers from the town. After a stiff two-mile 
walk into the deep forest toward the denser jungle 
one of these trackers returned with word that a 
herd was not far ahead. Soon afterwards the 
party came upon the spoor. In low places the 
tracks were big holes three feet in depth. They 
were always marked by shattered and broken 
smaller trees and torn branches. 

Suddenly an elephant trumpeted close by and 
the boys jumped. Now they stole along quietly 
in single file, while they could hear the great 
beasts feeding and crashing among the trees not 
a hundred yards away. The party moved noise- 
lessly in the tracks of the elephants, for their 
great weight had left no sticks or leaves to crack. 
Birds flew up in flocks and monkeys chattered all 
around. Then as the trail twisted about the boys 
saw their first wild elephant — a good deal closer 
than they could have wished. 

Without the least warning the bushes and mass 
of tangled creepers at their left parted with a tre- 
mendous crashing and a big bull surged out 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 107 

twenty feet away. He was as much snrprised as 
they and stood looking while the blacks fled. Mr. 
Wallace and Captain Mac fired almost together, 
one bnllet taking him in the shoulder and the 
other just above the eye. Neither wound was fa- 
tal but for an instant the great beast was stunned 
by the shock and stood reeling. Then as he lifted 
his trunk, flapped his ears forward with his great 
in-curving tusks half raised and took a step to- 
ward the party, both men fired again and the im- 
mense bulk quivered and crashed down dead. 

The blacks raised a shout of joy but only for 
an instant. At the sudden firing shrill trumpeting 
and crashing had gone up from the herd in front, 
and another bull appeared in the path in full 
charge. Trees, matted creepers and bushes went 
down before him and for an instant the little 
group stood paralyzed with the sudden danger. 
Then Burt raised his rifle and fired. His bullet 
was wildly aimed but proved lucky, for it struck 
the elephant in the eye and penetrated the brain. 
He staggered forward another step and then 
rolled over just as the others fired. 

** Good for you! " cried Mr. Wallace. He 
gripped Burt 's hand and shook it heartily, as did 



108 The Boys' Big Game Series 

Captain Mac. Critch pounded his chnm on the 
back in an ecstasy of delight. The herd had 
crashed away and was gone, and as one of the 
bearers was carrying the camera, Burt and Critch 
got some views of the dead elephants, after which 
the hunters took out their knives. 

The hides were disregarded as not worth the 
effort of preparing. The tusks were cut out and 
the feet were taken off to be served up by John 
as the most delicate of jungle dishes. Then the 
local blacks fell to work and cut up the rest of the 
carcasses for home consumption. It was about 
noon, so Mr. Wallace decided that they would re- 
turn to their camp and follow the herd another 
day. 

* * This is good country, * ' he said as they walked 
along. * * Between hunting and trading we ought 
to get a nice lot of ivory together pretty soon. I 
think I '11 make a permanent camp just outside the 
town and not go in any farther, Montenay.'* 

Captain Mac merely nodded. He remained very 
silent, however, on the return trip. When they 
got home the tusks were weighed and it was 
found that the smaller bull, the first to appear, 
carried one hundred and ten pounds of ivory. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 109 

The larger, which Burt had killed, was a good 
deal older and his tusks weighed twenty pounds 
more. 

* * That 's big ivory, lad, ' ' said Montenay as they 
sat down to their postponed lunch in the after- 
noon. *' It ain't often ye '11 get beasts carryin' 
more'n a hundred thirty. 'Cept, o' course, some 
old chap who's wandered oflf by himself an' kept 
the blacks too scared to be huntin' him. I mind 
once I dropped just such an old bull down south 
an' got a hundred seventy — nigh to bein' a rec- 
ord." 

** It was a mighty lucky shot," laughed Burt. 
'* I just threw her up an' let go 'cause I was too 
scared to aim. Goin' out to-morrow! " 

** Since ye 're goin' to camp here permanent," 
returned Captain Mac, addressing Mr. Wallace, 
** I'm thinkin' I'll be takin' a little hike into the 
woods. I'll take a score o' the boys an' be back in 
a week." 

** No, you won't." Without the least trace of 
excitement in his voice Mr. Wallace whipped out 
his revolver and covered the other. ** Keep your 
hands on the table, Montenay ! Burt, remove the 
captain's gun." 



CHAPTEE IX 



THE WHITE PIGMIES 

As Burt obeyed it seemed to him that the 
Scotchman was taking the situation very coolly. 
The little thin man sat silently with his eyes on 
those of Mr, Wallace and only his quivering nos- 
trils denoted the emotion that must have con- 
sumed him. 

** Now, Captain Montenay,*' resumed Mr. Wal- 
lace when Burt was again seated, ** let^s have a 
little explanation.^' Burt saw that his uncle's 
face looked as he had seen it on the night when 
his compass disappeared. ** In the first place you 
stole our compasses. ' ' 

* * I did not ! ' ' Captain Mac gave a harsh little 
laugh. ** Ye have yer own, or what's left of it. 
I've got the other two in my pocket. I removed 
'em temporarily so to speak. Be more choice in 
yer use o ' words, man. ' ' 

** Secondly, you've been leading us astray." 

** Aye," retorted Captain Mac, ** but I didn't 
give ye the credit for findin' it out so quick. " 

110 




] the table, Montenayl' 



' 



TRE NEW YORK 

PtIBLie LIBRARY 

ASTOR. LENOX 
tTlLDEN FOUNDATION 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 111 

* * Now you propose to leave us here, on the edge 
of the jungle country/* continued Mr, Wallace. 
* * There are three things that are open to explan- 
ation. Captain Montenay. I am sorry to use this 
method of persuasion but it seems to be neces- 
sary/' The little man's face lost its look of half- 
malicious mockery and for a moment he did not 
answer but stared over the head of Mr. Wallace 
at the afternoon sun. 

** If I'm not wantin' to tell, man, I'm thinkin' 
ye'd have a hard job to make me," was his an- 
swer at last. 

* * If you won 't tell, ' ' snapped out Mr. Wallace, 
** I'll tie you up here and now and carry you back 
to Boma. You know what you'd get there." 

** Aye. Is that yer final deceesiont " 

** It is. Explain or go to Boma." 

** Vera good. Gi' me the gun, lad." To Burt's 
vast surprise his uncle nodded and replaced his 
weapon. As Captain Mac quietly buckled the re- 
stored revolver about his waist his face broke into 
a wrinkled smile. 

* * It '11 be a lon^sh yam, Wallace. " There was 
no trace of animosity in his tone. ** Let's finish 



112 The Boys' Big Game Series 

eatin' an* when I get the old pipe between my 
teeth I'll feel Uke talkin\'' 

Their meal was finished in silence. Before Cap- 
tain Mac gave his explanation, however, a start- 
ling event happened. It seemed that a dozen men 
of the village had remained with the bodies of 
the elephants to remove more of the meat. Just as 
Captain Mac was filling his ancient and evil-smell- 
ing pipe a native rushed into camp shouting some- 
thing that sent the pipe to the ground and the 
captain to his feet. 

The native came up and fell on his face. After 
a hasty exchange of question and answer Captain 
Mac turned to the others and Burt saw that a 
strange light stood in his dark and rather sad 
eyes. 

** Gtet out the medicines, Wallace. We've got 
seven dying men on our hands. We may save one 
or two with serum and morphia.'' 

** Why, what do you meant " cried Mr. Wal- 
lace, giving a shout for John. When the trusty 
cook had been dispatched for the medicine chop- 
box Captain Mac explained further. 

** Those chaps we left wi' the beasts yonder 
drove off some Wambuti pigmies, bein' utter fools 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 113 

and prob'ly ignorant o* what the dwarfs were. 
They got a shower o' poisoned arrows in return. 
A bunch from the village just found 'em an' are 
bringin' 'em in here." 

John arrived with the medicine case and Mr. 
Wallace got out his serums and syringes while the 
boys stared at each other in amazement. 

** That's what them dirty little black arrow- 
points do, ' ' said Critch in a low tone. Just then a 
band of men came running into the camp. On 
their shoulders they bore rude litters which they 
set down before Mr. Wallace with gestures of 
despair. 

On the litters lay seven men. All were gray 
with pain and sweating profusely. As they lay 
there Burt could see their naked breasts rise and 
fall with the increased palpitation caused by the 
poison. The matter of Captain Mac was forgotten 
on the instant, as all four went to work in a des- 
perate effort to save the wounded men. The cap- 
tain hastily loaded the hypodermic syringes and 
handed them to the other three, who injected the 
contents into the arms of the wounded as rapidly 
as possible. While this was going on the camp 
was surrounded by the villagers, and only the lev- 



114 The Boys' Big Game Series 

eled guns of John and the other men held them 
outside. 

One of the men died just as Mr. Wallace was 
treating him, although neither of the boys noticed 
it until they had finished. Then the wounds were 
cauterized, a task which was not relished by the 
boys. In fact, the smell of burning flesh was 
nearly too much for Burt, who retired temporarily. 

** There,** and Captain Mac straightened up 
with a sigh of relief, '* I guess that's all we can 
do, Wallace.** 

** Will they recover? ** asked the American 
quietly, washing the syringe. The other shrugged 
his shoulders. 

'* Mayhap. Don't let the village people have 
*em, John. The witch doctor *d kill 'em sure. 
They'll sleep till morning. If they wake they 
can be thankin* us for it.** 

Critch said nothing. He was pale and his knees 
felt shaky, for their task had been no pleasant one, 
and he fervently trusted that they would have no 
more poisoned arrows in future. A few moments 
later all were once more gathered about the table 
in the dining-tent, where Burt rejoined them. 
Montenay calmly refilled his pipe and began. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 115 

'* As I was sayin', Wallace, the yam is a long 
one. I'm thinkin' it'll no bore ye to listen, 
though, ' ' and the Scotchman chuckled. 

** Fire away,'' smiled Wallace grimly. ** We 
have time to bum." For a moment the other 
puffed away in silence, his eyes fixed on the tent- 
wall behind Burt. Then he began his story, the 
strangest story which the two American boys had 
ever listened to. 

'* Two years ago, it was. I started out o' 
Nairobi wi' the most elegant bunch o' fightin' men 
ye could find. Took me nigh a month to select 
'em. I laid it out as a scientific trip, to the British 
authorities, but the men knew better. I bought 
'em all trade-guns wi' lots of ammunition, for I 
was after two things. 

* * Trip before that, I had met up with an Arab 
dealer called Yusuf Ben Salir, what misused me 
like a nigger. He was a slave-merchant on the 
quiet, an ' would ha ' sold me upcountry if I hadn 't 
got away. I was after him first, and ivory next. 
We headed off for the Congo line, baggin' a little 
ivory as we went. 

** One day we learned from the natives that 
Yusuf was twenty mile ahead of us wi' plenty o' 



116 The Boys' Big Game Series 

tusks and a big trade-caravan. Two days later we 
caught upy formin' a zareba near his. He had 
twice as many men, but mine were picked, ye re- 
member. 

* * Well, the details o * what happened don 't mat- 
ter. We were busy for three days, and I will ad- 
mit that Tusuf had his merits as a fighter. But at 
the last his nerve failed him, and when we rushed 
his zareba, he and his men made their getaway — 
leaving everything behind. While I was lookin* 
over his stuff I found two things wrapped up in 
oilskin. 

** One was a queer shaped bit o* wood which I 
flung away, like a fool. The other was a bit o* 
cloth with Arabic written on it. I can read the 
lingo, and I made out that Yusuf had been down 
near the pigmy country an' had run across some 
yam about white pigmies. ' ' 

*' White pigmies! *' ejaculated Mr. Wallace in 
astonishment, while a look of keen interest swept 
across his face. ** Then the story was sol *' 

** What story t ** asked Montenay sharply. 

** Why, a tradition I heard up in the Sahara, 
that there was a white race of small people 
somewhere down this way. The Arab who told me 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 117 

was mighty reticent about it, and I gathered that 
there was some queer religions feature to. the 
tradition, if it was one." 

"It was not," asserted Montenay, betraying 
signs of excitement for the first time, and leaning 
forward. '* Wallace, it was fact! I found the white 
pigmiral " 

" Whatl " A simultaneous cry went up from 
his three listeners and Mr. Wallace's eagle-face 
was bent sternly upon the narrator. 

" Careful, Montenayl " he said with repressed 
eagerness. " Kemember yon are not talking to 
green hands I " 

" Man, it's the truth! " There conld be no 
doubt of Captain Mac's sincerity as he leaned for- 
ward and met the American's gaze. There .was 
more than sincerity in his eyes. There was an 
appeal for belief, a conviction, that won over the 
others instantly. " The truth I But that's only 
the least of it." 

"And your proofs?" inquired Mr. Wallace 
crisply. 

" Proofs enough," rejoined the other, more 
calmly, " in their time. I didn't take much stock 
in the Arabic stuff, but I thought I'd take a shot 



118 The Boys' Big Game Series 

at it. I sent half o^ the boys back wi* the ivory 
and a plausible story o* how we came to get so 
much. Then I asked the rest if they 'd go with me. 

*' After the way we'd wiped up Yusuf, they 
were ready for anythin*. After all was fixed up 
we started, fifty boys an' me. We worked down 
slowly from the high country, takin' it easy an* 
gatherin' in spoils as we went. Finally we got 
down to the jungle an* touched the edge o' the 
pigmy country. Then it began. 

** We had no trouble till we started inquirin' 
through some o ' the pigmies that come in to trade. 
As soon as we asked about their white relations 
the camp emptied like a flash. The last little 
dee vil out turned an ' put an arrow through one o * 
my bdys. 

* * It was just a massacre, man. The boys were 
fair ragin ' at the way they were shot down, and I 
pushed 'em ahead fast. We went through that 
jungle like a whirlwind. Finally there were only 
seven boys left, an' they refused to go any farther. 
Didn't do 'em any good, for the next day the 
pigmies rushed us. I was pretty well played out 
by that time, as ye can judge. When the smoke 
blew away five o ' my boys were laid out, and I was 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 119 

tied up with the other two. If I hadn't been so 
obstinate about pushin* on we might ha* pulled 
out. 

*' However, we put a good face on it. They 
treated us fine, but kept us on the jump for a week, 
movin* from place to place through the jungle. 
For another week we were stuck in one o* them 
pigmy villages. Queerly enough, they hadn't 
touched a thing belongin' to us except the guns 
an' chop-boxes an' general camp stuff. 

* * 'Bout the end o ' the second week they routed 
us out early one momin', highly excited. When 
we got outside we found the whole village squat- 
tin' around ten new chaps, who were armed wi' 
trade-guns and seemed to boss things pretty gen- 
eral. But what struck me was that while they 
were of the same size as the rest, they were white. ' ' 

" White! " exclaimed Mr. Wallace again. His 
thin cheeks were dashed with color, and his bril- 
liant eyes showed that he no longer doubted the 
truth of Montenay's story. The latter nodded 
quietly. 

** Not white like us," he continued, ** but as 
white as an Arab or thereabouts. Their faces 



120 The Boys* Big Game Series 

showed more intelligence than those o ' the blacks, 
an' they seemed to be overlords o' the — '* 

** Hold onl *' Mr. Wallace broke in with a 
puzzled frown. ** Surely you don't mean that, 
Mad There could be no feudal system of that 
sort here in the very heart of Africa I The blacks 
haven 't the brains — ' ' 

** Aye, but the whites have! '' cried Montenay 
triumphantly. ** These white pigmies ain't fools 
by any means, as ye '11 see later. Now will ye quit 
interruptin' me? " 

** Go ahead," laughed Mr. Wallace, and the 
boys saw that Captain Mac was really so inter- 
ested in his own story that he was anxious to lay 
it before them without more delay. 

* * I meant to tell ye this yarn, ' ' he went on, * ' a 
bit later on, as ye '11 see also. The party o' whites 
were in command of a young chap named Mbopo, 
an' we took to each other first crack. Well, they 
carried us off through the jungle for a week's trip. 
We must ha' been on the edge o' the pigmy coun- 
try, for we traveled hard. At every pigmy village 
Mbopo seemed to get reports or somethin' o' the 
kind, an' also tribute in the way o' slaves. By the 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 121 

end o * the week there were six others besides our- 
sel 's. 

** Then we spent a day at the village o* the 
white pigmies. Man alive, ye should ha * seen 'em I 
They seemed to live on the blacks, just like the 
blacks live on the big tribes around, an* they 
lived well. Palm huts, o ' course, but there seemed 
to be a system o' government that beat everything 
I ever saw outside the Zulus. 

* * We passed through two more o * the white vil- 
lages, then struck a big stream an' followed that 
for a day or two. Finally we got into a bit o' 
higher ground an' struck the biggest surprise of 
all. Just before sunset we came out o' the forest 
into a stretch o' yam patches along the river. Be- 
yond these an' right ahead of us was the biggest 
village we had seen yet — three to four hun- 
dred huts, I'd say. Outside was the whole tribe 
waitin' for us. Off to one side, near the forest, 
was a good sized palm hut, and around it was a 
zareba. ' ' 

** What's queer about that? " asked Mr. Wal- 
lace, as the narrator paused for a moment. The 
boys saw a smile flicker across Montenay's face. 

** The zareba was made out o* ivory," was his 



122 The Boys* Big Game Series 

quiet reply. Burt at once broke into a laugh, 
thinking that Captain Mac was joking. 

'' Pretty good,'' he chuckled. '' What'd they 
do — cut up the tusks into square blocks to make 
a six-foot wall? " But his mirth died away sud- 
denly as his tmcle made a silencing gesture. 

* * An ivory zareba, ' ' went on Montenay. * * Made 
o' tusks, clear around the hut. They were set 
with points up, curvin' out. But I didn't get much 
chance to see it then. We were taken into the vil- 
lage and I was given a hut to myself. The young 
chap, Mbopo, reported to an old, wizened witch- 
doctor who was the boss. I judged he was 
speakin' in my favor, but the old fellow shook his 
head an' waved a hand at the separate hut. The 
whole crowd set up a yell o ' * Pongo ! ' Then they 
threw me into the hut. 

* * I stayed there for eight days, too. Ye '11 mind 
that there were just eight slaves an' mysel' in the 
party. They treated me well, fed me fine, but 
every night I heard a big jamboree goin' on. On 
the ninth evenin' they brought me out. The vil- 
lage was surrounded by the usual thorn zareba, an ' 
the whole tribe was gathered just inside the gates, 
feastin*. Mbopo an' three others tied me up an' 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 123 

carried me out halfway to the separate hut. Here 
they laid me on the ground beside a small fire. 

' * The old wizened chap came out after us with 
a long iron which he stuck in the fire. Then he 
pulled off my shirt an * did — this. ^ ' Captain Mao 
slipped down his shirt collar and exposed the 
scarred shoulder that Critch had seen on the boat. 
As the others gathered around with exclamations 
of astonishment^ Burt could see that the scar was 
in the form of a cross, except that a long loop 
took the place of the head-piece. Besides this, 
the whole shoulder seemed a mass of cicatrices. 

* ' Yon *s the shape o ^ the bit o ' wood I found in 
Yusuf^s packet,*' went on Montenay, when Mr. 
Wallace interrupted him in wonder. 

* * Mac ! Do you know what that symbol is ? ' * 

** It's the sign o' Pongo,'' returned the other. 
** From what I saw later it had to do wi' ancient 
Egypt—'' 

* * I should say it . had ! ' ' ejaculated Mr. Wal- 
lace, sinking back into his chair and staring at 
Montenay, who slipped his shirt back into posi- 
tion. '* Why, that sign is the Egyptian cross, or 
ankh — the symbol of life, and the peculiar in- 
signia of Maat, the ancient Goddess of Truth I " 



124 



The Boys' Big Game Series 



** So I found out, if ye*d given me time to 
finish, ' ^ replied Montenay drily. * * Mbopo an * the 
rest staked me ont there an' left me. What wi' 
the bum an' the insects that settled down, I was 
pretty nigh gone inside an hour. The fire was out, 
an' just after moonrise I heard a * pad-pad' o* 
steps near by. Then a minute later I caught one 
glimpse of a monstrous lion, just as he sprang an' 
grabbed me by the wounded shoulder. That fin- 
ished me for sure, and I fainted. ' ' 



CHAPTEEX 

THE SACBED AKKH 

** When I came to,*^ continued Montenay, ** I 
thought sure I was crazy. I was lyin* in a palm- 
thatch hut, on a floor littered wi ^ bones an ' refuse 
an' smellin' to high heaven. To one side was a 
little dish full o' palm oil, with a lighted wick 
floatin' in it. Leanin' up against the wall, behind 
the lamp, was a big painted mrnnmy. Layin' in 
front o' the mummy was an ankh, four foot long 
an' made out o' solid gold.*' 

** What! '' Mr. Wallace stared at the other, 
almost speechless. The two boys, fascinated by 
the deadly earnestness of Montenay 's recital, were 
pale with excitement. ** But go ahead, man. I 
can talk later. ' ' 

** I was still trussed up like a turkey, but I 
wriggled and squirmed until I got loose. My 
shoulder was badly torn up,*' went on Captain 
Mac, ** and I was nigh frantic wi' the pain. A 
little o' the palm oil helped, but wi' them things 
around me I thought sure I was crazy. I crawled 

125 



126 The Boys' Big Game Series 

to the door, an ' found I was in the hut inside the 
ivory zareba. 

'* The whole business must ha* gone to my head, 
for I don't remember very well what happened 
then. I know I went back to the mummy an* saw 
that his neck was torn open. There was some- 
thin* shinin*, and I grabbed at it. Just then I 
heard somethin* behind me, an* there was the big 
lion, standin* and lashin* his tail. I remember 
laughing, then I caught up the lamp an * flung it at 
him. The oil blazed up as the vessel smashed him 
fair between the eyes, he gave a roar, and I fainted 
again. 

** Next I remember was Mbopo bending over 
me. The poor fellow had come to the hut in the 
momin* an* found me. It seemed that I had been 
staked out as a sacrifice to Pongo. This Pongo 
was a combination o * the lion and ankh. The ankh 
was the real god, but the lion had taken up livin* 
in the hut, so the lion was called Pongo and wor- 
shipped as the reg'lar deity. In short, whoever 
had possession o* the ankh could boss the whole 
country. Pongo, which was the lion, had carried 
me to the hut. I was in possession o* the hut an* 
was the first who had ever escaped the sacrifice. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 127 

Therefore, I was sacred and in the way o^ bein* a 
god mysel'. I didn't find this all out right off, 
mind. I stayed in that village for six months. 

^^ I taught Mbopo some English an' learned 
some pigmy talk. No, I didn 't bother none what- 
ever wi' the lion. He showed up later an' took 
possession o' the hut again. My shoulder was a 
long time healin ' and I guess my nerve was gone 
for a while. Man, but I wanted to carry off that 
gold ankh an' that ivory I But the thing was im- 
possible. After six months I got a chance while 
I was out wi ' hunters, and I lit out. I worked my 
way out by strikin' a bunch of Arabs who treated 
me white. That 's the yam. ' ' 

There was a moment of silence. Burt and Critch 
stared at Montenay in fascination. Mr. Wallace 
was looking down at the table. Finally he glanced 
up and spoke, slowly. 

** Mac, you said something about proofs." 

* ' I did that. ' ' Captain Mac unbuckled his belt, 
and took a small silk-wrapped package from it. 
** I told ye that I grabbed something from the 
mummy. Here it is. " 

Mr. Wallace unwrapped the package, while the 
boys leaned over his shoulder in high excitement. 



128 The Boys' Big Game Series 

From the oiled silk fell out three linkeQ scarabs, 
set in wrought gold. Critch gave a gasp, but Mr. 
Wallace turned over the scarabs and held them 
closer to the light as he examined their inscrip- 
tions. 

** Hml '* he exclaimed at length. ** Montenay, 
your proofs are pretty good. This seems to have 
formed part of a necklace belonging to one Ta- 
En-User, high priest of Maat. I should say the 
scarabs belonged to about the Twenty-first 
Dynasty. ' ' 

** Ye 're no child yerselV' chuckled Captain 
Mac in delight. * * That 's just what they told me 
at the British Museum. Now, here's another 
queer thing. 

** Ye know more about old Egypt than I do, 
Wallace. From what I could learn from Mbopo, 
it seemed that long ago these white pigmies mi- 
grated from the east to where they are now. On 
their way they struck a half -ruined * * City of the 
Gods, ' ' as Mbopo called it. They brought away a 
lot o' stuff from there, which they looked on as 
sacred. All that's left is the mummy and the 
ankh. Is that possible ? ' ' 

** Possible," returned Mr. Wallace, ** but hardly 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 129 

probable. They might have run across one of the 
extreme southern Egyptian cities, and indeed that 
wonld be the only logical explanation of the 
presence of these things so far west. Yes, the tra- 
dition must be true. It 's a strange bit of prehis- 
toric African history youVe run into, Mac.'' 

** It is that," rejoined the other. ** Well, for a 
year I've been tryin' to make up a party to carry 
off that ivory an' that gold ankh. I got hold o' 
Tom Beynolds at Cairo, an' put it up to him. He 
called me a plain fool. I found McConnell in Lon- 
don. He laughed at the yam. I tried to find you, 
but ye'd vanished around Tripoli. So at last I 
came down to tackle the job alone. 

** When I struck your party, I knew right off 
that wi' the laddies along ye'd never tackle it. 
Man, I was fair desperate I I determined to lead 
ye off to the edge o ' the pigmy country, where we 
are now, an' then put it up to ye. There ye are, 
Wallace. Will ye come in wi ' me an ' try it f The 
pigmies won't hurt me, mind." 

Mr. Wallace stared at the scarabs. Burt stole 
a glance at his chum, and the two waited in breath- 
less interest, not daring to urge the project. At 
length Mr. Wallace sighed. 



130 The Boys' Big Game Series 

** YouVe tempted me, Mac, tempted me more 
than you know! I'd like nothing better than to 
make a dash for that place with you — not only 
for the treasure, but for the discoveries we could 
make. But with the boys here it is impossible. I 
am responsible for them, and I dare not go off and 
leave them in this country. If you'd told me this 
back up the river I'd have left them at the trading 
station and made a dash in with you. ' ' 

** Oh, uncle! '* burst out Burt, dismayed. 
** Ain 't it perfectly safe f Take us ! Let 's all go I 
Cap'n Mac says they won't hurt him; he's a kind 
o' god, an' he can fix it so's we'll all — " 

** No," broke in his uncle decisively. ** I re- 
fuse to take the risk, Burt. No use, lad. That 's 
finaL You'll have to trust to my judgment in this 
affair. ' ' 

** Ye 're right," nodded Montenay dejectedly. 
** I can't blame ye, Wallace. But do ye under- 
stand? Ye won't hold the compass business 
against me — " 

Mr. Wallace sprang to his feet and held out his 
hand. 

** Nonsense! Shake, old chap, and forget it! " 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 131 

And the two clasped hands silently, while the boys 
gave a shout of delight. 

*' I knew it! " cried Bnrt joyously, dancing 
around the two men. ** I knew Cap^n Mac was 
all right! Hurray! " 

** I wish you'd take us an' get after them white 
pigmies, though," put in Critch disconsolately. 

** I'd certainly like to get hold of that mummy," 
asserted Mr. Wallace, his eyes sparkling. ** To 
say nothing of the ankh ! ' ' 

** An' to say no thin' o' the ivory an' gold," 
laughed Montenay. 

** But," cried Burt excitedly, ** why didn't you 
get after that lion an' kill him? I should ha' 
thought you 'd do that right away ! ' ' 

** No," and Montenay shook his head. ** As I 
told ye, my nerve was pretty well gone, laddy. 
The pigmies had guns, but they were old trade- 
muskets. None o' them except Mbopo, mebbe, 
would ha' stood up to the lion. That chap Mbopo 
was a good sort. He stood by me right along, took 
care o' me when I was sick wi' fever, cured up my 
wounds, an' learned to speak passable Scots 
dialect. It was amusin' to hear the boy speak the 
tongue." 



132 The Boys' Big Game Series 

** That feudal business interests me,'* said Mr. 
Wallace thoughtfully. ** Was this Mbopo a 
chief » '' 

** I don't know, rightly,'' returned the other. 
" The old witch-doctor was the boss, but Mbopo 
seemed to be second in charge. The women o' the 
place cultivated yams an' plantains, while the men 
hunted. They didn 't seem to use poison, like the 
black dwarfs. That 's another queer thing. They 
had poisoned weapons, right enough, but they got 
supplies o' the stuff from the blacks. Ye mind, 
the Wambuti and other black dwarfs are simply 
parasites on the bigger tribes. Well, these white 
chaps were parasites on the black dwarfs, near's 
I could figure it out. ' ' 

Critch related what had happened on the launch 
coming upstream, when the black boy had caught 
a glimpse of Montenay's shoulder. The eccentric 
explorer laughed heartily. 

** They all know it," he said. ** The whites 
couldn't draw it out o' them wi' tortures, but 
every tribe hereabouts knows what Pongo is, or 
think they do. It's mostly reputation. These 
niggers are mighty superstitious." 

** Well, we ain't goin' to leave that white pigmy 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 133 

business without doin' anything, are wef " asked 
Burt. Captain Mac glanced at his uncle. 

** Not if I can help it,*' he smiled. ** How about 
my original proposition, Wallace? Now that ye 
know the yam, will ye wait here for me while I 
take a crack at the pigmies f " 

** Why, yes," returned Mr. Wallace slowly. 
* * But frankly, Mac, I think you would be foolish. 
We are on the edge of their country, but you'd 
have to get through the black fellows first. They 
wouldn't know you, and in any event would prob- 
ably have forgotten all about you. By the way, 
in which direction is this place of Mbopo'sf '* 

** Northeast from here,'* returned Montenay, 
** as near as I know. I'm pretty sure I'll be all 
right, Wallace. I can show the beggars my 
shoulder if necessary. Once I get to Mbopo with 
a few bearers, we'll bring off the ivory.'' 

" If they'll let you," supplemented Mr. Wallace. 
" You're too cocksure about it, Mac. While I'd 
be perfectly willing to go along if I was alone, my 
personal opinion is that it's mighty risky." 

** Nothing venture, nothing win," laughed Cap- 
tain Mac gayly. ** Man, but I'm eager to be done 
wi' the caravan and into the pigmy country! Now 



134 The Boys' Big Game Series 

let's settle our plans. How long would ye be 
willin' to wait here? '' 

** That depends on how long yon'U be,*' an- 
swered Mr. Wallace, Yankee-like. ** If you meet 
with opposition I suppose you'll come baekf " 

** That I will," responded Montenay. " Sup- 
pose ye wait here two weeks for me. If I don't 
show up by then, work up towards the Makua. If 
I get the stuff I'll hit the headwaters o' the Makua, 
get some canoes, an' come down. How's thatf " 

* * Sounds all right to me, ' ' rejoined the Ameri- 
can. ** We'll give you two weeks, then. If we 
hear nothing from you by that time we '11 move up 
slowly toward the Makua. It will be easy enough 
to learn whether or not you have passed down- 
stream. We'll wait there another two weeks, 
which is all I dare give. That will make about six 
weeks in all. ' ' 

** Vera good," announced Montenay with a nod 
of satisfaction. ** Now about the boys. I'll take 
twenty, if that suits you. Some rockets might 
come in handy, too." 

These rockets were some that Mr. Wallace had 
obtained at Soma, made so they could be fired 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 135 

from a gun or revolver. They were intended for 
signaling at night, but had not been used so far. 

** Half the caravan is yours/' laughed the 
American. ** You'll leave your guns here, I sup- 
pose? '' 

** All but my Express/' returned Montenay. 
'' I'll travel light." 

** When will you start f " asked Burt. 

** To-morrow morning," grinned the explorer, 
calling for John. When that worthy appeared he 
was instructed to make all arrangements and 
select a score of the best Bantus as porters. A 
bustle of excitement soon rose from the camp, 
while the four discussed the final arrangements. 
In half an hour John reappeared and informed 
them that all was ready for the start. 

Before daybreak the boys were up and at break- 
fast. With the first streak of gray in the east Cap- 
tain Montenay called his men together, and all left 
the camp. Mr. Wallace and the boys had decided 
to accompany him for a mile or two in order to see 
him off safely. 

The party started toward the northeast, in 
which direction the forest extended and dipped 
down into heavier jungle and lower ground. After 



136 The Boys' Big Game Series 

two miles they came to a small stream, and here 
the farewells were said. Montenay shook hands 
all around, with no display of emotion. 

** If ye 're no seein' me again,'* he said to Mr. 
Wallace, while the porters were fording the 
stream, ** ye'll deliver the letter I gave ye last 
nightf '' 

** I will,'' answered Mr, Wallace soberly. 
** And what's more, I'll ship the boys home and 
come back for you. So long, old man! " 

** So long. Good luck to ye," and Montenay 
was caught up between two of his men and carried 
across the shallow stream. On the opposite bank 
he turned and waved, the three gave him a hearty 
cheer, and with his little band he was lost in the 
heavy foliage. 



CHAPTER XI 



MVITA SAVES BUBT's UFE 



For three days after the departnre of Captain 
Mac there was little hunting done. Silent and 
morose as he often was, the absent explorer more 
than made np for this in his moments of gayety. 
His was a strong personality, moreover, and his 
absence could not but make itself felt keenly. 

There was plenty to occupy the boys, however. 
A number of heads and skins had to be prepared 
and packed. Then there was the native village to 
visit, and this was a source of never-ending de- 
light. The chief, whose name was Mvita, gave a 
great feast in honor of the hunters — to which the 
hunters donated the greater share of the viands — 
and the moving-picture outfit came into play with 
brilliant effect. 

Mr. Wallace took out the boys on a two-days* 
trip after animal pictures, also. By utilizing the 
natives of Mvita 's village and also the Bantu 
porters as beaters, a bloodless hunt was held. In 
this the animals were surrounded and forced to 

187 



138 The Boys' Big Game Series 

pass before a white-ant hill on which Burt was 
posted with the camera. Excellent pictures of 
various antelope, zebra, an old and toothless lion, 
and an infuriated rhino were obtained. In this 
way a week was passed, and finally Mr. Wallace 
announced that on the morrow they would hold 
another real elephant hunt, as Mvita reported a 
herd of the giant beasts three miles to the north. 

As they were leaving camp at dawn, a number 
of the villagers hastened up, headed by their chief. 
With anxious face Mvita implored the honor of 
bearing the guns of one of the white men. John 
refused him, wishing to save the usual gifts and 
emoluments of the oflSce. Burt, however, inter- 
rupted with a laugh. 

* * Let him carry our guns, uncle ! We Ve never 
been waited on by a real king before, an ' it 's some- 
thin' to boast of. He wonH steal 'em, will hef *' 

** I guess not,'* laughed Mr. Wallace, nodding 
to Mvita. With evident delight the chief took 
Burt's heavy elephant-gun. He was clad in long 
flowing red cotton robes, doubtless his insignia of 
oflSce, but when John suggested that he remove 
them for the journey he refused indignantly. He 
could speak a little French, but very little. 

** Are we going to spend all day! *' inquired 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 139 

Critch, as the camp was left behind and the red 
spears of dawn shot up in the east. 

'' Can't teU,^' replied Mr. Wallace. ** The ele- 
phants were reported as being three miles north 
yesterday. By this time they may be twenty miles 
away, or they may remain in the same place for 
a week at a time, nntil their food is exhausted. 
However, we ought to strike something before 
noon. ' ' 

*' Say,*' broke out Burt suddenly, ** remember 
what Cap'n Mac said last night about his scrap 
with that Arab trader! Do you think he was 
giving it to us straight f ' ' 

** Of course,'* answered his uncle decidedly. 

* * Well, ' * responded Burt doubtfully, * * it looked 
a whole lot like downright piracy to me, that 's all. 
It might ha ' happened five hundred years ago, but 
it's haxd to realize — " 

** Look here,'' broke in Mr. Wallace, ** you've 
got to remember, Burt, that Montenay has spent 
practically all his life exploring. He has his bad 
points, like all of us, but he has his share of good 
ones also. I myself don 't blame him a bit. That 
Arab, Yusuf ben Salir, was a slave dealer and 



140 The Boys' Big Game Series 

pirate himself. Besides, it was a matter of per- 
sonal revenge with Mac. He's just done a 
tremendously brave thing in setting out for the 
pigmy land alone, — well, he's a strange char- 
acter.'' 

** Think we'll meet him? " asked Critch in a 
low voice. * * Or rather, will he meet us ? " 

** I'm afraid not," replied Mr. Wallace. ** He 
has only one chance in a thousand of making it. 
Hello! Look at that ant hill — the sunny side! " 

Following his finger, the boys saw a huge snake 
stretched out, warming himself in the hot sun. All 
three were at the head of the beaters, and Mvita, 
the only gunbearer who noticed the snake, brought 
up his heavy gun rapidly. Mr. Wallace waved 
him back, however, drawing his revolver and put- 
ting a bullet through the serpent's head. Upon 
measuring him, the reptile was found to be exactly 
fifteen feet in length. 

** Say, ain't he a beaut though! " observed 
Critch, gazing down at the bright green and gold 
body. ** Is he hard to skin! " 

* * Not a bit, ' ' replied Mr. Wallace. * * Not worth 
while, though. The colors won't last. The gold 
turns white and the green black." 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 141 

** I don't care,*' said Burt, ** let's leave a couple 
o ' men to skin him anyhow. Even black an' white 
ought to make a mighty fine trophy. Snake skin 
keeps better than fur, anyhow. ' ' 

As Critch was also anxious to save the python 
skin, two of the Bantus were left to take it into 
camp while the party proceeded north. 

They had marched for over an hour without any 
sign of elephant when one of Mvita's men ap- 
peared ahead. A number had been sent out from 
the village to locate the herd, if possible. The 
man, flourishing his spear, ran up and reported 
that before dawn he had heard loud trumpeting in 
the forest ahead, not over a mile distant. 

** Good enough," exclaimed Mr. Wallace. 
* ' John, get these chaps spread out in a line across 
country, to drive in anything toward the center. 
You stick to me, though, and handle my guns. ' ' 

** Yes, sar," came the reply. A moment later 
the party had scattered, the natives stretching out 
in a long thin line far to right and left. Once more 
the advance was taken up, and all trudged steadily 
forward for half a mile. It was exciting work, for 
at any moment the patches of small trees, high 
grass and rush might yield anything from an ele- 



142 The Boys* Big Game Series 

pliant to a lion, A very hopefnUooking thicket 
had just been beaten through without any luck, 
and the three whites sighted an open grassy glade 
which stretched away in front, when Mvita gave 
a low whistle and muttered to John. The latter 
instantly stopped his master. Parting the bushes 
cautiously and gazing out on the fairly open glade, 
all could see a good sized herd of wildebeest graz- 
ing a quarter of a mile away. 

** We must have one of them,*' whispered Mr. 
Wallace, as the boys stared at the weird, bison-like 
animals eagerly. ** We're down-wind, so I'll stalk 
'em. Come on, John. ' ' 

The two stole out cautiously, and began making 
a slow advance over the open space, hiding behind 
the ant hills and among the tall grass. Only the 
waving tops of the latter betrayed their presence, 
but just as the boys were expecting to hear a shot, 
Mvita touched Burt on the arm. One of his men 
had approached silently, and his face portended 
big tidings. 

* * What is it — elephant f ' ' asked Burt. Mvita 
grinned and shook his head, then murmured one 
word. 

'' Simbal '' 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 143 

** Lion! " echoed Critch, who knew the native 
term. ** Come on, Burt! ** 

Without hesitation the two boys turned away 
and followed the native guide. The latter led 
them to the right for some distance, and as no 
sign of lion showed up Burt became impatient. 

* * Where — ' * he began, when the native 
stopped, clicked his tongue, and pointed with his 
spear. Ahead of them the boys caught sight of a 
small lioness trotting away from a clump of thick 
bushes. Burt, grabbing for his rifle, ran forward 
eagerly. Critch *s bearer was a Bantu, who handed 
over the heavy gun but refused absolutely to ad- 
vance. The two boys ran forward in order to cut 
off the trotting lioness from a stretch of rushes 
for which she was making. 

They were barely fifty yards from the clump of 
bushes when they both stopped short at a shrill 
yell from Mvita, who had followed them closely, 
at the same instant Burt saw something appear at 
the edge of the bushes. Then came a low, mut- 
tering growl, and a huge black-maned lion ap- 
peared, his red mouth open, gazing steadily at the 
hunters. Burt pulled up his rifle and fired quickly. 



144 The Boys' Biff Game Series 

The growl ended in a snarl, and the lion rolled 
over. 

'' Hurray! '* shouted Burt, '' I landed him— " 

* * Look out ! ' ' yelled Critch, and the explosion 
of his rifle almost deafened his chum. As Burt 
had fired, three more lionesses had appeared 
among the bushes, following the first! Two dis- 
appeared, but Critch 's shot stopped the last one, 
not killing her. He put another bullet into her 
shoulder and she lay still. While he ran forward 
to make sure of his prize, Burt, followed by Mvita, 
turned toward the lion. The great beast lay per- 
fectly still. Three of the Bantus had run up, and 
were standing within a few yards of him. 

They were gathered in a group near his tail, ad- 
miring and yet afraid to touch him. Burt remem- 
bered his uncle's warnings about the remarkable 
tenacity of life often shown by lions, and stopped 
when fifty feet away. The lion was still breath- 
ing, but lay motionless. Concluding that if he 
paid no attention to the chattering natives he 
would remain quiet for a finislung shot, Burt and 
Mvita ran onward, the chief displaying no fear 
whatever, unlike the Bantus. 

They approached from his rear, and assuming 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 145 

that he was unable to rise, Bnrt stepped around 
for a good shot at the eye, which would not harm 
the pelt. The instant he came into view of the 
wounded beast, however, the latter revived. 

With one terrific roar he sprang to his feet as 
if uninjured. His green eyes blazed with fury, and 
his lips were drawn back until his long, yellow 
teeth were exposed in a snarl that struck Burt 
cold, for the boy was barely a dozen feet away. 
The men had fled instantly, only Mvita remaining 
beside Burt. The latter, taken by surprise, gave a 
step backward, lifting his rifle. 

Just as the beast was in the act of springing, 
Burt fired. The heavy bullet missed the eye and 
glanced off the sharply backward-sloping head of 
the brute, but its terrific impact was suflScient to 
stop the animal for the instant. Burt heard a yell 
from Critch, and was tempted to turn and run. 
The lion was up immediately, however, and again 
Burt stepped back and pulled the trigger. 

This time, however, his foot caught in the grass. 
The bullet went wild, and the terrified boy gave 
himself up for lost. A tremendous thud and crash 
at his side told him that the lion had sprung; then 



146 The Boys' Big Game Series 

a quick flash of red caught his eye as he rolled over 
and gained his feet. 

The flash of red came from the robe of Mvita, 
whose faith in the white hunters had given way 
at the last moment. Seeming to realize all at once 
the danger of his situation, he turned and ran just 
as Burt fell, with a shrill scream. Beyond doubt 
this movement had saved Burt *s life, for the bril- 
liant red robe caught the eye of the lion, who at 
once gave chase to the yelling chief. 

Burt, pale and excited, gained his feet just as 
the lion was catching up with Mvita. Lifting his 
rifle, he fired. To his dismay the bullet missed 
completely, throwing up the dust beyond Mvita. 
In a desperate effort to save the man before it was 
too late, Burt pumped at the magazine. At the 
same instant Mvita made a quick swerve. The 
lion also turned, coming broadside on to Burt. 
Just as Mvita was about to be brought down, the 
boy fired. The lion dropped in the middle of his 
spring, his back broken. A shot from Critch's 
rifle struck him as he lay, and Burt finally put a 
bullet through the lion's brain. 

Relieved and rather weak-kneed at the im- 
minent danger, Burt looked around for his chum. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 147 

He was astonished to see Critch, who had hastily 
returned, give a gasp, then burst into a roar of 
laughter. Whirling about, Burt stared over the 
body of the lion and then went into a spasm of 
mirth. 

The sight that met his eyes turned what was 
nearly a tragedy into instant comedy. There was 
Mvita, a dozen yards from the lion, earnestly bent 
upon scrambling up a thorn-tree in the shortest 
possible time ! He never cast a glance below, as 
the roars of laughter went up from the boys and 
even from the natives, but only climbed the faster. 
He was nearing the top of the spiny tree ; on every 
limb and thorn hung remnants of his gorgeous 
crimson robe, and by the time he reached the top 
he was fully as well clad as his humblest subject 
below. 

In vain did the boys yell at him to come down. 
Mvita was taking no chances of a mistake again, 
and not until he had reached the very top branch 
that would bear his weight did the terrified chief- 
tain glance down. Even the sight of his laughing 
subjects and the dead lion hardly reassured him, 
but once he was certain of his safety he took a 
speedy and certain method of restoring his lost 



148 The Boys' Big Game Series 

dignity. Descending as quickly as he had gone up, 
he brought a long thom-branch with him, and ap- 
plied this to his subjects and the Bantus indis- 
criminately until their laughter was changed to 
howls for mercy. Only at the intercession of the 
gasping boys did the angry chief cease. 

The Bantus speedily gathered, and played like 
children about the dead bodies of the two beasts, 
which had been placed side by side. They proved 
themselves surprisingly good mimics, one taking 
the part of the lion and jumping with a growl at 
the others. Another took Burt's part, snapping 
his fingers as he stepped backward and finally fell ; 
while a third played Mvita, running to the thorn 
tree with the lion in hot pursuit. At this instant 
an angry voice stopped the proceedings, and the 
boys looked around in alarm to see Mr. Wallace 
running toward them. 

** Here, what is all this! *' he shouted, waving 
his rifle. Before the boys could answer he caught 
sight of the two carcasses, and stopped short. 
'* So youVe been disobeying orders again! ^* 

* ' Not quite that, uncle, ' ' returned Burt quickly. 
He then explained why they had left, together 
with all that had happened. As Mr. Wallace 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 149 

glanced at the almost naked chief, and then at 
the decorated thorn tree, his face relaxed and Bnrt 
knew there was no more to fear. 

* * You spoiled a fine shot for me, ' ' was all Mr. 
Wallace said. * * I guess you Ve had lesson enough. 
Gtet the boys busy on the skins, John. * ' 

* * How about the elephants t * ' spoke up Critch. 
** They're not far off, unless your shooting 

frightened them. We'll leave the Bantus to skin 
these beasts, while we go on with Mvita's men.'' 



CHAPTER Xn 



MONTENAT BETUBNS 

** We ought to provide Mvita with a new robe,*' 
suggested Burt with a grin. ** He saved my life 
all right back there, whether he meant to or not. ' ' 

** A few yards of cloth will fix him,'' returned 
his uncle, as they started off with the chief and his 
men. ** You'd better carry your big guns now 
yourselves. No telling what will happen." 

One of the villagers led them forward at a brisk 
pace, straight onward for about a mile. They were 
now almost in the jungle, the open spaces and 
higher ground seeming to end abruptly with a 
small stream which they passed. Mvita 's men 
were spread out in a wide circle, for the elephant 
herd had finally been located, and once the beaters 
got around them the animals would scent them 
and come up-wind toward the hunters. 

Presently they came upon the elephant spoor, 
or trail — a wide swath ripped through the heavy 
undergrowth by the passage of the big animals. 

150 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 151 

To one side of this Mr. Wallace and the boys took 
their stand, hiding amid the bushes. 

** Let them pass us,'* cautioned the explorer, 
** and when you have a clear shoulder-shot, 
make it fatal the first time. You take the first, 
Critch— '» 

He was cut short by a yell that arose ahead. 
This was followed by a loud trumpeting as the 
frightened animals crashed away from the beaters. 
Burt paled as he thought of what might happen 
should the elephants burst upon them through the 
jungle instead of following their own trail, but he 
had little time for reflection. Even as the thought 
came to him the first elephant appeared with a 
shrill trumpet of rage, his trunk flung high and his 
wide ears flapping forward. Behind him came 
more of the dim, gigantic shapes, and the boys 
pulled up their guns. 

Not ten feet from them, the first elephant 
thundered past, the others crowding close upon 
him. Critch waited until he was sure of his shot, 
and then sent the first beast reeling into the oppo- 
site side of the trail with the force of his bullet. 
Almost instantly Burt fired at the second elephant, 
striking him just behind the shoulder. The others 



152 The Boys' Big Game Series 

stopped for a second, giving Mr. Wallace a chance 
for a fine shot, then smashed into the jungle and 
were gone. 

** Hurray! *' yelled Critch, leaping to his feet. 
** Mine's down! " 

** So*s mine,'' shouted Burt eagerly, gazing at 
the motionless form of the elephant, who had stag- 
gered and sunk into the grass at once. 

** Come on," cried his uncle as the first of the 
natives appeared, *' I hit mine badly, and he can't 
be far away. ' ' 

Mvita came up on the run as they started, and 
all broke into the jungle on the trail of the 
wounded elephant, John carrying the spare guns. 
Only a hundred yards away they came upon their 
quarry. The elephant, mortally wounded, was 
standing beneath a large tree, half -hidden among 
the foliage. They could see him swaying from side 
to side, and just as Mr. Wallace was circling 
around for a finishing shot the iuge bulk crashed 
down and lay still. 

** Ain't it pretty near time to eatt " inquired 
Critch, after they had inspected the body. 

** Just about," answered Mr. Wallace. ** Where 
will we make camp, John? " 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 153 

** By de river, sar,'' was the reply, and John 
was busied at once with orders to Mvita and the 
natives, who had brought along a chop-box. The 
three elephants killed were all bulls, that of Mr. 
Wallace having only one tusk. While the ivory 
was being cut out and the bodies being dissected 
by the natives, who would make a grand feast 
that night, the three whites returned to the small 
stream which had been crossed half an hour be- 
fore. 

John had found a small spring of clear, sweet 
water near some high ground on the west bank. 
Opposite, there was a long stretch of marshy, low 
ground that gave upon the. jungle proper. On 
their camping side, however, this fever-threaten- 
ing swamp was entirely absent. 

Before an hour had passed the three were sitting 
around their folding canvas table, doing full honor 
to the forest delicacies furnished by John and his 
assistants. More of the villagers trooped up to 
share in the elephant meat, until it seemed to the 
boys that the entire village was present. Suddenly 
Burt, who was sitting facing the stream, gave a 
startled exclamation and pointed to the low 
ground opposite. 



154 The Boys' Big Game Series 

** What's that, Uncle George! '' 

Turning in their seats, the others saw the top 
of the high marsh-grass waving as if some creature 
were forcing its way along. John, who had over- 
heard the question, brought up the rifles at once 
but Mr. Wallace waved him back and took out his 
glasses. 

** I don't know, Burt. Doesn't show up yet. 
It'd hardly be any animal, for we are up-wind 
and he would scent us. It might be a crocodile, 
although in that case he would not make so much 
conunotion. What do you think, John! '* 

The gigantic negro took the glasses and gazed 
long and earnestly at the faint movement in the 
grass, which seemed to be coming toward the river. 
Then he returned them with a shrug. 

** Not know, sar.'' 

* * Tell Mvita to send over some of his boys and 
find out,'' suggested Critch. Mr. Wallace nodded 
and John was oflF instantly. A moment later a 
dozen natives started crossing the stream, ad- 
vancing cautiously, for they too had been puzzled 
and were taking no chances. Before they had 
reached the opposite bank Critch gave a cry. 

'* Look there! It's coming out I " 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 155 

Throngh their glasses they could see a dark ob- 
ject crossing one of the more open spaces. Its 
method of progression was peculiar, because while 
it was undoubtedly coming toward the river, it 
seemed to be rising and falling, floundering in the 
marsh-mud, and at times lying motionless on the 
grass-hummocks. 

' * It *s a man ! ' ' exclaimed Burt in amazement. 
Critch uttered a scornful denial, but Mr. Wallace 
slowly nodded. 

*' I believe it is,'' he asserted. ** I thought I 
could make out arms and legs but I wasn't sure. 
If it is a man, he must be in a mighty bad fix. ' ' 

A sudden idea occurred to Burt and he glanced 
at his chum. Critch met his eye and read the un- 
spoken thought. When Burt raised his glasses 
again his face was white. 

Now the natives were surrounding the strange 
figure, and a moment later one of them waved his 
spear. The others could be seen lifting the crea- 
ture, whatever it was, and speedily carried him to 
the river. 

'* Come along," and Mr. Wallace rose hastily. 
*' We'll go down and meet them. If it's a man 



156 The Boys* Big Game Series 

he'll need help. John, did you bring the small 
medicine case! *' 

** Here, sar,'* and as if by magic the grinning 
black produced the required object. They all hur- 
ried down to the river, where the villagers were 
already crowding around in great curiosity. The 
little band of natives splashed across the stream, 
and suddenly Burt felt his uncle grip his arm. 

** Burt! '' and he had never before heard such 
tense horror in a man's voice. ** Go up and get 
some water boiling right away! Hurry, lad, 
hurry! *' Without pausing to ask questions Burt 
dashed off. As he went he could hear his uncle 
continuing. ' * John, make for the camp right 
away. Get out bandages, have hot water, make 
the hypodermics ready and mix some strong mor- 
phia and anti-toxin solution. That is Captain 
Montenay. ' ' John was off at a run instantly. 

The last words struck Burt like a blow. With 
pale face he got the water heating, and met his 
imcle as the latter ordered the senseless form of 
Captain Mac set down. The explorer was un- 
recognizable. He was plastered with mud from 
head to foot and his whole body was swelled and 
poisoned until he bore small resemblance to a man. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 157 

Mr. Wallace gave a glance around, then shook his 
head. 

* * We can do nothing here. Boys, we '11 have to 
work to save him. Looks to me like black wasp 
stings.'* Turning to Mvita, he ordered Monte- 
nay 's body carried to the village at top speed. In- 
stantly four natives caught up the senseless fig- 
ure and made off at a lope. 

Mr. Wallace and the boys dropped everything 
and followed. When they reached the camp after 
a hard march they found John bathing the swol- 
len body of Captain Mac, and Mr. Wallace went to 
work at once with the medicines that lay ready. 
With the mud and dirt removed, Montenay's hor- 
rible condition only became more evident. Mr. 
Wallace went to work with the hypodermic while 
the boys aided John to cleanse the explorer's body, 
then handed the syringe to John to clean and 
turned to the bandages and lint. 

The countless stings were washed with a weak 
solution of ammonia to take out the poison, and an 
hour later they left the Scotchman a mass of 
bandages but sleeping soundly 

'* I gave him some morphia,'' explained Mr. 
Wallace m they washed up outside. ' * What he 



158 The Boys* Big Game Series 

needs first is sleep. He must have been in absolute 
agony in there/* 

It was after sunset before Captain Mac wakened 
from his sleep. The boys were at his side immedi- 
ately, followed by Mr. Wallace. 

** Well,** cried the latter heartily, ** how*s the 
sick man now? Feel a bit better? ** 

** Gi* me a drink,** whispered the other feebly. 
When he had taken a long draught from Burt*s 
canteen he sank back with a satisfied sigh. 
** Where*d ye find me? ** 

** Down by the river,** answered Mr. Wallace. 
** Feel able to talk? ** Montenay nodded and 
fixed his eyes on the American. ** I suppose the 
pigmies got after your men? ** 

** Into *em*s more like it,** returned Captain 
Mac. ** Didn*t see one of *em. Just arrows — ar- 
rows — arrows, day an* night.** He paused for 
breath. '' What day*s this? ** 

*' Friday,** said Critch. '* We found you this 
morning. * * 

* * Wednesday it was, * * went on Montenay as he 
gained strength slowly. * * Last six men went in a 
bunch. Pulled off my shirt an* yelled * Pongo.' 
Tried to talk to the deevils but they wouldn't 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 159 

show up. Started on alone an' they shot arrows all 
around me. Didn't dare hit me, I guess. So I 
came back. ' * 

'* Two days,'' mused Mr. Wallace. ** You cer- 
tainly looked nice when we found you I ' ' 

* * It was the black wasps, ' ' said the other. * * I 
fell into a nest that night an' it nigh finished me." 

** Come along, boys," returned Mr. Wallace as 
he arose. ** You get to sleep again, Montenay. 
You '11 be more fit in the morning. ' ' 

They adjusted the mosquito curtains for the 
night and returned to find dinner waiting for 
them. After dining sumptuously on eland tongue 
and hartebeest tenderloin Burt pushed back his 
canvas chair with a sigh of content. 

** I s'pose we'll work up toward the Makua 
pretty quick, won 't we ? "he asked his uncle. 

** You bet we will," replied the latter fervently. 
** Just as soon as Captain Mac's able to navigate. 
That '11 be two or three days anyway. We have a 
nice little bunch\of ivory and we'll get more in by 
trading as we go along. Mvita has four more 
tusks to bring in too." 

** That ivory zareba'd mean a good bunch o' 



160 The Boys' Big Game Series 

money, wouldnH it? *' put in Critch. ** I*d hate 
to go through what Cap *n Mac has, though. ' * 

^* By the way,'' said Mr. Wallace, ** don't use 
all those chop-boxes. I want a couple of zebra and 
giraffe skins. We'll get 'em farther north on our 
way up." 

**Mvita told me this morning," said Burt, 
** that there was some giraffe about five miles to 
the northeast of here. Why couldn't we get 'em 
and have a skin fixed by the time Cap'n Mac's 
ready to march? " 

** We'd save time that way, but I don't want 
to leave him," returned his uncle thoughtfully. 
** However, I might send you two out with John. 
I'd trust him anywhere." 

** Go ahead! " pleaded Critch excitedly. 
** That'd be great, Mr. Wallace! " 

* * John ! ' ' called the explorer with a smile. * * If 
I send you out after giraffe in the morning with 
these boys, will you take good care of 'em? " 

** Sure, sar! " grinned the big Liberian cheer- 
fully. ** John him be beri careful. Bring back 
safe! " 

** All right. Get your stuff ready then. Toti 
can take my big rifle yourself." As John went 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 161 

off with a wider grin than ever Mr. Wallace 
turned to the boys. * * I want you two to promise 
me that whatever happens you'll obey John and 
do just as he tells you.*' 

*' All right, sir,'* replied Critch at once. 

** So '11 I," agreed Burt. ** Five mUes in this 
country won't be any joke, though! " 

** It'll take a good day right enough," nodded 
Mr. Wallace. '* John is pretty safe to be with 
and he'll take as good care of you as I would. 
If you find the giraffes don't bring down more 
than two. You might run across some zebra in 
the same country and if you do, you can get some 
of 'em too. But I guess there 's not much danger 
of that, without horses. 

*' Now remember to obey John in everything. 
He '11 be in my place for the day. Better fill your 
canteens with cold coffee before you go and take 
your heavy rifles. Let John have your compass, 
Burt. If you run across any waterbuck bring in 
a couple for the men. It'll be a good change of 
diet. Now get to sleep, for you 11 be up before 
day." 

After laying out a supply of heavy cartridges 
and some fresh clothes for the morning the boys 



162 The Boys' Big Game Series 

tumbled into their sleeping bags on top of their 
cots. Each leg of the cots was placed in a dish of 
water to keep off ants and other crawling crea- 
tures which might wander in. Critch was half 
asleep when he heard Burt's voice. 

** Oh, Critch! Eemember what Cap'n Mac 
looked like coming across that swamp? " 
** Shut up! I don't want to dream about it.*' 
** I was just thinkin' that we'll stick pretty 
close to John to-morrow, eh! " 
** You bet your life we will! Go to sleep." 
It was their last sleep in the comfortable tent 
for many a night. 



CHAPTER Xm 

IN THE PIGMY VILLAGB 

As Mr. Wallace had predicted, they were up 
long before the sun. After a hasty breakfast by 
candle light John discarded his role of chef and 
buckled on a cartridge belt. As their gun-bear- 
ers and a dozen porters assembled, two hunters 
came in from the village to guide them to the 
place where the giraffes had been seen and the 
boys bade Mr. Wallace farewell. 

A five-mile walk through rough and thickly 
wooded African country is not a light task by 
any means. In the main they followed trails 
where heavy animals had beaten down the thick 
grass and left openings through the bush. They 
saw little game for the first hour, although once a 
big python slid across the path and Burt missed 
him. 

** Won't we have a yam when we get home! '' 
said Burt, gleefully. ** We^l run some great lit- 
tle old stories in the high school paper next year, 
eh?" 

168 



164 The Boys' Big Game Series 

'' Bet your life! '^ replied Critch. ** I^d like 
to bottle some o* them blamed little red ants and 
use *em for initiations. Wouldn't they make the 
fellows squirm? '* 

** Say, don't forget to swap some of Mvita's 
men out o' their stuff. We want to take home a 
good bunch o' them spears, Critch. A couple o* 
shields and knives 'd go great too." 

' * No talk-talk now, massa Burt ! ' ' John turned 
to them wamingly. '' Him giraffe not beri far. 
Maybe hear.'* 

The hunters had slipped through the tall grass 
and vanished. It was now two hours after day- 
light and the boys knew they must be getting near 
the hunting grounds. They were no longer in the 
plain and were advancing by a buffalo-trail 
through a low jungle-growth not far from a small 
riven 

One of the hunters appeared in a highly excited 
state and John motioned to the boys to get out 
their guns. They now advanced more cautiously 
as they saw the Bantus in front gesturing to them 
and in another moment sighted two giraffes 
standing in an open glade ahead. 

As the boys raised their guns something flashed 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 165 

out from the farther side of the thicket and both 
animals gave a leap. Without stopping to think 
what it was the boys fired. Burt hit the animal 
on the right and he dropped to his knees, then 
bounded off and the boy brought him down with 
his second barrel. Critch had hit the other giraffe 
in the brain and killed him instantly. 

The boys sprang forward with a shout of joy 
but were stopped by John's voice. " Come 
back! '• cried the big Liberian. ** Pigmies 
in there.'' 

** What! " Critch whirled incredulously. 
** Where? " 

** Them shoot arrows first. Maybe mad 'cause 
we kill giraffes. Go back quick — ' ' 

The hurried order was stopped by a frenzied 
yell from the Bantus. Dark objects flitted 
through the trees at their side and the hunters 
broke in wild fear. Before the boys could stir in 
their tracks they saw John reel and fall suddenly. 
At the same time something struck and threw 
them to the ground, and despite their struggles 
they were bound hand and foot while skins 
thrown around their heads made them gasp for 
light and aii:. 



166 The Boys* Big Game Series 

It was all done so swiftly that Bnrt hardly 
realized what had happened before he felt him- 
self picked up and carried off. He could not know 
that Critch was close behind him and he was in an 
agony of suspense. Had his chum and big John 
been killed? He tried to call out but the skin 
around his head stifled him. He could hear noth- 
ing save an occasional guttural clicking word 
from his bearers and was forced to resign himself 
to his fate. 

It seemed that he was borne along for ages. 
His head was protected, but mosquitoes and gnats 
settled on his bound hands until his arms seemed 
to be dipped in living flame. Then he heard his 
captors splashing through shallow water and 
knew that they were crossing the river into the 
jungle beyond. After this they slipped through 
thorn-laden bushes that ripped his clothes to 
shreds, and once a black wasp's sting drew a 
groan of pain from the boy, for the touch was like 
hot iron to his hand. 

He did not doubt for a moment that he was cap- 
tured by pigmies. If only they had grasped 
John's warning an instant sooner! Burt groaned 
again as he remembered how the big Liberian had. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 167 

reeled and fallen. And what would his uncle dof 
The thought gave him sudden hope. His uncle 
would know he had been carried off, surely! But 
if Captain Mac had failed to penetrate the jungle 
even with his ** pull,'* how could he look to his 
uncle for rescue! 

Suddenly Burt felt himself thrown roughly to 
the ground. His bonds were cut and the skin 
pulled from about his head. As he sat up a 
strange sight greeted his startled gaze. 

Critch sat beside him, rubbing his inflamed 
hands grimly. All around them stood little men 
hardly four feet tall. They were armed with 
knives, spears and bows and were naked save 
for waist-cloths. Each man wore a square-shaped 
headdress and all were chattering away with 
their peculiar guttural clicks. Most of them had 
arm rings and neck rings of iron or brass. 

Beyond them were a number of low huts four 
feet high arranged in a rough circle and in the 
center of this circle were the boys. When Burt 
glanced at the faces of the men around him he 
was surprised to find them not black but brown, 
with wide-set eyes and frank expressions. The 



168 The Boys' Big Game Series 

viUage was set in the semi-gloom of the deep 
jungle. 

** Well/* granted Critch, ** nice mess, ain't 
it? '' 

** What '11 they do with nst '' queried Burt 
anxiously. ** Golly, my hands are fierce! S'pose 
uncle '11 find ust " 

'* Search me," replied Critch. ** What hap- 
pened to John? " 

** Don't talk about it. I don't know." Burt 
shuddered. ** Wonder if they speak French? " 

Burt addressed the pigmies in that language. 
They chattered excitedly in response but he could 
make nothing of their words. They seemed to be 
perplexed as to what disposition to make of their 
prisoners, for one after another chattered angrily 
while the rest shook their heads. 

*' Ain't a bad looking lot at that," commented 
Critch coolly. ** High foreheads and good eyes, 
most of 'em. Look at their color, Burt! S'pose 
they're the white pigmies? " 

** No," replied Burt. ** Guess they're Wam- 
buti. Cap'n Mac said they looked like this. By 
golly! I got it!" 

Seizing a stick that lay beside him the boy at- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 169 

tracted the attention of the dwarfs. As they 
watched him curiously he drew a loop in the 
ground with the end of the stick. From the loop 
he extended an arm and drew another across. A 
startled silence fell on the pigmies as they 
watched. 

**Pongo!'' shouted Critch suddenly. ** Bet 
she works, old man! '' 

At sight of the sacred emblem and at his shout 
something like a groan of fear and horror 
went up from the pigmies. Instantly one, who 
had a higher headdress and wore more ornaments 
than the rest, stepped forward and spoke excit- 
edly. When Burt shook his head and repeated 
the sacred word a spasm of anger flashed across 
the pigmy's face and he motioned them to rise. 
One of the little men darted off into the jungle as 
the boys were led to a hut and made to enter. 

They crouched down in the dark cramped in- 
terior and as they did so a pigmy thrust some 
roasted bananas in at the door. The boys got out- 
side of these without delay and as they still had 
their canteens of coffee they began to feel more 
cheerful. 

** That was a rotten poor idea J' said Critch 



170 The Boys* Big Game Series 

disgustedly. ** Wish we*d shut up 'bout Pongo/' 

* * If we had we might be in the soup by now, * * 
laughed Burt. '* Got that camphor bottle with 
yout Mine's busted." 

Each of the boys carried a small bottle of cam- 
phor while away from the camp. The camphor 
was a good thing for bites and assisted in keeping 
off many insects. Critch found his bottle intact 
and they bathed their hands. Fortunately their 
pith helmets had not been knocked off by the 
skins thrown around them and these afforded 
their faces some protection, although the nets 
were badly torn. 

"I'm going to try getting out of this," asserted 
Critch as the time passed on without anything 
stirring without. *' Too blamed hot in here for 
me." 

He crawled to the door and stuck out his head, 
then withdrew it so suddenly that he fell back 
over Burt. ** Gosh I " he cried. ** There's a fel- 
low out there with a spear and he pretty near 
stuck me. It's got that black stuff on it, too! 
Guess I'll stay in here a while. You can go out 
for a walk if you want." 

'' No thanks," grinned Burt faintly. ** It ain't 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 171 

exactly inviting outside, I judge. I put my foot 
in it all right when I mentioned Cap'n Mac's 
friend. Wonder what they'll do with us! '' 

The afternoon wore away slowly and painfully 
and merged into night suddenly. More of the 
roasted bananas were thrust in at the door, to- 
gether with some water and mashed-up beans. 
The little hut was barely large enough to allow the 
boys to stretch, out and as it became evident that 
they were not to be visited that night they made 
themselves as comfortable as possible and finally 
got to sleep. They suffered little from insects be- 
cause not only was the hut closely thatched and 
plastered with mud, but there was a fire outside 
the door. 

Burt was awakened by a tug at his foot. Sit- 
ting up with a startled exclamation he saw a 
pigmy blocking the door. It was evidently long 
after daybreak, for even the darkest recesses of 
the pigmy village were showing some light. Burt 
aroused Critch and the latter followed him 
through the door. 

Outside they found apparently the whole tribe 
assembled. Men, women and children stood or 
squatted around in a big circle and as the boys 



172 The Boys* Big Game Series 

emerged they were greeted by a rippling click. 
Whether it was of fear or anger ,the boys could 
not telL They stood and stretched their cramped 
limbs 

^^ Seem to be looking for some one," said 
CritclL In fact the pigmies were many of them 
gazing expectantly toward the end of the village, 
where there was an opening in the circle of huts. 
As the boys followed their looks curiously Burt 
recognized the little warrior who had darted off 
the previous afternoon. He was advancing 
quickly from the jungle and behind him were a 
number of others. 

*' By golly, they're white! *' exclaimed Critch. 

** CanH be — yes, they are! *' Burt cried in ex- 
citement. He saw that the six men who followed 
the pigmy were no larger than he, but they were 
of a distinctly lighter color. They were also bet- 
ter dressed and carried larger and stronger bows. 
The foremost was seemingly a very young man. 

They advanced rapidly and when they reached 
the circle of villagers the latter struck their heads 
against the ground and clicked as if in fear. The 
white pigmies were first shown the two boys, then 
were taken to the sign of the ankh which Burt 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 173 

had scratched on the ground the day before. 
When they saw this the six gave low exclamations 
and the young one advanced to the side of the 
boys. 

** You know Pongof ** he said in English. The 
boys gave a shout of joy at hearing the words but 
repressed it as a dozen spears were poised. 

* * Yes ! * * cried Burt, sitting down again hastily. 
* * Cap 'n Mac told us. Say — * * 

** Hold on! '' interrupted Critch excitedly. 
** Are you Mbopof ** 

* * Mbopo ! * * the young pigmy repeated with evi- 
dent delight. ** Where know that I You know 
Buburika Mac! '* 

* * Yes, * ' replied Burt. He spoke slowly and dis- 
tinctly in order to make the pigmy understand 
and supplemented his words with gestures. 
** He's off that way. These people killed his 
party a few days ago and nearly killed him. They 
attacked us and brought us here yesterday.** 

** Hurt Buburika! '* demanded the pigmy 
angrily. He turned and poured out a flood of 
words at the darker pigmies who howled and beat 
the ground with their heads. One of his own men 



174 The Soys' Big Game Series 

stepped forward and spoke a few words and the 
yonng man turned to the boys again. 

" I friend," he said gently. " No can help 
mnch. You slave — go to Pongo." 

" To Pongo I " cried Burt in dismay. But he 
quickly rallied. " Where 'd you learn English I " 

" Buburika," smiled the young fellow proudly. 
'* Buburika ~ Leopard, little leopard. Him like 
me. Me help him. Help you maybe. Buburika 
Mac him Pongo too." 

The other white pigmies chattered something 
and Mbopo motioned to the boys to follow them. 
The black ones brought out the guns taken from 
the boys, together with the cartridges and knives. 
These Mbopo's men took care of and with the 
young pigmy at their side the boys were marched 
away from the village of the brown tribe. 

" No talkee," cautioned Mbopo. In a moment 
they were hidden from sight or sound of the vil- 
lage. All about them rose the dense jungle 
growth. Great trees stretched high above them 
with their boughs meeting overhead, matted with 
creepers and vines. Only an occasional ray of 
sunlight filtered through that vast canopy of foli- 
age under which leaped and chattered flocks of 



I n?,'i^ "^^ '"fit 1 

l^l-'BUC LIBRAfiy j 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 



175 



monkeTB. Tiny bees tormented them through the 
torn places in their nets. 

Every few yards they had to climb half rotted 
tree tnmks studded with briary creepers and 
-'alive with ants. They passed stagnant swamps 
and pools covered with greasy green scorn and 
emitting vile odors. Once or twice a black pigmy 
appeared silently, received a sign from Mbopo, 
and vamshed again without a word. That vast 
silence oppressed the boys terribly and they were 
heartily glad when tbey arrived at a village sim- 
ilar to that tbey had left, and halted for dinner. 



CHAPTER XIV 



THE SACBED UON 

*^ Things might be a whole lot worse/' said 
Critch as he stretched out after the meaL ^^ I'd 
kind of like a change from roast bananas and 
beans, though." 

** A little grub cheers a fellow up some, don't 
itt " returned Burt. ** I hate to think of what's 
coming to us, though. D'you s'pose they'll 
brand ust " 

** Search me," yawned Critch. ** I reckon 
Mbopo'U help us if he can. We just got to grin 
and bear it, old sport. Ain't no use whining." 

** Whining yourself, you red-head I " retorted 
Burt indignantly. ** D'you reckon they're toting 
us for their health t If we could only swipe one 
of those guns and lay out the big liont Here's 
Mbopo." 

The pigmy approached and squatted down be- 
fore them with a smile. Bis face was intelligent 
and well-formed. He had a row of cicatrices 

176 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 177 

down each cheek like his fellows and wore a 
leopard skin hung across his shoulders. 

** Mbopo help/' he asserted. ** How Bu- 
burikaf '' 

* * Him good, ' ' replied Critch. * * Good name for 
Cap 'n Mac, ain 't it, Burt I What are your people 
going to do with us, Mbopo? '' 

** White boys ju-ju,'* replied Mbopo. ** Give 
Pongo. ' ' 

'* Is that the lion Buburika laid out? '' ex- 
claimed Burt. The pigmy looked blank and Burt 
repeated his question. 

" Him lion,'' nodded the other. ** Maybe him 
scared you too. Him scared white skin. Scared 
Buburika. What? Mbopo help. Aye, vera 
good. ' ' 

The concluding words sent a twinkle into the 
boys' eyes but they were careful not to laugh. 
The very tone was an exact imitation of Monte- 
nay's voice. 

*' You bet that's good," replied Critch. ** Can 
you get one o' them bang bangs? Guns? " He 
made the motion of shooting but Mbopo shook his 
head decisively. 

** No got. Him stay here." The pigmy 



178 The Boys' Big Game Series 

pointed to the chief 's hut. ' * Come. We go. No 
fash yerself — Mbopo help ! ' ' 

Barely able to repress their laughter at the 
comical imitation of Captain Mac, the boys rose 
and Mbopo patted their hands encouragingly. 
He clicked and his men appeared from different 
directions. The boys saw that their guns were 
left behind. 

' * That don 't look encouraging — ' ' began 
Critch but Mbopo stopped him with a warning 
** no talkee *' and the march was again taken up 
through the jungle. A number of black dwarfs 
accompanied them this time and the boys were 
amazed at the agility with which the little men 
swung through the trees or cleared a path through 
the jungle growths. They seemed perfectly con- 
fident that their captives would not try to escape. 
Both boys realized how useless it would be and 
had not even discussed the idea. 

At nightfall they halted in a third Wambuti 
village. On the way the party of hunters with 
them brought in a wart hog and a small gazelle. 
On these the village feasted that night. There 
were no more bananas or plantains but plenty of 
the ground beans and some manioc and nuts like 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 179 

chestnuts which the pigmies ate voraciously but 
which did not appeal to the boys. 

They were left unguarded that night and tried 
to sleep in the open beside a fire. The insects 
proved too much for them^ however, and they 
were glad to seek the shelter of a hut, cramped as 
it was. As their belongings had not been taken, 
with the exception of their weapons, Critch still 
had his compass. That evening they discussed 
the course of their march and agreed that it had 
been north by east. 

** IVe been watching the needle,'' said Critch. 
** We came north yesterday from the camp. To- 
day weVe been traveling a little east of north. 
Golly, I'm tired! Guess we can't bank on your 
uncle finding us now." 

** Guess not," agreed Burt hopelessly. '' We 
only got one chance of ever getting out of this 
mess, Critch. If we can do what Cap'n Mac did 
we may work it." 

'* We got Mbopo to help," returned Critch. 
** I ain't looking forward to getting branded very 
eager. We got to get around that part of it, 
Burt." 

** DonH see how," answered Burt. ** It don't 



180 The Boys' Big Game Series 

look like Cap'n Mac hurt old Pongo very much 
with his blazing oil. We ain't got a gun either. 
K we knew any conjuring tricks we might make 
a bluff on Mbopo 's people. ' * 

** I can pull a coin out of handkerchiefs/' 
grinned Critch. ** But we ain't got a coin and if 
we don't keep our hankies tied on our hands we'd 
be eaten alive. Try again." 

** An electric battery 'd be the stunt," said Burt* 
*' Fellows in books always have batteries handy, 
or eclipses, or something. Guess we ain't lucky. 
What d'you s'pose Cap'n Mac would do if he 
was here! " 

** Prob'ly tell you to shut your head and go«to 
sleep while you can," grunted Critch. Burt ac- 
cepted the advice. 

They set out again in the morning and still 
traveled north by east. Mbopo said little to them 
that day. Instead of stopping at a village they 
camped out at noon and made a meagre meal of 
nuts and wild plantains. They were getting into 
higher country now although it was still jungle. 
The black hunters had not accompanied them and 
the six white pigmies were the sole guardians of 
the boys. At evening there was no sign of a vil- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 181 

lage and when one of the men brought in another 
small wart hog the rest scattered and collected 
more wild nuts and berries. 

They camped that night in the center of a 
ring of fires. These smudges protected them 
somewhat from the clouds of insects, but never- 
theless both boys suffered a great deal. Their 
mosquito nets were badly torn and their camphor 
was all gone by this time. Although the pigmies 
did not seem to mind the mosquitoes, they were 
very careful to avoid the hanging nests of the 
trumpet ants and the black wasps while passing 
through the jungle. 

The next morning there was still the same 
desolate silence all about them as they marched 
on. Mbopo had said nothing the night before and 
the boys had been too dead tired to ask any ques- 
tions. Toward noon they both noticed that their 
captors became more careless about keeping 
watch. The boys were nearly worn out by the 
terrible journey, but Mbopo pushed forward re- 
lentlessly. As the shadows lengthened the boys 
saw the reason for this. 

They had left the lower and denser jungle be- 
hind, and seemed to be slowly reaching higher 



182 The Boys' Big Game Series 

and freer ground. There was no restriction on 
their talking now, and as the snn touched the tips 
of the trees in the west Critch gave an exclama- 
tion. 

* * Look over there ahead, Bnrt ! That ^s a river, 
Burets you're boml '' 

** Mebbe it's the same one Cap'n Mac told 
about,'* returned his chum, catching sight of the 
silver thread that was partially hidden by the 
trees. At the name, Mbopo turned around with a 
cheerful grin and f dl back to their side. 

** Mbopo help," he asserted again. ** No fash 
yerself, lad." 

** Thanks, old man," exclaimed Burt. ** Is the 
village near I " 

** Pongo," nodded the dwarf, and Burt gave 
up trying to talk to him. 

Now two of the men darted ahead at a fast run. 
For another half mile they advanced along the 
river bank. Then the forest ended suddenly. 

* * Here we are I ' ' cried Critch. 

Before them lay a small yam-field, and beyond 
that the famous village of the white dwarfs. As 
Captain Montenay had said, it was a very large 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 183 

one. Despite their plight, the boys looked eagerly 
for the hut of Pongo. 

** There she is! '* exclaimed Burt, and Critch 
also gave a cry. Off to their left, almost at the 
edge of the trees and some distance from the vil- 
lage thorn-zareba, stood a large hut surrounded 
by something dark gray in the sunset. Their at- 
tention was soon drawn away from this, however, 
for a series of yells went up from the village and 
out poured the tribe to welcome them. 

As nearly as the boys could guess, there were 
something like three hundred warriors gathered 
about the gate of the zareba as they came up. 
Mbopo saluted them with a few words, but his 
little party held together and pushed through the 
crowd. Behind the warriors and inside the 
zareba was a still larger assemblage of women 
and children. As they passed the gateway, the 
boys found themselves in the presence of the chief, 
no doubt the same whom Montenay so disliked, 
for he was an old and shriveled man whose coun- 
tenance boded ill for the two captive youths. 

Clad in a splendid leopard-skin robe, he was 
seated on a pile of skins. Ranged behind him was 
a rank of picked spearmen, larger than most of 



184 The Boys' Big Game Series 

their fellows, and at one side were a dozen men 
with tom-toms made of hollow logs. As the party 
came in sight these men began beating their in- 
strumentSy sending up a roaring clamor that 
amazed the two boys. 

Mbopo fell on his face before the chief , and the 
others of the party after him. Only the two white 
boys remained erect, facing the glittering eyes of 
the old chief while he listened to Mbopo 's recital. 
At its conclusion he motioned to the latter to rise, 
and said a few words. The young dwarf replied 
and seemed to be expostulating, but the chief 
sprang to his feet in a flame of rage. Baising 
his arm, he pointed toward the separate hut, and 
both boys distinctly caught the one word 
** Pongo.'* At a sharp command MBopo and an- 
other dwarf jerked the boys and led them away to 
one of the huts, leaving them inside without a 
word. 

** Well,'* said Burt throwing himself down 
with a sigh of relief on some skins, * * the old boy 
certainly has it in for us. He ain't exactly a nice 
specimen, is he! *' 

** Not much,'* ejaculated Critch. ** Anyhow, 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 185 

I*m going to sleep, Bnrt. I*m too tired to care 
what happens." 

Burt stretched out likewise and immediately 
was lost in slumber. The day's trip had been a 
hard one indeed, and neither boy was able to re- 
sist the chance to snatch a little rest. When they 
awoke they were in darkness, and the voice of 
Mbopo was in their ears. 

* * All right, * * grmnbled Critch. * * Quit shaking 
me. What's up!*' 

** Him eat, vera good,'* came Mbopo 's voice. 
Growing accustomed to the darkness, the boys 
found that a faint light flickered in through the 
entrance. By this they saw the form of Mbopo. 
He gave them some roasted bananas and a 
gourd containing a sweetish drink made from 
the banana. Burt got out his matches and 
struck a light, by which they found it was 
nearly eight o'clock. They had been sleeping 
only three hours, but even that small amount of 
rest had refreshed them wonderfully, and the 
food and drink made new boys of them. 

When they had finished the last scrap, Mbopo 
motioned them to rise. Burt did so with a groan, 
for his muscles were stiff and sore, and a moment 



186 The Boys' Big Game Series 

later they were outside. Here they conld see a 
number of fires blazing in a vacant space near the 
thorn zareba, and toward this Mbopo led them. 

** Mbopo help/' was his only speech. ** Him 
lad kill Pongo mebbe. Him do like Buburika 
Mac.** 

** Don't see how,'* grunted Burt. 

'' Shut up," ordered Critch. ** Our friend's 
got a notion in his head that we 're here to kill the 
lion, I'll bet a dollar. Say, going to stand for that 
branding stunt? " 

** Not if I know it," came the quick response. 
** S'pose we can't help ourselves, though. See 
what turns up. ' ' 

** No talkee," cautioned their guide. They 
drew near the fires, and saw that the whole tribe 
was gathered around in a semicircle, enjoying a 
huge feast. In the center of this semicircle, not 
far from the thorn wall, the old chief reclined on 
his throne of rugs, the tom-tom beaters near him. 
Mbopo, who plainly stood in great awe of the 
wizened potentate, fell on his face in salute. Once 
more the boys calmly met the evil black eyes that 
stared at them, and Burt could see small hope in 
the malevolent glare of the chief. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 187 

After a few murmured words from Mbopo the 
chief gave a sharp order. A dozeu feet distant 
stood a small fire, over which hung some meat on 
spits. This was removed, and a warrior brought 
forward a long thin object that sent a thrill 
through Burt. It was a rudely-fashioned brand- 
ing iron. 

The warrior thrust one end into the fire. Burt 
moved closer to his chum, with fists clenched. He 
knew well how useless it would be to put up any 
fight, but he was determined not to give in to the 
torture without a struggle. The old chief smiled 
slightly at the action, and gave a motion. Four 
of the little warriors, only reaching to the 
shoulder of the boys, stepped forward with axes 
ready. 

** No use, old man, said Critch quietly. 
** We*ll have to take our medicine, I guess.*' 

The four warriors led the boys to the fire. One 
of them reached up and deliberately tore Burt*s 
tattered shirt from his shoulder. The pale-faced 
boy made no move to resist, and next moment the 
white-hot iron was taken from the fire, and the 
tom-toms rolled forth their thunder. 

But at that instant even the noise of the great 



188 The Boys' Big Game Series 

drams was drowned in an appalling roar that 
turned the eyes of all upon the thorn wall. The 
startled boys saw the latter bend, there came an- 
other terrific roar, then the stout thorn zareba was 
burst apart and into the enclosure rolled the form 
of an immense lion! 

Before a move could be made the cat-like animal 
regained his feet, gave one quick sniff of the air, 
and pounced on the old chief, who was struggling 
to rise. To the surprise of the boys the crowd fell 
prostrate ; a murmur of * * Pongo ! Pongo ! ' ' went 
up, and a moment later the lion gave one botmd 
and had vanished in the night, unharmed. And 
with him went the chief of the white dwarfs. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE IVOBY ZABEBA 

The whole thing happened in less than a mo- 
ment. As Burt recovered from his surprise the 
pigmies were still prostrate in the attitude of 
worship. Beside him lay the branding iron, un- 
heeded. With a quick motion the boy stooped 
and caught it up, whirled it around, and sent it 
flying across the zareba. Then he turned to 
Mbopo. 

* * Now make good ! * * he exclaimed, as a murmur 
arose from the crowd at his action. * * You 're the 
boss, Mbopo I '* 

As though he had understood the words, the 
young pigmy sprang to his feet and began to 
speak rapidly in the clicking language of the 
dwarfs. For a moment there was a surge of the 
warriors toward the captives, then it was stopped. 
Mbopo spoke more and more rapidly, and finished 
his speech by seizing a spear from the nearest 
man and leaping on the throne of skins, where he 
stood in an attitude of defiance. For a moment 

189 



190 The Boys' Big Game Series 

the crowd seemed stupefied by surprise. Tfien 
went up two bark-like notes from every throat, 
and once more the pigmies sank prostrate in the 
dust, saluting their new chief. 

** Bully for him I ** cried Critch delightedly. 
* * Now we 're all right, Burt I ' ' 

** Looks that way,** replied the flushed Burt, 
who had feared a speedy retribution for his rash 
act. Mbopo said a few more words, and again 
the peculiar bark-like guttural came from the 
crowd. There was a movement, and a dozen of 
the largest warriors, those who had formed the 
bodyguard of the old chief, stepped forward and 
saluted the new chief with a prostration. Mbopo 
had seized the throne. 

* * Now I wonder what *11 happen f * * said Critch. 
** Say, did you notice that lion's head, Burtf *' 

** Sure,** nodded his chum. ** It was all 
scarred white. Funny the way he butted through 
that thorn fence, wasn*t it? Just like he didn't 
see it.** 

* * I '11 bet the scar came from the oil Cap 'n Mac 
threw at him I " cried Critch excitedly. ** Mebbe 
it—** 

'' That*s it! ** exclaimed Burt. ** He*s bUnd! 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 191 

He conldn't see the zareba but he could smell all 
right. That^s it; he's blind! '' 

** Hurray I *' shouted Critch. Before he could 
say any more a murmur from the crowd stopped 
him. The conversation of the two captives had 
not passed unobserved. One of the old men came 
forward, saluted the chief, and began to speak. 
The crowd signified their approval by repeated 
clicks and Mbopo also nodded while the wonder- 
ing boys watched. 

The old man finished his speech. Mbopo stood 
in silence for a moment and then gave an order. 
To the astonishment of the boys they were sur- 
rounded and bound hand and foot in a flash, and 
laid at the feet of the chief. 

* * No fash yerself , lad, ' ' came the familiar voice 
from above them in reassuring tones. ** Mbopo 
help mebbe. Eall Pongo.*' 

The bewildered boys lay silent. Burt tried in 
vain to reason out what was the reason for their 
seizure. He was convinced that Mbopo was their 
friend, and yet it might well be that the pigmies 
had demanded a sacrifice to Pongo from the new 
ruler and that Mbopo had yielded. 

Then came another order, and the boys were 



192 The Boy 8^ Big Game ISIeries 

picked up by a dozen hands. They were carried 
away from the fires and through rows of grass 
huts to the gateway of the zareba. This was 
opened, and Burt felt a thrill of fear as he realized 
that they were being carried outside. Were they 
to be staked out for the lion as Captain Mac had 
been! 

The two were carried forward side by side, and 
at length were dropped on the ground. Then fol- 
lowed a clicking conversation, then the warriors 
retired and Mbopo leaned over them, knife in 
hand. 

** Kill Pongo,*' he whispered cheeringly as he 
cut their bonds. ** Mbopo help. Old chief vera 
bad mon. Mbopo him chief.** 

** Well, of all things I " ejaculated Critch as he 
sat up and rubbed his wrists. ** What does it 
mean, Burtf " 

** Why,'* responded Burt slowly, ** I guess 
Mbopo has a notion that we can kill the lion by 
magic. WeVe run quite a bluff and I guess we'll 
have to make good, old man. What'U we dot " 

Critch looked around. The night was oppres- 
sively silent save for the sound of drums and 
chanting from the village. They were sitting 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 193 

halfway between the town and the sacred hnt, 
which could barely be made out in the starlight. 

** If we could only get inside that hut/* re- 
turned the red-haired boy, ** without finding the 
lion there, we might wait for him with some 
poisoned arrows. We '11 never see our rifles again, 
that's sure.*' 

** The lion is blind, I guess,** said Burt doubt- 
fully, ** but I*d hate to stand up to him with 
nothin* but a bow and arrow. Besides, d*you re- 
member what Cap*n Mac said! They don*t use 
poison here.** 

** That*8 right! ** Critch turned to Mbopo. 
** You got poison, spears, arrows! ** He had to 
repeat the question several times before the dwarf 
could comprehend his meaning. When he did so, 
Mbopo shook his head, saying that he had none. 

** I don*t b*lieve he*s got you yet,** said Burt 
disgustedly. ** Well, we got to make good some- 
how, Critch. If Mbopo gets the notion that we*ve 
been running a bluff it*s good night for us.** 

** Are you game to tackle the hut? ** asked 
Critch shortly. ** We*re taking a chance on 
findin* Pongo at home, but it*s all I can see to do. 
Anyhow, Burt, he ain*t very hungry just now.'^ 



194 The Boys' Big Game Series 

** I s'pose not,** and Burt shuddered a trifle. 
'* Come on then,** and he rose to his feet. ** Say I 
Why couldn't Mbopo bring us some weapons! If 
we had one o * them axes — * * 

" That*s the talk! ** burst out Critch. '^ If we 
had a couple o* men with axes, Burt, we could 
make a trap for the old lion! How*s that? ** 

** Fine! ** replied Burt hopefully. '' Have to 
make it out o * pretty big logs, though. If the lion 
isn*t inside, we can make a fire an* scare him off 
for a while anyhow.** 

** Lot o* good that*d do,** grunted his chum. 
* * He wouldn *t know there was any fire there un- 
less he walked into it ! * * 

Burt turned to Mbopo. By dint of constant 
repetition and much patience he finally made the 
dwarf understand that he wanted another man or 
two and some weapons. Mbopo hesitated, then 
handed over a small axe that was slung at his 
waist. 

** Me got bruder,** he replied at length. 
" Bring him, bring plenty spear, heyf ** 

** That*s it,** exclaimed Burt. ** Bring *em 
over there, seet '* and he pointed toward the 
sacred hut. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 195 

" Mebbe so, pretty quick," asserted the dwarf, 
rather doubtfully. " Kill Pongo? " 

" You bet,'* answered Critch, a good deal more 
confidently than he felt, patting the dwarf on the 
shoulder. " Chase along now, old scout We'll 
kill Pongo right enough! *' 

" Vera good," replied Mbopo. The next instant 
he was lost in the darkness, and Burt turned to his 
chum. 

" Well, we might as well die game," he said, 
with an attempt at a smile. '* Ready? " 

*' I s'pose so," responded Critch, who had sud- 
denly lost bis confident manner. *' Glet your 
matches ready." 

The two boys started toward the sacred hat. 
Both were extremely stiff and sore, and in sad 
need of sleep. The sound of chanting and the 
throb of tom-toms came from the village behind 
without interruption, while in front of them was 
the forest, silent and black and somber. Suddenly 
the black hut with its dull gray stockade loomed 
up before them. 

" Who's goin' first! " asked Burt, half-heart- 
edly. 

*' I irill," volunteered Critch. Holding a matcK 



196 The Boys' Big Game Series 

ready, he entered the narrow gate of the ivory 
zareba. The little enclosure aronnd the thatch 
hut was empty, and before them loomed a small 
black doorway. Critch, with one swift gesture, 
scratched the match and flung it inside, stooping 
to look after it. The brief flame gave them a 
rapid vista of bare walls and floor. 

** Hurray I '* whispered the red-haired lad 
hoarsely. ** She's empty! ** 

Ashamed of his own timidity, Burt stepped past 
him without a word. As he went, he lit a match 
and held it on high. Tearing a piece of the loose 
thatch from the walls, he lit it and cast it on the 
floor and then the two boys looked around. 

The hut was much larger than the other dwell- 
ings of the white pigmies. The floor was littered 
with bones, leaves, sticks and dirt of every de- 
scription. Close inside the door stood three 
earthenware vessels, and while Burt threw more 
leaves and sticks on the little fire, Critch picked 
up one of these. 

' ' Pahn oil ! ' ' he cried. ' ' Here 's a light, Burt ! 
Put a strip of cloth in each of these and we '11 have 
elegant lamps.'* 

In another moment each of the three improvised 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 197 

lamps was burning faintly, while the fire also 
flared up. As it did so Burt gave an exclamation. 

** Say, I clear forgot about the mummy! There 
she is, Oitch.'* 

He pointed to the wall opposite the entrance, 
holding up his ** lamp.'* Both walked across the 
rubbish-littered floor, which smelt most fright- 
fully. Before them, standing erect against the 
wall, was a large wooden mummy-case. Most of 
its paint was gone long since, only a few faint 
traces of gilding remaining to show what it must 
once have been. Beside this lay an object that 
brought a whistle of amazement from Critch. 

'' That's Pongo, Burt! The golden ankh, 
sure's you're bom! " 

The boys looked down in awe at this relic of an 
ancient people. About four feet long and nearly 
as thick as Burt's wrist, the symbol of the God- 
dess of Truth gleamed up with a ruddy yellow 
color from the dirt that half covered it. Fasci- 
nated by the sight, the boys stared in silence until 
at last Critch uttered a sigh. 

** Well, we're wastin' time, Burt. We got to 
plan out that trap." 

Burt turned away from the two relics, and 



198 The Boys' Big Game Series 

threw some dry sticks on the fire. There was an 
opening in the center of the roof through which 
the smoke escaped fairly well. Bnrt's head was 
fnll of the mummy, and for the moment he paid 
no attention to his chum's remark. 

**It's kind of queer,*' he remarked, sitting 
down against the wall, ** to think of Ta-En-User 
meeting us this wayj Just think of his trip clear 
over from Egypt, and our trip clear over from — *' 

** Shucks,** interrupted the more practical 
Critch. ** I*m thinking of Pongo right now. 
Come out of it! We've got to frame up some- 
thing before Mbopo gets back.** 

** I can't see what there is to frame up,** re- 
torted Burt hopelessly. * * All we can do is to lay 
low. What kind of a trap you thinking of t ** 

** Well,** explained Critch, frowning, ** I kind 
of thought we could make one out of logs, like 
they use on bears out West. * * 

** Why wouldn't it be better,** suggested Burt, 
** to dig a pit like those Bantns do? We could 
dig it right out in front here, cover it over with 
grass, and stick a spear up in the bottom. That *d 
finish Mr. Pongo mighty sudden next time he 
came around.*' 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 199 

'' Can't do that/* replied the other. ** It's a 
mighty big job to tackle, Burt, If you 'd ever dug 
holes for fence posts you 'd know. ' ' 

** I wonder what Uncle Gteorge is doing right 
now! '* said Burt suddenly. ** Do you think he'll 
start after us? *' 

** He might," answered Critch doubtfully. 
^^ He'd never make it in a million years though. 
You know what the black dwarfs did to Cap'n 
Mac. Say, this is worse than any story book I 
ever read! We're right up against it solid, Burt. 
If we pull out of this hole it'll mean work. We 
ain't got your uncle to lean on or anyone else. 
Mbopo don't count for much, I'm afraid. Gosh, 
I wish we had a couple guns ! We could clean up 
on old Pongo like. a house afire." 

** He was pretty big, just the same," said Burt. 
** Lot's bigger 'n any we've bagged so far. Even 
if he is blind, which we aren't sure of, it wouldn't 
be any cinch to tackle him." 

** Anyhow," retorted his chum, " we can't ex- 
pect to lay around and wait for something to 
happen. We got to make it happen. We're in 
possession of the ankh, like Cap'n Mac was, so 
we're safe enough for the present. Mbopo 's the 



200 The Boys' Big Game Series 

only one who's game to go after Pongo, that's 
sure. If his brother is np to the mark we ought to 
do something.** 

* * That was fierce, the way the old chief got car- 
ried off, ' ' remarked Burt as he gazed around with 
a little shiver. Still the dull throb of the drums 
came faintly from without, but the chanting had 
now ceased. ** It was mighty lucky for us, just 
the same. Don't it seem funny, that here we are 
plannin' to kill Pongo right after he's saved our 
lives that way! " 

" There's a whole lot of things that strike me 
funny," answered Critch. ** Wouldn't it be great 
if we could carry off all this ivory and the gold 
ankh." 

** Huh!" grunted Burt. ** Fine chance of that. 
It stumped Cap'n Mac to do it." 

** Come on now, get down to business," said 
Critch, straightening up. ** First, we got to 
figure on how many logs we'll need. I should 
think we might rig up something right here inside 
the ivory zareba, but I don't see quite how. We 
can't very well fix a trap out in the forest, because 
Pongo ain't liable to be hungry right away. It's 
queer that he didn't bring the old chief here like 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 



201 



he brought Cap'n Mac. Mebbe he uses this more 
as sleeping quarters, and prefers to take his meals 
out in the open air." 



CHAPTER XVI 



BUBT LEFT ALONB 

" Critcli,** said Burt suddenly, ** that was a 
blamed good idea while it lasted. But it hasn't 
lasted. We can 't do it. * * 

** Sure we can I ** returned Critch hopefully. 
** Why not? *' 

** It*d take us a year to build a deadfall like 
that.'' 

** We don't need to I Ain't Pongo blind? All 
we have to do is rig up a figure-four trap out o' 
logs." 

** That'd be a nice easy job, wouldn't it I" re- 
torted Burt. ^^ He may be blind but he ain't 
foolish. No, sir, it won't work. We just got to 
kill that lion though. If we don't, Mbopo'U know 
we 've been runnin ' a bluff on him. ' ' 

** What you goin' to do? " said Critch irritably. 
" Sit here and let him come? " 

** Not much. Seems to me that if the lion's 
blind there ought to be some way of fixing him 
without any danger. We're safe enough from the 

d03 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 203 

pigmies while we^re here with Ta-En-User, but 
not from the lion. Dust your brain off! Think! '* 

* * All right, ' ' responded Critch briskly. * * Here 
goes for the first thing.** Without ceremony he 
got up and pulled over the mummy-case. ** We 
got to fix Mbopo sure, ain't we? Well, take hold 
o' this — don't bust it!'* 

" What you doing f *' exclaimed Burt as his 
chum began to pry open the mummy-case with the 
edge of the little axe obtained from Mbopo. 
Critch paused to reply. 

** It's a pipe, Burt! We'll just upwrap Ta-En- 
User here, seef I guess he ain't in extra good 
condition but he'll do for a while. Then we'll 
fill up the case with leaves and the wrappings. 
These pigmies have never seen inside the case, re- 
member. They don 't know a mummy from a goat. 
Soon's we get him unwrapped an' laid out in his 
nightie, out go the lights and you get back in the 
comer. 

** When Mbopo comes 111 tell 'em you did this 
to the ankh." Critch raised his axe and cut a deep 
gash on the cross arm in the soft gold. ** Then 
111 say that Pongo dried you up for insulting liinL 
Oetthepointf That'll scare 'em stiff. We'll take 



204 The Boys' Big Game Series 

the ankhy the stuffed case and the mummy back to 
the village. * * 

** Yes you will! *' cried Burt hastily. ** S'pose 
I *m going to stay here f * * 

** Sure you are! *' gribmed Critch. ** I'd do it 
only I reckon the mummy won't have red hair an* 
it wouldn't work. You've got to do it! " 

'' But what fort " persisted Burt. '' What's 
the use f S 'pose the lion comes f ' ' 

** If he comes you can throw some blazing oil 
at him just like Cap 'n Mac. That ought to scare 
him away. Soon's I get to the village I'll see if I 
can't locate some o' that poison. The whole 
tribe '11 be scared stiff when they see the mummy, 
'specially if he's kind of spoiled. You hide out 
here till morning and then I'll come back with 
what weapons I can get. I'll warn the dwarfs 
away from here first. That's the only way I see 
of gettin' what we need. We can't make Mbopo 
understand very well." 

* * It wouldn 't be a bad idea if you was going to 
stay here 'stead of me, ' ' assented Burt dubiously. 
* * S 'pose we kill the lion. How '11 you account for 
me coming back to life? " 

** I'll tote the mummy in here and bury him,** 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 205 

returned Critch promptly. ** Then maybe to- 
morrow night 1*11 have them bring the ankh to 
the doorway. I'll go through a Latin verb and 
yell and you walk out. Why, man, I'll be no end 
sacred ! We *11 own the whole blamed tribe ! * ' 

** It listens good enough,'* admitted Burt. 
** Tell you what you do. Send the stuflf on with 
Mbopo and build a fire right in front of the door 
before you go. Leave me some sticks — these 
bones ought to bum too. Mebbe that fire '11 keep 
the lion out. ' ' 

** Hurray! '* exclaimed Critch enthusiastically. 
** Now let's get the old boy unwrapped. It's been 
pretty damp for him here, I guess. He ought to 
be pretty well preserved in spite of that. He isn't 
torn up except at the neck. Off she comes ! ' ' 

Critch set to work at the head and Burt at the 
foot of the case. It did not take them long to get 
the gaudily-painted wooden case apart. Then a 
heavy aromatic odor filled the hut. As Critch had 
said, the mummy was unharmed except at the 
neck. Here the case had been splintered open but 
when the lid was off the boys saw that only a few 
layers of the wrappings had been torn away. The 
whole mummy was wrapped in cloths. 



206 The Boys' Big Game Series 

Burt and Critch lifted out the mass of wrap- 
pings to the mud floor of the hut. As they did so 
something tinkled and fell against the case. Their 
eyes fell on the remainder of the scarab necklace 
of which Montenay had obtained a part. Evi- 
dently it had been placed around the neck after 
the mummy was wrapped. Burt hurriedly stuffed 
it into his pocket. 

** Got that anyhow/' he remarked. *' Hope 
Mbopo donH show up before we get through. 
Here we go! " 

With the help of the keen-edged axe the 
mummy was soon unwrapped and laid on the floor. 
Intertwined with the wrappings the boys found 
six necklaces, each formed of gold beads of dif- 
ferent shapes. The largest was formed of half 
amber and half gold beads, and held a large 
pendant in the shape of the ankh. This was left 
on the munmiy, while Critch stuffed the others 
into his pocket. As he did so he gave a cry. 

* * Hello ! ' ' He picked up a tight roll of parch- 
ment, welded into a solid mass by the wrappings. 
** Wonder what this is? Well, we can't waste 
time on her now. Go slow — that's all right. 
Now we got to hustle, Burt.** 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 207 

* * Lay him here this way — right beside the 
ankh/* replied Burt. ** Stick your axe in his 
hand. Can't do that either. Liable to bnst off. 
Well, lay it handy here. I'd better keep it, so 
don't carry it off." 

The boys then hurriedly stuffed the pile of 
wrappings back into the case and put the lid on 
as before. It had formerly been cemented with 
some kind of strong pitch and now the gaping 
seam at the side showed plainly. 

** That won't do," cried Burt as they inspected 
it. " How '11 we fix that, Critcht " 

** Search me," replied his chimi, puzzled. 
** They'd see that in a minute, 'cause we busted 
up that cement considerable." 

** Cement I " exclaimed Burt. ** Looks a whole 
lot like tar to me, Critch. Mebbe a little heat 
would fix her up fine! " 

** That's the candy! " returned Critch. Each 
boy took a brand from the little fire and ran this 
along the seam. The black pitch-like stuff 
smoked, bubbled, and set them coughing, but to 
their delight it coalesced and it only remained to 
allow the cement to harden. 

** Gk)lly, I'm glad that's over! " sighed Burt 



208 The Boys' Big Game Series 

as he wiped his streaming face and threw his 
brand back into the fire. No sound had broken 
in on their labor except a throbbing beat of tom- 
toms from the village^ mingled once more with 
the shrill, steady chanting of the pigmy warriors. 
The boys had grown too accustomed to the night- 
noises of the jungle to heed the flickering far-off 
howls and cries that formed a faint background 
to the nearer sounds. 

* * We 'd better carry all the stuff near the door, ' * 
said Critch. ** We'll leave one light going so's 
they can see things right. * * 

Between them they dragged the heavy ankh 
over the floor to the entrance. Then the mummy 
was set beside it leaning against the wall, two 
of the lamps were blown out and Burt lay down 
in the far comer. Critch threw some dead leaves 
over him and then sat down to wait with his head 
on his knees. 

** Say, Critch I " grunted Burt suddenly. 
** Wonder what Uncle George 'd say if he could 
see us? Do you s'pose he an' Cap'n Mac are on 
their way home by now? *' 

" Don't you believe iti ** replied Critch grimly. 
** I'll bet a million dollars that they'll be hunting 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 209 

for us pretty qnick in the jungle. Your uncle 
ain't goin' to shoot for home and leave us back 
here. He ain't that kind and neither 's Cap'n 
Mac." 

** Guess you're right/' agreed Burt hopefully. 
** I wouldn't be s 'prised if Uncle George ducked 
in here all by his lonely. He wouldn't have much 
chance against them poison affairs of the black 
dwarfs, though," he added more gloomily. 

" You got to remember that we've only been 
gone a few days," replied Critch. ** Cap'n Mac 
had to get well, too. Tell you what, pard, we're 
powerful lucky not to be in his fix just about 
now. " 

** Well, mebbe you're enjoying yourself a whole 
lot," retorted Burt, ** but I ain't. Golly, don't 
this ol' place smell like all get out? You ought 
to be over here, Critch, with the bones and things. 
I wish Mbopo — " 

** S-shI " came a mutter from the other. ** I 
hear something down the line. Here's my box of 
matches. ' ' An object fell near Burt 's hand. * * I '11 
be back just as soon — lay low I " 

Burt, lying in the shadow cast by his chum, 
heard a light 8hu£9e of feet and then Mbopo ap- 



210 The Boys' Big Game Series 

peared in the doorway, holding another little 
figure by the hand, while a third followed re- 
luctantly. 

*' Him bruder,** grinned the dwarf happily. 
* * Him scared. T *ink Pongo kill. Kill lion — 
where bruder gone? '* 

The three dwarfs were standing within the en- 
trance now, gazing fearfully at Critch and the 
dim surroundings. 

** My brother very bad,*' answered the boy 
slowly, pointing to the ankh. * * Him take axe, hit 
Pongo. Pongo hit him with fire, bum him up,'' 
and he moved the single lamp a trifle so that the 
light fell full on the mummy beside him. 

Had the situation not been so serious Burt 
could have laughed at the sickly gray look which 
overspread the features of the pigmies as they fell 
to their knees. With one frightened groan all 
three buried their faces in the dirt. Critch knew 
it was time to act and rose to his feet. 

** Get up! ** commanded the boy sternly. He 
took the dwarfs by the hand and raised them up 
one by one. * * Pongo him mad. Him say no kill 
lion yet. Him say take to village.'' Critch 
pointed at the village and the pigmies compre- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 211 

hended. Then he patted them on the back and 
smiled and little by little their fears were over- 
come. Taking a spear from Mbopo he passed it 
through the loop of the golden ankh and signed to 
the two brothers to raise it. 

They obeyed after some hesitation, with fright- 
ened looks at the grinning mnmmy. Then Critch 
picked up the mummy and laid him in the trem- 
bling arms of Mbopo and made shift to get the 
case on his own shoulder. He led the way out and 
a moment later Burt was alone. 

He could hear the four stop outside while Critch 
lit a small fire in front of the entrance. Then the 
latter re-entered with an armful of large sticks 
and flung them down. 

** So long,'* he muttered. ** I'll put some logs 
up against the door inside the fire. If the lion 
gets through the smoke he'll stop at the logs 
mebbe. See you later. ' ' 

* * So long, ' * murmured Burt and the other van- 
ished. He heard a few sharp orders transmitted 
through Mbopo and then after five minutes three 
or four small logs were piled against the door. 
This was a decided improvement on his own plan 



212 The Boys' Big Game Series 

of the fire, for now the opening was nearly 
blocked. 

Burt waited for a few moments and then rolled 
over and sat up. The single wick was still burn- 
ing dimly and he picked up the box of matches 
and stowed them away beside his own. As he 
listened he could hear the deep throb-throb of the 
larger drums from the village mingled with the 
sharper and more staccato notes of the tom-toms. 
Over all rose the shrill monotonous chant. 

Suddenly there came a change. The tom-toms 
ceased abruptly with one or two scattered notes. 
The chanting died away an instant later. Then 
arose a low, mournful wail of absolute fear that 
made the listening boy shudder. This was fol- 
lowed by silence for a brief space and then came 
two bark-like notes such as had answered the 
young chief earlier in the evening. Critch had 
triumphed! Otherwise, Burt well knew that he 
would have heard only one shrill yell. 

Burt still had his watch in its safety-pocket and 
had kept it wound pretty regularly. He now 
drew it out and held it close to the blue flame. 
Two o'clock; the boy stared at the hands in- 
credulously. Had all these events only occupied 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 213 

five or six hours f He had been sure it was nearly 
morning. As it was, there were still three hours 
until daylight. Three hours before Critch would 
cornel 

For one moment Burt felt an insane impulse 
to rush from the hut and seek the village. The 
horror of the place rushed over him. The com- 
bined odors of the mummy, the burning oil, and 
the filth on the floor sickened him and he made a 
step forward. Then he paused abruptly. Critch 
was counting on him to fulfill his share of the 
task. His chum was doing his own share — it was 
no easy matter to face that village of pigmies. 
Was he to endanger everything at the last mo- 
ment? 

With a little sigh Burt drew back. He settled 
down among the dry leaves, leaving the light for 
companionship 's sake. As he leaned back his eyes 
closed and a feeling of delicious rest stole on him, 
for he was very weary and tired. In another 
minute he was sound asleep. 

He was awakened by something scratching and 
sniffing at the thatch behind him. 



CHAPTER XVn 

THE DIABT 

Burt leaped away with a yell of pure terror as 
he woke. He was answered by a deep growl that 
sent his hair on end with fright. The lion was 
outside and had smelled him! 

There was silence for a moment and then came 
a scratching at the logs before the entrance. This 
was succeeded by one angry roar and Burt con- 
cluded that the fire outside was still burning. He 
pulled out his watch with trembling fingers. 
Three thirty I And the sun did not rise until after 
four! 

A low mutter of growls and a swift pad-pad of 
feet came to him as the angry and baffled lion ran 
around the hut. Burt's first spasm of wild, un- 
controlled fear gave way to courage bom of des- 
peration. There was no place for him to run to. 
If he did manage to get out he must get past the 
lion and face the pigmy village. His only hope 
was to fight off the blind beast until Critch should 
arrive. 

214 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 215 

Burt got out his matches and lit all three of the 
jars of palm oil hurriedly. At the sound of his 
movements the growls outside increased in fury. 
Then the soft footfalls ceased and the next instant 
the whole hut quivered as the paw of the great 
beast struck it. 

The thatch was very closely woven, however. 
Burt hesitated between using the axe or the oil 
and finally decided to reserve the former in case 
the oil failed to drive off the lion. Again and 
again the beast struck at the side of the hut. The 
thatch shredded away with a rustle and the hut 
shook beneath the strain. Then a piece of the 
wall a foot square came away and into the open- 
ing swept a great yeUow foot armed with immense 
claws. 

Burt did not hesitate. With a match ready lit 
he set fire to the oil in one of the jars. It sput- 
tered, then broke into a burst of flame and the 
the boy swiftly flung it at the great paw which 
was clawing frantically at the side of the opening. 

A terrific roar responded, a roar such as the boy 
had never heard before in all his life. It drove 
the blood from his cheeks and left him gripping 
the handle of his axe, but outside he could hear 



216 The Boys' Big Game Series 

the lion rolling over and crashing among the long 
grass between the hnt and the zareba, and he 
knew that he was the victor for the moment. 

Another danger canght his eye and he sprang 
forward. Whipping oflf his coat he hastily beat 
out the flames that were ronning np the side of 
the hut from the blazing oil, and scattered dust 
over the latter with his foot. That frail thatch 
was his only protection now I 

He still had two jars of oil. One he was re- 
solved to keep in case he had to use the little axe. 
At least he would have the advantage of sight. 
His hopes and courage rose somewhat as he 
listened to the blinded animal thrashing about in 
the grass. Then came silence outside. 

Burt waited but could hear nothing. ' ' I hope 
he^s run off ! *' muttered the boy to himself. He 
hardly dared hope for that, however, and his fears 
were justified when he heard the swift pad-pad 
outside again. This time it was faster and 
heavier. Burt remembered the lions he had seen 
running like great cats across the plain and his 
heart leaped as he pictured the look of the animal 
outside. 

Now came a furious attack at the comer of the 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 217 

hut beside him. So sudden and unexpected was 
it that Burt was caught napping. Before he could 
strike a match or catch up the pot of oil he was 
horrified to see a double row of fangs crash 
through the thatch, followed by a great tawny 
head. Across the face extended a broad white 
scar as of an old bum. 

With one strangled cry Burt lifted the keen lit- 
tie axe and brought it down in the center of the 
white scar. He saw a tremendous paw that ripped 
across his breast and hurled him backward, heard 
a maddened scream from the beast, and as he 
fainted his last memory was of the rocking, reel- 
ing waDs about him. 

He woke with the sting of cold water on his 
face and gasped. His first thought was that the 
lion was over him, and he struck out blindly and 
savagely. 

" Go slow, old manl '' sounded the voice of 
Critch. Burt looked up and saw the face of his 
chum. He sank back weakly, while Critch went 
on bathing his face. ** Take it easy, Burt. Don't 
try to talk yet. Want a drink T '' 

Burt certainly did want a drink, and he half 
emptied the canteen of water at a draught, while 



218 The Boys' Big Game Series 

Critch supported him. Then he struggled to his 
feet, 

* * Let ^s get out o ' here, * * he murmured. A shud- 
der swept over him as he glanced around. There 
were gaping holes in the thatch walls, and before 
him was a pool of blood, black against the dirt. 
The two boys reached the doorway and Bmrt sank 
down gratefully in the warm morning sunUght, 
leaning against the wall of the hut. 

'* You must have had a fierce time,*' said 
Critch sympathetically. ** Are you hurtT " 

Burt glanced down and shook his head. His 
shirt had been ripped to pieces by that savage 
sweep of the lion's paw, but beyond one slight 
scratch he had escaped damage. He paled again 
at the narrowness of the escape. Then Critch 
thrust some roasted bananas into his hand, and 
the two boys made their breakfast together. 

* I feel a heap better now,*' smiled Burt 
weakly as he set down the empty canteen at 
length. ** Now we can talk.'' 

'* What happened, anyhow! " inquired Critch 
eagerly. ** When I got here five minutes ago you 
were lyin' on your back. I thought you was dead. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 219 

sure, when I saw all that blood and the wrecked 
hut/' 

Strengthened by his sleep and the food, Burt 
gradually regained his self-control as he related 
the story of that terrible night to his chum. 
Critch listened with eager interest, then rose and 
dashed into the hut. An instant later he reap- 
peared, frowning. 

** The axe is gone,'* he exclaimed excitedly. 
'* Think you killed him! " 

*' How do I know! '' retorted Burt. ** I hit him 
as hard as I could, and I guess it landed between 
his eyes, but that's all I can tell." 

'* You must ha' landed pretty hard, then," 
mused Critch, ** judgin' from all that blood. 
Anyhow, we can follow him up — " 

** Do it yourself," broke in Burt. ** I know 
just about how Cap'n Mac felt now. I wouldn't 
monkey with that lion again for a million dollars 
cash. No sirl " 

'' Well, I will! " cried Critch excitedly. " I 
can get Mbopo — ' ' 

" Oh, how did you come out! " interrupted 
Burt, with new interest. ** I judged from the 
sounds that it worked all right. 



220 The Boys' Big Game Series 

*' Workl '* laughed Critch. *' I should say it 
did work! Why, IVe got the whole blamed tribe 
eatin' out o' my hand, Burt I Even Mbopo ain't 
quite sure whether he ought to kow-tow or kneel 
down when he speaks to me. It was easy! 

* ' After we left here I had a lot of trouble trying 
to make the other fellows carry that ankh. They 
were scared to death of the thing. Before we got 
to the gate I fixed up the procession right. Mbopo 
went first with the mummy. Then come the two 
brothers carryin' the cmkh between 'em on the 
spear. I come last with the mummy-case. 

** The whole tribe was feasting and dancing 
and singing when we showed up. When Mbopo 
went through the gate and got into the firelight 
the bunch stopped all of a sudden. Then they 
saw the two boys with the ankh. The tom-toms 
quit work and everybody went down on their 
noses. Before they had a chance to look up I 
fixed things right. 

* ' I had Mbopo stand on that pile of skins. The 
ankh and mummy-case were set down right in 
front of him. I stood alongside him and took old 
Ta-En-User, setting him on his feet natural-like. 
About half the crowd was looking up by this time. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 221 

They couldn't understand what was up till I 
nodded to Mbopo and he began to speak. 

** Well, sir, he hadn't said more'n about ten 
words, pointing to the ankh and the mummy, be- 
fore them dwarfs let a howl out of 'em like they 
were all struck by lightning. ' ' 

** Yes," broke in Burt, ** I heard that. It sure 
sounded awful. ' ' 

'* I reckon they felt kind of awful," grinned 
Critch contentedly. ** I was scared stiff at first, 
honest. It seemed so blamed foolish, Burt, to 
trot out a mummy and a hunk of gold and set up 
as a god on the strength of it! I soon got over 
being scared, though. I could be chief o' that 
tribe right now if I wanted to I 

** Mbopo went on explaining how you hap- 
pened to be all dried up that way. The crowd 
turned several degrees whiter while he was talk- 
ing. It made me feel pretty mean for a minute to 
think o' them grown men an' women knuckling 
down that way to me. Then I got another idea. 

** I set Ta down gentle and reached out for 
Mbopo 's hand. It scared him, but he was game. 
I led him forward a step, then picked up the anhh 
an' stood it on end. When I took Mbopo 's hand 



-X — . _ _ 



222 The Boys' Big Game Series 

again his knees were shaking, but I grinned at 
him and placed his hand on the loop. When he 
found that nothing happened he just swelled up, 
an' looked at me so grateful and plumb happy 
that I couldn't keep from laughing. The crowd 
stared, but when they saw Mbopo standing there 
proud and confident, they hollered out their kind 
o ' cheer — two sharp little barks. ' ' 

'' Heard that too, nodded Burt. '' Whew, I'd 
like to have seen all that, CritchI But didn't 
you get any sleep at allT " 

** You bet I did! " was the reply. *' Just as 
soon as I got things settled that way Mbopo made 
another speech. Then I got him to understand 
that I wanted some place to sleep. He had a fel- 
low take me to an elegant big hut. There were 
lots of skins and stuff in there and I went to sleep 
right off. I was pretty near dead. I woke up at 
sunrise and got some bananas and water and came 
over here. That's all, I guess." 

" Well, when are you going to resurrect met " 
asked Burt. ** I'm not going to hang around 
here, I can tell you. ' ' 

' * You got to, ' ' replied his chum earnestly. * * If 
you showed up now it'd spoil the whole thing. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 223 

Burt! You can stay out Here in the shade, can't 
youT The zareba hides you from the village, as 
long as you keep away from the entrance. ' ' 

** All right/* Burt struggled to his feet, him 
self again. ** Let's have a look at that zareba, 
Critch.'' 

The two boys walked across the little open 
space and halted in front of the row of tusks. 
Strands of thorn-bush were interwoven among the 
tusks, which were planted closely in the ground, 
but the zareba was so low that the lion would 
have had no difiSculty in leaping over it. It was 
evidently intended more for show than for de- 
fence. 

* * Those tusks don 't look as if they were worth 
taking away, ' ' said Burt disgustedly. * * Look at 
how old they are, and all cracked up I ' ' 

Indeed, the tusks seemed very ancient. Their 
surface was not the smooth, white surface of new 
ivory but was gray and rough and pitted with 
holes worn by the weather and insects. 

*' They must have been here for a long time,'* 
agreed Critch. ** But I don't know 'bout their 
not being worth taking off, Burt. You know 
when your uncle swapped Mvita for those old 



224 The Boys' Big Game Series 

tusks o' hisf They looked just like these, and 
your uncle isn't buying old tnsks for his health. 
Besides, Cap'n Mac was crazy about these. If 
they hadn't been worth while he wouldn't — " 

** That's so," exclaimed Burt more hopefully. 
** Prob'ly they're all right on the inside. We're 
liable to make some money out o ' this trip yet. * ' 

** You talk just's if we had it cinched! " 
laughed his chum. '^ Say, take some thorns and 
pin your shirt together. I got to get back to the 
village now. I'm going to bring out some weap- 
ons and some more grub, but I want to make sure 
that everything's safe. I'll have to warn Mbopo 
not to come near here, too. I guess we can fix 
things up to resurrect you by to-night, anyhow.*' 

- You'd better," returned Burt, fastenins his 
tattered shirt together after Critch's suggestion. 
** I'm not going to stay here another night, that's 
straight. Why don't you get Mbopo out after 
Pongo with some of the men? " 

** Not yet," answered Critch thoughtfully. ** I 
want to finish up your business first. That'll tie 
everything down tight. Then we can get busy 
with the lion. I believe we'll pull out of this yet, 
Burtl" 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 225 

** Sure we will/* laughed Burt, his spirits fully 
restored by this time. *' I'm going to get some 
more sleep here in the shade. Better go easy with 
Mbopo. If he gets a swelled head he might make 
trouble. *' 

** No chance of that/' replied Critch, pausing 
at the gateway. ** He's a mighty good scout. 
Well, so long! Anything special you want? '' 

** Oh, nothin but a two-inch steak, a couple o' 
books, and a letter from back home,'* replied 
Burt. ^' So long! " And as his chum disap- 
peared he flung himself down in the long grass 
under the hut wall, whose shadow would protect 
him from the sun. He had come to care little for 
insects by this time, and in any case he was too 
weary to think about them. 

When he next opened his eyes the sun was in 
the west and Critch was shaking him vigorously. 
Burt sat up, yawning, to find his chum highly ex- 
cited. Beside them lay a collection of axes, 
swords, knives and spears. 

** Wake up, youl '' cried Critch. ** I got pretty 
near everything you asked for. ' ' 

** You got what! *• said Burt sleepily, staring 
at his chum. The& he remembered his parting 



226 The Boys' Big Game Series 

words and laugfied as Critch displayed a thick 
antelope-steak, a couple of baked yams and the 
refilled canteen. 

* * I got more than that, * * exclaimed Critch. * * I 
found a kid playing with something a while ago. 
Come to find out, it was this," and he threw the 
remains of a little red ^eather book into Burt's 
lap. The latter, who had already attacked the 
steak with the help of one of the knives, picked it 
up with interest. 

The little book drew a gasp of amazement from 
Burt when he opened it, for on the inside cover 
was inscribed, in small and neat writing, *' Mc- 
Allister Montenay, V. C. His Diary.'' 

** Is that straight? " asked Burt, looking up 
with flushed cheeks. Critch nodded. 

'* You bet it is. Get finished with the eats, 
while I tell you. I saw a kid trailin' that around 
in the dust, so I rescued it and took a look. You 
could have knocked me over with a feather when 
I saw what it was ! There 's a whole lot of it that 
you can't make out, but enough's left to do busi- 
ness with. 

*' Everything's lovely at the village. Some 
hunters brought in three wilcJebeest and an ante- 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 



227 



lope this moming and the whole tribe's feasting 
up. That seems to be about all they do/' 

Burt was not long in disposing of the provi- 
sions. After emptying the canteen, he picked up 
the little tattered red book once more and opened 
it, Critch close beside him. 



CHAPTER XVin 



BXTBT COMES TO UFB 

** Didn't know he was a V. C.,*' commented 
Burt, turning past the first page. ** Say most o* 
this is spoiled I '' 

The pages were many of them torn, all were 
smudged and streaked with dirt, and ominous 
dark red stains covered a large portion of the 
booklet. 

** Here's the first place you can read,'* and 
Critch turned over a number of unreadable pages. 
*' Start in right here.'' Burt settled back and 
read aloud as follows : 

** * June 1st. Five men down. Yusuf cut oflf 
from supplies. Will rush to-morrow. 

** * June 2nd. Bushed. Lost thirteen* Finished 
Yusuf. Got lots of ivory, unmounted yet. Bead 
burial service this evening. Big loot to divide.' '* 

** That next you can't read, most of it," broke 
in Critch. ** There's something about Pongo, 
though." Burt nodded and continued: 

* * * — with odd bit of wood. May be some truth 

228 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 229 

in it. Must investigate. If the boys will have a 
go at it — ' 

'' That's all, there,'' announced Burt. ** All 
that's about the time he cleaned up on the Arab 
caravan, ehT Let's see — there's five pages 
where everything's mussed up." 

** Looks like blood," laughed Critch, ** but it 
ain 't. That 's the red stuff the dwarfs use to stain 
their things with. See here, on this spear-shaft. 
There's a lot comes next that he wrote after he 
set up in Pongo 's place — it was his left arm that 
was hurt, so he could write all right. But you 
can't make out more'n a few scattered words. 
Turn to the last page that's written on. There's 
where the big thing is." 

Burt obeyed, turning over the pages rapidly. 
Most of the writing had been obliterated or 
stained over, but although the final page was half 
torn away, the remaining words were clear and 
legible. 

* * * Dec. 16th. Impossible to carry off the stuff. 
Must slip away while out hunting if possible. 
Not much hope. Eiver runs northwest. May 
find Arabs or English traders to the east or north. 
Will find from Mbopo whether — ' 



230 The Boys' Big Game Series 

*' And that^s all/' announced Burt, looking 
puzzled. *' I don't see what you mean by sayin' 
there's anything big there, though/' 

* ' Bead it over again, ' ' suggested Critch with a 
grin. Burt did so, and once more glanced up with 
a wondering look. 

'* You got me, Critch. What are you getting 
at, anyhow T '' 

" Don't you seeT " cried his chum excitedly. 
** That part about the river running northwest! " 

*' Well, what about it! " demanded Burt. 

*' Why, which way does the Makua runt ** 

* * If I remember the map, ' ' replied Burt slowly, 
** it runs due west, joins the Loangi, and 
meets up with the Congo on the way south. Oh, 
I seel " he added suddenly. ** You mean that 
this river out here runs up to the Makua? " 

** Brilliant! " exclaimed CritcE sarcastically. 
*' Why, it's got to, Burt! That is, unless it 
switches off an* goes south. I don't believe it 
does, though." 

** That won't do us much good either," re- 
sponded Burt. ** These dwarfs don't use boats, 
or Cap'n Mac would have gotten off that way." 

" What do we want of boats? " demanded 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 231 

Critch. ** After you're resurrected I'll be the 
boss of this tribe for fair. I'll set them to work 
on a raf t, and away we go I If we hit the Makua 
we're bound to strike your uncle and Cap 'n Mac 
sooner or latter." 

** Good for you I " cried Burt, staring at the 
other in wide-eyed comprehension. ** And we 
can carry off this whole blamed zareba that way, 
with the anJch too ! ' ' 

** Not much we can't," and Critch shook his 
head. ** We could get off with the ivory, I s'pose, 
if Mbopo helps us. But not the ankh. That's 
their real god, you know. I don't believe we'd 
dare try that." 

** Well, it's getting on toward sunset," and 
Burt glanced at the sun, just above the western 
tree tops. ** You'd better chase back and get 
ready to resurrect me. I ain't anxious to be 
around here after dark. What's the program? " 

**Why," replied Critch thoughtfully, ** you 
keep hid till dark. As soon's it gets good and 
dark, say eight o'clock. 111 lead out the mob. I 
don't know just yet what I'll do, but I'll bring the 
mummy in here. You get a hole dug to bury him 



232 The Boys' Big Game Series 

in. Then I'l lead yon out and you can shake 
hands with Pongo. ' ' 

** With which? '* exclaimed Burt. 

* * With the ankh — ju^t lay your hand on him 
like Mbopo did,'* explained Critch, laughing. 
** Stick that book of Cap*n Mac's in your pocket. 
If we get out o' here he'd like to see it again, I 
reckon. So long." 

'* So long," answered Burt. '* Don't keep me 
waitin' all night, now." 

So Critch departed on his mission, while Burt 
lay back to think things over. If it was true that 
the river near the village ran northwest, then it 
almost certainly ran into the Makua, or a tribu- 
tary of the Makua. In that case they would be 
perfectly safe in floating down. There would be 
dangers on the way, but by taking a few of the 
white dwarfs along Burt realized that these 
would be greatly lessened. On the other hand, 
should the river prove to turn and flow back to- 
ward the Aruwimi country, they would probably 
miss the caravan altogether. In any case, their 
whole future depended upon the issue of that 
night's ** performance," as Burt mentally styled 
his bringing to life. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 233 

The disappearance of the sun roused him to the 
fact that he had work to do. Taking a spear and 
a broad-bladed sword from the weapons Critch 
had left, Burt went inside the hut. Here he set 
to work energetically digging the hole for the 
final resting place of Ta-En-User, the High Priest 
of Maat. The tramped earthem floor was easily 
broken up by means of the spear, and as the dusk 
settled down over the forest Burt finished a shal- 
low hole suflScient to hold the mummy. 

** It's kind o' hard lines,*' he thought, wiping 
his dripping face as he returned outside. ^ ' Here 
old Ta was wrapped up carefully three thousand 
years back, meaning to lie quiet forever. He 
don't more than get comfortably settled down 
when along come the white dwarfs to rouse him 
up, and they carry him clear over here. Then he 
settles down once more, and we come along and 
finish him. If he'd been buried right in the first 
place — why, if they'd done things different three 
thousand years back there wouldn't be any 
Pongol " 

Burt was roused from his rather intricate cal- 
culations by a particularly savage mosquito set- 
tling on his ear. Having disposed of the insect, 



234 The Boys' Big Game Series 

Burt daubed his face and hands with what re* 
mained of the pahn oiL Then he beat down the 
grass at a spot where he could see between two of 
the tusks and settled down to wait. He was un- 
easy at the idea that the lion might return at any 
moment, and felt not the slightest temptation to 
drop off to sleep. 

The swift tropical night settled down over the 
f oresty and soon Burt could make out the glow of 
the village fires. After what seemed an age he 
heard the sound of chanting mingled with the 
throb of the tom-toms. This continued for half 
an hour, then ceased. A few moments later a 
moving light appeared at the zareba gate, fol- 
lowed by others. Burt guessed that these were 
torches, and knew that the time was at hand. 

More and more torches poured out of the gate, 
until by their light Burt could make out fairly 
well all that took place. It seemed that the en- 
tire tribe was leaving the village. At the head of 
the procession stalked Mbopo, with Critch beside 
him. Burt could see his chum carrying something 
wrapped in a skin, and knew this was the 
mummy. Then came the two brothers of Mbopo, 
carrying the golden ankh between them on a 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 235 

spear, while a third man bore the mummy-case. 
Behind marched the bodyguard of the chief, the 
rest of the tribe following in a mob. 

At the point where the boys had been left for 
the lion, halfway between village and hut, the 
tribe was halted. Mbopo arranged the men and 
women in a wide semicircle, evidently following 
the orders of Critch. The ** drum corps *' was 
then brought to the front, the greater part of the 
torches were extinguished, and Critch, Mbopo 
and the bearers of the relics moved forward. 
Burt saw his chum stop at a point distant about 
a hundred feet from the hut and directly in front 
of the gateway. 

After a slight delay, a fire was lit here. This 
presently blazed up, Critch wishing to wait until 
plenty of light was cast upon the sacred objects 
and the gateway of the ivory zareba. At a signal 
from Mbopo the tom-toms began a steady, regu- 
lar beat and the pigmies broke into a low chant 
that swelled at intervals until the echoes came 
back faintly from the forest. Burt watched the 
scene through his loophole in silent fascination. 
He had no fears as to its outcome, for the dwarfs 
were plainly under the dominance of Critch. 



236 The Boys' Big Game Series 

Now the fire blazed up higher and higher. 
Burt saw his chum, whose flaming hair glowed 
out in the ruddy light, suddenly raise his hand. 
The drums and chanting stopped abruptly, and 
the dead silence that ensued sent a quiver through 
the boy behind the ivory stockade. Critch bent 
over, opened the skin bundlCi and exposed the 
mummy to view. At this, one prolonged groan 
went up from the audience and the crowd went 
down on their faces, even Mbopo falling prostrate. 

Moving a step forward, Critch faced the sacred 
hut and began to speak. His voice came faintly 
at first, but as he gained confidence it rang 
louder. The words came plainly to Burt. Critch 
first delivered all the French he could think of, 
then broke into Antonyms oration, which he had 
learned at school the year before. Perhaps fear- 
ing that Mbopo might comprehend too much of 
this, Critch switched off abruptly and delivered 
a complete conjugation of the Latin verb ** ha- 
beo,'* speaking slowly and distinctly in as deep 
a voice as he could assume. 

Burt was doubled up in silent laughter, and he 
saw his chum pause at times as though struggling 
to repress his feelings also. But his face was 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 237 

away from the pigmies, and his voice remained 
firm enough. Burt could well imagine the effect 
produced by all this mummery upon the ignorant 
and highly superstitious pigmies, ridiculous as it 
might appear to him. 

Finally Critch ran out of words, it seemed, for 
he stopped suddenly. The firelight gleamed on 
hundreds of eyes behind his figure, and Burt won- 
dered vaguely what would happen if the waiting 
tribe should by any chance see through their 
trickery. The thought made him collect all his 
forces, and at this moment Critch stooped again. 
Picking up the munmiy, he touched it to the 
golden ankh. 

At the action a ripple of sound rose from the 
pigmies, followed by what was almost a wail of 
fear as Critch straightened up, the mummy in 
his arms, and began walking slowly toward the 
sacred hut. Burt knew it was time to get inside, 
so he slipped in through the hole made by the lion, 
the doorway being in view of the crowd. A mo- 
ment later the form of Critch darkened the en- 
trance. 

** Fine work I '* whispered Burt. He was an- 
swered by a sight of relief. 



238 The Boys' Big Game Series 

** Take Ta, willy out I'm all in. *' Critchsank 
weakly down, and with some repugnance Burt 
caught the mummy. Placing it in the hole, he 
filled in the earth, tramped it down, and sprinkled 
leaves and bones over the place. " Say,*' went 
on his chum, ** that may have sounded funny to 
you, but it was something fierce I ' ' 

* * Never mind, * ' murmured Burt. * * You did it 
mighty fine, old man. ' ' 

** It was awful to think what'd happen if I 
made a slip, * ' confessed Critch. * * Honest, Burt, 
I was so weak-kneed I could hardly walk over 
here! '* How you coming? '* 

''He's buried,'' responded Burt as he finished 
his task. ** Do we go out now? '' 

'* No use keeping them waitin'," said Critch. 
*' I'm goin' to leave the ankh and the mummy- 
case in here for good. Are you ready? Give me 
a hand." 

Burt helped his chum to his feet Critch 
stepped into the doorway, holding Burt's hand. 
Then began a slow and solemn advance across the 
firelit space before the hut. As the figures of the 
two boys came into sight of the pigmies, an in- 
describable murmur of awe swept from the crowd. 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 239 

Then came a prolonged groan of unutterable hor- 
ror as Burt's face stood out more clearly, and 
Burty whose gaze was fixed on Mbopo, saw the 
pigmy chief go down in the dust, his extended 
hands trembling in the firelight. A moment more 
and the boys stood beside the ankh. 

Beleasing Burt's hand, Critch caught the loop 
of the symbol of Maat and stood it on end. Then 
Burt placed his hand on it beside that of Critch. 
At this a click, seemingly of joy, arose from the 
crowd. Mbopo looked up, his face ashen gray, 
and wild amazement in his eyes. 

Critch now beckoned the two brothers forward, 
and at his repeated gestures they trembling took 
up the cmJch on the spear and awaited his further 
commands. v 

** Take one end o' the case," directed Critch. 
Burt obeyed, and the two boys led the way back 
to the hut. No sooner had they deposited the 
ankh than Burt chanced to touch one of the pig- 
mies in the dark. The man gave a terrific shriek 
and dashed through the doorway, followed by his 
brother. For a moment a wild fear clutched Burt. 
What if the mob imagined that they were hurting 
the two men? The boys hurried out, and found 



240 The Boys' Big Game Series 

the men prostrate beside Mbopo. Critch raised 
them up and Burt, needing no instmction, smil- 
ingly touched each of the shrinking men in turn. 
Finding that they suffered nothing, their fear 
gradually lessened, and as Mbopo grasped the 
hand of Burt there was a look of joy in the honest 
eyes of the young dwarf that told far more than 
any words could have done. 

Then Critch led the way to the village. The 
crowd, still prostrate, separated to let them 
through. Ten minutes later the boys lay side by 
side on a heap of skins in a hut, too much over- 
come by the strain to even speak. But as Burt 
fell asleep, he knew that they had won the fight. 



CHAPTER XIX 



THE BAFT 

When he wakened, it was hard for Bnrt to 
realize where he was. He stared up at the 
thatched roof above him and gradually collected 
his thoughts. A shiyer swept over him as he 
recollected what had occurred the preceding 
night. He sat up, and saw Critch still asleep be- 
side him. It appeared to be broad daylight out- 
side, and he roused his chum at once. Critch 
rolled over and sprang to his feet, then stood 
blinking around with so puzzled an expression 
that Burt went into a shout of laughter. 

** What's the matter f *' he gasped. 

** I was dreaming that old Ta was having a 
scrap with me,'* confessed his chum sheepishly. 
** He threw the ankh at me and just then Pongo 
come along and jumped him. Both of 'em rolled 
over on me and I woke up.*' 

** Say, was last night all a dream? '' asked Burt, 
soberly, as he stared at his chum. " Or did we 
really put it over — " 

841 



242 The Boys' Big Game Series 

* * You bet we did ! * ' cried Critch with a grin of 
recollection. ^^ No dream about that, old man. 
We Ve only been here two days, but we Ve done a 
heap of things. Now we got to finish the lion. 
Then we can see about getting off.'' 

"I'm not anxious to monkey with Pongo/' 
stated Burt. " However, we might send out 
Mbopo to trail him. I'll take him over to the hut 
if you'll get some breakfast fixed up.'* 

** I'm on," exclaimed Critch. Upon leaving 
the hut, the two boys found themselves objects of 
awed veneration from the pigmies. They met 
Mbopo, and Burt took him out to the sacred hut. 
Here he described the fight with Pongo in detail, 
not mentioning when it occurred and purposely 
leaving the dwarf rather confused. There could 
be no such doubt about the struggle itself, how- 
ever, and Mbopo nodded understandingly. 

They then left the ivory zareba while Mbopo 
made a cast around the place for the lion's trail. 
Burt accompanied him, and Mbopo soon uttered 
a shout of excitement. Running to his side, Burt 
saw the beaten spot in the tall grass where the 
lion must have alighted from his last leap over the 
ivory zareba after having been wounded. Then 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 243 

was a speck or two of dried blood in evidence, and 
Mbopo found more blood farther on, as well as a 
clearly defined trail. The excited pigmy was for 
following it up at once, but Burt held him back. 
By dint of much patience he made Mbopo under- 
stand that Critch, whom the pigmies called 
** Mwanzi,'' or ** Bed-head,'' must accompany 
them, as well as some warriors. Burt had had 
one experience with a wounded lion and he in- 
tended to take no chances this time. 

The two returned to th« village where Mbopo 
shouted forth his news, and Burt was instantly 
the center of an excited mob. He pushed through 
them, however, and found Critch with breakfast 
ready. Over the meal they discussed the matter 
of the lion, and decided to start out at once. 

** Mebbe they'll go without waitin' for us," 
suggested Burt, glancing at the chattering crowd 
of warriors around the young chief. Critch shook 
his head. 

" Not much. They ain't got the nerve. They'll 
do whatever we tell 'em, but they won't leave us 
out o' the game, take it from me." 

As soon as they had finished, the boys joined 
Mbopo. Their first object was a search for weap- 



244 The Boys' Big Game Series 

ons. Critch suggested taking two of the spears, 
whose blades were over a foot long and keen as 
a razor, but Burt objected. 

** We donH know how to use them,*' he said. 
'^ Let's see; didn't Cap'n Mac say something 
about trade-guns f " 

'* Mebbe he did," assented Critch, ** but I 
haven 't seen any sign of guns around here. Let 's 
askMbopo." 

They tried to make the young chief under- 
stand, but without success. Thereupon the boys 
took matters into their own hands, and began a 
search among the largest huts. This was pres- 
ently "rewarded by the finding of an old Snider, 
wrapped in tarpaulin. There were three cart- 
ridges in the magazine, but no more. These were 
displayed to Mbopo, but he stated that there were 
no more weapons of the kind in the village. 

** Well, she seems to be in pretty fair shape,*' 
remarked Burt, squinting down the barrel of the 
rifle. ** Get some palm oil, Critch. Three bullets 
ought to do." 

** Don't catch me around when you fire that 
thing," sniffed his chum disgustedly. ** She's 
liable to bust. I'll bet she's twenty years old." 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 245 

** Better 'n a spear at that,*' chuckled Burt, oil- 
ing the rifle until it worked perfectly. ** We ain*t 
so badly off, Critch. There, I guess that'll do. 
•Eeadyf '' 

Critch armed himself with one of the spears, 
and at the head of twenty picked warriors they 
left the village. Mbopo led the way to the spoor 
already found, and Critch at once ordered the 
pigmy warriors to follow it up. 

** Let 'em take the chances," he grinned. 
* * They ain 't scared now I 'm along. If they find 
Pongo you can finish him with the gun — unless 
the gun finishes you. ' ' 

** You're sore because you didn't find the gun 
yourself," retorted Burt. ** Come on, they're 
quite a ways ahead. ' ' 

The pigmies had started at once along the spoor 
of the lion, spreading out on either side and call- 
ing to one another continually. The boys fol- 
lowed more carefully with Mbopo. The spoor led 
them through the long rank grass into the forest, 
and was easy for the boys to read. 

The lion had made only one leap after leaving 
the zareba. This had taken him almost across the 
grassy space. Upon reaching the first thicket he 



246 The Boys' Big Game Series 

had crawled along and left a plain blood-marked 
trail for the hunters to follow. A hundred yards 
farther on they heard a shrill yell from ahead, 
and hurried on. 

Emerging from the thicket, they found the pig- 
mies clustered about a clump of thorn-bushes. 
These were almost impenetrable save by the trail 
left by the lion. The pigmies reported to Mbopo, 
who turned to Gritch. 

'' Him Pongo in there/' he stated, pointing to 
the bushes with a grin. *^ Mwanzi killf Vera 
goodi '' 

Critch hesitated. He glanced at the waiting 
pigmies, who evidently had not the slightest in- 
tention of robbing him of the honor of going first. 

** Come on,'' he muttered to Burt ** We got 
to pull the bluff through right here. Have your 
gun ready." 

Burt nodded. The two boys, their hearts beat- 
ing fast, advanced to the edge of the thicket. No 
sound came from the bushes, and Burt thrust the 
first branches aside as he entered. The thorns 
made sad havoc with their clothes, but the boys 
were too anxious to heed this. A moment later 
Burt gave a startled exclamation. Critch came 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 247 

to his side, and the boys saw a tawny shape lying 
ahead of them. 

** Is he dead? '* whispered Critch. 

'* Can't see him plain enough," responded 
Bnrt ** If he jumps and I don't stop him, try to 
catch him on the spear/' 

A few steps farther on and the lion came into 
full view. He was lying on his side, stretched 
out, and something black hid his head. Burt lev- 
elled the gun, but as he did so the black object re- 
solved itself into a swarm of flies, who buzzed up 
at the noise made by the boys. 

'' Hurray I " shouted Burt, flinging down the 
gun, ** he's deadt ** 

'' Look at the axet '' yelled his chimi, pointing 
to the weapon that was almost buried in the skull 
of the beast. '* (}olly, you must have hit like 
fury! Hey, Mbopol *' 

The pigmies were not far behind the boys, and 
at the shout they came dashing forward. A shrill 
yell went up as they saw the dead lion, then all 
remained silent and motionless, gazing down at 
the form of the beast which they had worshipped 
for so long. That he was blind could be easily 
made out, for the white scar ran across his eyes, 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 249! 

** There's some big trees growin' handy, *' an- 
nounced Critch. ^^ How'U we make it? '' Burt 
thought a moment. 

* Why/' he replied slowly, ** take four big 
logs an' lash 'em in a square. Then put four on 
top o' them, with a platfonn. That ought to float 
pretty high even with a good load. Guess we'll 
have to make two rafts, though. We couldn't 
carry any men an' that ivory on one, 'less we 
made it almighty big." 

** The river wouldn't stand for a very big one," 
suggested Critch. ^^ Go an' get a bunch o' the 
men, Burt. We might as well pitch in right 
now." 

Btrt nodded and returned up the path, leav- 
ing Critch to inspect the trees growing at the 
edge of the river. He returned with a score of 
men, all of whom brought their little axes. They 
looked wonderingly at the two boys. 

** Here's a good tree,'* declared Critch, point- 
ing to one about two feet through. ** We'll take 
an axe an' show 'em how to do it." 

Shedding their upper garments, for the place 
was by no means cool, the boys fell to work on 
the tree. The pigmies comprehended at once, and 



250 The Boys' Big Game Series 

also went to work on three other trees picked ont 
by the boys. The latter, having started things 
satisf actorily, flung themselves down in the shade 
and directed operations. 

When the first tree was about to fall, they 
showed the dwarfs how to make it fall toward the 
stream, so that it lay half in the water. There 
seemed to be no crocodiles in the river, the men 
splashing about without fear. Then Burt took a 
spear and measured a straight section of the 
trunk for three spear-lengths, or fifteen feet. 
While Critch saw that this was lopped and cut 
rightly, Burt visited the other workers. 

All this, however, was not done in a few mo- 
ments. The axes of the pigmies were keen, but 
they were also very small. No sooner had the 
work begun than the whole tribe came down from 
the village to look on with wondering interest, 
and Mbopo shortly after arrived also. 

It was well into the afternoon before the four 
trees were down, and not until noon of the next 
day were they cut into the proper lengths and 
trimmed. Finally, however, the logs lay end to 
end in the shape of a square, in the shallow water. 
Burt now explained to Mbopo that these were to 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 251 

be fastened together. The young chief compre- 
hended at once, and with strips of tough hides 
had the first part of the raft completed by night- 
fall 

The abundance of help lightened the work won- 
derfully, as the other warriors learned the work. 
They went at it like children, laughing and play- 
ing continually^ until the two white boys won- 
dered how they could ever have stood in fear of 
these pranking dwarfs who were so full of fun 
and laughter. 

At the end of five days the first raft was fin- 
ished to the satisfaction of the boys. Even when 
the platform was crowded with men it floated 
clear of the water, and with an ordinary load the 
platform would be at least a foot above the sur- 
face. The whole fabric was very strong, for the 
platform itself was formed of saplings which 
were lashed carefully, and no ordinary shock 
would break up the raft. A small bulwark was 
then run around the edges. 

At the end of a week the second raft also lay 
completed, and now the boys had to face the some- 
what difficult task of explaining their purpose to 
Mbopo. They took him over to the sacred hut. 



252 The Boys' Big Game Series 

and Burt pointed to the ivory tusks, with ges- 
tures of uprooting them. 

^^ Take him to Buburika Mac/' he explained 
over and over. ** You go along. Come back 
afterwards. ' ' 

Mbopo looked doubtful as he grasped the idea 
that the tusks were to be loaded on the rafts. 
Finally, however, he nodded and the boys drew a 
breath of relief. That they would be obeyed now 
they had no fear at all, for the pigmies were their 
devoted slaves in every way, and stood in evident 
awe of the two boys and especially of " MwanzL*' 

This belief was confirmed when Mbopo ad- 
dressed the tribe in a great council that night. 
The pigmies made not the slightest opposition, 
and the boys could see by his gestures that he was 
describing their desires. 

** All right,'' murmured Burt as the two short 
gutteral barks ascended from the audience, '^ it's 
all over but the shouting, Critch. S'pose we can 
get the stuff loaded up to-morrow t " 

** We ought to," replied his chum. ** Well 
have to see first. Those thorns are tangled up 
with the tusks somethin' fierce." 

Next morning the entire tribe left the village 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 253 

and approached the sacred hut of Pongo. Under 
the direction of Mbopo, who took matters into his 
own hands now, the work of uprooting the ivory 
was begun. This was diflScult, but by evening the 
last of the great tusks lay in the pile by the river 
edge. All that remained was to load them aboard 
the rafts. This, however, would be no easy mat- 
ter, for the tusks were heavy and the balance of 
the rafts must be preserved. 

Critch took charge of the loading, while Burt 
attended to getting provisions together for the 
journey. There was dried meat in abundance, and 
plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. The boys 
had a long consultation over loading the ivory, 
for even with the protection of the dwarfs a raft- 
load of tusks would be too much of an inducement 
for the tribes they were sure to meet. 

At length it was settled by making a layer of 
tusks, of which there were tKirty-nine in all, on 
the platforms. Fifteen of the tusks had been dis- 
carded by the boys as worthless. Over the layer 
of ivory was placed enough dirt to fill in the 
spaces and hold the tusks steady. A top layer of 
skins completed the whole. 

The young chief made no objection to taking 



254 



The Boys' Big Game Series 



the journey on the rafts, for the boys held out 
'^ Buburika Mac '' at the end of the trip as a 
bribe, and Mbopo could not resist. He selected 
six warriors for each raft; he and Burt took 
charge of one and Critch of the other. Poles were 
cut for the ** deckhands/' as Burt named the 
crewsi and at length all was ready. 



CHAPTER XX 

DOWN THE MAKUA 

The start was made in the early dawn of a 
perfect day. The whole tribe assembled to see the 
party off, and it was plain that the pigmies, while 
not opposing the departure, did not like to lose 
^^ Mwanzi/' for many gifts were brought to the 
boys, with gestures of good wilL In their turn, 
Burt and Critch gave away all the small articles 
they possessed except those which they would ab- 
solutely need. Their collection of weapons was 
completed, and Burt carefully wrapped up the 
rifle with its three precious cartridges in the tar- 
paulin. As the sequel proved, it was well indeed 
for the boys that they had found the old rifle. 

Finally all was ready. The warriors took their 
places on board, standing amid the piles of pro- 
visions and skins of water, for the boys dared not 
drink the river water, 

" Cast off! '' shouted Critch", throwing off the 
vine that bound his raft to the bank. Burt fol- 
lowed suit. A roll of tom-toms and a loud shout 

256 



256 The Boys' Big Game Series 

rose from the tribe, which was answered by a 
shout from the crews. Slowly the poles sent the 
rafts out into mid-stream, where the current 
caught them and swept them down. For half a 
mile they remained in sight of the villagOi then a 
bend swept all away. The perilous voyage was 
begun. 

Burt 's raft followed that of Critch at a distance 
of fifty feet. Neither boy made any effort to in- 
crease the speed of the craft, confining their ef- 
forts to keeping the rafts from turning around 
and around in the current. Both floated well 
above the water, and the pigmies were highly de- 
lighted with their novel situation. 

The river was of good size and to the joy of the 
two boys it continued to flow steadily toward the 
northwest. They floated down between banks of 
heavy vegetation, but saw no signs of life. That 
night they camped on an island and the party 
seemed in high spirits. 

The next day they received their first sign of 
the hidden life that filled the great jungles. There 
came a high shrill yell from one bank, to which 
Mbopo replied, and the boys knew that once more 
they were among the black dwarfs. This was re- 




A roll of tom-toms aixl ii luud slioiit arose from tlie t 
the bank. Slowl; the poles sent the rafts out into iniil 
nhere the current caught them and etrept them down. 



THE NEW YORK 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 

AFTOR. LENOX 
TILbbN iTOUt^LATlCN 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 257 

peated in the afternoon, but even by the aid of 
their glasses they could not make out who had 
hailed them. 

Only once did they meet with trouble. This oc- 
curred when Critch ran aground on a hidden 
shoal. The solid raft ran deeply into the mud of 
the river bottom and it took the efforts of both 
crews to get her off. 

For three days more they floated down the river, 
but on the third evening both boys noticed signs 
of uneasiness among the pigmies. In the morn- 
ing, before the starts Mbopo approached Critch. 

** Where Buburiba Mac? *' he inquired, glanc- 
ing around as if he Expected to find Captain Mon- 
tenay in their vicinity. Critch glanced at Burt. 

** Him down there,'' and he waved his hand 
downstream. Mbopo looked doubtfully around. 

** Mbopo no like vera good,'' was his reply. 
* * Him Zwengi pretty quick. ' ' 

** Zwengi! " repeated Critch, puzzled. 

* * Him vera bad, ' ' declared Mbopo. * * Him big, 
much fight. Mbopo no like." 

** Must be a tribe they're at war with," said 
Burt. He took up the rifle and turned to the chief. 
'' Him kill Zwengi." 



258 The Boys' Big Game Series 

" Mwanzi kill Zwengi! '* asked Mbopo of 
Critch, plainly putting all his faith in the latter 's 
prowess. Critch laughed and nodded. Mbopo 
turned and spoke joyfully to his men^ who in- 
stantly lost their uneasy appearance and sprang 
aboard with a shout of delight. 

** It's up to you/* grinned Burt, and Critch 
nodded soberly. 

* * Plain bluflf again, ' ' he said. * * If we are held 
up, those bows o ' the dwarfs ought to get in good 
work, an* your three cartridges 'U help a whole 
lot unless the Zwengi have guns. If they have, 
it's all up, I guess.** 

** The Makua can*t be so very far otf now,** re- 
plied Burt. ** The river *8 getting bigger and big- 
ger, and the current *s swifter. S*pose we could 
rig up any kind of breastwork on the rafts ! * * 

** Better not waste time trying,** dissented 
Critch. ** I*m afraid of making them top-heavy. 
Well, let*s be off. We ought to hit the Makua 
pretty quick now. If we don't meet Cap*n Mao 
I expect Mbopo *11 be sore. That*8 what*s worry- 
ing me right now. * * 

It was worrying Burt too, but he jumped aboard 
his raft and cast loose without giving vent to his 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 259 

fears. He realized only too well that the Zwengi 
might have canoes, and if they were discovered 
and pursued their only hope was to beat off the 
enemy. 

For several hours they swept along the rapidly 
widening river without any sign of a foe. Toward 
noon the stream swept around in a great bend, 
and as Burt stared ahead he caught a wild shout 
from Critch. 

* * There she is t ' ' and the red-haired boy danced 
around and waved his arms back at the other raft. 
** The Makua, Burt!'' 

Sweeping around with the current, Burt saw 
ahead of them two or three scattered islands. Be- 
yond these was the sheen of water, and he could 
plainly see that their river formed a juncture with 
another and much larger stream. As he was star- 
ing down the river there came a sudden yell from 
his men. 

'* Zwengil '' 

Whirling around, Burt saw them pointing to 
the right bank. At the same instant a yell of alarm 
went up from Critch 's raft. It was answered by 
another shout from the right bank, and Burt saw 
three long canoes putting out, with a crowd of 



260 The Boys' Big Oame Series 

savage warriors pouring into others. He saw in- 
stantly that they had only one chance. 

** Make for the island I *' he shouted to Critch. 
'' Land and hold them off ! '' 

Critch waved his hand, and both boys set the 
men to work frantically, trying to guide the un- 
wieldy craft toward an island that rose straight 
ahead of them. Burt unwrapped the rifle, but 
did not wish to use it until he had to. 

With a dozen paddlers in each, the big war ca- 
noes shot out across the river to head off the first 
raft. Now, the bows used by the white pigmies 
were larger than those of any other tribe the 
boys had seen. They were fully as long as the 
men themselves and of great strength. Burt saw 
Critch say something to Mbopo and take the pole 
from one of his men. Instantly he followed suit, 
directing the man he relieved to shoot at two of 
the following canoes which were heading toward 
them. As he did so a flight of arrows came over 
the water, all but one falling short, the one re- 
bounding from the wet logs without sticking. 

As Burt 's man caught up his bow, the boy saw 
Mbopo and another warrior loose their shafts 
from the first raft. The arrows, driven by the full 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 261 

force of those tremendons bows, easily reached to 
the canoes. The bowman in the first canoe gave a 
yell and dropped his paddle ; as he did so, the man 
behind him threw up his arms and fell back, over- 
turning the canoe. At this instant Burt's man 
shot, and although his arrow missed, the pursuing 
canoes instantly ceased their approach and 
sheered off, paddling down ahead of the rafts. 

Their plan was evident. By reaching the 
islands ahead of the two rafts, which were still 
two hundred yards away, they could command the 
passages that led into the Makua. Realizing the 
danger as he saw one of the canoes turn and head 
for the island in front of them, Burt took up his 
rifle. He did not wish to shoot to kill and there- 
fore took careful aim at the bow of the canoe, 
ahead of the bowman and just at the waterline. 
As the canoes ^ere hoUowed-out logs, a bullet 
there would shatter the whole bow. 

Trusting to luck that the old rifle would hold 
together, Burt pulled the trigger. The sharp 
crack awoke a thousand echoes from the forest on 
either hand. At the same instant the bow of the 
canoe seemed to fly into splinters, a shrill yell of 
fear went up from the foe, and as the canoe filled. 



262 The Boys' Big Game Series 

the others instantly turned back but still con- 
tinued downstream. A moment later Critch 's raft 
swept down toward the island, four of the pigmies 
sprang out, and drew her safely to shore. 

The other islands, however, were well within 
range of the Zwengi bows and to them the canoes 
dashed. Mbopo's men sent one whirling down- 
stream by a flight of arrows that completely 
cleared the craft, but the others gained the shelter 
of the islands just as Burt's raft was landed beside 
that of Critch. Then the dwarfs made fast and 
sprang out. 

** We're in for it,'' cried Critch, pointing up- 
stream. * * Look there ! ' ' 

Pulling out his glasses, Burt saw at least a dozen 
other canoes slinking down close to the banks. 
Catching up his rifle, he aimed full at the bow of 
the first. It was a long shot, but as the echoes rose 
the boys saw the paddlers spring overboard, and 
the canoe filled and sank a moment later. 

** Dandy shot," shouted Critch, ** but they got 
us, Burt ! Mebbe we can hold 'em off while our ar- 
rows last, but — ' ' 

At that instant something happened that caused 
the boys to whirl and stare at each other with pale 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 263 

faces. Clear and sharp above the yells of the war- 
riors, and coming from the left bank, the south 
bank, they had heard the report of a heavy rifle ! 
'' Hear that I '' yelled Burt. ** There's a hunter 
there I '' 

* * Hurray I ' ' shouted his chum, turning and hit- 
ting Mbopo a clap on the back that sent the dwarf 
staggering. ** Mwanzi'U fix them, old scout. 
Hurray I Try another shot, Burt I ' * 

And as a flight of Zwengi arrows poured into 
the island, Burt fired again, this time in the air. 
As if in answer there came another shot from the 
left bank, and a yell went up from the dwarfs as 
one of their foes on the neighboring island threw 
up his arms and fell back. A shriek of terror 
went up from the Zwengi, while the pigmy ar- 
rows played havoc among them as they fled back 
to their canoes. Next instant a canoe put out 
from the south bank. 

* * Look there 1 ' ' shouted Burt, peering through 
his glasses. ' * White helmets I We 're saved, 
Critchl'^ 

** Yes,'* and Critch began to dance up and down, 
waving his arms like mad, ** an* it's your uncle 
and Cap'n Mac! Hurray 1 Hurray! *' 



264 The Boys' Big Oame Series 

A week later a small German Company steamer 
was making her way down the broad Makna 
Biver. In the shade of her awning reclined Mr. 
Wallace, Captain Montenay, Burt and Critck 
John was bnsying himself forward, and the decks 
of the little craft were littered with long, curved 
packages that looked strangely like elephant 
tusks. 

** Well, it was mighty lucky for us that you 
started after us that way,'* Burt was saying. ** If 
you'd tried to strike right through the black 
dwarf country we'd have missed you. Ain't it 
queer how things worked out t ' ' 

** Not a bit," asserted Captain Mac quietly. 
** It looks to me, Burt, as if the hand o' Provi- 
dence was in it." 

The boys stared at the Scotchman for a moment 
in wonder. Suddenly Burt sprang to his f eet. " 

** Oh, I forgot! " he cried. ** I ain't showed 
you that roll yet! " Dashing off to the cabin, he 
returned with the tightly rolled packet he had 
taken from the mummy as he and Critch had un- 
wrapped it. Mr. Wallace took it with an excla- 
mation of pleasure. 

** This is really something worth having, 



The Blind Lion of the Congo 265 

boysl " he declared, carefully unfolding the 
papyrus. ** Hello I Let's see what it says/* 

In spite of its age, the first part that unrolled 
showed clear and strong picture writing, in bright 
colors. The others gave a simultaneous exclama- 
tion, while Mr. Wallace bent his brows in the en- 
deavor to read it. 

** Well, it's nothing special," he announced, 
** merely being scenes from the life of Ta-En- 
User, with the story of his achievements. I think 
we'd better roll it up and keep it from the damp 
now; we can read it later. It'll make something 
great for your room, Burt ! It 's mighty few boys 
that can boast of having a relic like that hanging 
on their walls I ' ' 

** Well, I'm kind o' sorry we're going home," 
sighed Critch. ** Won't this be a great yam to 
write up for the school paper, eh, Burtf " 

* * Nonsense I ' ' said Mr. Wallace sharply. * * It 's 
too big a story for that, Critch. Why don't you 
two chaps get busy and make a book out of itf 
I'll help you in the stiflf places." 

* * Hurray I ' ' cried Burt. 

** Bully! " uttered Critch, delighted. ** That's 



266 The Boys' Big Game Series 

just what we'll do, Mr. Wallace! Say, won't it 
make a great yamt '' 

** An' if you do," put in Captain Mac with a 
quiet grin, ** be sure an' send me a copy o' the 
thing, laddies! I'd like powerful well to see my 
name in a story book ! ' ' 

** You bet we will! " said Burt, and Critch 
grinned happily. 




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